Great Indian bustard, Asian elephant added to ‘facing extinction’ list

OUR BUREAUNew Delhi, February 10 New Delhi | Updated on February 10, 2020

The Asian elephant and the ‘great Indian bustard’ bird have been added to the list of migratory species that are ‘threatened with extinction’ under the 13th Convention of Parties (CoP) that will bring together 130 countries in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, where the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals under the United Nations Environment Programme will be hosted. This was stated by Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, on Monday in New Delhi.

Ahead of the CoP, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has floated a draft Visionary Perspective Plan (2020-2030) for conservation of avian diversity, their ecosystems, habitats and landscapes in the country.

“Considering the conservation significance of Comepensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF), the MoEFCC has prepared a National Action Plan (2018-2023) for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats along the ‘central Asian flyway’ to halt the population decline of migratory birds and degradation of their habitats in India. Similarly, the National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-2031) has also emphasised the necessity of conserving globally threatened migratory birds and their critical habitats along the flyways,” the MoEFCC said in the draft plan.

The draft further states that of the 1,317 bird species recorded in India, 72 are endemic and 100 species of birds come under the threatened category. Of these, 17 are ‘critically endangered’, 20 ‘endangered’, and 63 ‘vulnerable’.

270 species get ‘rare’ tag

Besides these threatened species, several others are marked by sparse population size and restricted range, and are generally considered rare by conservationists. It is documented that 270 species (21 per cent) of Indian avifauna fall under the ‘rare’ category. These include the raptors, pheasants, bustards, hornbills, cranes and storks.

“These bird species require immediate conservation action as they are prone to extinction, the main factors being poaching, habitat loss, fragmentation of ecosystems and habitats, epidemics and other environmental changes,” the draft says.

The draft also said that the catastrophic decline in the population of vultures, which are carrion feeders, led to an alarming increase in the number of stray dogs, especially in urban areas across the country. “A study found that this abrupt increase in stray dog population resulted in high rates of rabies incidences, costing the country about ₹3,400 crore during the period 1993 to 2006,” it notes.

There are 219 important bird and bio-diversity areas outside the protected area network that are under severe anthropogenic pressure. “There are presently 2,01,503 wetlands (above 2.25 hectares) in the country, most of which are under stress due to the impact of urbanisation and agricultural run-offs, which require specific management plans for conservation,” the MoEFCC has noted.

Also, the MoEFCC is concerned about the drastic decline in the population of several species such as the house sparrow, the redvented bulbul, the crow and the spotted owlet due to increasing urbanisation.

Recently, over 17,000 birds succumbed to avian botulism caused by clostridium botulinum in Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan.

“We have identified the bacteria in the lake and we are working towards averting the bird deaths,” Javadekar said.

Published on February 10, 2020

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