Press on Environment and Wildlife
China allows limited trade of tiger bones (October Week 4 (2005)) In yet another deathblow to the critically endangered tiger, China has reportedly permitted the domestic sale of tiger bone, banned since 1993, reports The Pioneer.
According to NGOs operating in China, the Department of Wildlife Conservation, State Forestry Administration, has circulated a document to provincial forestry departments that authorises the sale of tiger bone from farms to certain traditional Chinese medicine factories only for use in manufacturing medicine. It is learnt that open sale of tiger bone products will not be allowed in retail markets but will be used only in select hospitals authorised by the government.
Reportedly, the document details that only farms which have more than 500 tigers can sell tiger bones subject to permission from the State Forestry Administration.
At this point, according to the Campaign Against Tiger Trafficking (CATT), there is at least one tiger farm in China that has a population of sufficient size to qualify. When questioned, the Press aide in the Chinese embassy said that they don't have an official statement as yet.
It appears that the government, fearing a severe backlash from NGOs and various international bodies and governments involved in tiger conservation issues, has chosen to maintain silence. In an e-mail to concerned authorities and NGOs, CATT has said that while they have been reliably informed about China's decision to permit tiger bone sale, all efforts to get a confirmation from the Chinese government have failed. Tiger bone has been used in traditional Chinese medicinal use as a painkiller and is anti-inflammatory.
It is feared that, opening the trade even marginally, will be the final act that drives the tiger towards extinction. Says Judy Mils of CATT, 'Any trade in tiger bone, no matter how small or tightly controlled, could prove fatal to the world's last wild tigers. News of any sort of legalised trade will confuse consumers and reignite demand quieted by the 1993 ban of tiger bone from China's pharmacopoeia. Even a tiny upswing in demand from a nation of 1.3 billion people could wipe out many wild tiger populations.'
Ashok Kumar, of the Wildlife Trust of India, points out that if true, this will spell disaster for the few remaining wild populations. 'Countries across the globe have striven hard over the years to make tiger part trade illegal. Giving legal sanction, even in the smallest quantities, will give the trade a stamp of respectability. If supply is legalised, it will give a boost to the illegal trade in wild tiger derivatives.'
Studies show that derivatives from wild tigers prove cheaper, than those from captive or farmed tigers, thus increasing pressure on wild tigers.
Less than 5,000 wild tigers survive in the world, and are protected in their habitats, both by national and international laws. They are hunted relentlessly for their skin and bones, which are used to treat rheumatism and related ailments in traditional Asian medicine. It has been proved, beyond doubt, that the Royal Bengal Tiger in India -presently facing its worst ever crisis - has been harvested to meet the supply of skins and bones across the globe. Giving a legal stamp, even in the moist limited manner, will be the final nail on the tiger's coffin.
A shy monkey discovered (October Week 4 (2005)) Itanagar: Macaca munzala, a new monkey species, has been found in western Arunachal Pradesh, reports The Hindu. Located at the junction of the eastern Himalayas and the India-Burma border, the region is one of the world's 25 global biodiversity hotspots.
According to a joint survey report prepared by C. Mishra, A. Datta and M.D. Madhusudan, Macaca munzala, locally called the Arunachal macaque, shares morphological characteristics independently with the Assamese macaque and the Tibetan macaque. It apparently belongs to the Sinica species-group of the genus. It is distinctive in relative tail length.
Budda Nullah high on toxic metals (October Week 4 (2005)) Notwithstanding the claims of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) that all Industrial units in Ludhiana are treating industrial waste, effluents, including lethal heavy metals like lead, nickel, cadmium and chromium, are finding their way into the Budda nullah and underground water, reports The Tribune.
The industrial units are allegedly dumping toxic elements directly into underground water through pits dug up illegally.
A fresh study by a team led by Dr Mukand Singh Brar, a Professor in the Department of Soils, PAU, stated that a high concentration of toxic metals was present in tubewell as well as handpump water samples taken from areas adjoining the Budda nullah.
A previous study showed that the nullah was almost clean till Dhanasu village where it enters the city. After that the presence of heavy metals shoots up by over hundreds times.
The presence of heavy metals in high concentration in the underground water has become a cause of alarm for city residents as the metals are known to cause cancer. Lead cause toxicity in humans and animals.
The nullah eventually falls into the Sutlej. The water of the river is used for drinking purposes in the Abohar — Fazilka belt and in Rajasthan.
The highly polluted air consisting of poisonous fumes and fly ash in this industrial city is reported to have caused tuberculosis to over 10,000 patients, according to an estimate of the TB Eradication Society, Ludhiana. The concentration of patients is more along the nullah.
The effluents were also resulting in high concentration of toxic metals in vegetables grown alongside the nullah and those irrigated with its water.
According to the study, the concentration of lead, chromium, cadmium and nickel in sewage contaminated water was 20, 118, 13 and 186 times higher, respectively, than the permissible limits in handpump water being recharged by the nullah.
Shockingly, in the underground water, the concentration of these metals was 21, 133, 280 and 300 times higher, respectively, than the permissible limits.
Similarly, the concentration of these metals in crops irrigated with this water was 4.88, 3.95, 0.25 and 3.68 mg per kg.
The study further points out that the nullah could be a boon for agriculture if only domestic waste, high in nutrients, was allowed to flow into it and industrial waste was completely banned.
The study suggests segregation of industrial and domestic waste as the only measure for saving the nullah.
The departments concerned seem content to be waiting for the completion of the Sutlej action plan which requires installation of sewerage treatment plants at key places along the nullah and the Sutlej this may take years.
The PPCB secretary, Mr Malwinder Singh, said the industrial units in the city had installed treatment plants as per reports reaching him. He, however, admitted that it was possible that some industrialists might not be using the treatment plants regularly to save money.
Online auction to help discover price for carbon credits (October Week 4 (2005)) KALPATARU Power Transmission Ltd's (KPTL) Rajasthan project, where it generates electricity generation from mustard crop residues, on Friday became the first Indian project and the third project worldwide to which the UN panel issued carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol.
INDIAN projects wanting to trade carbon can now discover a desirable price for their potential carbon credits with an online auction Web site in place, reports the Hindu Business Line.
Asia Carbon Exchange (ACX-Exchange) and New Values on Wednesday announced the world's first online auction of forward certified emission reduction (CER) contracts arising from clean development mechanism (CDM) projects in Asia.
CER stands for one tonne of carbon dioxide emission reduction and can be traded globally. CDM projects are those projects that help reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions and generate CERs.
Companies that are engaged in projects that could qualify to generate CERs (after getting clearances from the UN panel) can enter into forward CER contracts with the buyers through this platform.
In order to trade online, firms wanting to sell potential carbon credits are required to list their project design document at the online exchange. Buyers in the auction would be able to access these project related documents before a transaction in order to assess the project and determine the price and volume of CERs they want to bid for, said a release.
Moderators would be introduced to safeguard the integrity of the trading process.
The post-auction process would entail final discussions between the buying and selling participants and signing of emission reductions purchase agreement, it added.
At present, ACX-Change is in the area of getting together sellers of CERs and to find the best possible price for the CERs through the auction process. New Values, a network organisation, would look for the buyers.
Speaking at the conference organised by FICCI, Italy's Director General at the Ministry for the Environment and Territory, Mr Corrado Clini, said India and Italy need to work bilaterally for clean development mechanism (CDM) projects notwithstanding the complex clearance proceduresat the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Earlier, informing that 137 projects have been approved at the domestic level, Mr Naresh Dayal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, had also referred to the prevalent procedures. "It is also our view that registration process for CDM projects is expensive and time consuming and lacks transparency. It is in the interest of both developed and developing nations to reduce the cost and time taken in registration," said Mr Dayal.
Italy could potentially invest about 100 million Euros per annum during 2008-12 in Indian projects as a part of its green house gas emission (GHG) reduction targets set by the Kyoto protocol.
The investment would flow to those Indian projects that qualify to be clean development projects (CDM) by reducing GHG emissions and thus, trade carbon credits.
"We expect to invest about 500 million euros on clean development mechanism (CDM) projects in several non Annex-I countries including China, Brazil and Argentina.
Out of this about 20 per cent should accrue to Indian projects given the vast number of projects that have been approved by the Government here," the Italian Ambassador to India, Mr Antonio Armellini, had said recently at a conference organised by FICCI. Non-Annex I countries are the developing countries that are signatories of the Kyoto protocol but do not have to meet any green house gas reduction targets.
Strong Himalayan quake could affect rivers: Study (Issue of the week, October Week 3 (2005)) Can high intensity geotectonic movements like the devastating earthquake in the Himalayan range that occurred recently in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan affect the course of rivers like the Ganges and the Indus?
The possibility cannot be ruled out, according to a senior scientist with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) who has been tracking the course of the Vedic age river Saraswati which, according to him, disappeared over 5,000 years ago due to a major geotectonic activity.
The scientist PS Thakker had recently presented a paper describing the geotectonic effect that led to the disappearance of the river Saraswati at the Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology and also at the Marine Archeology Seminar at Goa early this month, reports The Hindustan Times.
His major work relates to tracking the palaeo course (ancient course) of river Saraswati and its tributaries using satellite imagery.
He says any major tectonic activity such as earthquake or volcanic eruptions can affect the course of rivers -- especially if they occur nearby.
In Gujarat, the formation of the Gulf of Cambay (Khambat) and Gulf of Kutch is attributed to geotectonic activity. Thousands of years ago, the sea level in this region was very low but geotectonic activity altered the landmass resulting in the formation of the Gulf in these two regions, he added.
He said during the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat which had its epicentre near Bhuj, a channel appeared in the Great Rann of Kutch which was nearly 100 kms long and 200 metres wide.
The most interesting feature of this channel was that different water samples taken from it showed the age of the water ranging from 12,000 years to 89,000 years old. The age of the water samples were determined by using the scientific method of Radon dating, he added.
Thakker, in his work of tracking the palaeo course of Saraswati, has studied using satellite imageries and described how this river used to come up from Kapalthirth in the Himalayas in the west of Kailash passing through Mansarovar and Raksastal in Tibet, Manapas in Uttaranchal, Rishikesh and Haridwar, Delhi, Jodhpur in Rajasthan and finally the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat where it used to join the Arabian sea.
The interesting part of the satellite imagery is that one can identify the existence of river which has totally dried up. One can also know the course of the river and its tributaries and also whether it has shifted its course. The parts in the satellite imageries where rivers existed appear as dense region having different colourations.
Anamalais awaits Project Tiger (October Week 3 (2005)) The Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, the biggest in the Tamil Nadu, with 958 sq km on the Anamalais in the Western Ghats, is awaiting the Centre's declaration as Project Tiger reserve.
It will help the overall improvement of the sanctuary, according to authorities.
Last year's Census reveals that the sanctuary has 20 tigers and more than 600 elephants. The Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) in Tirunelveli district is the first Tiger reserve in the State and has 29 tigers. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has sanctioned Rs. 2.04 crores to the KMTR.
Once it is declared a tiger reserve, it will get more funds from the Centre.
It could be used to provide alternative jobs to tribals residing inside the forests besides improving facilities at the sanctuary.
The powers of a field level officer will go up to that of a Conservator level officer.
He will be appointed as Field Director (a Deputy Conservator of Forests is the highest field level officer now) and assisted by an Eco Development Officer and a Deputy Director.
These appointments will ensure effective decision-making and faster financial allocations.
The sanctuary, declared an Elephant Reserve, receives Rs. 40 lakhs to Rs. 50 lakhs annually. Officials here say it is not sufficient.
At present it is facing acute shortage of drinking water and fodder during summer. The enhanced financial assistance from the Centre will help authorities in finding lasting solutions for the same, reports The Hindu.
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