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Vanishing Grasslands in India Lifeline for Endangered Specie



  Sep 30, 2023

India's Vanishing Grasslands: A Lifeline for Endangered Species and Ecosystems


The Geographic Tapestry: A Closer Look at India's Five Key Grasslands

Banni, Gujarat: Located in the Kutch District, Banni is one of Asia's largest grasslands. It's a unique salt-tolerant ecosystem hosting the endangered Indian Wild Ass.
 
Shola, Western Ghats: Nestled in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, Shola grasslands are interspersed with forests. These are vital for endemic species like the Nilgiri Tahr.
 
Thar Desert, Rajasthan and Gujarat: Not just sand dunes; the Thar also has arid grasslands home to the elusive Caracal and the Indian Gazelle or Chinkara.
 
Terai, North India: Stretching along the foothills of the Himalayas, the Terai grasslands are fertile and rich in biodiversity, hosting tigers and the endangered One-horned Rhinoceros.
 
Kangeyam, Tamil Nadu: A tropical dry grassland ecosystem, this area is crucial for native cattle breeds and supports various bird species.
 

Grasslands Under Siege: Environmental Threats

From agricultural encroachment to rampant overgrazing, these crucial habitats face existential threats. Land degradation is particularly severe, with over 100 million hectares affected.
 

The Wildlife Conundrum: Resident Endangered Species

Great Indian Bustard: Found primarily in Thar and Banni, critically endangered due to habitat loss.
 
Lesser Florican: Seen in the Terai, facing threats from agricultural expansion. Caracal: Native to the Thar, dwindling numbers due to habitat fragmentation.
 

Policy Levers: Tools for Preservation

Efforts include the recommendation to feature grasslands in the Indian Forest Survey Report (IFSR) for more accurate data. There's also a proposal to form a dedicated cell focused on tropical grasslands.
 

Voices from the Field: Expert Input

A planned workshop by the national wildlife board aims to consolidate expertise for formulating comprehensive conservation strategies.
 

Legal Hurdles: Navigating Complex Legislation

The Forest Conservation Amendment Act 2023 poses a challenge, exempting certain areas from protective regulations, thereby leaving them vulnerable.
 

Summary: An Urgent Call to Action

The precarious state of India's grasslands demands immediate and effective intervention. These unique ecosystems are essential for biodiversity, local climate regulation, and the survival of endangered species. Preserving them is integral to India's ecological and cultural heritage.


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