Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Giant Leatherback Turtle

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Giant Leatherback Turtle

Mains level : Not Much

Proposals for tourism and port development in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands has left conservationists worried over the fate of some of the most important nesting populations of the Giant Leatherback turtle.

What is the news?

  • There is concern that at least three key nesting beaches — two on Little Andaman Island and one on Great Nicobar Island — are under threat due to mega “development” plans announced in recent months.
  • These include NITI Aayog’s ambitious tourism vision for Little Andaman and the proposal for a mega-shipment port at Galathea Bay on Great Nicobar Island.

Giant Leatherback Turtle

IUCN status: Vulnerable

  • The largest of the seven species of sea turtles on the planet and also the most long-ranging, Leatherbacks are found in all oceans except the Arctic and the Antarctic.
  • Within the Indian Ocean, they nest only in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the A&N Islands.
  • They are also listed in Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, according it the highest legal protection.
  • The population in A&N Islands is among the most important colonies of the Leatherback globally.

About Galathea Bay

  • The Galathea Bay is adjacent to Galathea National Park in Great Nicobar Island.
  • It was earlier proposed as a wildlife sanctuary in 1997 for the protection of turtles and was also the site of a long-term monitoring programme.
  • The monitoring was stopped after the tsunami devastation of 2004, but it provided the first systematic evidence of numbers and importance of these beaches.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Mandarin Duck

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mandarin Duck, Dibru Saikhowa NP

Mains level : Not Much

A rare Mandarin duck was observed floating in the Maguri-Motapung beel (or wetland) in Assam’s Tinsukia district for over a week is spectacular.

Mandarin duck

IUCN status: Least Concerned

  • Considered the most beautiful duck in the world, the Mandarin duck, or the (Aix galericulata) was first identified by Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758.
  • The eBird website, a platform that documents birds world over, describes it as a “small-exotic looking bird” native to East Asia.
  • It’s very beautiful, with majestic colours and can be spotted from a distance.

Its habitat and breeding

  • The migratory duck breeds in Russia, Korea, Japan and northeastern parts of China. It now has established populations in Western Europe and America too.
  • In 2018, when a Mandarin duck was spotted in a pond in New York City’s Central Park, it created a flutter among local residents.
  • It was recorded in 1902 in Dibru River in the Rongagora area in Tinsukia.

About Maguri beel

  • The Maguri Motapung wetland is an Important Bird Area as declared by the Bombay Natural History Society.
  • It is located close to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Upper Assam.
  • The entire ecosystem is very important as it is home to at least 304 bird species, including a number of endemic ones like Black-breasted parrotbill and Marsh babbler.
  • In May 2020, the beel was adversely affected by a blowout and fire at an Oil India Limited-owned gas well.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Wild Sun Rose (Portulaca Laljii)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Portulaca Laljii

Mains level : NA

Botanists have discovered a new species of wild Sun Rose from the Eastern Ghats in India.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2018:

Q.Why is a plant called Prosopis juliflora often mentioned in the news?

(a) Its extract is widely used in cosmetics.

(b) It tends to reduce the biodiversity in the area in which it grows

(c) Its extract is used in the pesticides.

(d) None of the above

Portulaca Laljii

  • The new species named Portulaca laljii was discovered from the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh.
  • It has unique features such as a tuberous root, no hair in its leaf axils, a reddish-pink flower, prolate-shaped fruits, and copper brown seeds without luster.
  • Portulaca Laljii has been named to honor the contribution of Lal Ji Singh, an eminent botanist of the Botanical Survey of India.
  • The species has been placed under the ‘Data Deficient’ category of the IUCN List of Threatened Species because very little information is available about the population of the species.

Morphological features

  • These morphological features distinguish the species from other species of the genus Portulaca.
  • The flowers, which are reddish-pink in color, are very minute, at about 0.5mm.
  • The plant was found growing in rocky crevices at an altitude of about 1,800 meters above mean sea level, very close to the ground, at about less than 10 cm.
  • The plants belonging genus Portulaca are classified in the category Sun Rose because they flower in bright sunshine.
  • The genus was described by Linnaeus in 1753 as a type genus of the flowering plant family Portulacaceae.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Himalayan trillium

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Himalayan trillium

Mains level : Not Much

The Himalayan trillium (Trillium govanianum), a common herb of the Himalayas was declared ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last week.

Try this MCQ:

Q.Recently, there was a growing awareness in our country about the importance of Himalayan nettle (Girardinia diversifolia) because it is found to be a sustainable source of-

(a) Anti-malarial drug

(b) Bio-diesel

(c) Pulp for paper industry

(d) Textile fibre

Himalayan trillium

  • In recent years, the plant has become one of the most traded commercial plants of the Himalayan region, due to its high medicinal quality.
  • It is found in temperate and sub-alpine zones of the Himalayas, at an altitude from 2,400-4,000 metres above sea level.
  • Their existence has also been traced across India, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • In India, it is found in four states only- Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, and Uttarakhand.
  • Often called Nagchatri, in local areas this herb grows to a height of 15-20 cm.

Various applications

  • It has been used in traditional medicine to cure diseases like dysentery, wounds, skin boils, inflammation, sepsis, as well as menstrual and sexual disorders.
  • Recent experiments have shown that the rhizome of the herb is a source of steroidal saponins and can be used as an anti-cancer and anti-ageing agent.
  • This increased its market value and has now become an easy target for poachers.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Indian bison (Gaur)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian Bison (Gaur)

Mains level : Man-animal conflict

A gaur (Indian bison) strayed into a residential area in Pune city and allegedly died while being captured. This has depicted another ugly face of the man-animal conflicts.

Try this PYQ:                      

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

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

(b) Kashmir Stag, Cheetah, Blue Bull, Great Indian Bustard.

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

(d) Lion Tailed Macaque, Blue Bull, Hanuman Langur, Cheetah

Gaur/ Indian Bison

  • The Indian bison are also known as Gaur, is native to South and Southeast Asia and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986.
  • The global population has been estimated at maximum 21,000 mature individuals by 2016.
  • It declined by more than 70% during the last three generations, and is extinct in Sri Lanka and probably also in Bangladesh.
  • Populations in well-protected areas are stable and increasing.
  • The Western Ghats and their outflanking hills in southern India constitute one of the most extensive extant strongholds of gaur, in particular in the Wayanad – Nagarhole – Mudumalai – Bandipur complex.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Himalayan Serow

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Himalayan Serow

Mains level : NA

A Himalayan Serow has been sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region.

Try this MCQ:

Q.In which one of the following State, the Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary is located?

(a) Himachal Pradesh

(b) Manipur

(c) Meghalaya

(d) Uttarakhand

Himalayan Serow

  • Himalayan Serow resembles a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig.
  • They are herbivores and are typically found at altitudes between 2,000 metres and 4,000 metres (6,500 to 13,000 feet).
  • They are known to be found in eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not in the Trans Himalayan region.
  • They are a medium-sized mammal with a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark hair.
  • There are several species of Serow s, and all of them are found in Asia.

Its’ conservation status

  • According to the IUCN, Himalayan Serow s have experienced significant declines in population size, range size and habitat in the last decade, and this is expected to continue due to intensive human impact.
  • Previously assessed as ‘near threatened’, the Himalayan Serow is now been categorised as ‘vulnerablein the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • It is listed under Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides absolute protection.

What is so unusual this time?

  • The animal was spotted by locals and wildlife officials at a riverside rocky wall near Hurling village in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.
  • This is the first recorded human sighting of the Serow in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Serow s are generally not found at this altitude, and never before has a Serow been seen in the Himalayan cold desert.
  • Wildlife officials believe this particular animal may have strayed into the Spiti valley from the Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary in adjoining Kinnaur.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Myristica Swamp Treefrog

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Myristica Swamp Treefrog

Mains level : Western Ghats and its biodiversity richness

Myristica swamp treefrog, a rare arboreal (living on trees) species endemic to the Western Ghats has been recorded for the first time in Kerala’s Thrissur district.

Again, a stand-alone peculiar species is in the news. Make a special note here. Usually, note the species and its habitat location (IUCN status if available), in the purview of a generic prelims question.

Myristica Swamp Treefrog

  • It bears the scientific name Mercurana myristicapalustris.
  • The frog was first spotted in 2013 in the Myristica swamps of Arippa, near the Kulathupuzha Reserve Forest, in the western foothills of Agasthyamalai, in Kollam district.
  • Unlike the Myristica swamp treefrog found in the foothills of the Agasthyamalai, these frogs were found to be active throughout June and early July.

Unique traits

  • These frogs are rare and elusive for the reason that they are arboreal and active only for a few weeks during their breeding season.
  • During this season, there is a large aggregation of males that descend from the high canopy of the trees.
  • The breeding season, unlike for other frogs, starts in the pre-monsoon season (May) and ends before the monsoon becomes fully active in June.
  • Before the end of the breeding season, the female frogs along with their male counterparts descend on the forest floor. The female digs the mud and lays eggs in shallow burrows in mud.
  • After breeding and egg-laying, they retreat back to the high canopies of the tree and remain elusive till next breeding season.

Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Zebrafish and its heart regeneration capacity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Zebrafish

Mains level : Not Much

Indian scientists have used the Zebrafish model and identified its genes that can promote heart regeneration.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to India’s Biodiversity, Ceylon frogmouth, Coppersmith Barbet, Gray-chinned minivet and White-throated redstart are-

(a) Birds

(b) Primates

(c) Reptiles

(d) Amphibians

Zebrafish

  • Zebrafish is a small (2-3 cm long) freshwater fish found in the tropical and subtropical regions.
  • The fish is native to South Asia’s Indo-Gangetic plains, where they are mostly found in the paddy fields and even in stagnant water and streams.
  • The fish become adults at three months and survive 2-3 years in a laboratory condition.
  • Its unique characteristics lie in its transparency during its embryonic stages, allowing observing all organs, including beating heart and blood circulation.

Ability to heal their heart

  • The ability of Zebrafish to heal their heart after injury makes them an attractive model to investigate mechanisms governing the regenerative process.
  • Researchers worldwide are actively working to understand the mechanism behind the heart regeneration in Zebrafish for the last two decades.
  • Years of efforts have helped them identify the cellular communication network factor 2a (ccn2a), a gene that can promote heart regeneration by enhancing cardiomyocyte proliferation.
  • They have also observed that this gene resolves the transient collagenous fibrotic scar resulting in faster regeneration.

Significance for humans

  • Cardiovascular diseases are the number 1 cause of deaths globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year, according to the World Health Organisation.
  • Humans cannot regenerate their hearts upon myocardial damage and a person who suffered a heart attack cannot functionally heal the damaged heart muscle, resulting in reduced pumping efficiency.
  • While on the other hand, this unique fish has the full potential to regenerate its heart and restore its function after injury.
  • Till now, there is no treatment available to restore the damaged heart function in humans. Hence scientists have sought to decode the heart regeneration processes using this model animal.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Meghalaya’s Glowing Mushrooms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bioluminescence

Mains level : Eastern Himalayas and its biodiversity

A mushroom documentation project in the forests of Northeast India has discovered a bioluminescent — or light-emitting — variety of mushroom.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Lichens, which are capable of initiating ecological succession even on a bare rock, are actually a symbiotic association of:

(a) Algae and bacteria

(b) Algae and fungi

(c) Bacteria and fungi

(d) Fungi and mosses

Roridomyces phyllostachydis

  • The new species was first sighted near a stream in Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong in East Khasi Hills district and later at Krang Shuri in West Jaintia Hills district.
  • It is now one among the 97 known species of bioluminescent fungi in the world.

Bioluminescence in fungi

  • Bioluminescence is the property of a living organism to produce and emit light.
  • Bioluminescent organisms are usually found in ocean environments, but they are also found in terrestrial environments.
  • The colour of the light emitted by the organism depends on its chemical properties.
  • In the case of fungi, the luminescence comes from the enzyme, luciferase.
  • The green light emits when luciferans is catalysed by the enzyme luciferase, in the presence of oxygen.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Rohanixalus -the frogs of the new genus

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Genus Rohanixalus

Mains level : Eastern Himalayas and its biodiversity

Indian researchers have discovered a genus of tree frog found in the Andaman Islands and the northeast.

A stand-alone species being mentioned in the news for the first time find their way into the prelims. Make special note here. Usually, note the species and its habitat location (IUCN status if available), in the purview of a generic prelims question.

Genus Rohanixalus

  • Named after Sri Lankan taxonomist Rohan Pethiyagoda, the frogs of the new genus Rohanixalus are characterised by a rather small and slender body (size about 2 to 3 cm long).
  • It has a pair of contrastingly coloured lateral lines on either side of the body, minute brown speckles scattered throughout the upper body surfaces, and light green coloured eggs laid in arboreal bubble-nests.
  • Based on DNA studies, the new genus is also revealed to be a distinct evolutionary lineage from all previously known tree frog genera.
  • It is the 20th recognised genus of the family Rhacophoridae that comprises 422 known Old World tree frog species found in Asia and Africa.

Sub-species of this frog

  • There are eight frog species in this genus Rohanixalus.
  • They are known to inhabit forested as well as human-dominated landscapes right from the northeast to Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, up to southern China.

Unique features of this genus

  • The genus has several unique behavioural traits including maternal egg attendance where the female (mother) attends the egg clutches until hatching and assists in the release of the tadpoles into the water.
  • During the first three days after egg-laying, the female sits over the eggs and produces a gelatinous secretion with which she glazes the egg mass through the clock-wise movement of her legs.
  • This behaviour provides necessary moisture to the eggs laid on exposed leaf surfaces and protects them from insect predation.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Echinops Sahyadricus

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Echinops Sahyadricus

Mains level : Not Much

Researchers have discovered a new species of Echinops Sahyadricus (Sahyadri Globe Thistle) from the Rajgad Fort in the Sahyadri Mountains.

Echinops Sahyadricus

  • Echinops is a genus of about 130 species of flowering plants found in tropical and North Africa, the Mediterranean basin and West Asia, extending eastwards to China and Japan.
  • The highest number of taxa (76) is concentrated in the Iranian plateau. Five species are found in India including two in Maharashtra.
  • The new species is unique because of the size of its composite inflorescence which measures up to 9 cm in diameter that is relatively large compared to other Echinops species found around the world.
  • It grows vegetative on open grassy slopes of mountains in four months of monsoon and blooms in November. Fruiting can be seen in December.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Himalayan Brown Bear

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Himalayan Brown Bear

Mains level : Not Much

A recent study has predicted massive habitat decline for the Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) by 2050 due to climate change.

Try this PYQ:

Q. The Himalayan Range is very rich in species diversity. Which one among the following is the most appropriate reason for this phenomenon?

(a) It has a high rainfall that supports luxuriant vegetative growth.

(b) It is a confluence of different bio-geographical zones.

(c) Exotic and invasive species have not been invasive species have not been introduced in this region.

(d) It has less human interference.

Himalayan Brown Bear

  • The Himalayan brown bear is one of the largest carnivores in the highlands of Himalayas.
  • It occupies the higher reaches of the Himalayas in remote, mountainous areas of Pakistan and India, in small and isolated populations, and is extremely rare in many of its ranges.
  • While the brown bear as a species is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, this subspecies is highly endangered and populations are dwindling.
  • It is ‘Endangered’ in the Himalayas and Critically Endangered in the Hindu Kush.

What did the study say?

  • The study carried out in the western Himalayas by scientists of Zoological Survey of India, predicted a massive decline of about 73% of the bear’s habitat by the year 2050.
  • These losses in habitat will also result in loss of habitat from 13 protected areas (PAs), and eight of them will become completely uninhabitable by the year 2050, followed by loss of connectivity in the majority of PAs.
  • The study highlights for the need to adopt preemptive spatial planning of PAs in the Himalayan region for the long-term viability of the species.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

ZSI lists Skinks of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Skinks

Mains level : NA

Celebrating skinks, Zoological Survey of India has listed 62 species.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to India’s Biodiversity, Ceylon frogmouth, Coppersmith barbet, Gray-chinned minivet and White-throated redstart are-

(a) Birds

(b) Primates

(c) Reptiles

(d) Amphibians

What are Skinks?

  • Skinks are lizards belonging to the family Scincidae, a family in the infraorder Scincomorpha.
  • With long bodies, relatively small or no legs, no pronounced neck and glossy scales, skinks are common reptiles around homes.
  • Although they are common reptiles and have a prominent role in maintaining ecosystems, not much is known about their breeding habits, and ecology because identification of the species can be confusing.

Certain notions about them

  • Skinks are highly alert, agile and fast-moving and actively forage for a variety of insects and small invertebrates.
  • The reduced limbs of certain skink species or the complete lack of them make their slithering movements resemble those of snakes, leading people to have the incorrect notion that they are venomous.
  • This results in several of these harmless creatures being killed.

ZSI study on Skinks

  • A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) reveals that India is home to 62 species of skinks and says about 57% of all the skinks found in India (33 species) are endemic.
  • Sepsophis (with one species)and Barkudia (with two species) are limbless skinks found in the hills and coastal plains of the eastern coast.
  • Barkudia insularisis believed to be found only in the Barkud Island in Chilka lake in Odisha. Barkudia melanosticta is endemic to Visakhapatnam.
  • Sepsophis punctatus is endemic to the northern part of Eastern Ghats.
  • Five species of Kaestlea (blue-tailed ground skinks) are endemic to the Western Ghats and four species of Ristella (Cat skinks) also endemic to the southern part of Western Ghats.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Aenigmachanna Gollum

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Aenigmachanna Gollum

Mains level : NA

Scientists have discovered a new family of bony fish from the Western Ghats and named it Aenigmachannidae.

A stand-alone species being mentioned in the news for the first time (and that too from Southern India) find their way into the prelims. Make special note here. Usually, note the species and its habitat location (IUCN status if available), in the purview of a generic prelims question.

Aenigmachannidae

  • Aenigmachanna Gollum has a surprisingly large number of primitive characters, and detailed molecular phylogenetic analyses including of its Mitochondrial DNA suggested an ancient separation from Channidae.
  • Many such species were earlier found in the aquifers of Kerala.
  • Many of these species are blind, pigment-less, and have peculiar morphological characters that are otherwise not seen in species occurring in surface waters.

Significance of the discovery

  • The presence of two unique endemic families of freshwater fish in a small region like Kerala is unparalleled and indicates the exceptional diversity and endemicity of fishes in this part of the world.
  • The members of Aenigmachannidae are “living fossils” and comprise an ancient Gondwanan lineage that survived the break-up of the supercontinent and the northward drift of the Indian subcontinent.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

3 contenders for National Butterfly Status

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National butterflies

Mains level : Not Much

A citizen poll to identify the national butterfly concluded with three species garnering the highest number of votes.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to India’s Biodiversity, Ceylon frogmouth, Coppersmith barbet, Gray-chinned minivet and White-throated redstart are-
(a) Birds
(b) Primates
(c) Reptiles
(d) Amphibians

Which are the three species?

(1) Indian Jezebel

  • Blessed with a vibrant colour pattern, including vermilion (Haldi – kumkum), the Indian Jezebel (or Common Jezebel) is known to deter its predators with its flashy wing colours.
  • Regarded as soldiers of farmers, they also prey on parasites that infest fruit-bearing plants.
  • Widely distributed, the species can be spotted in gardens and other lightly wooded areas.

(2) Krishna Peacock

  • It is a flagship species for biodiversity and conservation, generally found in large numbers in the Himalayas.
  • Possessing a peculiarly large swallowtail, its iridescent green scales diffract light to coat itself in radiance.

(3) Orange Oakleaf

  • It is commonly known as ‘dead leaf’ for its ability to camouflage as a dry autumn leaf while striking a stationary pose with its wings closed.
  • The masquerade enables the species to prevent it from being devoured by birds in the moist forests of the northern Western Ghats, central, northern and northeastern parts of India where they are generally found.
  • Besides, the Oakleaf is also known to exhibit polyphenism as it assumes specific colour and size during dry and wet seasons.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Madhuca Diplostemon

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Madhuca diplostemon

Mains level : Not Much

A tree species, long believed extinct, has been rediscovered after a gap of more than 180 years from a sacred grove in Kollam district.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Biodiversity hotspots are located only in tropical regions.
  2. India has four biodiversity hotspots i.e., Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas, Western Ghats and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands.

Which of the above statements is/ are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Madhuca diplostemon

  • Scientists have identified the tree as Madhuca diplostemon (family Sapotaceae), a threatened species of the Western Ghats whose specimen was first collected in 1835.
  • In 1835, Robert Wight, a surgeon-botanist with the East India Company, had collected three specimens of the species.
  • Only one mature tree has been found so far, which makes this remarkable rediscovery extremely valuable from a scientific, environmental and conservation point of view.
  • Since the species is represented only by one specimen in a single locality, it is eligible to be categorised ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Kalinga Frog

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kaling frog and its habitat

Mains level : Western Ghats and its biodiversity richness

Indian scientists have reported a first-of-its-kind discovery of morphological phenotypic plasticity (MPP) in the Kalinga cricket frog.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Biodiversity hotspots are located only in tropical regions.
  2. India has four biodiversity hotspots i.e., Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas, Western Ghats and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands.

Which of the above statements is/ are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Kalinga Frog

  • The Kalinga Frog (Fejervarya Kalinga) was recently identified species which was documented in 2018.
  • The species was encountered several times during field expeditions in the Western Ghats. However, the physical characteristics vary entirely from the known species of Eastern Ghats.
  • However, it has been reported from the central Western Ghats, with the evidence of considerable MPP.
  • It was the only genetic analysis that helped prove that physically different-looking frogs from eastern and western ghats were the same.

What is MPP?

  • The morphological phenotypic plasticity (MPP) is the ability of an organism to show drastic morphological (physical features) variations in response to natural environmental variations or stimuli.
  • The term “phenotype” refers to the observable physical properties of an organism, which include the organism’s appearance, development, and behaviour.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

What is Project Dolphin?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Project Dolphin

Mains level : NA

In his Independence Day Speech this year, PM has announced the government’s plan to launch a Project Dolphin. The proposed project is aimed at saving both river and marine dolphins.

Project Dolphin

  • The Project will be on the lines of Project Tiger, which has helped increase the tiger population.
  • So far, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which implements the government’s flagship scheme Namami Gange, has been taking some initiatives for saving dolphins.
  • Now, Project Dolphin is expected to be implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

About Gangetic Dolphin

  • The Gangetic river system is home to a vast variety of aquatic life, including the Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica).
  • It is one of five species of river dolphin found around the world.
  • It is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems.
  • An adult dolphin could weigh between 70 kg and 90 kg. The breeding season of the Gangetic dolphin extends from January to June.
  • They feed on several species of fishes, invertebrates etc.

Why is it important to save dolphins?

  • The construction of dams and barrages and increasing pollution has led to a decline in the population of aquatic animals in the rivers in general and of dolphins in particular.
  • Aquatic life is an indicator of the health of river ecosystems.
  • As the Gangetic dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure

Aquatic life as an indicator of the health of a river system

  • Globally, there have been such examples. For instance, the Rhine Action Plan (1987) of the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) brought back the salmon.
  • The return of the migratory fish is taken as an indicator of the river’s improved health.
  • Salmon used to migrate from the North Sea to the Rhine every year and reproduce, but this stopped when pollution increased in the river.
  • After a chemical accident in 1986 that caused the death of fish and microorganisms, the Action Plan was launched.
  • This led to an improvement in the quality of the river water, and the salmons began to return.

What has been done to save Gangetic dolphins so far?

  • Although efforts to save them were started in the mid-1980s, the estimates suggest the numbers have not risen as a result.
  • The Gangetic dolphin remains listed as Endangered by the IUCN.
  • After the launch of Ganga Action Plan in 1985, the government on November 24, 1986, included Gangetic dolphins in the First Schedule of the Indian Wildlife (Protection), Act 1972.
  • This was aimed at checking hunting and providing conservation facilities such as wildlife sanctuaries. For instance, Vikramshila Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary was established in Bihar under this Act.

Conservation so far

  • The government has prepared The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020.
  • It identified threats to Gangetic Dolphins and impact of river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on Dolphins populations.
  • On October 5, 2009, the then PM declared the Gangetic river dolphin as the national aquatic animal.
  • A notification was issued by the MoEFCC the following year. Now, the National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates October 5 as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Barn Owl

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Barn Owl

Mains level : Not Much

With a thriving rat population playing havoc with its coconut yield, the UT of Lakshadweep hires barn owls for help.

Try this PYQ:

Q.The Red Data Books published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) contains lists of:

  1. Endemic plant and animal species present in the biodiversity hotspots.
  2. Threatened plant and animal species.
  3. Protected sites for conservation of nature and natural resources in various countries.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 3 only

Barn Owl

IUCN status: Least Concerned

  • The barn owl is the most widely distributed species of owl in the world and one of the most widespread of all species of birds.
  • It is found almost everywhere in the world except for the polar and desert regions, Asia north of the Himalayas, most of Indonesia, and some Pacific islands.

What is Barn?

  • A barn is an agricultural building usually on farms and used for various purposes.
  • It refers to structures that house livestock, including cattle and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Indian Peafowl

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian Peafowl

Mains level : Wildlife conservation and various policy efforts

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the D2E.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which one of the following is the national aquatic animal of India? (CSP 2015)

(a) Saltwater crocodile

(b) Olive ridley turtle

(c) Gangetic dolphin

(d) Gharial

Indian Peafowl

  • The Indian peafowl is a native of India and some parts of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • The Arakan hills prevented their spread further east while the Himalayas and the Karakoram did so northwards.
  • As our national bird, the peacock has the utmost level of legal protection.

Peacock vs. Peafowl

  • Only the males of the species are peacocks.
  • The females are properly called peahens, while young birds less than a year old are known as peachicks.
  • Collectively they are known as peafowl, regardless of age or gender.
  • Peacocks are male Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) belonging to the Phasianidae family

Various protections

  • It comes under Section 51 (1-A) of Schedule I of the Wild (Life) (Protection) Act, 1972, with imprisonment that may be extended up to seven years, along with a fine that shall not be less than Rs 10,000.
  • Since 2014, Indian Peafowl has been protected under Appendix III of the CITES.
  • They are listed under the ‘Least Concern’ (LC) category of the IUCN Red Data List.

Threats

  • Despite this, these birds experienced dwindling populations for many decades due to habitat loss, poaching and contamination of their food sources.
  • In 1991, the peafowl population census conducted by the WWF  revealed that 50 per cent of the species had declined, compared to their number at the time of independence.