Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Narmada river Crocodile
Mains level: Legal transportation of wild animals and provisions related to it
- The Gujarat Forest Department has started evacuating muggers from two ponds on the Sardar Sarovar Dam premises on the Narmada, to facilitate a seaplane service at the Statue of Unity.
- The mugger crocodile, also called marsh crocodile or broad-snouted crocodile, is a species (Crocodylus palustris) native to freshwater habitats from southern Iran and Pakistan to the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka.
- Already extinct in Bhutan and Myanmar, the mugger has been listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1982.
- In India, it is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Vadodara, 90 km from the Narmada dam, is the only city in the country where crocodiles live in their natural habitat amidst human population.
Transportation is conditionally legal
- Among the six schedules in the Act, Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide the highest degrees of protection to listed species, with the most stringent penalties for offenders.
- For animals listed in Schedule I, any of kind of population control activity, capture for captivity, or transportation can involve cumbersome processes.
- This includes even transportation of crocodiles. So its relocation or capture is definitely illegal without permission.
- However, state governments have the authority to give permissions in some situations where they become a danger for the human population.
Why under Schedule I?
- Experts say crocodiles were listed under Schedule I not because of the fear of extinction but to prevent their trade.
- Crocodiles are valued for their skin and flesh.
- In some cases, they are also worshipped, including in the Narmada.
- The mugger is a marsh crocodile which is found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
- It is a freshwater species, and found in lakes, rivers and marshes.
- IUCN Status: Vulnerable
- It is the largest of all living reptiles.
- It is found along the eastern coast of India.
- IUCN Status: Least Concerned
- The Gharial is a fish eating crocodile is native to the Indian subcontinent.
- It is listed as a Critically Endangered by IUCN.
- Small released populations are present and increasing in the rivers of the National Chambal Sanctuary, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary.
- It is also found at the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa.