New Delhi | India ranks among the top ten species rich nations in the world and is known for its rich biological diversity and high endemism, the Lok Sabha was informed today.
In a written reply, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar said Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) carry out surveys and documentation of biological resources, including threatened and important species of the country. Survey and exploration of different geographical areas of the country has resulted in a repository of about three million National Reference Collections of plant specimen, he said.
The Indian flora accounts for about 11.4 per cent of the total recorded plant species of the world. As per BSI, India has about 47,791 species of plants comprising virus/bacteria (1, 071), Algae (7,309), Fungi (14,936), Lichens (2,434), Bryophytes (2,531), Pteridophytes (1,274), Gymnosperms (77) and Angiosperms (18,159) already identified and classified so far, he stated.
Studies conducted by ZSI have recorded over 96,000 species of animals from India. Among these, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed 18 species of amphibians, 14 fishes, 13 bird species and 10 mammals as critically endangered; 310 species as endangered, including 69 fishes, 38 mammals and 32 amphibians.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 has been enacted for protection of wild animals, birds and plants against hunting and commercial exploitation.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products. The National Biodiversity Act, 2002, also ensures protection of threatened plant species and their habitats. Under the provisions of Biodiversity Act 2002 the threatened species are identified state wise.
The MoEF has already issued notifications to this effect for 14 states — Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Meghalaya, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Tripura.
The State/Union Territory governments carry out census of key species like elephant, rhino and lion. However, tiger census was carried out at the national level, Mr Javadekar said.