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Important Facts For Prelims

Important Species in News

  • 26 Sep 2021
  • 16 min read

Brief Description

  • Every year in UPSC prelims there is one or more questions based on IUCN status, unique features related to many species that are in the news. However, it is a very difficult task and certainly not desirable that you mug up all those species in the news.
  • Therefore, with this article/pdf we intend to make a list of Some Important Species in News. So that even if some species is left out, you easily eliminate the other options.
  • For example, this article provides you with the complete list of Critically Endangered (CR) Species in India. By just remembering only the CR species you can easily do questions based on IUCN Status.

Critically Endangered Bird Species (CR)

Species Protection Status Geographical Range/Habitat Unique Feature/Remarks
White-bellied Heron IUCN Status: CR
  • Foothills of the eastern Himalayas in India and Myanmar
  • It is mostly solitary and occurs in undisturbed riversides or wetlands.
Siberian Crane IUCN Status: CR
  • Arctic tundra Region
  • They migrate for breeding during Winter to China, Iran and India (Bharatpur)
  • The Siberian crane is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).
White-rumped Vulture

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

  • Gangetic plains of India
  • India is home to nine species of vultures, but most of them face the danger of extinction.
  • The major reason behind the vulture population getting nearly wiped out was the drug Diclofenac.
  • The government has launched Vulture Conservation 2020-2025 to conserve the vulture in India.
Indian Vulture

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

  • Gangetic plains of India
Slender-billed Vulture

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

  • Sub-Himalayan regions and Southeast Asia.
Red-headed Vulture

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

  • Indian Subcontinent and SouthEast Asia
  • Also known as the Asian king vulture, Indian black vulture or Pondicherry vulture
Bengal Florican

IUCN Status: CR

UN Convention on Migratory Species: Appendix I

  • Grasslands of the Ganga and Brahmaputra river basin in India and Nepal.
  • It is a representative or an indicator species of dry grasslands in the Brahmaputra, as well as Ganga.
Himalayan Quail

IUCN Status: CR

  • State of Uttarakhand
  • The last population estimate was less than 50 individuals.
  • No sightings have been recorded since 1876.
Jerdon's Courser

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

  • Eastern Ghats
  • Endemic to Andhra Pradesh.
Pink-headed Duck

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

  • Riverine swamps of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar

Sociable Lapwing

IUCN Status: CR
  • Open grassland in Russia and Kazakhstan
  • Migrates to Kanwar lake, Bihar (Bihar’s first Ramsar Site) during winter.
  • The bird migrates through the central Asian flyway.
Great Indian Bustard

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

CITES: Appendix I

UN Convention on Migratory Species: Appendix I

  • It usually resides in dry grasslands and scrublands on the Indian subcontinent (especially in Rajasthan, Gujrat, in Pakistan)
  • It is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world.
  • It is the state bird of Rajasthan.
  • Project Godawan has been launched by Rajasthan Government for its conservation.

Critically Endangered Mammals

Species Protection Status Habitat Unique Feature/Remarks
Malabar Civet

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

CITES Appendix III

Western Ghats
  • Species is nocturnal
  • Civetone is extracted from the scent gland of this animal and used in medicine, and as an aromatic.
  • Endemic to the Western Ghats of India
Sumatran Rhinoceros IUCN Status: CR
  • They are spread across India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • Left mainly in Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia.
  • These countries are also known as Asian Rhino Range Countries.
  • Smallest of all rhino species.
Javan Rhinoceros IUCN Status: CR
  • The three species of Rhino in Asia — Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran.
  • Javan and Sumatran Rhino are critically endangered and the Greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino is vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.
  • Only the Great one-horned rhino is found in India.

Large Rock-rat or Elvira Rat

IUCN Status: CR

  • Tropical dry deciduous shrub land forest, seen in rocky areas.
  • Nocturnal and burrowing rodent
  • Endemic to Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu
Namdapha Flying Squirrel

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule II

  • Found in Arunachal Pradesh in the Namdapha National Park
  • It is among the 25 “most wanted lost” species that are the focus of Global Wildlife Conservation’s “Search for Lost Species” initiative.
Asiatic Cheetah

IUCN Status: CR

CITES: Appendix I

  • Open lands, small plains, semi-desert areas, and other open habitats where prey is available.
  • Only 40-50 remain in Iran.
  • Smaller and paler than the African cheetah (IUCN Status: VU).
  • Has more fur, a smaller head and a longer neck.
  • Usually have red eyes and they have a more cat-like appearance.
Andaman White-toothed Shrew IUCN Status: CR
  • Found on Mount Harriet in the South Andaman Islands
  • Endemic to India
Nicobar Shrew IUCN Status: CR
  • Found in the southern tip of Greater Nicobar Island and Campbell Bay National Park
Jenkin's Shrew IUCN Status: CR
  • Found on Wright Myo and Mount Harriet in the South Andaman Islands
Chinese Pangolin

IUCN Status: CR

Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

CITES: Appendix I

  • Himalayan foothills in Eastern Nepal, Bhutan, Northern India, North-East Bangladesh and through Southern China.
  • Scales on its Skin.
  • The use of pangolin scales is used for traditional medicine.
  • This makes it the most trafficked animal.
  • Also, there are some theories which state that pangolin is the intermediate carrier of Covid-19.
  • Indian Pangolin IUCN Status: EN

    Critically Endangered Fishes

    Species Protection Status Habitat Unique Feature/Remarks
    Pondicherry Shark IUCN Status: CR
    • Indo-Pacific Region
    • It is among the 25 ‘most wanted lost’ species that are the focus of Global Wildlife Conservation’s “Search for Lost Species” initiative.
    Knifetooth Sawfish IUCN Status: CR
    • Also called Carpenter Sharks
    • They are a family of rays characterized by a long, narrow, flattened rostrum, or nose extension, lined with sharp transverse teeth, arranged in a way that resembles a saw.
    Narrow snout or Green Sawfish IUCN Status: CR
    Ganges Shark

    IUCN Status: CR

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    • Freshwater, inshore marine, and estuarine systems in the lower reaches of the Ganges-Hooghly River system

    Critically Endangered Reptiles

    Species Protection Status Habitat Unique Feature/Remarks
    Fish-eating Crocodile or Gharial

    IUCN Status: CR

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    CITES Appendix I

    • Freshwaters of the northern part of India.
    • Primary Habitat: Chambal river
    • The population of Gharials is a good indicator of clean river water.
    Four-toed Terrapin

    IUCN Red List: CR

    CITES Appendix I

    Wildlife Protection Act, Status: Schedule I

    • Sundarbans eco-region
    • Indian biologist Shailendra Singh has been awarded the Behler Turtle Conservation Award for the conservation of these species.
    • Protected under the Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation programme.
    Red-crowned Roofed Turtle

    IUCN Status: CR

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    CITES: Appendix II

    • Currently, the National Chambal River Gharial Sanctuary is the only area with a substantial population
    Leatherback

    IUCN Status: CR

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    • Indo-Pacific
    • Sea Turtles of India.
    Hawksbill Turtle

    IUCN Status: CR

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    Critically Endangered Amphibians

    Species Protection Status Habitat Unique Feature/Remarks
    Anaimalai Flying Frog IUCN Status: CR
    • Endemic to the southern part of the Western Ghats
    Kerala India Frog IUCN Status: CR

    Endangered Species (EN)

    Species Protection Status Habitat Unique Feature/Remarks
    Tiger

    IUCN Status: EN

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    CITES: Appendix I

    • Mostly found in 13 Tiger range countries viz.: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
    • 70% of Tigers are found in India.
    • Referred as Flagship and “umbrella species.
    • 52 Tigers reserves in India.
    • India has achieved the TX2 goal, which is a global commitment to double the world's wild tigers by 2022.
    Asiatic lion

    IUCN Status: EN

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    CITES: Appendix I

    • Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion.
    • Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions.
    • The most striking morphological character, which is always seen in Asiatic lions, and rarely in African lions, is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly.
    Gangetic Dolphin

    IUCN Status: EN

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    CITES: Appendix I

    Convention on Migratory Species (CMS): Appendix II

    • Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
    • Only live in freshwater
    • They are essentially blind and hunt by emitting ultrasonic sounds.
    • They are also called ‘susu’.
    • It is a reliable indicator of the health of the entire river ecosystem.
    • It was recognised as the National Aquatic Animal in 2009, by the Government of India.
    Pygmy Hog

    IUCN Status: EN

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    CITES: Appendix I

    • It thrives in wet grassland.
    • Today found mainly in a small population in Assam.
    • They are the world’s rarest and smallest wild pigs.
    Kondana Rat IUCN Status: EN
    • Only found in the small Sinhagarh Plateau near Pune in Maharashtra.
    • Tropical and subtropical dry deciduous forests and tropical scrub.
    • They are nocturnal and live in burrows.
    Forest Owlet

    IUCN Status: EN

    CITES: Appendix I

    • Dry deciduous forest
    • Endemic to the forests of central India
    Red Panda

    IUCN Status: EN

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    • Forests of India, Nepal, Bhutan and the northern mountains of Myanmar and southern China.
    • Mixed deciduous and conifer forests with dense understories of bamboo.
    • The only living member of the genus Ailurus.
    • It is also the state animal of Sikkim.
    Nilgiri Tahr

    IUCN Status: EN

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    • Open montane grassland habitat of rain forests ecoregion.
    • Endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western Ghats.
    • It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu
    • Also, called Saddlebacks.

    Other Important Species

    Species Protection Status Habitat Unique Feature/Remarks
    Snow Leopard

    IUCN Status: VU

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    CITES: Appendix I

    • Mountainous regions of central and southern Asia.
    • Indicator of the health of the mountain ecosystem.
    • Snow Leopard capital of the world: Hemis, Ladakh.
    • Flagship species for the high altitude Himalayas.
    • Project Snow Leopard was launched in 2009 for the conservation of snow leopards.
    Pied Cuckoo IUCN Status: NT
    • It is found in Africa and Asia.
    • Pied cuckoo is known for its close association with the monsoon in India.
    • It is a brood parasite i.e. It lays its eggs in nests that belong to other birds.
    • It is one of the few species that come to India in the summer.
    Olive Ridley Turtle

    IUCN Status: VU

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    CITES: Appendix I

    • Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is known as the world’s largest rookery.
    • The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world
    Amur Falcon IUCN Status: LC
    • Southeastern Siberia and northern China
    • World’s longest travelling raptors.
    • Doyang Lake in Nagaland is better known as a stopover for the Amur falcons
    • Nagaland is also known as the “Falcon Capital of the World”.
    Dugong

    IUCN Status: VU

    Wildlife Protection Act Status: Schedule I

    • Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat.
    • Only existing species of herbivorous mammals live exclusively in the sea.
    • Dugong is also called ‘Sea Cow’

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