Press on Environment and Wildlife
Butterflies need conservation (December Week 3 (2005)) Like other species, their habitat is also declining. As City Beautiful is rapidly converting into a concrete jungle, there is a decline in host shrubs like lantana, ak and hibiscus and trees like amaltas, pipal and bor.
There is a need to improve the number by setting up a butterfly park on the pattern of parks in foreign countries, says Dr V.K. Walia, an entomologist at the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Chandigarh. He has been studying butterflies for the past 25 years.
He says the park will not only improve their number of butterflies but also bring residents closer to nature.
“The park will give children an opportunity to understand the importance of these bio-indicators. It will also serve as a laboratory for studying lepidoptera and its conservation,” believes Dr Walia, who is writing a book on butterflies of north-west of India.
Of the 1,439 species of butterflies that have been reported in India, 78 have been recorded by Dr Walia in and around the city. Most of these species live at average altitudes. These can be seen in good numbers in foothills and plains close to hills.
Area near Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal spot for setting up the park as it is botanically richest area. A museum will also go a long way in creating awareness about these beautiful creatures.
Butterflies can be reared in parks under controlled conditions and these can be later released in surrounding areas, he says. For this, plantation of their host plants and closed chambers will be required.
“The department has a large collection of specimens of different species of butterflies and moths that can be displayed in the museum,” says the entomologist. The Tribune also reports that
butterfly farming, popular in the UK, the USA and Australia, has played an important role not only in its conservation but also in providing employment as a cottage industry.
Novel tiger census to take off from January 16 (December Week 3 (2005)) To help form a policy on conservation and management of tigers, their prey and habitat
• Survey also involves assessing co-predators
• Random sample survey to be carried out for natural vegetation and human disturbance
• GPS to be used to identify boundaries as also start and end points of `transect lines'
A census will be conducted to help in formulate policy for the conservation and management of tigers, their prey and habitat, from January 16 to 30, reports the Hindu.
The census, titled "Monitoring tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitat," is being carried out under a detailed field guide prepared by the Directorate of Project Tiger and the Wildlife Institute of India.
The nature of habitat, availability of prey, type and nature of forests, among other things, will be identified in the operations.
"Line transect" method will be adopted in which a "path" is created in places that tigers frequent, such as brooks. The personnel involved in the operations will tread the path looking for pugmarks and excreta, and even listen for the roar of a tiger. Every detail will be recorded in a data sheet designed for the purpose.
It is a comprehensive survey since it will also take into account co-predators such as leopards, ungulates such as chital, sambar, boar, barking deer, barasinga, chinkara, chowsingha, wild buffalo, hare, elephant, rhino, langur, cattle, goat, sheep and domestic livestock. The census will assess as to how much forest land is used by the various animals.
Random sample survey for "natural vegetation, human disturbance and ungulate pellets" will be part of the operations. One "forest beat" will be considered as one unit for the purpose. A beat will consist of an area ranging from 2,000 to 2,500 hectares. Global Positioning System (GPS) will be used to identify the boundaries as also start and end points of "transect lines." The data collected all over the country would be collated to arrive at near-exact assessments, sources said.
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Hunsur, Jagmohan Sharma, is arriving here on December 30 in a bid to train the personnel likely to be involved in the 15-day census, sources said. The entire staff of Forest Department will take part in one of the most ambitious projects being carried out in the country.
Rare species of birds rescued (December Week 3 (2005)) As many as 739 birds of over 15 species including protected ones were rescued from the captivity of bird-catchers during a raid by forest department team at Nakhas bird market in U.P on Thursday.
Rare birds like barbett, bulbul, cranes, doves, munias, mynas, parakeets, partridges, quails, starlings, storks and crows were recovered during the raid.
Endangered species declared protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection act 1972 such as black-neck crane, hill myna, Lord Derby's parakeet were also recovered.
The 28-member team, led by sub-divisional officer, Lucknow forest, MP Singh, found birds being crammed in around three dozen cages with hardly any place to move and spread their wings.
Cranes were mercilessly pushed into 2.5 X 3 feet cages. Of the nine recovered, only three were able to walk. They were sent to the veterinary hospital at Lucknow Zoological Gardens.
Sources said that a single pair of cranes can fetch as high as Rs 60,000 for the bird-catchers. Notably, crane is the state bird and a black-necked one is said to be rarest of rare.
"The cages had been piled up in a 8 X 10 feet room with no facilities of cross ventilation or sunlight. The birds would have either died or developed some disease if they would have remained there for another week," said forest officials.
District forest officer Sanjay Singh said "One Shiv Raj was arrested, while other culprits Ishwarlal, Kailash, Lala, and Jitendra managed to escape." All the accused are residents of Ghanta Pir Gharrahiya, Saadatganj.
Shiv Raj initially denied about his involvement in the racket, but later revealed that he and his associates bred rare birds at a farm on Kanpur and sell them to various zoos across the country.
During interrogation, he revealed that the racket also operates in Meerut, Shahjahanpur, Kolkata, Rampur, Moradabad and Hyderabad besides other parts of the country.
He disclosed that while rare birds like hill mynas, love birds, certain parakeets are high in demand, the latest craze in the market is crane.
Uma Shankar Singh, conservator of forest, Lucknow, said that the birds recovered were categorised under Schedule I and IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
"This means that the bird-catchers can get seven years' imprisonment along with a fine for violating the Act." Reports the Times of India.
CM clears Rs 74 cr master plan for animal protection (December Week 3 (2005)) Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ( Orissa)on Friday approved a master plan of Rs 74 crore for the safety of wild animals in Keonjhar and Bonai Forest Divisions. The money will be spent over a period of ten years.
With mining activities running full blast in these two Forest Divisions, the threat exposure of the wild animals has gone up many notches. Around 68,652 hectares of lands in the two divisions are given on lease for mining activities. The master plan will commence from 2006-07.
The money will be spent in developing the natural habitat of wild life and corridor development. The corridor will play a safe passage for animals who can move from one division to the other division. The master plan will arrest the problems of deforestation and stop timber smuggling.
Orissa objects to Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh (Issue of the week, December Week 2 (2005)) The Orissa government has objected to the construction of the project on the ground that the 150 ft high dam will submerge several villages and agricultural lands in that State and displace hundreds of tribal families and others.
The Hindu reports that Orissa Chief Minister has addressed letters to the A.P Chief Minister resenting the latter’s decision to go ahead with the execution of the project without consulting Orissa. The letter to the Central Water Commission expresses ire at the clearances given without referring them to his government.
It is understood that construction has started based on a 1980 interstate agreement signed by the three riparian states-Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. In the intervening 25 years the cost of rehabilitation and resettlement would have gone up considerably.
A meeting between the two Chief Ministers is likely to settle the issue politically.
Green bodies planned for national parks (December Week 2 (2005)) The Rajasthan Government is considering appointment of ecological development committees in areas
adjacent to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to ensure participation of local people in conservation of forests and wildlife and provide adequate livelihood opportunities to them.
The Minister for Forests and Environment, Laxminarain Dave, stating this here on Wednesday, pointed out that the step would provide a significant assistance to the poor tribals living on the margins of forests. He said connecting common people with the conservation activities would not only lead to their participation, but would also inculcate a sense of belonging to the natural heritage of the State. Mr. Dave, addressing the participants in a long march from the Ranthambhore wildlife sanctuary to Jaipur, said an experiment for associating the tribal population with the arrangements for boarding of tourists through the Nature Club had been launched in Udaipur. Similar initiatives could be taken in the forest areas, he added.
Referring to the disappearance of tigers from the Sariska wildlife sanctuary, Mr. Dave said the role of a bunch of criminals working for a gang had been exposed in this regard. He said the march would send across a positive message motivating the people at large to join the movement for environment conservation.
The rally was organised by Sawai Madhopur-based Mahatma Ishwarnath Seva Samiti, reports The Hindu.
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