Press on Environment and Wildlife
Four-foot-long fishing cat sighted in Bhitarkanika (March Week # (2007)) The Bhitarkanika forest officials on Sunday spotted a four-foot-long rare fishing cat at Ekakula Island under Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
According to Rajnagar District Forest Officer AK Jena, some Kolkota-based tourists, who were moving at Ekakula, informed him that they had spotted a rare species. Later, he, along with forest officials, went to Ekakula and found that the spotted species is a big fishing cat.
Jena said that the current status of the fishing cat is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and in Appendix II of CITES. The species is designated as "vulnerable" in the Red Data Book. Their number in the State is declining owing to killing and habitat loss.
The Bhitaknaika National Park is the home to hundreds of fishing cats, as it provides a congenial atmosphere for the species. After a gap of a couple of years, the forest department has sighted such a big fishing cat, said Jena.
Of the 11 species of small cats in India, six are known to be in Orissa. Each sanctuary has one or more species of small cats. The Bhitarkanika National Park has three species of small cats each, namely leopard cat, fishing cat and jungle cat. The fishing cat is strongly associated with wetlands. It is typically found in swamps and marshy areas, oxbow lakes, reed beds, tidal creeks and mangrove areas.
Wetland destruction is the primary threat faced by the fishing cat. Causes of this destruction include human settlement, draining for agriculture, construction of aquaculture facilities and woodcutting. High content of pesticides in rice fields and fishponds result in adverse impacts. Since the harmful chemical residues enter aquatic food chains and affect top predators such as the fishing cat.
Destructive fishing practices have also greatly reduced the fishing cat's main prey base. The fishing cat is hunted because it is considered edible and its skin is still valued by the fur trade.

SOURCE : The Pioneer, Tuesday, March 20, 2007
PTTs glued to seven Olive Ridleys (March Week # (2007)) Platform Terminal Transmitters (PTT) were glued to seven Olive Ridley turtles in mid sea near Rushikulya rookery coast by wildlife experts.
According to Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) S.N. Mahapatra, this has been done because Olive Ridleys are not venturing to the coast for mass nesting this year. But they can still be seen in sea a few km from the coast. Usually, the PTTs that can be tracked by satellites are fixed to turtles when they come over to the coast to nest. Mr. Mahapatra says the PTTs may unravel the reasons for which Olive Ridleys are not coming to their preferred nesting zones on the Orissa coast. There has been only one mass-nesting spell at Gahiramatha. But the Devi rookery and the Rushikulya rookery coasts are yet to experience mass nesting.
Forest officials still have hopes that the turtles would come and nest till April as they are at sea near the coast. In the past, mass nesting had been seen in April also.
This year, over 70 PTTs are being glued to Olive Ridleys near the Orissa coast under a research project of New Zealand-based SIRTRACK, wildlife trafficking experts. Each PTT costs some $ 2,000.
Wild Life Institute of India and the State Forest Department are involved in this research project. The information received from these modern communication devices would unravel the unknown facets of their life, especially during their nesting period.
It would also hint at the protection and management efforts needed at shore and sea for the Olive Ridleys coming to Orissa coast to nest, said Mr. Mahapatra. These endangered turtles are highly vulnerable as some studies say that one out of 1,000 hatchlings of Olive Ridleys survive to reach adulthood.

SOURCE : The Hindu, Monday, March 19, 2007
Move to save pygmy hogs through captive breeding (Issue of the week, November Week 1 (2006)) The critically endangered pygmy hog (Sus salvanius) could well have a new lease of life thanks to an innovative conservation plan. The variables remaining unchanged, some captive bred pygmy hogs may soon be released into a few Protected Areas of the State. While the captive breeding programme is going on at Basistha in Guwahati, eight of the captive bred animals are being reared near Nameri National Park. The next step is their release in a bigger enclosure where they would have to fend for themselves before being freed in the wild.
Talking to this correspondent, Goutam Narayan of Ecosystems India, one of the stakeholders of the pygmy hog conservation programme, said that the animals at Nameri are adapting well to the new environment. They have started foraging and have even developed a distance with the persons monitoring their activities.
“We want them to adapt with a situation where they have no ties with human beings. They have to rely on their own instinct in order to survive in the wilderness,” Narayan, a conservation zoologist, said.
A lot of research preceded the captive breeding programme and their subsequent rearing at Nameri. First, the earliest population had to be carefully selected from the Manas National Park, where a few of them still remain. Thereafter, they were shifted to a facility at Basistha, where breeding was done under constant monitoring.
“We went the extra mile to ensure that we picked up healthy and unrelated males and females. The animals were micro-chipped so that their identity remained clear. Breeding was carried out among animals of different lineage. All this was necessary to ensure that the gene pool was wide in range,” Narayan stated.
The captive breeding programme has been a success, even though it initially met some resistance. Today, the captive breeding centre at Basistha has around 60 pygmy hogs, while the breeding programme started with only six animals in 1996.
Conservationists have been interested in the pygmy hog conservation programme for several reasons. Not only is the species highly endangered, and endemic to the State, it is perceived as an indicator species. If the pygmy hog and its grassland habitat could be restored, then a range of other species would have suitable living space.
Realising this crucial link, several leading groups joined hands to conserve the species, including Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, State Forest Department, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, IUCN and Ecosystems India.
Significantly, during the Sixties of the last century the pygmy hog was believed to be extinct, and it was only a chance ‘discovery’ of an animal that led to renewed interest. Subsequently, wild populations were located at Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary and at Manas National Park.
Several attempts at rearing and breeding them in captivity were tried thereafter, but results were never encouraging till the latest project at Basistha. At the captive breeding centre, constant monitoring yielded a wealth of data regarding the species.
Apart from documenting their breeding habits, it was possible to know about their behaviour, and also about the kind of habitat they preferred. It was found out that babies in the captive breeding programme had a survival rate of about 64 per cent.
The challenge now is to ensure how the species and its habitat could be managed when the captive-bred population is released into selected sites.
SOURCE : Assam Tribune, Monday, November 6, 2006
Henkel to contribute 20,000 euros for environment management centre (November Week 1 (2006)) Prof Ulrich Lehner, Chairman, Henkel KGaA of Germany, on his maiden visit to India, has announced that Henkel India would constitute a chair for Environment Management with the Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad.
The company would also contribute 20,000 euros towards the Centre of Excellence that it has jointly set up along with the institute, he added.
Mr Satish Kumar, Managing Director of Henkel India, speaking at the International Conference on Green Competitiveness for Sustainable Development (ICGC), 2006, said, “We are happy to announce that Henkel will contribute 20,000 euros towards the initiatives planned for the Centre of Excellence for Environment Management with IMT, Ghaziabad.”
“We at Henkel are extremely proud of being a part of a global organisation that is committed to environment protection and sustainable development,” Mr. Kumar added.
The ICGC 2006, jointly organised by the Henkel India Ltd. and IMT, Ghaziabad, concluded with the creme of the academia and industry sharing their views and strategies for key environment issues.
SOURCE : The Tribune, Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Drinking water crisis to deepen by 2021: ICAR report (November Week 1 (2006)) Himachal to face scarcity due to melting of glacier
The drinking water crisis is likely to deepen in Himachal Pradesh by 2021 due to excessive melting of glaciers in the Himalayan region and increased demand from developing industrial areas and other parts of the State, an Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) report sreport said.
The drinking water scarcity, which was eight crore liters per day at present, was likely to increase to 13 crore litres by 2021, the report stated.
The increased pace at which the glaciers in the Himalayan region was melting and demand for drinking water from the developing industrial areas was likely to aggravate the crises, it said.
The report said drinking water crisis along with power problems were likely to rise in the Satluj basin over the years due to the construction of a dam over the Pareechhu river in Tibet by the Chinese authorities.
According to the report, the demand for drinking water in the urban areas of the State was likely to reach 15.04 crore litres per day, while for the rural areas it would be almost four times to 57.59 crore litres.
Of the 15 crore litres demand in the urban areas, about one-third of it would be required to fulfil the drinking water
needs of the people in Shimla town, it said.
The Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) report says that a person in the rural area would only be provided 41 litre water per day as against 70 litres being provided as of now.
Since there would be a huge gap in demand and supply of the water in the state in the years to come, agitations and violence could not be ruled out, it said.
The report said the water level in the rivers of the State was declining due to excessive melting of glaciers in the Himalayan region, adding that, a part of this could be attributed rising temperatures and global warming in the world.
The water level in the Satluj river was likely to fall by 40 per cent after the construction of dam over the river, it said.
It has to be noted that even on an earlier occasion, the State Irrigation and Public Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur has already said that all habitations in the State would be facing drinking water crisis by 2008.
During his visit to the State, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised Rs 500 crore aid to Himachal to provide drinking water to all habitations in the State. However, according to sources, due to industrial development, the problem seem to become more grave and needs the attention of the concermed authority.
SOURCE : The Pioneer, Monday, November 6, 2006
Eco-clearance for Vallarpadam project (November Week 1 (2006)) The Union Ministry for Environment and Forests has accorded environmental clearance for the State's much-awaited international container transhipment terminal project at Vallarpadam here.
The Cochin Port Trust (CPT) had applied for necessary clearance in 2005 and the expert committee of Environment for Infrastructure Projects had held a series of meetings with the CPT officials and the India Gateway Terminal, the promoters of the project.
The last hearing of the expert committee was held at Hyderabad. The expert committee, after scrutinising the environment impact assessment and other technical reports and public hearings issued the environment clearance on Thursday, subject to certain conditions.
The conditions for environmental clearance include: The development of the project will be carried out in accordance with the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991 and Coastal Zone Management Plan of the Kerala Government.
The conditions also say that a suitable green belt should be developed between the terminal project and the GIDA Road. It also stipulates that no mangrove vegetation should be affected due to the construction. The coastal protection work should be carried out after detailed hydrodynamic model studies.
Source:Pioneer News Service
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