India becomes first country globally to prepare checklist of its entire fauna: Bhupender Yadav

July 01, 2024 | 13:06:07

Says India is a global champion in biodiversity conservation.

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC), Bhupender Yadav has said that India has become the first country in the world to prepare a checklist of its entire fauna, covering 104,561 species, positioning itself as a global leader in biodiversity documentation.

He said the silver lining is that India is a global champion in biodiversity conservation, adding that our tradition, ethos and values respect nature and promote biodiversity conservation.

Yadav launched the Fauna of India Checklist Portal on the 109th Foundation Day of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in Kolkata.

Delivering the inaugural address, Yadav said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision and mission for nature was reflected when after getting the historic mandate for the third time, the first major programme undertaken was ‘Ek Ped Maa Ke Naam’. 

He said, moreover, PM’s Mission LIFE put forth before the world with the theme of sustainable consumption and conservation. Stressing on the concept of a recycling economy, Yadav said whatever we take from nature, efforts should be made to return back the same in pristine, pure form.

He also highlighted the government’s initiatives like the International Big Cat Alliance to preserve biodiversity and species. He said that relocation of cheetahs to India as a successful projects is one such example. 

Yadav said the Fauna of India Checklist Portal is the first comprehensive document on the faunal species reported from India. He said the faunal checklist will be an invaluable reference for taxonomists, researchers, academicians, conservation managers, and policymakers. It comprises 121 checklists of all known taxa covering 36 phyla. Endemic, threatened, and scheduled species have also been included in the list.

Inaugurating the Animal Taxonomy Summit-2024 organised by ZSI, Yadav congratulated ZSI for completing 109 glorious years dedicated to the service of our faunal biodiversity. He said, 109 is a significant number as the 109th bead on Buddhist prayer mala prayer is a pause of gratitude, acknowledgment and silence.

Yadav said, while the elements of nature may not speak, they can certainly think and respond and urged all to read the wonderful book How Forests Think: Towards an Anthropology beyond the Human, by Eduardo Kohn. He highlighted how Kohn defined that specific trees growing in specific areas is not accidental as they interact with their environment through specialised characteristics. He added, pest resistance is an example of these specialized characteristics and this shapes where a tree species can be naturally found. This is how trees think, he explained.

The Animal Taxonomy Summit–2024 is the second summit being organised by ZSI. During the summit, deliberations will be held under three broad themes, 1) Taxonomy, Systematics and Evolution, 2) Ecology and Animal Behaviour; 3) Biodiversity and Conservation. 350 delegates from four countries, including those from the Natural History Museum, London would participate in the summit. The three-day summit will witness 21 plenary/ lead lectures of eminent speakers/ experts from India as well as abroad and 142 oral/poster presentations. The summit will conclude on 3rd July 2024.  The recommendations will be conveyed to the Government of India for biodiversity conservation.

Earlier, children and mothers participated in the ‘Ek Ped Maa Ke Naam' campaign where they planted saplings in the presence of the union minister.

The minister, delegates and participants also listened to Prime Minister’s MANN KI BAAT during the programme.

Yadav also released an iconic publication of ZSI, ‘Animal Discoveries– 2023’ comprising 641 new animal species and new records from India and ‘Plant Discoveries- 2023’ of Botanical Survey of India (BSI) comprising 339 new plant species and new records from the country published by scientists, faculties and researchers from India.

Other important publications ‘Fauna of India–109 barcodes’, ‘Catalogue of Hoverflies’, ‘Catalogue of Muscidae’ & ‘Flora of India Series’ were released by the union minister. The first-ever ‘Barcode Atlas of Indian Fishes’- a joint publication by the ICAR-NBFGR, Lucknow & ZSI, Kolkata and ‘ROAR - Celebrating 50 years of Project Tiger’ a book written by Shiladitya Chaudhury & Ketan Sengupta were also released on the occasion.

Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, MoEFCC, Jitendra Kumar launched the ‘International Society of Zoology (ISZ)’ which will enhance the ability of individuals and institutions to contribute to the global understanding and protection of biodiversity.

The event included messages for the exploration and protection of our faunal resources, importance and safeguard of our environment and contributions of ZSI & BSI therein.  ZSI exchanged 10 MoUs with universities/colleges (viz. Vidyasagar University, Berhampur University, Madurai Kamraj University, Himalayan University, Ferguson College and Kongunadu Arts & Science College), and with national institutes (ICAR-NBFGR, ICAR-NBAIR, ICAR-CIFA, BITS, Pilani) for better coordination and benefits to masses.