2 Jan 2024

This is how new species are emerging in Rajasthan's Thar Desert; discovery of two new spider species underscores successful conservation efforts

Covering an expansive 200,000 square kilometers, the Thar Desert spans Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana, ranking as the 18th largest desert globally. Despite its arid conditions and limited vegetation, the Thar Desert harbors unique wildlife, including the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), Blackbuck, Chinkara, foxes, Bengal foxes, wolves, and various lizard species.

Recent developments in the Thar region reveal the emergence of new species, underscoring successful conservation efforts influenced by the Biparjoy Cyclone's impact and controlled plantation practices that uphold the delicate desert ecosystem.

Migrant butterflies have been observed in the area, and the latest discoveries include two previously unknown spider species. Named Palpimanus Godawan and Palpimanus Maldhok in honour to the critically endangered bird the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), these spiders differ from the three commonly found species in the country.

Renowned spider expert Rishikesh Tirpathi made these discoveries near human habitation outside the Desert National Park (DNP), assisted by Indian Forest officers Dr. Ashish Vyas and Mr. Tripathi. They stress the importance of conserving the desert ecosystem, both within and beyond the park boundaries.

Thar Desert remains largely unexplored

Despite its vast expanse, the Thar Desert remains largely unexplored. Tripathi notes, "They are around 1mm-2mm in size but fully mature. Initially, we were unaware they were a new species. Our laboratory in Kerala conducted extensive research, confirming our discovery."

The findings, published in the European Journal of Taxonomy in September, attribute the existence of these new spider species to the habitat protection measures implemented for the Great Indian Bustard.

Tripathi underscores the significance of these discoveries in conservation, stating, "Each species, regardless of size, plays a crucial role in the entire ecological system. Interconnected through the food chain, spiders contribute to pest and insect control by feeding on mosquitoes, flies, and ants."

The Imperative to Preserve the Desert

Dr. Vyas underscores the vital role of preserving the desert ecosystem, emphasizing that these discoveries represent a triumph for conservation efforts. He highlights the desert's influence on monsoon patterns, explaining that the desert's heating creates low pressure, attracting rainfall. Drastically transforming the desert into a green landscape would jeopardize both flora and fauna, disrupting the climate.

Dr. Vyas outlines their conservation approach within the DNP, restricting tree planting except in designated grasslands for the Great Indian Bustard and certain other species. The focus is on preventing interventions that could disturb the delicate ecosystem, with plantation efforts concentrated around the Indira Gandhi Canal to stabilize sand dunes and prevent sand from entering the canal.

No comments:

Post a Comment