Wild and wild world: new initiatives seek to conserve endangered species
Globally, the size of monitored populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians declined by an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to the Global Fund’s Living Planet 2020 report. nature (WWF). the planet as humanity’s footprint expands into once-wild places. “We are exacerbating climate change and increasing the risk of zoonotic diseases like Covid-19. We cannot protect humanity from the impacts of environmental destruction. It is time to restore our broken relationship with nature for the benefit of species and people, ”said Carter Roberts, CEO of WWF-US.
Wildlife conservation is the need of the moment and organizations have made special efforts to curb, protect and conserve species. For example, in July this year, India’s 14 tiger reserves received Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA | TS) accreditation, a globally accepted conservation tool that sets out best practices and standards for managing tigers. and encourages evaluations to assess progress.
CA | TS is implemented at 125 sites in seven tiger range countries. India has the highest number with 94 sites, the assessment of which has been completed for 20 tiger reserves this year.
Accreditation was granted to 14 reserves in India: Manas, Kaziranga and Orang (Assam); Sundarbans (West Bengal); Valmiki (Bihar); Dudhwa (Uttar Pradesh); Panna, Kanha, Satpuda and Pench (Madhya Pradesh); Anamalai and Mudumalai (Tamil Nadu); Parambikulam (Kerala) and Bandipur (Karnataka).
The Global Tiger Forum (GTF), an international NGO working on tiger conservation, and WWF-India are the two implementing partners of the National Tiger Conservation Authority for the CA | TS assessment in India. Site assessments were carried out using CA | TS-LOG, the software to visualize data and monitor tiger conservation at sites. India is the first country to roll it out nationwide.
But the trafficking and unsustainable trade in wildlife products has caused a record decline in wildlife. Besides elephant ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, tiger bone, bear bile, owls in India are victims of superstitious beliefs and rituals. About 16 species of owls are routinely trafficked in the illegal wildlife trade in India.
“Poaching and trafficking in owls has become a lucrative illicit trade resting on the wings of superstition. The lack of awareness about owls in the illegal wildlife trade and the limited ability of law enforcement agencies to identify them has made this illegal activity difficult to detect or curb, ”says Saket Badola, head of the office of Traffic’s India, an organization that ensures that wildlife trade is not a threat to nature conservation.
Of the approximately 250 species of owls found worldwide, around 36 are found in India. All owl species in India are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which makes poaching, trade or any other form of exploitation a punishable offense.
Despite legal restrictions, hundreds of birds are sacrificed for mystical rituals and practices related to superstition, totems and taboos and this usually culminates around the Diwali festival. Especially in small towns and villages, the use of owl parts such as skull, feathers, ear tufts, claws, heart, liver, kidneys, blood, eyes, fat, beak, tears, eggshells, meat and bones are prescribed for rituals. . “But owls play a crucial role in balancing our ecosystem and as friends of farmers, keeping rodents in check,” says Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO of WWF-India, “Illegal trade must be canceled by concerted action, strong citizen support and public awareness.
Meanwhile, the majority of snow leopard habitat, covering more than 12 range countries, remains under-studied. A WWF report released this year examines some glaring knowledge gaps about the endangered big cat and points out that a lack of baseline data could hamper its conservation.
Globally, as few as 4,000 snow leopards could remain in the high mountains of Asia and this remaining population faces persistent and emerging threats. Increased habitat loss and degradation, poaching, and conflict with communities have all contributed to a decline in their numbers. “The snow leopard lives in rugged terrain, so research poses significant logistical challenges. Serious efforts to learn more about the species began in the 1970s, but the snow leopard’s remote and vast range and elusive nature mean that most of the habitat is still unexplored and that we do not do not have a complete picture of the state. There is a need to establish baselines and indicators for snow leopards and their prey species so that range States can better assess future changes and assess the impact of conservation actions ”, said Rishi Kumar Sharma, WWF Global Snow Leopard Lead, who is the responsible author of the report.