Scientists discover 133 new species of fauna in India

Richa Sharma   |  New Delhi


Scientists have discovered 133 new species of fauna in India and among the most significant is a bird - yet to be named - found in the Great Nicobar Island.

Scientists have also discovered new species of spiders, reptiles, insects and fish in various parts of the country that have been compiled by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in 'Animal Discoveries 2012'.

Releasing the book recently, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarjan said India has only about two percent of the world's land surface, but is known to have over 7.52 percent of the total animal species in the world.

"I am indeed happy to know that 133 species which are new to science were discovered by scientists from ZSI and other universities and colleges across the country. This shows the extent of biodiversity our country holds within it," Natarajan said.

"I am sure that by exploring the various remote and isolated places within the 10 major biogeographic zones of our country, we can discover many more species," she added.

It is estimated that about twice the present number of species still remain to be discovered in India alone. India accounts for over 92,000 animal species. Apart from these, scientists have also found 109 species of animals recorded for the first time in India.

Elaborating on the important discoveries, ZSI director K. Venkataraman said: "A significant one would be that of a yet to be named bird in the Great Nicobar Island."

"Though our researchers have taken a picture of this elusive bird during one of their surveys in the island, efforts are on to gather more information on this bird, including netting one for proper description," Venkataraman told IANS.

Scientists have also reported 42 species of hard and soft corals from the Andaman and Nicobar chain of islands.

"We have a strong affinity towards marine organisms, especially corals. Due to climate change and the recent tsunami, many coral dominant regions in both the Andamans and the Gulf of Mannar have been affected," he said.

"Considerably higher number (42) of corals reported from India for the first time in just one year shows how important the whole region is in terms of marine biodiversity," Venkataraman said.

The ZSI collaborates with various universities and colleges in India to document new species.

Experts feel that this is an important step for maintaining a databank of species.

"The present state of knowledge does not go beyond a total of 1.7 million species of plants, animals and microbes on earth. But in reality, this figure is merely a part of the total in existence," Environment Ministry secretary V. Rajagopalan said.

"As such, there is an urgent need for better data on many hyper-diverse groups like insects, fungi and bacteria," he added. - IANS