Endemic wildlife refers to species that are unique and exclusively found in specific regions or habitats. These organisms have evolved and adapted over time to thrive in particular ecosystems, making them vital components of the natural world. Endemic wildlife plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance and health of their respective habitats, contributing to the overall biodiversity of our planet. Understanding the importance of these species is key to appreciating the intricate web of life and the significance of preserving their habitats.
In this article, we will explore the fundamental role of endemic wildlife in nature as a whole, highlighting their ecological significance, economic value, and the potential consequences of their loss. By recognizing the value of these species, we can promote conservation efforts and ensure the long-term survival of both endemic wildlife and the ecosystems they inhabit.
What is Endemic Wildlife?
Endemic wildlife are species only found in a particular geographic area. Endemic species can be found in big or small areas of the planet. Some are unique to a single continent, while others are endemic to a portion of a mainland or a single island. There are two typical ways for animals and plants to become endemic. Some grow in a specific location, adapt to the local environment, and continue to live within its boundaries. This endemism is known as autochthonous or native to the area in which it is found.
Allochthonous species are endemic species originating elsewhere but losing most of their original geographic range. Relict is another name for allochthonous that means “something left behind.” An example of autochthonous is the Australian koala, which evolved in its current environment and is found nowhere else. And the California coast redwood is an allochthonous species that once spread over North America and Eurasia but now only persists in isolated areas near the coast of Northern California.
List of Endemic Wildlife
1. Asiatic Lion
It is also known as the Indian lion and may be seen in Gujarat’s Gir forest national park. Gujarat lions are among five large cats in India, along with Bengal tigers and Indian leopards.
2. Sangai Deer
Sangai, also known as brow-antlered deer, is an endangered and endemic species of deer found only in Manipur’s Keibul Lamjao National Park. The park is a marshy wetland near Loktak Lake’s southern reaches.
3. Kashmir Stag
Hangul is another name for it. It is India’s only elk species, found exclusively in the deep riverside woods of Dachigam National Park, Kashmir Valley in Jammu and Kashmir, and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh.
4. Purple Frog
It is located in India’s Western Ghats jungle and spends most of its life underground. These unusual frogs, often pig-nosed frogs, are endemic to the Western Ghats.
5. Pygmy Hog
It is a severely endangered and endemic suid species found only in Assam. The only member of the genus Porcula is the tiniest wild pig or piglets.
6. Nilgiri Blue Robin
It is critically endangered and only found in southern India’s shoal forest. This little passerine bird is exclusively found at an altitude above 1200 m in the Western Ghats’ grasslands.
7. Nadampha Flying Squirrel
It is only found in Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha National Park and is endemic to northeastern India. There is no information on the arboreal and nocturnal squirrel populations.
8. Lion-Tailed Macaque: It is India’s endemic and endangered primate species, one of the rarest and most threatened primates, and is seen only in the Western Ghats of southern India.
Also Read: Importance of Biodiversity Recovery
What Makes A Species Endemic?
Environmental Pressure: some species are indigenous to tropical climates and can only thrive in these conditions.
Geographical Constraints: if the species’ home is an island, a land space surrounded by water, the species cannot spread beyond the limitations defined by water. Not to be confused with native species, which are native to a specific geographic spot but have spread to other parts of the map over time.
Why Is Endemic Wildlife Important For Nature?
Endemic species are essential because their habitats are limited to a specific area owing to climate change, urban growth, or other causes. Endemic species are frequently threatened; hence it is critical to save the species. An endemic species’ habitat is typically isolated, making it difficult for the species to spread to other locations. For example, up to 90% of naturally existing species are endemic in Australia’s Hawaiian Islands and Africa’s southern tip.
A native species has evolved in a particular ecosystem due to natural processes such as natural distribution and development. A koala, for example, is an Australian native. No human intervention brought or impacted the expansion of native species to the area. Indigenous species are also known as native species. The fact that the species is native is defined by its presence in a region free of human interference. When a species is indigenous, it is found in a specific site or area nearby.
On the other hand, an endemic species is a native species that can only be found in a particular location, vast or tiny. Because they are highly suited to a specific niche, endemic species are often limited to a specific area. They may exclusively eat a particular type of plant found nowhere else or a plant perfectly adapted to thrive in a specific climate and soil type. Because of their specialized knowledge and inability to adapt to new environments, some endemic species are particularly vulnerable to extinction when a new disease emerges, the habitat quality is compromised, or an invasive species enters the region and becomes a rival or predator.
Endemic wildlife and Biodiversity
Aside from the obvious fact that these creatures are endangered, current research has revealed that endemic species are more vital to a region’s natural biodiversity than previously thought. A recent study jointly by the University of Tennessee and the University of Tasmania in Australia discovered why these indigenous species are vital to the biosphere. The study looked at endemic eucalyptus in Tasmania. It revealed that not only did these rare species acquire unique features to survive, but those characteristics also directly impacted the survival of other species in that habitat. Eucalyptus evolved thick leaves that can tolerate long periods of drought and preserve energy, but that’s not all they have going for them.
They are also low in nutrients and difficult to digest, making them undesirable to most herbivores, except koalas, whose specialized diet allows them to thrive primarily on this plant. As a result, both of these endemic species interact to a substantial degree inside their ecosystems. If one goes extinct, the other may be influenced or destroyed by the occurrence over time.
Aside from the fact that many endemic animal and plant species are distinct and attractive among other lifeforms, their presence on this planet frequently reminds them of what came before. They are crucial lessons in terms of our historical and environmental blunders. Several species of rare birds will never be seen again on island chains like Hawaii. Similar catastrophes have occurred in many faraway biomes where non-native or invading species have eliminated or severely harmed endemic species.
The Bottom Line
Endemic animals and plants, whose susceptibility is immense due to lower populations, are critical to their ecosystems and serve as a thermometer for evaluating a territory’s health. Because of the enormous variety of living organisms they bring to the ecosystem. Endemic species are critical to the health of our planet. Endemic species are the most fragile and hence face the most significant risk of extinction, which natural causes or human activities can cause. Other hazards, in addition to the effects of climate change, include poaching, altering habitats, and introducing invasive species. Environmental conservation has emerged as a significant advocate for protecting these species.
Read More: Animal Extinction Due To Human Actions