With India's tiger success story, is it time to save other endangered species too
New Delhi, Aug 01: India has emerged as of one of the biggest and safest habitats for tigers in the world. The tiger population in India has almost doubled from 1,411 in 2006 to 2,967 in 2019.
The significant increase in India's tiger population is a "good sign" as it meets the goal to encourage preservation of all species, particularly those that are endangered.
Of the 17 UN sustainable development goals, 15 deal with "Life on Land" and are focussed on protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss.
Among the main targets of the 15 goals is to "take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species".
At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction in India. In addition, more than 1,000 species of mammals, plants, birds, fungi, reptiles, amphibians, fish and molluscs in India are listed as threatened.
Here is a list of five critically endangered species in India.
Great Indian Bustard
With just 130 great Indian bustards left in the country, the Indian bustard, one of the heaviest birds listed under critically endangered species. The Centre has initiated a project worth ₹33.85 crore for their conservation and protection of the species.
The GIB population has been reduced by 75% in the last 30 years, said the WII report which has compiled various studies conducted by researchers across the country.
Currently, there are two centres for breeding and hatching -- one in Jaisalmer and the other in Kota, both in Rajasthan.
Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972, in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016). It has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
The GIB is one of the heaviest flying birds endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
Globally, pangolins are considered the most trafficked wild mammal and their meat is consumed as a delicacy and as a "tonic food" because of its unproven yet alleged medicinal properties.
Pangolin scales are traded in huge quantities for use in traditional Chinese medicines. Most of the poaching and smuggling across pangolin's range countries is targeted for international markets in China and Southeast Asia, says WWF statement.
India is home to two species of pangolins- Indian Pangolins Manis crassicaudata and Chinese Pangolins Manis pentadactyla. Hunting and trade in both the pangolin species is banned under India's Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 while international trade is prohibited under CITES (Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
Despite this protection, the trade continues unabated threatening the future of species in the wild.
The Indian star tortoises are a vulnerable and endangered species according to the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. Most of the pet trade involves small to medium- sized animals, few exceeding 10 cm reported the illegal collection of at least 55,000 (mostly juvenile) tortoises from just one location from India over a period of one year.
Extensive conversion of their habitat to less suitable agricultural land is likely to reduce populations further in the future.
There are concerns that this species is being illegally smuggled from India into pet markets in Asia, Europe, and the United States. However, the majority of animals appear to be destined for use as exotic pets in Asian countries, such as Thailand, China, and Malaysia.
Populations of critically endangered Gharial in India have declined approximately 58 per cent between 1997 and 2006, according to a new study by the WWF.
The WWF's Living Planet Report 2018 presented a picture of impact of human activity on the world's wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action.
This species of crocodile, endemic to India, wasdeclared as 'critically endangered' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Following this, the government started the conservation process of this species.
Malabar civets are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Last checked, there were fewer than 250 adult individuals still surviving in the wild. Loss of habitat and hunting has pushed the species to the brink of extinction.
The species is native to the Western Ghats and found mostly in southern Indian regions such as Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, Wayanad, Kerala and Coorg, Karnataka.