Table of Contents
Great Indian one horn Rhinoceros
- Habitat: Found only in the tall grasslands and forests in the foothills of the Himalayas [Terai region].
- National Parks: Kaziranga National Park, Pabitora wildlife sanctuary, Manas National Park, Assam.
- Status in the Wild: Moved from Endangered to Vulnerable.
- Threat – Oriental belief that its horn, among other parts, has medicinal properties, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation.
- The gaur (Bos gaurus), also called Indian bison, is a large bovine native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.
- Gaur are 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.
- The domesticated form of the gaur, Bos frontalis, is called gayal or mithun.
- Threats: Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation.
Four-horned antelope, Chousingha
- The four-horned antelope must drink water regularly in order to survive.
- Distribution: Presently it is confined to the Indian subcontinent. Scattered between the foothills of the Himalayas in the north to the Deccan Plateau in the south. Gir National Park has 1000 of these animals.
- Threats: Loss of its natural habitat due to agricultural expansion. Four-horned skull and horns have made it a popular target for hunters.
- Distribution: Mountainous regions in the Himalayan Mountains and western China.
- Threats: Largely due to overhunting and the destruction of their natural habitat, takin are considered Endangered in China and Vulnerable per the IUCN.
- Endemic to the Western Ghats. Inhabits areas that are far from human disturbance.
- Threat: habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting for its fur.
- Only species of marten found in southern India.
Barasingha or swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii)
- Habitat: Isolated localities in northern and central India, and southwestern Nepal.
- Threats: Hunting for horns, habitat fragmentation and habitat loss.
Oriental small-clawed otter/ Asian small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea)
- Semiaquatic mammals which feed on fish and shellfish, and also other invertebrates, amphibians, birds and small mammals.
- It is a smallest otter species in the world.
- Habitat: It lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands.
- Threat: habitat loss, pollution and hunting.
Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)
- Habitat: Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China. They occur in northern West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
- Threat: deforestation and poaching.
Asian black bear/ moon bear or white-chested bear (Ursus thibetanus)
- Habitat: Seen across much of the Himalayas, Korea, northeastern China, the Russian far east and the Honshu and Shikoku islands of Japan.
- Threats: deforestation and active hunting for its body parts.
‘Vulnerable’ Herbivorous Marine Mammals
- Include dugong and manatees and they inhabit swamps, rivers, estuaries, marine wetlands, and coastal marine waters.
- Threat: hunting (meat and oil), habitat degradation, and fishing-related fatalities.
- Dugong belongs to manatees species.
- Habitat: India seas [near shore waters of Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kachchh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands], Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, the Amazon Basin, and West Africa
- Threat: Coastal development, red tide, hunting.
With reference to ‘dugong’, a mammal found in India, which of the following statements is/are correct?
- It is a herbivorous marine animal.
- It is found along the entire coast of India
- It is given legal protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
- 1 and 2
- 2 only
- 1 and 3
- 3 only
- Dugong is an herbivorous animal. It eats sea grass and aquatic plants found in shallow oceans (At depths sea grass and aquatic plants don’t grow due to absence of sunlight).
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- Harming endangered (vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered) species listed in Schedule 1 of the Act is prohibited throughout India.
- Hunting species, like those requiring special protection (Schedule II), big game (Schedule III), and small game (Schedule IV), is regulated through licensing.
- A few species classified as vermin (Schedule V), may be hunted without restrictions.
Answer: c) 1 and 3
‘Near Threatened’ Mammals
Marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata)
- Habitat: northern India and Nepal, through south-eastern Asia to Borneo and Sumatra. In India – Sikkim, Darjeeling, moist tropical forest.
- Threats: hunting, habitat destruction for marbled cat and its prey.
Blackbuck (Salman Khan)
- Distribution: In the Indian subcontinent, the blackbuck can also be found in deserts (in the northwestern region), coastal areas, mountains (in the northern-northeastern region) Habitat: Grass land.
- Threat: excessive hunting for meat and sporting trophies, as well as habitat loss.
- Habitat: Himalayas.
- Threats: The major threats in China are uncontrolled hunting and deforestation. In India, Himalayan tahr is sometimes hunted for meat, and there is apparently significant competition with livestock for summer grazing in some areas.
Markhor (Capra falconeri)
- The markhor is the national animal of Pakistan.
- Habitat: Mountains of central Asia. In India – some parts of Jammu and Kashmir .
- Status: Moved from endangered to Near Threatened in 2015
- Threats: Hunting (both for meat and for its twisted horns), armed conflict and habitat loss.
‘Not Evaluated’ Mammals
- Conservation Status is ‘Not Evaluated’. Several biologists feel that it needs be in the ‘Critically Endangered List’.
- Distribution – Trans-Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir.
- Threats – Climate Change, Prey by humans to protect their cattle.
‘Critically Endangered’ Birds
The Jerdon’s Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus)
- It is a nocturnal bird found only in the northern part of the state of Andhra Pradesh in peninsular India [Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife Sanctuary].
- Habitat: Undisturbed scrub jungle with open areas.
- Distribution: Jerdon’s Courser is endemic to Andhra Pradesh.
- Threats: Clearing of scrub jungle, creation of new pastures, growing of dry land crops, Illegal trapping of birds, plantations of exotic trees, quarrying and the construction of the River Canals.
Forest Owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti)
- Habitat: Dry deciduous forest.
- Habitat: South Madhya Pradesh, in north-west Maharashtra and north-central Maharashtra.
- Threats: Logging operations, burning and cutting of trees damage roosting and nesting trees of the Forest Owlet.
White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis)
- Distribution: 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.
- Habitat: Rivers with sand or gravel bars or inland lakes.
- Threats: Loss and degradation of lowland forests and wetlands through direct exploitation and disturbance by humans.
Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis)
- A rare bustard species that is very well known for its mating dance.
- Habitat: Grasslands occasionally interspersed with scrublands.
- Distribution: Native to only 3 countries in the world – Cambodia, India and Nepal. In India, it occurs in 3 states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
- Threats: Ongoing conversion of the bird’s grassland habitat for various purposes including agriculture is mainly responsible for its population decline.
Himalayan Quail (Ophrysia superciliosa)
- Habitat: Tall grass and scrub on steep hillsides.
- Distribution: Western Himalayas.
- Threats: Indiscriminate hunting during the colonial period along with habitat modification.
Pink- headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea)
- Males have a deep pink head and neck from which the bird derives its name.
- Habitat: Overgrown still-water pools, marshes and swamps in lowland forests and tall grasslands.
- Distribution: Recorded in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Maximum records are from north-east India.
- Threats: Wetland degradation and loss of habitat, along with hunting are the main causes of its decline.
Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius)
- It is a winter migrant to India.
- Habitat: Fallow fields and scrub desert.
- Distribution: central Asia, Asia Minor, Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan. In India, habitat / distribution is restricted to the north and north-west of the country.
- Threats: Conversion of habitat to arable land, illegal hunting and proximity to human settlements.
Spoon Billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus)
- India is home to some of the last existing wintering grounds of this species.
- Habitat: Coastal areas with sparse vegetation. No breeding records further inland than 7 km from the seashore.
- Distribution: Has been recorded in West Bengal, Orissa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- Threats: Habitat degradation and land reclamation. Human disturbance also leads to high incidence of nest desertion.
Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus)
- It is a large, strikingly majestic migratory bird that breeds and winters in wetlands.
- They are known to winter at Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan.
- Habitat: Wetland areas.
- Located distribution: Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan.
- Threats: Pesticide pollution, wetland drainage, development of prime habitat into agricultural fields, and to some extent, hunting.
‘Critically Endangered’ Reptiles
Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)
- It is the most uniquely evolved crocodilian in the world, a specialized, river-dwelling, fish-eater.
- Habitat: Clean rivers with sand banks.
- Distribution: Only viable population in the National Chambal Sanctuary, spread across three states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in India.
- Small non-breeding populations exist in Son, Gandak, Hoogly and Ghagra rivers. Now extinct in Myanmar, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
- Threats: The combined effects of dams, barrages, artificial embankments, change in river course, pollution, sand-mining, riparian agriculture and ingress of domestic and feral livestock caused irreversible loss of riverine habitat and consequently of the gharial.
Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
- The species is migratory in nature and nesting occurs in about 70 countries across the world. Maturation is slow and is estimated between 25 — 40 years.
- Habitat: Nesting occurs on insular, sandy beaches.
- Distribution: In India they are found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the coast of Tamil Nadu and Orissa.
- Threats: Turtle shell trade, egg collection, slaughter for meat, oil pollution and destruction of nesting and foraging habitats.
Leatherbadc Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
- It is the largest of the living sea turtles, weighing as much as 900 kg.
- Jellyfish is their primary food.
- Habitat: Tropical and subtropical oceans.
- Distribution: Found in tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and into Indian Oceans.
- Threats: High sea fishing operations, harvesting of eggs, destruction of nests by wild predators and domesticated species such as cats, dogs and pigs. Artificial lighting disorients hatchlings and adults and causes them to migrate inland rather than towards the sea. Threats to habitat include construction, mining and plantation of exotics.
Consider the following fauna of India:
- Leatherback turtle
- Swamp deer
Which of the above is/are endangered?
- 1 and 2 only
- 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
1 and 2 are ‘Critically Endangered’ 3 is ‘Vulnerable’.
Answer: a) 1 and 2 only
Four-toed River Terrapin or River Terrapin (Batagur baska)
- Habitat: Freshwater rivers and lakes.
- Distribution: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
- Threats: Use of flesh for medicinal purposes, demand for eggs, which are considered a delicacy
Red-crowned Roofed Turtle or the Bengal Roof Turtle (Batagur kachuga)
- Habitat: Deep, flowing rivers but with terrestrial nest sites.
- Distribution: Found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. In India it resides basically in the watershed of the Ganga.
- Threats: Water development projects, water pollution, human disturbance and poaching for the illegal wildlife market.
‘Near Threatened’ Reptiles
Sispara day gecko (Cnemaspis sisparensis)
- Distribution: Endemic to Western Ghats, and found in Sispara, Nilgiris, Kavalai near Cochin.
- Threats: Habitat conversion and modification.
Olive ridley sea turtle
- Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle.
- Distribution: found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
- Olive ridley turtles are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers
- In the Indian Ocean, the majority of olive ridleys nest near Gahirmatha in Odisha. The coast of Odisha in India is the largest mass nesting site for the olive ridleys.
- Threats: unsustainable egg collection, slaughtering nesting females on the beach, and direct harvesting adults at sea for commercial sale of both the meat and hides.
- Coastal development, natural disasters, climate change, and other sources of beach erosion have also been cited as potential threats to nesting grounds.
What’s the difference between turtles and tortoises?
|Lives in water||Lives on land|
|Come to land to lay eggs||Everything happens on land|
|Good swimmers||Bad swimmers|
|Carnivores (flesh eating)||Herbivores (plant eating)|
|Terrapins are almost a combination of turtles and tortoises. They live in water, mostly small dams or ponds, however they can also live on land.|