Half of mammals face habitat loss: ZSI

Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) recently published a book containing a consolidated documentation and listing of all the scheduled or protected species of mammals found in India.

  • The book, An Identification Manual for Scheduled Mammals of India, provides detailed information on scheduled mammals, their status as per IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list of Threatened Species.

Mammalian fauna of India:

  • India is home to 428 species of mammals out of which more than 60%— about 251 species — are under protected or scheduled categories of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • 428 species of mammals in India contribute to about 8% of the total mammal species found in the World.
  • About 50% of mammalian fauna of India have shrunk in their distributional range due to various anthropogenic pressures.
  • Four mammal species — Cheetah, Banteng, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Javan Rhinoceros — are extinct in India.
  • Out of the 251 Schedule mammals species listed under the India Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, about 180 fall under the “lesser-known” category, and very little information is available about their habitat, behaviour, and population.
  • Around 78 species of mammals are included in Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, implying that highest priority is placed on the conservation of these animals in the country.
  • While the Schedule I mammals constitute well known species like tiger, elephant and Indian rhinoceros, “lesser known” species such as clouded leopard, snow leopard, gaur, desert cat, Niligiri tahr, swamp deer, sloth bear and Tibetan, sand fox are also included in the list.
  • The mammals that fall in the “Critically Endangered” category of the IUCN, according to the book are: pygmy hog, Malabar civet, large rock rat and kondana rat.
  • As per the IUCN status 29 mammals (such as, Chinese Pangolin, fishing cat, Gangetic dolphin, golden langur, hispid hare etc.) in the country come under the “endangered” category.

About ZSI:

Established in 1961, it is a premier organisation in zoological research and studies. It was established to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in the region.

  • The activities of the ZSI are coordinated by the Conservation and Survey Division in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

Main objectives:

  • Exploration and Survey of Faunal Resources
  • Taxonomic Studies
  • Status Survey of Endangered Species
  • Publication of Results through Departmental Journals
  • Publication of Fauna of India
  • Maintenance and Development of National Zoological Collections

Red Data Book:

  • Similar to the Red Data Book produced by IUCN, ZSI also releases a Red Data Book on Indian Animals. It was first published in 1983.

The ZSI also participates in the Indian Antarctic Program, since its inception in 1989.

Sources: The Hindu, ZSI.gov.in.

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