News: According to the Gujarat forest department, the Asiatic Lion population in Gir national park has increased by 29% in the past five years — from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020.
- Characteristics: Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions.The most striking morphological character is a longitudinal fold of skin running along the belly of Asiatic Lions.
- Habitat: At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion.
- IUCN Status: Endangered
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule-I
- Threats: a) Poaching and Habitat Fragmentation b) vulnerability to diseases c) death from linear infrastructure such as road, rail and electric fences and d) man-animal conflict.
- Initiatives: Asiatic lion conservation project was launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to protect and conserve the Asiatic Lion.It is a 3 year-long conservation project.It focuses on disease management, habitat improvement, creating a wildlife crime cell among others.
- Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary: The Gir National park was established in 1965.It is situated in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.It is part of the Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests Ecoregion.
News: Kathy Sullivan, known as the first American woman to walk in space has also become the first woman to reach a Challenger Deep.
- Challenger Deep: It is the deepest known point in the Earth’s oceans with a depth of around 10,984m.It is located in the Western Pacific Ocean at the southern end of the Mariana Trench near the Mariana Islands group.
- Significance of Deep Ocean Areas:
- Finding out about the deep ocean areas can potentially reveal new sources for medical drugs, food, energy resources and other products.
- It can also help to predict earthquakes and tsunamis and help us understand how we are affecting and getting affected by the Earth’s environment.
Facts: Operation Desert Chase was the name of the Anti-espionage operation started by Military Intelligence(MI) in early 2019.It successfully culminated in 2020 with the arrest of two civil defence employees that they had been passing on sensitive information to Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.
News: Andhra Pradesh Government is planning to build Neradi bridge across the Vamsadhara river which will be possible only after Odisha’s consent.
- Vamsadhara river Dispute: It is between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
- Vamsadhara river or Bansadhara river: It is an east flowing river which originates in Odisha and joins the Bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh.It lies between Rushikulya and Godavari.
- Vansadhara Water Dispute Tribunal (VWDT): It was set up in 2010 to look into the dispute between the two states.
News: Manipur has urged the Central Government to consider the decommissioning of the Ithai barrage.
- Ithai barrage:It was constructed in 1983 at the confluence of Imphal River and Tuitha River, south of Loktak Lake as part of Loktak Hydroelectric project.
- Purpose: To act as an artificial reservoir to maintain sufficient water volume in loktak lake for the continuous generation of hydropower.
- Concerns: Over time, it has affected the hydrology of the lake and harmed the ecology and economy of the region.
- Loktak Lake:It is the largest freshwater lake in Manipur.It is famous for its phumdis floating over it which are formed naturally.Keibul Lamjao National Park which is the only floating National Park in the world is located on the Loktak Lake.
News: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released the Annual Report 2019-20.
- Diversion of forest land:The diversion of forest land for other purposes continued throughout India as total 11,467 hectares of forest lands were diverted in 22 states.
- More than a third of the diversion was in Odisha followed by Telangana and Jharkhand.The largest area of forest land was diverted for irrigation and mining projects.
- Forest Villages:There was no conversion of forest villages to revenue villages in 2019 as stipulated under the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
- Forest villages were villages set up by the British Indian government to settle workers inside forests and procure resources like timber more efficiently.There are around 2,500 forest villages across the country.
- Biosphere Reserves: Out of 18 Biosphere Reserves designated nationally, so far 11 have been included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO.
- Tigers in India: India has achieved the target set by the St Petersburg declaration on tiger conservation (to double the number of wild tigers). As per the 4th cycle results, tiger estimate is 2967 vis-a-vis the estimate of 1411 In 2006.