What do you mean by endangered species?
The term ‘endangered species‘ has been in vogue for a long time now. It can be defined as any species of animals or plants that are at the risk of extinction. In simpler words, the dwindling number of these species signifies that they are in grave danger of getting extinct shortly if handled with further carelessness.
Why do these species require our urgent attention?
You would be surprised to know that many native Indian species which were once spread across the Indian Sub-Continent have been declared as threatened or rare. You wouldn’t be taken by surprise after knowing the culprits behind this massacre. It’s us, humans. We are the prime culprits of pushing these species over to the edge of becoming extinct. Since we are the wrongdoers here, the responsibility of reversing this falls upon us.
One of the main reasons for the endangerment of such species is the gradual erosion of the forest cover and loss of habitat. Humans have been encroaching upon the space previously occupied by them, leading to them losing their natural habitat and falling prey to activities like hunting and poaching.
Some plants and animals which are facing the brunt of it:
Malabar Mahogany ( Kingiodendron Pinnatum)
This endangered plant species are found in Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. It forms a part of the evergreen trees and can grow up to a height of 30 meters. This tree is known for its top-notch wood quality. Its trunk has medicinal properties and is used in the treatment of gonorrhea as well as conditions like respiratory problems and Genitourinary tracts. The major threat it faces is that of habitat destruction, excessive deforestation, and overutilization by humans.
Laden with medicinal properties like a cure to muscle pain and arthritis, it claims a significant place in ancient Ayurvedic healing plants. This endangered species grows in the state of Andhra Pradesh and has a blooming period from July to December. It sadly finds its place in the list of endangered plant species due to excessive deforestation and overuse of chemical fertilizers, which tend to lessen its medical properties.
This endangered species is found mainly in peninsular India and grows along rocky slopes and crevices. The blooming period is from August-May and is commonly known as Swallow Root. It is well known for its antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is however declared as endangered due to modern-day construction of housing and rapid urbanization which are leading to fast pace destruction of its habitat.
Due to rigorous poaching and hunting since ancient times, this ‘Big Cat’ is facing the threat of extinction. It has come under the endangered category for the last 7-8 years. Many initiatives and wildlife sanctuaries have been set up for the conservation of this big beast, like Jim Corbett national park, Sundarban National Park, etc.
Awareness campaigns like ‘SAVE THE TIGER’ have been taken up in many parts of the country to bring back the majestic Bengal tiger. Its population has seen a jump from 1909 in 2010 to 3,346 by the end of 2018, but its population remains a significant cause of worry in many areas due to tiger skin hunting and human-tiger conflicts in many parts of the country
Known as one of the mightiest lions in the world, their numbers are now only restricted to a few in the Gir National Park in Gujrat. The total number is 650, which is quite alarming as they were once found all across Asia. There has been a constant decline in their numbers since 2010. Presently their population stands at 674 in the Gir forest region, an increase of 29% over the 2015 figure. Campaigns like ‘ZSL’s Asiatic Lion campaign’ have made people more aware of their conservation and protection.
This large cat was found in large numbers across the mountain ranges like the Himalayas but are now facing the danger of extinction due to constant human interference in their natural habitat. Their numbers have dropped down to almost 500. If this doesn’t ring alarm bells, what will? Pervasive threats like illegal hunting, human-wildlife conflict, and overgrazing of livestock in snow leopard habitats have led to this magnificent beast’s endangerment.
Scientists have suggested ways to help save its numbers by including protected areas along national borders and corridors, restrict human movement along with protected areas, and launching campaigns to create more awareness for its protection.
The species became endangered due to unrestrained poaching and a lack of natural habitat. These are found in some areas of Kerala and are also known to be the state animal of Tamil Nadu. But their decreasing numbers have made it difficult to spot them in the state itself. Eravikulam National Park in Kerala is set up for their conservation.
Conservation measures like ‘NILGIRI TAHR ALLIANCE’ have taken steps to reintroduce the species in various regions of the country. Their population came down to as low as 100 by the end of the 20th century. It currently stands at 3,122, spread across the Western Ghats
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India has been home to some of the most exotic and rare species in the world. Our natural heritage has forever stood tall in terms of richness and diversity. The responsibility of carrying forward this heritage is upon us and also the generations to come. Its for us to decide whether we want this heritage to bloom or to turn this into a bygone history.
There are approximately 172 Indian plant and animal species that are considered to be threatened according to the IUCN. Even though the government has banned illegal hunting and poaching, it is equally our responsibility to adhere to all the conservatory norms and make people more environmentally aware to put a stop to deforestation and killing of innocent beings to warm some pockets!