Promises to be more in tune with ground realities than IUCN list

Kerala will have its own Red List of threatened plants and animals shortly.

The Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) and a group of bird enthusiasts have kicked off separate programmes for preparing the conservation status of the flora and fauna, including birds of the State, along the lines of the global conservation status assessments carried out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The IUCN red list classifies species into extinct, extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened and least concern after globally evaluating the threat faced by them.

The list, according to IUCN, aims to “provide information and analyses on the status, trends and threats to species in order to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation.” It is also intended to “establish a baseline from which to monitor the change in status of species, provide a global context for the establishment of conservation priorities at the local level, monitor, on a continuing basis, the status of a representative selection of species (as biodiversity indicators) that cover all the major ecosystems of the world.”

Myristica malabarica, a tree found in swamp forests of Kerala, has been listed as vulnerable in the list whereas bird species namely painted stork and black-headed ibis were categorised as near threatened by the IUCN. While Malabar civet, a mammal has been listed as Critically Endangered, Nilgiri tahr, the mountain ungulate species, was listed as an endangered species.

Last year, 132 species of plants and animals from the country were listed as critically endangered, the most threatened category, in the list. Two plant species, including Euphorbia mayuranthanii, found in Kerala were reported as extinct in the wild.

Ommen V Ommen, chairman, KSBB, said the data generated by agencies like IUCN and independent researchers would be used for the Kerala list. Considering the constraints in carrying out extensive field studies for the purpose, the conservation data available in public domain would be used. Scientific assessments carried out by private research groups and national agencies like Zoological Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India and international agencies would be used, Dr. Ommen said.

The IUCN criteria for assessing the threat perspectives will be applied for the State list too. The programme would be implemented in consultation with agencies like BirdLife international which prepares the Red List for IUCN, said a wildlife expert associated with the programme.

In at least a few cases, the global assessments of conservation status of birds had failed to reflect the ground realities. The regional list hopes to correct such inconsistencies and fix the priorities for conservation, he said. Bird enthusiasts have been tracking the forest and wetland birds of the State for the past three decades together. It is estimated that 486 avian species are found in Kerala.

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