The programme for Critically Endangered Species received 4 more entries recently. The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) added the Northern River Terrapin, Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale, and Red Panda to the list of 17 species.
The program is a part of the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH), a funded three-way scheme that provides protection of wildlife habitats, sanctuaries, conservational parks and protected areas, protection of wildlife in the areas that are not protected and thirdly, the mentioned recovery program for protection of critically endangered species.
The 17 species under the program are- the snow leopard, Bustard, Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugongs, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer and Jerdon’s Courser.
In April, the wildlife board held a meeting with Chief Wildlife Wardens (CWW) of East and Northeast region who suggested that Red Panda, Clouded Leopard, and Northern River Terrapin be added in the list.
“State governments have sent their proposals for species recovery. Now the next step is to formulate a separate project strategy after discussing the proposals with scientific institutions, such as Wildlife Institute of India,” said a senior Environment Ministry official.
The major threat to these species other than poaching and illegal trading is their habitat loss. Terrapin is a species of riverine turtle found in West Bengal is a victim of poaching and trafficking. The vast destruction of forest lands has robbed snow leopards and red pandas of their homes while the humpback whales are often found dead entangled in fishing nets and ship strikes.
The recovery of the species is difficult. H S Singh, a NBWL member is skeptical. “Except few cases, most of the recovery activities are restricted to study/research and monitoring,” he said. “The recovery plan for the Great Indian Bustard and Wild Buffalo (Central India Population) was discussed two years ago and the plan was also sanctioned with financial allocation but it is yet to be grounded. Now, we have very less chance of recovery of these species. The planning should be done before a species reaches a critical stage.”
The Bustards and Wild Buffalos are on the brink of extinction. They would be the some of the few species gone extinct in one’s lifetime.