IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


22nd June, 2024 Environment


Source: The Hindu

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • Kaziranga National Park, renowned for its biodiversity, recently documented the striped caecilian. This discovery emphasizes the park's ecological diversity and the need for comprehensive conservation efforts beyond the iconic 'Big Five' species.


Key Points

About Caecilians

  • Physical Characteristics:
    • Elongated, segmented, and limbless, resembling earthworms or snakes.
    • Belong to the order Gymnophiona or Apoda ("without legs").
    • Have shiny skin with ring-like folds called annuli, sometimes containing tiny, fish-like scales.
    • Possess short, sensory tentacles between their eyes and nostrils for environmental probing and prey detection.
    • Some species are eyeless, while others have small eyes hidden beneath the skin.
  • Size and Appearance:
    • Smaller species measure less than three inches.
    • The largest species, Caecilia thompsoni from Colombia, can reach almost five feet in length.
    • Typically found in shades of gray, brown, black, orange, or yellow.
    • Feature a hard, thick skull with a pointy snout to facilitate burrowing.
  • Habitat:
    • Inhabit moist tropical and subtropical regions in South and Central America, South and Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Primarily terrestrial, spending most of their lives underground.
    • Prefer environments such as forests, but also inhabit grasslands, savannas, shrublands, and wetlands.
  • Behavior and Ecology:
    • Elusive creatures due to their subterranean lifestyle.
    • Burrow through soil or mud using their specialized skull and snout.
  • Species Diversity:
    • Approximately 200 known species.
    • The name "Caecilian" means "blind," reflecting the reduced or hidden eyes in many species.

Herpetofauna Conservation:

  • Herpetofauna refers to all the reptiles and amphibians living in a particular area. This includes animals like:
    1. Snakes
    2. Lizards
    3. Turtles
    4. Frogs
    5. Salamanders
  • Least studied and most vulnerable to climate change
  • Importance: Pest control, ecological indicators
  • Recent survey: June 14-17, conducted by herpetologists and various institutions
  • Training for forest personnel: Enhancing skills in herpetofauna identification and conservation

Kaziranga National Park:

  • Location:
    • Assam, India
  • Ecosystems:
    • Flood plains, wetlands, grasslands, hill tracts
  • Home to 'Big Five'
    • Rhinoceros, tiger, elephant, wild water buffalo, swamp deer
  • Significant for herpetofauna
    • 24 amphibian species, 74 reptile species, 21 of 29 tortoise and freshwater turtle species in India


The Hindu


Q. Which of the following is NOT considered one of the 'Big Five' species in Kaziranga National Park?

A) Indian Rhinoceros

B) Bengal Tiger

C) Asiatic Lion

D) Swamp Deer

Answer: C)