The world population is growing by leaps and bounds. It is already late for us to conserve the wildlife species, which forms an essential part of the entire eco-system. While doing research for this article, i came to know of certain species which are rare and only a small population of them remain in the world…blame their extinction on humans and our greed. In an effort to save the last of the lot, i would like the following to be conserved, for future generations to at least know who they are and have a glimpse of them (and not just read about them in history books). All of these have been classified as ‘Endangered (EN)’ by the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature:
1. Lion-tailed Macaque: Also called Wanderloo, this monkey is found in the Western Ghats of South India. It ranks among the smaller macaques (a medium-sized, chiefly forest-dwelling Old World monkey that has a long face and cheek pouches for holding food) and avoids humans.
The lion-tailed macaques are the rarest and most threatened primates. According to recent assessments, only 3,000-3,500 of these endangered species remain, scattered primarily in Kerala but also a few in Tamilnadu and Karnataka. They do not live, feed or travel through plantations. Hence, our activities including the spread of agriculture, construction of water reservoirs for irrigation and power generation, and other interventions have led to their increasing isolation and fragmentation. Destruction of their habitat and their avoidance of human vicinity has led to the drastic decrease of their population.
The only silver lining is they are no longer on ‘The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates’ list, after the international body compiling it determined that the local governments in Southern India had taken steps to protect them.
2. Bengal Tiger: They are primarily found in India with a few of them in Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan also. This National Animal of both India and Bangladesh was estimated to be around 2,500 in number in 2011 and their population is on a decreasing trend.
The most serious threat to their extinction is poaching, as there is a widespread illegal trade in poached skins and body parts between India, Nepal and China. There are well organized gangs of professional poachers (with hierarchies of dealership) doing most of the damage.
Another factor contributing to their loss is urbanization and revenge killing as farmers blame tigers for killing cattle and shoot them. In the Indian subcontinent, the region where tigers have achieved their highest densities because of affording habitat is also one which has housed one of the most concentrated and rapidly expanding human populations. So tigers were killed in large numbers so humans could survive.
3. Indian Wild Dog: Also called Dhole, it is a native to Central and Southeast Asia. However, their largest stronghold is in India.
Dholes are found in forested areas and in a wide variety of habitat types. Factors such as prey and water availability, den sites and relatively open forest areas with grassy meadows (usually having high prey densities) are required to support dholes. It is a highly social animal and has a dietary overlap with tigers and leopards.
This species face a serious risk of extinction and their population is estimated to be less than 2,500 adults. Two of the major threats to the dhole are habitat destruction (and the associated prey) and human persecution (as a result of bounties on them by humans). Furthermore, once dhole populations become fragmented, other factors such as disease and inbreeding may have more permanent effects.
It is indeed sad to read their journey and how these species could soon become extinct, if steps are not taken immediately. Their survival is dependent on strong laws and support from the Government, from the public, from NGOs and particularly from children. Various professional bodies have also been setup to protect their further loss, and following points could help in their conservation:
- Awareness among us about these endangered species.
- If there is a conflict between them and people, we need to assess it and measures should be taken to reduce it.
- Maintain and increase their prey base.
- Forest habitat should be restored and protected from loss and destruction.
For further information on these specials along with many others which require our urgent attention, read Wildlife Photo Book titled “Capturing Wildlife Moments in India.” Through 120 photographs, this book by Ashok Mahindra highlights the rich heritage and range of wildlife and its habitats in India. The book indicates the continuing threat to wildlife in India and sets out how it could be more effectively preserved. The book lists the National Parks and Sanctuaries visited (over 30), the Wildlife Hotspots and Interesting Places to Stay. The book is of interest to all of us who are concerned with conservation, wildlife photography and wildlife tourism.
I am participating in the Save the Species contest for the book “Capturing Wildlife Moments in India” in association with Saevus Wildlife India, read the reviews for the book ‘Capturing Wildlife Moments in India’ here