Eco-tour

Eco tourism in India and Pakistan

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 13, 2007

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Key comments in a survey conducted by Planeta.com

 

How do you characterize ecotourism in the country where you live? Provide examples of best or worst practices

 

PAKISTAN - Ecotourism is a new concept in Pakistan. Some people understand its true concept but most of the people in travel trade are not fully aware about the concept

 

INDIA - Ecotourism is becoming one of the major attractions of Kerala. In this small state, ecotourism activities and programs are mainly in the wilderness areas. Ecotourism programs in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary are the examples of best practices, because of the participation of the local community. Worst practices are the business magnets trying to project themselves as leaders of the ecotourism bandwagon of Kerala. The whole tourism management authority of government is being manipulated by this highly influential group

 

What are the noteworthy achievements in ecotourism in the past five years?

PAKISTAN - In Pakistan people from travel trade have started thinking more seriously the negative impacts of general and tourism and there is better growth of understanding about the concept of ecotourism during the last five years.

INDIA - In India, especially in Kerala, more travellers and entrepreneurs have become aware of ecotourism. Indigenous people are making an alternate livelihood from these programs in the Reserves i mentioned earlier, and in turn, they are working with the state forest department to protect the jungles they live in which is indeed a noteworthy achievement.

Source:  http://www.planeta.com/ecotravel/tour/yearplusfive.html

 

Climate change and Global Warmimg

Flood and drought

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 12, 2007

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.........Three quarters of the 634 million people deemed to be most at risk from rising sea levels connected to global warming live in Asia. Coastal cities in the developed world, such as New York and LosAngeles, may be at risk. But wealthy countries are best placed to adapt to the problem. Certainly the Dutch, who have long experience of keeping the sea at bay, are not panicking. They are simply planning to spend billions more on flood defences.

 Because of its effect on rainfall and glaciers that feed rivers, global warming is also contributing to water shortages. ..

Source: Business Standard , 23 April, 2007

Anthropomorphism

Are chimps more evolved?

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 12, 2007

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A comparison of 14,000 human and chimpanzee genes by researchers at the  University of Michigan, U.S, shows that the forces of natural selection have had the greatest impact on our ape cousins. Humans and chimps followed different evolutionary paths from a common ape ancestor about 5 million years ago. Both underwent changes as the fittest survived to pass their genes on to future generations.

But the U.S study shows that the humans possess a "substantially smaller" number of positively-selected genes than chimps. This may be because the original human population was very small-which would have reduced the effectiveness of natural selection. Instead,"genetic drift" -the random survival of genetic mutations rather than their preservation by the laws of natural selection -was likely to have been more important for humans.

"These observations refute the anthropocentric view that a grand enhancement in Darwinian selection underlies human origins." scientists wrote in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Daily Mail, London

Captive Elephants

Trade underground

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 11, 2007

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Researchers estimate the captive elephant figures in India to be around 5000, while the official figures are 3500. Ambiguity in numbers and a ban on interstate trade has pushed elephant trade underground.

Kerala and Assam have now appealed to Central Govt. to simplify rules of trade. Kerala has also passed rules for captive elephant management. "Project elephant" is on way to mocrochip captive elephants in order to have a database for tracking animals.

All the above and opening up elephant corridors could be the only way to save these pachydems in the wild!

Source: Times of India

Environmental Education

Role of films in education

Posted by Susan Sharma on April 15, 2007

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" .there is very little evidence to show that videos are used in the classroom, especially at primary and upper primary level, though impact can be huge considering the visual memory of children at that early stage. However, videos are used by institutions at higher levels: I had the chance to attend a programme on ’Forced Migration’ organized by Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi and we were shown documentaries and films on displaced people and refugees, followed by a discussion. It was a very good experience since it actually provoked questioning about the problems and issues. The impact is everlasting........
........First and foremost, there is a need to develop documentaries, videos and films on issues like environment protection, health, social learning and so on, where students can be taught through examples from their neighbourhood. It would not only make them aware and sensitize them but would also develop articulation and comprehension skills. Learning can be more fun. "

Geeta Verma
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi


"Schools are not uniform entities. There are schools and schools. Most of the time, local communities have no control over it. There have been several initiatives such as the Village Educational Committees which are supposed to input into and control the school bureaucracy. But the power structures in the village are such that all these committees, especially in areas where the poor and powerless live, have never allowed them to have any control over them.


We run a school called Green School which is a five year school for the poorest – mainly dalits. In this school we have used various kinds of videos, but not the ones produced by children. Because the Project Method, which we normally use in the school, is a very slow process and takes a lot of time. We have developed child-reporters integral to their learning, but they work on photo cameras and tape recorders with which we produce wall-papers on each of the projects.


Bringing in video for this (in spite of the fact that we have abundant video resources within DDS) proves very expensive, slow and needs a lot of attention. Though one might start with a video or two in the beginning, to keep this process going might be very, very difficult for rural communities and rural schools.


At one point of time when our school was collaborating with some Municipal schools in London, our children produced some short videos to explain their families, their agriculture, their festivals and their contexts to English children in a series of ‘video journals’. One video called ‘MY SCHOOL’ was a fascinating one bringing out how children from deprived rural families see their school and their education.


Many years ago, when I was a TV producer working for SITE, I produced very location specific, participatory videos for primary school children in rural areas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. But it was a huge programme backed up by several institutions such as state educational institutions, state governments of AP and Karnataka and the Government of India, as well as ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). Even with that backing, the way schools used the video was a big sham. In AP, hundreds of thousands of video players and TV sets are kept in school cupboards for years: there is no enthusiasm at all to use them.


All these are very complex issues hinging upon the power of teachers in their schools (I am using this in a negative sense because teachers often abhor any extra work and are backed by their powerful unions], the power of the community to take control, as well the interest of the community to engage in these issues.


At the end of it all, all these innovations suit the elite schools and not the community schools in rural areas which need a whole transformation that needs the collaboration of multiple agencies.


In summary, let me say that while in theory video in schools is a very good thing, it is extremely difficult to get into action on that. I am quite pessimistic."


P V Satheesh
Deccan Development Society
Hyderabad

Dr. PV Satheesh was one of the pioneers of the SITE programme. 
SITE (Satellite Instructional Television Experiment), the ISRO-NASA satellite TV project
 
Source:
ICT for Development Community, Education Community" <se-ictd_se-ed@solutionexchange-un.net.in>

Climate change and Global Warmimg

From the equator towards the poles

Posted by Susan Sharma on April 12, 2007

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Scientists say it has become increasingly clear that worldwide precipitation is shiftng away from the equator and toward the poles.

While rich countries are hardly immune from drought and flooding, their wealth will largely insulate them from harm, at least for the next generation or two, many experts say.

Cities in Texas, California and Australia are already building or planning desalination plants, for example. And federal studies have shown that desalination can work far from the sea, purifying water from brackish aqifiers deep in the ground in places like New Mexico.

Source: Times International, 3/4/07

Captive Elephants

Festival elephants in Kerala

Posted by Susan Sharma on April 02, 2007

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March /April is the time for temple festivals in Kerala where hundreds of elephants are displayed as part of the festivities.

Increasing competition among festival committe owners to showcase the majestic elephants and the clashing of festival dates cause the bid for majestic elephants to go up from Rs 25,000 per day to Rs 50,000.

Despite the soaring demand for elephants, private owners refuse to accept that they are making huge profits. The special feeding and medicare sessions prior to festival time cost upto Rs 2 lac.

Is it time we started looking at some of our traditions more critically?

( economic figures source: The Hindu 1st April)

Environment Awareness

Plant pesticides in Kerala

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 26, 2007

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It all began two years ago when hundreds of butterflies perished at Muthalamada in Palakkad district of Kerala. The butterflies’ holocaust was followed by the unusual death of cattle in the area. Then came reports that several children were mentally retarded or crtically ill. The situation was somewhat akin to Swarga in Kasargod where similar cases were recorded after indiscriminate spraying of endosulfan on cashew plantations.

WPSI was the first to raise alarm following the death of butterflies. A health survey of residents within a five-km radius of Muthalamada, found that genetic disorders were prevalent in children born in the past five years and they were susceptible to cancer, kidney trouble and respiratory ailments. All of them were living close to plantations that had been sprayed with endosulfan.

Though endosulfan is banned in Palakkad, it is clandestinely obtained from neighbouring towns in Tamil Nadu. To stop such clandestine sprayings, environmental groups are demanding a complete ban on endosulfan all over India. All the same, there is no conclusive medical evidence that endosulfan is behind the maladies of the residents.

When it comes to environment and health of people, isn’t it time we acted on possible causes of harm rather than wait for conclusive evidence?

(Source: The Week, April 2, 2007)

Wildlife

Migrating butterflies protected in Taiwan

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 26, 2007

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The milkweed butterflies, indigenous to Taiwan, migrate in late March from Southern Taiwan to the north, where they lay eggs and die. The young butterflies then fly south every November to a warm mountain valley near the Southern part of Taiwan. Conservationists say Taiwan has about 2 million milkweed butterflies.

To protect the migrating butterflies, a 600 meter stretch of highway in Southern Taiwan’s Yunlin County will be sealed off in the coming days as the migration peaks. Authorities set up nets to make the butterflies fly higher and avoid passing cars. They will also install ultraviolet lights to guide the insects across a highway overpass.

( Source: The Economic Times, Delhi dated 25 March 2007)

Climate change and Global Warmimg

Clean Energy

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 11, 2007

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Clean energy, ................is 2.3% of the US electricity market.

The 2.3% breaks down the following way:
1.5% from bio-mass
0.44% from wind
0.36% for geothermal
0.01% for solar power.

The other 97.7%?
49.7% coal-fired
19.3% nuclear
19.1% natural gas
6.5% hydro
3% oil-fired

Wow. 97.7% is non-renewable, with 50% carbon spewing coal.

Source:  http://tinyurl.com/32zb2k

 




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