Lesser florican is one of the four bustard species of India, all of which are threatened to become extinct as per the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Once found in abundance, the Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indicus) is in actual danger of becoming extinct from India. The rapid decline is tied to the obliteration of India's least valued, and highly endangered ecosystem—the grassland. Generally dismissed as 'wastelands', grasslands have been massively diverted for infrastructure, real estate, roads, power projects, etc.
This month, our cover story titled, 'Lesser Florican: Silent Decline from Historical Ranges' presents an ethnobiological analysis on how slowly and silently this beautiful bustard has vanished from its former historical ranges where once it was in abundance. This smallest and virtually endemic bustard of India is sliding from 'Endangered' to 'Critically Endangered' category very soon according to the latest report of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, submitted in June 2018. Also, India is suffering from serious scarcity of 'research-based conservation' especially field researchers in grassland ecosystems and that is the reason probably that the country is amongst the top ten in the list of highest numbers of endangered and critically endangered, vulnerable, and near-threatened bird species. India needs focussed study on the non-breeding grounds of lesser floricans thoroughly and regularly. We also need to analyse data through online sites such as ebird.org to evaluate its proper population in the country for the conservation of this magnificent species of birds.
The feature article this month throws light on the fact that ivory is the prime reason behind poaching of elephants and their dwindling populations. The article also talks about the measures that have been taken globally to stop elephant poaching. As far back as in the 1960s, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was conceived as an international agreement between governments. Today, it accords protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants. The CITES programme for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE), was established by the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to CITES at its 10th Meeting at Harare in 1997, in accordance with the provisions on trade in elephant specimens. Though several initiatives have been taken up jointly by many countries, poaching continues to remain a serious threat. However, poaching does not pose the only danger to elephant populations. In its recently released report, the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) has blamed the inadequate food, lack of veterinary facilities, and cruelty meted out to young cubs separated from their mothers for being reared for entertainment. Therefore, the solution does not lie in just shutting down the demand for ivory by educating populations. Alternative livelihood options that are just as paying are the real solutions. Demand determines supply. When there is no demand for ivory, there shall be no poaching at all.