Current Affairs – June (Environment and Biodiversity)

BLACKBUCK was under Current Affairs in April 2018, When Bollywood actor Salman Khan was Given 5 Years’ Jail by trial court for Shooting Blackbucks, a Schedule-I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, at Kankani village in 1998.

Nomenclature: The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), also known as the Indian antelope.
Genus: The blackbuck is the sole extant member of the genus Antilope.
Subspecies: Two subspecies are recognized. A.C. Cervicapra: Known as
the south-eastern blackbuck. Occurs in southern, eastern and central India.
A.C. Rajputanae Zukowsky: Known as the north-western blackbuck. Occurs in north-western India.

Physical characterstics:
The long, ringed horns, are generally present only on males, though females may develop horns as well.
The white fur on the chin and around the eyes is in sharp contrast with the black stripes on the face.
The coat of males shows two-tone colouration: while the upper parts and outsides of the legs are dark brown to black, the underparts and the insides of the legs are all white. On the other hand, females and juveniles are yellowish fawn to tan.

Diet: Herbivores.

Habitat and ecology:
The species inhabits open grassland, dry thorn scrub,scrubland and lightly-wooded country as well as
agricultural margins, where it is often seen feeding in fields. Blackbuck require water daily, which restricts their
distribution to areas where surface water is available for the greater part of the year.
Range Description (according to IUCN website):
The Blackbuck formerly occurred across almost the whole of the Indian subcontinent south of the Himalaya. But they
are now extinct in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Blackbuck are still present in the terai zone of Nepal.
The species has been introduced to the United States of America (Texas) and Argentina.
During the 20th century, blackbuck numbers declined sharply due to excessive hunting, deforestation and habitat degradation. Nevertheless, populations in India have increased from 24,000 in the late 1970s to 50,000 in 2001.
• Conservation:
The blackbuck is listed under Appendix III of CITES.
In India, hunting of blackbuck is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.• Cultural significance:
The blackbuck has significance in Hinduism. According to Hindu mythology, the blackbuck draws the chariot of Lord Krishna and is thus mentioned in Sanskrit texts as the Krishna mrig.
The blackbuck is routinely depicted in miniature paintings of the Mughal era (16th to 19th centuries) depicting royal hunts often using cheetahs. Tribes such as the Bishnois (found in the Western Thar Desert and northern India) revere and care for most animals including the blackbuck.
State animal:
Blackbuck is the state animal of Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.


In April 2018, The 2018 State of the World’s Birds report, which provides a comprehensive look at the health of bird populations globally was released by BirdLife International.

Key Findings:
• A number of well-known bird species are now at risk of extinction.
• 40% of the world’s 11,000 bird species are in decline, and one in eight bird species is threatened with       global extinction.
• One of the greatest of those threats, according to the report, is agriculture. The expansion of agriculture, as well as its intensification, impacts 1,091 (74 percent) of globally threatened birds.

BirdLife International:
• It is a global partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds and their habitats.
• It is the world’s largest partnership of conservation organisations, with over 120 partner organisations.
• It also designates Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).
Formation: 1922.
HQ: Cambridge, United Kingdom.

In May 2018, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), published “Faunal Diversity of Indian Himalaya”.

• The Indian Himalayas, which constitute about 12% of the country’s landmass, is home to about 30% of     its fauna.
• The region covers 9.6% of the entire protected area of the   country, almost the same as the Western          Ghats (10% of protected areas).
• Fauna of the region exhibits an intermingling of both the Oriental (Indo-Chinese and Malayan sub-            regions) and Mediterranean-Ethiopian elements.
• The central Himalayas are the richest in faunal diversity, followed by the west Himalayas.

 Threat: Climate change is the major threat to Himalayan biodiversity. Other threats include Habitat loss due to land use change, illegal wildlife trade, forest fires and increasing anthropogenic activities.

In May 2018, Black windmill butterfly was photographed for the first time in history of India.

• Byasa crassipes, the black windmill, is a butterfly found in India and Southeast Asia. It is being sighted    for the first time in India since 1917.
• It is a black butterfly which is unmarked except for obscure red spots on the upper hindwing. The tail      is  red tipped below.
It is listed under Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act (1972), which ensures the              insects the  same protection as that given to tigers.


According to a study published by Dehradun’s Wildlife Institute of India in May 2018, Bengal florican – a grassland Bird – not only resides in grasslands, but in agricultural fields too.


• Name: Its scientific name is Houbaropsis bengalensis. Commonly it is also called as Bengal
• Genus: It is a bustard species which is the only member of the genus Houbaropsis.
• Habitat: It is native to the Indian subcontinent, Cambodia and Vietnam.
• Status: It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List because fewer than 1,500               individuals  were estimated to be alive as of 2013.