Big boost for India’s wildlife conservation! Great Indian Bustard, Asian Elephant get international protection; See pics

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Big boost for wildlife conservation as UN body accepts India’s proposal related to endangered species! The Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican and Asian Elephant have been included in the UN Convention on migratory species' Appendix 1 on India's proposal, which was accepted unanimously at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Conventional on Migratory Species (CMS) held in Gandhinagar. The development is important as it will ensure that these endangered species will be safe even while migrating to countries outside India.

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Asian Elephant

The Indian elephant has been declared as a National Heritage Animal, and is provided with the "highest degree" of legal protection through the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. After being added in the CMS, the Indian Elephant will be able to cross the borders of the country and return safely. Moreover, intermixing of the animal with the sub-populations of elephants in Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh will help widen the gene base of the populations. Apart from this, it will also reduce the man-animal conflict, which occurs at several places in the migratory route of the elephants.

Major challenges in ensuring the conservation of the Asian elephant are habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and illegal trade, and human-elephant conflict.

Great Indian Bustard

A critically endangered species which is dependent on conservation, the Great Indian Bustard often moves across boundaries. However, it is exposed to threats like hunting in areas surrounding the Indo-Pak boundary and power-line collisions in India. With the inclusion of the Great Indian Bustard in CMS, the species will be able to cross the border while efforts to conserve it are facilitated by the international conservation bodies and international laws and agreements.

Presently, the Great Indian Bustard only has 100-150 individuals remaining, and the species has been mainly restricted to Rajasthan's Thar desert. The population of this species declined by 90 per cent within a mere 50 years.

Bengal Florican

Another critically endangered species which is a conservation priority, the Bengal Florican also moves across international borders. It also faces threats while crossing boundaries, like changes in land use and collision with power transmission lines at the Indo-Nepal border.

The population of the Bengal Florican has declined, majorly due to loss of habitat and hunting. The Bengal Florican does not breed in areas outside the Protected Areas in the subcontinent any more, with the exception of a few areas in Assam.