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Wednesday, September 12

Great Indian Bustard, Four Toed Terrapin, White Bellied Heron and Gooty Tarantula among the 100 most threatened organisms in the world

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According to the list of 100 most threatened organisms in the world prepared by more than 8,000 scientists from the IUCN Species Survival Commission and released at the ongoing World Conservation Congress at Jeju in South Korea, four organisms found in India belong to the category.

White bellied heron, Ardea insignis, most threatened bird in India
White bellied heron (Ardea insignis)
Image Courtesy: Mahesh Iyer (Wikimedia Commons)
Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), White bellied heron (Ardea insignis), Common batagur or Four-toed terrapin (Batagur baska) and Gooty tarantula(Poecilotheria metallica) which are found in different parts of India are among the most threatened organisms in the world, says the report which is named “Priceless or Worthless?”. All of them are already listed as Critically Endangered in IUCN Red List

White Bellied Heron has only 70 to 400 individuals remaining in Bhutan, Myanmar and North East India, says the report. Accoridng to it, habitat destruction from hydroelectric projects has brought down the number of individuals. Captive breeding and release and avoiding adverse use of riverine habitat are suggested as urgent action required for saving the species.
Great Indian Bustard, Ardeotis nigriceps
Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps)
Image Courtesy:  LRBurdak (Wikimedia Commons)

Great Indian Bustard has only 50 to 249 mature individuals remaining. The bird which is found only India is threatened by “Habitat loss and modification due to agricultural development”, says the report. While establishment of protected areas and community reserves is suggested as the action required, the report interestingly suggest realignment of Indira Ghandi Nahar Canal project for saving the bird.

Distributed in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, Common batagur or four toed terrapin is threatened by illegal export from Indonesia to China. India may be the best place to conserve the animal, if the illegal trade is cubed in the region, as suggested by the report. “Enforcement of CITES Appendix I restrictions and control of illegal trade” is listed as the urgent action required to save the species.

Common batagur, Four-toed terrapin, Batagur baska
Common batagur or Four-toed terrapin (Batagur baska) 
Gootyy Tarantula, reported so far only from Andhra Pradesh in India, is also threatened by habitat loss and illegal trade, as per the report.  The report suggests awareness programs and a curb on illegal trade as protection measures apart from habitat protection, community awareness.

Current Conservation status in India

Despite the heightened conservation significance as an endemic spider,  Gootty Tarantula is yet to be included in the schedule I of  Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972, which is the major law to conserve rare organisms in India.   

Gooty Tarantula, Poecilotheria metallica, most threatened spider
Gooty Tarantula ( Poecilotheria metallica)
Image Courtesy: ZSI
The report has suggested the same among the urgent action required to protect Gootty Tarantula.

Four Toed Terrapin, Great Indian Bustard and White bellied Heron are already included in Schedule I of the act. Authorities have been mulling over announcing Critical Bustard Areas in India to the save the bird recently, as suggested by the report.

Apart from the four, Amsterdam albatross (Diomedea amsterdamensis) which is often found in the Indian Ocean is also listed among the 100 most threatened organisms in the world.

However, the report does not actually detail on the way or the criterion with which the 100 most threatened species were selected. There is wide spread criticism that many of the important species were left out in the list. 

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