Environment Awareness

I=PAT

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 23, 2007

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The organized environmental movement has been almost totally ineffective at protecting the environment since the mid 1980s. 

 

The big groups have been successful at protecting some resources in certain regions—staving off the drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and gaining more wilderness designation in the Green Mountain National Forest are two notable successes in the U.S.A—but in terms of protecting the major ecosystems and the general environment, they have largely failed.

 

There are many other environmental crises including loss of species diversity, loss of natural resources like wetlands and forests, and the collapse of ocean fisheries. 

A large coalition of environmental groups in 1970 endorsed a resolution stating that, “population growth is directly involved in the pollution and degradation of our environment—air, water and land—and intensifies physical, psychological, social, political and economic problems to the extent that the well-being of individuals, the stability of society and our very survival are threatened.”

The connection between population growth and the environment is perhaps best expressed through what is known as the foundation formula or the environmental impact equation,

I=PAT.

What this says is that any environmental impact is the result of three factors; the size of the population, the affluence or wealth of that population and the technology or type of consumption that the population spends its wealth on.

What has happened is that environmental organizations have disregarded the population part of the equation and focused almost entirely on the technology part of the equation, be it driving more fuel-efficient cars or encouraging “smart growth.”

 Source: The Environmental Magazine

http://www.emagazine.com/view/?3734

 

 

Wildlife Poaching

Lion Claws

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 21, 2007

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Lion claws are cult symbols in and around Saurashtra.  There is a belief system built around them.  Fishermen wear them before venturing out to sea, apparently to make them "lion -hearted". 

The forest department destroys all the claws collected from the carcasses of dead lions so there is no official route of getting these talismans.  Forest officials do not believe locals in Saurashtra would be hunting lions for their claws and claim that mos of the claws are fake.


The Kathi Darbar Community wear them as status symbols.  Sold at prices rising up to Rs 25,000 per claw, they are flaunted in pendants worn on bare chests. 


Conservator of Forests, Junagadh has powers to apprehend those wearing lion claws. But there is no information of anyone having been booked so far, over the years.

source: Times of India, 13 April, 2007

Environment Awareness

Jal Satyagraha Launnched in Delhi

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 21, 2007

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Yamuna is in danger and no single organization or person can handle 
this. Everybody in Delhi has to come together to tackle its problems.
Instead of laying a concrete jungle, we should build a natural jungle of
10,000 hectares on the flood plain of the river. The people should help
in reviving recharge structures and distributaries of the river. The
Ridge should be declared as a recharge zone and the baolis and talaabs
that existed there should be restored. The ghats on the Yamuna should
also be restored.


The Jal Satyagraha 2007 was also launched at the event. It aims to raise
awareness among school and college children. It will create awareness in
both rural and urban India on the optimal use of water and need to
recharge to groundwater. The Satyagraha will work with media to raise
public awareness on water-related issues. It will advocate water as a
basic human right and hold camps in different states. The campaign will
also discourage people from using bottled water and drinking soft
drinks. Lastly, it will work to stop the privatization of rivers and
other water sources.
Source:owsa@oneworld.net

Anthropomorphism

Raven world’s second smartest creature

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 20, 2007

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Birdbrain is no longer a sign of stupidity; indeed it could be a sign of surprising intelligence. 


Scientists Bernd Heinrich and Thomas Bugnyar reveal a series of experiments that back the idea that ravens are the brainboxes of the natural world. "These birds use logic to solve problems and some of their abilities even surpass those of the great apes."


The experiment they outline involved ravens that were allowed to sit on perches from which pieces of meat dangled from string. To get a treat, a raven had to perform a complex series of actions: pull up some of the string, place a loop on the perch and hold it with a claw, then pull up another section of string and hold that loop on the perch. By repeating the process half a dozen times, a raven could reach the end of the string and get the meat.


Source:  Guardian Newspapers Limited April, 2007

Bird Sanctuaries

In search of Mahseer

Posted by Karthik on May 20, 2007

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Doddamakali Fishing Camp (12th May 07, 140kms from Bangalore)

My mind and soul both were craving for some kind of adventure and I was also sick and tired of slogging at work. Actually, I was looking for agn opportunity to unleash my Beast on the road and it came at the right time. This is about a trip that Netra (my wife) & I cruised along the gorgeous locations of Karnataka (Halagur – Malavalli – Doddamakali) searching for Mahseer. It was just ’awesome’. That’s the only word comes to my mind when I think about it. This write-up is all about three entities - we two and BISON (the Bullet).

Meandering through the woody landscape amidst the forests of Karnataka is the Cauvery the most majestic and sacred river of South India. The river offers both adventure and opportunity for nature lovers. Nestled along this mighty river is the Doddamakali Fishing Camp, world-renowned as home to the great ‘Mahseer’ - the finest & the largest tropical sporting fish known to man. Tucked away from the milling crowds, yet close enough for you to reach, this camp offers a slice of nature that is entirely unique, one in which you can totally feel free! JLR has exclusive rights to vast stretches of the Cauvery. Four different kinds of Mahseer (Large Headed) fish are found in these waters Silver, Gold, black and Pink. However, in light of decreasing sizes and numbers of good specimens, ’Catch-and-Release’ has become a necessary practice. Other fish often found are carp, catfish and many small ones useful as bait.

Doddamakali Camp is situated 6km upstream from Bheemeshwari. This place is as remote, rugged and as primitive as any place could be. Hugging the River Cauvery, the Camp is absolutely protected and riparian—sylvan in solitude and great for bird sightings & Mahseer fishing. Mammals that are spotted around the Camp include leopard, elephants, wild pigs, sambar, spotted deers, the highly endangered grizzled giant squirrel, Malabar giant squirrel and jackals. Reptiles that can be sighted are marsh crocodile, turtles (Leith’s Soft Shelled Turtle, an endemic species is found in these waters), chameleon, python, cobra, russell’s viper and banded krait. However, the Mahseer fish is the main attraction of the waters of River Cauvery

Over 200 species of birds have been identified around the camp. Among the water-based birds, you can spot the grey-headed fishing eagle, spot billed duck, small pied kingfisher, black-bellied river tern, osprey, and many more. There are also a number of rare land-based birds such as the honey buzzard, tawny eagle, pied crested cuckoo, etc. Our cruise was quiet smooth till Mandya through the four-lane highway. After that the roads were little bit rough & uneven. After doing some left, right turn and riding on smooth road, Netra & I reached the old tarred road and then kacchi sadak.. the way to Doddamakali.. 8 km stretch which took us around 45 mins-1 hr. It was very interesting journey on that road both times. We were finally at camp at 11:40am, but via a slope hugging zigzag path with no soul around.

After reaching there we were welcomed with a glass of lemon juice. It was like "amrut jal" or may be "tirthanm" after 3 hrs ride. I couldn’t resist jumping in to the river even after reading about crocs & whirlpools in the stream; swam for an hour and then lunch around 1:30. After lunch we were at river side & I fixed my fishing rod to ankle the Mahseer; a legendary fighting fish which can grow to over 100lb in weight. These fish are famous for being able to strip a reel bare of 40lb line on the first run and can easily swim upstream, against rapids, at over 20 knots. Netra was resting on hammock & fell asleep.

Putting her to sleep, I swiftly changed into my fishing gear and taking my trusty spinning tackle, called forth with determination. After I had worked out the kinks from my casting arm, I was rewarded by a Silver Mahseer, who seized my large spinner with a vengeance as soon as it struck the water. In no time the reel was singing, my arm was straining against the pull from the Mahseer, who was whizzing downstream looking for refuge in the rapid and rocks. This gave me time to overcome the initial shock of hooking a big one, and also a respite to my pounding heart. I now concentrated on landing this monster. The usual tricks of playing and tiring the fish were applied with great care and eventually I landed my first 1 pound Silver Mahaseer which is the smallest anyone could catch, after about an hour of sheer grit and pleasure.

Around 4:00 we went for the coracle ride... Delirious with excitement, Netra & I jumped into the Coracle. Not fresh to such conduct, indulgent rowers stop me and hand over a lifejacket in glowing orange. I put it on, and gingerly get into a coracle that shudders fleetingly under my weight. The coracle whirled, twirled, swirled, and finally drifted rhythmically. The oar touched the water with a plop & hit the rocks, Netra & I started disquieting the Gille (guide) for some local wildlife news as usual

We were there till the tea & planned to climb up the roads around 5:00pm, except for my BISON no vehicle can reach out there. On the way back we spotted couple of spotted deers, wild fowls, and mongoose. By the time we reached Halagur, it was past 6 pm. Since we were on a day tour (no accomodation available for the night) we had to return to Bangalore. We had spent only about 8 hours at the camp but it was an extremely satisfying and relaxing trip. My mind was away from all the worries of every day life and was raring to go back to work full blast.

Cheers Karthik

hrkart@gmail.com

Climate change and Global Warming

Delhi

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 19, 2007

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The CO2 levels are going up by 2ppm per year, with Delhi adding 963 new cars daily to the city’s fleet. To ensure that the temperature does not go up by more than two degrees by the turn of the century, we have to ensure that CO2 levels stay below 450 ppm. Vehicular traffic is the single largest contributor of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Even the trees lining the road cannot help unless we reduce the number of vehicles.

Source: Times of India, May4, 2007

Little Known Destinations

Chintpurni, Dharamshala, Pragpur

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 19, 2007

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Chintpurni, Dharamshala, Pragpur, April, 2007 

-Partha Praim Pal

 

It has been long time since we both (Kirti and myself) took a break from Delhi on religious reasons . As some of you are aware we had been blessed by a daughter some five months back – we undertook a visit to Chintpurni, Chamunda, Kangra Devi and Jwala ji along with Vanya (our daughter).

We reached Chintpurni on 14th evening. Next morning I woke up very early more due to people’s voice walking in the street – All eager to do a darshan early morning being Basaikhi weekend .Not expecting any bird life in that cacophony of people ,Radio, Stereo and of course Mandir mike – I moved out of the Dharamshala with heavy feet and heart with my Binoculars hanging on my neck .

Indian Wild Life Club


Just 200 mtrs from the Dharamshala, I hit upon a dirt road, which took me to semi jungle kind of a habitat, which lifted my spirit. There was a sudden expectancy in the air . Nearly 15 pairs of Asian paradise flycatcher with their long white tail fleeting around with few just couple of meters away.  A pair of Blue rock thrush, Flocks of Plum headed Parakeet and Common Rose finches, Ten odd golden orioles and quite a few more species were sighted within span of hour. Only regret being I didn’t listen to Kirti’s advice of carrying the camera for the walk.

 

Indian Wild Life Club

16th afternoon we reached Paragpur our destination for next two days. We stayed in a resort called “Judge’s Court” basically a Pre independence Haveli turned into Welcome heritage resort . As expected luxury at its best mixed with old royal eloquence. Paradise flycatcher once again was the highlight of the little birding I did around the property, not to miss the Grey Hornbill’s fight for nest with the Rose ringed parakeet who ultimately lost all the three juveniles to aggressive Hornbill, omnipresent brown headed, Blue throated barbet, tiptoeing Grey wagtail, various warblers, various Myna & starlings,  huge flocks of Common Rose finches etc.

 

Indian Wild Life Club

17th was again an out and out  religious day with three of us visiting the balance temples as mentioned above.  Except an odd sighting of Egyptian vulture and Himalayan Griffon at Kangra fort area, no birding.   Down with a severe headache due to excessive heat,  I didn’t have the strength to do any birding that day , though we reached the hotel by 5pm.
18th morning was the D day marked for my morning birding at Maharana Pratap Sagar wetland which is 20 odd kms from the hotel.  Armed with my camera and binoculars ably supported by driver Daler Singh we reached the destination early morning.  Initial scanning of the area was very disappointing though villagers informed us in advance that all migratory ducks have flown back.

I was awe struck by the huge water body. Initial disappointment gave away to some relief when I saw a Little Ringed plover feeding at the edge of the water.

 Indian Wild Life Club


Gradually one after the other species came tumbling out as if they were hidden in some closet – only favouring the brave who can fight the ever rising temperature which was getting unbearable with every minute, though cold draft from the Sagar did help me to stay there for nearly two hours . Whether it was terns, wagtails, larks, pipits, Blue tailed Beeaters, Bar headed geese,  First winter Palas Gull, Eurasion wigeon, Small pratincole, Lapwings and of course my only two lifer of the trip Richard Pipit and Eurasian Skylark,  I enjoyed every bit of the two hour of birding.
 I cannot wait to visit the birding paradise again. 
(Text and photographs--Partha Pratim Pal )

Climate change and Global Warming

A political challenge?

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 18, 2007

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"Developing  world can leapfrog to a new energy future-from no fuel to the most advanced fuel. The biofuel can come from non-edible tree crops-jatropha in India, for example-grown on wasteland, which will also employ people.

This fuel market will demand a different business model. It cannot be conducted on the basis of the so-called free market model, which is based on economies of scale and, therefore, demands consolidation and leads to uncompetitive practices. In today’s model, a company will grow the crops, extract the oil, transport it first to refineries and then back to consumers.

The new generation biofuel business needs a model of distributed growth in which we have millions of growers and millions of distributors and millions of users. Remember, climate change is not a technological fix but a political challenge. Biofuel is part of a new future."

-Sunita Narain
Source: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/cover_nl.asp?mode=2

 


 

Climate change and Global Warming

Godavari Basin, IIT Delhi and UK

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 17, 2007

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A regional climate change study is being done on the Godavari (Andhra Pradesh) basin by IIT Delhi and UK based scientists.

The Godavari basin extends over three million sq.km and is nearly 10 % of the total area of India. Because of its size, it provides a diversity of eco systems that will enable scientists to carefully choose sites to study interlinked water dependent eco systems like forests, wetlands and cropping systems.

Source: Hindustan Times, 23 March , 2007

 

Wildlife , Forest Laws

Constitutional Provisions in India

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 17, 2007

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Article 48A and Part IV A of the Constitution grant environment supremacy over development. The Constitution, on a sensitive provision in Article 48A states:"The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country."

Article 51A (g) creates a fundamental duty in every individual to obey the mandates of environment and ecology.




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