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Endangered Animals of India

Endangered Animals of India

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The Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), also known as the Asian King Vulture, Indian Black Vulture or Pondicherry Vulture. The species is mainly found in the Indian Subcontinent. This gaudy-faced vulture was historically abundant, range widely across the Indian Subcontinent. Today the range of the birf is localized primarily to northern India. It is usually in open country and in cultivated and semi-desert areas. It is also found in deciduous forests and foothills and river valleys.

The northern river terrapin (Batagur baska) is a riverine turtle. One of the most critically endangered turtle species according to the IUCN, this turtle is religiously significant to Burmese Buddhists who capture them, adorn their carapace with gold leaf and release them with great ceremony back to the wild. Although laws are enacted to protect them, the large eggs are commercially valuable as a food source resulting in the animal being included on the CITES 1 and the USDI (E) lists.

The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), sometimes called the lute turtle, is the largest of all living sea turtles and the fourth largest modern reptile behind three crocodilians. It can easily be differentiated from other modern sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell. Instead, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh. Leatherbacks have been viewed as unique among reptiles for their ability to maintain high body temperatures using metabolically generated heat, or endothermy.

Pygmy hog (Porcula salvania) are found in tall grass habitats, usually near water. Once found throughout the southern base of the Himalayas, they are now confined to Manas National Park in Assam, its natural habitat destroyed by development, agriculture, domestic grazing and deliberate fires. The pygmy hog is the sole representative of Porcula, making the conservation of this endangered species very important as its extinction would result in the loss of a unique evolutionary branch of pigs.

The Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) is found along from the Gangetic plain north, west to Himachal Pradesh, south potentially as far as northern Orissa, and east through Assam. It inhabits dry open country and forested areas usually away from human habitation. Its numbers have declined rapidly largely due to the use of the diclofenac in working farm animals. Diclofenac is poisonous to vultures, causing kidney failure, and is being replaced by meloxicam which is not toxic.

The Kashmir stag (Cervus elaphus hanglu), also called hangul, known for its magnificent antlers with 11 to 16 points, is the state animal of J & K. It is the only surviving race of the Red Deer family of Europe in India. Critically endangered, these deer once numbered from about 5,000 animals in the 20th century. Unfortunately, they were threatened, due to habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock, and poaching. Under Project Hangul the population increased to over 340 by 1980.

Pashmina or Changthangi Goat (capra hircus laniger) is native to the Himalayas. They are acclimated to the high altitudes and cold climate of the Lakakhi Chanthangi or Baltistan (Kashmir region). They were used as pack animals and as a source of some of the finest cashmere wool. They must live in harsh, windy climates to generate the soft undercoat, for which demand has always exceeded supply. Experts say their numbers are dwindling which led to the cloning of the first Pashmina goat, Noorie.

Satyr Tragopan: The Satyr Tragopan is a rare resident pheasant which occurs at high elevations in the Himalaya. Male Satyr's are 68cm and are a bright crimson red with white spots. Females are smaller and less conspicuous. Tragopans are often called “horned pheasants” because they display horn-like projections during courtship. 4 out of the 5 known species occur in India. The Satyr is faced with habitat destruction and hunting pressure and is now considered to be near-threatened.

The White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis). The species was present in large numbers, in India but is now endangered. At one time, it was the most numerous of the vultures in India. The greatest threat comes from farmers’ use of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac to treat their livestock, which causes renal failure in vultures that feed on cattle carcasses. Trees on which they regularly roost are often painted white with their excreta and this acidity often kills the trees.

Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus) is also known as Siberian White Crane or Snow Crane. The adults are nearly all snowy white, except for their black primary feathers that are visible in flight. The western populations migrate during winter to India. They make the longest distance migrations among cranes. Their population has declined drastically in due to hunting along their migration routes and habitat degradation. The world population was estimated in 2010 at about 3,200 birds.

The Great Indian Bustard is one of the largest flying bird species found in the world. Standing a meter above the ground, and weighing up to 15kg, this critically endangered terrestrial bird was once widespread across the grasslands of India. In the 19th century, flocks of more than 20 birds were a common sight in the Indian grasslands. Sadly today their population is estimated at less than 250 individuals scattered across the grasslands of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, AP, Karnataka and MP.

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The Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus). It feeds almost entirely on carrion. It nests almost exclusively in small colonies on cliffs and ruins, although in one area, where cliffs are absent, it has been reported nesting in trees. Vultures also play a key role in the wider landscape as providers of ecosystem services, and were previously heavily relied upon to help dispose of animal and human remains in India.

The Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), also known as the Asian King Vulture, Indian Black Vulture. The adult has a prominent deep red to orange naked head. It frequents open country, well-wooded hills and dry deciduous forest with rivers. The disappearance of vultures is linked to intensification of agriculture, increased sophistication of waste disposal and disease. Decline in numbers is due to pharmaceuticals used to treat livestock, which has led to their mortality from renal failure.

The White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis), also known as the Imperial Heron, is a species of large heron found in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas. It is mostly all dark grey with white throat and underparts. This heron is mostly solitary and is found on undisturbed riverside or wetland habitats. This heron is Critically Endangered because it has an extremely small and rapidly declining population as a result of the loss and degradation of lowland forest and wetlands.

The Sociable Lapwing or Sociable Plover (Vanellus gregarius) breeds on open grassland in Russia and Kazakhstan and migrate south to key wintering sites in north-west India. It feeds on insects and other small prey mainly from grassland or arable. This attractive medium-sized lapwing has longish black legs and a short black bill. The call is a harsh kereck. It is categorised as critically endangered, due to a very rapid population decline for poorly understood reasons.

Jerdon's Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) is a nocturnal bird endemic to India and was discovered by the surgeon-naturalist Thomas C. Jerdon in 1848 but not seen again until its rediscovery in 1986. Found locally in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, it is currently known only from the Sri Lankamalleshwara Sanctuary, where it inhabits sparse scrub forest with patches of bare ground. Population estimates of this critically endangered bird range from between 25 and 200.

Western Tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus). The species is highly endangered and globally threatened. The Western Tragopan is considered the rarest of all living pheasants with less than 5000 in the world. It is found in the western portions of Himalayas.

The Forest Owlet (Athene blewitti) is endemic to the forests of central India. After it was described in 1873 and last seen in the wild in 1884, it was considered extinct until it was rediscovered 113 years later in 1997. It is known from a small number of localities and the populations are very low within the fragmented and shrinking forests of central India. The Forest Owlet remains critically endangered, and the current population has been estimated at less than 250.

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) is a small wader which breeds in northeastern Russia and winters in India. The most distinctive feature of this species is its spatulate bill. The contact calls of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper include a quiet preep or a shrill wheer. Formerly classified as an Endangered species by the IUCN, recent research shows that its numbers are decreasing more and more rapidly and that it is on the verge of extinction.

The Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), also called Bengal Bustard, is a very rare bustard species from the Indian Subcontinent. They are normally silent but when disturbed utters a metallic chik-chik-chik call. This threatened species is now almost extinct; probably less than 1,000 and perhaps as few as 500 adult birds are still alive. n India the decline is coming to a halt and that stocks in Kaziranga National Parks and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve are safe at very low levels.