Press on Environment and Wildlife
Rare bearcat found in Assam (May Week #5 (2013))
A bearcat, a rare species of climbing mammals, was captured in Nagaon district and shifted to a rehabilitation centre, officials said on Wednesday.

"The sub-adult male (around 1.5-metre-long) had reportedly entered a house in Aahomgaon village on the outskirts of Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, in Nagaon district," an official said. "The locals then handed it over to the police, who in turn informed
the Forest Department," said an official.

The bearcat, also called 'binturong', has been shifted to the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), near Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district.

Officials said this is for the first time in the CWRC's decade-long history that this species has showed up.

"One of our veterinarians brought the animal from Nagaon to CWRC in Golaghat. The animal appears healthy except that it is blinded in one eye, which looks like a congenital deformity. We are hoping to release the animal and possibly monitor it to learn
more about this rare mammal," said veterinarian Anjan Talukdar.

Threatened by habitat loss and poaching, this species inhabits areas south of Brahmaputra river in northeast India.


Now, police stations to tackle wildlife crime (May Week #5 (2013))
The Assam government has decided to set up a police station exclusively to deal with wildlife-related crime in the state.

State environment and forest minister Rockybul Hussian said chief minister Tarun Gogoi has agreed to the idea of opening a police station to deal with wildlife crime. He added that the first police station to tackle crime related to wildlife would be set
up at Kohra near Kaziranga National Park. He added that two more such police stations would also be set up at Manas National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.


Mumbai marine life on deathbed, thanks to govt apathy (May Week #5 (2013))
Delay in setting up sewage treatment plants doing the damage, says NEERI

Sewage generated across Mumbai — over 2,600 million litres a day — is causing the damage. It flows out of your homes through seven treatment plants — Colaba, Worli, Bandra, Versova, Malad, Ghatkopar and Bhandup. About 45% of untreated human waste is flushed
into two creeks and the Arabian Sea.

The existing treatment plants need an upgrade to keep pace with the city’s burgeoning population. Had a sewage treatment plant been installed, it would have filtered the waste before the water gushes out into the sea.

The seven existing facilities are old and need upgrading, admits Ashok Mhatre, chief engineer of Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project – a Rs4,000 crore World Bank-sponsored plan. “The upgrading project has not yet kicked off. At three of the existing plants,
we cannot start work due to problems, including encroachment and land disputes,” said Mhatre.


Dudhwa rail track triggers ecology vs tourism debate (May Week #5 (2013))
Railways' decision to enhance Dudhwa's rail network may be aimed at giving wildlife tourism a boost, but it is likely to make animals lose their peace. The metre gauge line that runs through the national park is a part of the Mailani-Bahraich rail track
which would be taken up for a gauge conversion survey. The metre gauge line, at present, has six pair of trains running on it, two pairs being Express trains. But, with the Mailani-Bahraich track being recommended for a gauge conversion survey, the number
of trains passing through the wildlife area would increase in years to come.


A river runs dry (May Week #5 (2013))
Named after the otters it once hosted, the perennial Udnhaim River in Dabal, the main source of irrigation for large tracts of horticultural and agricultural lands in the Kirlapal-Dabal panchayat area, is fast drying up.

Worried locals say this year's declined flow has confounded them. "In the past the drop in water level was blamed on mining activities, but since October 2012 there has been a ban on mining, yet the level is low. We can't understand it," says former sarpanch
Ramakant Gaonkar. He says it's been so bad this year that villagers have had to request a private mining company to release water stored in their bandharas so that the farms and plantations didn't dry up.


Difference in methodology renders fresh wildlife census report futile (Issue of the week, May Week #3 (2013))
Although the Haryana forest department released a fresh wildlife census report on May 6, it is still not comparable with previous years’ data owing to the use of a different methodology.

The wildlife census report of 2012, released in March, had adopted a new evidence-based methodology. Unlike the previous years, when the census was conducted division-wise, this year it was focused on forest areas only.

“This is why we cannot compare the present data with the previous years’ data as the methodology was different. The method used in 2007 was occupancy-based and not density-based. No one can say if the wildlife has increased or decreased in the Aravali,”
said Bilal Habib, a scientist at WII. Explaining the reason behind adopting the new methodology, Kumar said: “This survey was evidence-based and not an absolute one. For instance, it is very difficult to trace carnivores as they come out only at night. Hence,
we could only gauge their presence in a particular area through their pug marks and other signs, and not provide a fixed number of the species. Moreover, the absolute method is time-consuming and very expensive,” said Kumar.


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