Chennai: The Centre has identified 22 species of animals, birds and aquatic animals as critically endangered species and financial support is being given to states and Union Territories that have these species, the Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry has said.
“Financial assistance is provided to states/Union Territories (UT) for species recovery programme of 22 identified species like Snow Leopard, Bustard including Floricans, Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugong, Andaman Edible-nest Swiftlet, Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Sangai, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Great Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer, Jerdon’s Courser, Batagur Baska, Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale, Red Panda and Caracal,” said the ministry.
All these are also protected under the centrally sponsored scheme called Development of Wildlife Habitats.
Explaining the steps taken to protect the animals, the ministry said a network of Protected Areas (National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves) has been created.
“Legal protection has been provided to wild animals and plants against hunting and commercial exploitation under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Act has been amended from time to time and made more stringent. The punishment in cases of offences has been enhanced,” said a senior official from the ministry.
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau coordinates with state/UTs and other enforcement agencies to gather intelligence about poaching and unlawful trade in wild animals and animal articles, the official said.
The local communities are involved in conservation measures through eco-development activities, which help the forest department in protection of wildlife. “The Ministry has launched the National wild life Action Plan (2017-31) for the conservation of wildlife through landscape level approach, including conservation of critically endangered species,” he said.
Among the 22 identified critically endangered species financially supported under the centrally sponsored scheme, Great Indian Bustard, Asiatic Lion, Marine Turtle, Dugong, Caracal and Dolphins are reported to be found in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Marine Turtle, Jerdon’s Courser, Great Indian Bustard and Dolphins are found in Andhra Pradesh.
In 2022-23, the Centre allocated Rs 56.48 crore to various states and Union Territories to protect the 22 animals. Compared to the previous two years, the allocation in the last financial year was the lowest. In 2020-21, Rs 87.64 crore was allocated, while Rs 87.55 crore was allocated in 2021-22.
Among the states, Odisha has received the maximum of Rs 9.67 crore followed by Maharashtra (Rs 3.5 crore) and Karnataka (Rs 2.91 crore). Among the Union Territories, Lakshadweep has received the maximum of Rs 2.69 crore.
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