Malabar Civet, frog and vulture species figure on Union Ministry's list

Malabar Civet, Anamalai Flying Frog, Green-eyed Bush Frog, White-back vulture and Long-billed vulture found in Kerala feature on the list of critically endangered species of India.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest released the list of critically endangered species of India at New Delhi on Wednesday. This list was prepared as per the norms of the ‘Red List' of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which evaluates the risk status of wild species.

A species is included on the list if its population has declined by greater than 80 per cent over the last 10 years or three generations. Restricted geographical range, population of less than 250 individuals and continuing decline at the rate of 25 per cent in three years or one generation is also taken into account. Very small or restricted population of fewer than 50 mature individuals and high probability of extinction in the wild is also considered for inclusion in the list, the communication said.

Malabar Civet, a rare mammal, was first reported from Travancore. The animal was last spotted nearly three decades ago at Ilayur near Nilambur, said E.A. Jayson, scientist of the Division of Wildlife Biology of the Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi. One specimen each is preserved at the Kozhikode centre of the Zoological Survey of India and Calicut University, Dr. Jayson said.

White-backed Vulture and Long-billed Vulture found in Wayanad and Tholpetty of Kerala were the critically endangered birds of Kerala, said P.O. Nameer, Associate Professor (Wildlife) and Head of the Centre for Wildlife Studies of the Kerala Agricultural University. It is estimated that less than 10 pairs each of these species were left in the wild, Dr. Nameer said.

The population of these species has declined by 99 per cent.

One of the major threats to the species is the use of painkiller diclofenac in the treatment of cattle. The accumulation of diclofenac in vultures, which feed on cattle carcass results, in gout-like symptoms such as neck-drooping and eventual death of the birds, the communication said.

The Ministry has included 10 frog species found in Kerala including Anamalai Flying Frog, Chalazodes Bubble-Nest Frog, Small Bush Frog and Green-eyed Bush Frog in the list. The Kerala Indian Frog, Griet Bush Frog, Kaikatt's Bush Frog, Mark's Bush Frog, Munnar Bush Frog and Resplendent Shrub Frog are the other Kerala frog species that have been listed.

The Kaikatt's Bush Frog was discovered in 2009 from Kaikatti-Nelliyampathi in the Western Ghats. This species is found at an altitude of 1,000 m and above is believed to be endemic to the Kaikatti-Nelliyampathi locality, said a communication from S.D. Biju, Associate Professor University of Delhi.