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Protecting biodiversity top priority of Modi govt: Environment min

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KOLKATA, July 1 (PTI): Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav on Saturday asserted that the protection of biodiversity is the top priority of the Narendra Modi government.

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Yadav, while addressing the 108th Foundation Day celebrations of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) as the chief guest, said that in the last 10 years, 45 wetlands were declared as Ramsar sites, including 11 in 2022 alone.

“Rewilding and biodiversity restoration remain a top priority for our government. Our recent trans-continental reintroduction of cheetah in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh received global acclaim,” Yadav said.

Seven decades after cheetahs became extinct in India, the Centre brought to the country eight members of the species from Namibia and released those in Kuno. In the second such translocation, 12 cheetahs were flown in from South Africa and released in the same national park. However, three cheetahs died later.

“Climate change has busted the myth of human superiority. We are not superior to nature, we are part of it. We must therefore protect it,” he said.

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Yadav said the ZSI has documented fauna of all 10 biogeographic zones.

Union minister of state for environment, consumer affairs food and public distribution, Ashwini Choubey, said the ZSI must shoulder the responsibility of conservation and management of Gangetic Dolphins in Ganga and Brahmaputra river systems.

He suggested that ZSI focus on research and conservation of important wetlands in Gangetic plains.

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