Difference between Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park

Key Difference:  The main difference between a wildlife sanctuary and a national park is that human activities are not at all allowed in a national park. On the other hand, rights of some limited human activities are provided within the boundary of a sanctuary.

Wildlife sanctuary is a natural area which is used for keeping the particular species of animals, especially the endangered ones. Sanctuary is a place which is suitable for protection and development of wildlife or its environment.

The suitability is determined by judging the ecological, floral, faunal, geomorphological factors associated with the area.

National park is also very similar to a wildlife sanctuary, as it is also declared reserved for the protection and development of wild life. Therefore, many people consider them synonymous. The main difference between the two is that in a sanctuary, some other activities may be allowed, whereas in a National park no other activities are allowed. For example, the people may possess rights for timber extraction in a wildlife sanctuary, but this right is not provided under the premises of a national park.

National parks have a proper boundary, whereas the wildlife sanctuaries usually do not have properly marked boundaries. In context to ownership rights, one may retain the private ownership rights if it is not affecting the cause of wildlife conservation. On the other hand, any type of private ownership rights does not exist in a national park.

In many of the countries, the establishment of a national park can only be done by the national or federal government. On the other hand, wildlife sanctuaries are generally established through a competent authority like chief conservator of forests, etc.

Comparison between Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park:


Wildlife Sanctuary

National Park


Refers to the geographical area which is reserved exclusively for the conservation of bio-diversity

National park is another protected area kept apart for the conservation of wild life

Human activity

Limited human activity is allowed

No human activity is allowed


Usually, not as well marked as in the case of a national park

Properly marked

Degree of permanency

A good level of permanency

A higher level of permanency


Usually through a competent authority like chief conservator of forests, etc.

Usually by the national or federal government


Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

Yellowstone National Park

Image Courtesy: indiaprofile.com, indianetzone.com

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