Wildlife Protection Current Affairs
Gujarat Forest Department has started vaccination of lions in Gir sanctuary to protect them from a deadly canine distemper virus (CDV) and protozoa infections. The virus is blamed for the death of as many as 23 lions in Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary in less than month. The segregated lions are being vaccinated under intensive veterinary care and as per standard protocol and with consultations of national & International lion experts.
Asiatic lions are cousins of the African lion. They are believed to have split away 100,000 years ago. They are slightly smaller and have distinctive fold of skin along their bellies. Gir sanctuary is the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world. According to the last census conducted in 2015, the number of lions in Gir sanctuary stood at 523. It is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, has been categories as Endangered on IUCN Red List and is listed Appendix I of CITES.
Canine distemper virus (CDV)
CDV is highly contagious disease that attacks gastrointestinal, respiratory, central nervous systems, immune system and other vital organs in animals. In most of the cases, the infection is fatal. It is mainly found in wild dogs, jackals and wolves. The disease can be contracted by lions if they eat any animal infected by it. CDV is considered dangerous virus and is blamed for wiping out 30% population of African lions in East African forests.
National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC) will be set up on the banks of the Ganga river in Patna University campus in Patna, capital of Bihar. It will India’s and Asia’s first Dolphin research centre. The announcement for the centre was made on the occasion of Dolphin day (October 5), observed in Bihar for protection and conservation of Gangetic river dolphin to create awareness to save endangered species. NDRC will play important role in strengthening conservation efforts and research to save endangered mammal whose population is decreasing. Bihar is home to around half of the country’s estimated 3,000 dolphin population.
Gangetic river dolphin
Gangetic river dolphin (scientific name: Platanista gangetica) is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in Yangtze river, Indus river in Pakistan and Amazon river. Gangetic river dolphin species are found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal. It is almost completely blind and finds its way and prey using ultrasonic echoes, with sound being everything for them to navigate, feed, escape danger, find mates, breed, nurse babies and play.
Gangetic Dolphin’s presence signals healthy river ecosystem. Dolphins prefer water that is at least 5-8 feet deep and are usually found in turbulent waters where there is enough fish for them to feed on. They prefer deep water with adjoining shallow water and live in zone where there is little or no current that helps them save energy.
Threats: Entanglement in fishing nets, hunting for their oil and meat, poisoning of water supply of river from industrial and agricultural chemicals. They are facing most significant threat from building of dams along the upper course of their habitable rivers. It causing the segregation of populations and has a narrowed gene pool in which dolphins can breed.
Protection Status: Gangetic river dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and have been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Conservation Program: Environment Ministry had launched Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Programme in 1997 to build scientific database of their population status and also study their habitat quality of the dolphins’ distribution range. Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary located in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district of Bihar is India’s only dolphin sanctuary is spread over 50 km along the Ganges