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Difference between In-Situ and Ex-Situ conservation

Conservation of biodiversity and genetic resources helps protect, maintain and recover endangered animal and plant species. There are mainly two strategies for the conservation of wildlife: In-situ conservation and Ex-situ conservation. Although, both the strategies aim to maintain and recover endangered species, they are different from each other. Let us see how they differ from each other!

In-situ Conservation:

In-situ conservation, which is also known as "on-site conservation", refers to the conservation of wild species in their natural habitats and environment. It aims to conserve the natural habitats of the living creatures and maintain and recover wild species, especially the endangered species. The national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserve are some of the examples of in-situ conservation. This method of conservation allows animals flourish in their natural habitat and food chain and offers more mobility to the animals. It is suitable for the conservation of animals that are found in abundance.

Ex-situ Conservation:

Ex-situ conservation, which is also known as off-site conservation, refers to the conservation of endangered species in the artificial or man-made habitats that imitate their natural habitats, e.g. zoo, aquarium, botanical garden etc. It offers less mobility to the animals as it is smaller in area than the area of in-situ conservation. This method of conservation is suitable for the animals which are not found in abundance.

It provides protection to animals against predators, unfavourable climatic conditions and other hostile factors. Furthermore, proper food and care is provided under good supervision.

Based on the above information some of the key differences between in-situ and ex-situ conservation are as follows:

In-situ Conservation Ex-situ Conservation
It means onsite conservation. It means offsite conservation.
It is the conservation of wild species in their natural habitats in order to maintain and recover endangered species. It is conservation of species in the man-made habitats that imitate the natural habitats of species.
It is more dynamic as it involves natural habitats of organisms. It its less dynamic as it involves man-made habitats.
It provides protection to endangered species against predators. It provides protection against all hostile factors.
It is suitable for animals that are found in abundance. It is suitable for animals that are not found in abundance.
It is not suitable in the event of a rapid decline in the number of a species due to environmental, genetic or any other factor. It is an ideal option in case of rapid decline in the number of a species due to environmental or any other reason.
Wildlife and livestock conservation involve in-situ conservation. It can be used to conserve crops and their wild relatives.
Examples include national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, biospheres reserve etc. Examples include zoo, aquarium and botanical garden.
It involves designation, management and monitoring of the target species in their natural habitat. It involves sampling, storage and transfer of target species from their natural habitats to man-made habitats.
It helps maintain the ongoing process of evolution and adaptation within the natural environment of the species. It separates the animals form the ongoing process of evolution and adaptations within their natural environment.
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