Press on Environment and Wildlife
Sand from Vaigai riverbed plundered (February Week 2 (2006)) The Vaigai River Conservation council has urged the State Government to introduce an alternate construction material for sand, reports The Hindu. .
Its executive committee that met here recently said that sand was being plundered from the Vaigai riverbed with the connivance of Revenue and Police departments. The council resolved to impress upon the officials the need to protect natural wealth and to strengthen people's participation in `retrieving' the river.
The council condemned Public Works Department officials for not heeding to the farmers' demand to supply water for irrigation through the Viraganur regulator and instead allowing it to wastefully drain into the sea.
The council demanded that the entire stretch of the riverbed from Anaipatti to Ramanathapuram be cleared of the wild growth as done in the city limit.
Sansar Chand revealed Tibet, Nepal links: CBI (February Week 2 (2006)) On Friday, Rajasthan police arrested a Tibetan, Neema Kampa, from Delhi’s Azad Market, reports The Indian Express. Police say every animal pelt that goes out of India passes through the hands of his gang.
Poacher Sansar Chand, too, had told the Rajasthan Police and the CBI that the skins he sold to international dealers, mostly from Nepal, passed through Tibet.
Chand was arrested by the Delhi Police on June 30, 2005. His interrogation revealed the network and the route of the international wildlife trade.
CBI officials say Chand has listed sales of thousands of skins to at least four Nepalese buyers. ‘‘My Nepalese clients would order on telephone and there was never any problem in supply when they came to Delhi,’’ Chand has confessed.
Chand allegedly said he stored the skins in cloth or leather godowns in the Delhi’s Walled City. They’d be smuggled through the Indo-Nepal border inside false cavities of buses or hidden inside consignments of readymade garments.
One of Chand’s clients, Tashi Tshering alias Chhewang, was arrested in Kathmandu in December.
CBI officials say they are obtaining permission to either question Chhewang in Kathmandu or obtain his interrogation report.
Chand had been questioned over 10 days by CBI. The four Nepalese buyers who figure in his admissions includes:
• Tsering Tamang: Allegedly bought 300 tiger skins, 2,000 leopard skins, 6,000 fox skins and 4,000 cat skins from Chand.
• Tashi Tshering: Arrested. Chand claimed to have sold 20 tiger skins, 60 leopard skins and 100 otter skins to him.
• Pema Limi: One of Chand’s ‘‘biggest clients’’ since early ’90s. Bought 50 tiger skins and 350 otter skins.
• Tenzing Lama: Allegedly bought 100 tiger skins, 70 leopard skins and 100 otter skins.
CBI officials estimate that Chand controlled almost 50 per cent of the trade. From an estimated Rs 5,000 in the ’90s, he was getting Rs 60,000 for a tiger skin prior to his arrest.
According to Chand’s interrogation by the Rajasthan police, the traffic in animal skin is run by Kashmiri and Nepalese traders, for whom Chand has been a supplier since early ’80s.
Jaipur (North) SP Rajeev Sharma said Chand has named several persons. “We have passed on the information to the CBI.”
Chand’s first major clients were several Kashmiris in handicrafts business. He has named a few, including a prominent handicrafts exporter based in New Delhi. Later, the entry of Nepalese buyers edged out the Kashmiris, he had said.
Poisoned wheat bait may have killed Okhla birds: Officials (February Week 2 (2006)) wildlife Department officials today handed over three men — found with poisoned grains on them from the Okhla Sanctuary — to the Uttar Pradesh Police. The officials say the trio could be behind the Saturday incident in which 47 birds were found floating in the Yamuna.
A patrolling group found Ramesh, Radha Shyam, and Rajesh in the sanctuary carrying nets, catapults and a sack of wheat. They admitted that the grains were poisoned.
The three, who work as labourers, belong to the Bawaria community of Rajasthan and have been living in Noida for some time.
Rajesh, 16, told Newsline, “We had come for fishing. It seemed we’d get a good catch. We coated the grains with ‘dawai’, and threw them in the river a few days ago. Today, we had come with out nets.”
Forest officer K.L. Sharma said, “These people took us to their nets today. We saw the sites, and there was wheat outside the water too.”
The grains have been sent to IVRI, Hyderabad for analysis. “The analysis will confirm whether the toxins found inside the birds matches with that found on these men. They have probably sold fish in the market. We need to find whether they were poisoned or not,” said Sharma.
Meanwhile, four more carcasses of birds were recovered today, bringing the death toll to 60.
Rampant killing of sharks along east coast (Issue of the week, February Week 1 (2006)) It's a matter of delicacy. Sharks are being rampantly killed by an organised mafia for their fins in coastal Orissa. The illegal trade is estimated at a whopping Rs 100 crore a year, reports The Times of India.
In 2001 alone, the wildlife department made a seizure of shark fins worth Rs 10 lakh in Puri. Biswajit Mohanty, secretary, Wildlife Society of Orissa, says, "If one goes to any fishing base in Orissa, one will find evidence of killing of sharks.
Earlier, only a handful of fishermen were involved in the trade, but now they've gone upto 2,000. Sharks are being killed almost daily."
The fins are used for shark fin soup, a highly-priced delicacy abroad, which fetches upto $ 100 a bowl. The sharks are exported illegally to Hong Kong, Singapore and China.
The sharks are caught in specially-designed nets and their fins taken out and processed. They are trimmed into shape and dried before being exported.
"The illegal business is becoming a lucrative trade. While a kilogramme of fins is sold for Rs 10,000 by local people, the price goes up more than five times abroad," said Mohanty.
However, not all fishermen can catch the sharks as it requires special skill. The mafia, he says, is luring fishermen to join the trade and of late, coastal Orissa has become a fertile ground for them.
The largescale poaching of sharks, if unabated, will alter the ecosystem of the coastal region.
One of the species which is illegally exported is the three metre-long white spotted guitar fish, weighing about 200 kgs. It's protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Other marine products such as the sea horse are also protected under the Act but sold illegally. "However, shark fin comprises a bulk of the trade," says Mohanty.
S C Mohanty, chief wildlife warden of Orissa, says, "We try to keep a close watch on the illegal marine trade. People from other states are also involved.
A few raids have been conducted, but we can't monitor the entire coastline as the department is facing a severe staff shortage; 60% of the posts are lying vacant."
Stress on organic control of pests in farming (February Week 1 (2006)) A scientist from RRL, Jorhat, Dr Poran Baruah said it has become incumbent that organic means alone are adopted for the control of pests and weeds in the farmlands. The Assam Tribune reports him saying that globally, chemical pesticides worth Rs 11,500 crore are used each year and added that this is leaving behind harmful residues, that would affect humanity’s future generations.
Dr Baruah said that the chemical pesticides include DDT, which has lost its efficacy over the years, with pests developing resistance against the drug. “Initially, DDT was effective against 600 varieties of pests and insects, now the chemical is effective against only half a dozen varieties,” he said. He stressed on integrated management of pesticides and diseases as a viable alternative.
Dr Baruah was speaking as a special invitee at a commemorative function of a local NGO, Irab Kirab. The occasion was the birthday of the NGO’s founder, Late Popi Santana Bharali, and was held at the Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaroa auditorium here on January 25. He said that the market today has evolved and currently, several brands of bio-pesticides are available for use by the agricultural community.
Another bane of modern day society, polythene bags and their haphazard disposal came up for discussion at the function, at the initiative of Dr Kalpana Deka Kalita. She spoke of the non-biodegradability of polythene and harped on the four ‘R’s while using plastic bags: Refuse, Reduce, Re-use and Re-cycle. She also enlightened the audience of the harmful effects of carrying foodstuff like raw vegetables, fish and meat in polythene bags. She claimed that the heat generated heat while carried in polythene bags, making the foodstuff potentially harmful for human consumption.
Irab Kirab’s director, Dr Ananda Bormudoi hoped that the outcome of the discussions would be fruitful for society, and the people at large would take to organic pest elimination and reduce the usage of polythene bags. He said Irab Kirab has begun a campaign against polythene bags in the city.
Changes in conservation project (February Week 1 (2006)) The methodology to implement biodiversity conservation and sustainable coastal management project of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust will be changed, reports The Hindu.
Its Director V.K. Melkani said here on Monday that the trust had set up eco development committees in various coastal villages of Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin districts and started implementing the project.
But, it faced some difficulties due to lack of proper mechanism to execute the project in the field level and involve all stakeholders including fisheries, pollution and other departments.
So, it recently conducted a brainstorming session. Experts and representatives of various departments discussed the problems.
Sejalworha of World Wildlife Fund and Anil Bharadwaj of Wildlife Institute of India were asked to rewrite implementation part of the project.
They were expected to complete the task in a month.
Mr. Melkani said the UNDP's Global Environmental Facility had agreed to clear obstacles in implementing the project.
The basic aim and goal of the project would not be altered and the new report would clearly specify the works of all stakeholders.
The implementation of the project would gain momentum from March.
The project was started in 2002 at an estimate of Rs.140 crore. Of this, the GEF agreed to contribute Rs.40 crore in a phased manner.
While the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust spent Rs.2 crore in implementing the project so far, Rs.5 crores was spent on the pilot project.
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