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July 02, 2018

Essay - Endangered Wildlife in India


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Endangered Wildlife in India

  • Meaning of endangered species. 
  • Relation between the different species and the biodiversity of the world.
  • Classification of the species according to the IUCN.
  • List of the endangered species in India.
  • The causes of extinction. 
  • Initiatives taken by the Government of India to protect endangered species. 
  • The different programmes taken by the UNESCO.
  • Some important projects and laws launched by the Government of India to protect wildlife.
  • Main causes regarding the threats to wildlife.
  • Necessity of conservation.
Endangered species is the second most severe conservation status for wildlife in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data Book, after critically endangered. Any wildlife species is classified as endangered if any of the following criteria is met i.e. population size less than 250 mature members; reduction in population at the rate of 70% in the last 10 years; probability of extinction in wild is 20% in the next 20 years; facing high risk of extinction in the wild. 

Species are considered as the building blocks of biodiversity. However, due to unprecedented proportions of threat because of urbanisation, pollution and other authropogenic interventions, the biodiversity is shrinking.

Today, due to extinction of species, the biodiversity of world is threatened. Around the world there are 35 hotspots which support 43% birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians as endemic. India is home to three such hotspots—Eastern Himalayas, Indo-Burma and Western ghats. These areas also supports myriad wildlife population. However, many of these wildlives are threatened due to trespassing by man. 

IUNC has compiled a list called 'Red Data Book'. 'Red' is symbolic of the danger that these species presently experience. IUCN has defined various categories or level at which different species are ranked in the list. The classification is extinct, extinct in wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened and least concern.

IUNC classifies the species under various categories by assessing them under following definitions 
  • Extinct species are the species whose last member has died, therefore leaving no surviving individual to reproduce. 
  • Critically endangered is the highest risk category assigned for wild species. It means that the species number have decreased or will decrease by 80% within three generations. 
  • Endangered species is the population of organisms which are at a risk of becoming extinct because either they are very few in number or are threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. 
  • Vulnerable species are the species which are likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve. 
  • Extinct in the wild are the species known only by living member kept in captivity or as a naturalised population outside its historic range due to massive habitat loss. 
  • Near threatened species are species that may be considered threatened with extinction in the near future. 
  • Least concern species are the ones which are evaluated by not qualify for any other category to bring attention to them. 
  • Data deficient species are the species which indicate that there is inadequate information to make a direct or indirect, assessment of taxons' risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population status.
According to IUCN Red Data List, there are 76 extinct, 2 extinct in the wild, 188 critically endangered, 448 endangered, 505 vulnerable, 323 near threatened, 3109 least concern and 836 data deficient species. In India statistics of few important species are Royal Bengal Tiger (Project tiger): Population 2226; Gangetic River Dolphin : Population 1200-1800 Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary Asian Elephant : Population 40000-50000 Project Elephant; Snow Leopard : Population 4080-6590 Project Snow Leopard. 

In India, some critically endangered species are Sumatran Rhino, Kashmir Stag, Pygmy hog etc. Under the endangered category are Lion tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Tahr, Great Indian one horn Rhinoceros etc. Some vulnerable animals are Black Buck, Gaur, Red Panda etc. 

The causes of extinction of species can be analysed by two methods. Firstly, cause and effect, where due to extraneous reasons it happens e.g. ice age, anthropogenic causes, forest fires etc. Secondly, the extinction may be caused due to some random events viz food shortage, increase in number of predators, extreme weather events etc.

To conserve wildlife and protect endangered species, India adopted the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. This act basically prohibited trade in rare ▪ and endangered species. Government at a central level assisted the State Government to strengthen their managerial and protectional infrastructure, protection of wildlife, control on poaching and illegal trade, captive 41006 • breeding programmes, wildlife education and interpretation, development of zoos, conservation of Rhinos in Assam and protection of Tiger, Elephant etc. The Act was amended in 2002 for making even more effective provisions for the endangered plants and animals. The Indian Board of Wildlife was also reconstituted to oversee and guide the implementation of various schemes. 

The Government of India runs various projects like Project Tiger, Project Elephant, Project Hangul, Indian Crocodile Conservation Project, Protected Area Network, Action Plan for Vulture Conservation in India and many more. 

In India, under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, significant changes have taken place to protect the wildlife through a network of protected areas. Both, State Government and Central Government has the authority to announce wildlife sanctuaries in India. 

Wildlife sanctuaries are made to ensure protection of the areas of ecological significance. Under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, sanctuaries as well as national parks can be declared. National parks enjoys greater degree of protection as certain activities are regulated in these areas. 

At the global level conservation effort was launched in 1970 under Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB). MAB employs natural science, social science, technological interventions, awareness programmes to improve livelihood of man and safeguard the ecosystem. 

Thus, promoting sustainability of the system. In 1976 under the aegis of UNESCO's MAB programme Biosphere Reserve Network Programme was launched. Biosphere reserves as defined by UNESCO is area of terrestrial and coastal ecosystem promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. Biosphere reserves serve in some ways as 'Living Laboratories' for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity. 

Biosphere reserve has core zone, buffer zone and transition zone. The core zone is left absolutely undisturbed. Some biosphere reserves of India are Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (first in India), Great Rann of Kutch (biggest). Ten out of eighteen biosphere reserves of India are in the world network of biosphere reserves of UNESCO under MAB Programme. 

In India, animal specific conservation efforts have been carried out for : Tiger, Elephant, Vulture, one Horned Rhino, Snow Leopard, Sea Turtles, Crocodiles, Dolphins (river) etc. Project tiger is the most discussed and most valued one in India, as 'tiger' is our national animal. Therefore, in 1973 Project Tiger was launched to save the tiger population. Presently there are 48 tiger reserves in the country. 

In its latest census in 2015 the tiger population grew to 2226 from 1706 in 2011. The tiger population in India is determined through : Pugmark technique, Camera trappings and DNA fingerprinting. Dolphin is also of significance as they have been declared as the national aquatic animal. Dolphins are mostly found in this region in Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna. They are threatened because of fishing and recreational tourism.

In order to protect wildlife in India various legislations like Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Coastal Regulation Zone, Wetland Conservation and Management Rules 2010 were launched. Organisations involved in this field are Animal Welfare Board of India, Central Zoo Authority, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, National Ganga River Basin Authority.

Threats to wildlife due to man are caused due to hunting, poaching, man-animal conflict due to rising population, deforestation, land use transformation, tourism, forest fires, illegal trade of tusks, hide, horn etc, Various International conventions are active in conservation efforts. 

Ramsar convention on wetlands adopted in 1975 is critically responsible for conservation of migratory birds. CITES convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, came into force in 1975. Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) also known as Bonn Convention. Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), Global Tiger Forum also contribute is conservation of wildlife. 

Valuing and conserving nature enhances the relation of man and nature. Wildlife plays an important role in the ecology and food chain. Disturbing their numbers or in extreme case extinction can have wide ranging effect over ecology and man. Therefore, need of the hour is to co-ordinate with international organisations for their conservation. 

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Unprecedented without previous instance; never before known or experienced
  • Anthropogenic caused or produced by humans
  • Endemic belonging exclusively or confined to a particular place;
  • Myriad an indefinitely great number or innumerable
  • Trespassing an encroachment or intrusion
  • Predation a mode of life in which food is primarily obtained by killing and consuming of animals
  • Extraneous not relating to the subject or situation that you are dealing with
  • Aegis the protection or support of a particular person or organisation 
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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