By : Smt. Kalapana Palkiwala :The Zoological Survey of India was established in 1916, primarily to promote survey, exploration and research leading to the advancement in our knowledge of the various aspects of the exceptionally rich animal life and to collect and document the base line data with regard to taxonomy, distribution, bio-ecology, etc., of all available animal groups. It has maintained its objective unchanged from its inception.In order to understand the occurrence, abundance and distribution of species in space and time, its relationship with biotic and abiotic conditions of the environment and its mode of life, extensive and intensive field studies are essential prerequisite. Today, the Zoological Survey of India is the only organization in the country having a massive set up for survey and exploration of the faunal diversity in all parts of the country as well as different eco-zones.
Initially, the Survey acquired the zoological collections of more than a century old from the former museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Zoological Section of the Indian Museum in Calcutta. With the increasing interest in life sciences and with the advent of the country’s Five-Year Plans, the expansion programme of the Survey was initiated. The Survey has so far established sixteen Regional and Field Stations, and has developed into a major National Institution. It functions as the guardian of the National Zoological Collections, containing over a million identified specimens from all animal groups- Protozoa to Mammals. Extensive and intensive field explorations are undertaken by the Survey in different parts of the country for the studies of faunistics, systematic zoology, animal ecology, wild-life, zoogeography, animal behaviour, animal population and also marine fauna. Recently efforts have been made towards an integrated approach to zoological investigations, so as to have a more purpose-oriented research comprising biological, bioethological, cytotaxonomic and ecological aspects. Despite the inclusion of other areas of research in the Institution’s programme, taxonomy continues to occupy a prominent role.
During the last 92 years and largely particularly from the Second Five Year Plan period the Zoological Survey of India has grown from a small unit at the Indian Museum, Calcutta, to a premier National Institution with 16 Regional and Field Stations spread all over India with Headquarters at Calcutta. Initially Zoological Survey of India set up nine Regional and Field Stations, namely, Northern Regional Station at Dehra Dun; Southern Regional Station at Chennai; Eastern Regional Station at Shillong; Western Regional Station at Pune; Central Regional Station at Jabalpur; Desert Regional Station at Jodhpur; Gangetic Plains Regional Station at Patna; Marine Biological Station at Chennai and High Altitude Zoology Field Station at Solan to survey and study the fauna of different biogeographical zones of India. Subsequently during 1979-83 six more stations were established to conduct faunistic surveys in some important ecosystems: namely, Freshwater Biological Station at Hyderabad for freshwater fauna and limnological studies; Estuarine Biological Station at Berhampur (Gopalpur, Orissa) and Sunderbans Field Research Station at Port Canning, for estuarine and mangrove fauna studies; Western Ghats Field Research Station at Kozhikode and Arunachal Pradesh Field Station at Itanagar for the fauna of tropical rain forests; and the Andaman & Nicobar Regional Station at Port Blair for insular and marine fauna. During the Seventh Five Year Plan periods the Marine Aquarium-cum-Research Centre at Digha (West Bengal) was set up mainly to cater to the needs of public education and awareness on marine fauna through a large aquarium and other ancillary research facilities.
Over the successive plan periods the functions of Zoological Survey of India have also expanded gradually encompassing areas like the Environmental Impact Assessment with regard to fauna; survey of Conservation Areas; Status Survey of Endangered Species; Computerization of data on faunal resources; Environmental Information System (ENVIS) on faunal diversity, etc. This Organization also has a regular Training and Extension service for creating public awareness for the conservation of environment and wildlife through exhibitions, training programmes and interaction with different Government and NGO organizations, as well as universities, colleges and schools.
Zoological Survey of India, an offshoot of the Indian Museum Zoology Section, primarily promoted survey, explorations and research leading to the advancement of knowledge on various aspects of the exceptionally rich animal life of the country. Since last 92 years, the scientists of the department are undertaking surveys, and inventorisation, describing authenticated taxonomic work on different groups of animal under Fauna of India, Fauna of States and Fauna of Ecosystems containing description of known and new discoveries of animals of the country and abroad. The scientists of the department so far, described 4415 species and subspecies new to the science. During the year 2007, 67 new species to the science and 18 new records to the country’s list of species are added. Besides, Zoological Survey of India also acts as a custodian of the National Zoological Collections which comprise more than four million specimens belonging to some 91,000 species including about 10,000 species of other neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Zoological Survey of India maintains the Zoological gallery of the Indian Museum, Kolkata and has regional museums in the Regional offices.
First Priority Areas
The objectives and implementation strategies have been redefined after recent expansion in the light of the convention on biological diversity. Some areas which require immediate attention have been defined as First Priority Areas. Faunistically rich habitats and fragile ecosystems vulnerable to changes fall in this category. They are: Himalayan Ecosystem; Desert Ecosystem of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Ladakh; Marine Island Ecosystem of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Laksdweep Islands; and Tropical Rain Forests (Western Ghats and North-Eastern region).
Second Priority Areas
The category of Second Priority Areas which are vulnerable and have noticeable gaps in existing information/knowledge are : Estuarine and Brackishwater Ecosystems in West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh; Freshwater Ecosystems in Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, Punjab, Manipur and Andhra Pradesh; and Special Conservation Areas like Biosphere Reserve, Wetlands and Mangroves.
1. Exploration, Survey, Inventorisation, Monitoring of faunal diversity in various states, some selected ecosystems and protected areas of India.
2. Taxonomic studies of all faunal components collected.
3. Status survey of Threatened and Endangered species
4. Preparation of Red Data Book, Fauna of India and Fauna of States.
5. Bio-ecological studies on some important communities/species.
6. Preparation of database for the recorded species of the country.
7. Maintenance & Development of National Zoological Collections.
8. Training, Capacity Building and Human Resource Development.
9. Faunal Identification, Advisory services and Library Services.
10. Publication of results including Fauna of India and Fauna of States.
1. GIS and Remote Sensing studies for recorded animal diversity as well as for selected threatened species.
2. Chromosomal Mapping and DNA finger printing.
3. Environmental Impact Studies.
4. Maintenance of Musea at Headquarters and Regional Stations
5. Development of ENVIS and CITES Centers.
*Deputy Director(M & C), PIB, New Delhi