At the recent Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, held in New Delhi, India, researchers announced that three animal species native to India have been declared extinct. The animals named were the Indian Cheetah, pink-headed duck, and the Great Indian Bustard.
Experts cite deforestation and desertification as the primary reasons that these animals became extinct.
Kailash Chandra, Director of the Zoological Survey of India, told ANI that the organization has a database that contains information on millions of species, showing how their population numbers have changed over the years.
“We have a database of more than 5.6 million specimens, collected from all over India and also from the neighboring countries before independence. They give a lot of information about how things have changed in more than 100 years. If you see their distribution in geo-special platforms, you’ll realize how much changes have occurred because of the impact of deforestation and desertification,” Chandra said.
“A minimum of three to four species have already become extinct in India, such as Indian Cheetah, pink-headed duck, and the Great Indian Bustard. Many more are on the verge of becoming extinct and therefore fall into the category of critically endangered species. These specimens have reduced to less than 150. This is a matter of great concern,” he added.
Chandra also pointed out that the entire food chain, even humans, are affected by the loss of biodiversity that results from deforestation and desertification.
According to the Space Applications Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), nearly 30% of India’s land is now degraded. Experts believe that this land degradation is mainly due to deforestation, over-cultivation, soil erosion and depletion of wetlands.
Plant and animal species have been disappearing at an unprecedented rate in recent years.
According to a UN report released this year, 1 million animal species are currently threatened by extinction. Another study, published this year in Nature, noted that 571 plant species were have been declared extinct since 1750. Plant species are going extinct at a rate 350 times faster than the historical average, according to new research published in the journal Current Biology.
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