Climate change: A case study on wildlife environment in Manipur

Rahul Ashem *

A frog  that is found in Koubru hills ( 2005)
A frog that is found in Koubru hills ( 2005) :: Pix - Thokchom Thoiba

"Change in ecosystem can change the entire ecosystem services. Different species are affected in different ways; sometimes it alters the distribution, increases vulnerability or minimizes the resilience. It is the right time to develop conservation action plans to give all species, the possible chances of survival "

In the present era, climate change is represented Dy disturbing the ecosystem services which in turn affect the basic necessities of life like food, health, social, economic, and cultural relations. The introduction of new technology in land use system and forest modification contributes as main source of the emission of carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere.

Degradation of forest and felling of trees is disturbing the balance of natural phenomenon leading to the oxygen decline in the atmosphere. The result of climate change can alter the configuration of forest ecosystem and services and affect many species of animals and plants in the near future. Therefore, it is the right time for human beings to understand the value of forests in our basic lives. Forests play an important role in gathering and releasing the water source on earth and maintaining the faunal and floral diversity. They are the natural green blanket to keep everything in balance.

It fulfills the demands of mankind by providing shadow, shelter, refreshment including clean air and water. Scientists define the term forests as complex living community of trees species which provides home and shelter to big range of animals including variety of vertebrates and invertebrates and the soil beneath it inhabits fungi, lichen and bacteria which plays a significant role in balancing the nutrients cycle of the biosphere.

Manipur occupies 16,994 sq kms of forests, out of the total 701,673 sq kms forest cover in the country. Most of the state forests are located in the hills while the valley occupies a small share of forest cover. Because of the existence of various types of forests, the state is home to different varieties of faunal and floral diversity located in different parts of the state.

The endangered state animal, Rucercus eldi eldi , is distributed in Keibul Lamjao National Park (Bishnupur). Lilium Macklineae Sealy, the State flower is endemic to Shiroi hills (Ukhrul). It is also famous for the threatened bird species, Syrmancus Humiae Humiae, the state bird of Manipur. The state is a so home to many endangered species like Hoolock gibbon, Serow, Slow loris, Golden cat, Leopard cat, Malayan sun bear, spotted linsang and different species of hombill.

Considering the ecological importance, the State categorizes different Wildlife Sanctuary like Yanngoupokpi lokchao, Burning, Zailad, Jiri Makru and Kailam located in different districts to conserve the faunal diversity. In order to protect the wildlife diversity in the changing climate scenario, the conservation of forests is a major tool in increasing the carbon sequestration and reducing the carbon dioxide level from the atmosphere.

The sudden change in climate alters the habit and habitats of terrestrial animals and its co relative's species. The changes include ranges, abundances, phenology (timing of an event), morphology, physiology, community composition, biotic interactions, and behavior activities. Animals like reptiles and amphibians are ectothermic in nature; they migrate to human habitat areas, manmade parks or even in higher regions to avoid the cold in winter or during the summer times. Such fluctuation in temperature changes the behavioral pattern of amphibian larvae, leading to loss of population density in suitable habitats. It also changes the outcome of predator-prey interactions.

The recent rescue of Varanus bengalensis (Bengal monitor lizard) from Nachou village is one example of challenging climate change outcome. This is not the case of climate change alone. Pressures such as deforestation, habitat destruction and exploitation, of surrounding environment are responsible for such outcomes. Likewise, the early leaving of Turdus feae (Shiri) from Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati is another example of changing climate scenario in the state.

This is due to the factors like unavailability of insects after the arrival of bird species, massive hunting or felling of foraging Michelia manipurensis (Leihao) in the hilly regions. The changes in seasonal timing and altered patterns of precipitation are other reasons that threaten the survival of migratory birds like Shiri.

Substantial changes in the strength and direction of prevailing winds during migration could have a major impact too, particularly on birds of prey. Shiri flies hundreds of kilometres to find the best ecological conditions and habitats for feeding, breeding and raising their young ones. They migrate from one region to another when the conditions of their breeding sites become unfavourable. Sometimes, the changes in climate also mismatch the breeding season of local bird and nectar feeding species. The population decline of insects has the worse effect on bird population.

It changes the composition, structure and functions of entire ecosystems and alters habitats for wildlife kid plants. The same process goes for Falqo amurensis (Amur falccn) species during the migration season in Tamenglong district.

The State has witnessed at different times of the year droughts, floods, diseases and invasive species along with the changing climate. The chorusing behavior of frogs during breeding activities in the last decade indicates abnormality in the ecosystem. This is also attributed to the changing pattern of rainfall and erratic temperature. As a result, there is a slight change on fairly small and isolated habitats of frog population (Koubru hills).

Scientific studies show that small amphibians and mammals change statistically in both abundances and physical sizes with the variations of climate change. The increase in temperature results in warmer summers and longer dry spells are of high concern of susceptibility to disease in primates' family. Diseases can be passed on from human to animals or from animals to humans, posing a great threat to the primates, mostly in cluster distribution like Mongba hanba and others.

Similarly, Rucervus eldi eldi and Axis porcinus found in the Keibul Lamjao National Park can also act as carrier of disease that affects livestock, cattle and other animals in the climate change circumstances. The disease will not wipe out the deer populations, but initially it will introduce more variability to their abundance, breeding population and mortality rate in fawns or juvenile stage. They also contribute to erosion and degrade the water quality in the fresh water Loktak pat and small rivers like Khordak.

Therefore, it is the need of hour to give public attention on the importance of forests. It protects fee biosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide, a major source of greenhouse gases that causes climate change. The change in climate not only alters the tree growth but also various impacts on wildlife and their co relative species. The present millennium shows sign of changes in different form of biological diversity in comparison to the last decade.

The climate change will force each and every individual species to adjust in this era. Along with climate change, the presence of Panthera tigris tigris is an indicator of the well being of forest ecosystem.

The top predator, tiger acts as a control mechanism for both the small carnivore and herbivores species within an ecosystem. It is the right time to check animal behavioural which can be used as a role model to track the mechanism and velocity of climate change in the state.

* Rahul Ashem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on May 07, 2017.

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