India is upbeat on its discovery of 347 species of new flora and 424 species of fauna besides two new exclusive reptile species in 2013-14 based on studies conducted by scientists and taxonomists in several institutions and universities.
Informing the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said the studies of scientists of Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), have been published as ‘Plant Discoveries 2013’, ‘Plant Discoveries 2014’ published by BSI and ‘Animal discoveries 2013’, ‘Animal Discoveries 2014’ by ZSI.
The reptile speciees found are ‘Boiga flaviviridis’ species in Berahampur, Odisha and ‘Rhinophis goweri’ discovered in Noolathu Kombai, Bodamalai hills. The new species Boiga flaviviridis is found in the dry forests of eastern Peninsular India and it is diagnosed by having 19 dorsal scale rows at mid-body, a high number of ventral scales for the genus Boiga (248–259), a yellowish-green dorsal coloration with numerous faint black bands, an uniform, un-patterned yellow-colored venter and a relatively short tail (18-20% of the total length).
India is known for its rich biological diversity and high endemism, said the minister highlighting that the country ranks among the top ten species rich nations in the world. Both BSI and ZSI under the Ministry are responsible for surveys and documentation of biological resources including threatened and important species of the country, informed the minister.
The efforts have resulted in a repository of about three million National Reference Collections of plant specimen and India accounts for 11.4% of the total recorded plant species of the world. According to BSI documentation, India has about 47, 791 species of plants comprising Virus/Bacteria (1, 071), Algae (7, 309), Fungi (14, 936), Lichens (2, 434), Bryophytes (2, 531), Pteridophytes (1, 274), Gymnosperms (77) and Angiosperms (18, 159) already identified and classified.
ZSI has recorded over 96,000 species of animals from India, and among them the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified 18 species of amphibians, 14 fishes, 13 bird species and 10 mammals as critically endangered; 310 species as endangered, including 69 fishes, 38 mammals and 32 amphibians.
To protect wild animals, birds and plants against hunting and commercial exploitation, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 has been enacted and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered under the Act to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders.
Besides, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife, while the National Biodiversity Act, 2002 ensures protection of threatened plant species and their habitats.
Under the provisions of Biodiversity Act 2002 the threatened species identified state wise have been notified by the Ministry of environment and Forestry (MoEF) in 14 states — Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Orissa, Meghalaya, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Tripura, said the minister.
The State/UT Government conduct census of key species like elephant, rhino, lion among others and tiger census is carried out at the national level said Javadekar.