Biodiversity loss: Human activities threatening rare species in Sundarbans, expert says

Indian Sundarbans are still witnessing a loss of biodiversity across the settlement zones’ shorelines. (Representational image)

Sundarbans rare species: Biological diversity is important for the functioning of the ecosystem and for humans to sustain. Moreover, local livelihoods of humans also depend on a thriving biologically diverse ecosystem. However, according to expert Krishna Ray, despite the efforts made across the country to motivate people to support the conservation of biodiversity, Indian Sundarbans are still witnessing a loss of biodiversity across the settlement zones’ shorelines. This is unfortunate because several rare species of flora and fauna are important in the maintenance of the integrity and complexity of the ecosystem.

Ray said that the Sundarbans are gradually losing small patches of mangroves due to activities related to either short-term gains or for coastal development. While the loss of small mangrove patches might seem less impactful than a large-scale deforestation, these patches form the habitat of several different flora and fauna species that are rare and threatened.

With these ecosystems being lost continuously, rare species are now left with fragmented and fragile habitats among the mangrove, and their movement and dispersal are now full of obstacles. A major problem is that this loss of biodiversity is also being neglected, and for these species, cutting the existing mangrove and planting a new one will not work, which means that this loss is essentially irreversible.

The mangroves along the coast form the preferred habitat for coastal fisheries, pisciculture, aquaculture, crab farming, and shrimp farming, in line with the behaviour of such species across the world. In Indian Sundarbans, it is very popular to convert the shoreline mangroves into shrimp farms or other types of pisciculture farms, and this has become the main livelihood for people in local areas.

However, such livelihoods have led to the shorelines bring cleared frequently of the native mangrove species.

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