SPR 2021: Important Species in News for Prelims 2021

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.





In this article, we will study:

  1. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories.
  2. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) categories.
  3. Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 schedules.
  4. All the species that have been in news in 2020 and 2021.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories
  • Established in 1948, the IUCN is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It has an observer and consultative status at the United Nations.
  • It is best known for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.
  • There are 9 categories in the Red List of Threatened Species: a) Extinct, b) Extinct in the Wild, c) Critically Endangered, d) Endangered, e) Vulnerable, f) Near Threatened, g) Least Concern, h) Data Deficient and i) Not Evaluated.
  • Among the categories, Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU) species are considered to be threatened with extinction.
Category Details
Extinct (EX)
  • The last individual has died or systematic and time-appropriate surveys have been unable to find even a single individual.
Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Members of the species survive only in captivity or as artificially supported populations; outside their historical geographic range.
Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Species are at extremely high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 80 to more than 90% over the previous 10 years (or three generations, whichever is longer), a current population size of fewer than 50 individuals, or other factors.
Endangered (EN)
  • Species are at a very high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 50 to more than 70% over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 250 individuals, or other factors.
Vulnerable (VU)
  • Species are at very high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 30 to more than 50% over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 1,000 individuals, or other factors.
Near Threatened (NT)
  • Species are close to becoming threatened or may meet the criteria for threatened status in the near future.
Least Concern (LC)
  • Species that are pervasive and abundant after careful assessment.
Data Deficient (DD)
  • Complete assessment not completed.
Not Evaluated (NE)
  • Species are described in science but not assessed by IUCN.

 

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Categories
  • CITES was drafted after a resolution was adopted at a meeting of the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963.
  • It entered into force in 1973.
  • It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  • Species are categorised under three Appendixes and are given varying degrees of protection.
Categories Details
Appendix I
  • Includes species threatened with extinction. Trade-in specimens of these species are permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
Appendix II
  • Includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
Appendix III
  • Includes species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

 

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
  • The Act provides for the protection of plants and animals in India. 
  • It consists of 6 schedules that provide a varying degree of protection.
  • The Act provides for the formation of wildlife advisory boards, wildlife wardens, specifies their powers and duties, etc.
  • It helped India become a party to the CITES.
Categories Details
Schedule I & II
  • Animal species are given the highest protection.
  • Hunting (except when a threat to human life) is prohibited.
  • Wildlife trade is strictly prohibited.
  • Offences under this schedule prescribed the highest penalties.
  • Example: Tiger, Lion (Schedule I), Himalayan Brown Bear, King Cobra (Schedule II).
Schedule III & IV
  • Animal protected but the penalty for any violation is less compared to the first two schedules.
  • Example Hyena (Schedule III), Swans (Schedule IV).
Schedule V
  • Animals listed in the schedule are called vermin which can be hunted.
  • Example: Mice, rat.
Schedule VI
  • Cultivation, collection, extraction, trade of plants and its derivatives are prohibited
  • Example: Red Vanda, Blue Vanda.

 

Important Species which were in News (2020-21)

 

Species

Important Facts, Conservation Status and Threats

Ophiocordyceps sinensis

  • Context:
    • Also known as Himalayan Viagra, it is the world’s costliest fungus.
    • It has entered the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
    • IUCN has placed the fungus, known for its aphrodisiac and rejuvenation properties, in the ‘vulnerable’ category.
    • The fungus, also known as keeda Jadi in Uttarakhand because of its caterpillar-like appearance is endemic to the Himalayan and Tibetan plateau and is found in China, Bhutan, Nepal, and India.
  • About:
    • In India, it is primarily found in Uttarakhand in the higher reaches of districts like Pithoragarh and Chamoli.

Indian Bullfrog

 

  • Scientific name:
    • Hoplobatrachus tigerinus.
  • IUCN status:
    • Least Concern category.
  • Habitats:
    • South and South-East Asia.
  • About:
    • It is the largest frog found in the Indian Subcontinent.
    • They often engage in cannibalism by feeding on smaller individuals of their own kind and on other frogs.
    • Its loud croaking call attracts the opposite sex, but also predators.
    • It is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1971.

Globba andersonii

  • Context:
    • Researchers have “rediscovered” this plant species from the Sikkim Himalayas near the Teesta river valley region after a gap of nearly 136 years.
    • It was thought to have been extinct until its “re-collection”, for the first time since 1875.
  • About:
    • It is a rare and critically endangered plant species.
    • It is commonly as ‘dancing ladies’ or ‘swan flowers’.
    • They are characterised by white flowers, non-appendaged anthers (the part of a stamen that contains the pollen), and a “yellowish lip”.
    • The species is restricted mainly to the Teesta River Valley region which includes the Sikkim Himalayas and Darjeeling hill ranges.
    • The plant usually grows in a dense colony as a lithophyte (plant growing on bare rock or stone).

Striped Hairstreak 

 

  • Context:
    • Lepidopterists have discovered two species of butterflies in Arunachal Pradesh. They are:
  • About:
    1. The Striped Hairstreak (Yamamotozephyrus kwangtugenesis) was located in Vijaynagar bordering Myanmar. It was first recorded by Japanese entomologists in Hainan province of China.
    2. The Elusive Prince (Rohana tonkiniana) was found in Miao on the periphery of the Namdapha National Park. It has a Vietnamese connection and was thought to be the more familiar Black Prince found in the Eastern Himalayas.

Ground Orchid

 

  • Eulophia obtusa, a rare orchid species, also known as 'ground orchid', has been rediscovered after 118 years in the forests of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
  • In India, this species was last sighted in Pilibhit in 1902 and there is a documented record in Kew Herbarium in England.
  • It is listed as “critically endangered” as per the IUCN Red List of endangered species.
  • CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora) has also included this plan as a rare species and kept it in the Tier-2 list and its trade is prohibited.

Tiger Orchids

 

  • Tiger orchids (Grammatophyllum speciosum) are called so for their large and resplendent flowers that resemble the tiger skin.
  • They flower in alternate years.
  • These epiphytic plants are not native to India. They, in fact, are endemic to southeast Asia.
  • The tiger orchid has an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records due to its massive size. A mature plant in its natural habitat weighs up to 2 tonnes.

Bathynomus raksasa

 

  • Context:
    • It is a “supergiant” Bathynomus, and is being described as the “cockroach of the sea”.
    • It is the first 'supergiant' isopod species discovered recently by researchers in the eastern Indian Ocean (Bantan, off the southern coast of West Java in Indonesia).
  • About:
    • It has 14 legs but uses these only to crawl along the bed of oceans in search of food.
    • It measures around 50 centimetres (1.6 feet) in length, which is big for isopods, which normally do not grow beyond 33 cm (just over a foot).
    • Isopods that reach 50 cm are referred to as supergiants.
    • The giant isopods are distantly related to crabs, lobsters, and shrimps (which belong to the order of decapods), and are found in the cold depths of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
    • The only member of the isopod species that exceeds the raksasa in size is the Bathynomus giganteus, which is commonly found in the deep waters of the western Atlantic Ocean.

Dhole (Asiatic wild dog)

 

  • Context:
    • Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh rank high in the conservation of the endangered dhole in India, according to a new study.
  • About:
    • Dhole is an apex social carnivore in the tropical forests of South and Southeast Asia.
    • Endangered –IUCN.
    • CITES – Appendix II.
    • Schedule II of wildlife act.
    • Disease and pathogens: Dholes are susceptible to rabies, canine distemper, canine parvovirus, and sarcoptic mange among others which are usually contracted from domestic village dogs that act as reservoirs.

Pangolin

 

Context: Scientists had said that Pangolins could be responsible for the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

About:

  • Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin are found in India.
  • The only scaly mammal on the planet.
  • The most illegally traded vertebrate within its class (Mammalia), according to CITES.
  • Habitat:
    • Indian Pangolin is widely distributed in India, except in the arid region, high Himalayas and the North-East. The species is also found in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
    • Chinese Pangolin is found in the Himalayan foothills in Eastern Nepal, Bhutan, Northern India, North-East Bangladesh and through Southern China.
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN:
      • Indian Pangolin: Endangered
      • Chinese Pangolin: Critically Endangered
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats: 
    1. Hunting and poaching for local consumptive use (e.g. as a protein source and traditional medicine), and
    2. international trade for its meat and scales in East and South-East Asian countries, particularly China and Vietnam.

 Cheetah

Context: Introduction of African Cheetah from Namibia in India.

About:

  • World’s fastest land mammal.
  • Habitat:
    • Native to Africa and central Iran.
    • Inhabit a variety of ecosystems; areas with greater availability of prey, good visibility and minimal chances of encountering larger predators are preferred- mostly grasslands (savanna).
    • Seldom occur in tropical forests. 
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN: 
      1. African Cheetah: Vulnerable
      2. Asiatic Cheetah: Critically endangered
    • CITES: Appendix I (both)
  • Threats:
    1. habitat loss and fragmentation of populations due to industrial and agricultural development,
    2. ecological degradation, like bush encroachment common in southern Africa,
    3. Illegal wildlife trade and trafficking,
    4. road accidents,
    5. diseases.

Blue Pansy Butterfly

  • Context:
    • Recently, a Blue Pansy Butterfly was spotted by various environmentalists.
  • About:
    • It belongs to the largest butterfly family called Nymphalidae that has over 6,000 species worldwide.
    • Its scientific name is Junonia orithiya that has a coloration as vibrant as the hybrid flower found most often in ornamental gardens.
    • It is a species of bright blue butterflies found in parts of Southeast Asian countries, Australia and Africa.
    • They prefer open habitats, like grasslands, wastelands, woodlands, open forest areas, and farmlands.
    • The host plants, where they lay their eggs, belong to the family Acanthaceae like Peela Vajradanti (Barleria prionitis) and the Philippine Violet or Bluebell Barleria (Barleria cristata).
    • It is listed under the 'Not Evaluated' category of the IUCN List of Threatened Species.

Hilsa fish

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Commerce Ministry of Bangladesh has given special permission for traders to export Hilsa fish to India on a limited scale in view of the forthcoming Durga Puja.
  • About Hilsa fish:
    • It is a saltwater fish that migrates from the Bay of Bengal to the fresh waters of Ganga to spawn.
    • It is well distributed in the Ganga-Brahmaputra river systems in India and Bangladesh.
    • It is a species of fish related to the herring, in the family Clupeidae.
    • It is the national fish of Bangladesh and a state symbol in the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura.
  • IUCN red list: “Threatened Species”.

Danaid Eggfly 

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Danaid Eggfly was being observed under the Cornell University initiative of monitoring rare sightings of birds.
  • About Danaid Eggfly:
    • It belongs to the largest family of butterflies, Nymphalidae.
    • The butterflies in this family are also called Brush-footed Butterflies, where the forelegs (first pair of legs) are reduced in size and covered with long hair, much like brushes.
    • It is an inhabitant of an open country with moderate rainfall.
    • They are found across Africa, Asia, and Australia.
  • Conservation:
    • It is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1972.
    • It is categorised as 'Not Evaluated' under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
    • The females of Danaid Eggfly mimic (in appearance) the similar-sized Plain Tiger, which is a toxic butterfly with the toxic Milkweed as its host plant.
    • The Danaid Eggfly (Hypolimnas misippus) has an evolutionary adaptation.

Sloth Bears

 

  • Scientific Name: Melursus ursinus
  • Habitat: Also called the honey bear, Hindi bhalu, it is a forest-dwelling member of the family Ursidae (comprises
    • 8 species of bears) that inhabits tropical or subtropical regions of India and Sri Lanka.
  • Protection Status:
    • ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List.
    • Appendix I in CITES listing.
    • Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Threats:
    • Habitat loss, poaching for body parts, and are sometimes captured for use in performances or hunted because of their aggressive behavior and destruction of crops. Himalayan Black Bear

Ursus thibetenus/Asiatic black bear

 

  • Scientific Name: Ursus thibetenus
  • Habitat: Also called Asiatic black bear, it inhabits mountainous and heavily forested areas across southern and eastern Asia.
  • Protection Status:
    • 'Vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List.
    • Appendix I in CITES listing.
    • Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Threats: 
    • Illegal hunting for body parts, specifically the gallbladder, paws, and skiing poses the main threat, together with habitat loss caused by logging, expansion of human settlements, and roads.

Red Sandalwood

 

  • Context:
    • India’s sandalwood trees are facing a serious threat due to Sandalwood Spike Disease (SSD).
  • About SSD:
    • Caused by: Phytoplasma — bacterial parasites of plant tissues — which are transmitted by insect vectors.
  • Cure:
    • There is no cure as of now for the infection.
    • Presently, there is no option but to cut down and remove the infected tree to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Concerns:
    • About 1% to 5% of sandalwood trees are lost every year due to the disease, scientists warn that it could wipe out the entire natural population if measures are not taken to prevent its spread.
  • Red Sandalwood:
    • Red sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) is endemic to South India.
    • They are found in the Tropical Dry Deciduous forest of the Palakonda and Seshachalam hill ranges of Andhra Pradesh and also found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
    • Red Sanders usually grows in the rocky, degraded, and fallow lands with Red Soil and a hot and dry climate.
  • Conservation Status
    • IUCN: near threatened
    • CITES: listed in Appendix II
    • Benefits: It is known for its rich hue and therapeutic properties, is high in demand across Asia, particularly in China and Japan, for cosmetics and medicinal products, wood-works, and musical instruments.
    • Cost: Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that a tonne of red sanders costs anything between Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 1 crore in the international market.

Komodo Dragon

 

  • Context:
    • According to a recent study, these lizards could become extinct in the next few decades due to climate change unless measures are taken to change the status quo
  • About:
    • They are the largest lizards on Earth.
    • They have venom glands loaded with toxins that have been shown to secrete anticoagulants.
    • Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is situated in The Island of Komodo (eastern Indonesia) and is the habitat for this lizard species.
    • IUCN Status of the animal is Vulnerable.

African Baobab Tree

 

  • Context:
    • A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports has found that the tree 'African Baobab' has 168 chromosomes.
  • About African Baobab Tree:
    • Baobabs are deciduous trees ranging in height from 5 to 20 meters.
    • The African baobab (Adansonia digitata) is one of the nine species of baobab and is native to mainland Africa. They are also found in African Savannah.
    • Oldest Known Angiosperm Tree.
    • Carbon-14 dating places the age of a specimen of African baobab in Namibia at about 1,275 years.
    • As African baobab is succulent, which means that during the rainy season it absorbs and stores water in its vast trunk, enabling it to produce a nutrient-dense fruit in the dry season when all around is dry and arid.
    • Baobab trees can live for more than a thousand years and provide food, livestock fodder, medicinal compounds, and raw materials.

Pothos Boyceanus

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, the researchers at the scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) have identified Pothos Boyceanus in the Western Ghats.
  • About:
    • It is a rare species of the climber of the genus Pothos (family Araceae).
    • The species has been christened Pothos boyceanus after Peter C. Boyce, an expert on Araceae of southeast Asia.
    • Pothos boyceanus belongs to the same family as Colocasia.
    • It is characterised by a ligule, slightly-winged petiole, asymmetric lamina, cylindric spadix and ovoid, milky-white berries.
    • Pothos boyceanus belongs to the subgenus Allopothos and is closely related to Pothos crassipedunculatus.
    • The surveys could locate fewer than 100 individuals found scattered in a 10-sq km area which qualifies it for categorisation as Critically Endangered as per IUCN.

Sonneratia alba

 

  • Context:
    • Maharashtra is set to become the first state in the country to declare Sonneratia alba as a state mangrove tree species.
  • About:
    • It is an evergreen mangrove tree in the family Lythraceae.
    • Sonneratia alba grows up to five feet and bears white flowers with a pink base as well as green fruits that resemble apples and are used to make pickles.
    • It grows naturally in many tropical and subtropical areas from East Africa to the Indian subcontinent, southern China, the Ryukyu Islands, Indochina, Malesia, Papuasia, Australia, and the Western Pacific region. Its habitat is sheltered around sandy seashores and tidal creeks.
    • They often grow on newly-formed mudflats and play an important role in combating land erosion. The flowers, which bloom at night, are pollinated by nocturnal creatures like bats.
    • Maharashtra already has the state tree (mango), state animal (giant squirrel), state bird (green pigeon), state butterfly (Blue Mormon), and state flower (jarul).

Kalinga cricket frog

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, Indian scientists from the Zoological Survey of India, Pune have reported a first-of-its-kind discovery of morphological phenotypic plasticity (MPP) in the Kalinga cricket frog.
  • About Kalinga Frog:
    • Scientific Name: Fejervarya kalinga.
    • It is a recently identified species that was documented in 2018.
    • It was thought to be endemic to the hill ranges of the Eastern Ghats. But now, researchers have reported the Kalinga cricket frog from the central Western Ghats, with the evidence of considerable ‘morphological phenotypic plasticity (MPP)’
    • Cricket frogs are indicators of a healthy ecosystem and live in wide habitat ranges in agricultural fields, streams, swamps, and wetlands.
  • What is 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.

Leptarma Biju

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, researchers from the National University of Singapore and the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, have reported a new species called Leptarma Biju.
  • About:
    • It is a new species of tree-spider crab from a mangrove forest in Kasaragod, Kerala.
    • The new species is named Leptarma Biju after A. Biju Kumar who is the head of the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala.
    • It is the first report of the genus Leptarma from India.
    • Its characteristic features are its long ambulatory legs and short and hook-like dactylus that have adapted the crustacean for tree-climbing.

Lantana bushes

 

  • Context:
    • A special drive to uproot the invasive lantana bushes in the famous Sajjangarh wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan’s Udaipur district under “Mission Lantana” helped in the ecological restoration of grasslands and saved biodiversity.
  • About:
    • Lantana camara is a small perennial shrub, which forms extensive, dense, and impenetrable thickets.
    • Native to Central and South America.
    • It is an invasive species that was introduced in tropical regions as an ornamental plant (introduced in India in 1807).
    • It is generally deleterious to biodiversity and is an agricultural weed.
  • Impact:
    • The thickets covered vast tracts of land, stopping the natural light and nutrition for other flora and fauna.
    • The toxic substance in its foliage and ripe berries affected the animals.
    • With the herbivores not getting sufficient forage, the prey base for carnivorous animals was declining, leading to ecological disturbances in the food chain.

Pipeworts

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) have discovered two new species of pipeworts, a type of wetland plant, from areas along the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  • About Pipeworts:
    • Eriocaulon is a genus of about 400 species of monocotyledonous flowering plants in the family Eriocaulaceae.
    • It is commonly known as pipeworts widely distributed in tropical regions, particularly southern Asia and the Americas.
    • The genus Eriocaulon is usually adapted to soft water.
    • It is a quite small, very narrow-leaved, and almost cushion-growing plant that demands a good supply of light and carbon dioxide to develop.
    • The species found in Maharashtra is named Eriocaulon parvicephalum for its distinct minute inflorescence size.

Barn Owls (Tyto alba)

 

  • Context:
    • The Lakshadweep Administration had embarked on the ‘Pilot project on Biological Control of Rodents (Rats) by Using Barn Owls (Tyto alba) in Kavaratti Island’.
  • About:
    • The barn owl is the most widespread landbird species in the world, occurring in every continent except Antarctica. They are one of the most widespread owls in the Indian Subcontinent.
    • These owls are medium-sized with long legs and wings and have a relatively shorter tail when compared to other similar-sized owls.
    • Barn Owl exhibits dark eyes and a distinct heart-shaped facial disc.
    • This owl doesn’t have the characteristic ‘woo-woo-woo’ hoot of owls and utters a screechy ‘shreeeeeeeee’ to protect its territory.
    • IUCN status- Least Concern.

Chinese pink dolphins

  • Context:
    • According to recent observations, Chinese pink dolphins are making a comeback in the Pearl River estuary, one of the most heavily industrialised areas on Earth.
  • About:
    • The Scientific Name is Sousa Chinensis.
    • Habitat is in Coastal waters of the eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans.
    • This species is often referred to as the Chinese white/pink dolphin in China (including Macao), Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore as a common name.
    • IUCN Status is vulnerable.
    • The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) has seen a decline in their numbers in the past 15 years by 70- 80%.
  • Threats are :
    • (1) Agricultural, industrial, and urban pollution; (2) Overfishing; (3) Marine construction; (4) Transport; (5) Selling into captivity at marine entertainment parks and aquariums.

Fishing Cat

 

  • Context:
    • The Chilika Development Authority(CDA) has designated the fishing cat as an ambassador which is being called an important step towards conservation of the vulnerable species.
  • About Fishing Cat:
    • It is a medium-sized wildcat found in South and Southeast Asia.
    • They are nocturnal and are an adept swimmer which enters water frequently to prey on fish and other animals.
    • In India, fishing cats are mainly found in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, on the foothills of the Himalayas along the Ganga and Brahmaputra river valleys, and in the Western Ghats.
    • In 2012, the West Bengal government officially declared the Fishing Cat as the State Animal.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
    • CITES: Appendix II
    • Indian Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Schedule I
  • Threat: Habitat Destruction, Hunting, Ritual Practices, Poaching among others.

Himalayan Brown Bear

 

  • Context:
    •  The Himalayan Brown Bear is one of the largest carnivores in the highlands of the Himalayas. The study carried out in the western Himalayas by scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) predicted a massive decline of 73% of the bear's habitat by the year 2050.
  • About: 
    • The Himalayan Brown Bear also was known as the Himalayan red bear.
    • The bears are found in Nepal, Tibet, West China, North India, North Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, entire Kyrgyzstan, and Southeast Kazakhstan.
    • Status of Conservation: Critically endangered in the IUCN category.
    • International trade is prohibited by the Wildlife Protection Act in India.
    • In India, brown bears are present in 23 protected areas in the northern states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttaranchal.

Lion-tailed macaque

 

  • Context:
    • Habitat loss puts lion-tailed macaque on IUCN endangered list for the sixth time.
  • About:
    • The scientific name is Macaca silenus.
    • It is a primate endemic to small and severely fragmented rainforests of the Western Ghats in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
    • It is also known under its original name of Sahyadri or Benevolent Mountains.
    • Lion-tailed macaques play important role in the ecosystem they live in, as they disperse seeds of fruits and plants they consume.
  • Conservation efforts
    • Appendix I of CITES
    • Schedule I, Part I, of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
    • IUCN: Endangered.
    • The Lion-tailed Macaque is considered to be omnivorous, eating mainly fruit, insects, eggs as well as small animals on occasion.

Indian Gazelle (Chinkara)

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, the ornithologists and researchers from Pune have reported three successful incidents in which Chinkara fawns were rescued, examined, treated, and re-wilded during foaling season.
  • About:
    • The Indian Gazelle (Chinkara) is an antelope endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
    • Chinkara is native to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
    • It is protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
    • Chinkara is herbivores (folivores, frugivores) as they feed on grasses, different leaves, and fruits (melon, pumpkin).
    • Chinkara is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Eriocaulon parvicephalum & karaavalense

 

  • Context:
    • Two new plant species were discovered in the Western Ghats:
  • About: 
    • Eriocaulon parvicephalum (due to its minute inflorescence size).
    • Eriocaulon karaavalense (named after Karaavali, Coastal Karnataka region). Pipeworts (Eriocaulon) is a plant group that completes its life cycle within a small period during the monsoon.
    • Around 111 species of pipeworts are found in India.
    • Most of these are reported from the Western Ghats and the eastern Himalayas, and around 70% of them are endemic to the country.
    • They are known for their anti-cancerous, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties.

Abortelphusa Namdaphaensis

 

  • Context:
    • It is a new freshwater crab species found recently on the edge of a small stream in Namdapha Tiger Reserve.
  • About: 
    • The genus (Abortelphusa) is named after the Abor Hills, the species (Namdaphaensis) is named after Namdapha.
    • Namdapha is known for its rich biodiversity and is believed to be the rare area that harbours four large cats: tigers, snow leopards, clouded leopards, and leopards.

Aenigmachanna gollum

 

  • It belongs to an old family of fish, called dragon snakeheads.
  • It lives in underground aquifers.
  • The name has been inspired by the character Gollum, who always stays underground, in the movie 'Lord of the Rings”.
  • It has been spotted recently in Kerala.
  • The scientists came to know about the fish through social media.
  • It is assumed that they originated in the Gondwanaland which later split into the continents of Asia and Africa.

Blue Macaws

 

  • Context:
    • Recently six blue or hyacinth macaws and two capuchin monkeys were released in the Assam State Zoo-cumBotanical Garden in Guwahati.
  • About Blue Macaws:
    • The Scientific Name is Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus.
    • It is a parrot native to central and eastern South America.
    • With a length of about one meter it is longer than any other species of parrot.
    • It is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species.
  • Protection status:
    • International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List: Vulnerable.
    • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix I.
  • Threat:
    • Habitat loss and the trapping of wild birds for the pet trade have taken a heavy toll on their population in the wild.

Capuchin Monkeys

 

  • Context:
    • Recently six blue or hyacinth macaws and two capuchin monkeys were released in the Assam State Zoo-cumBotanical Garden in Guwahati.
  • About:
    • Scientific name: Cebus.
    • Capuchin Monkeys, also called sapajou, is a common Central and South American primate found in tropical forests from Nicaragua to Paraguay.
    • They are named for their “caps” of hair, which resemble the cowls of Capuchin monks.
  • Protection status:
    • International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List: Least concerned.

Bubble-nest frog

 

  • Context:
    • Recently a group of scientists has reported a new genus of treefrog from the Andaman Islands called Striped Bubble-nest frog.
  • About Bubble-nest frog:
    • Biological name: Rohanixalus vittatus.
    • Striped Bubble-nest frog belongs to the genus of the Old World treefrog family Rhacophoridae.
    • This is the first report of a tree frog species from the Andaman Islands.
  • FEATURES:
    • Small and slender body (2-3 cm long).
    • A pair of contrastingly coloured lateral lines on either side of the body. Minute brown speckles scattered throughout the upper body.
    • They are also known as Asian Glass Frogs or see-through frogs.
    • Light green-coloured eggs laid in arboreal bubble-nests.

Willow Warbler

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, Willow Warbler has been sighted for the first time in the country at Punchakkari in Kerala.
  • About Willow Warbler:
    • Scientific name: Phylloscopus Trochilus.
    • It is one of the longest migrating small birds which breeds throughout northern and temperate Europe and the Palearctic.
    • Vegetation: It is a bird of open woodlands with trees and ground cover for nesting, including most importantly birch, alder, and willow habitats.
    • IUCN Status: Least Concern.

Purple Frog

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, a senior forest officer has said that the proposal for declaring the purple frog as Kerala’s official amphibian, is in the active consideration of the state government.
  • About Purple Frog:
    • Scientific Name: Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis.
    • Common Name: It is also known as Purple Frog, Maveli frog or Pignose Frog.
    • Family: The purple frog is a frog species belonging to the family Sooglossidae.
  • Features:
    • Its body appears robust and bloated and is relatively rounded compared to other flattened frogs. Compared to other frogs, N. sahyadrensis has a small head and an unusually pointed snout.
    • Adults are typically dark purplish-grey in color.
    • It lives almost its entire life in underground tunnels, comes out to the surface for a single day in a year to breed.
  • Distribution:
    • Earlier thought to be restricted to the south of the Palghat Gap in the Western Ghats, the species is now known to be quite widely distributed in the Western Ghats.
  • History:
    • Herpetologists believe that the species should be rightly called a ‘living fossil’ as its evolutionary roots suggest it could have shared space with dinosaurs going back almost 70 million years ago.
  • Conservation Status:
    • It is listed as endangered on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Malayan Giant Squirrel

(Ratufa bicolor)

 

  • Context: 
    • A first-of-its-kind study by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has projected that the numbers of the Malayan Giant Squirrel could decline by 90 percent in India by 2050, and if urgent steps are not taken, the species could be extinct in the country in subsequent decades.
  • About:
    • It is one of the world's largest squirrel species that has a dark upper body, pale underparts, and a long, bushy tail.
    • It is currently found in parts of West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland. It is native to North-East India.
    • It is also distributed through Southern China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, the Malayan Peninsula, Sumatra, and Java. It is found mostly in evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, from plains to hills at elevations of 50 m to 1,500 m above sea level.
    • In India, some 20% of the population of the species is found at elevations between 1,500 m and 2,700 m and the rest live in the plains and up to 1,500 m.
    • It is considered to be a forest health indicator species. It indicates to us the health of the forest, of the vegetation and plants in the forest on which the species feeds, as well as that of the other symbiotic species that inhabit the region
    •  It is diurnal, arboreal, and herbivorous.
  • Protection Status:
    • The species is listed as Near Threatened on IUCN’s 2016 list, and it is protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act.
    • CITES Appendix II
  • Threats:
    • Its habitat is under threat from deforestation, fragmentation of forests, crop cultivation and over-harvesting of food, illegal trade in wildlife, and hunting for consumption. Slash-and-burn Jhum cultivation in many areas of the Northeast contributes to the destruction of its habitat.

Bryde’s whale

 

  • Context:
    • Thai researchers have unearthed a rare partially fossilized skeleton belonging to a Bryde’s whale believed to be around 5,000 years old at an inland site west of Bangkok.
    • Scientists hope the skeleton will provide more information to aid research into Bryde’s whale populations existing today as well as the geological conditions at the time.
  • About:
    • Also known as tropical whales for their preference for warmer waters, are found in coastal waters in parts of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans, including in the Gulf of Thailand.
    • Belong to the same group as blue whales and humpback whales.
  • Protection status:
    • IUCN: Least Concern
    • CITES Appendix I
  • Threats:
    • Commercial Whaling
    • sometimes killed or injured by ship strikes.
    • Anthropogenic noise is an increasing concern as these whales communicate by low-frequency sounds.

Himalayan Serow

(Capricornis sumatraensis thar)

  • Context:
    • A Himalayan serow has been sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region (Spiti, Himachal Pradesh).
    • 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.
  • About:
    • It resembles a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig.
    • It’s a medium-sized mammal with a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark.
    • There are several species of serows, and all of them are found in Asia. 
    •  Himalayan Serow is restricted to the Himalayan region.
    • They are herbivores and are typically found at altitudes between 2,000 meters and 4,000 meters (6,500 to 13,000 feet). They are known to be found in the eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not in the Trans Himalayan region.
    • They are solitary by nature.
  • Protection Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
    • CITES Appendix I
    • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I  
  • Threats:
    • Habitat loss

Portulaca Laljii

  • Context:
    • Botanists have discovered a new species of wild Sun Rose from the Eastern Ghats in India. The new species named Portulaca laljii was discovered in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh 
  • Information:
    • Unique Morphological features: a tuberous root, no hair in its leaf axils, a reddish-pink flower, prolate-shaped fruits, and copper brown seeds without luster distinguish the species from other species of genus Portulaca.
    • The succulent nature of tuberous roots helps the plant survive in rocky crevices.
    • The flowers are very attractive and bloom for months from June to February. The plant can have a rich horticultural value.
    • The flowering plant family, Portulacaceae presently comprise over 100 taxa which are distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In India, earlier studies on the genus Portulaca have revealed the presence of eight species.
    • Portulaca laljii has been named to honor the contribution of Lal Ji Singh, an eminent botanist of the Botanical Survey of India associated with the Andaman and Nicobar Centre of the Botanical Survey of India
  • Protection Status:
    • IUCN List: Data Deficient 

Kolar Leaf-nosed Bat

(Hipposideros hypophyllus)

  • Context:
    • Karnataka Forest Department, along with the Bat Conservation India Trust (BCIT), is on a war footing to save the remaining Kolar Leaf-nosed bats, which are endemic to the Kolar Caves, from extinction.
  • Information:
    • Till several years ago, the Kolar Leaf-Nosed Bat was found in only two caves in the village of Hanumanahalli in the Kolar district of Karnataka. For reasons that are still unknown, the bat became locally extinct in one of the two caves.
    • There are five species of bats that live in the caves of Hanumanahalli, of which the Kolar Leaf-Nosed Bat is just one. According to recent estimates, there are just 150 Kolar Leaf-Nosed Bats left in these caves.
    • The BCIT, which has been entrusted with drawing up a conservation plan, has also been awarded a grant to conduct further research on this species of bats. It has received funding from the Habitats Trust to carry out the project.
    • When the state government first came to know of the bats becoming extinct in one of the caves, it immediately notified the 30 acres around the caves as a protected area.
    • Bats are absolutely vital for the ecology as they are pollinators, their main diet being nectar. The plants that bloom at night are entirely dependent on bats and moths for pollination.
    • Bats also help in insect control and therefore, help in the protection of crops.
  • Protection status:
    • IUCN List: Critically Endangered
  • Threats: 
    • Since the Covid-19 pandemic and the unverified association with bats, there have been incidents in the Western Ghats and in states such as Rajasthan and Odisha, where bats have been attacked or killed.
    • Encroachments in the foraging area of these bats.

The Himalayan Trillium

(Trillium govanianum)

  • Context:
    • The Himalayan trillium, a common herb of the Himalayas was declared 'endangered' by IUCN.
  • Information:
    • 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 meters 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.
    • Uses:
      • 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.

Indian peacock soft-shell turtle

  • It is a riverine turtle endemic to India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
  • They are generally omnivorous (predominantly carnivorous) and nocturnal.
  • Conservation Status:
    1. Vulnerable on IUCN Redlist.
    2. The species is also listed under Appendix I of CITES.
    3. Protected under the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act.
  • Belongs to the family Trionychidae.

Asian Houbara

  • Context: 
    • Pakistan has issued special permits to Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the crown prince, and five other members of their family to hunt the Houbara bustard during the 2020-21 hunting season.
  • About Houbara bustard:
    • Bustards are large, terrestrial birds that belong to several species, including some of the largest flying birds.
    • Two Distinct Species of Houbara Bustard: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognizes two distinct species found in:
      • North Africa (Chlamydotis undulata) and
      • Asia (Chlamydotis macqueenii).
    • The population of the Asian houbara bustards extends from northeast Asia, across central Asia, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula to reach the Sinai desert (Egypt).
    • After breeding in the spring, the Asian bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula, and nearby Southwest Asia.
    • Reasons for Decline: Poaching, unregulated hunting, along with degradation of its natural habitat.
    • Its IUCN status is Vulnerable.

Gangetic Dolphin

 

  • Context:
    • A Gangetic dolphin was beaten to death by three men who used axes and sticks to maul the animal in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh last month. 
  • Ganga River Dolphin (Platanista Gangetica)
    • The Ganges river dolphin is found in parts of the Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
    • The Gangetic river dolphin is India's national aquatic animal and is popularly known as ‘Susu’.
    • It is among the four freshwater dolphins in the world- the other three are:
      • The ‘Baiji’ now likely extinct from the Yangtze River in China,
      • The ‘Bhulan’ of the Indus in Pakistan, and
      • The ‘Boto’ of the Amazon River in Latin America.
    • These four species live only in rivers and lakes.
    • Its presence indicates the health of the riverine ecosystem.
  • Protection Status
    • IUCN Status: Endangered
    • It is listed on CITES Appendix-I.
    • It is classified under Schedule 1, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 providing absolute protection as offenses under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
    • Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district is India’s only sanctuary for its national aquatic animal.
  • About Irrawaddy dolphin:
    • It is a euryhaline (able to adapt to a wide range of salinities) species of oceanic dolphin.
    • Although found in much of the riverine and marine zones of South and Southeast Asia, the only concentrated lagoon populations are found in Chilika Lake in Odisha, India, and Songkhla Lake in southern Thailand.
    • Its IUCN Conservation status is Endangered.
  • About bottlenose and humpback dolphins:
    • Bottlenose dolphins inhabit warm and temperate seas worldwide, being found everywhere except for the Arctic and Antarctic Circle regions.
    • IUCN status of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is Near-threatened.
    • Humpback dolphins are found close to shore along the coast of West Africa and right along the coast of the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Australia.
    • IUCN status of Indian Ocean humpback dolphin is Endangered.

Mandarin Duck

  • Context: 
    • A colourful duck from eastern Asia that was spotted in Assam after 118 years has raised hopes for a wetland that was affected by a blowout and inferno at a natural gas well in May-June, 2020.
  • About:
    • The duck, whose primary habitat is in eastern China and southern Japan, had landed in Assam.
    • Mandarin ducks do not come regularly to India but one or two may join other migratory birds and go wherever they go.
    • The last time a Mandarin duck was spotted in Assam was in 1902.
    • One of the largest living species of ducks, the white-winged wood duck is mostly found in Assam’s Nameri National Park and Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.
    • Mixed flocking is not unusual among different species of ducks.
    • Green activists argue this augurs well for Maguri-Motapung Beel where birds and fishes had died after a gas well operated by Oil India Limited at the adjoining Baghjan had a blowout — uncontrolled ejection of oil condensates at great speed — in May 2020.
  • IUCN status: Least Concerned
    • Considered the most beautiful duck in the world, the Mandarin duck, (Aix galericulata) was first identified by Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758.
    • The migratory duck breeds in Russia, Korea, Japan, and northeastern parts of China. It now has established populations in Western Europe and America too.
    • It was recorded in 1902 in the Dibru River in the Rongagora area in Tinsukia.
    • The Maguri Motapung wetland in the Tinsukia district 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.

Turtles

Context:

  • A first-of-its-kind rehabilitation centre for freshwater turtles was inaugurated in Bihar’s Bhagalpur forest division in January 2020.

Major turtle species found in India-

Freshwater turtles

  1. Indian Flap shell Turtle: 
    • Most commonly found in lakes and rivers of India.
    • Also found in the desert ponds of Rajasthan and introduced to the Andaman Islands.
    • Conservation Status: 
      • IUCN: Least Concern
      • CITES: Appendix II
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I 

  2. Assam Roofed Turtle: 
    • found in the Brahmaputra-Meghna drainage in India (Assam) and parts of eastern Bangladesh.
    • One of the most trafficked animals in the world and part of the exotic pet trade.
    • Conservation Status: 
      • IUCN: Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix II
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I 

  3. Black softshell turtle:
    • Found in India and Bangladesh.
    • Conservation Status: 
      • IUCN: “extinct in the wild” since 2002.
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  4. Red-Crowned Roofed Turtle:
    • Endemic to India.
    • The National Chambal Sanctuary is India’s only protected riverine habitat this turtle.
    • Conservation Status: 
      • IUCN: Critically endangered
      • CITES: Appendix II
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I

Sea Turtles

  • Five species of sea turtles are known to inhabit Indian coastal waters and islands. These are the Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and the Leatherback turtles.
  • Except for the Loggerhead, the remaining four species nest along the Indian coast and are listed as endangered under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and CITES. 
  1. Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
    • Context:
      • The Odisha government has requested the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to conduct a fresh study for identifying the movement of Olive Ridley sea turtles, which would help the State renew its conservation efforts along its coast.
    • Also is known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle.
    • Second smallest of all sea turtles found in the world.
    • Habitat: 
      • Found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and also in the warm waters of the Atlantic ocean.
      • Only species exhibiting the phenomena of mass nesting in India.
      • Gahirmatha coast of Odisha is the largest mass nesting site for the olive ridley sea turtles in India.
      • Other nesting sites:
        1. Hope Island of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Andra Pradesh)
        2. Gahirmatha  beach (Odisha)
        3. Astaranga coast(Odisha)
        4. Beach of Rushikulya River
        5. Devi River mouth
    • Conservation Status:  
      • IUCN: Vulnerable
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I 
      • CITES: Appendix I

  2. Leatherback Sea Turtle: 
    • Largest of all living turtles in the world.
    • Nesting populations are known from the Nicobar Islands.
    • Conservation status: 
      • IUCN: Vulnerable (many subpopulations such as in the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic are Critically Endangered)
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  3. Green Sea Turtle: 
    • Found in the Indian Ocean and throughout the entire Pacific region.
    • Conservation status: 
      • IUCN: Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  4. Hawksbill Sea Turtle:
    • Found in tropical reefs of the Indian oceans.
    • Conservation status: 
      • IUCN: Critically endangered
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  5.  Loggerhead sea turtles:
    • Named for their large heads that support powerful jaw muscles, allowing them to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and sea urchins.
    • Less likely to be hunted for their meat or shell.
    • Conservation status: 
      • IUCN: Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule I

Threats:

  1. direct harvest for meat and eggs,
  2. pet trade (hatchlings),
  3. marine garbage (including ghost nets),
  4. the destruction of nesting habitats through unplanned beach development (including ports, lighting, tourism and plantations),
  5. by-catch mortality (in trawl nets and gill nets),
  6. weak enforcement of fisheries and Protected Area regulations.

Caracal

  • Context:
    • The National Board for Wildlife and Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change included the caracal in the list of critically endangered species.
    • The recovery programme for critically endangered species in India now includes 22 wildlife species.
  • About Caracal:
    • The caracal is a medium-sized wildcat found in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The iconic ears are what give the animal its name.
    • In India, it is called Siya gosh, a Persian name that translates as ‘black Ear’.
    • Though found across Africa, the Middle East, Central, and South Asia, its numbers in Asia are declining.
    • Its fossil evidence has been found in the Indus valley civilization and it was used for hunting during the medieval period by rulers such as Firoz Shah Tughlaq and Akbar. They were traditionally valued for their litheness and extraordinary ability to catch birds in flight.
  • Conservation Status:
    • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • IUCN Red List: Least Concern
    • CITES: Appendix I

Coelacanth

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, a group of palaeontologists has discovered fossils of the coelacanth, a giant fish regarded as an iconic example of a “living fossil.” The discovered fossil of Coelacanth is believed to be 66 million years old belonging to the Cretaceous era.
  • About:
    • Coelacanths are elusive, deep-sea creatures, living in depths up to 2,300 feet below the surface.
    • These were thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But its discovery in 1938 started a debate about how this lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals.
  • Two Species:
    • There are only two known species of coelacanths: one that lives near the Comoros Islands off the east coast of Africa, and one found in the waters off Sulawesi, Indonesia.
  • Living Fossil
    • Living Fossil is an organism that has remained unchanged from earlier geologic times and whose close relatives are usually extinct. Other than Coelacanth, Horseshoe crab and ginkgo trees are examples of living fossils.
    • However, in their new study, paleontologists have found that Coelacanths gained 62 new genes through encounters with other species 10 million years ago. This suggests that they are actually evolving, albeit slowly.
  • Protection Status:
    • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
    • Sulawesi Coelacanth is listed as ‘vulnerable.
    • CITES Status: Appendix I.

White-Bellied Heron

  • Context:
    • Recently, a white-bellied heron, a rare and elusive bird, was spotted at Walong in the Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • About:
    • It is one of the rarest birds in the world.
    • At present, it is found only in Bhutan, Myanmar, and the Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh.
    • It had also been recorded in the adjacent Kamlang Tiger Reserve in Lohit district in camera trap images.
    • The recent sighting at a height of 1,200 meters above sea level is a first at such a higher elevation in India.
    • It is categorized as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data Book.
    • It is also listed in Schedule IV in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Blackbucks

Blackbucks

  • Context:
    • Odisha’s blackbuck population has doubled in the last six years, according to figures from the latest population census released recently by the chief conservator of forest (wildlife).
  • About:
    • The antelopes numbered 7,358 — 4,196 females, 1,712 males and 1,450 young, according to census figures.
    • Blackbucks are found only in the Ganjam district in the southern part of the state.
  • Protection Status:
    • The blackbuck is a Schedule-1 animal according to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended in 1992) and is considered as ‘Vulnerable’ according to the Red Data Book.
    • The blackbuck is known in Odisha and Ganjam as Krushnasara Mruga.
  • Other related facts:
    • Bishnoi community of Rajasthan is known worldwide for their conservation efforts to blackbuck and Chinkara. State animal of Andra Pradesh, Haryana & Punjab.
    • Protected Areas:
      1. Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary — Gujarat.
      2. Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary.
      3. Nilgiri biosphere reserve.
      4. Corbett national park.

Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia)

  • Context:
    • Recently, there was news of rosewood smuggling in Wayanad, Kerala.
  • About:
    • It is a premier timber species.
    • It is native to low-elevation tropical monsoon forests of southeast India.
    • Deep taproots and long lateral roots.
    • Species latifolia is from the Latin word latiflorus, which means with broad leaves.
    • The tree grows to 40 meters in height and is evergreen, but locally deciduous in drier subpopulations.
    • However, it takes long years for the tree to attain a commendable height.
    • It takes 240 years for a tree to attain a diameter of 220-250 cm and a height of 30-35 meters.
    • Due to its slow growth, growing trees for timber is not an attractive option.
    • Hence, the Kerala Restriction on Cutting and Destruction of Valuable Trees Rules, 1974, does not allow the cutting of rosewood that has not attained a girth at breast height (GBH) of 2.5 meters.
    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has included it in the Red List of Threatened Species in 1998 (Vulnerable).
    • Overexploitation, low germination percentage of seeds in natural conditions, and the slow growth rate have led to a dwindling population of rosewood in forest areas.
  • Reason for smuggling:
    • Peculiar grain pattern
    • High demand
    • Fancy price owing to low availability
    • Restrictions on felling
    • Limited distribution.

Saiga Antelope

  • Context:
    • The Saiga Antelope has been a critically endangered species since 2018.
    • But the antelope species is making a comeback.
  • About:
    • The Saiga is known for its distinctive bulbous nose.
    • IUCN deems the Saiga to be among five critically endangered antelope species.
  • Distribution:
    • During antiquity, it inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppe.
    • Today, they are only found in some parts of Russia and Kazakhstan.
    • Kazakhstan is home to a majority of the world's Saiga.
  • Decline and revival:
    • The population of the Saiga antelope has more than doubled in Kazakhstan since 2019.
    • This gives conservationists fresh hope for the animal's long-term survival as it suggests a continuing rebound after a massive die-off in 2015.
    • Around half the total global population of Saiga at the time were wiped out by what scientists later determined was a nasal bacterium that spread in unusually warm and humid conditions in 2015.
  • Major threats:
    • The threat of poaching is fuelled by the demand for the Saiga's horn in traditional Chinese medicine.
    • Climate change and the expansion of human activity through farming and infrastructure projects are other threats to Saiga.
    • Earlier this month the ecological ministry estimated that around 350 female saiga antelopes had been killed by lightning amid storms in the west of the country.

 Important Species which were in News (2019-20) 

**It is advised to go through this list as well, many species are recurring and can be asked**

 Crocodilians

Context:

  • Bhitarkanika census finds an increase of 15 saltwater crocodiles from last year.

Major species of crocodilians found in India-

  1. Mugger
    • Also called the Indian crocodile or marsh crocodile.
    • Habitat:
      • Found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
      • The mugger is mainly a freshwater species and found in lakes, rivers, and marshes.
    • Conservation status: 
      • IUCN: Vulnerable
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • Threats: Habitat destruction because of the conversion of natural habitats for agricultural and industrial use.
  2. Gharial
    • Habitat:
      • The Gharial or fish-eating crocodile is native to the Indian subcontinent.
      • Small released populations are present and increasing in the rivers of the National Chambal Sanctuary, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa.
    • Conservation status: 
      • IUCN: Critically endangered.
      • CITES : Appendix I
      • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • Threats:
      1. killed by fishermen,
      2. hunted for skins, trophies and indigenous medicine, and
      3. their eggs collected for consumption.
  3. Saltwater Crocodile
    • Largest of all living reptiles.
    • Habitat:
      • Found throughout the east coast of India.
      • Large population present within the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary of Odisha while smaller populations occur throughout the Sundarbans.
      • Populations are also present within the mangrove forests and other coastal areas of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India.
    • Conservation status: 
      • IUCN: Least Concern
      • CITES: Appendix I (except the populations of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, which are included in Appendix II).
      • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • Threats:
      1. Illegal hunting for its meat and eggs, as well as for its commercially valuable skin.
      2. Habitat loss and habitat alterations.
      3. Negative attitude towards the species makes conservation measures difficult to implement.

Human-Crocodile Conflict:

  • Encroachment of humans on the river banks and marshy areas with increased urbanisation is one of the foremost reasons for increasing human-crocodile conflict in these areas.
  • Hotspots: Vadodara in Gujarat, Kota in Rajasthan, Bhitarkanika in Odisha and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are considered as the human-crocodile conflict hotspots in India.

Irrawaddy dolphin

Context:

  • Irrawaddy dolphins recently sighted in Odisha’s Chilika lake.
  • India’s largest brackish water lake (Chilika) is home to their highest single lagoon population.

About

  • Habitat: 
    • Species of oceanic dolphin found in discontinuous subpopulations near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia- the Irrawaddy (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo) and the Mekong (China).
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN: Endangered
    • Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I
    • CITES: Appendix-I
  • Threats:
    1. more susceptible to human conflict than most other dolphins that live farther out in the ocean.
    2. accidental capture and drowning in gillnets and dragnets, bottom-set crabnets.
    3. electrofishing, gold mining, and dam building.

South Asian river dolphin

Context: Recently, the annual Ganges river Dolphin census was undertaken by the WWF-India.

About

  • A freshwater or river dolphin found in the region of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Split into two subspecies, the Ganges river dolphin and Indus river dolphin. 
  • Habitat: 
    • Native to the freshwater river systems located in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
    • Most commonly found in water with a high abundance of prey and reduced flow.
  1. Ganges river dolphin
    • Can only live in freshwater and is essentially blind.
    • Habitat: 
      • Found in parts of the Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra (Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary and Narora Ramsar site). and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
      • India's national aquatic animal and is popularly known as ‘Susu’.
      • Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district is the only sanctuary solely for its conservation. 
    • Conservation status:
      • IUCN: Endangered
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule -I
      • CITES: Appendix-I
  2. Indus river dolphin
    • Habitat: 
      • Found only in the main channel of the Indus River in Pakistan and active channels connected to it between the Jinnah and Kotri barrages, and in the River Beas (a tributary of the Indus) in Punjab in India.
    • Conservation status:
      • IUCN: Endangered
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule -I
      • CITES: Appendix-I
      • Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals: Appendix I and Appendix II 

Threats:

    1. Pollution
    2. Dam construction
    3. Poaching
    4. Shipping & dredging
    5. Their oil and meat are used as a liniment, as an aphrodisiac, and as bait for catfish. 

Elongated Tortoise

Context:

  • Over 90% of the potential distribution of the Sal forest tortoise falls outside the current protected area’s network.

About

  • Also called the sal forest tortoise.
  • They have elongated somewhat narrow carapaces and yellow heads. 
  • Habitat:
    • Species of tortoise found in Southeast Asia and parts of the Indian Subcontinent, particularly Northeast India.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Critically Endangered.
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule IV
  • Threats:
    1. Heavily hunted for food.
    2. collected both for local use, such as decorative masks, and international wildlife trade. In China, a mixture, made by grinding up the tortoise's shell, also serves as an aphrodisiac.

Indian Star Tortoise

Context: India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of Indian star tortoise in CITES approved. 

About

  • Habitat:
    • Found in dry areas and scrub forest in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 
    • North-western India (Gujarat, Rajasthan) and adjoining south-eastern Pakistan; eastern and southern areas of India (from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and eastern Karnataka to Odisha); and throughout Sri Lanka.
    • Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary– the only rehabilitation centre for star tortoises in the country.
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I 
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule IV
  • Threats:
    1. introduction of new species,
    2. habitat loss and uncontrolled hunting, and
    3. collecting from the wild due to the exotic pet trade. 

Asiatic Lion 

Context: Census of the Asiatic lion was recently conducted by the Gujarat government.

About

  • Asiatic lion aka the Indian lion or Persian lion is slightly smaller than African lions.
  • Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides.
  • Habitat:
    • Historically, it inhabited much of Western Asia and the Middle East up to northern India.
    • Today the Gir Forests in Gujarat is the only home of the Asiatic lion.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Endangered
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats: 
    1. Habitat loss.
    2. Endangered because of its small population size and area of occupancy.
    3. Diseases- mass mortality last year in an outbreak of canine distemper virus (CDV) and Babesiosis.

Snow leopard

Context: Session of Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) programme held.

WWF has developed and launched Third Pole Geo Lab, an interactive web-based tool and database for snow leopard conservation, climate change, and water security issues in Asia’s high mountains.

About

  • Habitat:
    • The snow leopard (also called ounce) is found in high mountains in 12 countries of Central Asia.
    • In India, it inhabits the higher Himalayan and trans-Himalayan landscape in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats: 
    1. Hunting,
    2. habitat loss,
    3. retaliatory killings,
    4. poaching and
    5. climate change 

Clouded Leopard

Context: A research paper on cloud leopards has helped to understand their habitats, migration corridors and laid out the conservation strategies.

About

  • Recently been split into two species- Mainland clouded leopard, Sunda clouded leopard.
  • State animal of the Indian state of Meghalaya.
  • Added to India’s Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species.
  • Habitat:
    • Prefers grassland, shrubs, subtropical and dense tropical forest, high rainfall, hard terrain, low human presence.
    • It occurs from the Himalayan foothills in Nepal, Bhutan and India to Myanmar, southeastern Bangladesh, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, to the south of the Yangtze River in China. 
    • In India (Mainland clouded leopard):
    • Sikkim (Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve), northern West Bengal, Meghalaya subtropical forests (Nongkhyllem National Park),
      Tripura, Mizoram (Dampa tiger reserve), Manipur, Assam (Manas National Park),
      Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh (Pakke Tiger Reserve).
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Vulnerable (both)
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. Deforestation
    2. Changing rainfall patterns
    3. Human-animal conflict
    4. Development projects

Smooth-coated Otter, Small-clawed otter

Context: India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of smooth-coated otter and small-clawed otter in CITES approved.

Major species of otters found in India-

  • India is home to 3 of the 13 species of otters found worldwide- Eurasian Otter, Smooth-coated Otter and Small-clawed otter.
  1. Smooth-coated Otter
    • Habitat: Distributed throughout the country from the Himalayas southward.
    • Conservation Status:
      • IUCN: Vulnerable;
      • CITES: Appendix I;
      • WPA: Schedule II
    • Threats:
      1. loss of wetland habitats due to the construction of large scale hydroelectric projects,
      2. conversion of wetlands for settlements and agriculture,
      3. reduction in prey biomass,
      4. poaching and contamination of waterways by pesticides.
  2. Small-clawed otter (Asian small-clawed otter)
    • Habitat: Restricted to the Himalayas, to the north of the Ganges and to southern India.
    • Conservation Status:
      1. IUCN: Vulnerable,
      2. CITES: Appendix I,
      3. WPA: Schedule I
    • Threats: Same as the smooth-coated otter.
  3. Eurasian Otter:
    • Habitat: Found throughout Europe and in Asia. In India, the species is distributed in the Himalayan foothills, southern Western Ghats and the central Indian landscape.
    • Conservation Status:
      • IUCN: Near Threatened
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • WPA, 1972: Schedule II
    • Threats:
      1. pollution from pesticides.
      2. habitat loss
      3. hunting, both legal and illegal.

 Dugong or Sea Cow

Context: World Dugong Day is celebrated on 28th May, every year.

About

  • One of the four surviving species in the Order Sirenia and it is the only existing species of herbivorous mammal that lives exclusively in the sea including in India.
  • Only strictly herbivorous marine mammal.
  • Habitat:
    • Found in warm coastal waters from the western Pacific Ocean to the eastern coast of Africa.
    • In India: Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. loss of seagrass beds due to ocean floor trawling. 
    2. destruction and modification of habitat,
    3. pollution,
    4. rampant illegal fishing activities,
    5. vessel strikes,
    6. unsustainable hunting or poaching and
    7. unplanned tourism 

Tokay gecko

Context: Recently, India proposed it’s listing should be moved from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.

About

  • One of the largest geckos (Lizard) in the country and the world.
  • Primarily a tree-dweller.
  • Habitat:
    • This is a nocturnal arboreal gecko, found widely in South and Southeast Asia, the US, and Madagascar.
    • Habitat ranges from northeast India to the Indo-Australian Archipelago and tropical rain forests.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Least concern
    • CITES: Appendix II 
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule III
  • Threats:
    • Used as a traditional Asian medicine- everything from energy drinks to treatments for diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS make it prone to illegal trade across borders.

Great Indian Bustard

Context: Great Indian Bustard is likely to be included in the global list of top 10 migratory species facing extinction under the UNEP’s Convention for Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of Wild Animals.

  • COP13, 2020 Theme: ‘Migratory species connect the planet and we welcome them home’
  • Mascot: Great Indian Bustard

About

  • One of the heaviest flying birds in the world.
  • Considered as flagship grassland species, representing the health of the grassland ecology.
  • State bird of Rajasthan.
  • Habitat:
    • Inhabits dry grasslands and scrublands on the Indian subcontinent.
    • Largest populations are found in Rajasthan. 
    • Found in Rajasthan (Desert National park), Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh (Karera Wildlife Sanctuary), Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary) and parts of Pakistan.

  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Critically Endangered
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. change of land use pattern,
    2. desertification,
    3. irrigation and farming technology
    4. mining
    5. ill-thought plantation of exotic & invasive species in grassland ecosystems
    6. mortality by collision with infrastructure, particularly power lines and wind turbines
    7. noise pollution affects their mating and courtship practices.

Lion-tailed macaque

Context: According to a study, they have shown rich tool-use behaviour to simplify their efforts.

About

  • Habitat:
    • Endemic to the Western Ghats of India (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu). 
    • It can also be found in monsoon forests in hilly country and in disturbed forest.
    • Found in:
      1. Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats of Karnataka (Udupi & Shimoga districts).
      2. Kudremukh National Park (Karnataka)
      3. Periyar National Park (Kerala)
      4. Silent Valley National Park (Kerala).
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Endangered
    • CITES: Appendix I 
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. Habitat loss and degradation-Only 1% of the original habitat remains due to widespread deforestation for timber, cultivation of tea, coffee, teak and cinchona, construction of water reservoirs for irrigation and power generation, and human settlements.
    2. The slow reproduction cycle of Lion-tailed Macaques. A female macaque gives birth only once in three years.
    3. Hunting.
    4. Pet trade.

Red Panda

Context:  Reduction in wildlife trade (TRAFFIC Report).

About

  • Despite its name, it is not closely related to the giant panda.
  • Added to India’s Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species.
  • Habitat:
    • The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas (temperate forests) and southwestern China.
    • Estimated 14,500 red pandas are left in the wild across Nepal, Bhutan, India, China and Myanmar.
    • In India:
      • Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal and northern Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Endangered
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972:  Schedule I 
  • Threats:
    1. hunted for meat and fur, besides illegal capture for the pet trade.
    2. competition with domestic livestock resulting in habitat degradation,
    3. deforestation resulting in habitat loss or fragmentation.
    4. poaching,
    5. inbreeding depression.

Nilgiri Tahr

Context: Rise in population in Mukurthi National Park.

About

  • Also known as Nilgiri Ibex.
  • The Adult males develop a light grey area or “saddle” on their backs and are hence called “Saddlebacks”.
  • State animal of Tamil Nadu.
  • Habitat:
    • Found in open montane grassland habitat of rain forests ecoregion.
    • It is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
    • Eravikulam National Park of Kerala is home to the largest population.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Endangered
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. Habitat loss (mainly from domestic livestock and spread of invasive plants)
    2. Poaching,
    3. Populations of these animals are small and isolated, making them vulnerable to local extinction,
    4. Climate Change.

    Indian Gaur

Context: first population estimation exercise of the Indian Gaur (Bison) was carried out in the Nilgiris Forest Division, Tamil Nadu.

About

  • Largest and the tallest in the family of wild cattle and is a grazing animal.
  • State animal of Goa.
  • Habitat:
    • Largely confined to evergreen forests or semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests, but also occur in deciduous forest areas at the periphery of their range.
    • Found in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (Nagarhole, Wayanad, Bandipur, Kabini and Masinagudi (Mudumalai) national parks).
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Vulnerable
    •  CITES Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. habitat loss and fragmentation,
    2. food scarcity due to destruction of grasslands,
    3. Hunting for food, medicinal products and handicrafts products- demand of gaur meat in the illegal market through India-Nepal border,
    4. diseases, particularly rinderpest and foot-and-mouth disease.

Hangul (Kashmiri Stag)

Context: The Tral Wildlife Sanctuary will function as a protected wildlife corridor for the endangered Kashmir Stag.

About

  • Subspecies of elk (Central Asian red deer) native to India (endemic to Jammu and Kashmir).
  • Only sub-species of red deer in India.
  • State animal of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Habitat:
    • Dense riverine forests in the high valleys and mountains of the Kashmir Valley and northern Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh.
    • Protected in Dachigam National Park.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Critically endangered 
    • CITES: Appendix II
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. habitat destruction,
    2. over-grazing by domestic livestock,
    3. poaching,
    4. turmoil in Kashmir.

Sangai (Brow antlered deer or dancing deer- or Eld’sdeer)

Context: Unchecked growth of two perennial aquatic weeds- water hyacinth and para grass in the freshwater lake of Loktak in Manipur is posing a major threat to Sangai. 

About

  • Native to Manipur and its state animal.
  • popularly called as ‘dancing deer’.
  • Every year, Manipur celebrates the “Manipur Sangai Festival” from 21st -30th November.
  • Habitat:
    • Floating marshy grasslands, Phumids, of the Keibul Lamjao National Park, located in the southern parts of the Loktak Lake (Ramsar site).
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Endangered 
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats: 
    1. Shrinking habitat (phumdis) due to continuous inundation and flooding due to dam construction.
    2. Invasion of non-native plants.
    3. Poaching.

Hard ground swamp deer (Barasingha)

Context: Revival in the Kanha National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) after having been perilously close to extinction for a long time.

About 

  • A deer species distributed in the Indian subcontinent.
  • State animal of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Habitat:
    • Prefer tall grasslands and open habitats. 
    • Found only in southwestern Nepal and central and northeastern India,  extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
    • In India: Assam, Jumna River, Ganges River, Brahmaputra River, Madhya Pradesh, Utter Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh. 
    • Protected areas:
      1. Kanha National Park –Madya Pradesh
      2. Dudhwa National Park– Uttar Pradesh
      3. Manas National Park- Assam
      4. Kaziranga National Park- Assam
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. Poaching for antlers and meat. 
    2. Habitat loss due to the destruction of wetlands for development activities. 
    3. Change in river dynamics, reduced water flow during summer, increasing siltation.

Northern River Terrapin

Context: Scientific breeding of the endangered Northern river terrapin (Batagur Baska) in Sunderban Tiger Reserve. 

About 

  • Species of riverine turtle native to Southeast Asia.
  • Second-most threatened turtle in the world.
  • Added to India’s Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species.
  • Habitat:
    • Found in tidal areas of large rivers, sandbars and riverbanks.
    • Found in Bangladesh (in the Sunderbans), Cambodia, India (parts- West Bengal and Odisha), Indonesia and Malaysia.
    • Extinct in Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Critically endangered
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. Exploited for illegal trade across borders for its meat and carapace.
    2. Loss of nesting beaches and pollution.

Arabian Sea Humpback Whale

Context: Maharashtra government to conduct a study on endangered humpback whales.

About: 

  • Added to India’s Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species
  • A small subpopulation of humpback whales in the Arabian sea.
  • The most genetically distinct humpback whales.
  • Considered to be the most isolated whale population on Earth.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Endangered
  • Threats:
    1. Entanglement in fishing gear, gillnets. 
    2. Plastic marine pollution.

Malabar civet

Context: Recently spotted in Kerala.

About

  • One of the world’s rarest mammal.
  • It is endemic to India.
  • It is nocturnal and elusive in nature.
  • Habitat:
    • Wooded plains and hill slopes of evergreen rainforests.
    • Inhabited lowland forests, lowland swamp and riparian forests in the coastal plain districts of the Western Ghats (Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka).
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Critically endangered
    • CITES: Appendix III 
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. Hunting
    2. Habitat loss due to deforestation and commercial plantations

 

 Fishing cat

Context: Fishing cat collaring project to begin in A.P.’s Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in the Godavari estuary.

About

  • Twice the size of a house cat.
  • Nocturnal.
  • State animal of West Bengal.
  • Habitat:
    • Native to wetlands, swamps and marshy areas.
    • In India, fishing cats are mainly found in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, on the foothills of the Himalayas along the Ganga and Brahmaputra river valleys and in the Western Ghats.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix II
    • WPA, 1972: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. Destruction of wetlands, their preferred habitat.
    2. Shrimp farming is another growing threat to mangrove habitats of the Fishing Cat.
    3. Hunted for meat and skin.
    4. Tribal hunters indulge in ritual hunting practices of fishing cat throughout the year.
    5. Over-exploitation of local fish stocks and retaliatory killing.

Steppe eagle

Context: Maharashtra state department proposes Mayani Lake cluster as Conservation Reserve, home to a wide variety of migratory and resident birds including the greater flamingo and lesser flamingo, endangered Steppe eagle.

About

  • Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae.
  • Habitat:
    • It breeds from Romania east through the south Russian and Central Asian steppes to Mongolia.
    • The European and Central Asian birds winter in Africa and the eastern birds in India.
    • Throughout its range, it favours open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, or savannah.
    • National Bird (animal) of Egypt and appears on its flag.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Endangered
    • CITES: Appendix II
    • European Red List of Birds: Critically Endangered.
  • Threats:
    1. habitat loss to agriculture, especially in steppe regions,
    2. human persecution, and
    3. electrocution on power lines.

Greater One-horned Rhino/Indian Rhino

Context: Proposal to introduce in Jim Corbett National Park.

About

  • Also known as the “Square-lipped rhino” (‘mowing-machines).
  • There are three species of rhino in Asia-Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran. Javan and Sumatran Rhino are critically endangered.
  • Only the Great one-horned rhino is found in India.
  • Largest of the Asian Rhinos.
  • Habitat:
    • Preferred habitat is alluvial flood plains and areas containing tall grasslands along the foothills of the Himalayas (alluvial grasslands of the Terai and the Brahmaputra basin.)
    • 90% of the population concentrated in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
    • Outside Kaziranga, rhinos are found Pobitara WLS, Orang NP, Manas NP in Assam, Jaldapara NP and Garumara NP in West Bengal and Dudhwa TR in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • WPA: Schedule I
  • Threats:
    1. Habitat destruction.
    2. Human harassment and encroachment.
    3. Hunted for sport and for their horn or killed as agricultural pests.

Peacock Parachute Spider or Gooty Tarantula

Context: Recently spotted in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests in Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu.

About

  • Habitat:
    • Endemic to India.
    • The known habitat is in the Eastern Ghats especially degraded forests near Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Conservation status: IUCN: Critically Endangered
  • Threats: Collected for the pet trade.

Bengal/Salem Fox

Context: Forest Department officials in Salem, Tamil Nadu geared up to prevent unusual jallikattu, using foxes (Bengal Fox) instead of bulls at the Kaanum Pongal.

About:

  • Also known as the Indian fox.
  • A species of Asian foxes endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
  • Habitat:
    • The preferred habitat is short open grassland, scrub or thorn forest.
    • Distributed throughout much of the Indian subcontinent with the exception of the wet forests and the extreme arid zone.
  • Conservation status: 
    • IUCN: Least Concerned
    • CITES: Appendix III
    • WPA: Schedule II
  • Threats:
    1. Lack of habitat protection.
    2. Hunting for its skin and flesh, used in traditional medicine.
    3. Conversion of its grassland habitat to agriculture, industry, and bio-fuel plantations.
    4. Hunted by the narikuruva tribes of southern India.
    5. Diseases such as canine distemper virus and rabies.

Drosophila

Context: The fifth edition of the Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference (APDRC5) is being held at Pune.

About:

  • A genus of flies, belonging to the family Drosophilidae, whose members are often called “small fruit flies”.
  • Most widely-used and preferred model organisms in biological research across the world for the last 100 years.
  • Several discoveries in biology have been made using this.
  • Its genome is entirely sequenced and there is enormous information available about its biochemistry, physiology, and behaviour.

Senna Spectabilis (invasive species)

Context:

  • The Kerala Government is planning to arrest the rampant growth of Senna spectabilis, in the forest areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR), including the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

About:

  • A deciduous tree is native to tropical areas of America.
  • Also known as the Golden wonder tree
  • Categorized as ‘Least Concern’ under IUCN Red List.

Concerns:

  • The thick foliage of the tree arrests the growth of other indigenous tree and grass species.
  • Thus, it causes a food shortage for the wildlife population, especially herbivores.
  • It also adversely affect the germination and growth of the native species.

 



Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

Enquire now

Give us a call or fill in the form below and we will contact you. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24 hours on business days.