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Species in news: Trachischium apteii

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trachischium apteii

Mains level : Not Much



News

Researchers have discovered a new species of non-venomous burrowing snake in Arunachal Pradesh, named Trachischium apteii.

Trachischium apteii

  • It was found under fallen logs inside a thickly forested area of the Tally Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near the town of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh during a field expedition by researchers in July 2019.
  • It belongs to a group of fossorial snakes that live mostly underground, and surface mainly during or after a heavy monsoon shower.
  • Due to the burrowing habits of species of this genus, snakes belonging to the group are seldom seen and hence remain poorly studied.
  • This could have been one of the reasons that the species had eluded the researchers.

Physical features

  • Morphologically, the snake is distinguished by smooth and dorsal scales arranged in 15 rows throughout the body.
  • The dorsal colour of the holotype is dark brown to black with faint dorsal longitudinal lines.
  • Large-sized members of the genus measure about 293 mm to 299 mm (measuring less than a foot, that is 300 mm or 30 cm).

Behind the name

  • Trachischium apteii was named so to honour the contribution of Deepak Apte, well-known marine biologist and Director of the BNHS.
  • Trachischium species are commonly called slender snakes, and are currently known by seven species that are distributed across the Himalayas, and the Indo-Burma and Indo-China regions.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Pliosaur

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pliosaur

Mains level : NA



News

Pliosaurs

  • Over 150 million years ago, enormous reptiles swam the Jurassic oceans.
  • The largest aquatic carnivorous reptiles that have ever lived, they are often dubbed “sea monsters”.
  • Scientifically, they are placed in the suborder Pliosauroidea, whose members are called pliosaurs.
  • Interest in these giants has been revived with the recent discovery of their bones in a cornfield in the Polish village of Krzyzanowice. Remains of pliosaurs are rare in Europe.

What makes them special?

  • They measured over 10 metres in length and could weigh up to several dozen tons.
  • They had powerful, large skulls and massive jaws with large, sharp teeth.
  • Their limbs were in the form of fins.

Swietokrzyskie Mountains

  • The Swietokrzyskie Mountains are a mountain range in central Poland.
  • In the Jurassic era, the Swietokrzyskie Mountains area is believed to have been an archipelago of islands, where there were warm lagoons and shallow sea reservoirs, home to the marine reptiles discovered by the palaeontologists.
  • The locality where the remains were discovered is considered to be rich in the fossils of coastal reptiles. Researchers now hope to find more remains in the coming months.
Global Geological And Climatic Events

Species in news: Polypedates bengalensis

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Polypedates bengalensis

Mains level : NA



News

  • Researchers have recorded a new species of tree frog in West Bengal.

Polypedates bengalensis

  • The new species has been named Brown Blotched Bengal Tree Frog (Polypedates bengalensis).
  • The name is derived from a series of six to nine dark brown blotches that extend laterally from behind the frog’s eye to the vent.
  • The frog’s body colour is yellowish-brown to greenish-brown.
  • The frogs were seen perched on vegetation, including bamboo, banana and taro leaves, and were calling from a height of 1.2-1.8 m above ground, over stagnant waters bodies that were mostly rainwater pools.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Specie in news: Nelloptodes gretae

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nelloptodes gretae

Mains level : Not Much



News

Nelloptodes gretae

  • Between 1964 and 1965, an entomologist called William Brock collected samples of soil from around east Africa.
  • Inside one of these samples, taken in Kenya and stored in the British Natural History Museum until now, was a tiny species of beetle, pale yellow and gold.
  • Measuring just 0.79 millimetres, the beetle has no eyes or wings, with a small pit between where the eyes should have been.
  • The species has just got a name Nelloptodes gretae, after the teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg.

What’s behind the name?

  • Biological names comprise two words, one for the genus and the second for the species.
  • Traditionally, it is the species name that scientists coin to honour a prominent personality, and sometimes even a friend or a relative.
  • While the species name gretae derives from Greta, the genus Nelloptodes too is new.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: White bellbird- the world’s loudest bird

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bellbirds

Mains level : NA



News

  • Bellbirds have the loudest bird calls yet documented in the world, according to a study.

Bellbirds

  • The study found that their mating songs pack more decibels than the screams of howler monkeys and the bellows of bisons.
  • The male white bellbird’s mating call is about three times louder than screaming phias — the previously loudest bird singer.
  • The bellbird’s calls were so loud that they wondered how the females of the species listened to them at close range without permanent damage to their hearing.
  • The loud singing ability also came with a trade-off, according to the researchers, who said that as the songs of bellbirds became louder, they also got shorter in duration.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Vulture population on the rise in the Nilgiris

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Various threats to wildlife population



News

  • The population of vultures in the Nilgiris has increased by more than 26 % since 2012.
  • However the major threats, such as deliberate poisoning of cattle carcasses, are still prevalent in the region.

Vultures in Nilgiri BR

  • In 2012, the number of vultures seen in the Nilgiris was around 152 individuals, comprising the White-rumped vulture, Asian king vulture and the Long-billed vulture.
  • Since then, the population increased each year till 2014, before sudden crashes in 2015 and 2016.
  • It then recovered to 192 individuals in 2018.
  • While these three species of vulture are known to nest almost exclusively in the Mudumalai and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserves in Southern India, other vulture species, such as the Cinereous vulture, the Himalayan griffon vulture and Egyptian vulture have been spotted visiting the Nilgiris each year.

Drug threat

  • After vulture populations across the Western Ghats, and the rest of India, plummeted in the 1990s, sustained monitoring and concerted conservation efforts led to a recovery in the last decade.
  • The effects diclofenac and other anti-inflammatory drugs had on vultures were first detailed in 2008, at a workshop in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
  • This was done in subsequent workshops in the Nilgiris and Coimbatore in 2011 and 2015.
  • Unlike in other landscapes in India with high vulture population, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs like diclofenac, nimesulides and flunixin, was not as big a threat in the Nilgiris.
  • There was a demand for beef in the region. Cattle were beinge sold to slaughterhouses, which meant that people had very little reason to use expensive drugs to try and keep the animals alive when they fell ill.

Key resolution

  • One of the major resolutions adopted was that the Department of Animal Husbandry would stop procuring non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac, which were given to cattle to cure them of illnesses.
  • This was to ensure that vultures did not die of scavenging carcasses that contained diclofenac residue.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

7 new species of insects that can walk on water discovered

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the species

Mains level : Not Much



News

  • Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India have discovered seven species of water treaders, semi-aquatic insects that can walk or run on the surface of water.

About the species

  • The newly described species belong to the genus Mesovelia whose size ranges from 1.5 mm to 4.5 mm and are equipped with hydrophobic setae (bristles) on their legs.
  • The combination of hydrophobic setae and water surface tension prevents them from sinking.
  • The insects are pale green with silver-white wings with black veins on the basal half which make them stand out over the green mat of aquatic weeds.
  • Among the new discoveries, Mesovelia andamana is from Andaman Islands, bispinosa and M. isiasi are from Meghalaya, M. occulta and M. tenuia from Tamil Nadu and M. brevia and M. dilatata live both in Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu.

Evolution

  • These bugs are hemimetabolous insects without having larval stage i.e., they go from egg to nymph to adult.
  • They are found on freshwater bodies such as ponds, lakes, pools, streams, rocks with moss and sometimes on estuaries.
  • These bugs serve as predators and scavengers (feed on midges, water fleas, feed on dead and dying mosquitoes), thereby removing organic waste and also providing a natural sanitation service.
  • The females of Mesovelia are larger than males and dig several holes on plants and insert eggs in plant tissues with a specially adapted long serrated ovipositor (genital organ).

ZSI finds new species of freshwater fish

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the species

Mains level : Not Much


News

New freshwater fishes

  • Scientists of the Zoological Survey (ZSI) of India have discovered two new species of freshwater fish from the north-eastern and northern parts of the country.
  • Both fish, measuring less than seven centimetres, are hill stream fauna and are equipped with special morphological features to suit rapid water flow.

Glyptothorax gopii

  • It (measuring 63 mm standard length without caudal fin) is dark brown catfish on its dorsal surface, and its ventral surface is of a yellowish-light brown.
  • It has been named to celebrate the contribution of taxonomist K.C. Gopi.
  • It was discovered from Champai district in Mizoram near the India-Myanmar border in Kaladan river.
  • It has an axe-shaped anterior nuchal plate (bone below dorsal fin), which makes it distinct from other species of the genus
  • The elliptical thoracic adhesive apparatus and plicae (folds of tissue) present on the ventral surfaces of the pectoral-fin spine help the fish cling to rocks.

Garra simbalbaraensis

  • It (measuring 69 mm standard length without caudal fin) has a yellowish-grey colour fading ventrally.
  • It takes its name from the Himachal Pradesh’s Simbalbara river.
  • It has a prominent unilobed and rounded proboscis with tubercles that help the fish in manoeuvrability.

Other species discovered

  • The scientist, who heads the freshwater fish section of ZSI, has earlier discovered four species of Gara (which has an evolved disc to attach to rocky surfaces).
  • The discoveries include Garra compressa in the year 1998, elongata (2000), G. tamangi (2016), and G. chindwinensis (2018).
  • Among catfish (characterised by whiskers), the scientist earlier discovered Myersglanis jayarami (1999), Glyptothorax senapatiensis (2015), and Olya parviocula (2018), all from north-eastern India.

All India Tiger Estimation Report – 2018

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tiger census 2018, Tx2

Mains level : Conservation of tigers in India


News

  • India has 2,967 tigers, a third more than in 2014, according to results of a tiger census.
  • India has achieved the target of doubling tiger population four years before the 2022 deadline.

Statewise tiger count

  • According to the census, Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka at 524 and Uttarakhand at number 3 with 442 tigers.
  • While Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers, Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement” since 2014.
  • Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in their tiger numbers while tiger numbers in Odisha remained constant. All other states witnessed a positive trend.

About All India Tiger Estimation

  • The tiger count is prepared after every four years by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) provides details on the number of tigers in the 18 tiger reign states with 50 tiger reserves.
  • However, this time, the census also included data collected from the rough terrains of north-eastern states which was not possible due to logistic constrains before.
  • The entire exercise spanned over four years is considered to be world’s largest wildlife survey effort in terms of coverage and intensity of sampling.
  • Over 15, 000 cameras were installed at various strategic points to capture the movement of tigers. This was supported by extensive data collected by field personnel and satellite mapping.
  • Taking a step further, authorities have attempted to digitize the records by mandating the use of a GIS based app called M-STRiPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) developed by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India.

Back2Basics

Project Tiger

  • Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in April 1973 during PM Indira Gandhi’s tenure.
  • In 1970 India had only 1800 tigers and Project Tiger was launched in Jim Corbett National Park.
  • The project is administrated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  • It aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats, protecting them from extinction etc.
  • Under this project the govt. has set up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers and funded relocation of villagers to minimize human-tiger conflicts.
Tiger Conservation Efforts – Project Tiger, etc.

Species extinction in India

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Extinct species mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • Four species of fauna and 18 species of flora have gone extinct in India in the past few centuries, according to wildlife survey organisations.

Species extinct from India

Flora

  • As per information given by the BSI, 18 species of plants — four non-flowering and 14 flowering — have gone extinct.
  • The notable among them are Lastreopsis wattii , a fern in Manipur discovered by George Watt in 1882 and three species from the genus Ophiorrhiza (Ophiorrhiza brunonis , Ophiorrhiza caudate and Ophiorrhiza radican ), all discovered from peninsular India.
  • Corypha taliera Roxb, a palm species discovered in Myanmar and the Bengal region by William Roxburgh is also extinct.

Fauna

  • Cheetah (Acionyx jubatus)
  • Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensisi) are considered extinct in India.
  • The pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllaceai) is feared extinct since 1950
  • The Himalayan quail (Ophrysia supercililios) was last reported in 1876.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Dracaena cambodiana : India’s first dragon blood-oozing tree

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the specie



News

  • Assam has added to India’s botanical wealth a plant that yields dragon’s blood — a bright red resin used since ancient times as medicine, body oil, varnish, incense and dye.

Dracaena cambodiana

  • A group of researchers has discovered Dracaena cambodiana, a dragon tree species in the Dongka Sarpo area of West Karbi Anglong, Assam.
  • This is for the first time that a dragon tree species has been reported from India.
  • In India, the Dracaena genus belonging to the family Asparagaceae is represented by nine species and two varieties in the Himalayan region, the northeast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • But Dracaena cambodiana is the only true dragon tree species.
  • The Dracaena seeds are usually dispersed by birds. But due to the large fruit size, only a few species of birds are able to swallow the fruits, thus limiting the scope of its natural conservation.
  • Recent overexploitation to meet the increasing demand for dragon’s blood has resulted in rapid depletion of the plant.

Uses

  • Dracaena cambodiana is an important medicinal plant as well as an ornamental tree.
  • It is a major source of dragon’s blood, a precious traditional medicine in China.
  • Several antifungal and antibacterial compounds, antioxidants, flavonoids, etc., have been extracted from various parts of the plant.

Desert Locusts incursion in India

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Locusts Swarm

Mains level : Pests Management



News

  • Recently Agriculture Minister has informed in Parliament that since May 21, there has been an incursion of desert locusts in Rajasthan and Gujarat from areas bordering Pakistan.
  • Neither the desert locust control teams nor any state agriculture functionaries have reported any damage to the crops.

Locusts

  • Locusts are certain species of short-horned grasshoppers that have a swarming phase.
  • Swarming refers to a collective behaviour in which locusts aggregate together just like flocks of birds.
  • These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming grouped.
  • They form bands of wingless nymphs which later become swarms of winged adults.
  • Both the bands and the swarms move around and rapidly strip fields and cause damage to crops.
  • The adults are powerful fliers; they can travel great distances, consuming most of the green vegetation wherever the swarm settles.

Havoc created by locusts

  • Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery—famine and starvation.
  • They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in sustenance farming regions of Africa.
  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is notorious. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface.
  • Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s humans.

Control measures in India

  • India has a Locust Control and Research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), established in 1939.
  • It was amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The LWO’s responsibility is monitoring and control of the locust situation in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and partly in Punjab and Haryana.
  • The LWO publishes a fortnightly bulletin on the locust situation.
  • The latest bulletin on the PPQS website, for the second fortnight of June, said control operations had covered 5,551 hectares by June 30.

With inputs from: National Geographic

Tamil Yeoman declared Tamil Nadu’s state butterfly

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tamil yeoman

Mains level : Not Much



News

  • Tamil Yeoman (Cirrochroa thais) butterfly species endemic to Western Ghats has been declared the state butterfly of Tamil Nadu.

About Tamil Yeoman

  • Uniformly orange in colour with a dark brown outer ring, Tamil Yeoman is among the 32 butterfly species found in the Western Ghats.
  • This butterfly species moves in groups in large numbers, but only in a few places.
  • Also known as Tamil Maravan, which means warrior, these butterflies are found mainly in the hilly areas.
  • An expert team was involved in identifying butterfly species to be declared state butterfly.
  • The team had shortlisted two butterfly species – Tamil yeoman and Tamil Lacewing.
  • The Tamil Yeoman was selected. Both butterfly species are unique in their own ways.
  • The Tamil Lacewing butterfly is very rare and difficult to sight which may have been a reason for the government to prefer Tamil Yeoman.

Why it’s special?

  • For the first time Tamil Nadu has declared its state butterfly and only fifth in the country to do so.
  • Maharashtra was the first to declare Blue Mormon as its state butterfly, followed by Uttarakhand (Common peacock), Karnataka (Southern bird wings) and Kerala (Malabar banded peacock).
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Great Indian Bustard

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Great Indian Bustards

Mains level : Species Recovery Programme



News

May go extinct very soon

  • The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is one of the few species that the Government of India has included in its ‘recovery programme for critically endangered species’.
  • With less than 200 GIBs remaining in the world, most of them found in Rajasthan’s ‘Desert National Park’.
  • We are on the brink of forever losing a majestic bird species, which was once a strong contender to be declared as India’s National Bird.

Various threats to GIBs

I. General threats to GIB

  • Habitat loss & fragmentation, change of land use pattern, desertification, ill-thought plantation of exotic & invasive species in grassland ecosystems are some of the generic causes.
  • Neglect of state institutions due to classification of ‘grasslands’ as ‘wastelands’, conversion of grasslands to agriculture lands due to increasing irrigation potential and decline of nature/GIB-friendly agrarian practices, are all commonly and correctly blamed for the steady decline in India’s GIB population.

II. Role of Noise Pollution

  • Noise pollution affects the mating and courtship practices of the GIB.
  • The male GIB inflates his ‘gular’ pouch (near the neck) which almost touches the ground, in order to produce a large booming sound which reverberates across the grassland.
  • The male GIB does this to attract GIB females and to inform them of his exact location in the vast expanse of the grassland.
  • Thus, the sound of the male GIB should be loud enough to transcend the walls of the sanctuary and be audible to female GIBs in the fields nearby.
  • The noise generated by human activities, whether be it by vehicles, tractors, music during processions, firecrackers, may interfere with the GIB’s mating call and drown it out.

III. Other threats

  • The rate of reproduction amongst GIBs is very low; the female GIB lays only one egg per year.
  • This solitary egg is under threat from natural predators of the grasslands such as jackals, hyenas or foxes or invasive species such as crows or feral dogs.
  • In such a scenario, every opportunity the GIBs lose to mate pushes the species closer to extinction.

Way Forward

  • The best course of action to guarantee the GIB’s revival, is to remove impediments in its natural breeding cycle, including noise barriers.
  • Along with all other measures to revive GIB numbers, the aspect of regulating noise pollution levels needs to be incorporated.
  • This may include techno-fixes such as retro-fitting vehicles/tractors in the area with advanced ‘super-quiet’ silencers.
  • We can co-ordinate with the people and their local leaders to ensure that any procession or ceremony during the pre-monsoon & monsoon period would not make use of high noise making equipment.
  • Unless the villagers’ basic developmental aspirations are linked & simultaneously fulfilled hand-in-hand with GIB conservation, it would be incorrect to expect their full-fledged support to this cause.

Complement this newscard with:

Great Indian Bustard may be extinct soon

Wildlife Conservation Efforts