Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) - UPSC Notes

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) is a premier Indian organization conducting Research in the field of Zoology. This topic will help one get a clear understanding of the functions and objectives of the Zoological Survey of India. The below article throws light on the recent developments related to the Zoological Survey of India.

Latest on Zoological Survey of India – 

  1. Meghalaya has yielded India’s first bamboo-dwelling bat with sticky disks, the disk-footed bat (Eudiscopus denticulus) was recorded in the north-eastern State’s Lailad area near the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, about 1,000 km west of its nearest known habitat in Myanmar. Check more about the Species in news on the linked page.
  2. Two new species of Marine Eels have been discovered by Estuarine Biology Regional Centre (EBRC) of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).
    • 10 species of short brown unpatterned moray eels have been discovered in the world, out of which two were found in Indian waters. One of them, a short brown un-patterned Moray Eel, named Gymnothorax andamanensesis, is found near the south Andaman coast.
    • Moray Eels occur in all tropical and subtropical seas, they live in shallow water among reefs and rocks.
    • They are known for two types of jaws: one is regular (oral) jaws with big teeth and the second jaw is called the pharyngeal jaw (which drags prey inside the eels stomach).

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Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) – Introduction

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was launched in 1916 to promote survey, exploration, and research to enhance the knowledge regarding the flora and fauna of the British Indian Empire. It is India’s apex organization on animal taxonomy. 

  1. It originated as a Zoological Section of the Indian Museum in Kolkata.
  2. Initially, the ZSI had eight regional centers across India. Currently, there are 16 regional centers spread across the country.
  3. The headquarters is in Kolkata.
  4. It has been declared as a designated repository for the National Zoological Collection as per Section 39 of the National Biodiversity Act, 2002.

Zoological Survey of India – Objectives

The ZSI has contributed significantly to knowledge and research on the fauna of the country. The primary objectives of the ZSI are:

  1. To promote the survey, exploration, research, and documentation on various aspects of animal taxonomy in the Indian subcontinent. It also seeks the advancement of knowledge on animal taxonomy.
  2. Make a status survey of the threatened and endemic species.
  3. Preparation of Red Data Book, Fauna of India, and Fauna of States.
  4. Bio-ecological studies on important communities/species.
  5. Preparation of database for the recorded species of the country.
  6. Maintenance and Development of National Zoological Collections.

Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) – Functions

The activities of the ZSI are coordinated by the Conservation and Survey Division under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. Its functions are as follows:

  1. ZSI publishes the Red Data Book on Indian Animals. It was first published in 1983 and is similar to the Red Data Book published by IUCN.
  2. Publication of results including Fauna of India, Fauna of States, and Fauna of Conservation Areas.
  3. Training, Capacity Building, and Human Resource Development of the people involved.
  4. Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing studies on recorded animal diversity as well as on threatened species.
  5. It works for the development of Environmental Information System (ENVIS) and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Centers.
    • CITES is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
  6. Conducts collaborative research programs on “Biodiversity” with other organizations in India and abroad.

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Zoological Survey of India – Recent Developments

  1. Zoological Survey of India, recently updated their checklist of amphibian species. The number of species is currently at 447. Among the amphibians listed, 35 species are endangered and 20 species are categorized as critically endangered. Some species of frogs found in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Western Ghats of Kerala were included in the list of critically endangered species.
  2. Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India had recently developed the ‘Pangolin Indexing System’. This new kit could help in tracking the illegal trading of Pangolins. Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked animals. ‘Pangolin Indexing System’ uses DNA markers to identify the unique individuals from the animals’ scales that are frequently seized by security agencies. Pangolins are trafficked to southeast Asian countries and China as the scales and meat of Pangolins are in great demand in these countries. This new kit will help the Forest and Wildlife Department, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to get an estimate of the number of Pangolins killed. As per reports published, from 2009 to 2017, approximately 6000 Pangolins were seized from illegal trade.
  3. Assam Keelback snake was discovered along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border after 129 years. It was first seen in 1891. One of the two original species of Assam Keelback snake was kept in the Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata. The other was kept in the Natural History Museum, London. 
  4. A scientist from the Zoological Survey of India in 2020 discovered a sub-species of a moth. A similar sub-species moth was first discovered in Israel in 2005. It belongs to the Olepa Genus species. The larvae of these moths feed on economically important crops like Banana, Brinjal, Sweet Potato, Sunflower, Cotton, Maize, Castor, Ivy Gourd, etc.

Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) – Indian Polity:- Download PDF Here

Related Links

IAS Salary Biodiversity Hotspots in India
IUCN Red List – Categories, List of Critically Endangered Species Environment and Ecology Notes – For IAS Preparation 
Environmental Impact Assessment – Importance and Objectives Tiger Conservation in India
Forest Rights and Environmental Laws in India Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
Importance of Biodiversity Alien Invasive Species 


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