MISSING YOU ALREADY

Terrifying as it may be, the world would be an empty place without the outlandish cackle of the hyena. Or the imperial grace of the tiger. The stately genteel of the Indian elephant, and the adorably sad eyes of the red panda. And that is exactly what we stand to lose right now.
Photographers from across the country sent us a careful selection of their work, highlighting several endangered species as categorised by the international union for conservation of nature (IUCN) Red List.
The animals of the wild, who once had pride of place on earth, are now living on the edge. Beyond capturing their magnificence and splendour, these photographs also serve as a reminder that there is still plenty we can do to save these creatures big and small from extinction.


1.WHITE-BACKED VULTURE
1. WHITE-BACKED VULTURE (GYPS AFRICANUS) | Photo: Vijay Bedi
IUCN Conservation Status: CR (Critically Endangered)
This species is suspected to have undergone a very rapid decline owing to habitat loss and conversion to agro-pastoral systems, declines in wild, ungulate populations, hunting for trade, persecution, collisions, and poisoning. These declines are likely to continue and are more serious than previously thought.

2.LION-TAILED MACAQUE
2. LION-TAILED MACAQUE (MACACA SILENUS) | Photo: Vijay Bedi
IUCN Conservation Status: EN (Endangered)
This species is endemic to the Western Ghats hill ranges in southwest India. The main threat it faces today is habitat fragmentation, with many of these fragments being further decreased. In the past, habitat loss was mainly due to timber harvest, and the creation of exotic plantations such as tea, eucalyptus, and coffee.

3.BENGAL TIGER
3. BENGAL TIGER (PANTHERA TIGRIS TIGRIS) |Photo: Deepti Hiranandani
IUCN Conservation Status: EN (Endangered)
Classified as endangered since 2010, habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching are serious threats to the Bengal Tiger’s survival.

4.HORSFIELDS SPINY LIZARD NILGIRI SALEA
4. HORSFIELD’S SPINY LIZARD, NILGIRI SALEA (SALEA HORSFIELDII) |
Photo: Vijay Bedi
IUCN Conservation Status: NT (Near Threatened)
Salea Horsfieldii is endemic to the high altitudes of the Western Ghats, including the Nilgiri and Palni hills. This species inhabits moist, montane forests, and is also known to be found on bushes, hedges, and in gardens.

5.INDIANONE-HORNED RHINO
5. INDIAN/ONE-HORNED RHINO (RHINOCEROS UNICORNIS) | Photo: Vijay Bedi
IUCN Conservation Status: VU (Vulnerable)
The greater one-horned rhinoceros populations are increasing overall due to strict protection, especially in India. However, some populations are decreasing, especially in Nepal and parts of Northeastern India. The species is currently confined to fewer than 10 sites. With over 70% of the population in Kaziranga National Park, a catastrophic event there could have a devastating impact on its status.

6.RED PANDA
6. RED PANDA (AILURUS FULGENS) | Photo: Vijay Bedi
IUCN Conservation Status: EN (Endangered)  
Red Panda is listed as endangered because its population has plausibly declined by 50% over the last three generations (estimated at 18 years), and is projected to continue and intensify in the next three. The decline in populations reflects a battery of direct threats, the species fragmented present range, and poor survival in fragmented areas.

7.SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS
7. SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS | Photo: Viral Mistry
IUCN Conservation Status: VU (Vulnerable)
This large seabird belongs to the albatross family and is the second largest after the wandering albatross. As a top-tier organism in its natural habitat, it has very few predators, but major fishing industries are a huge problem for all albatross species as well as other seabirds. Longline fishing is a major problem and a possible emerging threat is Dracophyllum, a shrub that is taking away from their nesting range.

Indian Wild Ass
8. INDIAN WILD ASS (EQUUS HEMIONUS KHUR) | Photo: Deepti Hiranandani
IUCN Conservation Status: EN (Endangered)
Once seen in abundance across western India, the Indian Wild Ass is now found only in the sanctuary in Little Rann of Kutch.  The species’ decline — a whopping 52% in the last 16 years — began in 1958 with the outbreak of surra, a fatal disease transmitted by horse-flies that affects the blood of animals. At a population now of just above 4,000, the main threat it faces today is due to illegal salt panning activity in the area.

9.BLUE-EYED BUSH FROG
9. BLUE-EYED BUSH FROG (RAORCHESTES LUTEOLUS) | Photo: Anoop Asrana
IUCN Conservation Status: EN (Endangered)
Endemic to the Western Ghats, the Blue-Eyed Bush Frog was described as recently as 2007. This species breeds by ‘direct development’ —  the female lays eggs on the ground instead of into water, and development occurs in the egg, skipping the tadpole stage and hatching a mini-adult.  Its already fragmented habitat is threatened by forest fires, agriculture, and dam constructions.

10.SNOW LEOPARD
10. SNOW LEOPARD (PANTHERA UNCIA) |
Photo: Neel Kamal Pande
IUCN Conservation Status: EN (Endangered)
Found in 12 countries in Central Asia including China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, and Pakistan, this elusive master of camouflage  can be found in the Indian Himalayas across less than an estimated 90,000 km², of which only about 34,000 km² is considered  good habitat, and 14.4% is protected. Poaching and loss of habitat are two of the main reasons for this species’ vulnerability.

11.PURPLE FROG
11. PURPLE FROG (NASIKABATRACHUS SAHYADRENSIS) |
Photo: Vijay Bedi
IUCN Conservation Status: EN (Endangered)
An ancient frog species only formally discovered in 2003, the Purple Frog belongs to the family Sooglossidae, and can be found in the Western Ghats. It spends most of its life underground, surfacing only in the monsoon to breed. It is threatened by the loss of forest for coffee, cardamom and ginger plantations.  This is a rare photograph, which required spending three years observing its full mating behaviour in order to capture it.

12.DE NICEVILLES WINDMILL
12. DE NICÉVILLE’S WINDMILL (BYASA POLLA) |
Photo: Viral Mistry
IUCN Conservation Status: VU (Vulnerable)
Known to have been photographed only twice or thrice in last 100 years, these super rare butterflies are found in Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh in India. Often seen mud-puddling between Kohima and Peren, the recent construction of a metal road in the area will see an increase in traffic that will make spotting them almost impossible.

13.SPOTTED HYENA
13. SPOTTED HYENA (CROCUTA CROCUTA) |
Photo: Kalyan Varma
IUCN Conservation Status: LC (Least Concern)
The spotted (or laughing) hyena is experiencing declines outside of protected areas due to habitat loss and poaching.  The species has been hunted for its body parts for use in traditional medicine, for amusement, and for sport (though this is rare, as the species is generally not considered attractive).

14.LEOPARD
14. LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS) |
Photo: Kalyan Varma
IUCN Conservation Status: NT (Near Threatened)
The leopard’s success in the wild is due to its well camouflaged fur; its opportunistic hunting behaviour, broad diet, and strength to move heavy carcasses into trees; its ability to adapt to various habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe and including arid and montane areas. They are threatened today by habitat loss, illegal poaching, and pest control. They have been extirpated in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and most likely Morocco.

15.LION
15. LION (PANTHERA LEO) |
Photo: Kalyan Varma
IUCN Conservation Status: VU (Vulnerable)
With an endangered remnant population residing in Gir Forest National Park in Gujarat, lion populations are untenable outside designated reserves and national parks. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are currently the greatest causes of concern.

16.INDIAN ELEPHANT
16. INDIAN ELEPHANT (ELEPHAS MAXIMUS INDICUS) | Photo: Deepti Hiranandani
IUCN Conservation Status: EN (Endangered)
Elephas maximus has been listed as Endangered by IUCN since 1986 as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations. These elephants are threatened by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, which are driven by expanding human population, and lead in turn to increasing conflicts between humans and elephants.

17.GHARIAL
17. GHARIAL (GAVIALIS GANGETICUS) |
Photo: Vijay Bedi
IUCN Conservation Status: CR (Critically Endangered)
Their waters have been dammed, diverted for irrigation and sand-mined for construction, leading to seasonal drying of once-perinnial rivers (unlike other crocodilians, gharial cannot walk on land to find water, nor tunnel to escape the summer drought). Looming ahead is a mega-project to interlink all of India’s major rivers — a catastrophe for all river life.


Motherland is a bi-monthly magazine with a focus on contemporary and emerging Indian cultures.

COMMENTS ARE OFF THIS POST

INSTAGRAM
KNOW US BETTER