Study Material for UPSC IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations - Environment (Species in News)

Study Material for UPSC IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations - Environment (Species in News)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN):

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education. It publishes the Red Data Book under Global Species Programme, working with the Species Survival Commission. Red Data Book assesses the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties, and even selected sub- populations of both flora and fauna.

The IUCN classification of some species based on its evaluation is:

Some of the Important species :

Species IUCN Status Habitat/Other details
Nilgiri Tahr Endangered
  • Open montane grassland (Shola Grassland) habitats at elevations from 1200 to 2600 m (generally above 2000 m) of the South Western Ghats.State Animal of Tamil Nadu
Kashmir Stag (Hangul) - Critically Endangered
  • Habitat: Jammu & Kashmir (Dachigam National Park) State animal of Jammu & Kashmir
Sangai (Brow antlered deer ordancing deer- or Eld’sdeer) Endangered
  • Habitat: Floating marshy grasslands, Phumdis, of the Keibul Lamjao National Park,located in the southern parts of the Loktak Lake (largest freshwater lake in eastern India)
  • Endemic species found only in Manipur, India. State animal of Manipur
  • Phumdi — floating mass of entangled vegetation formed by the accumulation of organicdebris and biomass with soil.
Amur Falcon Least concern
  • Habitat: Amur falcon species are distributed in India, Africa and Northeast Asia inGrassland, Savanna, Forest, Wetlands (inland).
  • Amur Falcons are the migratory bird that stay every year at Doyang lake during theirflight from Mongolia to South Africa.
Olive Ridley Turtle Vulnerable
  • Habitat: It’s found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • Gahirmatha located in the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha houses the worldlargest mass nesting site of these turtles.
  • Rushikulya rookery coast, and Bahuda Rookery are other major nesting site of olive ridleys on the Odisha coastline.
  • They are known for their arribadas (synchronised mass nesting) during which time tensof thousands of female turtles come ashore to nest in the span of a few days.


Why in News?

  • A recent study suggests that, Great Indian Bustard population has been falling continuously, from around 1,260 in 1969 to less than 200 in 2018.
  • About Great Indian bustard (Ardeotis Nigriceps)
  • It’s among the heaviest bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs giving it an ostrich like appearance.
  • Habitat: Arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub, tall grass interspersed with cultivation. It avoids irrigated areas.
  • It is endemic to Indian Sub-continent, found in central India, western India and eastern Pakistan.
  • Currently, it is found in only six states in the country — Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.
  • Great Indian Bustard, popularly known as ‘Godawan’, is Rajasthan’s state bird. The state government has started “Project Godawan” for its conservation at Desert National Park (DNP) in Jaisalmer. It’s one of the Species for The Recovery Programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • Protection: Listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List

It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES and covered under CMS or Bonn Convention.


Why in news?

  • Recently, study showed that rising salinity in Sunderbans region of India is causing a decrease in population of the Ganges River Dolphins.
  • The population of the Gangetic river dolphin at the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary has declined to 154 from 207 in 2015 About Gangetic dolphins
  • It inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
  • It is among the four freshwater dolphins found in the world – the other three are found in the Yangtze River (China), the ‘bhulan’ of the Indus (Pakistan) and the ‘boto’ of the Amazon River (Latin America).
  • It is a mammal and cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds.
  • Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
  • It is the national aquatic animal and had been granted non-human personhood status by government in 2017.
  • It is also protected under the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
  • Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in Bihar is India’s only sanctuary for the Gangetic dolphin.
  • It has been categorised as endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species by the IUCN.
  • It is listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)


Why in news?

  • Greater Flamingoes have been spotted on the Coast of Hope Island, a part of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, after a gap of 25 years.
  • Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWLS) is situated in Andhra Pradesh near confluence of Godavari and Bay of Bengal and houses the second largest mangroves forest in India.

About Greater Flamingoes

  • These come under ‘Least Concern’ category of IUCN Red List.
  • They prefer shallow brackish lakes & use mudflats & saltpans for nesting.
  • They are filter feeders (take prey and water together and then filter out water) and get their characteristic pink colour from their diet of brine shrimps and algae available in the coastal wetlands.


Why in news?

  • Recently scientist confirmed the presence of Eurasian otter in Western Ghats.
  • Though the Eurasian otter has been recorded historically from the Western Ghats (Coorg in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiri and Palani hill ranges), this is the first photographic and genetic confirmation of its presence here.
  • India is home to 3 of the 13 species of otters found worldwide.

These are

  • Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra): IUCN: Near Threatened;CITES Appendix I; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II.
  • Smooth-coated Otter (Lutra perspicillata): IUCN: Vulnerable; CITES Appendix II; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II.
  • Small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus):IUCN: Vulnerable; CITES Appendix II; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II.


Why in news?

  • The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) recently added four species-the Northern River Terrapin, Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale, Red Panda-to a Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species.

About the Species

  • Northern River Terrapin, which is a species of riverine turtle found in the rivers that flow in Eastern India, is hunted for its meat and carapace. It is a native of Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.(IUCN-Critically Endangered)
  • Clouded Leopard, found in the Himalayan foothills, is threatened due to habitat loss, poaching for its skin and is also as a live pet trade. (IUCN-Vulnerable)
  • Arabian Sea Humpback Whale is a species found in all of major oceans but ship strikes, unforgiving fishing gear and seismic explorations pose grave threat to it.(IUCN-Endangered)
  • Red Panda which is closely associated with montane forests with dense bamboothicket, is found Sikkim, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh. It is poached for its meat, and for use in medicines, and as a pet.(IUCN-Endangered)

About National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

  • It is a statutory Board constituted under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It is chaired by the Prime Minister. Its vice chairman is Minister of Environment.
  • It is involved in framing policies and promoting wildlife conservation and controlling poaching and illegal trade of wild life.
  • It makes recommendations on the setting up of and management of national parks, sanctuaries and other protected areas and restriction of activities in those areas.
  • Its concurrence is needed for creation of tourist lodges, alteration of the boundaries of Protected Areas, de-notification of Tiger Reserves, etc.
  • It may appoint a standing committee which provides clearances to projects that pass through or are located near protected areas.


Why in news?

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), now reclassified red sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) as ‘near threatened’ from the earlier ‘endangered’.

Red Sanders

  • It is an endemic tree of South India.
  • They are found in Tropical Dry Deciduous forest of the Palakonda and Seshachalam hill ranges of Andhra Pradesh and also found in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
  • It occurs in hot, dry climate with a rainfall of 88-105 cm.
  • It prefers lateritic and gravelly soil and cannot tolerate water logging.


  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India has launched the “Asiatic Lion Conservation Project” with an aim to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem.
  • The Project is for 3 years and will be funded from the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State share.
  • The last census in the year 2015 showed the population of 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir Protected Area Network of 1648.79 sq. km. that includes- Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary adjoining reserved forests, Protected Forests, and Unclassed Forests.
  • Asiatic Lion- Panthera Leo Persica is listed in Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protect Act, 1972 and in Appendix-I of CITES, while IUCN lists it in endangered category.
  • Their population is limited to only five protected areas in Gujarat – Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary and Girnar Sanctuary.


  • Indian Tiger or Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris) is the sub species found in India .

Conservation status of Tiger

  • IUCN Red List: Endangered
  • Wild life protection Act : Schedule 1
  • CITES: Appendix 1
  • India is home to 70 per cent of global tiger population.
  • States having Highest number of tigers are- Karnataka > Uttarakhand > Madhya Pradesh

Conservation Efforts in India

  • Project Tiger:
  • The Government of India launched the centrally Sponsored Scheme the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973 for for in-situ conservation of wild tigers in designated tiger reserves. The Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 tiger reserves at present.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):

  • It is a statutory body established in 2006 under MoEFCC performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Presently It implements major tiger conservation initiatives like project tiger, Tiger conservation plan etc

Monitoring System for Tigers –

  • Intensive Protection and Ecological Status (M-STrIPES): It is a software-based monitoring system launched across Indian tiger reserves by the NTCA.
  • Global Conservation Efforts

The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), 2008:

  • A global alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society, the conservation and scientific communities and the private sector and includes organization like the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), etc.


  • To work together to save wild tigers from extinction. In 2013, the scope was broadened to include Snow Leopards.
  • The initiative is led by the 13 tiger range countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam).


  • In 2010, the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation was adopted under the GTI and TX2 was endorsed. Its goal was to double the number of wild tigers across their geographical areas. The WWF is implementing the programme in 13 tiger range countries.
  • The Global Tiger Forum (GTF) is the only intergovernmental international body established with members from willing countries to embark on a global campaign to protect the Tiger.
  • Conservation Assured Tiger Standards CA|TS: It is a new tool for tiger conservation management. It is a set of criteria which allows tiger sites to check if their management will lead to successful tiger conservation. It is an important part of Tx2 programme.


Why in news?

  • Madhya Pradesh forest department seeks to revive the plan to reintroduce Cheetahs in Nauradehi sanctuary.

About the Plan

  • National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), is nodal agency for the Cheetahs reintroduction plan.
  • In 2009 Project Cheetahwas launched and Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary (MP) and Shahgarh area in Rajasthan were also identified as other two sites for cheetah reintroduction plan.
  • Nauradehi was found to be the most suitable area for the cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict the fast movement of Cheetahs.

Related Information About Cheetahs

  • It was declared extinct in Indiain 1952 and last spotted in Chhattisgarh 1947.
  • The only mammal to become extinct in India in last 1,000 years.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable

National Tiger Conservation Authority

  • It is a statutory body and has overarching supervisory/coordination role as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It approves the Tiger Conservation Plan prepared by the State Governments.

<< Go Back to Main Page