India: Press information bureau update on activites to protect snow leopards

Ministry of Environment and Forests05-September, 2011 16:43 IST Extinction of Animals

As per the Red Data Book of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are 13 Critically Endangered species of birds in India. Among animals, 34 species have been identified in India as Critically Endangered in the class mammals, reptiles, fishes and amphibians. The details are at Annexure.

Steps taken by the Government to protect these species are as follows:

i) The Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ has been modified in 2008-09 by including a new component namely ‘Recovery of Endangered Species’ and 16 species have been identified for recovery viz. Snow Leopard, Bustard (including Floricans), Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugong, 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.

ii) Under the ‘Recovery of Endangered Species’ component of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ Rs 377.7 lakhs for the recovery of endangered species viz. Hangul in Jammu and Kashmir, Snow Leopard in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, Vulture in Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat was provided during 2008-09. During 2009-10, an amount of Rs 72.95 lakhs was provided for recovery of endangered species viz. Swiftlet in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Nilgiri Tahr in Taml Nadu, Sanghai Deer in Manipur and Snow Leopard in Arunachal Pradesh. During 2010-11, an amount of Rs. 184.052 lakh was provided for recovery of endangered species viz. Vulture in Punjab, Swiftlet in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Snow Leopard in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and Hangul in Jammu and Kashmir.

iii) Legal protection has been provided to endangered wild animals and plants against hunting and commercial exploitation under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

iv) The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, has been amended and made more stringent. The punishment in cases of offences have been enhanced. The Act also provides for forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon that is used for committing wildlife offence.

v) Protected Areas, viz, National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves all over the country covering the important habitats have been created as per the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to provide better protection to wildlife, including threatened species and their habitat.

vi) Financial and technical assistance is extended to the State Governments under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, viz, ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’ for providing better protection and conservation to wildlife.

vii) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders.

viii) The State Governments have been requested to strengthen the field formations and intensify patrolling in and around the Protected Areas.

ix) The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products.

x) Strict vigil is maintained through effective communication system.

Oldest Woolly Rhino Fossil Discovered in Tibet: Extinct snow leopards also found in this fossil bed

By Anissa Haddadi | September 2, 2011 3:37 PM GMT

A woolly rhino fossil was discovered by scientists as they dug up on the Tibetan Plateau is believed to be the oldest specimen of its kind to be found.

According to scientists, the newly discovered skull belongs to previously unknown species of ancient rhino now classified as Coelodonta thibetana and can vaguely be described as a woolly animal that came equipped with a snow shovel on its head.

The rhino was found in Tibet’s Zanda Basin, an area is rich in fossil beds, and this specimen was unearthed along with examples of extinct horse, antelope, snow leopard, badger and many other kinds of mammals, the BBC reported.

The creature lived some 3.6 million years ago and the new discovery could show that animals that lived during Ice Age were able to adapt to the difficult Tibetan Climate.

It would also help explain why so many different species travelled through North America, Europe and Asia during the last Ice Age beginning about 2.8 million years ago, by showing how animals that had previously adapted to cold environment in the Himalayas later expanded to other regions.

“There is a general principle, called Bergmann’s Rule, that suggests animals tend to increase their body size in colder environments,” Discovery News quoted co-author Xiaoming Wang, as saying.

“Large-bodied animals have relatively smaller surface areas to lose heat and thus conserve heat better — it’s a matter of physics,” he added.

“The extinct Tibetan woolly rhino had developed special adaptations for sweeping snow using its flattened, forward-leaning horn to reveal vegetation, a useful behaviour for survival in the harsh Tibetan climate,” Wang explained.

“They just happily came down from the high altitude areas and expanded to the rest of Eurasia,” he also told the BBC before adding “Woolly rhino were preyed on by spotted hyenas and they were eaten pretty thoroughly; the hyenas liked the bones.”

Tibet has also been home to other cold-adapted animals like the Tibetan wild yak, snow leopards and blue sheep and many animal experts maintain that Tibet was the birthplace for many species that later survived through the Ice Age and beyond.