Biodiversity threat in Nicobar Islands

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Jan 5 21:17:21 CST 2005

Dear All,
      I was watching a news report showing severe damage to coral reefs in the area of the earthquake and tsunamis, but I haven't seen anything yet about the wildlife on land.  Although the greatest loss of human life was in northern Sumatra, the threat to biodiversity may be greatest on the Nicobar Islands.  The Andaman Islands also have many endemic species, but the closer Nicobar islands were apparently much harder hit by the tsunami.

     Just a quick check shows at least 3 species of mammals and 3 species of birds that would seem particularly worrisome:  Crocidura nicobarica (endangered), Pteropus faunulus (vulnerable), Tupaia nicobarica (endangered), Hypsipetes nicobariensis (vulnerable), Accipiter butleri (vulnerable), and Megapodius nicobariensis (vulnerable).  Not only danger from increased habitat degradation, but from hungry people looking for food (especially Pteropus faunulus for its meat, and Megapodius nicobariensis for both its meat and eggs).   I haven't looked at other vertebrate taxa yet, or invertebrates, but wondering if there are any endemic plant species in the Nicobar Islands which might be particularly at risk following this disaster.
    --- Ken
P.S.  Although the aboriginal tribes in the Andamans and Nicobars were apparently quicker to realize the danger and sought refuge on higher ground, they might be more vulnerable to outbreaks of disease.  The Sentinelese tribe, who are very aggressive toward outsiders (even shooting arrows at a rescue helicopter), would seem to be particularly vulnerable to disease.  They are probably more terrified of the helicopters than they were of the tsunami.

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