Dolphins and Wild Elephants among Top 100 Mammals Facing Extinction Threat: ZSL

The Zoological Society of London revealed that Indian dolphins and wild elephants were among recent top 100 mammals facing the risks of extinction.

May 21, 2013 10:18 IST
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Zoological Society of LondonThe Zoological Society of London in the month of May 2013 revealed that Indian dolphins as well as the wild elephants were among recent top 100 mammals facing the risks of extinction. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) scored mammals of the world for the first time on the basis of how Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) they were.

In the list which included most extraordinary threatened species, were frogs which gave birth via skin as well as the mammals which were immune to cyanide. A lot of these mammals in the list are not known to people and therefore also do not receive the attention from conservation point of view. The latest entries in this list are the two mammals from India as well.

Status of Wild Elephants in the List of Top 100 Endangered Mammals

The latest list of the endangered mammals rang an alarming bell, especially for the largest land mammal of Asia, the wild elephant, which ranked 17th on ZSL list.

ZSL revealed that merely 35000 to 50000 Asian elephants were there in the wild in the year 1995. Since that time, the population of the wild elephants has dwindled a lot of times and it is believed that the present population would have diminished even below this estimate.

Majority of the elephants are found in India (20000-25000) and Myanmar (5000-6000). In Vietnam, a little less than 200 elephants are surviving. The major factor of diminishing population of Asian elephants is habitat loss.

Also, these elephants are constantly coming in contact with the local people and the farmers because of the destruction of their feeding grounds. As a result, these elephants destroy properties, raid the crops and even kill people. Farmers and local people even the score by killing these elephants, which result in a decline in their population.

Other reason for decline in the population of Asiatic elephants is poaching for their ivory as well as occasionally for meat.

Status of River Dolphin in the List of Top 100 Endangered Mammals

River dolphin ranked 60th in the list of top 100 endangered mammals of the world. In India, in the river basins, these dolphins are found primarily in plains that have rivers with slow flow. At present, dolphins are found in Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Bangladesh as well as India.

ZSL surveyed parts of range of Ganges subspecies and found that they accounted for 1200 to 1800 in number.

The reason for dwindling population of dolphins, according to ZSL is that their habitat is one among the most densely populated areas of the world. Therefore, they are threatened because of damming of the rivers for electricity generation as well as irrigation. This leads to degradation of the habitat, prevention of seasonal migration and isolation of the population.
In the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Megna river systems alone, over 18 high dams and 20 barrages have been built since 1956. ZSL explained that a lot of decline in dolphin population could be seen because more dams and barrages are planned or under construction in the range of this species.

Professor Jonathan Baillie of ZSL explained that results of mapping exercise were alarming because at present, merely 5 percent of EDGE mammals identified areas and 15 percent of EDGE amphibian identified areas were protected.

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