Apoorva Joshi

PhD student - Information and Media; Environmental Science and Policy @Michigan State University

Independent journalist -

Environment, Science, International

The Times of India - Pune edition, Page 05 - "Ministry identifies critically endangered species;calls for conservation,protection "

Ministry identifies critically endangered species;calls for conservation,protection 


Pune: The ministry of environment and forests has come up with a list of critically endangered species of India,which includes,birds,mammals,reptiles and amphibians.The ministry has called for conservation and protection of these species.
The ministry has observed that conservation efforts are often focused on large animals like the tiger and elephant,however,there are a host of species that do not rank very high on the conservation totem pole,although they are under great threat and are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
According to Dr Erach Bharucha,environmental scientist,the population of smaller species is dwindling.Also,there is not enough data to understand their declining population.
Some of these endangered birds and amphibians are also found in Maharashtra.
Out of the five listed bird species,three are found in Maharashtra.The Jerdons Courser is a nocturnal bird and belongs to the scrub jungle which is under extreme threat because of clearing of scrub jungle,creation of new pastures,growing of dryland crops,plantations of exotic trees,quarrying and the construction of the Telugu-Ganga canal and illegal trapping.It is endemic to Andhra Pradesh,however,19th century records attribute its presence in the neighbouring areas of Maharashtra.
The Forest Owlet is found in south Madhya Pradesh,in north-west Maharashtra and north-central Maharashtra.After 113 long years,the owlet was rediscovered in 1997.Their habitat is the dry deciduous forest and the major threat in logging operations,burning and cutting of trees.
The White-bellied Heron is an extremely rare bird found in five or six sites in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh,one or two sites in Bhutan and a few in Myanmar.Their habitat are rivers with sand or gravel bars or inland lakes.Unfortunately,loss and degradation of lowland forest and wetlands are the major threat.
It is also alarming to note that out of the nine species of vultures found across India,the population of three species have declined by 99 per cent.And this is due to the use of painkiller diclofenac for veterinary purposes.
The Bengal Florican, a rare Bustard species,is native to three countries Cambodia,India and Nepal.It is found in Uttar Pradesh,Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.The ongoing conversion of the birds grassland habitat is mainly responsible for its population decline.
According to ornithologist Sharad D Apte,the major threat is the habitat loss and change in crop pattern.There has been global climate change,but scientists and experts are not sure whether it has an adverse impact on birds.
In the mammal category,the Pygmy hog,the worlds smallest wild pig with the adult weighing only eight kg,needs relatively undisturbed tall terai grasslands,now restricted to only a single remnant population in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and its buffer reserves.The main threats are loss and degradation of grasslands,dry-season burning,livestock grazing,afforestation of grasslands and hunting.
The Gharial, the most uniquely evolved crocodilian in the world,is also in the critically endangered list.Sadly,their dire condition reflects the tragedy of rivers.They live in clean rivers with sand banks.They are found in Uttar Pardesh,Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.And a small non-breeding populations exists in Son,Gandak,Hoogly and Ghagra rivers.The combined effect of dams,barrages,change in river course,pollution,sand-mining,riparian agriculture has led to their loss.
The Leatherback turtles and Four-toed river terrapin (turtle) are both critically endangered.Leatherback turtles weigh as much as 900 kg and are found in the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic,Pacific and Indian oceans.Unfortunately,their decline can be attributed to high sea fishing operations,harvesting of eggs and destruction of nests.
The omnivorous diet of the Four-toed river terrapin makes them an essential part of the efficient clean-up systems of aquatic habitats.They are found in Bangladesh,Cambodia,India,Indonesia,Malaysia.The major threats are use of flesh for medicinal purposes,and demand for eggs.
The Gliding Frog,endemic to the Western ghats,are found in the Indira Gandhi National Park and surrounding areas of Anamalai hills,Tamil Nadu presently.The threats include conversion of forested areas for timber and non-timber plantations and timber extraction activities.
Bhau Katdare,who works extensively on turtle conservation in Maharashtra,said that there is a rise in human population and people are negligent towards nature.Habitat destruction is the major threat for different species.They do not have sufficient space and food, he added.


Critically endangered is the highest risk category assigned by the IUCN Red List to wild species 

Critically endangered means that the natural population of a species has decreased,or will decrease by 80 per cent within three generations and all the available evidence indicates an extremely high risk of its extinction in the wild 



y Himalayan Quail 

y Pink-headed Duck 

y Siberian Crane 

y Sociable Lapwing 

y Spoon-billed Sandpiper 


y Andaman Whitetoothed Shrew 

y Jenkins Shrew 

y Nicobar Shrew 

y Large Rock-rat 

y Malabar Civet 

y Namdapha Flying Squirrel 


y Knifetooth Sawfish 

y Ganges Shark 

y Pondicherry Shark 

y Largetooth Sawfish 

y Deccan Labeo 


y Hawksbill Turtle 

y Red-crowned Roof Turtle 


The Siberian crane (left) and the Gharial are on the list of critically endangered species 

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