Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Blue Sheep (Bharal) and Himalayan Ibex (Tangor) Census in Himachal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Blue Sheep (Bharal); Himalayan Ibex (Tangor).

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

  • Wildlife authorities in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul & Spiti district have initiated surveys to estimate the population of Blue Sheep (bharal) and Himalayan Ibex (Tangor), vital prey species for the iconic snow leopard.
    • This move aims to assess the region’s biodiversity and promote conservation efforts.

About the Species Mentioned

Bharal (Blue Sheep)

Himalayan Ibex (Tangor)

Scientific Name Pseudois nayaur Capra sibirica hemalayanus
Genus Pseudois Capra
Distribution India, Bhutan, China (Gansu, Ningxia, Sichuan, Tibet, Inner Mongolia), Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan Himalayan region of India, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal
Features
  • Slate grey coat with bluish shine
  • Horns grow upwards, curve out, and then towards the back
  • Large curved horns with notches on the front
  • Light brown to reddish-brown coat, white belly, black and white markings on legs
  • Thick, woolly coat in winter, shed in early summer
Behavior Active throughout the day, alternating between feeding and resting on grassy mountain slopes
  • Usually found in small herds, sometimes around 50 together;
  • Can run at speeds of up to 50 km/h
Conservation Status IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Schedule 1

IUCN Red List: Near Threatened

Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Schedule 1

 

PYQ:

[2013] Consider the following fauna of India :

1. Gharial

2. Leatherback turtle

3. Swamp deer

Which of the above is/are endangered?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

National Endangered Species Day, 2024

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Endangered Species Day, Species mentioned in the news

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

  • National Endangered Species Day is an annual event that strives to raise awareness about the significance of safeguarding endangered species and their habitats.
  • This year, National Endangered Species Day was celebrated on May 17.

What is National Endangered Species Day?

  • National Endangered Species Day is observed every year on the 3rd Friday of May.
  • This day was co-founded in 2006 by the Endangered Species Coalition and David Robinson.
  • Robinson defines Endangered Species Day as a “worldwide day of action to rescue species and celebrate conservation triumphs”.
  • Theme for 2024: “Celebrate Saving Species”.
  • According to the IUCN Red List Analysis 2020, over 500 land animal species will likely go extinct in the next two decades if current trends continue.

Flagship species in India that are Endangered and often seen in the News:

Species

Conservation Status

Key Information

Asian Elephant

 

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES Appendix I;
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • Symbol of Heritage: Plays a key role in forest and grassland ecosystems.
  • Threats: Habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and poaching for tusks.
  • Conservation Needs: Sustained efforts are crucial to ensure their survival and maintain biodiversity.
Ganges River Dolphin

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix I;
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • Critical Habitat: Found in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems.
  • Challenges: Water extraction, pollution, and river traffic.
  • Population Decline: Less than 2,000 individuals remain in India.
Bengal Tiger

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES Appendix I;
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • Iconic Predator: Represents a significant part of India’s wildlife.
  • Current Status: Numbers are increasing, but threats like poaching and habitat loss persist.
  • Habitat: Found across varied ecosystems, from forests to mangroves.
Red Panda

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • Status: Significant decline due to habitat loss and poaching.
  • Habitat Zones: Found in the eastern Himalayas and parts of Northeast India.
  • Conservation Importance: Serves as an indicator species for the health of the Himalayan forests.
Asiatic Lion

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • Last Refuge: Exclusively found in Gir National Park, Gujarat.
  • Population Challenges: Threats include poaching and accidental deaths from open wells and fences.
  • Conservation Strategies: Involves habitat restoration and stricter anti-poaching laws.
Nilgiri Tahr

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • Mountain Inhabitant: Lives in the mountainous regions of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • Population Pressure: Climate change and human interference are major threats.
  • Survival Strategies: Requires focused conservation to stabilise its declining population.
Lion-tailed Macaque

 

 

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES Appendix I;
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • Distinct Appearance: Notable for its silver mane, found in the Western Ghats.
  • Critical Decline: Population affected by habitat fragmentation and human interaction.
  • Behavioural Changes: Adjustments in their natural behaviours due to human activities are concerning.
Great Indian Bustard (GIB)

  • IUCN: Critically Endangered
  • CITES Appendix I;
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • IBs are the largest among India’s four bustard species and are considered flagship birds of grasslands.
  • Habitat reduced to just 10 per cent.
  • Overhead power transmission, poor vision, windmills, noise pollution, landscape changes, and alterations in cultivation patterns pose significant threats to GIBs.
Golden Langur

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES Appendix I;
  • Schedule I (WPA, 1972)
  • Approximately 7,396 Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei) in India as per a census conducted by Assam Forest Department.
Hangul (Kashmir Stag)

  • IUCN: Critically Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix I;
  • Kashmir’s Hangul, a shy and endangered species of deer, has exhibited a robust breeding season, suggesting a hopeful future for its population in the Dachigam National Park.
  • The Hanguls population could surpass 300 this spring, marking the first time in over 30 years.

 

PYQ:

[20I2] 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

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Scientists document Sperm Whales ‘Phonetic Alphabet’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sperm Whales, Project CETI

Why in the news?

  • A recent study has uncovered the intricate structure of their communication system, which appears to possess a “phonetic alphabet,” offering new insights into the depth of their social interactions.
    • Sperm whales, the largest toothed whales, utilize a diverse array of vocalizations to communicate, including bursts of clicking noises known as ‘codas’.

About Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus)).

  • Sperm whales, the largest toothed whales
  • It has a series of vertical creases or wrinkles on its body and a small, inconspicuous dorsal fin located near the rear of its back.
  • The sperm whale uses ‘echolocation’ to navigate and locate prey during these deep dives.
    • Prey: Sperm whales primarily feed on squid (including the giant squid) sharks and deep-sea fish.
    • Habitat: Sperm whales are found in deep oceanic waters worldwide, from the equator to the edges of the pack ice in the Arctic and Antarctic.
    • Behavior: Known for their exceptional diving capabilities, sperm whales can dive to depths of over 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) and stay submerged for up to 90 minutes. They are social animals, typically found in groups called pods’, which can contain up to twenty individuals.
  • Conservation Status: Listed as ‘VULNERABLE’ by the IUCN.
    • Threats cause: Collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing gear, and noise pollution.

Insights from the Study:

  • Expressivity: The study, which utilized data from Project CETI demonstrated that sperm whale calls exhibit a broader range of expressivity than previously recognized, hinting at a nuanced mode of communication.
  • Social Dynamics: Like all marine mammals, sperm whales rely heavily on vocalizations as an integral aspect of their social interactions.
  • Contextual Analysis: The next phase of research aims to decipher the behavioural context surrounding sperm whale vocalizations, shedding light on their potential meanings.

About Project CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative)

  • Project CETI is a non-profit, interdisciplinary scientific and conservation initiative on a mission to listen to and translate the communication of sperm whales off the island of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean.

 

PYQ:

[2013] Consider the following animals

  1. Sea cow
  2. Sea horse
  3. Sea lion

Which of the above is/are mammal/mammals?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c)  2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Himalayan Magpies 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Himalayan Magpies

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

Blue magpie species are frequently observed from Kashmir to Myanmar.

About Himalayan Magpies

  • Magpies belong to the Corvidae family, which also includes crows, jays, and ravens.
  • These birds are typically noisy and inquisitive, often featured as omens in folklore around the world.
  • Species Distribution and Habitat:
    • Gold-billed Magpie (Urocissa flavirostris): Also known as the yellow-billed blue magpie, this species inhabits high altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level, thriving in the high-altitude zones of the Himalayas from Kashmir to Myanmar.
    • Red-billed Magpie: Found at slightly lower altitudes than the gold-billed magpie.
    • Blue Magpie: Occupies lower altitudes and is more likely to be found near human settlements. It builds nests in rhododendron trees.
  • IUCN Status: ‘Least Concerned’

Observations:

  • The best sightings of yellow and red-billed magpies are along a trekking corridor in Western Sikkim, which spans from tropical forests at lower altitudes to Alpine landscapes.
  • Over 250 species of birds have been documented in this region, with significant bird activity around 2,500 meters.

PYQ:

[2014] If you walk through countryside, you are likely to see some birds stalking alongside the cattle to seize the insects, disturbed by their movement through grasses.

Which of the following is/are such bird/birds?

  1. Painted Stork
  2. Common Myna
  3. Black-necked Crane

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 3 only

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Orangutan uses Plant to treat wound

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Orangutan and its natural habitat

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

An orangutan was observed treating a wound with medicine from a tropical plant, showcasing how some animals employ natural remedies to alleviate their ailments.

  • This behavior, documented in a recent study published in Scientific Reports, represents a novel instance of self-medication among wild animals.

About Orangutans

  • Orangutans, are distinguished by their vivid red fur, are the largest arboreal mammals and spend the majority of their time in trees and forests.
  • The name “orangutan” translates to “man of the forest” in Malay.
  • They possess long, powerful arms and grasping hands and feet that facilitate movement through the branches.
  • Highly intelligent, these great apes share 96.4% of genetic makeup of modern man.
  • Orangutans primarily inhabit the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia, specifically on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
  • Conservation Status: Critically Endangered (IUCN Red list)
  • Population: Bornean (Approximately 104,700); Sumatran (Approximately 13,846); Tapanuli (Around 800);
  • Behavioral Features:
    • These apes lead mostly solitary lives in the lowland forests, dining on wild fruits such as lychees, mangosteens, and figs, and drinking water collected in tree cavities.
    • Orangutans are mainly frugivorous, they primarily eat fruits, and consume leaves, bark, insects, and occasionally small animals.
    • They construct nests in trees with vegetation for sleeping at night and resting during the day.
    • And, now they are found treating a wound with medicine from a Tropical plant.

PYQ:

[2013] Consider the following:

  1. Star tortoise
  2. Monitor lizard
  3. Pygmy hog
  4. Spider monkey

Which of the above are naturally found in India?

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3 and 4

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Mass Coral Bleaching in Lakshadweep Sea

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Marine heatwave, Coral Bleaching, Agatti Reef, DHW Indicator

Mains level: NA

The Agatti Reef is experiencing unprecedented mass coral bleaching.
The Agatti Reef is experiencing unprecedented mass coral bleaching.

Why in the news?

Extreme heatwaves along the Indian coast, coupled with marine heatwaves, have triggered Mass Coral Bleaching events in the Lakshadweep Sea.

Heatwaves Toll on Lakshadweep’s Coral:

Researchers from the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) conducted surveys across various Lakshadweep Islands.

    • The Degree Heating Week (DHW) indicator in Lakshadweep has soared above 4 °C-weeks, as per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
      • This elevation in DHW levels poses a substantial risk of coral bleaching, posing a severe threat to the region’s marine ecosystems.
  • Should DHW surpass 12 °C-weeks, it could trigger an unprecedented biodiversity crisis, leading to multispecies mortality.
  • Prolonged marine heatwaves since October 2023 have inflicted substantial stress on the coral reefs, exacerbating bleaching phenomena.
    • A marine heatwave is characterized by seawater temperatures exceeding a seasonally-varying threshold (often the 90th percentile) for at least 5 consecutive days.
Degree Heating Week (DHW) indicator: It is a measurement used to assess the accumulated thermal stress that corals experience over an extended period, which can lead to coral bleaching. This indicator is expressed in °C-weeks, reflecting the exposure of coral reefs to elevated sea surface temperatures.

Lakshadweep’s Coral Treasure: Agatti Reef

  • Agatti Island is part of the Lakshadweep archipelago, situated in the Arabian Sea.
  • The island is surrounded by extensive coral reefs, making it a popular destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
  • The coral reefs around Agatti Island are composed of various coral species, including branching corals like Acropora, table corals like Acropora Hyacinthus, and massive corals like Porites.
  • These corals form intricate reef structures that provide habitat and food for numerous marine organisms.

What causes Coral Bleaching?

  • When exposed to conditions like heat stress, pollution, or high levels of ocean acidity, the zooxanthellae start producing reactive oxygen species not beneficial to the corals.
  • So, the corals kick out the colour-giving algae from their polyps, exposing their pale white exoskeleton and leading to coral starvation as corals cannot produce their own food.
  • Severe bleaching and prolonged stress in the external environment can lead to coral death.

Back2Basics: Corals

  • Coral are made up of genetically identical organisms called polyps.
  • These polyps have microscopic algae called zooxanthellae living within their tissues in a mutualistic relationship.
  • The coral provides the zooxanthellae with the compounds necessary for photosynthesis.
  • In return, the zooxanthellae supply the coral with organic products of photosynthesis, like carbohydrates, which are utilized by the coral polyps for synthesis of their calcium carbonate skeletons.
  • Corals are marine invertebrates or animals which do not possess a spine.
  • They are the largest living structures on the planet.
  • Each coral is called a polyp and thousands of such polyps live together to form a colony, which grow when polyps multiply to make copies of themselves.
  • Coral reefs are also called the “rainforests of the seas”.

Types of Coral

Corals are of two types — hard corals and soft corals:

  1. Hard corals extract calcium carbonate from seawater to build hard, white coral exoskeletons. Hard corals are in a way the engineers of reef ecosystems and measuring the extent of hard coral is a widely-accepted metric for measuring the condition of coral reefs.
  2. Soft corals attach themselves to such skeletons and older skeletons built by their ancestors. Soft corals also add their own skeletons to the hard structure over the years. These growing multiplying structures gradually form coral reefs.

Conditions needed for Corals to Flourish

  • Extensive submarine platforms for the formation of colonies by the coral polyps (not more than 90m below sea level).
  • High mean annual temperature ranging 20-21 degree Celsius.
  • Clean sediment-free water because muddy water or turbid water clogs the mouths of coral polyps resulting into their death.
  • Oceanic salinity ranging between 27-30 ppt.
  • Ocean currents and waves, as they bring food supply for the polyps.

 

PYQ:

2014: Which of the following have coral reefs?

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Gulf of Kachchh
  3. Gulf of Mannar
  4. Sunderbans

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Mapping: Garo Hills

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Garo Hills

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Geological Survey of India (GSI) explorers have made a breakthrough, uncovering ancient fossils in Tolegre, South Garo Hills of Meghalaya.
  • It is speculated that the fossils could be linked to the genera Rhodocetus or Amulocetus (now extinct), considered ancestors of modern whales.

About Garo Hills

  • The Garo Hills, located in Meghalaya, are part of the Garo-Khasi range, one of the hill ranges in the northeastern region of India.
  • They are situated in the western part of Meghalaya, bordering Bangladesh to the south and west.
  • The terrain of the Garo Hills is rugged and hilly, characterized by dense forests, steep slopes, and deep valleys.
  • The Nokrek is highest Peak, which stands at approximately 1,415 meters (4,642 feet) above sea level.
  • The climate in the Garo Hills is typically humid subtropical, with heavy rainfall during the monsoon season, which usually lasts from June to September.
  • Numerous rivers and streams, including the Brahmaputra, Someshwari, and Jinjiram rivers crisscross this region.
  • The region is also known for its picturesque waterfalls, such as the Pelga Falls, located near Tura, the largest town in the Garo Hills.
  • The Nokrek National Park, located within, is recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is home to various endangered species, including the Asian elephant and the red panda.
  • The Garo Hills are inhabited predominantly by the Garo tribe, one of the major ethnic groups in Meghalaya.

 

PYQ:

[2013] Consider the following pairs:

1. Nokrek Bio-Sphere Reserve : Garo Hills

2. Logtak (Loktak) Lake : Barail Range

3. Namdapha National Park: Daphla Hills

Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Census to be conducted under Nilgiri Tahr Conservation Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nilgiri Tahr Conservation Project, Eravikulam National Park

Mains level: Conservation Strategies and Projects; Initiatives taken by government;

 Why in the News?

After the launch of the Nilgiri Tahr Conservation Project, the Tamil Nadu government gears up to assess the population of Nilgiri Tahr (state animal).

  • The Forest Departments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala will collaborate in a synchronized way.

Nilgiri Tahr Conservation Project (2022 to 2027):

  • Under The Nilgiri Tahr project, the Tamil Nadu government plans to develop a better understanding of the Nilgiri Tahr population through-
    • Surveys and radio telemetry studies;
    • Reintroduce the Tahrs to their historical habitat;
    • Address proximate threats; and
    • Increase public awareness of the species.
  • October 7 will be celebrated as ‘Niligiri Tahr Day’ in honour of E.R.C. Davidar, who was responsible for pioneering one of the first studies of the species in 1975.
  • Historic significance of Nilgiri Tahr:
  • Evidence in Tamil Sangam literature dating back to 2,000 years.
  • The late Mesolithic (10,000-4,000 BC) paintings highlight the significance of the Tahr in folklore, culture, and life.

 

About Nilgiri Tahr

    • It is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western Ghats in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Southern India.
    • It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.
    • The Nilgiri tahr inhabits the open montane grassland habitat of the South Western Ghats montane rain forests eco-region.
    • At elevations from 1,200 to 2,600 metres (3,900 to 8,500 ft), the forests open into grasslands interspersed with pockets of stunted forests, locally known as sholas.
    • It is estimated that there are 3,122 Nilgiri Tahrs in the wild. It has become locally extinct in around 14% of its traditional shola forest-grassland habitat.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN Conservation Status: Endangered
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972: Schedule I
  • Eravikulam National Park in Anamalai hills of Kerala is home to the largest population of this Tahr.
  • October 7 is celebrated as ‘Nilgiri Tahr Day’ to honour E.R.C. Davidar, the man who was responsible for conducting first studies of the species in 1975.

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Operation Jumbo to capture Wild Elephants 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Operation Jumbo and prospect States

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Forest Department has resumed Operation Jumbo to capture trouble-causing wild elephants and fix radio collars in Hassan division of Karnataka.

What is Operation Jumbo?

  • Operation Jumbo is a campaign launched by the Karnataka government to capture and radio-collar rogue wild elephants that frequently enter human habitations.
  • It is effective in five districts of the state, namely Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu, Ramanagara, and Bengaluru. 
  • The objective of this operation is to manage elephant movement and mitigate conflicts through continuous tracking using GPS-equipped radio collars, which have a battery life of three years.

Implementation of Operation Jumbo

  • The cost of capturing and radio-collaring each wild elephant is approximately Rs 22 lakh, with Rs 7 lakh spent on each radio collar imported from South Africa.
  • The operation involves a diverse team of 70-80 individuals, including forest officers, veterinarians, mahouts, and other support staff.
  • It includes tasks such as surveillance, tracking, darting wild animals from the back of trained elephants, and securing the rescued tusker.

Elephants in India

Details
Population Estimate
  • India hosts the largest population of wild Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus), with around 29,964 individuals,
  • Approximately 60% of the global population (2017 census).
Leading States Karnataka holds the highest number of elephants, followed by Assam and Kerala.
Conservation Status
  • IUCN Red List:  Endangered.
  • CMS: Appendix I.
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Listed under Schedule I,
  • CITES: Appendix I.
Conservation Initiatives
  • Project Elephant launched in 1992, covering 23 states across India.
  • Contributed to the increase in wild elephant population from around 25,000 in 1992 to about 30,000 in 2021.
  • Establishment of Elephant Reserves. Total 33 in numbers covering approximately 80,777 Sq.km.

PYQ:

[2020] With reference to Indian elephants, consider the following statements:

  1. The leader of an elephant group is a female.
  2. The maximum gestation period can be 22 months.
  3. An elephant can normally go on calving till the age of 40 years only.
  4. Among the States in India, the highest elephant population is in Kerala.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 3 and 4 only

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Decoding the judgment on Jim Corbett

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jim Corbett National Park

Mains level: Key points related the judgment

Why in the news? 

In its March ruling, the Supreme Court highlighted the corrupt collaboration between politicians, forest officials, and local contractors that led to the illegal felling of 6,000 trees in the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.

Key points related the judgment

  • Shift from Anthropocentrism to Eco-centrism: The Supreme Court emphasized the need for an eco-centric approach rather than anthropocentrism in ecotourism management.
  • Ban on Tiger Safaris in Core Areas: : The court disagreed with the 2019 guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) permitting tiger safaris on the lines of a zoo in national parks, The court directed the banning of tiger safaris in core areas of national parks, aiming to minimize environmental damage and disturbance to wildlife habitats.
  • Committee Formation for Feasibility Study: A committee was constituted to explore the feasibility of permitting tiger safaris in peripheral areas of national parks across India, indicating a cautious approach towards balancing tourism with conservation goals.

What the court missed

Absence of Well-Defined Methodology: The court’s decision to recover the cost of restoration from errant individuals and officers lacks a well-defined methodology, making it challenging to accurately assess the damage done to the green cover of Jim Corbett.

Suggestive measures 

  • Need for Ecosystem Services-Based Valuation: In light of growing degradation of biodiversity hotspots and support for revenue-generating eco-tourism, there is a need for a valuation method based on ecosystem services, which includes benefits like food, water, and climate regulation.
  • Precedent on Ecosystem Services: The court could have set a precedent by prioritizing ecosystem services over eco-tourism or highlighting the need for a precise law and policy regarding ecosystem services, which play a crucial role in environmental conservation and sustainable development.
  • Reference to International Court of Justice (ICJ) Ruling: The reasoning provided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Costa Rica v. Nicaragua (2018) regarding the compensability of damage to the environment could have been used to better understand methodologies for evaluating environmental damage and loss of ecosystem services

Conclusion 

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Jim Corbett underscores a shift towards eco-centric ecotourism management, banning tiger safaris in core areas. However, the absence of a clear restoration methodology and the need for ecosystem services-based valuation remain unaddressed, suggesting room for improvement.

Mains PYQ 

Q How does biodiversity vary in India? How is the Biological Diversity Act,2002 helpful in conservation of flora and fauna? (UPSC IAS/2018)

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

The blurry lines between wildlife ‘capture’ and ‘rescue’  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Blurred lines between "rescue" and "capture"

Why in the news? 

The human-animal conflict in India is a significant issue, with several lives lost and property damage due to the increasing interactions between humans and wildlife

Difference between between wildlife ‘capture’ and ‘rescue’

  • Capture:  It refers to the act of taking wild animals into custody, often due to conflicts with humans, such as when an animal poses a threat to human safety or property. This may involve trapping, sedating, or physically restraining the animal. The primary goal of capture is to ensure human safety and prevent further damage. Captured animals may be relocated, rehabilitated, or, in some cases, euthanized, depending on the situation and the animal’s condition.
  • Rescue:  It refers to the act of providing assistance to wild animals in distress, such as those injured, orphaned, or trapped in a dangerous situation. The primary goal of rescue is to help the animal recover and, if possible, return it to the wild. Rescue efforts may involve medical treatment, rehabilitation, and release back into the wild.

Blurred lines between “rescue” and “capture”

  • Guidelines vs. Reality: Despite government guidelines discouraging capture without considering preventative measures, in practice, animals are often captured hastily rather than adopting non-invasive approaches.
  • Case of Elephant “Rescue”: An elephant was captured under the pretext of rescue from a coffee plantation but was subsequently released 200 km away in an unfamiliar landscape, leading to further complications and ultimately its death.
  • Unintended Consequences: The attempt to “rescue” the elephant resulted in its straying into a neighboring state, highlighting the unintended consequences and potential risks associated with such actions.
  • Case of Leopard “Rescue”: Similarly, a leopard was “rescued” after being sighted in an agricultural field, but it died shortly after for unknown reasons, raising questions about the efficacy and ethics of such operations.

Issues related to rescue of snakes

  • High Frequency of Interactions: Interactions with snakes are more frequent than with other wild animals, resulting in higher incidences of misguided rescue attempts.
  • Failure to Distinguish Between Actions: There’s a lack of distinction between capture, removal, and rescue when managing conflicts with snakes, leading to poor handling and unnecessary removal from habitats under the guise of rescue operations.
  • Issues with Relocation: Relocated snakes have poor survival prospects and relocation doesn’t effectively resolve conflict, potentially increasing future conflict occurrences.
  • Harmful Effects of “Rescue” Operations: Such operations can cause physical trauma, injuries, and stress to animals, reducing their post-release survival chances.

Suggestive measures

  • Education and Training: Provide comprehensive training to wildlife rescuers on species-specific rescue techniques and emphasize the importance of non-invasive approaches.
  •  Habitat Restoration: Focus on habitat conservation and restoration to reduce human-snake conflicts and provide natural habitats for snakes.
  • Research and Monitoring: Conduct research to understand snake behavior and ecology better, enabling more informed rescue and relocation decisions.
  • Collaboration: Foster collaboration between wildlife authorities, conservation organizations, and local communities to develop effective strategies for managing human-snake conflicts sustainably.

Conclusion 

Enhanced training, habitat restoration, research, and collaboration are vital for navigating the blurry lines between wildlife “capture” and “rescue,” ensuring humane and effective management of human-animal conflicts