Andaman & Nicobar Islands: home to a tenth of India’s fauna species


A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) titled Faunal Diversity of Biogeographic Zones: Islands of India has for the first time come up with a database of all faunal species found on the island.

Highlights:

*The ZSI document proves that the islands, comprising only 0.25% of India’s geographical area, are home to more than 10% of the country’s fauna species.
*The presence of a large number of species in such a small area makes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands one of the richest ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots in India.
*The presence of a large number of species in such a small area makes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands one of the richest ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots in India.
*Some of the species in A&N Islands are restricted to a very small area and thus more vulnerable to any anthropogenic threat.
*The publication not only prepares a database of species found in particular category of animals, but also highlights the most vulnerable among them.
*Of the ten species of marine fauna found on the islands, the dugong/sea cow, and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, are both classified as Vulnerable under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
*Among the 46 terrestrial mammalian species found, three species have been categorised as Critically Endangered — Andaman shrew (Crocidura andamanensis), Jenkin’s shrew (C. jenkinsi) and Nicobar shrew (C. nicobarica). Five species are listed as Endangered, nine species as Vulnerable, and one species as Near Threatened.
*Among birds, endemism is quite high, with 36 among 344 species of birds found only on the islands. Many of these bird species are placed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA).
*Similarly, eight species of amphibians and 23 species of reptiles are endemic to the islands, and thus are at high risk of being threatened.

Key Features of the Islands:

*The total area of the A&N Islands, which comprises of 572 islands, islets and rocky outcrops, is about 8,249 sq. km.
*The population of the islands, which includes six particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) — Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shompens — is not more than 4 lakh.
*The number of tourists visiting the islands has crossed the number of people residing in them, with latest data showing 4.87 lakh tourists visiting the islands annually.
*The presence of a large number of species in such a small area makes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands one of the richest ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots in India. 
*Some of the islands removed from the RAP list have no habitation except PVTG like Sentinelese in case of North Sentinel Island, and there is nothing other than a police outpost on the Narcondam Island.
*Another unique feature of the islands’ ecosystem is its marine faunal diversity, which includes coral reefs and its associated fauna. 

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Andaman & Nicobar Islands: home to a tenth of India’s fauna species Andaman & Nicobar Islands: home to a tenth of India’s fauna species Reviewed by The Hindu Current Affairs on November 27, 2018 Rating: 5

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