BENGALURU: With four critically endangered species being at the brink of extinction - Great Indian Bustard (GIB), Snow Leopard, Himalayan Brown Bear and Indian Wolves (as also the Bengal and the Lesser Florican) - , the Central authorities have woken up to initiate action in the states housing these species.
The population of GIB has declined from 1,260 to less than 250 in three states. Karnataka has between 8 and 20 birds left. Indian wolves are also fast vanishing in Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra with their numbers reduced to just 1,000. There are only about 500 Himalayan Brown Bears left in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Some 200 to 600 snow leopards live in protected areas.
Recently, wildlife officials and experts submitted their recommendations to the standing committee of National Board of Wildlife (NBW) to save the critically endangered species from extinction. This comes after the Supreme Court asked both the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the NBW to formulate an effective policy to save the four species.
The committee comprises of ADGF (WL), representatives from NTCA, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), PCCF of two states and IGF (WL). It was leopard expert Vidya Athreya who had filed the petition in the Supreme Court to save these four species.
Some of the recommendations made by the committee are priority to studies in human-wildlife conflict, action plan in dealing with emergencies, introduction of man-animal conflict as curriculum in training of forest officials, compulsory course on wildlife veterinary science in the existing curriculum, use of Section 144 of CrPC to prevent crowds, use of mobile phone app based information for payment of compensation, and mitigation for road kills and animal deaths due to electrocution among others.
After detailed discussions, the Standing Committee of the NBW has accepted the recommendations of the Committee and advised for its implementation. A recovery plan is already on the cards for critically endangered GIB with CAMPA funding and the involvement of WII is in place in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
India has 57 critically endangered species. According to Vidya Athreya, noted leopard expert and senior research fellow, WCS, India, these critically endangered species live both in and beyond protected areas, so the government needs to implement measures for their long term survival.