On the verge of development, homo-sapiens have disturbed the ecology. We intentionally forgot that Earth is the home of several million species along with us. This brought us to the place where more than 1,42,500 species are on the Red list issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with nearly 40,000 species close to extinction.
The species as plants, animals, or any other organism posing a threat to go extinct in the near future are called endangered species.
What could be the reason for a species to go extinct?
- Significant role humans play: Cutting down the forests for agriculture, housing, and industrial leads to habitat loss for most species. When there is no food and a place to live, isn’t it the answer to death? Activities like hunting, poaching, culling will decrease the population drastically.
Example: One of the thousand species that went to extinction due to human activities is the Dusky seaside sparrow (Ammospiza maritima nigrescens). It is native to Florida salty marshes and is referred to as non-migratory subspecies of American seaside sparrow.
The draining of salty marshes, the bird’s preferred habitat for road and industrial construction, and the intensional destruction of bird nests to reduce mosquito population paved the way for extinction.
- The most wonderful part of the world is evolution. It is what that brought us to witness these days. But when the changes are so rapid or intense, species may fail to adapt to the new environment, causing extinction. Animals like polar bears, koalas, leatherback sea turtles, Adelie Penguins, etc., face loss of food, habitat, malnutrition, offspring production, and hatching time coinciding with intense climates.
To monitor species’ populations and protect them from extinction, IUCN was established in 1948 with its headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. This organization issues the “Red List” that details the conservation status of species globally. It classifies the species into & categories ranging at lower levels are Least concern (LC), Near-threatened (NT) to most severe Extinct in the wild (EW) and Extinct (EX). In the middle, we have Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN), Critically endangered (CR).
Endangered species in Indian Scenario
About 132 Indian plant and animals species are in the Red List of IUCN issued in 2018.
Indian Vulture – There are about nine species of vultures available in India, and all are at some rate are in the threat of extinction. They feed on the caricatures of the animals. The presence of Diclofenac residues, an anti-inflammatory drug used for animals in the prey of vultures, claimed to be the significant reason for severe extinction.
Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus) – This species is claimed to be available in low population and long gestation periods. Its predatory nature, scattered living, and limited accessibility made it challenging to study. Degradation of habitat by chemical pollution and preferred consumption as meat made the species critically endangered.
Munnar bush frog (Raorchestes munnarensis) – Another victim of habitat loss in the Munnar region of Kerala. The cut down of tea and eucalyptus plantations is risking the survival of this species.
Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) – These freshwater crocodiles have a long snout terminating with a knob. The fishing nets used in rivers trap the rostrum of the gharial, making it difficult to breathe underwater and drown. The cultivation along the sides of the river bed affects the egg-laying process.
Conservation Care of these Endangered species
National Endangered Species day: The third Friday of the month, May, is marked to create awareness about endangered species and measures that could save them.
Project Tiger – Tiger, a national animal of India, was on the verge of extinction. GOI launched this mission in 1973 to maintain the tiger population in their natural habitat. Hunting and Poaching for the skin and bones of tigers were common practices that were curbed with stringent rules and regulations. Tiger census taken every four years, last done in 2018, displayed positive results.
Biodiversity hotspots – The regions rich in diverse flora and fauna but threatened to destruction or loss are declared hotspots. Across the world, there are 36 such hotspots ($ in India) serving as homes for thousands of species.
Along with this, Breeding Centres (Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh), National Parks – National Chambal Sanctuary (Gharial Eco Park, Madhya Pradesh) are used for conservation.
Live and Let Live is a basic formula to prevent the scenario that leads to the extinction of our co-species.