Current Affairs - Biodiversity

Bumphead Parrotfish

Why is it in News?

Andaman & Nicobar has recorded a sharp decline in the number of the species.

About Bumphead Parrotfish:

  • It is the largest species of parrotfish, growing to lengths of 1.3 m and weighing up to 46 kg. It is named as Bumphead as it has a peculiar habit of ramming into the coral reefs and it can nibble up to 5 tonnes of coral reefs every year.
  • It is not legally protected in India but is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ as per the IUCN.

Does its Ramming into the Coral Reef damage the Coral Ecosystem?

  • Prima facie it appears that this peculiar habit of ramming and eating the coral reefs can have detrimental effect on the Coral Ecosystem, but in practice it has been found that this practice promotes coral growth and the overall health of the ecosystem.

Geographical Spread of Bumphead Parrotfish:

  • It is found on the reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the Red Sea in the west to Samoa in the east, and from the Yaeyama Islands in the north to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, in the south.

Threats to Bumphead Parrotfish:

  • Coral bleaching is one of the major causes of the decline in its number.
  • They get caught in the fishing nets which hampers their being.
  • They are considered as prized catch due to its meat delicacies.

Source: TH

Phen Wildlife Sanctuary

Why is it in News?

The NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) has decided to develop a buffer zone of Kanha Tiger Reserve.

About Phen Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • Phen forest area was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in year 1983 by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. It is a popular buffer zone of Kanha National Park and lies in the southern region of Kanha National Park.
  • It is surrounded and connected to the Kanha Tiger Reserve through Motinala buffer range.

Faunas Present:

Tigers, Leopards, Wild boars, Cheetal, Sambhar among others.

Source: TH

India’s Newest Frog

Why is it in News?

A new frog was discovered in Wayanad, Kerala. It is a new species and is different enough to be assigned to a new ‘subfamily’. Genetic analysis revealed that the species is at least 60 million years old.

About the New Species:

  • The frog which has been named it the starry dwarf frog Astrobatrachus Kurichiyana (genus Astrobatrachus after its starry spots and kurichiyana in honour of the Kurichiya tribal community who live in the area). The frog is just 2 cm long and sports pale blue spots and brilliant white thighs.
  • It is nocturnal amphibian and lives under leaf litter.

About the Kurichiya Community:

  • Kurichiya tribes, also known as Hill Brahmins or Malai Brahmins are a matrilineal tribe of Kerala distributed mainly in Wayanad and Kannur district of Kerala.

Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary

Why is it in News?

A species of wood snake has resurfaced in Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary after 140 years.

About Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • This wildlife sanctuary is located in the Western Ghats in the state of Tamil nadu.
  • As this wildlife sanctuary is at the border of Tamil Nadu & Kerala, hence it acts as a buffer zone for Periyar Tiger Reserve which is present in state of Kerala.
  • Megamali Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for the Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed Macaque, Great Indian Hornbill etc.
  • Wood snake is “point endemic” to Megamali Wildlife Sanctuary i.e. it is only found in that sanctuary and nowhere else.

Source: TH

Golden Langur

About the Species:

  • Golden Langur is found in a few forest patches of Assam, Tripura and Bhutan only. Due to its restricted habitat it is listed as ‘Endangered’ as per IUCN.
  • Golden Langur mostly prefers evergreen or moist deciduous forests to be their habitat.

Why is its Number Decreasing?

  • Stone quarrying and its habitat destruction is one of the major reasons for the number going down.
  • High decibel noise generated during stone quarrying has led to change in its behaviour and ultimately leading to a low survival rate.

Source: Down to Earth

Migratory Birds

Why is it in News?

A Heuglin’s Gull was sighted with a plastic bottle ring around its beak in Kerala recently, which has raised alarm about the plastic wastes present in ocean.

About Heuglin’s Gull:

  • Heuglin's Gull or Siberian Gull breeds in Tundra belt of Northern Russia and migrates South to South West Asia, including India during the winters.
  • They are listed as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List and mainly feeds on molluscs, worms, and crustaceans.
  • In India, they are often seen in the Ganga-Yamuna flood plains and South India.

Threats to Gulls in India:

  • Plastic present in the ocean is a major threat to the gulls as they think it as a prey and it gets entangled around their neck or beak. This finally leads to their death.
  • Encroachment of their habitats and bird traps are the other threats to gulls in India.

Chilika Lake And Irrawaddy Dolphins

Why is it in News?

An expert panel has recently cited that highway projects in Odisha are threatening the birds, Olive Ridley Turtles etc. in the Chilika range vicinity.

About Chilika Lake:

  • It is the largest brackish water lagoon lake in India and second in the world.
  • It is located in Odisha at the mouth of River Daya flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
  • It was the first lake to be listed under Ramsar convention.
  • Chilika Lake is highly productive as it is an excellent example of Mangrove Ecosystem.
  • Nalbana Bird Sanctuary is present in the core area of Chilika Lake.
  • In a recent survey, Chilika Lake emerged as the single largest habitat of Irrawaddy dolphins in the world.

About the Nalbana Bird Sanctuary:

  • Nalbana Bird Sanctuary or Nalbana Island is the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika Lake. It was declared a bird sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • ‘Nalbana’ in Odia means weed covered and this bird sanctuary appears due to accumulation of weeds in the post monsoon season and disappears during the monsoon season. The availability of shallow water and abundance of prey attracts the birds and is the largest breeding ground for Flamingo’s in the world.

About Irrawaddy Dolphins:

  • Irrawaddy Dolphin is a Euryhaline species which is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as well as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).
  • Irrawaddy Dolphins are found in Bay of Bengal Region, South East Asia (Mekong River Belt) etc. It is considered as a sacred species by Khmer & Lao people.
  • It is listed ‘Endangered’ as per the IUCN Red List.

What is a Euryhaline Species?

Euryhaline Species are those species which adapt to a wider and varying range of salinity, e.g.- the species that lives in estaury, creeks etc. as due to variation in flow of fresh water salinity of these ecosystem continuously changes.

Source: Down to Earth, TH, IE

Pench Tiger Reserve

Why is it in News?

Over a thousand of birds were killed in the buffer zone of Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh as the area was hit by a hailstorm recently. 590 egrets, 360 parrots and 152 crows are among the birds that were killed.

About the Pench Tiger Reserve:

  • The Pench Reserve or the Pench National Park is named after River Pench which originates from the Mahadeo Hills and divides the national park approximately into two equal halves.
  • This national park is present in southern part of Madhya Pradesh, but has some portions in the neighboring state of Maharashtra. But, when we say Pench Tiger Reserve, it broadly means we are referring to the tiger reserve of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Pench National Park was established as a tiger reserve in 1992.
  • It broadly spreads over the Districts of Chindwara and Seoni in MP.
  • It is situated in the southern slopes of Satpura-Maikal Range

Which other Wildlife Sanctuaries are part of the Pench Tiger Reserve?

The Pench Tiger Reserve comprises of the Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park, the Pench Mowgli Sanctuary and a buffer zone.

Source: TH

New Delhi Declaration (NDD)

Why is it in News?

‘The New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019’ was signed by the five rhino range nations for the conservation and protection of the species. To increase the population of three species of Asian rhinos, including the Greater one-horned rhinoceros found in the Indian sub-continent, India will collaborate with Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia.

What are the Different Asian Rhinos?

Asian Rhinos are classified into three species:

a) Greater One Horn Rhino/ Indian Rhino

b) Javan Rhino

c) Sumatran Rhino

Asian Rhino Countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia and Indonesia.

What has been the Outcome of NDD?

  • Countries have agreed for Trans Boundary Collaboration.
  • Real time intelligence sharing
  • Review of Population after 4 years
  • Expanding the Rhino habitat.

About Greater One Horn Rhino/ Indian Rhino:

  • It is largest of all the Rhino species.
  • IUCN status- Vulnerable
  • Current global population of Indian Rhino is 3,584. Kaziranga National Park has the highest rhinos in India (2,938) and Nepal has 646 Rhinos.

New Delhi Declaration (NDD) vis-à-vis One Horned Rhino:

  • At NDD it was realised that the single population of rhinos in Sukla-Phanta (Nepal), Valmiki Tiger Reserve (India), Chitwan National Park (Nepal) and Dudhwa (India) is separated by the political boundary between the two countries; hence, complete coordination has to be there for the free movement of Indian Rhino.
  • At NDD it was also decided that Bhutan per-se has no One Horned Rhino but sometimes Rhinos from Buxa Tiger Reserve or Manas National Park goes to Bhutan and therefore Bhutan too was taken on board for the conservation strategy.

Sumatran Rhino:

  • It is the only Asian Rhino having two horns.
  • It is the smallest of all the Asian Rhinos.
  • IUCN status- Critically Endangered.

Javan Rhino:

  • Only 65 Javan Rhinos are there in Unjung Kulan National Park, Javan Island, Indonesia.
  • IUCN status- Critically Endangered
Source: TH

Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972

Why is it in News?

The Forest Department has issue a warning-cum-advisory to the Telangana State Beedi Leaves and Forest Contractors’ Association (TSBLFCA) against wanton destruction of forest or encouraging others to do so by way of burning it as part of beedi leaf collection activity.

It quoted penal sections of relevant laws to be circulated among the members, aimed at getting their cooperation in protecting the forests. It also mentions the provisions under Sections 29, 30, 51, 51 (ic) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act-1972. WPA is constantly making it to the news, so it is advisable to know about the important provisions of WPA.

About Wildlife Protection Act (WPA)-1972:

  • WPA- 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species. Before 1972, India only had five designated national parks. National Tiger Conservation Authority and National Board for Wildlife is the outcome of this Act. This Act extends to whole of India except J&K which has its own law on wild life conservation.
  • Section 1 & 2 of this Act protects those plants & animals that are in the category of Endangered Species. The sections in this schedule give absolute protection to certain species and these cannot be infringed on any account.
  • National Park, Wildlife sanctuary are set up under the provisions of WPA-1972, but Biosphere reserves are set up under Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme of UNESCO.

Source: Down to Earth

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