By Kounteya Sinha
India's Gangetic river dolphin and wild elephants figure in the latest 100 top mammals on the verge of extinction. The Zoological Society of London have for the first time scored the world's mammals according to how Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) they are.
The list that includes the world's most extraordinary threatened species - frogs that give birth through their skin and mammals that are immune to cyanide - yet most are unfamiliar and not currently receiving conservation attention includes the two entries from India.
The list has raised a serious alarm for the largest land mammal in Asia - the elephant.
Ranked 17th on the list of 100 most endangered mammals, ZSL says only 35,000-50,000 Asian elephants were thought to remain in the wild in 1995. Since then, several populations have dwindled further, and scientists fear that current populations may have fallen well below this estimate.
The majority of elephants occur in India (20,000-25,000) and Myanmar (5,000-6,000). There are thought to be fewer than 200 elephants surviving in Vietnam.
Habitat loss has been a primary factor in the decline of the Asian elephant.
ZSL said, "The elephants have become increasingly isolated in habitat patches as human settlements cut off ancient migratory routes. There is concern that many of these subpopulations are too small to be viable. Even protected populations are at risk from inbreeding and disease."
Elephants are increasingly coming into contact with farmers and local people as their feeding grounds are destroyed. They raid crops, destroy properties, and sometimes even kill people. More....