Prelims cum Mains

Project proposals must include drone survey report, says State wildlife board

In News

  • The Maharashtra government has made drone survey and environment impact assessment reports mandatory for projects seeking the approval of the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL).

Major Decisions by the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) of Maharashtra

  • The 15th state wildlife board meeting was held recently.
  • The SWBL cleared a proposal to declare Sonneratia alba as the State mangrove tree.
  • It approved a recovery programme for the Arabian Sea Humpback Whale.  The proposal is for the Ratnagiri-Sindhdurga belt. The details are yet to be worked out.
  • The board also appointed a study group to take up the issue of tiger conservation in Chandrapur district.
  • The board approved a marine protection area at Angaria plateau which is also in Sindhdurga district.

About Sonneratia abla Mangrove Tree

  • White chippi (Sonneratia alba) or sweet scented apple mangrove is now the official mangrove tree of Maharashtra.
  • It is an evergreen mangrove species.
  • This accords a special symbol of conservation to the mangrove tree.
  • Maharashtra state is the first to declare such a tree.
  • It is known as white chippi in Marathi.
  • Sonneratia alba bears white flowers with a pink base as well as green fruits, that resemble apple and are used to make pickles.
  • Distribution in Maharashtra
    • The species is not native to Maharashtra.
    • It was introduced in Maharashtra and available records show it is native to Andaman islands.
    • It is found along the Maharashtra’s coastline.
  • Significance
    • They often grow on newly-formed mudflats and play an important role in combating land erosion.
  • Distribution
  • Sonneratia alba grows naturally in many tropical and subtropical areas from East Africa to the Indian subcontinent, southern China, the Ryukyu Islands, Indochina, Malaysia, Papuasia, Australia and the Western Pacific region.
  • Its habitat is sheltered sandy seashores and tidal creek.

Arabian Sea Humpback Whale

  • Features
    • Arabian Sea humpback whales are a small sub population of humpback whales which are most genetically distinct humpback whales.
    • They are considered to be the most isolated whale population on Earth.
    • The Arabian Sea Humpback Whale represents a new subspecies diverged from other Indian Ocean populations roughly 70,000 years ago.
    • Arabian Sea humpback whales are the only non-migratory population of humpback whales in the world.
  • IUCN Status
    • Its IUCN status is endangered
  • Habitat
    • The known range includes Yemen, Oman, the UAE, Iran, Pakistan and India, and possibly the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
  • Ecological Significance
    • Whales play an important role in maintaining the health and balance of oceans.
    • They help regulate the flow of food by sustaining a stable food chain and ensuring that certain animal species do not overpopulate the ocean.
    • By producing nutrient rich feces, whales stimulate the production and growth of phytoplankton, which is an essential food source for several marine animals.
    • It also plays a huge role in extracting carbon from the air and trapping it under the ocean (carbon sinking). Estimates state that as much as 400,000 tonnes of carbon are extracted from the air due to these whales each year. 
  • Threats Faced
    • Humpback whales are well-known to be susceptible to entanglement in fishing gear.
    • Humpbacks are also susceptible to habitat destruction because of increasing oil exploration activities.
    • Plastic marine pollution is one of the biggest threats to these animals, they can easily ingest plastics which can clog their digestive system resulting in death in most cases.
    • The Arabian Sea humpback whale population is small, and any human-induced mortality, especially of females, must be a concern.

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