Despite Covid 19 pandemic hitting hard, India took several steps in furthering the cause of conservation of various species, according to a report submitted as part of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS COP).
In the report, India said that it took major initiatives in protecting Turtles, Whales, Ganges River Dolphin, Great Indian Bustard, Vultures, Amur, Saker Falcons, Asian Elephant and Snow Leopard. The COP13 held last year in India had enlisted these species as endangered and called for prevention strategies.
India took over the Presidency of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species in February 2020.
Considering the need for having a coordinated effort in marine turtle conservation, India launched the National Marine Turtle Action Plan (2021-2026) in January 2021, the report said that the country focused on reducing threats, conserving critical habitat and increasing public awareness and emphasises on its habitats. The Action Plan will enable the stakeholders to perform their roles in a coordinated effort of five years.
With respect to conservation of the marine ecosystem and marine species, the Government released the guidelines for managing marine megafauna stranding namely “The Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Management Guidelines”. This is the first of its kind in the country. The Guidelines provide for a participatory approach and recognises importance of the local communities in collaborating for conservation initiatives.
Eco-Friendly Measures for Linear Infrastructure Projects
In the report, the Government of India noted that that they launched “Eco-Friendly Measures’ to mitigate the impacts of Linear Infrastructure on Wildlife to maintain healthy living landscapes. Several measures reduced conflicts associated with the linear developments. It said that creation of animal passages was a vital part of construction of linear infrastructure like roads, railway lines and canals, especially those passing through high biodiversity areas,
The report said that the Prime Minister of India announced a new National programme “Project Dolphin’ aimed to bring more focussed conservation of riverine and marine Dolphins. The Project aims to address existing conservation concerns and to empower stakeholders to participate in dolphin conservation. It also envisaged dolphin tourism in the country.
With respect to conservation of Elephants, including their safe natural migration across international borders, India and Bangladesh drafted a Protocol on Trans-boundary Elephant Conservation.
MoU with Myanmar on Tran boundary Cooperation in Conservation
The report said that India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Myanmar for cooperation on combating of timber trafficking and conservation of tigers and other wildlife.
Great Indian Bustard & Associated Species
Elaborating on the measures taken, the report to CMS sighted that India sanctioned an additional financial support of 4.628 Million dollars for five years (2016-2021) for the programme for GIB titled “Habitat Improvement and Conservation Breeding of Great Indian Bustard
The report said that India as a key signatory to the CMS Raptors launched a five year Action Plan for Vulture Conservation in India (2020-2025) in November 2020. The Action Plan advocates prevention of misuse of veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and awareness of the importance of conservation of vultures. It also includes instituting a system, which automatically removes a drug from veterinary use if found toxic to vultures. It proposed establishment of additional Vulture Conservation Breeding Centres (VCBCs), Vulture Safe Zones in every State and establishment of dedicated vulture rescue centres in the country.
As part of the effort to conserve snow leopards, the report said that the government had come up with “Himal Sanrakshak – Community Volunteer Programme”. It aims at identifying, recognising and building the capacities of dynamic youth and women towards wildlife conservation, sustainable use of biological resources, combating illegal trade in wildlife, mitigating human wildlife conflict and biodiversity governance.