Environment & Biodiversity Current Affairs - 2019
Latest Environment Current Affairs 2019 for UPSC Exams, Bank Exams, Civil Services, SSC and other Competitive Exams. Latest developments in Environment and Climate Change 2019 all important national updates in Environment events for the year 2019.
Category Wise PDF Compilations available at This Link
Researchers have discovered Dracaena cambodiana, a dragon tree species in Dongka Sarpo area of West Karbi Anglong District in Assam. This is for 1st time that a dragon tree species has been reported from India. This research which added to India’s botanical wealth has been published in Journal of Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
About Dracaena cambodiana
This plant yields dragon’s blood- a bright red resin. Sap of the plant species turns bright red after coming in contact with air. It is an important medicinal plant as well as an ornamental tree. The plant resin is used since ancient times as medicine, varnish, body oil, incense and dye.
Other than dragon’s blood several antifungal and antibacterial compounds, antioxidants, flavonoids, etc., have been extracted from various parts of plant.
Key Highlights of Research
As per the study in India, Dracaena genus belonging to family Asparagaceae is represented by 9 species and 2 varieties in Himalayan region, northeast and Island of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But Dracaena cambodiana is only true dragon tree species.
Seed Dispersal: Dracaena seeds are usually dispersed by birds. But due to large fruit size, only a few species of birds are able to swallow fruits, thereby limiting scope of its natural conservation.
Quarry Threat: Population size of dragon tree species in Assam is estimated to be less than 50 mature individuals and there is continuing decrease in its area of occupancy and number of mature individuals. This is because habitat of plant is severely fragmented due to open excavation of a stone quarry.
Demand Threat: The dragon’s blood is a precious traditional medicine in China. To meet increasing demand for dragon’s blood the recent overexploitation has resulted in rapid depletion of plant. Therefore, this plant species is already listed in inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of China.
Need: In view of its medicinal, ornamental and ecological values there is an urgent need for a Conservation programme for Dracaena cambodiana.
Team of researchers, from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru while attempting to study and classify snakes in Western Ghats discovered Proahaetulla antiqua, a new vine snake species. This is an ancient species which is endemic to southern Western Ghats is thought to have evolved around 26 million years ago during the mid-Oligocene.
Study Funded: The study describing unique features of this snake was published in journal PLOS ONE in collaboration with researchers from Chennai Snake Park, Chennai and Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. Study was funded by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), DBT-IISc Partnership Programme and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
Vine Snakes: Vine snakes get their names due to their slender bodies and vine-like appearances. Although there are similar species in South America and Africa but Asian vine snakes, distributed throughout Asia, belong to the genus Ahaetulla. In India particularly there are 4 species of commonly distributed vine snakes, and another one was discovered in Odisha recently.
About Proahaetulla antiqua
They are named after Latin words ‘antiqua’, which means- old or ancient. The common name suggested for these individuals is ‘keeled vine snake’.
While studying evolutionary tree of Proahaetulla antiqua, researchers discovered that this species diverged from other vine snakes about 26 million years ago. Thus, they are not only a new species but also belong to a new genus. The new species faces no major extinction threats at the moment.
It was found in protected habitats of Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala (both located in the southern Western Ghats).
Significance: Discovery would not only help know more about evolution of vine snakes but also evolutionary history of Western Ghats, a landmass older than Himalayas.