Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environment protection. First celebrated in 1970, by founder Gaylord Nelson. Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, which are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
On Earth Day, the loss of forest habitat in India is causing one of the biggest environmental challenges for the country’s dwindling wildlife
2017 Environmental and Climate Literacy
2018 End Plastic Pollution
2019 save our species
Great Indian bustard (50-200 left)
Locally extinct in 90% of its range. Once thrived in arid, semi-arid and moist grasslands across the country Why: Unique to grasslands. The Wildlife Institute of India in February said that there is a need to mitigate power line-caused bustard deaths, and a need for conservation breeding.
Gangetic river dolphin (1260 left)
Where: Ganges, Brahmaputra, their tributaries
Why: The dolphin is an indicator species for the Ganga ecosystem as it is vulnerable to changes in water quality. It is listed as “endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Snow leopard (600 left)
Where: Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh
Why: Government has declared snow leopard a flagship species for high altitude Himalayas. They are threatened by habitat degradation, loss of prey species, climate change, mining, infrastructure projects.
Red panda (2000 left)
Where: Sikkim, part of west Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling district, parts of Meghalaya
Why: Affected by habitat fragmentation in the Himalayas. Red panda diet is 98% bamboo. Since 2008, the species is classified as “endangered” in the IUCN Red List, with a decreasing population trend.
Clouded leopard (Not known)
Where: Eastern Himalayas including north Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Why: They are elusive, nocturnal, and found in very low densities. The clouded leopard is categorised as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.
The Asiatic wild dog or dholes (1000-2215 left)
Where: Western Ghats.
Why: Dholes is key predator. Declining numbers are worrisome as dholes balance prey populations and are indicator of healthy forest ecosystem.
Others endangered species
• Asian wild buffalo
• Asiatic lion
• Brow antlered deer
• Edible nest swiflet
• Indian one horned rhino
• Jerdon’s courser
• Malabar civet
• Marine turtles
• Nicobar megapode
• Nilgiri tahr
Case study (Centre for Wildlife Studies)
The Asiatic wild dog or dholes, an adept hunter documented to have overpowered leopards and tigers when hunting in packs, may disappear from its habitat in India, Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) warned in its study published in February.
Dholes face local extinctions in 37,000 sq km surveyed across the Western Ghats, which is their only habitat in India.
Dhole occupancy or dhole signs, which were detected in 35% of the sites surveyed in 2007, had reduced to 30% of the sites by 2015, found the study published in Nature journal’s Scientific Reports.
The study identified 49 sites most sensitive to local extinction, which could significantly reduce the wild dog’s numbers.
On the 49th annual Earth Day – a global event to highlight environmental issues — we take a look at the how loss of forest habitat is causing one of the biggest environmental challenges for the country’s wildlife and the changes needed in government measures to save endangered species likes dholes.
Dhole is a wild apex carnivore that primarily inhabits forested areas in south and Southeast Asia. Globally, dholes have disappeared from 82% of their former range, it was found that the Western Ghats landscape, in spite of its relatively high-quality reserve network, does not seem adequate for conserving what may be the largest dholes meta-population in the world.
In the absence of government-sourced updated estimates of the population numbers of many species, the only estimates are those by wildlife experts working in the field. Under its Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat scheme, the Union environment ministry releases just one crore each annually to the state governments for the conservation of protected areas and other wildlife habitats. In comparison, Rs.350 crore was allocated for the conservation of tigers in this year’s Union budget.
There can be no conservation without community participation. They [communities] need to be made parties in benefit sharing and management of forests. For example, both red panda and snow leopards are found in Arunachal Pradesh, where communities own forests. Outsiders may not be able to do much without their involvement.