Wild Elephants

Human Animal Conflict

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 12, 2007

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A scientific study conducted by an Asiatic elephant expert from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has concluded that RCC walls should be built in certain areas and elephants be relocated to the Nagarahole National Park in some other areas. Elephants in certain other areas in Kodagu should be scared away back to the forests.

Measures such as elephant proof trenches and solar fencing had failed, the Virajpet Deputy Conservator of Forests Mr. Kalappa said. RCC wall constructions were being taken up on an experimental basis in Mysore and Chamrajanagar, he said.

 

Bio-Diversity

First white-backed vulture bred in captivity

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 11, 2007

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Following efforts that lasted for over five years, the first white-backed vulture baby was born at the Haryana-based Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC), run by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Haryana’s Forest department at Pinjore, on January 1. "This is the most precious new year gift from nature to the vulture conservation efforts," Dr Vibhu Prakash, principal scientist and head of Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme in India, said here on Monday.

"In the wild, the incubation period is about 55 days. However, in the VCBC the egg hatched in about 54 days. The eggs were laid in November 2006," Dr Prakash said.

 “We will have to be quick in effectively implementing the ban on the killer drug Diclofenac to assure a better future to this newborn vulture," Dr Asad Rahmani, Director BNHS said.

"The Conservation Breeding Programme is the only hope for recovery of vultures. We aim at releasing 100 pairs of the three critically endangered vulture species to repopulate the wild population. The killer drug Diclofenac has to be wiped off before the release of vultures," Dr Rahmani added.

Long considered nature’s most efficient scavengers, vultures are on the verge of extinction. Nine species of vultures are recorded from the Indian subcontinent, of which the White-backed vulture Gyps bengalensis, Long-billed vulture Gyps indicus and Slender-billed Gyps tenuerostris vultures were by far the most populous species in India. Over the last decade, however, there has been a drastic crash in the population of these vultures in most parts of the country. The rapid vulture population decline was first taken cognisance by the BNHS.

Ornithologists initially felt that there might be a variety of reasons for the decline in vulture population. However, in May 2003, they - after marked research - attributed the decline to a commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory veterinary drug, Diclofenac, which is used as a painkiller for the livestock. If the animal dies during or after treatment of this painkiller, and if vulture feeds on the carcass, Diclofenac enters into the vulture’s body. The vulture gradually dies because of kidney failure. Therefore, unless this killer drug is withdrawn from the system with strict implementation of the ban, there is no hope for vultures to be released in the wild from the conservation breeding centres, point out ornithologists engaged in the project.

The Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme of the Bombay Natural History Society is supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, the Darwin Initiative for the survival of species, UK, the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) of UK, Zoological Survey of London (ZSL), UK, and the State Governments of Haryana, West Bengal and Assam.

Bio-Diversity

Hyderabad Zoo takes up breeding of Mouse Deer

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 11, 2007

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Wildlife officials are all set to start breeding of the endangered species Mouse Deer, also known as `Spotted Indian Chevrotain’, at Nehru Zoological Park, which is fast becoming a major centre for breeding of endangered species using technology.

Sporting a brown colour speckled with white markings, the Chevrotain is a nocturnal animal and is considered to be very timid, which vanishes into dense vegetation at the least hint of danger. Chevrotains basically are very shy creatures and because of this, officials point out that it is difficult to study and observe them in the wild. The diet of Chevrotain is quite varied and includes both plants and sometimes even small animals.

Acting on a proposal sent by zoo officials, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) recently agreed to allow breeding of Chevrotain at the zoo. The zoo officials had cited the success of raising a healthy spotted deer by artificial insemination in collaboration with researchers of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. "Very soon special enclosures would be constructed for the Mouse Deer at the zoological park.

The zoo has  eight Mouse Deer now and they are hoping that the numbers would be just enough to start the project. CZA has agreed to fund this project.  

Any other

RED SAND BOA

Posted by aditya on January 03, 2007

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Plz inform me what is record size of red sand boa!

Environmental Education

environmental education at shool

Posted by Divya Chandran on January 02, 2007

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This is regarding the present scenario of school level environmental education prevailing in our country...The fact that evs is a very easy subject makes it difficult for the better understanding of the environment..But both the school authority and the student should realise the very essence of studying the subject. This is possible only if we try to inculcate the love for nature instead of storing knowledge from a teacher...lets try to find out some innoative ways to impart this education in an inspirational way..

Bio-Diversity

Borneo

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 28, 2006

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A new report by WWF details how scientists have uncovered dozens of species of plants and animals formerly unknown to science in the jungles and coastal waters of the Indonesian island of Borneo. Scientists working under the auspices of WWF’s Heart of Borneo program report discovering 30 unique fish species, two tree frog species, 16 ginger species, three tree species and one large-leafed plant species.

"These discoveries reaffirm Borneo’s position as one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world," says Stuart Chapman, coordinator of WWF’s Borneo program. "The more we look the more we find."

Chapman emphasizes the importance of such findings in light of the acceleration of forest clearing on the remote Indonesian island, which he considers one of the world’s final frontiers for science. Since 1996, deforestation across Indonesia has increased by an average of five million acres a year, with only about half of Borneo’s original forest cover remaining. Chapman hopes that the discoveries made by his team and other scientists will help convince the governments of Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, which jointly administer Borneo, to institute greater checks on deforestation and resource extraction there.

Sources: worldwildlife.org; alertnet.org

Climate change and Global Warmimg

Mangroves, trees

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 28, 2006

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The term "greenbelt" refers to any area of undeveloped natural land that has been set aside near urban or developed land to provide open space, offer light recreational opportunities or contain development. The natural greenbelts along areas of Southeast Asia’s coastlines, including the region’s mangrove forests, served as buffers and helped to prevent even greater loss of life from the December 2004 tsunami.

Greenbelts in and around urban areas have probably not saved any lives, but they are important nonetheless to the ecological health of any given region. The various plants and trees in greenbelts serve as organic sponges for various forms of pollution, and as storehouses of carbon dioxide to help offset global warming.

Greenbelts are also important to help urban dwellers feel more connected to nature. Dr. S.C. Sharma of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India believes that all cities should "earmark certain areas for the development of greenbelts to bring life and color to the cement concrete jungle and a healthy environment to the urbanities."

Greenbelts are also important in efforts to limit sprawl, which is the tendency for cities to spread out and encroach on rural lands and wildlife habitat.

The concept has also caught on in U.S and Canada, with cities adopting mandates for the creation of greenbelts to combat sprawl. Urban greenbelts can also be found in and around larger cities in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The green belt concept has even spread to rural areas, such as in East Africa. Womens’ rights and environmental activist Wangari Maathai launched the Green Belt Movement in Kenya in 1977 as a grassroots tree-planting program to address the challenges of deforestation, soil erosion and lack of water there. To date, her organization has overseen the planting of 40 million trees across Africa. In 2004 Maathai was the first environmentalist to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Why "peace?" "There can be no peace without equitable development and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space," said Maathai in her acceptance speech.

Source:E-the Environmental magazine

Bio-Diversity

Wiping Out Lantana Weeds

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 27, 2006

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Delhi University has developed a technology to wipe out Lantana Camara, a weed which has created havoc invading millions of acres of deserted landscapes. 

 
The technology prescribes cutting the plant from its roots and removing the 'copppising zone', which is normally buried inside the soil and is very crucial for the weeds life.


"The plant has to be cut in a manner so that its coppising zone is removed from inside the soil.  Then the uprooted plant should be put upside down for a few days, so that it will be dead."Prof. C.R Babu, Project Director , The center for Environment Management of degraded Ecosystem(CEMDE), said.


Lantana(exotic plant introduced by the Portugese in 19th century from South America) has the potential to kill the native plants where it grows. The fruits and flowers are not eaten by animals/birds.

Tribal Bill-How it will affect our forests

TRIBAL COMMUNITIES AND TRADITONAL KNOWLEDGE

Posted by Susan on December 23, 2006

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"It is absolutely true that in biodiversity rich areas, the poorest people are living. But can we say that since these people are poor (in the connotation of the modern societies), they have developed the knowledge of harnessing their sustenance from their surroundings and thereby made these areas biodiversity rich? The so called modern civilization is continuously trying to change nature and is in turn destroying the biodiversity (including agricultural biodiversity) for a so called globalized modern living. Now in India most of these biodiversity rich areas are exploited by modern man for other resources like minerals in Central India and timber in North East.

 

From our experience with tribal communities in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura, we found that many villages are changing their livelihoods at a fast rate to catch up with the rest of modern India and in the process are forgetting their traditional knowledge of sustainable use of natural resources. The best example of this is that the social life of the tribal residing near mining areas is now entirely different from that of their relatives residing in the forest areas in far away places. Now within the tribal society, they think that persons working as a labourer for all 365 days is better off since he has more money than a person with food security (of a different kind in a biodiversity rich zone). Slowly these changes are percolating and people are forgetting their traditional knowledge with the advent of more and more infrastructure, mining and other projects.

 

On the other hand, in the mining areas of Birbhum, West Bengal, we found (ironically) that now after 30 years of the start of mining, they are regretting having adopted and accepted changes which made them dependent on the whims of mine owners. Most of these mines are illegal and these tribals are still poverty stricken and are also having diseases. But the damage has already been done.

 

I feel that without addressing livelihood issues, it is a difficult proposition to expect the community to protect traditional knowledge, as other external economic forces are forcing them to do otherwise. A continuous campaign is required to propagate the intrinsic value of these biodiversity rich areas and addressing their needs through a consultative mechanism. Detailed scientific mapping of traditional knowledge is necessary to protect biodiversity in areas where such distortions are taking place."

 

-Sujit Choudhury, PAN Network, Kolkata

 

Wildlife

Barasingha and Hangul

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 23, 2006

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Barasingha in Kanha N.P and Hangul in  Dachigam N. P ( J&K)


The barasingha, the beautiful deer with twelve tined antlers, were once reduced to just 66 animals in Kanha N.P.  Management interventions like construction of a large enclosure,( main threat to brasingha are the tigers) strict control over grass burning and the augmentation of grassland areas achieved a rebound of the population of this deer. 

Today,  the Hangul or red deer in Dachigam is faced with extinction.  The 2005 census placed their numbers between 170 and 250.  Increase in predators like leopards and the omnivorous black bear who feed on young hangul does  not help matters either. Large scale grazing of sheep and encroahment in the upper reaches of the park have led to shrinking of the hangul's home range, making it easy prey for leopards in the lower reaches. The Wildlife Institute of India Are doing satellite tracking to determine the home range.  Deending on the results a decision has to be made to increase the coverage area or to relocate the predator population.


( Source: Kanha Tiger Reserve by Carrol Moulton and Ernie J. Hulsey and

The Indian Express 22 Dec 2006)




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