As always, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, which catalogues the endangered species of the world, has brought in good and bad news alike. At least four species from India figure in the ‘critically enangered’ category — two animals and two plants. Some were already in that category and some have got upgraded following further decline in their numbers.
The recently discovered resplendent shrubfrog Raorchestes resplendens living in the Anamudi summit in the Eravikulam National Park of Kerala is a curious case. Less than 300 of these amphibians are believed to be living on this summit in a territory not bigger than three square kilometres. Their population is going down though the cause for such decline remains unknown.
The Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps has been uplisted to ‘critically endangered’ following extremely rapid decline primarily due to habitat loss and degradation. Earlier found in the Thar desert and Deccan tableland, it is now confined to Rajasthan (175 birds), with smaller populations (less than 50 birds) in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, and about 20 each in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
The two plant species — Syzygium travancoricum, a native of Kerala and Ilex khasiana from the Khasi hills of Meghalaya — are equally intriguing. The Kerala species has a very small reported population (less than 200). The sacred grove of Aickad is reported to harbour four of these trees and another 15 to 20 have been seen at Guddrikal.
Ilex khasiana, on the other hand, is barely there. Occurring in mixed evergreen forests, only 3-4 trees are hanging on to dear life on the Shillong Peak! That makes this species a must see next time in Shillong.
Of the 62,000 species that the IUCN evaluated, nearly 20,000 are threatened. And like always, the red list has put the spotlight on these species, urging to protect them through renewed conservation efforts.