India is still home to some of the most beautiful animals in the world
But by then,
What constitutes an endangered animal?
Here is a way to think about it…
Who makes this persistence?
Think about the value of this.
The most recognized organization for this task is the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
India is home to over 91,000 different species of animals and 45,000 plants that flourish in the country’s mountains, forests, seas, rivers and other water bodies and desert.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), about eight percent of all recorded species of plants and animals can be found in this country.
Unfortunately, India is also home to 57 species of animals that are classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by IUCN. These include birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, spiders, and corals.
These animals feature on the IUCN Red List– meaning they can become extinct unless drastic, immediate steps are taken to protect them.
Protection is now done by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests. India is a signatory to IUCN, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) and other global initiatives at preserving rare animals from extinction.
If you want more information about endangered species in India, then read this article:
Here we look at top 10 Most Critically Endangered species in India.These different types of extinct animals that feature on IUCN Red List
1. Critically Endangered Birds
According to IUCN Red List, there are 13 birds in India that stand classified as critically endangered. Here are top three such birds:
A. Jerdon’s Courser
Jerdon’s Courser was believed to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1986. It is indigenous to forests of Andhra Pradesh and parts of southern Maharashtra.
This critically endangered species is now being preserved at the Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary.
It faces threat from destruction of scrub jungles, deforestation, mining activities and illegal trapping of wildlife black market.
B. Forest Owlet
Found in north-central and north-western Maharashtra and parts of Madhya Pradesh, the Forest Owlet is a critically endangered bird that was believed as extinct for over 120 years.
However, noted Indian ornithologists Salim Ali printed posters and called upon people of the area to look for the bird.
It was rediscovered in 1997. Illegal logging activities in forests and burning wood are the main threats for this bird that now flourishes in dense forests on borders of the two states.
C. Spoon Billed Sandpiper
As the name suggests, Spoon Billed Sandpiper has a beak that is shaped like a spoon. The bird was once common to eastern coastal states of the Indian peninsula, especially Tamil Nadu, Odisha and West Bengal.
Construction activities along the coast combined with marine pollution have led this unique bird to be critically endangered: Only an estimated 100 to 350 pairs exist in India and worldwide.
The bird does not live more than seven kilometres away from the coast and hence, cannot be bred in inland forests.
Human habitats and beach resorts coming up along the coast are also threatening its existence.
2. Critically Endangered Mammals
In India, 10 mammals feature on IUCN Red List as critically endangered species. Top among these include:
A. Pygmy Hog
IUCN describes Indian Pygmy Hog as the world’s smallest pig. A full sized adult does not weight over eight kilos.
This animal was once common to Indian grasslands, especially in West Bengal and Assam states.
However, rampant poaching by tribal people for its meat combined with the steady destruction of grasslands has made the Pygmy Hog a critically endangered animal.
It now breeds only in a protected area, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. There are several parasitic insects that live in hair and skin of the Pygmy Hog and face extinction too.
B. Kondana Rat
Kondana Rat is a burrowing nocturnal rodent that is found only in India. Further, it is endangered species of animals and the only rat in the world that builds a nest at home.
The Kondana Rat is indigenous to Sahyadri mountain range of Maharashtra and lives in forests around Pune.
It is critically endangered due to loss of habitat caused by deforestation for construction of plush housing projects and increased tourism activity in the region.
C. Namdapha Flying Squirrel
Namdapha Flying Squirrel now lives only in the eponymous tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh. This is one of the rarest flying squirrels of the world.
The main threat to this critically endangered animal is hunting by local tribal people for food.
Its meat is said to be in much demand among tribal people and those looking for exotic meats. Hunting of this squirrel now attracts extremely harsh punishment under India’s wildlife protection laws.
D. Malabar Civet
Malabar Civet is found only in parts of Kerala. It is the world’s rarest mammals, according to IUCN definition.
The Malabar Civet was suspected to be extinct for over 200 years before being spotted near Travancore region.
It is a nocturnal animal and barely seen during daylight hours. Malabar Civet is critically endangered due to the widespread cutting of forests in the region to cultivate trees and plants of commercial value.
3. Critically Endangered Reptiles
Over 19 species of reptiles, mainly frogs are listed as critically endangered by IUCN. The list also contains some very rare Indian animals.
A. Ganges Gharial
Ganges Gharial ranks topmost on the list of critically endangered reptiles of India. In other neighboring countries including Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, the animal is now extinct in India.
Ganges Gharial derives its name because it lives in the river Ganges and on its banks. It thrives on fish that flourish in the river.
Rampant pollution of the Ganges and its banks have led to near extinction of the Gharial.
B. Hawksbill Turtle
Hawksbill Turtle is unique and rare species because it migrates and has been found to nest in as many as 70 countries.
In India, they are primarily found on the Andaman and Nicobar islands and the coast of Odisha and Tamil Nadu.
Hawksbill Turtle has become critically endangered because of its prized meat. Eggs of Hawksbill Turtle are also prized by lovers of exotic food.
The Indian government is taking special steps to prevent their poaching: armed wardens are posted to guard their nests and habitat to deter poachers.
C. Sispara Day Gecko
Sispara Day Gecko has a frightening appearance: it is large and can be easily confused with a small dragon.
Marks on its skin are sufficient to deter any predator or human. Sispara Day Gecko is an inhabitant of the Western Ghats and the Nilgiri mountain range.
It breeds in parts of Karnataka and Kerala but some wildlife spotters have also seen it as far as Goa.
Deforestation of the forests in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri range has rendered Sispara Day Gecko as a critically endangered species of India.
More Critically Endangered Species
Aquatic species including Ganges Shark, Pondicherry Shark, Knife Tooth Sawfish, Large Tooth Sawfish and Long Comb Sawfish are declared as critically Most endangered species in India.
They are nearing extinction due to pollution of rivers in India and marine habitat.
Two species of arachnids- Metallic Tarantula and Parachute Tarantula, as well as Fire Corals, are other critically endangered species listed by IUCN.
Protection of Critically Endangered Species
As a signatory to CITES, IUCN and other international treaties and conventions on the preservation of wildlife, the Indian government is exerting extra efforts to protect critically endangered and other species of wildlife.
The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and Indian Penal Code contain very stiff penalties including long jail terms for anyone found poaching wild animals or destroying rare fauna.
The biggest threat to Indian wildlife comes from the destruction of habitat followed by pollution. Classic examples include barnacles that were found off the coast of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Earlier, these barnacles flourished in rocks on the shores. Extensive marine pollution due to development of industry has caused near extinction of these barnacles, which were considered a delicacy.
The IUCN Red List for India is an eye opener for any nature lover in the world. It aptly describes how wildlife and fauna continue to suffer due to human encroachment on their habitat for industrial and residential purposes.
For example, cutting forests and demolishing hilly parts of Goa for a construction project led to venomous snakes entering, hiding and breeding at people’s homes.
Unless urgent steps are taken, India may lose some of these critically endangered species too.