Press on Environment and Wildlife
Will conservation of Environment ever be profitable? (October Week 1 (2005)) Or will it have to be just for environment’s sake? Most discussions about endangered ecological systems boil down to this debate. So did the presentation on the Mangreen Project - a mangrove restoration project in Tamil Nadu - by Dr Onno Gros and V Balaji at the Max Mueller Bhavan reports The New Indian Express. Dr Onno Gross, President of Deepwave, an Hamburg-based organisation, got together with V Balaji, a Ph D student at Bhartidasan University and the founder of OMCAR (Ocean Marine conservation, awareness and research). The result was a movement to protect the mangroves in Keezhathottam village in Pattukottai district. The village, situated on the Palk Bay, once had a dense mangrove population, which has thinned due to several commercial activities.
The importance of mangroves shot into limelight after some studies revealed that the areas with a thick mangrove population were least affected by the tsunami.
Dr Gross, using this as a reference point during the presentation, talked about the gradual degradation of this ecological system. Balaji explained how the activities of fishermen (using thick, cut mangroves to trap fish, farmers (letting the cattle graze on the vegetation) and illegal encroachments by aquaculturists had contributed to this.
OMCAR has been functioning in Keezhathottai since over a year and had to overcome resistance from several quarters. Balaji says, “I had to talk to the community and convince them of the relevance of mangroves, after which they have supported and worked on the project just as well.”
He has also managed to work with the Forest Department officials though there were several hitches on that front. “We are talking to the forest officials to give up on the plan of replacing the exotic plants with the casaurina plantations,” says Balaji.
He explains that the villagers can allow the cattle to graze on the exotic plant that grows wild and abundantly.
But if the intentions are clear, one learns to work around things. And that is what OMCAR has done. The habitat is more favourable for the Avicennia species but the forest department has provided seeds of the rhizophora species.
Also, the canals that the department had dug got filled in as they were unused for long. OMCAR, having redug the canals, is growing rhizophora in such a way that it gets water from the sea when the tide comes in.
Poaching of rare wildlife (October Week 1 (2005)) The Hindu and other major newspapers reported that there is a huge market for Indian tiger and leopard skins in China, particularly in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and the skins are being openly traded there. The `thriving' and `uncontrolled' market may explain the increased poaching of tigers in India that has left at least one reserve devoid of tigers and four others almost empty, suggest the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). Air ins above normal levels in Manali, says new study
During its visit to Lhasa (Tibet), the WPSI team surveyed 46 shops and found 54 leopard skin `chubas' and 24 tiger skin `chubas' which were openly displayed in the showcases. Seven fresh leopard skins were offered for sale and within the space of 24 hours, the team was shown three fresh tiger skins.
Huge seizures of tiger, leopard and otter skins in India and Nepal indicate the existence of highly organised criminal networks behind the skin trade. They operate across borders, smuggling skins from India through Nepal into China and continue to evade the law.
Anxious to save its tigers and curb trafficking, India has joined seven other countries including the United States, Britain, China and Russia, in an effort to focus world attention on the increasing threat to this apex predator, which environmentalist here fear is facing near extinction due to hunting and trade
This first-ever mega cross-border project by the non-government sector, of which India is a part, will initiate a campaign to stress the urgent need to stop tiger trafficking and also organise a chain of events in eight countries spread over five days.
Over 650 endangered Star tortoises and 10 kg of a narcotic substance, were seized from an air passenger who was bound for Kuala Lumpur on Monday, a senior customs officer at Chennai said. The tortoises were later handed over to the Wildlife authorities and the drug has been sent for chemical analysis. The seizure of star tortoises comes close on the heels of the seizure of 350 star tortoises on September 20.
Wildlife authorities rescued a Slender Loris from a trapper at Vedanthangal on Tuesday. The poacher has been booked under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The Loris is an arboreal species and trapping them can be very difficult. Only those with the ability to climb trees can trap them, wildlife authorities said.
Looping power lines threat to animals (October Week 1 (2005)) The high-voltage power lines passing through the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) are in a deplorable state for which the wild animals of the park are facing a serious threat. Due to the negligence of the ASEB authorities, an elephant of the park died on September 12. According to sources, an elephant of nine feet height got electrocuted at Deochur area of Phulguri forest camp under Burhapahar forest of the park.
The park authority disclosed that the looping down of the power line was informed to the executive engineer of Kaliabor Division ASEB on June 24 and July 1 by range officer of Burhapahar range and DFO Wild Life respectively. But the ASEB authority showed negligence and as a result the elephant was killed. After receiving the information of the incident, the ASEB authority repaired the power line in that area. But, according to forest officials at some other places also the power lines are looping. And if the lines are not be repaired immediately lives of more wild animals will be in danger.
It may be mentioned that another elephant was also reportedly killed by electrocution at the same place on September 12, 2001. Hence, some forest officials term the place as ‘suicidal’. It is pertinent to mention that a large number of parrots were killed by 11 KV power line report of which was published in The Assam Tribune and the danger of such incident was highlighted before hand.
The Forest Department recovered two tusks of height 3 feet six inches and weight 7 kilogram from the dead elephant.
Forest corridor mooted for golden langur (October Week 1 (2005)) Community people and fringe villagers around Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) and Nadangiri Hill reserve forest have strongly favoured every kind of initiatives at every level for linking of forest cover between these two hillocks in Kokrajhar district of BTAD in Assam, reports Assam Tribune.

In this connection Green Heart Nature Club, Kokrajhar has been working in this area since last few years for conservation of golden langur through community participation from almost all the fringe villages of these two hills, said B Dey, director, Green Heart. Dey further said that as a member organisation of the Assam State Wildlife Board of the government of Assam, Green Heart has been also persuading the government to consider forest corridor building between these two hills with huge potential of wildlife conservation including golden langur and also to declare community reserve in this area apart from urgently declaring Sankosh Aie wild life sanctuary along Ripu Charang reserve forest on the other side which is under serious consideration of the government and the BTC administration is also in favour of such progressive measures for conservation of wildlife and natural resources.
Speaking on the occasion G Basumatary, conservator of forest and CHO, forest, BTC has enlightened for better public participation for both male and female villagers for every success of the joint forest management policy of the government. He also appreciated the villagers and SHGs who expressed to extend maximum possible support for the protection of forest and conservation of the rich golden langur habitat in this area. However, he has cautioned encroachment of forest should be prevented at any cost at each and every area for the greater interest of the people and for preserving natural progress and eco-system of this region.
Generating energy through waste (October Week 1 (2005)) Harnessing alternative energy for domestic and industrial purposes is a challenge in the backdrop of a rapidly increasing demand for power sources. Biotech, an agency implementing biogas and solar energy programmes of the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy, has introduced several techniques for generating energy through effective treatment of waste. Two of the popular technologies are being implemented in the State by the agency. One is the anaerobic treatment (Biomethanation), suitable for treating fast decomposing bio-waste and the other is Biocinerator for the treatment of slow decomposing materials.
Biocinerator is a biomass burning unit. Waste materials like dry leaves, coconut husk, other types of dry plant waste, paper, etc. can be burned under controlled conditions in a chamber. This process does not require any external fuel. The excess gas generated in anaerobic treatment plants can be utilised as a fuel for operation of biocinerator.
It is a process based on micro-organism. A waste treatment plant, consisting of a gas collector and a digester/reactor, is installed for treating bio-degradable organic matter to produce methane gas used for cooking, lighting and running engines for generation of electricity. The organic waste and wastewater from domestic, industrial or agricultural process can be used for the purpose, reports The Hindu.
Experimental Jetropha plantation in Kadapa was reported by The New Indian Express.
As many as 25 lakh Jetropha saplings are ready for plantation, according to District Water Management Association (DWMA) Project Director Eeswar Reddy.
He was addressing a conference of Icrisat scientists on Wednesday. Jetropha plantation is being taken up on an experimental basis in two villages of Chintakommadinne mandal.
Reddy appealed to the farmers interested in taking up the crop to get the plants free of cost from the office of DWMA. Srinivasamurthy, a scientist from Icrisat, said Koparti and Chinnakampalle in Chintakommadinne mandal were selected because of the congenial atmosphere in this area.
The plantation would be taken up on an area of 20 acres. Their institute would extend financial and technical know-how for the project, Srinivasamurthy said.
SC defines ‘green’ cost for projects built on forest land (October Week 1 (2005)) Major newspapers gave prominence to the fact that for the first time, the apex court has put in place a system to evaluate—and collect—the environmental cost of any project in forest land. Until now, the cost included just that of trees felled. But in a 70-page judgment, the Supreme Court has ordered that projects be charged Net Present Value (NPV): value of benefits from a forest, including oxygen production, biodiversity, carbon absorption and flood and drought control.
The only projects exempted will be government hospitals, dispensaries, non commercial government ventures like schools, water tanks, sewers.
The NPV collected will go to a national corpus that will audited by the CAG and used for preserving forests, not necessarily in the state where the project is coming up. This is over and above the current system of compensatory afforestation—paying for trees cut and getting new ones planted.
NPV is already being charged by four states Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Haryana. More than Rs 300 crore has been collected so far and is lying with the courts with no clarity on what to do with the money.
These states calculated NPV at Rs 5.80 lakh per hectare to Rs 9.20 lakh. New rates will now depend on the type of forest land, location, density of the forest, distance from urban area.
The plea that public sector projects of NHPC or Powergrid be exempted has been turned down by a three-member bench headed by Justice Y K Sabharwal who delivered the judgment after a continuous three-day hearing on an omnibus forest case.
A three-member expert committee will decide on the NPV, one of the members will be Kanchan Chopra, forest economist from the Institute of Economic Growth. The team has one month to identify and define parameters on the basis of which value can be ascribed to different categories of forest land in different bio-geographical zones.
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