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In sync with Nature

Conservation of endangered species is important to restore the ecosystem.

Conservation of endangered species is important to restore the ecosystem. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Birds of prey or raptors are indicators of a healthy ecosystem and their populations have been declining in India. Of the 107 species from India, 28 are threatened by extinction. To educate everyone about the various species that face the threat of extinction, ‘Endangered Species Day’ is celebrated on the third Friday of May annually.

With rapid development and climate change in the last century, our planet’s biodiversity is undergoing the sixth mass extinction. Under the hierarchical structure of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List, there are nine categories indicating the level of threat each species of flora and fauna faces. Endangered species are under threat of extinction and, without immediate-continuous conservation interventions, their numbers will keep declining.

But why should it bother us and how does it affect us? Plants and animals maintain the health of our ecosystem by being part of the food chain. When certain species become less in number, it means that our ecosystem is out of balance. Loss of one species can trigger loss of others causing the food chain to collapse. Conservation of these endangered species is important to restore the ecosystem.

Raptors in danger

India has nine species of ‘endangered’ and ‘critically endangered’ raptors that include five vulture species (Red-headed Vulture, Indian Vulture, White-rumped Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture and Egyptian Vulture), one owl species (Forest Owlet), one falcon (Saker Falcon) and two eagles (Steppe Eagle and Pallas’s Fish-eagle). There are many reasons for loss in the number of these birds, ranging from chemical poisoning, human disturbances to their preferred habitats, hunting, habitat degradation and pollution. For their role in maintaining the food chain and giving us free ecosystem service, they and their habitat should be protected

The government and conservation NGOs have been working to safeguard the remnant populations, first by banning the usage of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac in veterinary treatment secondly by protecting their nesting sites and breeding them in zoos, and thirdly through education programmes for the conservation of vultures.

We need more young minds getting into the field of biodiversity conservation. As a journalist in Mumbai, reporting on civic and environmental issues in the city, I got interested in wildlife conservation when I was 22. There is no age for getting passionate about nature but there is an urgency to have more people contribute. The youth can join birding groups, take up short courses offered by the ENVIS or Bombay Natural History Society or complete a Master’s in Wildlife Conservation to get involved professionally. Many conservation NGOs offer volunteering/internship opportunities in various projects. Volunteers can participate in Bird Counts and Bird Count India has numerous guides on how to contribute. Adding sightings of birds on the eBird can reveal information on how their populations are doing. Bird Count India has numerous guides on how to contribute to this.

Every individual can impact endangered species conservation by learning and raising awareness about them in their communities and on social media. Get a bird identification book or download the Merlin Bird App to learn about birds in your area. Being informed on how wildlife conservation is done, we can contribute to sustainable development which is in sync with Nature.

A monthly column by WWF India

The writer is Manager - Raptor Conservation, WWF India


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 1:02:09 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/education/in-sync-with-nature/article65418700.ece