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Lost and found again

India is home to around 12% of species in the world even though it accounts for less than 7% of the globe's geographical area. But only 30% of the species in the Indian wild is known to science because of inaccessibility of rich bio-diverse areas. Chetan Chauhan writes.

india Updated: May 05, 2013 03:09 IST
Chetan Chauhan

India is home to around 12% of species in the world even though it accounts for less than 7% of the globe's geographical area. But only 30% of the species in the Indian wild is known to science because of inaccessibility of rich bio-diverse areas.

Construction of a new road in Mishi Hills in Arunachal led to the re-discovery of a warbler. A guest-house deep inside Western Ghats resulted in finding a group of amphibians after 100 years. "Rediscovery is a misnomer," says Ramki Srinivasan of Conservation India.

He adds that the species existed in the wild but weren't spotted by scientists. It's not that these species went extinct and came back, says Sumit Sen of Kolkata Birds.

Lack of experience among bird watchers/wild-lifers is the reason many species are overlooked. They are rediscovered when a knowledgeable person spots them. The recent expansion of roads inside forests has also helped in finding lost species, he says.

What hurts those who search for new species and accidentally find the lost ones say that the government has failed to incentivise species tracking system in India. "There's money for tigers, elephants, rhinos... nothing for birds, frogs or small insects," says Srinivasan.

Graphic: Last seen in the 1800s and 1900s, here are some species across India that have been spotted again in the last two decades