ZSI book on Hill fauna diversity chronicles over 30,000 species
Kolkata: The Central Himalayan zone that covers North Bengal (Darjeeling Hills) and Sikkim, has the highest faunal diversity in the entire Himalayan region. Altogether, 14,183 species of animals have been found in this region, out of a total of 30,377 species in the entire Indian Himalayas, which comprises East, Central and West Himalayas.
The findings have been documented in a book titled Faunal Diversity of Indian Himalayas, which is the fruit of a collaborative effort of about 85 taxonomic/biodiversity experts of Zoological Survey of India, under the guidance and leadership of its present director, Dr Kailash Chandra. The book was released on April 26 by C K Mishra, Secretary of Ministry of Forest and Climate Change at Dehradun.
"The total of 30,377 species of all the groups of animals that include protozoa to mammalia, represents around 30.16 percent of the total Indian fauna. None of the 10 biogeographic zones in the country, as per records, have so many fauna as these two zones," said Dr Chandra.
It may be mentioned that the entire Indian Himalayan region comprises of six states, which are Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, North Bengal (Darjeeling) and Sikkim and two biogeographic zones – the Himalayas and Trans-Himalayas. These two biogeographic zones span across 12.03 percent of the total landmass of India.
The Himalayas extend 2,400 km in length across the country and covers an area of 3,95,485 square kilometers, including some parts of Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and
As per findings, there are 280 species of mammals, 940 species of birds, 316 species of fishes, 200 species of reptiles and 80 species of amphibians known from Indian Himalayas. The region has 27.6 percent of the total vertebrate fauna of the country.
There are 133 species that have been reported to be threatened as per IUCN criteria, 84 species have been categorised as vulnerable, 35 as endangered and 14 others critically endangered.
The complete name of the species and the details of the exact province from where it has been reported, have been included in the book that has as many as 52 chapters. The study has gone on for over a century, and the compilation work had started two years back.
Apart from Chandra himself, scientists Devanshu Gupta, K C Gopi, Basudev Tripathy and Vikas Kumar were also involved in the compilation work.
"This book will be the baseline data for future works on the faunal study of the Indian Himalayas and also for the conservation and management of the entire biodiversity in the Indian Himalayan region," Chandra said.
The book discusses the threats and conservation strategies and tries to find out gap areas in research of the fragile ecosystems of Himalayas, which is subjected to rapid deforestation, habitat degradation and climate change.