Wildlife Protection Current Affairs

Snow leopard no longer endangered: IUCN

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has downgraded conservation status of snow leopard from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. It was changed after three-year assessment process by international experts.

The change in status comes 45 years after snow leopard was first declared endangered in 1972. However, experts have warned that snow leopard species still faces serious threats from poaching and habitat destruction.

Key Facts

Endangered Species: According to IUCN, species are considered ‘endangered,’ if they are fewer than 2,500 and experiencing high rate of decline.

Vulnerable Species: Species are fewer than 10,000 and its population has declined at least 10% over three generations.

Snow leopard

Snow leopard (Panthera uncial) is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia- including Himalayas, and Russia’s remote Altai mountains. It inhabits in alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m. In the northern range countries, it is also found at lower elevations.

It is threatened by poaching for their fur, habitat destruction by infrastructure developments and climate change. It mostly feed on wild animals, but also prey on livestock. It usually hunts at dawn and dusk and is able to kill prey up to three times their own weight. It is National Heritage Animal of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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India has 27,312 elephants: 2017 Census Estimation

According to the census report, released by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) the population estimation of Asian elephant in India is around 27,312.

The census was conducted between March and May 2017 by the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) at the Indian Institute of Science (Bengaluru), several NGOs and independent conservationists aided the Project Elephant Directorate and forest departments of 23 states. It was first-ever synchronised all-India Elephant Population census that covered 1.10 lakh square kilometres and spanned four regions of the country: the northeast, south, east-central and north.

Key Highlights of the survey

The population estimation of Asian elephants in 2017 census is lower than from the last census estimate in 2012 (between 29,391 and 30,711). Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054).

The estimate was based on preliminary results from the first-ever synchronised all-India Elephant Population Estimation derived from the sighting-based direct count method alone. The final count will be confirmed with estimates from the indirect dung-count method in three months.

According to experts parallels cannot be drawn between 2012 and 2017 census, because in the 2012 census, various states had used different methodologies and it was not synchronised effort across the country. It might have caused errors and duplication that led to overestimation.

Comment

The 2017 census indices indicate that the elephant population is increasing including birth rate and even their geographical range has increased. However, it shows marginal increase in elephant poulation ever since the 1990s. Due to habitat fragmentation, elephants are moving out to agricultural landscapes leading to an increase in man-elephant conflict resulting in both crop damage and loss of lives of elephants.

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