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14 plant, animal species declared threatened in State
Ajit Patowary
 GUWAHATI, Dec 24 - As per the recommendations made by the Assam State Biodiversity Board, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified seven species of plants and equal number of animals of the State, which are on the verge of extinction, as threatened species under section 38 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 of the country, through a gazette notification. The Union Government has also prohibited and regulated their collection without the approval of the Assam State Biodiversity Board.

The species thus notified could be collected with the approval of the Assam State Biodiversity Board only for the purposes of scientific research, herbarium and museum of scientific and academic institutions, propagation and any other scientific investigation, said the MoEFCC in a gazette notification.

The Assam State Biodiversity Board had prepared the list basing on the comments and suggestions of the experts and the common people. The list includes the species that have been facing a threat as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Red list of Threatened Species, but are not protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Species like the Keko sap (Gekko gecko) have been added to the list basing on media reports and people's perception, as these species have been facing serious threats due to massive hunting, even though studies on the size of the population of these species in the wild is not available.

It is pertinent to mention here that the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is considered to be the most comprehensive source of information on the status of flora and fauna species world over.

According to the gazette notification, the list of the plant species notified as threatened ones include – Sopa (Magnolia cathcartii), Kola Sopa (Magnolia griffthii), Sopa (Magnolia manni), Siya Nahar (Mesua assamica), Konpou Phul (Paphiopedilum spicerianum), Morhal (Vatica lanceaefolia) and Nagphana (Cycas pectinata Buch-Ham), while the fauna species notified by the MoEFCC include – Raja Shagun (Sarcogyps calvus), Asomi diba jethi (Cnemaspis assamensis), Keko sap (Gekko gecko), Barmuira Kaso (Nilssonia nigricans), Baghiya Kaso (Chitra indica), Halodhiya Kaso (Indotestudo elongata) and the Pahari Kaso (Manouria emys).

It needs mention here that once such species are brought under the ambit of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, by declaring them as the threatened ones, their protection against illegal access and trade becomes possible. This enables the members of the Biodiversity Management Committees, Range Forest Officers and the State Biodiversity Board to initiate actions against the offenders.

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