Several small mammals of south India
Several small mammals of south India

Need funds, a projects to protect small mammals, say conservationists

Says wildlife filmmaker and conservationist Shekar Dattatri, “Many smaller species of wildlife, such as jackal, mongoose and civet, which used to be common, even close to human habitations, have steadily declined due to loss of habitat and illegal hunting.

CHENNAI: Even as the big mammals like elephants, lions, tigers and translocated cheetahs are receiving the lion’s share of wildlife funds and attention from the Centre, biologists warn that several small mammals of south India like the jackal, palm civet, pangolin, porcupine, blackbuck, and mongoose are facing habitat destruction, and their dwindling population goes unchecked.

With a lack of conservation strategies, ecologists and biologists demand more species-specific projects in the days to come.

Says wildlife filmmaker and conservationist Shekar Dattatri, “Many smaller species of wildlife, such as jackal, mongoose and civet, which used to be common, even close to human habitations, have steadily declined due to loss of habitat and illegal hunting. One way of reviving them would be to create many small modern-day sacred groves in and around cities, towns and villages. If strictly protected, these habitat patches will provide a new lease of life to several disappearing life forms, and also be the much-needed green lungs for human beings.”

The major issue is the lack of field-oriented surveys and specific funds for these lesser-known animals, opines Shekhar Kumar Niraj, principal chief conservator of forests, TN Biodiversity Board. “What we have is a general broad idea about these animals. We need more field-oriented data about the habitat and its species,” he adds.

Independent scientists are working on these smaller animals and their expertise should be roped in, reiterates Niraj, who has served as the country head of Traffic India, a wildlife investigation agency. These small animals are being poached in India for meat and scales. The demand is due to illegal pet trade, black magic and alleged medicinal uses.

“Even lizards found in thick forests are vulnerable to poaching. Fund allocation, mobilisation of resources, specific projects targeting smaller animals, awareness to the local public and frequent bush market surveillance are essential to protect the wildlife,” points out Niraj.

Pangolin and porcupines are silently facing local extinction in several pockets of south Indian reserves due to poaching and habitat destruction. “Another reptile that’s being poached across the State is the monitor lizard, which is often consumed as bush meat,” avers an anti-poaching watcher based in north Tamil Nadu. “A few decades back, snakes were hunted for their skin, but stringent measures and arrest of those possessing snakeskin have played a huge role in prevention. But, the sale of bush meat is a major problem to the smaller wildlife species.”

Joining the list is Jackal. Several years back, jackals were present across Tamil Nadu, “but now sighting a jackal or hearing its eerie noise is a rare event,” rues A Kumaraguru, conservation scientist, Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Tiruchy.

For instance, the blackbuck introduced in the Guindy National Park comprising Raj Bhavan is facing biotic pressures and inbreeding issues. “The spotted deer population in south Chennai was once found in Nandanam, Nandambakkam, Ekkathuthangal, Guindy, Velachery, Taramani and Adyar, but their population is restricted within Guindy National Park and these animals have been locally wiped out,” adds Kumaraguru.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has asked the forest department to work on the modalities of reintroducing the blackbuck and also shift a few animals to other reserve pockets to enhance the gene brood stock. “We know that the wildlife in Raj Bhavan is facing problems. The governor’s office is committed to conserving the wildlife and there’s an active proposal to shift and relocate the blackbuck,” says a Raj Bhavan official to DT Next.

Pangolin and porcupines are silently facing local extinction in several pockets of south Indian reserves due to poaching and habitat destruction

Visit news.dtnext.in to explore our interactive epaper!

Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!

Click here for iOS

Click here for Android

Related Stories

No stories found.
DT next
www.dtnext.in