Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fourteen Bird Species Critically Endangered in India

The information contained in the written reply of Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, given in upper house (Rajya Sabha) on 13th December must be a bad news to bird lovers all over the world.

There are a number of birds on the verge of extinction in India. As per the report of the scientific institutions like Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun; Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai; and Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore; the IUCN Red List version 2010.1 indicates 14 Critically Endangered species of birds in India.

The bird species reported from India which are listed as critically endangered in IUCN Red List version 2010.1, are as follows:
White-rumped Vulture
Gyps bengalensis
Indian Vulture
Gyps indicus
Slender-billed Vulture
Gyps tenuirostris
Red-headed Vulture
Sarcogyps calvus
Pink-headed Duck
Rhodonessa caryophyllacea
White-bellied Heron
Ardea insignis
Sociable Lapwing
Vanellus gregarius
Christmas Frigatebird
Fregata andrewsi
Jerdon's Courser
Rhinoptilus bitorquatus
Siberian Crane
Grus leucogeranus
Bengal Florican
Houbaropsis bengalensis
Himalayan Quail
Ophrysia superciliosa
Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Eurynorhynchus pygmeus
Forest Owlet
Heteroglaux blewitti

The important steps taken for protecting the endangered birds of India are given below:

(i)     Rare and endangered birds are included in Schedule-I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 thereby according them highest degree of protection.

(ii)   Stringent punishments have been provided for in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for violation of the provisions of the Act.

(iii) Important habitats of birds, including endangered and migratory birds have been notified as Protected Areas under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for better conservation and the protection of birds and their habitats.

(iv) Financial & technical assistance is provided to the State/Union Territory Governments for protection and management of the Protected Areas.

(v)   The State/Union Territory Governments have been requested to strengthen the field formations and intensify patrolling in and around the protected areas.

(vi) Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established for control of illegal trade in wildlife, including endangered species of birds, and their parts and products.

(vii)  India is signatory to all major international conventions relating to conservation and management of wildlife, including endangered species of birds. These are Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

(viii)  The Sub-committee constituted under National Board for Wildlife, has developed Guidelines for Threatened Species Recovery Plan and has also identified Great Indian Bustard, Jerdon’s Courser and Nicobar Megapode as threatened bird species, for conservation and better management of their habitats on priority basis. 

(ix)  Research and monitoring activities on birds are promoted by the Government through reputed research organizations. Wildlife Institute of India, Bombay Natural History Society and Salim Ali Center for Ornithology and Natural History are some of the research organizations engaged in research for conservation of birds.

Undoubtedly Indian national agencies are involved in protection of the flora and fauna, but the involvement in its nature is sometimes more paper work than real concern and action on field to conserve threatened species. Birds are not only a part of fauna, but add great aesthetic value to nature and our lives. Birds’ protection and conservation must receive highest priority.

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