Press on Environment and Wildlife
Tripwires and chilli bombs keep the elephants away (June Week 3 (2005)) Conservationists are installing tripwires and red chilli smoke bombs to prevent herds of wild Asiatic elephants from destroying crops and attacking homes in India's remote northeast. The system involves battery-operated tripwires fixed a few hundred meters away from a home, that trigger a warning bell when marauding elephants approach a village. "Trials carried out over the past eight months have been successful and we are going ahead with installation of these devices in five villages in Assam State," Nandita Hazarika, a project coordinator of the Assam Haathi (Elephant) Project, said (The Pioneer, June 08). "This early warning system gives the villagers adequate lead time to prepare for warding off the elephants and obviates the need to keep sleepless night vigils," Hazarika said. Conservationists also tested the tolerance level of elephants to some pungent variety of chillies and would use the chilli smoke 'bombs' and chilli-smeared ropes to keep the elephants away. India's northeast accounts for the world's largest concentration of wild Asiatic elephants, but a reduction in their habitat over the years has led to an increase in the number of confrontations between man and elephant. Such techniques have been successfully used in Africa and other parts of Southeast Asia and it is hoped that it would be the same for India.
Hindon declared a dead river (June Week 3 (2005)) The Pollution Control Department has termed Hindon (Noida) a dead river. As per the findings of a study conducted during the month of May 2005, the Hindon river has been converted into a drain. The ratio of liquid oxygen in the river has been found to be zero. The biological oxygen has, however, been found to be six times more than the accepted norms which effectively means that no plants, fish etc can grow or survive in this water. These data have been collected from the Hindon river at Kulesra bridge. According to sources in the department, about 350 tonnes of waste is generated in Noida daily and due to excess waste and sewer water being poured into Hindon, the river water has become stagnant, with the result that the content of liquid oxygen cannot increase any further. However, experts feel that the Noida authority has failed to realize the gravity of the matter and failed to take concrete steps to tackle this problem so far. Such a state of affairs is not something rare in the recent times and this should hopefully serve as a wake-up call for the Noida authorities.
Survey on insects (June Week 3 (2005)) A survey conducted on insects in Bandipur National Park, near Mysore, has identified a wide range of ants, beetles and butterflies, which is expected to promote studies on insects in the area. The survey has revealed the presence of 27 species of ants and 41 species of dung beetles (including 9 rare species) and 85 species of butterflies. This survey conducted for one year and across four seasons was taken up by the Mysore-based Green Club, a trust dedicated to nature studies. Being the first of its kind on insects, the survey will become a base study for research, which can be taken up in 866 sq. km. of national park. Buoyed by the success of initial studies, the club has embarked upon taking up higher research on leaf beetles, dung beetles, butterflies and ants
Radio collars for tigers (June Week 3 (2005)) Authorities in India's biggest tiger reserve, the mangrove marshlands of the Sunderbans in West Bengal plan to put satellite-linked radio collars on big cats as part of new conservation methods to save the endangered animal. The new monitoring moves have come amid growing alarm over the country's rapidly dwindling tiger population because of rampant poaching. Atanu Raha, West Bengal's chief forest conservator, said. "We will track down the tigers, shoot them with sedatives and fix the radio collars on them before releasing them back in the wild." Experts will then study satellite data for the movement pattern of tigers, habitat preferences and behavior
Re-introduction of Siberian Cranes (June Week 3 (2005)) Delegates from 30 countries met in New Delhi over four days beginning last Friday to try and clear the Central Asian Flyway action plan - safeguarding waterbird migration routes for Siberian cranes, Blacknecked cranes, ducks, geese, pelicans, flamingos and other birds which travel long distances each winter, risking life and limb. The alarm bells have been ringing loud and clear for several years as hardly any Siberian cranes have been making it to Bharatpur in Rajasthan. During the meeting it was suggested by Crawford Prentice from the International Crane Foundation (ICF) that a pair of young Siberian Cranes should be brought to Bharatpur shortly and kept captive in natural, predator-proof surroundings. Their job would be to remain in Bharatpur and keep alive the vision. The charismatic and critically-endangered Siberian Cranes could hold the fort in Bharatpur while experts wrestle with the longer-term, complex task of re-introducing the bird to the Central Asian migratory route through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to India: a long, dangerous route where it has lost its habitat and been hunted down in large numbers.
First captive tragopan born (June Week 3 (2005)) The State Wild Life Department in Shimla has achieved a rare breakthrough by successfully breeding the highly endangered pheasant: western tragopan, in captivity at the Sarahan Pheasantry for the first time in the world. The breakthrough is most significant as the pheasantry is the only one in the world to have the rare bird in captivity and the survival of the species depended on the success of the breeding program being pursued by the department for the past 15 years. History was made in conservation breeding of pheasants when two of the three eggs laid in the last week of April by one of the three pairs at the pheasantry hatched recently. Last year too, the same pair had laid three eggs but there was no hatching as there was no proper brooding by the female. This year too the female did not show any interest in brooding. However, the department used broody hens for the purpose and the strategy worked.
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