NASHIK: National Endangered Species Day is celebrated annually on the 3rd Friday of May to raise awareness about the need to save the endangered wildlife species, protecting the ecosystem, conserving flora and fauna, and nurturing biodiversity. The theme for 2021 is ‘Wildlife Without Borders.’
The day aims to focus on the conversation efforts to save the endangered and provide them with natural habitat to flourish and grow. Nashik district is known for its rich flora and fauna and astonishing biodiversity. “Anjaneri Ceropegia” is a rare endemic herb found only at Anjenari hilltop.
Long-billed and White Backed Vultures, both critically endangered, have a decent population growth rate in our district. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, protects these species by banning illegal hunting and poaching practices. However, illegal hunting persists in many places in the county. Global warming, habitat destruction, and deforestation have made the situation worse, thus increasing the chances of endangered species extinction.
Pratiksha Kothule, Nature Conservation Society of Nashik, while speaking to Deshdoot, stated the reason behind Nashik’s rich wildlife is its location. On the west, we have the Western Ghats surrounding Nashik, known as one of the world’s hottest biodiversity hotspots with 5,000 flowering plants, 139 mammals, 508 birds, and 179 amphibian species. On the east side, there is Deccan Plateau has its own set of rich geographical features.
The district is home to various species of mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, medicinal plants, etc. In Ramayana, the district was tagged as “Dandakaryana” (a highly forested area).
Due to deforestation, many wildlife animals have lost their homes, thus leading to an imbalance in the ecosystem. The Deccan Plateau has the finest grassland habitat, home to various grassland species.
These grasslands are getting transformed into agricultural land; the grassland species are at the risk of getting extinct. We have a classic example of the Indian Cheetah, which vanished from India in 1957.
The Great Indian Bustard, a critically endangered species, has got extinct from the soil of Nashik. Even though they still exist in Rajasthan and corresponding areas, they haven’t been traced in a long time in our region. Around 14 individuals were spotted in the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited campus at Ozhar and were seen last in 2005.
Another critically endangered bird species was recently discovered in Nashik named Forest Owlet. They exist in our Western Ghats forest patches and are vulnerable due to habitat loss and poaching.
Habitat protection, spreading awareness, and providing extra protection to the ‘critically endangered’ can help in saving our precious diversity. NGOs, Forest Department, and environmentalists should ensure strict implementation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, to protect these species from hunting and habitat loss. Out of the 1300 bird species present in India, our district is home to 350 diverse species.
The Wildlife Protection Act consists of four Schedules and segregates species based on the severity of getting extinct. Our area also is home to Schedule I species like Indian Wolf, Indian Striped Hyena, Indian Leopard, Bengal Monitor Lizard, etc. Many of these species are also termed KeyStone species and very important for our ecosystem. We must protect them now before they go extinct.