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Union Minister and Minister of State of Environment, Forest & Climate Change to grace the 107th ZSI Day at Prani Vigyan Bhawan, Kolkata

Kolkata, June 2022: Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) is set to celebrate its 107th ZSI Day on the 1st July 2022. A ceremonial function is scheduled to be held on that day in the gracious presence of Shri Bhupender Yadav, Hon’ble Union Minister Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, and Ms. Leena Nandan, IAS, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change. The ANIMAL DISCOVERIES & PLANT DISCOVERIES – 2021 will be released on this occasion. Hon’ble minister will also honour the Prestigious E. K. Janaki Ammal Awardees, the highest National Award on Taxonomy in the field of Plant, Animal and Microbial Taxonomy. Apart from that, he will also be releasing ZSI publications viz. Faunal Diversity of Biogeographic Zones of India: Deccan Peninsula; Faunal Diversity of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh; Faunal Diversity of Satkosia-Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuaries, Satkosia Tiger Reserve, Odisha and Birds of India and the BSI publications viz. The Wild Orchids of Goa; Flora of India: Vol. 9 and Algal Flora of Jharkhand which are outcome of the field research conducted by both the organisations over the past five years.

ZSI was established on 1916 to promote survey, exploration, research and documentation leading to the advancement in knowledge on various aspects of animal taxonomy of the Indian subcontinent. Dr. Dhriti Banerjee, Director, ZSI said that during the Covid pandemic faunal explorations have been greatly hampered. Nevertheless, the National Zoological Collection of almost six and half million specimens were both an inspiration and impetus, driving ZSI scientists to drill into the old and dig out the new. Exploration has been renewed in full vigour from 2021 onwards. This year, the institute under the leadership of Dr. Dhriti Banerjee, Director, ZSI, is celebrating the 107th year of its foundation and the theme of this ZSI day is “JEEVAN DHARA जीवन धारा – Flow of Life”.

“For development of academic encouragement and development of cooperation and exchange in areas of mutual academic interest ZSI has signed MoUs internationally with Natural History Museum, London, Natural History Museum of Paris, Altai State University, Barnaul, Russia and International Barcode of Life Consortium. Similarly, at national level, the institute has already signed MoU with 25 Central and State Universities across the country. On the 107th foundation day MoUs are going to be signed between ZSI and University of Burdwan and West Bengal State University,” Dr Dhriti Banerjee, Director ZSI further added.

The data of last decade (2012-2022) reveal that a total of 4,094 species (2,971 new species; 1,123 new records) have been added to the Indian fauna. It is also important to state that scientists of ZSI have contributed nearly 68% of the new discoveries of animals, informed by Dr. Banerjee.

Apart from this, ZSI has made formulations to kill mosquito vectors in aquatic stages and a process for preparing the same. This invention developed several botanical essential oils formulations for eco-friendly control of mosquitoes and can be used with old conventional insecticide applicators and by hand held applications. Automated surveillance system for mosquitoes and other insects, among them are the recent innovations by ZSI, accordingly her.

She also informed that scientists of ZSI have participated in international collaborative programmes viz. Antarctica expedition, Artic expedition and Gondwanaland expedition as well as international exposures through study visits to Natural History Museum, London; Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris; Natural history museums in Australia and Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Singapore. Scientists of ZSI have been providing inputs in international forums on CBD, IUCN, CITES, CMS and BoBP.

According to Dr. Banerjee, Zoological Survey of India is intending to carry out long term monitoring and massive tagging of Olive ridley turtles along Odisha coast and Leatherback turtles along the Andaman & Nicobar Island coast. Similarly, radio collaring of Brown Bear in Himalayan landscape, Radio-telemetry study on the little known and Endangered Elongated tortoise Indotestuda elongata (Blyth, 1854) has been proposed. Also, monitoring plots for coral reef ecosystems including its restoration in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Gulf of Kachchh and Gulf of Mannar as well as Malvan is envisaged. On the north-eastern part of India, ZSI is intended to carryout faunal diversity study in the Living Root Bridges, the first of its kind towards documenting faunal resources of the proposed UNESCO world heritage sites in Meghalaya. ZSI proposed to venture into trans-boundary faunal diversity exploration in the India-Pakistan, India-Bangladesh, India-Myanmar, and India-China border in collaboration with Armed Force and Paramilitary agencies of Government of India. Faunal expeditions to Silent Valley, Abor Hill, Nanda Devi, Satpura and Western Ghats are proposed activities by ZSI. It is also proposing to venture into the Deep Sea Mission of Ministry of Earth Sciences and Taxonomic Application as part of Access and Benefit Sharing by breakthrough research in association with CSIR, ICAR, Department of Science & Technology, Department of Biotechnology and identifying potential pollinators and agricultural pests. As a long-term scientific collaboration, ZSI propose exchange programmes for BRICS countries as well as partnership between SAARC nations and also through BOBP. On molecular level advancement, the whole genome sequencing, DNA barcoding of museum specimens, gut microbiome and comparative mitogenomics of Insect Pest and vector species, study on long Term Monitoring of impact of Anthropogenic activities on biodiversity, health of Ramsar Sites and riverine ecosystems through biochemical interface using NGS have been envisaged by ZSI.

Altogether more than 1700 publications belonging to 16 different series have been produced by ZSI so far. The largest library on the science of Zoology and related subjects is housed in the Headquarters of ZSI having over 1,00,000 volumes of books, bound and unbound journals including 400 rare collections since 1547. Scientists from different parts of India and abroad regularly visit ZSI Headquarters to study the zoological collections. Digitization of the National Zoological Collections has been undertaken on a priority basis, including digital imaging of the specimens.