Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Horseshoe Crab

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Horseshoe Crab

Mains level : NA

Horseshoe crabs face an uncertain future in Odisha, their largest habitat in India, even as the world gets ready to celebrate the first-ever ‘International Horseshoe Crab Day’ on June 20, 2020.

Try this question from CSP 2012:

Q. Which one of the following groups of animals belongs to the category of endangered species?

(a) Great Indian Bustard, Musk Deer, Red Panda and Asiatic Wild Ass

(b) Kashmir Stag, Cheetal, Blue Bull and Great Indian Bustard

(c) Snow Leopard, Swamp Deer, Rhesus Monkey and Saras (Crane)

(d) Lion-tailed Macaque, Blue Bull, Hanuman Langur and Cheetal

Horseshoe Crabs

IUCN status: (Data insufficient for the Indian variant)

  • Horseshoe crabs are marine and brackish water arthropods. They are not true crabs, which are crustaceans.
  • The crabs are represented by four extant species in the world. Out of the four, two species are distributed along the northeast coast of India.
  • Only T gigas species of the horseshoe crab is found along Balasore coast of Odisha.
  • The crab was included on September 9, 2009, in the Schedule IV of the Wild (Life) Protection Act, 1972, under which, the catching and killing of a horseshoe crab is an offence.

Their significance

  • The horseshoe crab is one of the oldest marine living fossils whose origin date back to 445 million years before the dinosaurs existed.
  • One of their ecological functions is to lay millions of eggs on beaches to feed shorebirds, fish and other wildlife.

Threats

  • Poachers kill them for their meat that is popularly believed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
  • The blood of horseshoe crabs, which is blue in colour, is used for detection of bacterial endotoxins in medical applications.
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