Press on Environment and Wildlife
Poaching gang busted after 20 years (Issue of the week, September Week #3 (2013))
After a major operation against tiger and leopard skin and body parts traders, Delhi Police on Sunday claimed to have busted the ‘biggest gang of poachers and smugglers’ evading arrest for more than 20 years.

Over 18 kilos of tiger skulls, bones, nails and teeth worth several crores of rupees were recovered from three persons arrested for illegal sale and supply of derivatives of endangered animals under the Wildlife Protection Act........

An interesting fact has come to light that the poachers used to offer their domestic animals, pasted with poison, as a bait to attract tigers. Dead tigers were later found within a radius of 6-10 kms. 

The poachers also kept an eye over the tiger’s activities and immediately after death, they took away the tiger from jungle to their cordoned area. “The skin and all the derivatives are taken out, dried and applied preservatives before being smuggled,”
Yadav said.....

The gang was busted over an input that Suraj was indulging in the illegal trade. It was also informed that Suraj and his father Daliya used to be poachers for Sansar Chand, who has been in jail since 2005 in a Wildlife Protection Act case.

Suraj has disclosed that he had earlier procured six tiger skins and derivatives for Surajpal from Nagpur in Maharashtra. Surajpal had paid Rs 20 lakh as advance for the deal to Suraj, who purchased the skins and derivatives for Rs 3.5 lakh each.


Polluting firms barred in Gulf of? Kutch area (September Week #3 (2013))
The environment ministry has notified a 326.26 sq. km. area surrounding the Marine National Park and Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat as an eco-sensitive zone, blocking any industrial or commercial activity that could threaten the existence
of marine life and other species.

The sanctuary is rich in marine life, with more than 70 species of sponges; 37 species of hard corals and 24 species of soft corals; 150-200 species of fishes; 27 species of prawns; 30 species of crabs, 200 species of molluscs, a species of sea turtles,
three species of sea snakes; three species of sea mammals; 94 species of aquatic birds; and 78 species of terrestrial birds, the notification said.

Quarrying and mining will be banned in the eco-sensitive zone and no fresh mining leases will be granted. The notification also bars mechanized fishing, including fishing by trawlers. The movement of vehicles will also be regulated.

Thirty-one rivers which flow into the Gulf of Kutch have been included in the eco-sensitive zone, according to the notification.


Tribunal bench orders closure of hotels in Manali along river beas (September Week #3 (2013))
National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (HPSPCB) to ensure the closure of all the 34 hotels on the river side in district Kullu and Manali which are operating without obtaining consent of the Board.

While passing this order the NGT further observed that other major source of polluting river Beas and its tributaries causing environmental pollution, particularly air and water pollution by the municipal/biomedical waste disposal practices in the area,
even by throwing municipal solid waste and discarded vegetables etc. directly into the river Beas. As we had noticed, the Marketing Committee, Bhuntar is one of such parties which is responsible for throwing municipal waste/vegetable waste directly into the
river Beas. It was reported in the newspaper that the entire municipal waste/vegetable waste was unloaded by the tractor directly into the river Beas


Gene mapping of tiger completed, to help in conservation (September Week #3 (2013))
The 'whole genome sequencing' of an organism describes the arrangement of all the genes on a single set of chromosomes of the organism. It is considered a complete blueprint of its genetic make-up and provides invaluable insight into a species' interaction
with its environment, its genetic diversity as well as its capability to adapt and evolve.

Fifteen scientists led by Jong Bhak of Genome Research Foundation, South Korea, decoded as many as 3 billion nucleotides (organic molecules that form the basic building blocks of nucleic acids, such as DNA). They identified 20,000 genes related to various
functions of the tiger.

The completion of full genome sequencing of the tiger is a major breakthrough as the data now available will form the basis of all future genetic studies related to tiger conservation. The team has decided to make the data publically available for research.

"We want to make this information available to all researchers interested in and focused on conservation work," Bhak said.

India is the most important Tiger Range Country (TRC) - home to the highest number of wild tigers - among the few TRCs in the world.


Forest dept wants to capture 200 jumbos, create 25 camps (September Week #3 (2013))
The State Forest department is all set to capture around 150 to 200 wild elephants that are “in continued conflict with humans”, and hold them captive to put an end to the problem “once and for all.” ....................The IFS officer said that in the
process of capturing the jumbos, many complex issues had to be dealt with. 

“Once the elephants are identified, we have to decide the males and females of which herd to be captured. This is crucial as we have to make sure that we leave behind a healthy breeding population, and maintain the gender ratio,” he said. 

Presently, there are over 100 elephants in 10 camps, namely Sakkarebylu, Bandipur, Rampura, Mattigod, Balle, K Gudi, Dubare, Bannerghatta, Mysore Zoo and Aanekadu..


Rooting for butterflies (September Week #3 (2013))
Baiju, a butterfly and birding enthusiast, who works at Government Upper Primary School, Paluvally, Palode, has, over the past decade, nurtured a butterfly garden to full bloom in the school premises. It is one of the only such gardens in a Government
school in the district.

Before work started on the butterfly garden, Baiju and his students did a survey of the butterfly varieties in the area and identified their host plants. Our school is surrounded by the reserve forest on three sides and so there is an abundance of flora
nearby. In the initial survey we made a checklist of around 80 butterflies and 65 host plants. The number has now risen to 102 butterflies of five popular species Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Lycaenidae and Hespiriidae!

.....The next step was sourcing host plants  those plants that give nectar such as Ixora (Theti), Jamaican Blue Spike, and Pagoda flower (Krishnakireedam), to name just a few, and also those plants that support larvae. The students, most of who belong
to the tribal community, brought the plants from their homes. We didn' have to spend a dime sourcing plants. In fact, each time we need to re-plant, which usually happens in June/July, the students themselves bring the plants, says Baiju.

Even though the green activities are not part of the curriculum, the students seem to take an active interest and take care of the maintenance of the garden.

The teacher says that he's observed a change in the attitude of the students after they get hands-on involved in the garden. It is gratifying to see the children protecting the butterflies and dragonflies, especially when someone is out to hurt the insects.
The only problem is that once they graduate from the school not many of them are given an opportunity to sustain their interest. However, some of our old students do pop by often to check on the garden.


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