Zoological Survey of India released first compendium of animal diversity in Indian Sundarbans

Sep 13, 2017 16:17 IST
Zoological Survey of India released first compendium of animal diversity in Indian Sundarbans

Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in September 2017 published a first ever exhaustive compendium of animal species in the Indian Sundarban and the threats it faces.

The compendium is titled Fauna of SundarbanBiosphere Reserve.

As per the publication, the ZSI estimates that there are 2626 of the animal species in the fragile island ecosystem. The listing includes a diverse 25 phyla, as they are biologically classified.

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Key highlights

The compendium is the first consolidated and updated information of the faunal diversity of the Sundarbans.

It lists over 2600 species, including the new species described from the mangrove ecosystem as well as threats faced by them due to climate change.

The publication is encyclopaedic in its scope.

The publication catalogues the entire faunal diversity of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve covering 9630 square kilometres spread over 19 blocks in South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas of West Bengal.

The compendium features famous tigers of these islands, which have adapted to aquatic conditions around, the human-tiger conflict, and behaviour of the big cat.

It features 50 mammalian species including the Asian small-clawed Otter, Gangetic Dolphin, Grey and Marsh Mongoose and the wild Rhesus Monkey, the only primate in the Sundarbans.

As per the publication, two Rhinos, Swamp deer, Barking deer and Hog deer and Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo are not found in Sundarbans anymore.

It features 356 species of birds, the most spectacular being raptors, or birds of prey, that occupy the highest canopies of the forest. Osprey, Brahminy Kite and White-Bellied Sea Eagle are dominant, while Rose-ringed parakeets, flycatchers and warblers are also found in the middle tier, while in the lower tier, kingfishers abound.

There are 11 turtles, including the famous Olive Ridley and Hawskbill sea turtles and the most threatened freshwater species, the River Terrapin.

A crocodile, 13 lizards including three species of Monitor Lizards and five Geckos are also found the Sundarbans.

The rivers, creeks channels and the islands together harbour about 30 snake species, led by the King Cobra, considered vulnerable by IUCN.

Others documented in the publication are the Monocellate or monocled cobra, Russell’s viper, common and banded kraits.

The mangrove ecosystem covers about 350 species of fish. Cartilaginous fish, which have skeletons of cartilage rather than bone, make up 10.3 per cent of the fish population. Also, there are 173 molluscs.

In another indication of its richness, 753 insect species are encountered in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve. Of these, 210 are butterflies and moths.

About Zoological Survey of India

The Zoological Survey of India is a premier Indian organisation in zoological research and studies.

It was established on 1 July 1916 to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in the region.

The activities of the ZSI are coordinated by the Conservation and Survey Division under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.

Source: The Hindu

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