Environment Awareness

Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 30, 2007

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The number of sick birds, both wild and domesticated, continues to mount at the Sukhna lake in Chandigarh,   with the UT wildlife department rescuing a large egret and a domesticated goose on Monday. While the egret showed signs of weak legs and was unable to fly, the goose was on the verge of collapse displaying sign of shivering and a drooping neck.


With Monday’s rescue operation, the number of sick domesticated geese which live near the Lake Club has gone up to four. Twelve migratory wild birds have died since January 13 out of which the UT Wildlife department has managed to recover only nine, with two Spotbill ducks and a likely wood sandpiper going missing within hours of their discovery in the Sukhna marshes on January 13.


Along with the rescue operations, a team of expert bird trappers of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) netted a Greylag goose, a Coot and a Northern Shovellor for blood sampling. The samples from a Ruddy Shelduck (Brahminny duck) trapped on Monday by Ali Hussain have been sent to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratary at Jalandhar.


BNHS veterinarian Dr Debojit Das, who examined the sick geese, said, "The birds were displaying symptoms of a nervine disorder that is common to avian diseases like botulisim and cholera. This means the birds’ functioning is affected by a nervous disorder that reveals itself in symptoms like it going in circles or trying to look skywards.

Water pollution in Sukhna could be a possible cause. Dead storage level and pollution level in the Lake has been rising.

UT Wildlife Department might have acted fast in the matter concerning the death of migratory birds, but it is yet to explore the role of Sukhna’s water in the rising mortality of birds. Water quality of the Lake, experts in water conservation area say, might have solutions to the mystery behind the death and sickness among the flocking birds. Very often, fall in the levels of dissolved oxygen in water has been found to cause bird mortality.

In case of Sukhna, therefore, testing of water samples is an absolute necessity. Over the past, pollution levels in the Lake have raised rapidly on account of several reasons, main being the rise in dead storage level of the Lake. Dead storage level is the level below which water cannot be drained out of the Lake. Water present below this level is always highly polluted because it gets saturated with toxic elements and gets devoid of dissolved oxygen present in water.

The same might be true in case of Sukhna Lake where dead storage level currently stands at elevation -- EL 1151 feet. There was a time when the level was 1148 feet, but the same has risen over the past due to increase in water level of the Lake by three feet. Naturally, more and more water under the dead storage level would have become concentrated, making it unhealthy for aquatic life.

Another reason why Sukhna’s water has become highly polluted is that the Lake’s spill away gates were last opened in the monsoon season of 2005. That is more than one and a half years earlier. During 2006, there was no escape of water from the Lake at all. This has led to increased level of toxicity in the water and this toxicity, in turn, could cause sickness and death among birds, unless detected otherwise.

Admitting to the possibility of water pollution behind the death of birds, Mr G.S. Dhillon, water resources expert, said a similar problem had once arisen in Harike Lake. "In certain pockets of the Lake, migratory birds were found dying without apparent symptoms. We sampled the waters from those pockets and sent them to Irrigation and Power Research Institute at Amritsar for testing. We found that water was so toxic and so deprived of oxygen that no aquatic or any other form of life could exist. For years, decaying organic matter had caused the absence of dissolved oxygen in water, leading to death of birds. Finally, water had to be pumped out of the Lake and fresh water introduced."

The same institute can be asked to conduct water sample testing of Sukhna.
 
SOURCE : The Tribune, Monday, January 29, 2007  and Times of India, Tuesday, January 30, 2007 

Eco-tour

UFW to Bedaguli – Trip Report

Posted by Akshathkumar Shetty on January 30, 2007

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UFW to Bedaguli – Trip Report
 
HTML Version      PDF Version

Eco-tour

Taxi drivers as eco-tour guides at GOA

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 29, 2007

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Mollem National Park: The core zone of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary ( GOA) comprising an area of 107 sq. km. was notified as a National Park during 1978.

The forest range officer at Mollem, Amar Heblekar,decided to turn  a motley band of high-school dropout tour operators into wildlife experts and here is his success story.

With permission and funds from the Goa Forest Department, Heblekar arranged a workshop. He was aware youngsters of the area had already been identified as troublemakers. The Doodhsagar Tour Operators Union (DTOU), as the guides called themselves, monopolised the business, charged unreasonable rates and were also accused of threatening tourists.

Heblekar went around meeting the senior members of the DTOU, and passed out invitations for the nature interpretation workshop.
 
 
Earlier, the Goa Forest Department, on Heblekar’s suggestion, had registered the operators as official tour guides for an annual fee of Rs 5,000 to ensure their activities would remain under its watchful eyes. "Most of the participants came to us unsure about what they would get from the day-long workshop," says Heblekar.

Heblekar was convinced the guides were ideal for spreading awareness about wildlife conservation. "They work in the field and if they knew about the rich flora and fauna of Mollem, they would be able to help tourists appreciate the environment a lot better. In the process, they would automatically become wildlife enthusiasts and conservators," he says.

"We discovered a wonderful new world around us," says an enthusiastic Khandeparker. A tour guide for over three years, 22-year-old Khandeparker was one of those who attended the first workshop. From a novice, Khandeparker developed his new-found expertise to rattle off the difference between a Giant Wood Spider and a Funnel Spider as well as little-known facts about termites and their importance.

Originally envisaged for 40 participants, the first workshop had 65 applications. On the next one, 46 were picking up basics on wildlife conservation and eco-tourism. Heblekar also arranged for an initial donation of 30 books from the forest department for a fledgling wildlife library for the enthusiastic tour operators.

Contact Mollem National Park, Goa. Tel: 0832-2612211
 
Source: http://www.outlookindia.com/

Environment Awareness

The West - Return to more environfriendly travel?

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 25, 2007

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Our transportation choices obviously have a major impact on the environment, so what can we do to lessen our impact on the planet and reduce our dependence on oil?

The Federal Transit Agency(USA) reports, “Americans lose more than 1.6 million hours a day stuck in traffic. Without transit, the nation’s $40 billion in annual traffic congestion losses would be $15 billion higher. In fact, if all the Americans who take transit to work decided to drive, their cars would circle the Earth with a line of traffic 23,000 miles long.”

Long-distance trains, so-called “heavy rail,” are making a comeback, despite setbacks. Amtrak in USA, as a whole has lost about $25 billion since it was created in 1971, a staggering sum until you consider the $40 billion annually spent on highways.

Rapid-transit ferries can compete with cars in commuting times. The city of Sydney, Australia, for instance, makes major use of ferryboat commuting, as does Hong Kong, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. There are some environmental problems and some cost issues with ferries, but, overall, when you have feasible water routes, it’s a great mode of transport.

Biking is also gaining in popularity, for health, for its environmental benefits and to eliminate auto-related costs. The National Personal Transportation Survey found that approximately 40 percent of all trips are less than two miles in length—which represents a 10-minute bike ride or a 30-minute walk. Fifty-four percent of all commuters live within 10 miles of their worksite—making their commute time by bike or car just about the same.

Employers also benefit, because studies show that people who bike to work are more productive and take less time off for illness. Bikers cut down on an employer’s need to subsidize employee parking, and exercise tends to make workers more alert.

Europe is showing the way forward in many ways.

European car-free zones have become very successful. Sixty cities have declared that they’re going to make their centers car-free. Britain has developed a car-free day, which is supported by 75 percent of the British public. Similar ideas have spread to Central and South America. In some places, such as Athens or Singapore, because of pollution problems, you can drive only every other day (license plates ending in an odd number one day, even the next), and London now is charging cars a hefty fee to enter the city center. In Copenhagen, Denmark, 30 to 40 percent of commuters get to work by bicycle.

Source:www.emagazine.com

Engineers and Environment

Hybrid Cars

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 25, 2007

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In a new study issued last week, automotive consumer information service Intellichoice.com reported that gasoline-electric hybrid cars and trucks—favored by environmentalists for sipping instead of guzzling gas—have significantly lower total cost of ownership than equivalent traditional gas-only models.

 
“Across the board, we found that all 22 hybrid vehicles have a better total cost of ownership over five years or 70,000 miles than the vehicles they directly compete against,” said Intellichoice.com publisher James Bell.

“Hybrids are proving themselves to be an excellent alternative for car buyers,” Bell added. “Even when factoring in the additional upfront costs for their purchase, the long-term savings hybrids generate makes them a sensible and attractive purchase.”

Intellichoice.com’s findings run contrary to previous analyses from Consumer Reports which concluded that hybrid owners cannot make up the higher up-front costs of a hybrid with fuel savings down the road. The key difference is due to the fact that Intellichoice.com factored in hybrids’ retention of resale value as well as the availability of various tax and financial incentives.

SOURCES: intellichoice.com

Climate change and Global Warming

Sunderbans

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2007

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The sea is steadily eating into the Sundarbans, the world’s largest delta and mangrove forest, threatening an ecological disaster for the Bengal basin region. The 20,000 square kilometre forest delta stretches across the lower reaches of the Bengal basin - 60% falling in Bangladesh and the rest in  West Bengal.

Satellite imagery shows that the sea level in the Sundarbans has risen at an average rate of 3.14 centimetres a year over the past two decades - much higher than the global average of two millimetres a year. Scientists believe that in the next 50 years, a rise of even one metre in sea level would inundate 1,000 sq.km of the Sundarbans.

In the past two decades, four islands - Bedford, Lohachara, Kabasgadi and Suparibhanga - have sunk into the sea and 6,000 families have been made homeless. Two other islands - Ghoramara and Mousuni - are fast going under.  The district administration has constructed huge embankments to ring the coastal inlands.  But during high tides, the embankments are damaged. Some develop cracks and collapse.

A total of 54 of the 102 islands in the Indian Sundarbans are still habitableAbout 2,500 sq.km have been set aside as a tiger reserve since 1973.  Since the first settlements in 1770, the population of the Indian Sundarbans has risen 200% to nearly 4.3 million.

The population has put pressure on the ecosystem, which acts as a nursery for the aquatic resources of the Bay of Bengal. Scientists say that the Sundarbans, South Asia’s largest "carbon sink" - which mops up carbon dioxide - must survive to help prevent global warming. But will it?

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3102948.stm

 

Wildlife

Marine turtles-two stories

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2007

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Dead Olive Ridleys have been spotted in large numbers at Gahirmatha, Devi river mouth, Jatadhar river mouth, Harishpur areas, Chilika coast and Puri.

The situation went out of control at the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary after a forest guard by accident killed a fisherman from the Kharnasi village on December 14 last year. Angry fishermen snatched away seized boats, released arrested persons and also burnt down the patrol camp at Agarnasi on December 22. In the absence of armed police, forest guards have refused to carry out sea patrols to protect sea turtles.

Although all trawlers have to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TED), not a single trawler is making use of them. A sum of Rs 10 million given by Indian Oil Corporation to the forest department in 2000 for turtle protection is yet to be used for speedboats. Similarly, the fisheries department had also got Rs 10 million from the Government of India for speedboats, which remains unspent even after eight years.

SOURCE : The Pioneer& The Hindu, January 18, 2007

Contrast the above grim news with the following:


Turtle Festival at Velas, Tal- Mandangad, Dist-Ratnagiri is being celebrated on 10th and 11th February 2007.  Last four years Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM), Chiplun, has been working in Marine TurtleConservation in Maharashtra.   Velas is 225 Km from both Poona and Mumbai.

 In this period SNM released 7610 hatchlings from152 protected nests. This year 28 nests are protected on entire coast of thestate, and at Velas there are18 nest till today.

On 10th and 11th February, 2007 in the mornings and evenings there is a chance to observe the emerging hatchlings from the nests at Velas. This dates are based on last four years experience. 


SNM is making simple homestay arrangements for tourists and wildlife lovers who would wish to watch the hatching of the turtles on the two dates. They can observe how the marine turtle conservation project is going on, hatcherymanagement, meet the locals who are actually working, film turtles, Coconutgardens and the beach.

SOURCE: Posting in yahoo group Delhibird by Kedar Gore

Wildlife

Clouded leopard

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2007

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Frequently overshadowed by bigger, better known inhabitants of India’s jungles, such as the tiger, elephant and leopard, little is known about the clouded leopard. . A smaller member of the “big cat” group, this creature, weighing between 11kg and 20 kg, is found in the jungles of north Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya as well as China and parts of south east Asia.


Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling has begun its first survey of the clouded leopard in an attempt to find out more about this elusive, endangered species. The survey hopes to find out the estimated clouded leopard population of the park, as well as observing daytime and nocturnal behaviour and its prey base.


The year-long study, jointly carried out by the state forest department and Nature Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS), a voluntary organisation, will also look at eco-tourism prospects in the park. The 88 square kilometre park is also home to the endangered red panda and musk deer. Other species include leopard, five species of civet, black bear, sloth bear, golden cat, wild boar, barking deer, sambar, Himalayan flying squirrel and Thar.

SOURCE : The Statesman, Friday, January 19, 2007

nature/wildlife films

Screening at workplaces?

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 22, 2007

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Social and environmental film makers all over the world are, generally speaking, a much troubled lot on the financial front. What keeps them going, more than anything else, is their commitment to the cause.

Unfortunately, these thought provoking films rarely get audiences as they face a challenge of distribution. Television channels either do not run them or, if they do, there is no guarantee of attracting enough eyeballs.


Screening at the workplace


Organizations would do well to screen such films in their workplaces. There are many ways to do this including:

  1. Television screens that are sometimes installed in offices.
  2. Create a kind of a You Tube on the intranet so staff can watch these on their desks itself.
  3. Collective Screening: Call staff in groups to a common room, and screen for them. No doubt people watching in a group would be impacted more as they would have a chance to discuss the same with one another, then and later too.
  4. Distribute discs: Get multiple copies of such films on suitable discs and distribute them amongst staff.
  5. Go a step further. Start giving these to customers who make a certain minimum purchase from you. Why give a free soap with a shampoo? Give a film.



Environment Awareness

Roots and Shoots

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 22, 2007

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Roots and Shoots


I had the privilege of listening to Jane Goodall at the Brish Council on 21 Jan 2007, while she was addressing the audience of  "Wildscreen India". 
Jane Goodall is intenationally known as the saviour of chimpanzees.  But it was indeed more thrilling to listen to her enthusiasm for the "Roots and Shoots" program she has initiated in 100 countries and is soon starting in India too.

Roots and Shoots of plants have the uncanny ability to pierce/sprout through brick walls.  She believes that the brick wall of unsustainable development/global warming will have roots and shoots growing all over soon  - roots and shoots being the young workers she is organizing into groups of grassroot workers from all corners of the world. 


The youth of today and even senior citizens can be mobilised for action and they are our "Reason for Hope"

Do visit the site http://www.rootsandshoots.org for more info.




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