List of critically endangered species in India 2020

critically endangered species in india

Blame it on sheer human indifference or even an evolving callousness towards anyone outside the realm of their existence, a lot of species that do not make it to the homo sapiens encompassment are either in danger or are critically threatened. A vital part of the whole world biodiversity, it is important to be aware of the many wildlife creatures that can soon go into extinction because it will be irrevocably damaging to the global ecosystem. In this context, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been compiling The Red List of Threatened Species since 1964 as a comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. Listing species native to different parts of the globe in their many stages of existence is what the Red List does in all its efforts to conserve and protect. Below we list 10 critically endangered species of India that have make it to the Red List and therefore require our utmost attention-

The Ganges Shark {Glyphis Gangeticus}

critically endangered species in india The Ganges Shark
Source: Nikhila’s Endangered Blog

Endemic to India, the Ganges Shark is one of the six species of river sharks found in the world. Deriving its name from its native habitat in the lower Ganga, the Ganges Shark is however also found in the Brahmaputra river as it flows through Bangladesh and India, specially in West Bengal’s Hooghly river.

A very rare species, both in its existence and in common knowledge about it, the Ganges Shark is a true river shark that dwells mainly in freshwater, inshore marine, and estuarine systems in the lower reaches of the Ganges-Hooghly River system. However, the loss of its predominant natural habitat in recent times to ever increasing dams is one of the key factors that has made this already sparse species a critically endangered one. Add to it other exploitative human deals like overfishing either for its meat and oil for consumption or for its jaws and fins that does brisk business in the international market and the Ganges Shark is a very rare and still concerningly, little known occurrence. In fact even The Red List has not been yet able to come up with a definitive figure that rounds up the existence of this rapidly declining species.

Great Indian Bustard {Ardeotis Nigriceps}

A population of a mere 150 individuals- this is what the Great Indian Bustard has come to in counts in the present day world. This critically endangered species native to the dry plains of India is among the heaviest of flying birds but even its distinct uniqueness has not been able to protect its dwindling numbers. Indiscriminate hunting either for meat or as game and rapid loss of habitat, as well as limited breeding is what have driven these large avians close to extinction even when it remains protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 of India. Newer threats for the species have emerged on account of development of linear infrastructure intrusions such as roads and electric power lines in the Great Indian desert leading to collision-related mortality.

Himalayan Brown Bear {Ursus arctos isabellinus}

A sub species of the brown bear, the Himalayan brown bear while is not totally endemic to India but is indeed a critically endangered presence in Hindu Kush while it is endangered in the Himalayas. The world’s largest terrestrial carnivore, the Himalayan variant perhaps is the least encountered of all brown bears because of its rapidly dwindling population. Either for ornamental purpose or for medicinal use, these bears are poached upon for their fur, claws and other organs while shepherds kill them to protect their livestck from these omnivorous creatures. Even the native trees where the Himalayan brown bear rests, the Buranshes are commercially cut down thereby making human encroachment of their habitat a further cause for their endangerment.

Gharial {Gavialis Gangeticus}

The fish eating crocodile is what you should call it as if you really want to call it a croc but the Indian gharial is a unique reptile on its own. Among the longest of all living crocodilians, gharials however are not synonymous with either crocodiles or alligators. A related but distinct species, this is also one critically endangered creature from India believed to have originated in the northern part of the subcontinent. The most thoroughly aquatic amphibian that leaves the water only for nest building and basking on sandbanks, gharials are so named because of their distinct snout which resembles an earthenware pot or ghara.

On the IUCN Red List as a critically endangered species since 2007, the gharial has been seeing drastic decline in its population ever since the 1930’s and went almost extinct in its native habitat, the Indus river in the 1980s. This critical existence of the gharial at present owes mainly to a rapid loss of its habitat because of sand mining and conversion to agriculture. Also with depletion of fish resources and detrimental fishing methods rampantly practices, the gharials also tended to have lesser access to food, slowly wiping them away. However with captive breeding being introduced to help the species thrive and survive, the figure stands anywhere between 300- 900 gharials in the world at present.

Peacock Tarantula {Poecilotheria metallica}

A pretty presence on the list of critically endangered species native to India is the Peacock Tarantula that inhabits the deciduous forests of Andhra Pradesh. An ‘Old World’ species of tarantula, the peacock or metallic tarantula is classified as critically endangered mainly because of its occurrence within a single limited area of less than a hundred square kilometers. Also with their native habitat continuously encroached upon to meet timberwood and logging demands and the species itself being collected for pet trade, the population trend exhibited by this rare venomous species has been on continuous decline.

Namdapha Flying Squirrel {Biswamoyopterus biswasi}

critically endangered species in india Namdapha Flying Squirrel
Source: Alchetron

A single specimen collected in 1981 from the Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh is the only evidence we have of existence of this nocturnal flying squirrel species endemic to the India. With the Indian rose chestnut tree as its primary habitat, this critically endangered species is also listed among the 25 “most wanted lost” species that are the focus of Global Wildlife Conservation’s “Search for Lost Species” initiative. Mostly threatened by poaching of animals for food from within the National park, and possibly also by habitat destruction this is one really rare species the appropriate population of which cannot be yet counted distinctively.

Kashmir Stag {Cervus Elaphus Hanglu}

The Kashmir stag is also locally popular as Hangul and is a subspecies of elk native to the high dense mountains of Kashmir and Chamba valley of Himachal Pradesh. From somewhere between 3000-5000 hanguls in the 1940s to a mere 237 in 2019, the species has undergone tremendous decline in its population, falling to as low as 150 in the 1970s. Project Hangul was initiated by the state of Jammu & Kashmir, along with the IUCN and the World Wildlife Fund for protection and conservation of this species and the number was reported at a decent 340 in 1980.

Now found within just 141 square kilometers of area within the Dachigam National Park near Srinagar in Kashmir, these magnificent antlered mammals have been vastly undone by unabated habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock as well as poaching mainly for their antlers and for the flesh.

Malabar Large Spotted Civet {Viverra Civettina}

Endemic to India’s picturesque Western Ghats, the Malabar civet is another critically endangered species of India with a population count of just about 250. In fact no sighting of this elusive animal has been reported in the wild since 1987 even as it was thought to be near extinct way back in the late 1960s. Primarily a nocturnal animal about which not much information is available, this particular civet species has been victim of habitat destruction and fragmentation as well as hunting.

Jeypore Ground Gecko {Cyrtodactylus jeyporensis}

Jeypore Ground Gecko
Source: Mongabay

Considered extinct only until recently, the Jeypore Ground Gecko is one of the least known species of gecko found in India. Found to inhabit the semi-evergreen forests in high elevation areas of the Eastern Ghats of southern Odisha and northern Andhra Pradesh, the Jeypore Indian Gecko was first discovered in 1877 and was virtually lost before it was rediscovered more than a century later in 2010. Even then the natural habitat of this rare gecko are currently under tremendous pressure from deforestation and mining, leading it to be listed as a critically endangered species of India.

Northern River Terrapin {Batagur baska}

One of Asia’s largest freshwater and brackwater turtles and the most delectable of them all, the Northern River Terrapin is a species listed as critically endangered by the IUCN even when it has already gone extinct in some of its native habitats. Its trading for meat as well as loss of nestling beaches and pollution concerns are what have pushed this species to the brink of extinction.