Only 25 pc of original habitats have survived in East Himalayas

Only 25 per cent of the original habitats in the eastern Himalayas remain intact and hundreds of species in the region face threat to their existence from unbridled developmental activities and climate change, a new study has said.

The latest regional species discovery report--'Hidden Himalayas: Asia's Wonderland', a World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Living Himalayas initiative, while celebrating the discovery of 200 new species between 2009 and 2014, has also expressed concern over depletion of original habitats due to industrial growth, mining and climate change.

"This year's report goes beyond celebrating the discovery of new and unique species. The report underscores the dire threats facing the vibrant ecosystems.

"This includes the sobering statistic that as a consequence of development, only 25 per cent of the original habitats in the region remain intact and hundreds of species that live in the Eastern Himalayas are considered globally threatened," a WWF India statement said.

It said the region is currently facing a wide range of threats and pressures with climate change assessed as the "most serious".

It said population growth, deforestation, overgrazing, poaching, wildlife trade, mining, pollution and hydro-power development have all contributed to the pressures on the fragile ecosystem in the region.

"The challenge is to preserve our threatened ecosystems before these species and others yet unknown are lost," said leader of the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative, Sami Tornikoski.

While lamenting the negative impact of development on the region, the report said a virtual biological treasure trove of 200 species have been discovered 2009 and 2014.

The 211 discoveries include 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, one bird and one mammal.

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