Press on Environment and Wildlife
Tiger task force calls for more scientific methods of tiger count (August Week 2 (2005)) The tiger task force report submitted to PM this week has called for a scientific census to get realistic estimate of the tiger population in India. In fact a new methodology that also uses GIS as one of the tools has been ratified to avoid old census mistakes like attributing the same tiger’s pugmarks to two or three big cats. Once this is done in November the country’s tigers count could fall sharply from the current and allegedly inflated figure of 3600. For instance a recent census in Ranthambore done under watchful eyes of experts revealed that there were about 26 tigers there. The last figure for this world- famous reserve put the count closer to 50. Similarly the official census from 1997 to 2004 showed that Sariska’s tiger populace varied from 27 to 17, while the number of big cats sighted by the filed staff remained between 17 and Zero. The report has called for moving beyond the pugmark count method. Apart from taking India’s tiger count to a healthy 3600 the method has been faulted for not encountering pugmarks to more than one big cat or similar pugmarks of different ones being counted as one. The task force has recommended the use of DNA analysis for the purpose.
Monsoon wrecks havoc in the Parliament (Issue of the week, August Week 1 (2005)) Monsoon seems to have caused disturbance not only on the flood-hit areas but also in the parliament, the most prominent debate being on the issue of inter-linking of the rivers. A report from The Pioneer, July 27th:
The vagaries of monsoon in the country figured prominently on Tuesday, July 26th, in the Rajya Sabha with the members expressing acute dismay over the Indian Meteorological Survey of India's inability to predict it accurately. The short discussion on the prevailing flood or drought in various parts of the country also turned out to be an opportunity for some members to demand expeditious inter-linking of rivers, which, however, was hotly contested by Congress. MP Jairam Ramesh termed the proposed interlinking of the river as ‘the greatest man-made calamity in waiting’. Despite many Congress MPs from the South, too, subscribing to the view that the inter-linking of rivers would put to an end to the recurring problem of flood and drought, Mr. Ramesh asserted that "there could be room for smaller river inter-linking project of the scale of Telgu-Ganga project or the Ken-Betwa project, but a country-wide project of this nature would spell disaster. BJP member from Gujarat Jayanti Lal Barot, while narrating the flood situation in his State suggested that the Central Government should give tsunami-type assistance to flood-hit states. Mr. Karnendu Bhattacharya (Congress) said the flood situation in Assam should be declared a national calamity as the State suffers heavily every year on account of this. He demanded a regular chairman for the Brahmaputra Board which was constituted last year. Moti Lal Sarkar (CPM) wanted to know why "we have not succeeded in tackling the flood situation in a comprehensive way" despite the fact that there are certain areas which are either flood or drought prone. PG Narayanan (AIADMK) said the UPA government was not serious about the rivers-linking project initiated during the NDA regime to tackle the menace. Referring to failure of Karnataka in releasing Cauvery waters, he said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should intervene in the matter. R Chandrasekhar Reddy (TDP) underlined the need to expedite the rivers-linking project which, he said, was kept in cold storage by the UPA government. Subbarami Reddy (Cong) suggested the Government should concentrate on linking of rivers and even earmark a definite budget every year for it.
Sharks as a source of recreation to maintain ecological balance in the Andaman Sea (August Week 1 (2005)) Despite objections from various NGOs, scientists favor shark fishing in Andaman Sea, saying cap on shark population is necessary. '' If there is no check on shark population, in the long run shark population will increase and others will decrease due to over predation, ''said Dr P Paul Pandian, senior scientist and Incharge of Andaman’s fisheries survey of India (FSI) unit (The Central Chronicle, July 25th). Dr Padian said unbridled shark population could bring drastic change in ecosystem and therefore there was no harm in fishing shark in a controlled manner. The MoEF Mortification, dated July 11, 2001, brought protection to species such as sharks, sea cucumbers, sea horses, sponges and corals, when it placed all sharks on schedule I of the wildlife (protection) act, 1972 making their killing illegal. The ban was later partially lifted in order to allow small-scale, traditional shark fisheries to operate at Subsistence levels. On October 2002, the Andaman Nicobar granted License for fishing sharks and rays in the Andaman water. Some endangered species of sharks are also found in Andaman water and the fisheries survey of India is organizing a series of campaigns for fishermen to teach the latter which shark species are to be caught. '' We have posters of those shark species, which are banned for fishing and we are giving huge publicity to spread awareness, '' the senior scientists of FSI said. Environmental lobbies active in Andaman feel the same that shark can earn good money for us, but, in other way round without killing them. '' Few small countries of south Asia have set an example of earning money from sharks without disturbing them in anyway, '' said Subhasis Ray, general secretary of HELP, an NGO of Andaman’s (healthy environment by less pollution). Ray said in those countries they have evolved a Tourist package called ''shark watching'' in a countries like Maldives this ''shark watching'' attract tremendous Tourist, thus a living shark earns good amount of money than a dead one, some times even double than that. '' This kind of practices should be promoted in Andaman to earn good revenue to attract more tourists, without harming the fragile ecology of Andaman''. Hopefully a combination of both the strategies should help restore the ecological health of Andaman Sea.
Monsoon patrol teams formed across the country (August Week 1 (2005)) With the advent of the rainy season, monsoon patrol teams have been formed in various reserves of the country, although it seems that these teams are hardly a discouragement to the poachers. The monsoon patrolling teams in Arunachal’s pakke reserve have come across poachers four times recently, and killed five and injured two. They seized ammunition arrows and animal meat. Raids in fringe villages have thrown out raps and snares. In Bihar Valmiki tiger reserve, people have been caught for illegal filling. While poachers and other criminals seem ready to use the rain and slush to their advantage monsoon patrolling hasn’t even begun in Chhattisgarh’s Indravati reserve an area where Naxalites hold sway. Since the tiger crisis hit the headlines, the environment ministry has put in additional money this year to arm vulnerable reserves to protect tiger and the other animals. In Rajasthan armed constabulary has been called in. in other states also the patrolling teams have been formed. For the first time the Sariska reserve, which has lost all its tigers, has been closed for the monsoon. This is because there are some 40-odd leopards and other animals there and if the tiger’s prey base is not protected, it would be impossible to reintroduce the big cat into that area.
Police force to go to the classroom to learn animal welfare laws in Madhya Pradesh (August Week 1 (2005)) Whipping domestic animals to hasten their pace is used commonly by people without realizing that it is illegal and can land the owner behind bars. But it is not just the defaulters who to be blamed for the ignorance. Laws made for animal rights have been gathering dust since 1960, mainly because the law enforcers and the public are unaware of it, mostly due to lack of frequency in reported cases. A local NGO in Madhya Pradesh has now taken it upon itself to sensitize the police force. Because awareness of the existing laws has not yet reached police stations, Animal and Environment Care Organization (AECO) has decided to hold camps to sensitize the police force. The Animal Welfare Board of India, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, had passed laws for 'Checking Overloading of Draught and Pack Animals'. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) was enacted in 1960. This refers to animals used for drawing vehicles and includes buffaloes, cows, horses, mule, camels and donkeys. The laws prohibit poking or confining the animal and using it for more than five hours a day at a stretch. It also prohibits use of an animal when the temperature exceeds 37 Degree Celsius between 12 noon and 3 pm. "We are planning to sensitize the police on this issue. We will be holding camps and informing about 'pet respect' programmes. We are not relying on the animal welfare board and Madhya Pradesh has been a neglected State when animal rights are concerned," Mr. Punit Tripathi, associated with AECO said (The Pioneer, July 25th). AECO, which was recently recognized by the UK-based World Society for Protection for Animals (WSPA) is planning to start the project in another three months
World’s first eco-friendly magazine (August Week 1 (2005)) Housing and Environment Minister, Jayant Malaiyya in Bhopal recently released a women based magazine at a function. The magazine, edited by Ms. Meera Singh is the first magazine of the world which is published on Eco Friendly Hand Made Paper. The first issue of the magazine has covered the Domestic Violence Bill in a very simple language. Ms Meera Singh said that this magazine would cover all the issues related to the women's problems. Speaking over the handmade paper, she said that the distinctive character of the paper is that there is no pollution while manufacturing it and this paper is made from the waste pieces of cloths. The paper is very expensive and off beat so the magazine cannot be published on multi colors and there is only black or brown color. Minister Jayant Malaiyya appreciated the efforts of Ms Meera Singh and said that there was the need of such magazines which cover the women's issues prominently. On this occasion, Padamshri Dr Bashir Badr and Ms Mehrunissa Pervez were prominently present. These literary personalities also lauded the efforts of Ms Meera Singh in endeavoring to bring out such a magazine.
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