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royal bengal tiger

Tiger population in India increases to 3000

The population of Indian tigers has increased according to one of the detailed wildlife surveys conducted. The number has increased by 6% bringing up the total to roughly 3000. This huge survey may set a record in the counting of large carnivores. The results reflect India’s investment in the conservation of tigers. 

Large predators do not want to be seen. Their whole existence revolves around avoiding prey detection and sneaking close before an attack. So, tigers don’t help in their counting. However, correct numbers are important for proper conservation. Since 2006, Government of India conducts a national census of tigers and other wildlife animals every four years. 44,000 field staff conducted nearly 318,000 habitat surveys in 20 states in India which are tiger occupied. A total of 381,400 square kilometres was checked for tigers and their prey. An application has been filed with the Guinness Book of World Records to check if this is the largest wildlife survey ever conducted in the world. 

Camera traps were placed at 26,760 locations across 139 study sites which took nearly 35 million photos of which there were 76,523 tiger and 51,337 leopard photos. These covered nearly 86% of the tiger distribution in the country. In the remaining 14% where it was dangerous to work due to political reasons, population numbers were estimated by robust models. 

This volume of data collection needs proper analysis. Teams took advice from experts for sorting the photos. Pattern matching experts identified whether a photo taken in monsoon matched the one of the tiger taken in dry season walking at a different angle. Machine learning experts increased the pace of identification of species while spatial analysis experts estimated the population of tigers and their prey. The research team took this help along with their own knowledge of tiger ecology to create a unique census for large carnivores. 

A total of 2461 individual tigers aged more than a year were photo-captured. The total tiger population in India was estimated to be 2967 with an error margin of roughly 12%. Among this, 83.4% were estimated from camera photos and the others using robust modelling. The tiger population increased at 6% per year, continuing the trend from 2014 which depicts the success of Indian conservation.

However, there has been a decline of 20% in areas occupied by tigers from 2014, although tigers have moved to some new areas which is 8% of the Indian range. Coordinators of the survey, Yadvendradev Jhala and Qamar Qureshi stated that secure and established tiger populations in some parts of the nation have increased and small, isolated counts between the corridors of the established population have gone extinct. This brings up the issue of conservation to improve the connectivity between isolated populations also relocating the people out of core tiger areas and decreasing poaching and improving the habitats to better the prey resources. 

Achieving this needs investment from the private sector tourist corporations for acquiring land in the corridors and creating community conservancies to supplement the government funding. India’s success has led Nepal and Bangladesh to employ the same project team for their own tiger populations. These techniques should be used for species which can be individually identified such as jaguars, leopards, cheetahs. 

Red eyed tree frog

“Lost City” in a Rainforest is Found to have a Treasure of Rare Species

The ‘White City’: a fabled settlement hidden deep in the green rainforests of Honduras said to be all that now remains of a mysterious civilization that existed in Central America long before the Europeans came.

But this lost city has its non-believers. For much of the last century, doubts have raised around disputed archaeological ‘discoveries’ of this La Ciudad Blanca, but one thing is finally clear: this rich environment hosts a unique ecosystem of animal life.

To explore that so-called mystical land and research more about its surmised rich biodiversity, a team of scientists from Conservation International led by Trond Larsen went on a 3-week long expedition back in 2017. The destination for this expedition was Ciudad Blanca which is situated in the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras.

So finally, the team which had went for the exploration revealed the results earlier this week which they had obtained in Ciudad de Jaguar (City of Jaguar), a region which is a part of the White city located in La Mosquitia rainforest. Their results have simply shown that this isolated part of the world is a treasure chest for unique species of animals and plants.

The reports of the research say, the team of biologists was able to find species of butterflies and moths in excess of 246, 30 bats, 198 bird species of which Great Green Macaw was a surprising discovery since it was supposedly extinct. Furthermore, 57 species of amphibians and reptiles were discovered. They also discovered 22 unique species of animals never found in Honduras. Apart from these laudable discoveries, there were numerous jaguars, puma, snakes, and a motley of plant species that were found by this team.

Pale-faced bat

Pale-faced bat (Phylloderma stenops). (Trond Larsen/Conservation International)

The most striking feature of this expedition was the rediscovery of three species of animals which were presumed to be locally extinct. One of those species of animals is a Pale-faced bat, another one was a False tree coral snake and the last one was a Tiger beetle, which was earlier believed to have existed only in Nicaragua.

The director of Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program Trond Larsen one who led this expedition, says that this pristine state of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystem which is home to numerous species of flora and fauna makes it necessary to safeguard it from illegal practices like cattle ranching and deforestation. He also believes that this place locally known as “Lost city of Monkey God” is used for malpractices like drug trafficking.

Due to its rugged and steep terrain, this secluded region of Central American rainforests has been safe up till now. Moreover, due to the persistent efforts of the Honduran government and recently established the Kaha Kamasa Foundation especially for research, protection, and management of “Lost City”, we can be assured that we’ll get to know a lot more from this ecologically rich part of the earth.

Eyelash viper

Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii). (Trond Larsen/Conservation International)


Ice age fauna of northern Spain

More than a million species endangered to get lost in a sixth mass extinction

Recent researches shows that the planet may be in the middle of sixth mass extinction. The phrase “mass extinction” does not mean any asteroid crash which led to the extinction of dinosaurs but today different devastating extinctions take place. Hotter oceans, deforestation, climatic change are the main reasons towards the verge of extinction of fauna and these reasons are reducing the scale of the population of animals in huge amount.

The scientists are saying maybe the report to be available in the next week can change the idea. It is said that the report is planned to release on Monday in United Nations. The report is from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that estimates the condition of the planet’s biodiversity. The document has been created since 2005 which analyses the number of species which are endangered due to the reason of extinction and what is the reason behind it and how many species are already extinct and the document also keeps an eye on the population growth as well as the increase in the release of greenhouse gas.

The documentation had almost 1800 pages and the documentation has information collected from more than 15000 research publications and academic papers and the main aim of this documentation is to notify the policymaker on how to handle the impacts of climate change in a better way. The research was published in AFP and they had got the early report on this matter and according to their research things can worsen than we thought.

The AFP in April reported that the rate of extinction of species has been growing faster, even more, faster than the normal rate. They also added that already many species are in the verge of extinction and now this becomes half of a million in one million species and they also said that it’s not a new research but they have been in the verge of extinction since many decades.

The UN decided to release only the summary of its report after it gets checked and finalized in Paris within this week. The report in the AFP also included 75% of the land, 40% of oceans and 50% of rivers species. The reason behind this degradation is the emission of greenhouse gas which is caused due to energy production, manufacturing, and transportation.

There is a rise in global temperature of a minimum of 0.7 degrees since the man-made emissions have doubled. In a study of 2017, it was found that species are experiencing “biological annihilation” thus leading to the highest mass extinction period than ever. A study in 2019 found out that insects are decreasing by 2.5% per year which may lead to the extinction of insects by 2119.