RS Agarwal’s IAS wishes you all a very happy new year!
This article speaks about the conservation status of Leopards in the country and brings out the fallacies in the same.
He speaks about how there is official or specific leopard estimation exercise in India and the one done currently is a by product of the Tiger Estimation census done by the NTCA or the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Due to this the Leopards have always lost to their cousins, Tigers in various avenues.
The last report on the Leopard estimation came in 2018 and provided that India currently has 12852 Leopards. The author says this is underestimation by almost 40% as it is not official and just a byproduct of Tiger Estimation.
Secondly, this estimation has not undertaken various habitat location of the leopards and many states like the north eastern states have been excluded from the same.
The author says the Leopard estimation should conducted as a specific exercise and this needs right kind of resources and time as well. The author provides the example of his own research and study to speak about the logistics.
Primarily, a benchmark has to be set in this regard, to begin with which will be an official estimation.
Leopard population suffers from various threats including:
Habitat loss due to both man-made and anthropological reasons
Poaching and hunting for skin and teeth among others
Human animal conflicts in the form of killings or vehicle intrusions.
Leopards are conserved under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, in Appendix I of CITES and categorized as ‘Vulnerable’ according to the IUCN.
The population of leopards are spread across India and predominantly dense in the Western Ghats region, also Karnataka has the highest population.
These things have to be taken into consideration and Leopard conservation should not be ignored like how once Tiger population was ignored and later a lot of efforts had to be put, we need to take the right step when the time is right.
Make or Break 2021
In 2020 and preceding years we have witnessed many extreme climatic events in the form of floods, wildfires among others. This year too we are seeing the continuation of the same in various forms. The world in 2021 is also experiencing the La Nina effect and is going to be a tough year ahead of us.
A report by the council on environment, energy and water showed that 75% districts in India that houses half of the population is vulnerable to extreme climatic events.
Since 1970-2005 we have seen 250 extreme climatic events and since 2005 till date the number has exceeded a 310+. India has suffered a monetary loss of 100 billion dollar since 1990-2019.
Extreme weather events have been witnessed in this regard and have caused a havoc in the geographic conditions. We have seen that 40% of land areas has witnessed the swapping effect where the land from flood prone has become drought prone.
Hence the year 2021 becomes important and the steps as we have spoken in the climate ambition summit that it is a make-or-break year have to be taken seriously.
The author provides various steps that can take in this regard for India to fight climate change:
A de-risking mission has to be started which will include health and environment into consideration, this will include
Build resilient infrastructure and use governance in this regard
It should have data about the climate events which must be integrated and provided at all, national, sub national and district levels.
We need to restore, revive and recreate traditional practices which are followed by indigenous communities which are innumerable in India. We need to save these practices and make use of the same.
We need to prepare a climate risk atlas which will be an effective tool for disaster management, policy making and others. It can be at various levels like national, state and district level. This atlas will provide an idea about the risks vis a vis extreme climate; it will also help in assessment.
Finance plays an important role as we need to provide finance to climate action at proper scale. This begins with identification and then investment needs to be taken into consideration. Apart from our own budget, we seek investment from Green Climate Fund or Global Environment Facility, or even from the private sectors.
India being a chair of CDRI or climate disaster risk initiative, needs to lead by example and take these things into consideration. We cannot avoid even avoid the smallest or the smallest risk. We also need to rope in various people into the same.