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Zoological Survey of India unravels 778 new fauna species: K Venkataraman


The Times of India, Chennai, 15th November, 2015


The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has identified 778 new species of fauna in the last five years, former director of the organization K Venkataraman said in Chennai. Indian rainforests and deserts are teeming with life and are a treasure house of biological diversity, he told TOI.


What are the main activities of ZSI?


Our scientists have brought to light about 778 fauna species in the last five years, thanks to the annual surveys ZSI conducts in protected areas in forests, wetlands, deserts and coral reefs in the country. As a result, we have identified more than 5,000 fauna species new to scientific world till date.


Tell us about some of the recent discoveries.


In 2014, we discovered 24 species of frogs, 23 species of fish and two species of reptiles, which was a major one. In 2012 an important bird species named as Rallinasp was identified from the Great Nicobar Islands. Our scientists also discovered a few species of rare lizards.


Have you found any new species in the Western Ghats?


The Western Ghats are one of the 34 hotspots of biodiversity in the world. Every year, many surveys are conducted and many new species are reported from there. In 2013, scientists found 248 species new to science from there, including 43 species of vertebrate and 162 species of invertebrates. We also found a wide collection of other species there.


How do researchers confirm that what they record is a new species? What are the protocols they follow?


The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN Code) is a widely accepted convention in zoology that rules the formal scientific naming of organisms treated as animals. The zoological nomenclature is independent of other systems of nomenclature. This implies that animals can have the same generic names as plants.


Compared to other countries, how rich is India's biodiversity?


India is one of the 17 megadiversity countries in the world and has 6.77% of faunal diversity. So far, out of the 10 million estimated in the world, 1.8 million species have been named.


As on today, 96,891 species have been identified in India. Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas are the two important biodiversity hotspots in the country due to which, India tops the rank in the availability of most number of endemics in the region.