What’s the news?
- According to a survey, the population of the vulnerable eastern swamp deer, extinct elsewhere in South Asia, has dipped in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
News in Detail
- The Officials attributed the decrease from 907 individuals in 2018 to 868 during the Eastern Swamp Deer Estimation on January 10 and 11due to two high floods in 2019 and 2020.
- On a brighter side, the animal is now distributed to areas beyond the park known as the world’s best address of the one-horned rhinoceros.
- The eastern swamp deer is endemic to Kaziranga and is not the primary prey of the park’s carnivores, primarily the tiger, but its population is crucial for the ecological health of the tiger reserve.
- The primary prey of the Kaziranga carnivores is the hog deer numbered between 35,000 and 40,000 followed by the barking deer, sambhar, water buffaloes and rhinos.
- The eastern swamp deer was once concentrated in the central Kohora and Bagori ranges of Kaziranga. The animal had numbered 1,161 the highest ever – in 2011 while the lowest of 213 individuals was recorded in 1966.
- The 1,302 sq. km Kaziranga had an uptick in the number of waterfowl species from 112 counted a year ago to 126 during the fourth Wetland Bird Estimation indicating a total of 66,776 birds belonging to the 126 species.
- The birds were counted in 211 different points in 157 waterbodies involving 35 enumeration teams, including volunteers from local educational institutes, NGOs and officers and frontline staff of the Forest Department.
- The bar-headed goose topped the list with 16,552 birds followed by the northern pintail at 9,493 and the common teal at 5,631.
- Ferruginous duck, an important species with a count of 2,236, may be regarded as a highlight of this estimation.
About Swamp Deer or Barasingha
- It is the state animal of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
- The swamp deer differs from all other Indian deer species in that the antlers carry more than three times (spikes). Because of this distinctive character it is designated “bārah-singgā”, meaning “twelve-horned”.
- Swamp deer are already extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is now found only in South- Western Nepal and Central and North-Eastern India.
- There are three subspecies of swamp deer found in the Indian Subcontinent.
- Western swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii) found in Nepal,
- Southern swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii branderi) found in Central and North India and
- Eastern swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii ranjitsinhi) found in the Kaziranga and Dudhwa National Parks.
- With their numbers estimated at over 3,000, Dudhwa National Park has the largest number of barasingha in the country. They are also found in significant numbers in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
- Protection Status: IUCN Red List: Vulnerable; CITES: Appendix I; Wildlife Protection Act (1972): Schedule I.
- The swamp deer populations outside protected areas and seasonally migrating populations are threatened by poaching for antlers and meat, which are sold in local markets.
- Swamp deer lost most of its former range because wetlands were converted and used for agriculture so that suitable habitat was reduced to small and isolated fragments.
About Kaziranga National Park
- Formed in 1908 on the recommendation of Mary Curzon (wife of Lord Curzon), the Kaziranga national park is located in Assam.
- In 1985, the park was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- Kaziranga was declared as Tiger Reserve in 2006 and it is also recognised as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal organisms.
- In the park one can see four types of vegetation like alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests, and tropical semi-evergreen forests.
- The park is famous for its One-horned Rhinoceros; about 2200 rhinoceros exist in this park, which is half of the world’s one-horned rhino population.
- The park also harbors significant populations of other threatened species including tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo and bears as well as aquatic species including the Ganges River dolphin.
- River Brahmaputra flows adjacent to the park. River fluctuations by the Brahmaputra system result in spectacular examples of riverine and fluvial processes.