Press on Environment and Wildlife
US charges 150 accused in online wildlife sales (July Week #2 (2013))
More than 150 people face federal and state charges after authorities disrupted online wildlife trafficking operations involving tiger, leopard and jaguar pelts, elephant ivory and live birds.

Items seized under "Operation Wild Web" include the pelts of endangered big cats such as the Sumatran tiger, leopard and jaguar; live migratory birds such as the California scrub jay; whale teeth; elephant and walrus ivory; and a zebra pelt.  

Working with counterparts in several states, federal officials targeted illegal wildlife sellers who operate through Craigslist, eBay and other Internet marketplaces and classified ads. Wildlife officers in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia ran similar
operations at the same time.


Leopard enters house, injures man in Belgaum (July Week #2 (2013))
A 55-year-old man was injured in a leopard attack at Chikale village of Khanapur taluk in Belgaum on Saturday night. ...  It is said that the big cat entered the courtyard of Vasudev's house at 10pm and tried to attack the dog tied outside the house. When
the dog began to bark, it woke up Vasudev. He opened the door didn't notice the leopard enter the house.

The leopard is suspected to have come from nearby Jamboti forest. Forest officials have summoned experts from Mysore who arrived late Sunday evening. The department brought a cage from Dandelli. They will start the operation to catch the leopard on Monday.


Bombay Natural History Society to study conservation of giant clams in Andaman & Nicobar Islands (July Week #2 (2013))
"When it comes to marine ecosystems, the reality is that conventional measures of declaring protected areas are not successful. We must look at newer approaches for conservation. While there is a lot of ambiguity over the conservation reserves in the Wildlife
Protection Act, 1972, it may be the way forward," Apte said. Conservation reserves allow for greater participation from local communities, he added.

Extending the project to Andaman and Nicobar, where there are many more species, will throw up challenges. Lakshadweep had only two species of giant clams, whereas Andaman and Nicobar have five species, Apte said.

"The greater challenge in Andaman and Nicobar is that there are more stakeholders. Unlike the homogenised human habitation in Lakshadweep, communities in Andaman and Nicobar are numerous and varied,"he said.

The project received a shot in the arm after the UK-based Whitley Fund for Nature recently announced a grant of £70,000 (about Rs 64 lakh) for the initiative.


Himalayan Blunders (July Week #2 (2013))
In 1991, environmentalist Anil Agarwal, after months of research for the publication Flood, Flood Plains and Environmental Myths, brought to attention facts that were considered inconvenient. He wanted to understand why floods occurred with greater intensity
in the plains of India. The general perception was that deforestation in the Himalayas caused floods in the plains, and that planting trees upstream would "fix" the problem. His research showed that the Himalayas were geologically dynamic and prone to landslides,
which would in turn block rivers and create natural dams. The bursting of these dams - which were made of rubble, stone and silt - would wreak havoc downstream. He then went on to argue that we needed to consider a Himalayan policy that took into account the
fragility and vulnerability of the region. Road activity had already started to scar the hills, and landslides were increasingly becoming frequent. This, in turn, made it more dangerous for people to live in those areas.

His message was tough: stop blaming the people living in the Himalayas for the floods in the Indo-Gangetic plains. Instead, focus on building a management system to live with floods - harvest the excess water in ponds, tanks and groundwater recharge systems.
It was the wilful destruction of the flood plains through unchecked construction of buildings and drainage systems that exacerbated floods. The Himalayas, he said, would remain vulnerable to landslides and flash floods and development would not work if it
did not take into account the true nature of the region. Learn, therefore, to live with the hazards of the Himalayas. The bottom line is that we need to learn to live with nature and not have the temerity to think that we can overcome it.


Uttarakhand disaster got magnified due to heavy pilgrim rush (Issue of the week, July Week #1 (2013))
The number of tourists going to Uttarakhand, state records show, has grown by nearly 300% over a decade between 2000-2010 from 1.11 crore to 3.11 crore. The number of tourists visiting the state is projected to double again by 2017 at current growth rates.
The infrastructure to cater to the tourists has grown but disproportionately slowly and mostly 'illegally'. June is the month that sees the highest tourist footfall in the state year after year.

"Almost every time, natural calamities have hit the hill state in the months of July-September when tourists and pilgrims are not there in such high numbers. This year, the timing has led to tourists been trapped but the people of Uttarakhand have been
increasingly facing these problems over the last decade," Charu Tiwari, an activist and journalist from the state, said.


36 lakes have vanished in Bangalore-west alone (July Week #1 (2013))
In shocking findings for the water-deficient IT city, 36 lakes, tanks and ponds have vanished without a trace in three hoblis of western Bangalore since 1973. The water area has been halved in the remaining 81 bodies and 48 of them have major encroachments.

The findings are part of a year-long study conducted by state-funded Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute (EMPRI). It has only looked at a 78 sqkm area in the hoblis of Yeshwantpur, Kengeri and Tavarekere. The rest of the city has not
been covered.


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