Love. Not Loss: Eastern Himalayas

Christopher X., David T., Rohith C., Sushma P.

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Extinct Species: Black Softshell Turtle

Scientific Name: Nilssonia nigricans

Habitat: Currently they are extinct in the wild. The last of them live in a man-made pond of the Bayazid Basmati Shrine. They places they once lived are South China and Nepalese Ponds, Brahmaputra River System and the Arakan streams, Kaso Pukhuri pond on Nilachal Hill, Jia Bhoroli River, and Sylhet.

Ecological Roles: The turtle is a piscivore, which is a carnivorous species that mainly eats fish. There are a few natural predators of the turtle aside from humans and they are completely dependent on humans for food: the people od the shrine offer them protection and food due to their religion/culture.

Species Value: This turtle is believed to be the embodiment of the saints of the Bayazid Basmati Shrine. Because of this people of the shrine refuse to let the turtles out of the pone. One of the few remaining species of soft-shelled turtles in the Bangladesh-Himalayan area.

Causes for Extinction: The species continues to be hunted extensively for its meat and cartilage, pollution of the water in its natural habitats have caused the dissolved oxygen levels to become dangerously low, to the point where it contains only a third of the recommended amount.

Consequences of the loss of species: Because this turtle is a cultural and religious figure of the Islamic people in Tibet and Bangladesh, it is almost sacrilegious to remove the turtles from the world. They are supposed to represent the demos that have been turned into turtles by a famous Islamic Saint so it is the duty of the monks in the temples to take care of these turtles and allow them to thrive.

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Critically Endangered Species: Slender-billed Vulture

Scientific Name: Gyps tenuirostris

Habitat: The slender-billed vulture resides in dry open country and forested areas. Ecologists generally find them in partially wooded areas, the wetlands in particular. However, the area must be large as slender-billed vultures nest individually although they do travel in packs. The trees they nest on are generally tall, their nest anywhere from 7 to 25 meters of the ground. To protect itself, the slender- billed vulture usually nests away from populated areas. In the Eastern Himalayas, the area is very rural, allowing the birds to avoid pollution caused by factories.

Ecological Roles: The slender-billed vulture is crucial to the development of the ecosystem. They often regulate species’ ability to survive in an environment by cleaning the ecosystem for other species. This process is done unintentionally as the vulture is merely looking for food, but the manner in which they scavenge leaves the weak species helpless and the strong species undaunted. Strong species are not susceptible because vultures tend to target dying species in order to exert minimal energy.

Species Value: The slender-billed vulture is valuable to an ecosystem because of the distinct role it plays in an ecosystem. It cleans the remains of vulnerable species, making it clean for other species and nearby humans. If they were not present, the ecosystem would become quite unsanitary and many organisms would not be fit for survival. The ecosystem would then be made up of organisms with strong immune systems. These the ecosystem. organisms may be fit for survival, but they would not contribute to the development of the ecosystem.

Causes for Extinction or Endangerment: The slender-billed vulture has become extinct because of contact with diclofenac, a drug given to livestock. When a cow dies, a vulture may come into contact with it and intake the drug, causing severe health concerns for that individual as well as the rest of the populations. The species invades foreign substances often, unknowing of the possible health side effects.

Consequences for loss of species: The main consequence of the loss of the slender-billed vulture species would be the lack of presence to clean the ecosystem. This would have many negative effects because the filth could cause the ecosystem to lose many more species due to disease, the result of an extensive unsanitary state.

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Conservation Species: Snow Leopard

Scientific Name: Panthera uncia or uncia uncia

Species Common: Snow Leopard; Ounce

Habitat: The Snow Leopard are generally found in the alpine and sub-alpine ecological zones, where they are steep terrains for them to roam around. But in places like Mongolia and Tibet, which have flat terrains, the leopard is able to live there as long as there is enough hiding cover in the area. In the Sayan mountains in Russia and a few parts of the Tien Shan region of China, the leopards are found in the open coniferous area but they usually avoid dense forests. The Snow Leopard is in the continent of Asia. A few of the countries it is native to is Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, China, etc.

Ecological Roles: The snow leopards are one of the keystone species because they play a key role in maintaining the biodiversity of the area they live in. They are also an indicator of the health of the ecosystem and they stabilize the species on the lower level of the food chain so they don’t overpopulate the area. Snow leopards are the key to an ecosystem being conserved. They help motivate the public to conserve high-altitude areas. And if the snow leopards habitats are being conserved, then automatically the habitats of other species will be conserved as well.

Species Value: The snow leopard is very important to ecosystems because it is often used as an indicator for how other species are faring. For example, if the species is in decline, then that usually means its food sources are low in supply. If there are many snow leopards, then there are a low amount of low level animals in regards to the food chain.

Causes for Extinction or Endangerment: There are many reasons for the endangerment of the snow leopards, such as habitat fragmentation, retaliatory killings, illegal trade, etc. But the most important cause is climate change, which is a chronic threat to the snow leopards and just from the impact of climate change almost up to 30% of the population will die in the Himalayas.

Consequences for loss of species:

If the snow leopard is lost then then the value it brings to people will be lost. The snow leopard is an icon for animals as it contains intrinsic and external beauty. If it were lost, then it would affect the general public, as most uneducated people would not be familiar with many other species. This would hurt perception on nature and the views on species.

Works Cited

Black Softshell Turtle

Rhodin, Anders G.J.; van Dijk, Peter Paul; Iverson, John B.; Shaffer, H. Bradley;
Roger, Bour (2011-12-31). "Turtles of the world, 2011 update: Annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution and conservation status". Chelonian Research Monographs 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-22.

Lowe, Heather. "Turtle Survival Alliance." Blog. Turtle Survival Alliance, 14 July 2014. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.

Hossain, Shamsul (2012). "Bayejid Bostami Tomb and Mosque". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A.Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh(Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.

Slender-billed Vulture

"The RSPB." The RSPB. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <>.

"Support the Slender-billed Vulture." Gyps Tenuirostris (Slender-billed Vulture). ICUN, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <>.