Press on Environment and Wildlife
Gene mapping of tiger completed, to help in conservation (September Week #3 (2013))
The 'whole genome sequencing' of an organism describes the arrangement of all the genes on a single set of chromosomes of the organism. It is considered a complete blueprint of its genetic make-up and provides invaluable insight into a species' interaction
with its environment, its genetic diversity as well as its capability to adapt and evolve.

Fifteen scientists led by Jong Bhak of Genome Research Foundation, South Korea, decoded as many as 3 billion nucleotides (organic molecules that form the basic building blocks of nucleic acids, such as DNA). They identified 20,000 genes related to various
functions of the tiger.

The completion of full genome sequencing of the tiger is a major breakthrough as the data now available will form the basis of all future genetic studies related to tiger conservation. The team has decided to make the data publically available for research.

"We want to make this information available to all researchers interested in and focused on conservation work," Bhak said.

India is the most important Tiger Range Country (TRC) - home to the highest number of wild tigers - among the few TRCs in the world.


Forest dept wants to capture 200 jumbos, create 25 camps (September Week #3 (2013))
The State Forest department is all set to capture around 150 to 200 wild elephants that are “in continued conflict with humans”, and hold them captive to put an end to the problem “once and for all.” ....................The IFS officer said that in the
process of capturing the jumbos, many complex issues had to be dealt with. 

“Once the elephants are identified, we have to decide the males and females of which herd to be captured. This is crucial as we have to make sure that we leave behind a healthy breeding population, and maintain the gender ratio,” he said. 

Presently, there are over 100 elephants in 10 camps, namely Sakkarebylu, Bandipur, Rampura, Mattigod, Balle, K Gudi, Dubare, Bannerghatta, Mysore Zoo and Aanekadu..


Rooting for butterflies (September Week #3 (2013))
Baiju, a butterfly and birding enthusiast, who works at Government Upper Primary School, Paluvally, Palode, has, over the past decade, nurtured a butterfly garden to full bloom in the school premises. It is one of the only such gardens in a Government
school in the district.

Before work started on the butterfly garden, Baiju and his students did a survey of the butterfly varieties in the area and identified their host plants. Our school is surrounded by the reserve forest on three sides and so there is an abundance of flora
nearby. In the initial survey we made a checklist of around 80 butterflies and 65 host plants. The number has now risen to 102 butterflies of five popular species Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Lycaenidae and Hespiriidae!

.....The next step was sourcing host plants  those plants that give nectar such as Ixora (Theti), Jamaican Blue Spike, and Pagoda flower (Krishnakireedam), to name just a few, and also those plants that support larvae. The students, most of who belong
to the tribal community, brought the plants from their homes. We didn' have to spend a dime sourcing plants. In fact, each time we need to re-plant, which usually happens in June/July, the students themselves bring the plants, says Baiju.

Even though the green activities are not part of the curriculum, the students seem to take an active interest and take care of the maintenance of the garden.

The teacher says that he's observed a change in the attitude of the students after they get hands-on involved in the garden. It is gratifying to see the children protecting the butterflies and dragonflies, especially when someone is out to hurt the insects.
The only problem is that once they graduate from the school not many of them are given an opportunity to sustain their interest. However, some of our old students do pop by often to check on the garden.


Green tribunal orders interim stay on proposed road inside Asola sanctuary (September Week #3 (2013))
Senior lawyer Raj Panjwani brought the HT report to the notice of the tribunal and said, Instead of implementing a Supreme Court order by persuading illegal occupants in the sanctuary to move out, as provisions have already made for their rehabilitation,
the government is building roads for them.

Panjwani is assisting the tribunal as amicus curiae in matters related to the ridge.  The PWD in May sought to build the road but the forest department rejected the proposal.

There is a 12-km and 10-feet road and had always been there. That's the only way for residents of Sanjay Colony to get out and move towards Chhatarpur. We're only maintaining it, PWD executive engineer Jai Singh told HT recently. The budget for the project
is R15 crore and work on a 10-km stretch is complete. The remaining 2 km needs to be done, he said.

Sanjay Colony, an entire village of 25,000 people, lives illegally in the sanctuary. After a Supreme Court order, the government shifted two smaller colonies from the sanctuary in 2006. But the illegal occupants of Sanjay Colony have not been shifted yet.


Gujarat shield to protect Uttarakhand (Issue of the week, September Week #1 (2013))
The National Bioshield Society (NBS) headed by city-based Padma Shri M H Mehta has prepared a scientifically designed project to help Uttarakhand get a natural shield against floods, especially its vulnerable plains.

The first phase of the project, which will focus on Uttarkashi and Gangotri regions, has been cleared by the Central government after the project proposal was discussed during a meeting chaired by R Chidambaram, principal scientific adviser to the Union
government and chairman of the scientific advisory committee to the Union cabinet........

Experts believe that the devastation due to flash floods at Uttarakhand was inevitable with the artificial forestation that the region witnessed from the time of British rule.

This artificial forestation killed the ethnic biodiversity of the region and instead developed a monoculture which focused on pine forests that proved very profitable for both timber and resin.

"Pine created a smooth, dry carpet, which absorbs nothing, and which at the same time prevents the development of any undergrowth of other plants. In fact, the ground in a pine forest is as bare as a desert and in Uttarakhand it has even turned the soil
acidic," said Mehta.

Mehta on the advice of world renowned activist and Padma Bhushan Sundarlal Bahuguna, the octogenarian who founded the Chipko movement, had started working on the Uttarakhand project proposal.


Environment ministry slaps Rs 200 crore fine on Adani group (September Week #1 (2013))
The environment ministry has slapped a Rs 200-crore fine on the Adani Group's Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone for damaging mangroves, creeks and the local environment at the project site. The company's shares fell 6.4%.

The penalty was recommended by a committee headed by Sunita Narain, director general of Centre for Science and Environment, set up by the environment ministry. The report was submitted to environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan in April. No immediate comment
was available from the Adani group. Officials said a part of the project could face suspension after a more detailed investigation into the alleged violation of environmental clearance norms. The money from the fine will go into an environment restoration
fund for the area.

The five-member committee had visited the site, where it found widespread destruction of mangroves--75 hectares of mangroves have been lost in Bocha Island, which was declared as a conservation zone under the environmental clearance conditions.

"The company has not taken precautions to guard against blocking of creeks because of construction activities; satellite imagery shows signs of deterioration and loss of creeks near the proposed North Port. It has not taken stipulated measures to ensure
that the channels that bring large volumes of seawater for use in the thermal power plant and then discharge as well as the storage tank is lined so that there is no chance of salinity contamination in groundwater," the report stated.


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