Press on Environment and Wildlife
Pheasant breeding project suffers setback (September Week 4 (2005)) The prestigious project for breeding of the highly endangered western tragopan species suffered a further setback when another chick died at the Sarhan pheasantry on Friday, reported The Tribune.
With this three of the four chicks bred for the first time at the pheasantry have died. All chicks were born to the same pair in two clutches.
While Mr B.L. Negi, the Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Sarhan, refused to confirm or deny the death of the chick, sources in the department said that the chick, which sustained an injury on one of its legs last month, had died.
Over the past two months four birds have died. Besides three chicks, an adult pheasant also expired but it had completed the average life span.
It is a project of global importance as Sarahan pheasantry is the only one of its kind in the world having the rare birds in captivity. “Tragopan melanocephalus” for the zoologists, the rare pheasant is placed high on the Red Data Book of the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) listing the highly endangered species. The survival of the species depends on success of the breeding programme being pursued by the department since 1991.
It took 15 years to have a successful breeding, thanks to the guidance of Mr John Corder, conservation breeding expert from the World Pheasants Association, who had been making regular visits to monitor the programme.
However, it appears that the department lacks the requisite expertise in captive rearing which is as much a specialised as breeding. The success of the Rs 4.93 crore breeding project is very much in doubt now.
Besides the lone surviving chick, the pheasantry still has three pairs of the rare bird but the breeding programme is in doldrums. The department will have to have fresh look at the programme and ensure that trained staff was deployed for such projects. Failure of the project could deprive the state of similar projects which are in the pipeline.
Three deaths in three days at Gir sanctuary (September Week 4 (2005)) Marauding poachers have killed off most Indian tigers and now lions in Asia’s only preserve for the king of the jungle are mysteriously keeling over the dying.
Two lions and a lioness are reported to have died since Saturday in different parts of the Gir sanctuary and its surrounding areas, reports Times of India.
A lioness died during treatment on Sunday. Junagarh conservator of forests Bharat Pathak said the postmortem revealed that the death was caused by “toxic effect”. The department was waiting for a detailed analysis from the Forensic Science Laboratory before committing on the issue, he added.
A 14-year-old lion was found dead in Jamwada area of Akolwadi rrange. Confirming this, deputy conservator of forest (Junagadh west) Ram Kumar said the lion had completed its life span. “This lion had undergone treatment four times in the past one year. It was last treated on June 15 and then released into the jungle.”
Study of Rivers Long Overdue (September Week 4 (2005)) In M.P, the nine rivers and 11 cities situated on their banks have been included under the environment improvement programme under the 10th Five-year Plan. For this the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests has chalked out River Conservation Scheme. The Environmental Planning and Coordination Organisation (EPCO) has been assigned the responsibility of preparing the detailed report of the scheme. The state government has made a provision of Rs 3 crore for this purpose. Central Chronicle reported this development.
The Tribune reported a proposed study of the catchment area of Sutlej.
Concerned at recurring breakdown of the country’s largest hydroelectric venture, the 1500-MW Nathpa Jhakri project, due to excessive silt in Sutlej, the Union Ministry of Environment has decided on a comprehensive study to map environmental status of its catchment.
The objective of the study is to prepare an environmental status report of the Sutlej catchment and to identify related issues ,besides suggesting measures to resolve the problems. The ministry has sanctioned Rs 27 lakh for the study to be conducted by the state’s Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board in collaboration with the Central Pollution Control Board.
It is the first study of its kind to be taken up by the Union Ministry, which plans to replicate it in other catchments as environmental degradation has affected most of the important rivers.
Total catchment area of the river upstream the Nathpa dam from where the water of the river is diverted for the project is 49,820 sq km of which 36,900 falls in Tibet and the remaining 12,920 sq km in Himachal Pradesh. The extent to which the river has been affected due to the ongoing environmental degradation could be judged from the ever-increasing level of silt. The Nathpa Jhakri project was designed for a maximum silt level of 5,000 ppm (parts per million) on the basis of data as per which the silt content was likely to exceed this limit only for four days in a year. However, in the very first monsoon after the project was commissioned the silt content has surpassed the permissible limit on 53 days from June 24 to August 31.
The study will help generate authentic environment related data which will help engineers in planning future projects on the river. The composite view of environmental status mapping and conservation priorities of the catchment will also be useful to environmental regulators to have a neutral opinion in decision making while granting clearances to development projects.
The user agencies such as agriculture, forest, wildlife, Hydropower, Industry and Tourism departments of the state will be taken into confidence while conducting the study which will also enable the government to evolve the strategies for conservation of catchment and sustainable development.
Ex-DSP's wife caught with wildlife trophy (September Week 4 (2005)) The following report was published in the Times of India.
If you are an NRI and possess old animal trophies decorating your plush homes in India, make sure you have secured their certificates from the state wildlife warden. Or you are in trouble, as was on Saturday the wife of a former Punjab DSP.
The Canada-based NRI Harpreet Kaur (name changed) was taken for a surprise by the customs at the Indira Gandhi International airport when her proud possession of a sambar head with its exquisite antlers, which she was carrying to Canada, was seized in a gruesome persecution, as she checked in the airport reportedly to take a flight to Vancouver.
The customs officials immediately filed a case against her under Section 53 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and got the trophy examined by the northern Indian office of Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The CITES officials confirmed that the article was "a sambar head-mount with antlers" and said it was about 25 years old and that the WPA was in place at that time.
On Monday, a customs deputy commissioner fined Harpreet Kaur Rs 10,000 as penalty but also issued the required certificate while letting her go.
Global warming will affect agriculture, biodiversity: Experts (Issue of the week, September Week 3 (2005)) The Pioneer reported on a climate model developed jointly by Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and UK's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.
The study predicts global warming will adversely affect agriculture, biodiversity, disease pattern and water availability in India.
Simulated climate change models predict increase in rainfall and temperature over India in the next few decades. While warming will be more pronounced in northern India, more rains will occur in central India.
predicted that temperature increase by as much as three to four degrees in parts of northern India and increase in rainfall by 10 per cent to 30 per cent will affect rain- based agriculture. The study said there would be a general increase in surface water availability over all three basins - Ganga, Krishna, and Godavari
Plant and animal species will have to adapt to changing climate or move to habitats that are more conducive. The report noted that forest biomes are highly vulnerable to projected change in climate in a relatively short span of about 50 years. Animal species dependent on the forests will also be affected due to the changes.
"About 70 per cent of the vegetation in India is likely to find itself less optimally adapted to its existing location, making it more vulnerable to the adverse climatic conditions as well as to the biotic stresses. Biodiversity is likely to be adversely impacted due to this," the report noted.
Global warming and melting of the polar caps of the Arctic and Antarctic will cause sea levels to rise. The study predicted a 5 cm rise in 50 years, more frequent high surges and increasing occurrence of cyclones post-monsoon.
Warmer temperature and humidity will mean more opportunity for mosquitoes to proliferate, if vector control programme slacks. The climate is favourable for "transmission window" for malaria to stay open for longer duration. Malaria will also spread to non-endemic areas.
The climate change study was released by Environment Minister A Raja and UK Trade Minister Ian Pearson. The information will help India and neighbouring countries plan for future and account for climate change.
* Wheat & rice crop may not withstand increase in temperature
* Droughts could last longer, floods more frequent
* More cases of malaria, could spread to other non-endemic regions
* Coastal infrastructure will battle rise in sea level
* Species unable to adapt to climate change will dwindle
Musk deer too going Sariska tigers' way (September Week 3 (2005)) Musk (Kasturi) pods of musk deer,an endangered species fetches immense demand in Pakistan and other Muslim nations due to its aphrodisiac value and was also used for its fragrance. Ten grams of musk fetches around RS 50000. most smuggling takes place through Amritsar, through passengers of Samjukta Express to Pakistan.
A study by zoologists some time back stated that over 5,000 adult male deer are slaughtered annually in its Himalayan habitat.
A report in the Times of India says the story is no different at a captive breeding centre at Kanchula Kharak in Chamoli district. The two decade-old centre set up with a pair of musk deer aiming to increase numbers, is once again left with what it began with, tells Kedarnath Wildlife Division DFO, Ved Pal Singh.
There was a time, however, that the number of musk deer here had touched 24. As per the 2005 census, 37 musk deer were sighted in the Kedarnath Forest Division.
Their number was 61 in 2001 and 63 in 2003. The DFO defends the state of affairs by saying there are usually more deer than the number sighted.
Musk deer live in high altitude areas that remain cut off in winters and so it is difficult for forest staff to keep a vigil, said Singh, adding that he had called out for greater infrastructure support.
"Keeping an eye on 1,000 square kilometre area is beyond our resources at the moment. The help that we have been getting from the government is not sufficient," he said.
Poachers set up traps beyond the tree lines and take shelter in bushes. To undertake intensive patrolling in severe winters and inclement monsoon, the department also needed to strengthen its intelligence network, he added.
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