16th December 2020

Himalayan Serow – It’s a goat, it’s a pig, it’s a serow: Explaining an unusual sighting in Spiti

  • A Himalayan serow has been sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region (Spiti, Himachal Pradesh).
  • Himalayan serow resembles a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig.It’s a medium-sized mammal with a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark hair.
  • Taxonomically, it is a subspecies of the mainland serow (Capricornis sumatraensis).
  • There are several species of serows, and all of them are found in Asia.
  • The Himalayan serow, or Capricornis sumatraensis thar, is restricted to the Himalayan regionHimalayan serows are herbivores.
  • Geographical Location
    • They are typically found at altitudes between 2,000 metres and 4,000 metres. They are known to be found in eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not in the Trans Himalayan region.
      • The Trans-Himalayas Mountain Region or Tibet Himalayan Region is located to the north of the Great Himalayas which consists of Karakoram, Ladakh, Zaskar and Kailash mountain ranges.
  • Latest Sighting
    • The animal was spotted near Hurling village in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.
      • Spiti lies in the cold mountain desert region of the western Himalaya, and its valley floor has an average elevation of 4,270 metres above sea level, making the sighting special as Serows are generally not found at this altitude.
    • This is the first recorded human sighting of the serow in Himachal Pradesh. The animal has been spotted a few times earlier in the state, but that has always been through camera traps.
    • The animal has also been spotted in the Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary, and in the higher reaches of Chamba.
      • The Sanctuary is locally well known for its extensive alpine pastures as well as the numerous treks, trails and passes that connect it with the neighboring Great Himalayan National Park and Pin Valley National Park.
  • Conservation Status
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

Salient Features of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

  • The Act provides for the protection of a listed species of animals, birds, and plants, and also for the establishment of a network of ecologically-important protected areas in the country.
  • The Act provides for the formation of wildlife advisory boards, wildlife wardens, specifies their powers and duties, etc.
  • The Act prohibited the hunting of endangered species.
  • The Act provides for licenses for the sale, transfer, and possession of some wildlife species.
  • Its provisions paved the way for the formation of the Central Zoo Authority. This is the central body responsible for the oversight of zoos in India.
    • It was established in 1992.
  • The Act created six schedules which gave varying degrees of protection to classes of flora and fauna.
    • Schedule I and Schedule II (Part II) get absolute protection, and offences under these schedules attract the maximum penalties.
    • The schedules also include species that may be hunted.
  • The National Board for Wildlife was constituted as a statutory organization under the provisions of this Act.
    • It is chaired by the Prime Minister.
    • This is an advisory board that offers advice to the central government on issues of wildlife conservation in India.
    • It is also the apex body to review and approve all matters related to wildlife, projects of national parks, sanctuaries, etc.
    • The chief function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.

 

Vijay Diwas: 50 Years of Indo-Pak War

India will celebrate 50 Years of Indo-Pak War, also called Swarnim Vijay Varsh on 16th December 2020.

  • Inaugural event of the celebration will be held at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi which will be attended by the Prime Minister.
    • The National War Memorial is a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation, post-independence it also commemorates the soldiers who participated and made the supreme sacrifice in Peacekeeping Missions, and Counter Insurgency Operations.
  • Vijay Diwas is observed on 16th December every year to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.
  • The Government of India decided on 3rd December 1971, that India would go for war with Pakistan to save Bengali Muslims and Hindus.
  • This war was fought between India and Pakistan for 13 days.
  • On 16th December 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces with 93,000 soldiers had surrendered unconditionally to the allied forces consisting of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini in Dhaka.
    • Mukti Bahini refers to the armed organizations that fought against the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War. It was a guerrilla resistance movement.
  • Bangladesh was born on this day. Hence, Bangladesh celebrates its independence day (Bijoy Dibos) on 16th December every year.
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