Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Global Warming Threatens Homeland of India's Brow-Antlered Deer

A brow-antlered deer in Manipur
 In India, the threat of global warming came into spotlight when the Sunderbans mangrove forests were reported to have experienced rise in water levels. In turn, wildlife was forced to seek drier land and among the animals affected the most were tigers. It is said that tigers would move close to human settlements, putting the entire community in a state of fear. But now, there is another creature that is threatened by global warming. It is an unusual, but extremely beautiful deer known locally as sangai. Also called the brow-antlered deer, it is endemic chiefly to Keibul Lamjao National Park in the state of Manipur on India's northeast corner. This picturesque national park is characterized by the Loktak Lake, making it the only floating park in the world. However, global warming has put Keibul Lamjao National Park vulnerable almost to the point of extinction. Due to rise in temperatures, decomposed plant materials known as phumdis would increase their rate of decomposition. According to Dr. N.C Talukdar, Director of Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), the increase in decomposition of phumdis would reduce their thickness in turn affecting the ecological process of the lake.

Loktak Lake and phumdis in Keibul Lamjao National Park
A two-day workshop was held during which a scientist pointed out that Assam has similar phumdis, but are not available because of its warm climatic conditions. Out of several participants at the workshop, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had submitted the first comprehensive report on the impact of climate change developed by the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA). According to the report, minimum temperatures are likely to increase from 1 degree Celsius to 2.5 degrees Celsius and maximum temperatures from 1 degree to 3.5 degrees Celsius in northeast India by 2030. Adding to that was Dr. Nitasha Sharma of the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore, who admitted that the region will be warmer by 2 degrees by 2021-2050 period.
File:Indian Python under a Tree.jpg
The national park is home to other unique species of animals, too. Like this python
This article gives a clear representation of how global warming is threatening much of India's wild places associated with water. It is not just the Sunderbans that are experiencing the rise in water levels, but also Keibul Lamjao National Park. This wildlife sanctuary consists of a lake that is unique for having phumdis, which are formed by accumulation of organic garbage and biomass with soil particles thickened into a solid form. These floating islands are said to play an important role in the ecological process of Loktak Lake. But they, along with the wildlife, are under threat of flooding caused by climate change. This is why it is extremely crucial to take action against the threat of global warming. In addition to that, the park is deeply affected by man-made threats like hydroelectric projects built on the lake which affects phumdis' vegetation growth. Also, the park's iconic creature, the brow-antlered deer, is suffering from starvation. One of the possible reasons for this is the wrath of an invasive plant species known as buffalo grass from Africa. Originally used as fodder during the 1960s, this plant is now destroying the native plant species. Along with global warming, a great deal of attention should be applied to controlling this plant species and also to investigate the causes of starvation amongst the population of the deer. But what really surprised me is the idea of translocating the deer from the park. Although I understand that this is a way to prevent the population from being wiped out, there should be research as to where to translocate the animal. But for now, I personally feel that there should be focus on the threat of global warming, hydroelectric projects, and the buffalo grass. The brow-antlered deer's population is estimated to be around 180 from 2003, and it is not known what is its current population now. This is why it is necessary to save it from the brink of extinction, for this is the state animal of Manipur.

View article here

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