lndia’s threatened,endangered and endemic species
India, a megadiverse country with only 2.4% of the world’s land area, accounts for 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals. The country’s diverse physical features and climatic conditions have resulted in a variety of ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, grasslands, desert, coastal and marine ecosystems which harbour and sustain high biodiversity and contribute to human well-being. Four of 34 globally identified biodiversity hotspots: The Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the North-East, and the Nicobar Islands, can be found in India.
Threatened species are any species (including animals, plants, fungi, etc.) which are vulnerable to endangerment in the near future. Species that are threatened are sometimes characterised by the population dynamics measure of critical depensation, a mathematical measure of biomass related to population growth rate. This quantitative metric is one method of evaluating the degree of endangerment.
India is home to nine species of hornbills and the northeastern region has the highest diversity of hornbill species in the country, with five hornbill species found there. Three of them are endemic to this region. They are the Wreathed hornbill, Brown hornbill, Rufous-necked hornbill. The other two species, the great Indian hornbill and the Oriental pied hornbill also occur in other parts of India. Except the Oriental pied hornbill, all the others are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The Rufous-necked hornbill is listed as ‘rare’ in the IUCN Red Data Book (1990). Hunting and habitat clearance have threatened the bird. Being a key seed disperser, the survival of the hornbill is necessary for forest survival and restoration.
Pariah kite and White-backed vulture
Kites and vultures are the commonest birds of prey found near human habitations. They feed on garbage and dead animals and help mankind in keeping his surrounding clean and healthy. By feeding on highly decomposed carcasses they prevent the outbreak of infectious diseases. The excreta of vultures contain guanine, which is a good fertilizer. These are now under threat because of destruction of nesting trees and bio-magnification of pesticides. According to IUCN, Pariah kites and white-backed vulture are recognized as ‘rare’ species. Numbers of vulture have fallen by 90 percent and their disappearance is causing great difficulties for both the Parsi community, who rely on them to dispose of their corpses and village Hindus, who depend on them to consume the carcasses of dead cattle.
The Lesser Florican
The Lesser Florican which is on the verge of extinction, arrives in the grasslands of Western Madya Pradesh and Saurashtra in Gujarat with the first showers of the monsoon. The whole breeding cycle is so closely interlinked with the availability of suitable grasslands and the onset of the monsoons that the entire survival system of the species has become fragile.
The only ape of India Hoolock Gibbon is found in the rainforests of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and parts of Nagaland. Their loud whooping early in the morning is heard over a considerable distance and is one of the most evocative sounds of the jungle. But the gibbon, like many other apes throughout the world, is also facing a stiff challenge to its survival, due to pressure for land and timber.
The tiger’s domain ranges over most of the Indian subcontinent. The tiger is at home in a variety of environmental situation from the high altitude, cold, coniferous Himalayan forests to the steaming mangroves of Sundarbans delta, swampy reedlands of the terai, the lush wet evergreen forests of northeast and the south and the scrub-thorn arid forests of Rajastan.
Asian or Indian Elephant
The distribution of wild elephants in India is limited to South, Central, North and North-East India. Elephants are indicators of ecological health. Wherever elephants live, they provide a good habitat for the associated species such as sambar, spotted deer, the barking deer and so on, which in turn keep the predators like tiger or leopard happy. Elephants are mainly hunted for their tusks. This has made the species endangered.
Even the lion has become a rare animal in India. Lions are restricted to Gir forest. The major hazard for the lion, as for the other species threatened with extinction in India, is habitat loss.
An endangered species is a species which has been categorized as very likely to become extinct. Endangered (EN), as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, is the second most severe conservation status for wild populations in the IUCN’s schema after Critically Endangered (CR). In 2012, the IUCN Red List featured 3079 animal and 2655 plant species as endangered (EN) worldwide. The figures for 1998 were, respectively, 1102 and 1197.
The greater one-horned or Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is found in Assam, India. This endangered animal is a very large mammal, and it is the target of hunters who sell its horns at a high value. It has become a vulnerable species. The Indian rhinoceros has a single black horn that is present in both sexes of the species. Rhinoceros are very big; in fact, this species is the largest land mammal of Asia only behind the Asian elephant.
The Nilgiri tahr or ibex (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) is an ungulate stocky goat endemic to the Nilgiri Hills of South India. With coarse short fur and a bristly mane, this endangered Indian goat can be found in:
- Eravikulam National Park: Nilgiri and Anamalai Hills
- Periyar National Park: Palni Hills
The Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii) is a monkey of the lutung type found in the Nigiri Hills, just like the Nilgiri tahr. The range of the Nilgiri langure includes:
- Kodagu (Karnataka)
- Palani Hills (Tamil Nadu)
The hangul or Kashmir stag (Cervus canadensis hanglu) is an endangered animal. This kind of elk is recognizable because it has a light rump patch, without the tail. Antlers of the Kashmir stag constitute 5 tines.
The lion-tailed macaque or wanderoo (Macaca silenus) is an Old World monkey that inhabits the same region as the Nilgiri tahr and langur, the Western Ghats. It has a silver-white mane from the cheeks to the chin.
Found in Kerala’s Silent Valley National Park, Papanasam in Kallakad, Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka’s Siri Honnavara rainforests, the lion-tailed macaque is falling in numbers because of rising urbanization and habitat destruction.
The Gaur or Indian bison (Bos gaurus) is the largest extant bovine in the world. Found in Southern and Southeast Asia, the Indian bison is threatened by poaching for trade to supply global markets. It is currently a vulnerable species. The gaur can be found in Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Tamil Nadu and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, two of India’s southernmost coastal states.
Ganges River Dolphin
Scientifically called Platanista gangetica gangetica, the Ganges river dolphin is a subspecies of the endangered South Asian river dolphin. Therefore, it is a cetacean mammal.
Found in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna system and their tributaries in India, Ganges river dolphins are targeted by water development projects, industrialization, and pollution and resultant habitat loss. Here you can learn more about why is the South Asian river dolphin endangered.
Native to India, this freshwater dolphin is also found in Nepal and Bangladesh. Feeding on prey such as fish and shrimps which are dwindling in numbers, these species are blind by birth and cannot swim inside the water continuously, returning to the surface every 30 to 120 seconds.
The gharial, gavial or fish-eating crocodile (Gavialis gangeticus) is one of the three crocodilian species found in India. It is recognizable for its long and very thin snout, which in the case of male gharials has a pot-shaped boss at the tip. The river Ganges is the habitat of the Indian gharial. This crocodile is also found in the Brahmaputra, Irrawady and Chambal rivers. The mass pollution in its habitat has led to the death of this species, which now is critically endangered.
The Indian vulture (Gyps indicus) is one of the largest flying birds in the Indian subcontinent. Like most vultures, it has a bald head, scavenges for food, moves in flocks and nests on trees and cliffs. Indian vultures are another critically endangered species found in Uttar Pradesh, apart from Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Indian and the white-rumped vultures have suffered a devastating drop in population numbers because of accidental poisoning by a medical drug that was given to the cattle they scavenged on.
Indian Wild Ass
The Indian or Baluchi wild ass (Equus hemionus khur) can be found in Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch and Ladakh in Sikkim. Their coat is sandy looking and varies from red to chestnut. This species of ass is found living on grass, leaves, plants and fruits. It is currently a near threatened animal, as there are less than 5,000 individuals of Indian wild ass. Here you can find out what is the difference between a donkey, an ass and a mule.
Phayre’s Leaf Monkey
The Phayre’s leaf monkey or Phayre’s langur (Trachypithecus phayrei) is a dominant monkey with a look as if it is wearing a monocle. This beloved species is one of the endangered animals of India, although is also lives in countries like Bangladesh, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
The four-horned antelope or chousingha (Tetracerus quadricornis) has four permanent crown-like horns above the head. It is currently a vulnerable species. The beautiful four-horned antelope is the smallest bovid in Asia, with a slender frame and thin legs. With the brown coat and white underparts, this animal is found in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Plants and grass make up the chousingha’s main food, and it is a solitary animal.
Endemic species of india
Endemic species are plants and animals that exist only in one geographic region. Species can be endemic to large or small areas of the earth: some are endemic to a particular continent, some to part of a continent, and others to a single island. Usually an area that contains endemic species is isolated in some way, so that species have difficulty spreading to other areas, or it has unusual environmental characteristics to which endemic species are uniquely adapted. Endemism, or the occurrence of endemic animals and plants, is more common in some regions than in others.
Some of the endemic animal species of india are as follows:
Black-and-rufous Flycatcher, Broad-tailed Grassbird, Forest Owlet, Green Avadavat Grey Junglefowl, Grey-breasted Laughingthrush, Grey-headed Bulbul, Intermediate Parakeet, Jerdon’s Courser Malabar, Grey-Hornbill, Malabar Lark, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Whistling-Thrush, Rufous Babbler, Rufous-breasted Laughingthrush, Rufous-tailed Lark, Rusty-throated Wren-Babbler, Snowy-throated Babbler, Spot-breasted Fantail, Tawny Lark, Tawny-breasted Wren-Babbler , White-bellied Blue-Flycatcher, White-bellied Shortwing , White-bellied Treepie , White-cheeked Barbet , White-naped Tit Wynaad Laughingthrush , Yellow-throated Bulbul.
Some of the endemic plant species of india are as follows:
- Elaeocarpus blascoi (Elaeocarpaceae)
- Eugenia indica (Myrtaceae)
- Ficus andamanica (Moraceae)
- Ficus angladei (Moraceae)
- Garcinia imberti (Clusiaceae)
- Hopea glabra (Dipterocarpaceae)
- Ilex venulosa (Aquifoliaceae)
- Ilex khasiana (Aquifoliaceae)
- Ixora malabarica (Rubiaceae)
- Mangifera andamanica (Anacardiaceae)
- Michelia punduana (Magnoliaceae)
- Miliusa nilagirica (Annonaceae)
- Pittosporum eriocarpum (Pittosporaceae)
- Polyalthia rufescens (Annonaceae)
- Psychotria beddomei (Rubiaceae)
- Psychotria macrocarpa (Rubiaceae)
- Vateria indica (Dipterocarpaceae)
- Wendlandia andamanica (Rubiaceae)
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