Difference Between Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks (With Table)

Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks have the common goal of protecting and preserving life in nature.

Wildlife Sanctuaries vs National Parks

The main difference between wildlife sanctuary and national park is that wildlife sanctuaries have the purpose of protecting animal life and animal habitats. On the other hand, the goal of national parks is to protect not only animals, but also plant life, ecosystems, bodies of water, and the general landscape of an area.

While the two have the shared benefit of protecting and preserving our planet’s diversity, they are not interchangeable terms. Additional differences between wildlife sanctuaries and national parks include legislation, human activity, borders, ownership, and levels of protection.

Comparison Table Between Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks

Parameter of Comparison

Wildlife Sanctuary

National Park


A wildlife sanctuary is created by a central government or a state government.

A national park is created by a state government or a central legislature.

Human Activity

Wildlife sanctuaries are generally open to the public, though hunting is not allowed and humans must not disrupt animal habitats.

Most national parks are closed off to visitors, but some are not.


Wildlife sanctuaries usually don’t have fixed boundaries, but include more general areas.

National parks have clearly defined boundaries. This is largely to protect the park and prevent humans from entering.


Wildlife sanctuaries are sometimes government-owned; however, they may also be owned by a private institution or organization.

National parks are strictly owned by the government, who has jurisdiction over the area.

Level of Protection

Wildlife sanctuaries mainly protect animals and animal habitats.

National parks protect animals, plants, ecosystems, landscapes, and areas that are historically significant and need protection.

What are Wildlife Sanctuaries?

A wildlife sanctuary is an area in nature that is preserved for animal wildlife. It is also set in place to protect animal habitats. Wildlife sanctuaries are government-created and maintained. They are different than national parks in that they do not have fixed borders.

While many wildlife sanctuaries are government-owned, there are plenty of wildlife sanctuaries that are created and maintained by private organizations. While people can visit most wildlife sanctuaries, they must adhere to certain rules.

Most wildlife sanctuaries will not allow humans to leave the footpath or designated areas. This ensures that people can enjoy the sanctuary while still protecting animal habitats and ecosystems. It is also a matter of safety for both humans and animals in the sanctuary.

Hunting, poaching, or in any way interfering with animal life is strictly prohibited in wildlife sanctuaries. Some wildlife sanctuaries focus on one species, while others protect multiple species. Furthermore, a wildlife sanctuary is usually smaller than a national park.

The main goal of a wildlife sanctuary is to protect endangered species and give these species a protected area where they can survive while being protected from human development, such as deforestation or construction. Wildlife sanctuaries can also be upgraded to national parks.