Wildlife

Endangered Ghariyals

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 05, 2008

 
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Endangered Ghariyals

The past two months have seen the unprecedented and shocking death of the Gharials on the Chambal River, while other animals such as marsh (mugger) crocodiles and turtles appear unaffected. The National Chambal Sanctuary is spread across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh and protects a 425 km stretch of the Chambal River. The mortalities have been confined to a 70 km stretch of the Lower Chambal from Etawah to Gwalior. The epicenter of this disaster is near Etawah (Uttar Pradesh), at the confluence of the Yamuna and Chambal rivers.

 The Min of Environment & Forests, Govt of India set up a 14-member Gharial Crisis Management Group (CMG) consisting of U.P, M.P and Rajasthan forest departments, along with representatives from IVRI (Indian Veterinary Research Institute), ITRC-Lucknow, WII (Wildlife Institute of India) and NGOs like GCA, WWF and Wildlife S.O.S. The CMG had also decided in meetings that regular patrolling of the river shall be done to identify affected animals and if needed live animals would be rescued / captured and treated / observed and samples collected and analysed in the interest of saving the species.

The team of international crocodile experts includes Dr. Fritz Huchzermeyer (Vice-Chairman of the IUCN-Croc Specialist Group’s Veterinary advisory group), Dr. Paolo Martelli (Ocean Parks, Hong Kong), Dr. Brian Stacy (a pathologist from the University of Florida) and Dr. Samuel Martin (Director of La Ferme Aux Crocodiles, France).

"Not only do we hope to get to the bottom of the Gharial deaths, we are also creating a database on the Indian Gharial which will be crucial for the long term conservation of the species in its natural habitat,’’ said Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder, Wildlife S.O.S.

 Source: www.wildlifesos.org

 

Eco-tour

virus from human tourists harm gorillas and chimpanzees

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 04, 2008

 
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Ecotourism- Impact on wildlife

The latest environmental issue attributed to eco-tourists is a massive threat to an already endangered species. It appears that the tourists may be passing potentially deadly diseases to the great apes they spend so much money to view in the wild.

Every year the economies of African nations receive a boost from wealthy tourists willing to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for the chance to get up close and personal with majestic gorillas and chimpanzees. But new evidence has come to light suggesting that humans are infecting the apes with deadly respiratory viruses.

The first direct evidence linking human contact to disease deaths of great apes was found in the Ivory Coast. Chimpanzees at the West African nation’s Tai chimpanzee research station were killed by human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) and human metapneumovirus (HMPV).

This throws a wrench into the eco-tourism equation. Tourist money has undoubtedly had a positive impact on both the economies of desperately poor African nations and the situation of endangered great apes. Eco-tourism helps fund conservation projects and has reduced poaching by making the animals more valuable alive and in their natural habitat than they would be dead. However, an outbreak of a virus carried by an unwitting eco-tourist could potentially wipe out an entire community of apes, which could drive the endangered species toward extinction.

Scientists have proposed that all humans in close contact with the animals be forced to wear a mask. The mask rule would have to apply to all eco-tourists, as most people would be completely unaware that they were carrying a deadly virus. The viruses generally have no symptoms in humans. Conservationists also want to increase the distance that must be kept between human and ape. Currently, tourists must stand at least seven metres from the animals, but there are calls to increase that to 10 metres.

Source: Guardian Unlimited
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/03/conservation.endangeredspecies?gusrc=rss&feed=environment

E-Governance for Conservation

web 2.0 technologies

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 04, 2008

 
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Web 2.0 technologies

Web 2.0 technologies are creating a revolution in specialised groups of activists, NGOs and social changemakers.

The utility will be more in specialised and thematic groups as it is much easier to handle information overload in such communities.

Online interactive quiz programs, chat programs and games can add stickiness to the website and also promote discussion and debate on issues usually marginalised or ignored.

Climate change and Global Warming

A holistic view of climate change

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 04, 2008

 
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A holistic view on climate change

There has been much debate about climate change perhaps because we cannot see carbon dioxide when we exhale, or when we burn oil and coal to heat our homes, or use petrol to power our cars or fly planes. We do, however, have scientific instruments that can accurately measure what we humans produce and the increasing amount of carbon that we are adding to our environment.

The data is irrefutable - carbon dioxide concentrations have been steadily
increasing in our atmosphere as a result of human activity since the earliest
measurements began. We know that on the order of 4.1 billion tons of carbon are being added to and staying in our atmosphere each year. We know that burning fossil fuels and deforestation are the principal contributors to the increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in our atmosphere. We know that increasing CO2 concentrations has the same effect as the glass walls and roof of a greenhouse. It lets the energy from the sun easily penetrate but limits its escape, hence the term greenhouse gas.

Observational and modeling studies have confirmed the association of increasing CO2 concentrations with the change in average global temperatures over the last 120 years. Between 1906 and 2005 the average global temperature has increased 0.74 degrees C. This may not seem like very much, but it can have profound effects on the strength of storms and the survival of species including coral reefs.

Eleven of the last 12 years rank among the warmest years since 1850. While no one knows for certain the consequences of this continuing unchecked warming, some have argued it could result in catastrophic changes, such as the disruption of the Gulf Steam which keeps the UK out of the ice age or even the possibility of the Greenland ice sheet sliding into the Atlantic Ocean. Whether or not these devastating changes occur, we are conducting a dangerous experiment with our planet. One we need to stop.

The developed world including the United States, England and Europe contribute disproportionately to the environmental carbon, but the developing world is rapidly catching up. As the world population increases from 6.5 billion people to 9 billion over the next 45 years and countries like India and China continue to industrialise, some estimates indicate that we will be adding over 20 billion tons of carbon a year to the atmosphere. Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes to the global climate that could be more extreme than those observed to date. This means we can expect more climate change, more ice cap melts, rising sea levels, warmer oceans and therefore greater storms, as well as more droughts and floods, all which compromise food and fresh water production.

The increase in population coupled with climate change will tax every aspect of our lives. In a world already struggling to keep up with demand, will we be able to provide the basics of food, clean water, shelter and fuel to these new
citizens of Earth? And will governments be able to cope with new emerging
infections, storms, wildfires, and global conflicts?

So is there any way of avoiding these apocalyptic visions of the future coming
true? Many have argued that we simply need to conserve, to alter and regress our standard of living and block the industrialisation of developing countries. In
my view this is extremely naive thinking. Furthermore, even the most optimistic models on climate change show a dramatically altered planet Earth going forward even if we embrace all alternative options such as wind and solar energy, and electric cars. Our entire world economy and the ability of modern society to provide life’s basics, depend on the very industrialisation that contributes to our possible demise.

Yet, sadly, very little thinking, planning or projections about how to cope
with the carbon problem and climate change have taken into account the
capabilities of modern science to produce what we have long needed to help solve these global threats.

It is clear to me that we need more approaches and creative solutions. We need new disruptive ideas and technologies to solve these critical global issues.  This is where, I believe, biology and genomics, come in.

Source: Excerpts from  the annual Richard Dimbleby Lecture on BBC on (Tuesday 4 December 2007) by Dr J Craig Venter

Tribal Bill-How it will affect our forests

USA Experence

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 02, 2008

 
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The Trust for Public Land (USA) published a story which is very similar to our own Tribal Rights Debate.

 A land under dispute for over 130 years( 208, 000 acres of forest land) was recently released for native American Indians. Read the full story at

http://www.tpl.org/tier3_cd.cfm?content_item_id=21966&folder_id=3409

 

Bio-Diversity

Gene tweaked but is this brinjal safe to eat?

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 01, 2008

 
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Gene tweaked but is this brinjal safe to eat?

Reuse and Recycle

Using flyash

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 01, 2008

 
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Using flyash

Fly ash is a by-product of coal combustion in thermal plants. Presently majority of the coal ash generated is being handled in wet form and disposed off in ash ponds which is harmful for the environment and moreover ash remains unutilized for gainful applications. India has sufficient coal reserves. In India almost 65-70% of electricity production isdependent on coal which produces a huge quantity of Fly Ash as residue which is allegedly a waste product in Thermal Power Stations.

Fly Ash has a vast potential for use in High Volume fly ash concrete especially due to its physic-chemical properties.  Using fly ash in construction activity is environment friendly, reduce energy demand and restrict carbon emissions.  
Transco Delhi and DMRC have been using flyash in construction activities.

When mixed with lime and water the flyash forms a cementitious compound with properties very similar to that ofPortland cement. Because of this similarity, fly ash can be used to replace aportion of cement in the concrete, providing some distinct quality advantages.The concrete is denser resulting in a tighter, smoother surface with lessbleeding.

A good amount of research has already been done inIndia and abroad on its strength and other requisite parameters.

Bird Sanctuaries

Thattekhad “ The” Birding destination of South India-Dec 2007 ( Part II)

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 30, 2008

 
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Thattekhad “ The” Birding destination of South India-Dec 2007 ( Part II)

-Posted by Partha Pal in Delhibird yahoo group

 


Post lunch trip was with Girish (Mrs Sudha’s son) . I accompanied Girish and three Foreigners(Swede birder and Australian birding couple) to a different part of forest on lookout for Waynad laughing thrush. Though it eluded us I got my first sighting of Malabar hornbill,  Malabar parakeet, Hill mynah ,Ruby throated Bulbul and Pompadour green pigeon. However the location for Waynad laughing thrush and the path was full of leeches . I was literally hooked on to shoes removing every time a leech crawled up, still I had eighteen bites around the ankle to calf muscle. Other guys also met with the same fate except the lady. Reasons unknown ,probably fairer sex has advantage even in jungles.

Next two days were with Eldhose and I was looking forward to them. So much was written about him that I already had image of him bigger than life. Well he turned out to be very soft spoken, gentle ,down to earth person, whose only love is birds.    His preciseness of the location , sharp hearing , recognition of calls , all are amazing. There were so many incidents in two days you could only be stunned with Eldhose’s magic.

So we started of with Red spur fowl behind his house, white cheeked barbet ,Malabar grey hornbill at the Papaya tree next to his house.  For photographers he also creates a hide sort of situation where you can have really close photos of birds. Then it was the time of Mottled wood owl little distance from his home, followed by Blyth’s pipit. We took a brief break for breakfast. Post breakfast session yielded Grey breasted prinia, Crested hawk eagle – As per Eldhose , a sub species of changeable hawk eagle which does not change, in sanctuary area – we saw Grey headed bulbul, Crimson backed sunbird, Brown breasted flycatcher, Crested serpent eagle,Grey jungle fowl, White bellied treepie, fleeting glimpse of Crested goshawk a grizzly squirrel , flying lizards ,Asian Bird southwing and other butterflies.

Post lunch session produced a amazing collection of birds. We visited another part of the sanctuary. Blue throated flycatcher,Dark fronted Babbler, Chestnut tailed starling the south India sub species, Heart spotted woodpecker, Large cuckooshrike,Black headed Cuckooshrike, Drongo cuckoo, Black napped monarch, Asian paradise flycatcher – all this at one location. Little further in the Jungle we saw a giant squirrel, plum headed parakeets, Fleeting glimpse of Besra and Chestnut winged uckoo.Malabar Parakeet, and the Highlight of the trip – The beautiful Malabar trogon. I was so sucked up by the beauty, I forgot to shoot photos. The day does not end here. In absolute darkness Eldhose tracked down Indian Pitta and with the help of a small torch another species has etched onto my memory.

Next day was my last day at Thattekhad and we had still lot of names in the list.. We started of with Black Baza – a beautiful princely bird. We had to wait nearly 45 minutes for the lone baza sighting. While waiting for Black baza, White bellied and Rufous treepie, Large cuckoo shrike, Brown shrike, Black naped, Black hooded and Golden oriole , Black crested bulbul (Ruby throat -south Indian sub species)were seen. Next  in line was Blue bearded beater . Post breakfast sightings produced,Lesser yellow naped woodpecker – south Indian sub species, Streakthroated woodpecker and Yellow billed babbler . Then we took a long and beautiful drive to Edamalyar barrage where we saw Dusky craig martin, White bellied treepie, Rufous babbler and on the way Common hawk cuckoo, Shikra and Paris peacock butterfly.

After having a hefty and late lunch at one of the Kerala dhaba we proceeded toward the sanctuary gate. Target was White bellied woodpecker, however due to less time I opted for Dollar bird. As usual Eldhose tracked down the Dollar bird and in process we saw lots of Hill mynah,Malabar hornbill, Grey jungle fowl, Rufous treepie with a kill, hordes of caterpillar and a lone Oriental honey buzzard.

Quite a few names were still pending in the wish list, but I ran out of time, probably I can cover in my next trip.Eldhose has given a open offer - ten days in south India. He will show you 300 species.

Treated to a Icecream by Eldhose I said bye to Thattekhad . Thanking Eldhose and my stars that at least some part of the dream has been fulfilled. Those who are interested in hiring Eldhose services need to book minimum month or two in advance.

 

 

 

 

Wildlife

Endangered Giraffe

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 27, 2008

 
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A Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) study revealed that man and nature are threatening at least six distinct species of the African Giraffe, which are highly endangered and could face extinction if not protected. 


The extinction threat was real since giraffes are listed as lower risk in the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List, "under the assumption that giraffe species are considered a single species and therefore managed as such". 

"Severe poaching and armed conflict in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya reduced the number of reticulated giraffes   from about 27,000 individuals in the 1990s to currently fewer than 3,000 individuals over the past decade."

Environment Awareness

Cigarette butts

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 23, 2008

 
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Cigarette butts, snack wrappers and take-out food and beverage containers are the most commonly littered items. Cigarettes are one of the most insidious forms of litter: Each discarded butt takes 12 years to break down, all the while leaching toxic elements such as cadmium, lead and arsenic into soil and waterways.

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