India facing loss of bio-diversity
New Delhi: India, one of the 17 identified mega-diverse countries of the world, is facing a high rate of loss of bio-diversity due to human settlements, mining, industry and associated infrastructure, according to a Government report.
Among the species found in India, only 12.6 per cent of mammals and 4.5 per cent of birds are endemic, as against 45.8 per cent of reptiles and 55.8 per cent of amphibians, says the document prepared by the Environment Ministry.
The Environmental and Social Framework Document for "Strengthening Regional Cooperation in Wildlife Protection in Asia" is prepared for financial assistance from the World Bank under regional International Development Association (IDA) window.
According to the document, notable endemics are the Nilgiri Leaf Monkey and the Brown and Carmine Beddome`s Toad of the Western Ghats. India contains 172 (2.9 per cent) of the IUCN designated threatened species.
These include the Asiatic lion, the Bengal Tiger, and the Indian white-rumped vulture, which suffered near-extinction situation from feeding on the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle, says the report.
"Human activities, both directly and indirectly, responsible for current high rates of biodiversity loss are-- habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation due to agricultural activities, extraction (including mining, fishing, logging and harvesting); and development (human settlements, industry and associated infrastructure)," it says.
"Habitat loss and fragmentation leads to the formation of isolated, small and scattered populations," it added.
Being one of the 17 identified mega-diverse countries, India is home to 8.58 per cent of mammals, 13.66 per cent of avians, 7.91 per cent of reptiles, 4.66 per cent of amphibians, 11.72 per cent of fish and 11.80 per cent of plant species.
India`s forest cover ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and North-Eastern India to the coniferous forest of the Himalayas.
Between these extremes lie the Sal-dominated moist deciduous forests of Eastern India, the teak-dominated dry deciduous forest of Central and Southern India, and the Babul dominated thorn forest of Central Deccan and Western Gangetic plains.
Interestingly, the report came out ahead of India hosting XI Conference of Parties (CoP) on Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at Hyderabad from October one to 19 this year.