326 pages, colour illustrations, colour maps
The Indian state of Gujarat features distinctive geomorphological features, including the convergence of four mountain ranges, four major river systems, and the longest sea coast in India with two sheltered gulfs. This has given rise to diverse habitats that include various types of forests, grasslands, gulfs, ranns, creeks, marshes, coastal strap, mangroves, wetlands, and arid, semi-arid and saline deserts which offer diversified niches for its rich biodiversity.
Gujarat has many endemic species and subspecies of national importance, of which the Asiatic lion in Gir, the Wild ass in Little Rann and the flamingo breeding grounds in Kuchchh need special mention. Apart from these, the State has a significant population of blackbuck, gazelle, caracal, wolf, sloth bear, houbara, lesser florican and great Indian bustard though they are not restricted to the State. On the other hand, human population growth and increased economic activities over the past several generations have significantly reduced wildlife habitats throughout the State. The environment and ecosystems of the State have already started showing signs of stress in terms of depleting ground water, increasing salinity and depletion of biological diversity including species loss, soil erosion and desertification. The extinction of Hunting Leopard or Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) from the grassland ecosystem of the State is one such example.
During the past few decades illegal trade in wildlife and its products, poaching, land use changes, escalation of human and livestock population and developrnental activities have resulted in total transformation of the wilderness and its wildlife. The end result of this is the formation of highly fragrnented habitats wherein population of wild animals have gone to a very low level. However, due to the non-availability of executively actionable basic data such as presence /absence, relative abundance and population trends of animals on a finer scale, it is very difﬁcult to assess and monitor changes in the status of animals over a period of time.
Recently, two projects were executed by the Zoological Survey of India on two typical desert dwelling mammalian species of Rajasthan, namely, Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) and Desert Cat (Felis silvestris). These projects on status survey of Chinkara and Desert Cat as well as habitat suitability analysis for Chinkara using remote sensing and GIS technologies have made available basic data on above two animals for the State of Rajasthan. However, to complete the next largest leftover part of their habitat, Gujarat State was taken up as study area under the current project. During the execution of this project, besides collecting data and baseline information on these two animals, an additional 32 species of large and medium sized mammals which could be readily distinguished in the ﬁeld were also collected.
Based on this study current distribution, relative abundance and population trend maps of all the 34 rnarnrnalian species are presented in comparatively finer scale than otherwise possible.
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