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Zoological Survey of India

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Zoological Survey of India, as the premier national organization(Government Agency), has been engaged in field survey and laboratory investigation on faunal resources of India for last more than 85 years. The status of such resources is considered vital for any developmental strategy. ZSI on the basis of initial IUCN categories of rare animals published its first account in 1983: Threatened animals of India by B.K. Tikader. The book covers an account on 81 mammal, 47 birds, 15 reptiles and 3 amphibian rare species.

With the introduction of global revision of IUCN criteria, a need was felt by ZSI to present a Red Data Book with an updated data based on the revised IUCN 1993 guidelines. The Red Data Book on Indian Animals Part1: Vertebrata(Mammalia, Aves, Reptilia and Amphibia) Published in1994 by A.K.Ghosh, Directer, ZSI, Kolkata, is the outcome of the same. It covers an updated data on 77 mammals, 55 birds, 20 reptilian and 1 amphibian species coming under different IUCN categories.Species listed under various IUCN categories are considered as Red listed species and they strongly deserve immediate protection through conservation methods for their survival.

In the year 2000 IUCN made major changes in the IUCN criteria for the threatened species listed under the Red List. The changes were major like inclusion of criteria like Critically Endangered, Near Threatened and Least Concern; removal of criteria like Rare, Lower risk-least concern and Lower risk-near threatened, Insufficiently Known, etc.

Similarly there has been a major change in the IUCN 2000 guidelines as well. Taking into consideration the major changes occurred in the IUCN Red List Criteria and IUCN guidelines in the year 2000, it was felt absolutely necessary to revise the Red Data Book of 1994 published by ZSI. It was further decided to take into consideration other conservation measures like CITES and Indian Wildlife(Protection) Act in addition to IUCN. Because number amendments have been made since last more than 20 years to adopt effective conservation measures and offer protection to more and more species which are on the verge of extinction in wild. India is known for its rich Biodiversity. When a list of mammal species alone with higher conservation status as per the amendments made at national and international levels was prepared, it was observed that the figure was touching 150. That means almost 50% of Indian mammal species were under some or other criteria of higher conservation status. The list included many of the less-charismatic and totally unknown species which are badly in need of protection for their survival.

For example species like tree shrew, Wroughton's free tailed bat, Salimali's fruit bat and many more. Many biologists are unaware of this fact. Hence attempt is being made here to revise ZSI's Red Data Book as per IUCN's 2000 guidelines and update maximum information. The list will include 150 mammal species which have been listed under higher conservation status only. First step in this direction is, obviously, to focus on Indian mammal species. Information as per IUCN 2000 guidelines for every species so collected from the experts will be compiled and its conservation status will be reviewed and reassessed in the forthcoming revised Red Data Book of ZSI. The work is expected to be completed by end of the current year.