Lesser known species of India

Ask the average Joe which animal first comes to his mind whenever “Indian wildlife” is mentioned, and he will, in all likelihood, name the tiger. The big cat and other charismatic and well known species, such as the  lion and the elephant, are but a few of the 410 mammal species found in India today. The vast country,  which spreads over almost 3.3 million km2,  encompasses a vast range of ecosystems, ranging from the scorched, sand-laden Thar desert to the dense tropical evergreen forests of the Northeastern India and the Western Ghats. These habitats host animals as varied as the tiny Eurasian pygmy shrew(Sorex minutus) and the gigantic Asiatic elephant(Elephas maximus).
Each of these species form an inseparable component of the highly diverse ecosystems which they inhabit. As many of 186 of them, according to IUCN(the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and natural resources) are endangered; in short, they are facing imminent extinction.
The factors responsible for the present situation are innumerable – poaching and hunting, habitat degradation and destruction and environmental pollution, to name a few. However, most of these species don’t have the equivalent of Aircel’s “Save the Tiger” ad to bring focus to their plight. Even policy makers and forest officials haven’t heard of a very many of them. In 2007, for instance, a Burmese ferret badger(Melogale personata), a cryptic mustelid was run over by a tourist vehicle in Gorumara National Park, in northern West Bengal. However, even the forest guards present there were unable to identify the dead animal. This incident was documented by two wildlife photographers, about which one can read here : http://www.indianaturewatch.net/displayimage.php?id=19654
Only recently have wildlife scientists delved into this elusive mammal’s status and distribution in India.
It is the job of each and every one of us to shine the spotlight on such little known species, to the best of our ability. Unless the public, as well as those in positions of power, are made aware of the need to conserve these unfortunately “non-charismatic” forms of wildlife, India will lose much of her fauna in short order.

A stuffed model of the Burmese Ferret Badger,at the Natural History Museum of Genoa.

A stuffed model of the Burmese Ferret Badger, at the Natural History Museum of Genoa. Credits : Wikipedia

Another little known species-the hoary-bellied himalayan squirrel, photographed here at the buxa tiger reserve. Credits : Soumya Banerjee

Another little known species-the hoary-bellied himalayan squirrel, photographed here at the buxa tiger reserve.
Credits : Soumya Banerjee

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