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IUNC to declare Kashmir’s Red Stag as Critically Endangered

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is going to declare the Kashmiri Red Stag (also known as Hangul) as a Critically Endangered species.

The critically endangered status to the Kashmiri Red Stag will help it to get more protection and enhance the conservation efforts to increase its rapidly declining population.

About Kashmiri Red Stag

  • The Kashmir Stag or Hangul is a subspecies of elk native to India.
  • Earlier it was believed that it is a subspecies of red deer. But mitochondrial DNA genetic studies have revealed that it is part of the Asian clade of elk.
  • It is found in dense riverine forests in the high valleys and mountains of Kashmir Valley and northern Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • As per Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) nearly 3000 to 5000 Hanguls existed around the 1940s.
  • But at present, only about 150 of them survive within its last bastion in Dachigam National Park located on foothills of Zabarwan range on the outskirts of Srinagar, J&K.
  • Protection status: It has been listed under Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978. It also has been listed among the top 15 species of high conservation priority by the Central Government.
  • Reasons for decline in population: (i) habitat destruction, (ii) over-grazing by domestic livestock, and (iii) poaching.

About International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

  • The IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • It was founded in 1948. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It is a leading non-governmental authority on the environment and sustainable development. It is also involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, lobbying and education.
  • IUCN is best known to the wider public for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.

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Ecologist Bibhuti Lahkar wins IUCN’s Heritage Heroes Award 2016

Assam-based ecologist and conservation activist Bibhuti Lahkar has won prestigious ‘Heritage Heroes Award’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

With this, he became the first Asian to win this prestigious environmental award. He was presented this award at the IUCN’s ongoing World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Background

Lahkar was among five conservationists across the globe to be nominated for 2016 Heritage Heroes Award. Others were  Bantu Lukambo and Josue Kambasu Mukura (Congo), Yulia Naberezhnaya and Andrey Rudomahka (Russia)

About Bibhuti Lahkar

  • For the past two decades Lahkar, has been working to save the grasslands, flora and fauna of Manas National Park area.
  • Currently, he is engaged as Manas Landscape Administrator for Aaranyak, an NGO working for biodiversity conservation in northeast India.
  • He has intensively studied grasslands of Manas and is globally recognised as an expert in threatened flora and fauna of the Terai region along southern foothills of the Himalayas.
  • He was also instrumental in connecting Manas Wildlife Sanctuary with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
  • Connecting them had led to a system of trans-boundary wildlife monitoring which now supports management in entire Manas natural area that spreads across India and Bhutan.
  • He also had conducted the first GIS survey of the Manas and his research findings and recommendations were critical component in the Manas Tiger Conservation Plan.

IUCN’s Heritage Heroes Award: It aims at recognising “outstanding efforts” of persons around the world in making a difference in the conservation of World Heritage sites in challenging situations.

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More than 50 animal species critically endangered in India: Government

Union Government has announced that out of 96,000 animal species found in India more than 50 animals have been assessed as critically endangered (CR) and 310 as endangered (EN).

It was announced by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

Key Facts

  • The assessment studies were conducted by Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and it has recorded 96,000 species of animals from India.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed 50 animal species as “critically endangered”. It includes 18 species of amphibians, 14 varieties of fish, 13 birds and 10 mammals.
  • IUCN also has assessed 310 animal species as endangered that includes 69 fish, 38 mammals and 32 amphibians.
  • Vascular Plants: Botanical Survey of India (BSI) also has notified that out of 19,156 species of vascular plants found in India.
  • Of them 1,236 species belong to different threatened categories like critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable.
  • Conservation of threatened species: Government has established 730 Protected Areas, including 535 wildlife sanctuaries, 103 national parks, 26 community reserves and 66 conservation reserves, which primarily cover habitats of threatened megafauna such as rhino, tiger, elephant and others.
  • 9 of the 18 biosphere reserves found in India are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO.
  • Recovery programme: National CAMPA Advisory Council has approved the funding for recovery programme of various endangered species.
  • These include Gangetic River Dolphin (CR) with budgetary support of Rs 23 crore, Dugong (CR) with a budget of Rs 23.58 crore, Great Indian Bustard (CR) with Rs 108.25 crore, Manipur Brow Antlered deer (CR) with support of Rs 99.95 crore and wild Buffalo (CR) with Rs 2 crore.

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