New Delhi, March 10, 2011
"As far as mammals go, I know only one species, Cheetah, that has gone extinct," Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said, while admitting that India has poor record on the database of the animal and bird species it has. Ramesh has approved an ambitious plan to translocate Cheetahs from Africa in four different locations - one each in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and two in Rajasthan.
The Zoological Survey of India and Botanical Survey of India are entrusted with the job to keep record of species in India but they don't have database of more than half of Indian wildlife. "We have never build capacity to have do scientific taxonomy," he minister said.
It has been international organizations such as IUCN, which is now headed by Ashok Khosla and Conservation International, which has provided funds to do research on lost species in India.
In February this year, S D Biju of Delhi University had successfully rediscovered five species of amphibians, including one lost 139 years ago, from different parts of the country. One such frog species Chalazodes Bubble-Nest Frog, rediscovered in Western Ghats, had found mention in the list of 57 critically endangered species in India.
Apart from them, there are 132 endangered, 317 vulnerable, 301near risk category and 2,448 least concern species in India.
The Environment ministry in collaboration with the Zoological Survey of India has prepared a comprehensive document on 'Critically Endangered Animal Species of India' for the first time.
The area of concern for many wildlifers is that the government has no recovery plan for many of these species unlike big carnivores such as tigers, lions, leopards and elephants.
Except, Vultures, Jerdon’s Courser, Leatherback Turtle and Malabar Cevit, reviving the population of any other species is not covered under any central government plan. For most of these species, the government has also failed to conduct an census or population estimation as done in case of tigers, lions and elephants.
Ramesh said that the National Coastal Zone Management Authority has been asked to prepare a plan to protected endangered marine species, as most of them are not in any of the marine sanctuaries in India. But, for other the government apathy would continue.