Flora and Fauna in News
NBWL adds 4 species in Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species
- Northern River Terrapin: It is species of riverine turtle found in rivers that flow in Eastern India. It is hunted for its meat and It is hunted for its meat and carapace. It is native of Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
- Clouded Leopard: It is found in Himalayan foothills. It is threatened due to habitat loss, poaching for its skin and is also as a live pet trade. The IUCN in its Red List assessment of 2016 has categorized Clouded Leopard as ‘Vulnerable’ and indicating declining trend in its population.
- Arabian Sea Humpback Whale: It is a species found in all of major oceans. This species migrates from the Oman coast through the Arabian sea, along the Indian coasts till the Sri Lankan coast. Ship strikes, unforgiving fishing gear and siesmic exploarations pose grave threat to it.
- Red Panda: It is closely associated with montane forests with dense bamboo-thicket. It is found Sikkim, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh. It is It is poached for its meat, and for use in medicines, and as a pet. The IUCN has categorized Red Panda as ‘Endangered’. As per its Red List assessment of 2015, population of this species is decreasing.
2 Odisha police launch drive to bust Pangolin smuggling racket-
Why in news- Odisha Special Task Force (STF) has launched drive to bust an international syndicate that peddles ‘endangered’ pangolin, one of the world’s most illegal traded mammals. Pangolin
- Pangolin is only scaly mammal on the planet.
- According to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), it is also the most illegally traded vertebrate within its class (Mammalia).
- Of the eight species of pangolin worldwide, two are found in India. They are Chinese pangolin (manis pentadactyla), mostly found in northeast India and Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata).
- Pangolins has large, overlapping scales on its body which act as armour.
- It can also curl itself into ball as self-defence against predators.
- China is main illicit hub (market) for smuggled scales of Pangolins, where they have huge demand for medicinal and magical purposes.
- Chinese pangolin has been listed as “critically endangered” by UN affiliated International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
- Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) has been listed as “endangered” in IUCN Red List.
- It is also a Schedule I category protected animal, under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
3 Nilgiri tahr: Climate change threatening 60% of its habitat
Why in News –
- According to recent study published international journal Ecological Engineering, climate change is threatening the Nilgiri tahr,. It is estimated that endangered wild goat could lose approximately 60% of its habitat, starting from 2030s.
- It is state animal of Tamil Nadu.
- It is endemic to Western Ghats from the Nilgiris to Kanyakumari.
- It is confined to a narrow belt of higher elevation (altitudes) of Shola Forests in Western Ghats.
- Protection Status: IUCN in its red data book has classified it as Endangered (number fewer than 2,500 mature individuals). Besides it is protected species under Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
- Largest population of Nilgiri Tahr is found within the Eravikulam National Park.
4 Snow leopard spotted in Lippa-Asra wildlife sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh.
WHY IN NEWS– A snow leopard was spotted at a height of about 4,000 metres in Lippa-Asra wildlife sanctuary in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.
Lippa-Asra wildlife sanctuary
- The sanctuary is part of district Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh and also is part of Moorang town.
- It houses wild species of animal like Yak, Ibex, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Musk Deer, Goral, Brown Bear and Himalayan Black Bear.
- The dry alpine scrub and dry coniferous type of forest are main type of flora found in this sanctuary.
5.Project Snow Leopard:
- Snow Leopard is globally endangered species as well as the most important flagship species of the mountain region
- Project aims to conserve biodiversity with community participation
- The project will be operational in five Himalayan States viz. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh with active support from wildlife institute of India and the Mysore based Nature Conservation Foundation.
- Species such as Snow Leopard, Asiatic Ibex, Tibetan Argali, Ladakh Urial, Chiru, Takin, Serow and Musk Deer will particularly benefit from this project.
- Snow leopard (Panthera uncial) is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia- including Himalayas, and Russia’s remote Altai mountains.
- Snow Leopard is found in 11 countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- These countries formed the Global Snow Leopard Forum (GSLF) and signed the Bishkek Declaration to acknowledge its importance as the indicator of the health and sustainability of mountain ecosystems.
- It is the State animal of Himachal Pradesh.
Threats: It is threatened by poaching for their fur, habitat destruction by infrastructure developments and climate change.
- It has been listed in Schedule I under Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Appendix I of Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and Appendix I Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).
6. India’s first dolphin research centre to come up soon in Patna
Context: India’s and Asia’s first Dolphin Research Centre will be set up on the banks of the Ganga river in Patna University campus in Patna, Bihar. It will be named- National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC).
Role: NDRC will play important role in strengthening conservation efforts and research to save endangered mammal whose population is decreasing. Bihar is home to around half of the country’s estimated 3,000 dolphin population.
About Gangetic Dolphins:
- The Ganges River dolphin, or susu, inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
- This dolphin is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins – the other three are the baiji now likely extinct from the Yangtze river in China, the bhulan of the Indus in Pakistan and the boto of the Amazon River in Latin America.
- Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
- It is the national aquatic animal and had been granted non-human personhood status by government in 2017.
- It is also protected under the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
- Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in Bihar is India’s only sanctuary for the Gangetic dolphin.
- It has been categorised as endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species by the IUCN
The survival of the Ganges River dolphin is threatened by unintentional killing through entanglement in fishing gear; directed harvest for dolphin oil, which is used as a fish attractant and for medicinal purposes; water development projects (e.g. water extraction and the construction of barrages, high dams, and embankments); industrial waste and pesticides; municipal sewage discharge and noise from vessel traffic; and overexploitation of prey, mainly due to the widespread use of non-selective fishing gear.
• A Conservation Action Plan for the Gangetic Dolphin 2010-2020 has been formulated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
7. ASIATIC LION CONSERVATION PROJECT
Why in News? The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched the “Asiatic Lion Conservation Project” with an aim to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem.
About the Project
- It will be funded from the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State share.
- The project activities is envisaged in a manner to cause habitat improvement, scientific interventions, disease control and veterinary care supplemented with adequate eco development works for the fringe population in order to ensure a stable and viable Lion population in the Country.
8. RARE SPIDER REDISCOVERED
Why in news?
Recently, a rare spider (both a male and a female spider) was rediscovered from Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Western Ghats, Kerala.
About Chrysilla Vollupe
- The Spider belongs to the family of jumping spider (Salticidae).
- Female spider has blue iridescent bluish scales present in the top of head region of female and orange bands on both sides of the head.
- The spider has eight black eyes are arranged in the front and sides of head region.
- The spider makes a retreat between green leaves of small plants.
9. EURASIAN OTTER
Why in news? Recently scientist confirmed the presence of Eurasian otter in Western Ghats.
- They are carnivorous mammals and adapt to a variety of habitats ranging from marine to freshwater environments.
- India is home to 3 of the 13 species of otters found worldwide. These are
- Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra): IUCN: Near Threatened; CITES Appendix I; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II.
- Smooth-coated Otter (Lutra perspicillata): IUCN: Vulnerable; CITES Appendix II; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II.
- Small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus): IUCN: Vulnerable; CITES Appendix II; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II.
- Though the Eurasian otter has been recorded historically from the Western Ghats (Coorg in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiri and Palani hill ranges), this is the first photographic and genetic confirmation of its presence here.
10. ALDABRA GAINT TORTOISE
Why in News? In a goodwill gesture, Seychelles has gifted a pair of giant Aldabra tortoise to India. The pair will be kept at Hyderabad Zoo.
- The Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) from the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles is said to be one of the largest species of tortoises on the planet.
- It is also one of the world’s longest living animals, with one Aldabra Giant Tortoise reaching the age of 255 years.
- The Aldabra giant tortoise’s current IUCN conservation status is ‘vulnerable’.
- The atoll has been protected from human influence and is home to around 100,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of the animal.
11. EIGHT AVIAN SPECIES DECLARED “EXTINCT” IN NEW STUDY
- Scientists have declared eight species of birds to be extinct in what are being seen as the first avian extinctions of the 21st century.
- The study was conducted by non-profit “BirdLife International”. It assessed 51 species judged “critically endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) “Red List” by using a new statistical method.
- The species gone extinct include Spix’s macaw, the Alagoas foliage-gleaner, the cryptic tree hunter, the Pernambuco pygmy-owl, the poo-uli, or black-faced honeycreeper and the glaucous macaw.
12. BONNETHEAD SHARK
What is it? It is the first known omnivorous shark species identified by scientists recently.
- 60% of its diet consists of seagrass. The species graze upon seagrass, in addition to eating bony fish, crabs, snails and shrimp.
- The bonnethead shark is abundant in the shallow waters of the Western Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico.
- Though small by shark standards, adult females — the larger of the sexes —can still reach an impressive five feet long.
- Lacking the kind of teeth bestsuited for mastication,the shark may rely on strong stomach acids to weaken the plants’ cells so the enzymes can have their digestive effects.
13. PONDICHERRY SHARK
Context: Researchers recently spotted ‘Pondicherry shark’, an endangered species protected under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, in the East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem region.
- Scientifically known as Carcharhinus hemiodon, it belongs to the Carcharhinidae family with a growth of 3.3 feet.
- Known as ‘Pala Sora’ in the local parlance, the Pondicherry Shark is on the verge of extinction even according to the conventional fishermen.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Pondicherry shark as Critically Endangered.
14. Census of Estuarine Crocodiles
What Is The Issue:
- The number of crocodiles rose to 1742 from last year’s census of 1698 in the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha’s Kendrapara district.
15. Great Indian Bustard may be extinct soon
What Is The Issue:
- The GIB’s last remnant wild population of about 50 in Jaisalmer district accounts for 95% of its total world population.
- No progress has been made on the proposal for establishing a captive breeding centre at Sorsan in Kota district and a hatchery in Jaisalmer for conservation of the State bird of Rajasthan.
16. Crocodylus Palustris
What Is The Issue:
- 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.
17. HARRIER BIRDS
Why in News? Concerns have been raised that harrier birds, a migratory raptor species are declining from Indian Subcontinent.
About the Harrier Birds
- Harrier Birds are the only diurnal ‘Raptor group or Birds of Prey’ nesting and roosting on the ground.
- These birds regularly visit vast swathes of Indian Subcontinent grasslands during winter to escape frigid Central Asia.
- Birds of Prey: being top predators, these are a vital indicator of ecosystem health especially of grassland and wetland ecosystem.
- Natural Controlling agents: of rodents, grasshoppers and birds which form their major prey base and hence their decline impacts farm productivity.