Asiatic lions

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  • Asiatic lions are cousins of the African lion.
  • They are believed to have split away 100,000 years ago.
  • They are slightly smaller and have distinctive fold of skin along their bellies.
  • Gir sanctuary is the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world.
  • According to the last census conducted in 2015, the number of lions in Gir sanctuary stood at 523.
  • It is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, has been categories as Endangered on IUCN Red List and is listed Appendix I of CITES.

 

Canine distemper virus (CDV)

  • CDV is highly contagious disease that attacks gastrointestinal, respiratory, central nervous systems, immune system and other vital organs in animals.
  • In most of the cases, the infection is fatal.
  • It is mainly found in wild dogs, jackals and wolves.
  • The disease can be contracted by lions if they eat any animal infected by it.
  • CDV is considered dangerous virus and is blamed for wiping out 30% population of African lions in East African forests.
  • The virus is blamed for the death of as many as 23 lions in Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary in less than month.

 

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Neelakurinji plant

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  • Neelakurinji is a tropical plant species.
  • It is native to Shola forests in Western Ghats.
  • It is also seen in Shevroys Hills in Eastern Ghats, Anamalai hills and Agali hills in Kerala and Sanduru hills in Karnataka.
  • It grows at height of 30 to 60 cm on hills slopes at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 meters where there is no tree forest.
  • The flowers of Neelakurinji are purple-blue in colour and blooms once in 12 years. 
  • The flower has no smell or any medicinal value. 
  • It is because of these flowers, Nilgiri hills in southern tip of Western Ghats are called blue mountains.
  • It is rarest of rare plant species that grows in Western Ghats and does not grow in any other part of the world.
  • It has been categorized as endangered species.
  • In ancient Tamil literature, kurinji flowers symbolize love.
  • Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu use this flower bloom as reference to calculate their age.

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Sangai Brow-Antlered Deer

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  • It is an endemic and rare sub species of brow antlered deer found only in Manipur
  • It is the state animal of Manipur
  • Its habitat is restricted to the marshy wetland of Keibal Lamjao over the floating biomass in Loktak Lake which is locally called ‘phumdi’
  • It is also one of the seven Ramsar sites of international importance.
  • The habitat of the sangai is now protected as the Keibul Lamjao National Park.
  • Keibal Lamjao is the only floating national park in India.
  • Phumdi is the floating mass of entangled vegetation formed by the accumulation of organic debris and biomass with soil.
  • While walking on the floating biomass, Sangai often balances itself which looks as if it is dancing on the green grassland and therefore popularly called as ‘dancing deer’ of Manipur
  • IUCN status : Endangered.

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Pangolin

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  • Pangolin is only scaly mammal on the planet.
  • According to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), it is also the most illegally traded vertebrate within its class (Mammalia).
  • Of the eight species of pangolin worldwide, two are found in India. They are Chinese pangolin (manis pentadactyla), mostly found in northeast India and Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata).
  • Pangolins has large, overlapping scales on its body which act as armour.
  • It can also curl itself into ball as self-defence against predators.
  • The colour of its scales varies depending on colour of earth in its surroundings.
  • Pangolins is an insectivore, feeding on ants and termites, digging them out of mounds and logs using its long claws.
  • It is nocturnal and rests in deep burrows during the day.
  • Pangolins is smuggled for its scales as it believed that they possess magic or charms and have medicinal properties.
  • The scales serves as base component for indigenous (traditional) psychotropic substances.
  • China is main illicit hub (market) for smuggled scales of Pangolins, where they have huge demand for medicinal and magical purposes.

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  • Protection Status: 
    • Chinese pangolin has been listed as “critically endangered” by UN affiliated International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
    • Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) has been listed as “endangered” in IUCN Red List.
    • It is also a Schedule I category protected animal, under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

Blackbuck

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  • Indian Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is an antelope and is the only living species of the genus Antilope.
  • It is considered to be the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah.
  • The horns of the blackbuck are ringed with one to four spiral turns and the female is usually hornless.

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  • Habitat: 
    • Blackbuck inhabits grassy plains and slightly forested areas.
    • Due to its regular need of water, it prefers areas where water is perennially available.
    • It is found in Central- Western India (MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Odisha) and Southern India (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu).
  • Protection Status: 
    • Hunting of blackbuck is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
    • It has been categorised least concerned in IUCN Red Data Book.
  • The Bishnoi community of Rajasthan is known worldwide for their conservation efforts to blackbuck and Chinkara.
 
Why in news?
  • Blackbuck’s population is on rise.
  • The Uttar Pradesh State Cabinet has approved Blackbuck Conservation Reserve in trans-Yamuna belt near Allahabad. It will be first of its kind conservation reserves in India exclusively dedicated to blackbuck.

Gangetic River Dolphin

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Gangetic River Dolphin

  • National Aquatic Animal of India
  • They are freshwater dolphins.
  • It is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in Yangtze river, Indus river in Pakistan and Amazon river.
  • It is found in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
  • IUCN Status : Endangered
  • It is also placed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Major threats:
    • Fishing nets
    • Hunting for their oil and meat
    • Water pollution
  • MoEFCC had launched Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Programme in 1997 to build a scientific database of their population status and also study their habitat quality of the dolphins’ distribution range.
  • Fresh water dolphin species are practically blind. They rely on bio-sonar method to move around and catch their prey. 
  • Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary located in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district of Bihar is India’s only dolphin sanctuary is spread over 50 km along the Ganges.
  • National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC) will be set up on the banks of the Ganga river in Patna University campus in Patna.