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From John Eickert

Here is a mail from John Eickert which I felt like sharing with IWC members. Montana or Manali, we humans share- and feel the same way about -nature's bounty
-Susan Sharma.

" How are you dear lady? I read in the news there was a considerable and unseasonable weather front which passed through your area. Hope this note finds you and yours healthy, happy and strong. In March, I worked so hard in our orchard. The price of organic fruit has spurred the desire to harvest and so the additional effort was put forth. Then, two weeks ago, came a huge snow storm and it killed almost all the buds on our apple trees. Ho, hum. In addition, the lilacs were hit hard as well. Will miss their delicate scent and the way in which it fills the cool spring air. Went to an address by Dr. Schaller in Missoula last weekend, then stood around afterward and gained an opportunity to shake his hand. Wow. Have also been working hard to keep oil development out of the Front Range here in Montana. I am afraid we are destined to lose that battle. The numbers of large ungulates in this area of intersecting ecosystems, mountain, forest, river, and plains, is staggering. I guess it is considered easier to explain to future generations that it was more important to make a few wealthy men even more wealthy than to save this area for them to see. Ah, the destiny of man. Fascinating how Homer understood this six thousand years ago. Take care. Cheers. "

Dugong is State Animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands!!

 


From : Hoslo Jiwa
Subject : RE: End of season report from Green Life Society, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Dear Susan,
Here is a round up of the last six months work on the Dugong Baseline Study. We will be closing the work during the monsoon season for Sirenian PEER training with Sirenian International.

January - March 2004

The problem seemed to be quite obvious in the administration and different departments there seemed to be a lack of knowledge on the islands about what exactly is a Dugong.
The idea came about to start an artist workshop to paint, sculpt or draw Dugongs and invite the public to take a look. We asked for permission for all the government artists employed in schools or various departments to take part in this workshop.

The department of Education, Culture and Sports agreed this was a good way to raise awareness about the environment and conceded to our wishes. We also got the local businesses to participate in the form of the Lions club which provided us with logistical support. The Lieutenant Governor and his wife both visited the workshop as well as the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Shri Patnaik and over 400 local people during the six day workshop.

The aim was to let the public become aware of the Dugong species while at the same time give the local artist exposure both locally and in Europe.

The paintings will be put up for auction on our website www.greenlifesociety.org and will hopefully raise funds for the desperately needed equipment to conduct the baseline data research.

Besides this we have consolidated our first field station in Havelock Island where there has been two sightings of Dugongs. This has been made with the kind co-operation of the Jungle Resort owner Susheel Dixit. His concern for the environment is genuine and will take part in our future programs.

The present plan to be submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forest has been delayed because we need the equipment to carry out the work and it is not possible to give the MOEF a clear timeline when the work will commence and end until we know our equipment status.

In the next few weeks we will conduct Dugong discussions and multimedia presentations to the Anthropological, Fisheries, Coast Guards and Navy Departments.

March-June 2004

We at GreenLife Society are very happy at this moment due to the awareness campaign taking shape into something sustainable. The latest news should make anyone who cares about Dugongs globally very happy.

In India each State recognizes an animal to represent the State or Territory, after weeks of behind the scenes discussions the State animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was elected by the State Wildlife Board.

They announced the Dugong as State Animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands!!

We are extremely happy to have bought this animal from obscurity to the level of a State animal within such a short time frame. This in itself has created awareness among people who have had no idea of what a Dugong is, the extra publicity has been self generated by newspapers, radio, and local television. Traveling to obscure islands around the Andaman and Nicobar everyone has heard of the Dugong “Oh yes the Dugong is our state animal” has been the constant reply, the majority of people listen to their radios and the State radio broadcasts have been Pro-Dugong selection.

Here is the rest of the news from the Dugong project

Awareness campaign during March-April-May included presentations about Dugongs to the following:

• GreenLife Society in association with the Andaman Prakriti Samsad (another local NGO) and the Media Centre of Press Information Bureau. Cordially invited 50 local scientists to a televised session to discuss the status/conservation of dugong in the Andaman Sea on the 4thMarch 2004 at 16:00hrs, at the Media Centre of Press Information Bureau, in Aberdeen Bazaar Port Blair.

•On the 6th March All India Radio broadcasted a live discussion with the Fisheries Department and GreenLife Society on the status of Dugongs.

•The State local newspaper the Telegraph published a full half page story on the Dugong in their Editorial section.

•The Private owned newspaper The Andaman Express covered the meetings in their articles.

•Dr Khatri GreenLife Society friend, Professor of Zoological studies at Port Blair J & N College and State Wildlife Board Member wrote an article in Hindi about Dugongs to the local State Hindi newspaper.

•The Port Blair Lions Club hosted GreenLife Society to discuss and inform them on the status of Dugongs and the underwater world of the Andaman in a visual audio presentation.

•Dugong and underwater world of Andaman Presentation was conducted at Centre for Agricultural Research Institute (CARI)

•Centre for Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) has joined forces with GreenLife Society to assist in collecting and analyzing sea grass species for the Dugong study.

•Indian Space Application Centre (ISAC), Ahmedabad Gujarat, CARI and GreenLife Society will conduct a triangular signal procedure for collecting accurate GPS coordinates to assign to sea grass species. We will then send the information to the ISAC team who will in return take GIS images of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and with the signatures we have given will develop an accurate map of sea grass beds in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This will enable us to find Dugong feeding grounds more easily. This is the first time we will be using satellite imagery for sea grass beds in India.

•Directorate General of Lighthouse and Lightships, Ministry of Shipping. Noida will allow GreenLife Society researchers onto their vessels to investigate very remote Islands for Dugong activity.

•GreenLife Society is now an official member of the Indian Wild Life Club

•On the 26th April GreenLife Society conducted Dugong (Sea Cow) Aerial Monitoring Methods Teaching Presentation to the Andaman and Nicobar Coast Guards. The event was attended by all the helicopter pilots, senior officers and the DIG of Coast Guards Commander Basra.

•On the 28th of April a new and important ally was made The Tribal Welfare Department granted the Director of GreenLife Society to conduct interviews and survey of Little Andaman at Dugong Creek. The importance of this decision shows just how crucial our awareness campaigns has been, the area is inhabited by the aborigine tribe the Onge a group of 95 persons make them one of the rarest aboriginal tribes in the world! Clearance to go into these areas is a painstaking procedure we managed because of the trust we have built between the A&N administration and GreenLife Society and the sheer dedication to the Dugong we have shown.

•Hut Bay Dugong presentations were given to the local fisheries dept, and to over 50 people in the Hut Bay area

•Dugong Presentation was given on board Coastguard Ship CGS Lakshmi Bai to all ship crew.

•The Coastguards helped GreenLife field worker conduct coastal surveys of Northern Little Andaman by utilising the CGS Lakshmi Bai and their Gemini boats.

Warm regards

Hasmukh


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