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Sangai deer vulnerable to extinction

By Sobhapati Samom

IMPHAL, Oct 9 � Keibul Lamjao, the country�s only floating National Park which is also the only habitat of the endangered brow-antlered deer (locally known as �Sangai�) in Manipur, might be most vulnerable to extinction if the temperature continues to rise due to climate change.

�The rise in temperature might increase decomposition rate of the Phumdi materials of the park and it will help in reducing the thickness and subsequent dying of the lake,� Dr NC Talukdar, Director of Institute of Bio-resources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), Imphal, predicted.

�It may subsequently affect the conservation activities,� he warned.

Phumdis are heterogeneous mass of soil, vegetation and organic matters in different grades of decay which plays a significant role in the ecological processes of 286 sq km Loktak Lake. Keibul Lamjao, which floats on the southern part of the lake, was declared a National Park in 1977. The park is home to about 180 Sangai deer as per 2003 census. There are also 11 more Sangai deer at its second home near Eroishemba zoo.

�There are also wetlands in Assam but this kind of phumdis, having a thickness of more than 1.5 metres, are not available due to its warm climatic conditions,� the scientist told this reporter on the sidelines of a recent national workshop on �Impact of climate change on biodiversity management in Northeastern India with particular reference to Manipur�.

The IBSD official stressed the need to do more research on how to slow down the pace of climate change in the region by taking up certain mitigation as well as adaptation measures.

The Ministry of Environment and Forest�s first ever comprehensive report on climate change impact prepared by the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA), a network-based programme, consists of over 120 institutions and over 250 scientists countrywide, said minimum temperatures are likely to rise from 1 degree Celsius to 2.5 degree Celsius and maximum temperatures may rise by 1 degree Celsius to 3.5 degree Celsius in Northeastern States by 2030.

Sharing similar thoughts, besides citing a comprehensive study based on Indian Meteorology Department�s 100 years weather records, Dr Nitasha Sharma of the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore, said that the region will be warmer by 2 degree Celsius by 2021-2050.

�Bishnupur district, where a major portion of the Loktak Lake and Keibul Lamjao are located in Manipur, will be more vulnerable�, she said in her presentation on impact of climate change in NE India.

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