Press on Environment and Wildlife
Rare bird species sighted in Chambal areas (December Week 2 (2005)) The Hindu reported the birds sighted in Chambal in December.
Two bird experts— Munir Virani of the Peregrine Fund, an Idaho-based NGO, and Harsh Vardhan of the Tourism and Wildlife Society of India— who along with local nature-lover Ravindra Singh Tomar cruised the Chambal river on a boat and later trekked the Bhainsrodgarh sanctuary in Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan last fortnight, reported sighting of more than a dozen species of vultures, eagles, hawks and owls.
The Nairobi-based Dr.Virani is on a regular assignment with the Peregrine Fund in the wake of the steep decline of vulture population in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The first and foremost concern of the team was the status of the now threatened vultures and they could spot 33 Whitebacked vultures-- whose population is facing steep decline -- in the southern part of the Chambal river in the company of the Longbilled vultures, Egyptian vultures, Eurasian Griffin vultures and a lone King vulture devouring a buffalo carcass.
Along the Chambal in the north and south phases they could locate 76 occupied nests of Longbilled vultures and some Egyptian vultures as well.
"We could also spot seven occupied nests of Longbilled vultures at the Vindhian gorge overlooking the Rana Pratap Sagar, which extends its expanse to the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh,'' Mr.Vardhan informed.
Among them the sighting of the Black eagle, a bird restricted to the lower Himalayas from Punjab to Arunachal Pradesh, was a record. "The bird can be confused with Changeable hawk eagle, which too has a black face but its under wings are also totally black unlike that of the hawk eagle,'' Mr.Vardhan observed.
The sighting was a new record for the Chambal though the Keoladeo Ghana National Park near Bharatpur has a record of sighting it ("Birds of the Indian Sub Continent'' by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp).
Changeable hawk eagle— in fact a pair of it— was spotted inside the Bhaisrodgarh sanctuary and the visitors recollected seeing it in Sri Lanka recently. The bird is not common in Rajasthan though its sightings are recorded in Kumbalgarh sanctuary and from the Keoladeo Park.
Bonelli's eagle, a winter visitor in this part of the country, made its appearance to the visitors.
A resident of India, the bird is identifiable by its unique combination of white underbelly, which is variably streaked on the breast with dark terminal bands to the tail.
Tawny eagle, a resident bird soaring high amidst the Longbilled vultures was a common sight. Also flying high was Short toed eagle, another winter visitor to the area, which is identifiable by its dark head contrasting with the white underside of the body dotted with broken bars.
A pair of Longlegged buzzards, another winter migrant to parts of northwest India, the Thar desert, Rann of Kutch and Saurashtra, showed up hovering over during the surveyors stay in the area.
The bird's preference for semi desert is known. Mr.Vardhan termed the sighting of a Dusky eagle owl-- standing on a ledge near a vulture nest overlooking the Chambal— as "remarkable''. The team recorded Eurasian eagle owl, Kestrel and Blackshouldered kites during their wanderings in the Chambal terrain till now mostly known for its outlaws. "Raptors are the best part of the many splendour glories of the Chambal,'' Mr.Vardhan affirmed.
Wazirabad Park, a lab for students (December Week 2 (2005)) Hindustan Times reports that Delhi University and the Delhi Development Authority(DDA) have launched an ambitious project to woo visitors, especially students, to the Wazirabad –based park.
The Park is yet to be opened for the public. The park has a nature interpretation centre where students can learn about biodiversity, its conservation and use.
Vilas Gogate, consultant and coordinator of the park, says the migratory birds who visit the park include red-crested pochards, pintails and mallards. Nearly 170 species have visited this year.
Gogate says they have introduced hydrila, potomozitons, Cyprus grasses and sedges seed for migratory birds to feed on. “The park has also introduced several species of zoo-planktons and phytoplanktons which remove toxic elements from water. Rotifiers rae known to take bacteria as food and purify water. They also serve as food for fishes. Tubers of sedges are quite popular with aquatic birds. C.R Babu of the Centre for Environment Management adds that they are attempting to recreate the flora and fauna species that existed a hundred years ago. So far thaey have almost 75-100 species of aquatic plants.
The park aims to recreate the lost biotic communities of the Yamuna river basin, besides serving as an educational and research facility.
UN warns against unsustainable use of nature’s gifts. (December Week 2 (2005)) Dec10, Financial Express
The net gains in health witnessed over the last half a century could be wiped out r even substantially worsen over the next 50 years, unless steps are taken for sustainable use of nature’s gifts that support life on earth, a new united nations report has warned.
About 60% of these gifts-fresh water, clean air and relatively stable climate –are being degraded by human activity or used unsustainably, which could have adverse impact on the health of human beings, it noted.
The report “Ecosystems and human well being: health –synthesis”-said there are complex links between preservation of healthy and bio diverse natural eco system and human health.
“ Over the past 50 years, humans have changed natural eco-systems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period in human history,” UN world health organization director general Lee Jong Wook said, highlighting salient points of the document.
WHO’s lead expert on the report, Carlos Corvalan, said the benefits should be acknowledged.
But these benefits are not enjoyed equally. But the risks we face now from ecosystem degradation, particularly among poor populations directly dependent on natural eco-systems for many basic needs, have to be addressed,” he said.
Ecosystems, the report said, are “absolutely pivotal” to prevent disease. Many important human diseases have originated in animals, and so changes in the habitats of animals that are disease vectors or reservoirs may affect human health, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively, it added. For example, the report noted that the nipah virus is believed to have emerged after forest clearance fires in Indonesia drove carrier bats to neighbouring Malaysia, where the virus infected intensively farmed pigs, and then crossed over to humans.
Traps found inside Ranthambore National Park (December Week 2 (2005)) IndianExpress reported the latest news from inside the Park meant to protect tigers.
Sources said as many as 10 metal claw traps have been recovered from the Park in the past few days. Forest guards have also intercepted a gang of three inside the park who reportedly fired three rounds before getting away.
Deputy Field Director RS Sekhawat confirmed that all is not well with Ranthambore. “We spotted some metal chains that are usually used to tie the metal traps to nearby trees. Some movement was also reported inside the forest but I don’t know about the gun shots. Perhaps, local dacoits took refuge inside the park. The intruders left the park soonenough. Of course we are more vigilant. Otherwise these things would have gone unnoticed,” he said.
According to ground staff and forest guides, the traps were found deep inside the park-at Lambi Nalla between Bakola and Lakada-about 7km from the nearest village Uliana, infamous as a hub of the local poaching racket. “If they were looking for sambhars or wild boars for meat, they wouldn’t have gone so far inside. It is just not feasible to carry the animals out from that far when they can get those at fringe areas. Besides, the traps were put at the edge, not centre, of the bridle path where tigers usually walk,” pointed out a forest guard.
“Of course I ma not discounting poaching threats. We are looking into the developments carefully,” Shekhawat said.
Yamuna Action Plan: Supreme court summons Delhi Civic Officials (December Week 2 (2005)) While all news papers reported the SC summons , Hindu reported the news on front page.
The Supreme Court expressed its anguish over”indifference” of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi Jal Board in not submitting to the Court the much talked about action plan to clean the Yamuna even three months after they had been ordered to do so.
A bench of the Chief Justice, directed the MCD commissioner and the CEO of the Jal Board to be present in the court during the second week of next month to explain the reason for non-filing of the affidavit as per the order.
The bench wanted to pass an order constituting a committee of experts to monitor the cleaning of the Yamuna but said that in view of non-c0-operation by the MCD and the Jal Board it could not do so.
The Solicitor-General informed the Court that Urban Development Secretary Anil Baijal had agreed to chair the committee in his personal capacity and social activist Sunita Narain had been chosen as another member. He told the Court that both the MCD and the DJB were yet to file their affidavits on such a sensitive issue. In its affidavit the Centre had cited lack of monitoring and review as the reasons for delay in implementation of the Action Plan and suggested a three pronged monitoring mechanism to ensure completion within the time schedule. While a monthly review would be conducted by the Jal board, the State Chief Secretary should conduct a quarterly review and a committee constituted by the Supreme Court should conduct a six-monthly review, it was proposed.
The Centre had suggested establishment of sewage treatment plans on the banks of the Yamuna, on the lines of the Thames in London, to ensure discharge of clean water into the river. It said that the main drains to the Yamuna still continued to carry almost 50% of untreated sewage and hence it was advisable that water was treated at the mouth of the drain before discharge into the river.
Notorious wildlife trader Tsewang arrested in Nepal. (December Week 2 (2005)) After dodging the Interpol, and the police in India and Nepal, the notorious wildlife trader Tsewang was finally arrested on Sunday by the Boudha Police in Nepal, reports the Indian Express.
He was wanted in a number of cases in India and Nepal.
Though the Nepal police have claimed that Tsewang and Tashi Tsering, South Asia’s most wanted in several cases in India, are one and the same person, the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) keep their fingers crossed.
While confusion remains over his identity, getting hold of Tsewang is good enough as he is named in a couple of cases including the seizure in New Delhi on April 2 this year. Tashi Tsering has been in the trade for years and was named in a number of cases including the Khaga seizure. After the Interpol issued a red corner notice against him in 2002, Tashi Tsering had gone underground. Soon enough, a new player entered the trade-Tsewang.
Acting on information provided by field operatives of the Wildlife Conservation Nepal(WCN) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the Nepal authorities acted swiftly and made the arrest.
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