India has been home to a wide variety of wildlife species, flora, and fauna. Poaching, excessive hunting and human encroachment into habitats of wild animals have led to the extinction of many wildlife species.
Threatened species refers to any species facing an extremely high population decline rate and are in danger of extinction. International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies threatened species into Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable categories.
Critically Endangered (CR): Classified as “Critically Endangered” species if they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, which means they may become extinct in the immediate future.
Endangered (EN): Classified as “Endangered” species if they face a high risk of extinction in the wild which means they become extinct in the near future.
Vulnerable (VU): Classified as vulnerable if they face a high risk of endangerment in the wild which means they may become extinct in the medium term.
The IUCN Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity and is a powerful tool to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation. The list described 3,947 species as critically endangered, 5,766 species as endangered and more than 10,000 species featured as vulnerable.
Some of the endangered species in India
Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros: It is listed as one of the vulnerable species by IUCN. They have been excessively poached because of the commercial demand for horns.
Kaziranga National Park is famous for its elusive one-horned rhinos in India. It is situated in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam. Another place located in close proximity to Guwahati, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is also known for its dense population of one-horned rhinos.
Red Panda: Red Pandas in India are primarily found in the sub-Himalayan state of the North East namely, Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh.
It is an endangered wildlife species on IUCN red list and its population is continuously declining owing to the destruction of natural habitat.
Bengal Tigers: The Bengal Tigers are endangered species due to enormous poaching, loss of habitat caused by deforestation and conflict with humans.
The total count of Bengal tigers in India stands at 2,226, as per the National Tiger assessment done in 2014 by National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Many national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India were declared as tiger reserves after the launch of ‘Project Tiger‘ in 1973. Here is a list of some of the popular tiger reserves in India. Click on the links to know more.
- Corbett National Park: Established as a national park in 1936, it became the first one to come under the ‘Project Tiger’ Initiative.
- Kanha National Park: Created as a wildlife sanctuary in 1933, it was upgraded to a national park in 1955 and a tiger reserve in 1974.
- Bandhavgarh National Park: It was established as a national park in 1968 and became a tiger reserve in 1993.
- Parambikulam Tiger Reserve: Parambikulam forest was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1973. It was upgraded to a tiger reserve in 2010.
Asiatic Lion: Great Indian Lion or Asiatic lions are found in Gir National Park, Gujarat. Concentrated efforts from the Government and local communicates have resulted in a steady rise in the lion population which is now close to 600.
Snow Leopard: It is listed as vulnerable as per the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Snow leopards in India are found in 5 mountain states, namely Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir
From time to time, a lot of initiatives such as Project Tiger and Project Rhino, have been undertaken to preserve indigenous wildlife species of India. Are these efforts enough? What do you think?
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