September 22, 2007
The two- day statewide (Gujarat) census on vultures, carried out in May 2007 through direct sighting system, has come up with some alarming findings. According to forest officials, in some segments like Junagadh, Banaskanda and Kutch districts, the vulture
population has come down to half of the previous census figure of 2002, while some species have disappeared altogether.
September 21, 2007
Plastic or Paper? Neither
A landmark 1990 study by the research firm Franklin Associates—which factored in every step of the manufacturing, distribution and disposal stages of a grocery bag’s usable life- employed two critical measures in reaching their conclusion.
The first was the total energy consumed by a grocery bag. This included both the energy needed to manufacture it, called process energy, and the energy embodied within the physical materials used, called feedstock energy. The second measure used was the
amount of pollutants and waste produced. The Franklin report concluded that two plastic bags consume 13 percent less total energy than one paper bag.
Additionally, the report found that two plastic bags produce a quarter of the solid waste, a fifteenth as much waterborne waste and half the atmospheric waste as one paper bag. Plastic is not biodegradable, it litters our waterways and coastal areas, and
has been shown to choke the life out of unsuspecting wildlife.
A recent survey by the United Nations found that plastic in the world’s oceans is killing more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles each and every year. According to the California Coastal Commission, plastic bags are one of
the 12 most commonly found items in coastal cleanups. Paper bags do not cause such after-the-fact problems, and are inherently easier to recycle.
Energy and waste issues aside, the manufacture of paper bags brings down some 14 million trees yearly to meet U.S. demand alone, while at the same time plastic bags use up some 12 million barrels of oil each year.
Consumers must “just say no” to both options and instead bring their own re-usable canvas bags, backpacks, crates or boxes to take away groceries. Another benefit of bringing your own, of course, is setting a good example so that other shoppers might do
September 20, 2007
"In an age when nothing seems to move unless backed by the five-letter word “Money”, it is indeed surprising to find someone who creates a documentary woven around his own music to raise awareness about the state of India’s environment, more so when he urges
people to make copies of his film and share it with others without any commercial aspect involved.
Chinmaya Dunster’s film is not a typical documentary – it is more a compilation of footages from a series of multimedia concerts recorded live at the Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environmental Education and Awareness (BVIEER) in Pune in 2004 that is juxtaposed
with poetry readings, interviews with environmentalists and educators and footage of scenery, wildlife and peoples from all over India, all in an effort to make people think."
Read the full article at
See Dunsters films uploaded on youtube by visiting
September 18, 2007
"Each new moon, families in Kanhapur, a coastal Orissa village start packing up. Over the years, the sea has come dangerously close to the villages, swallowing half the houses, forcing people to migrate to higher ground.
Though exact scientific studies are yet to be undertaken, these could well be one of the world’s few ’climate refugees’. They could be paying the price for somebody else spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Land records show the march of the sea: In 1930, the Satabhaya cluster of seven villages had an area of 320 sq.km; in 2000, it is shown as just 155 sq.km.
Read the full story at Source:
September 16, 2007
Marine resources and environment protection in India has a long way to go. Our neighbouring countries can provide case studies and success stories which can be a great learnng experience for our marine scientists and conservationists.
The 5th Asia Pacific EcoTourism Conference (APECO) is taking place in Terengganu, Malaysia on 27th and 28th October this year. The theme is Marine Ecotourism: Best Sustainable Practices and Success Stories. The Conference will address these challenging issues
and learn how to manage marine ecotourism through sustainable practices particularly in the Asia Pacific region. The conference also has special sessions on conservation of marine resources.
The details of the conference are avavilable at
September 13, 2007
Corals added to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
For the first time in history, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species includes ocean corals in its annual report of wildlife going extinct.
A comprehensive study of marine life sponsored by Conservation International (CI) and implemented jointly with the IUCN (World Conservation Union) used data from the Galapagos-based Charles Darwin Research Station and other regional institutions to conclude
that three species of corals unique to the Galapagos Islands could soon disappear forever.
The Galapagos marine research was conducted by the Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA), a joint initiative of IUCN and CI launched in 2005 with the support of dozens of experts and research institutions. The GMSA is studying a large portion of Earths
marine species to determine the threat of extinction. What is significant is that climate change and over-fishing two of the biggest threats to marine life are the likely causes in these cases.
Researchers blame climate change for more frequent and increasingly severe El Nio events that have caused dramatic rises in water temperatures and reduced nutrient availability around the Galapagos Islands in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, off South
America. The warmer water harms corals and algae, both of which constitute the structural foundation of unique and diverse marine ecosystems.
Corals build reefs that are habitat for fish and other marine life, and also are a major attraction for divers in the Galapagos, where tourism makes a significant contribution to the local and national economy.
The recovery of algae species following strong El Nio events is harmed by over-fishing of the natural predators of sea urchins, which feed on the algae. Mushrooming urchin populations scour rocks clean of algae, depleting a major food source for other species
such as the Galapagos marine iguana.
Marine ecosystems are vulnerable to threats at all scales globally through climate change, regionally from El Nio events, and locally when over-fishing removes key ecosystem building blocks, said Jane Smart, head of the IUCN Species Program. We need more
effective solutions to manage marine resources in a more sustainable way in light of these increasing threats.
Source : http://www.conservation.org
September 12, 2007
Matari-Tale of a Peahen
The 29th day of August 2007, 6.30 PM witnessed an unusual event at IIC Annex - “Peafowl Nesting”, second in a series of events
organized by the newly formed Nature Group of IIC.
It was that time of the year when peahens lay their eggs and incubate them for about 29 days before the eggs hatch. The chicks are timed
to come out just as the monsoon arrives in North India. The peahens in Delhi’s Lodi Park, finding the Lodi lawns lacking in the privacy and security needed for egg hatching, started looking around for safer ground. The nearest large
green space happened to be the IIC Lawns! But here again the lawns are manicured and tended to by the ‘Malis’ all the time. So, where next?
A smart one flew right onto one of the ledges provided on each floor of IIC for keeping a pot of green ferns. Laid the eggs one by one and started incubating them.
The ledge happened to be next to the dining hall of IIC. But the peahen was lucky. The waiters at the dining hall ensured that the curtains were drawn all the time so that curious diners did not distract the peahen.
The nature group at IIC was informed. A slide presentation on the Blue peafowl and a screening of “Sarang the Peacock” was organized on 27 May 2007.
Rajesh Bedi (of Bedi Bros ) installed a close circuit TV in the dining hall so that the activities of the peahen, aptly called Matari, can be monitored.
By August, the chicks hatched and were busy eating and playing under the watchful eye of the peahen who gathered them under her wings at
the slightest sign of disturbance. It was time to meet and take stock and also to spread the story.
On the 29th of August 2007 Mr. Samar Singh (World Pheasants Association-India) welcomed the gathering emphasizing the event of
the year-a peahen nesting 30 feet above ground, a phenomenon not yet recorded in ornithology books.
Is it an act of desperation or a graceful adaptation to reality where green cover and safety are both scarce to come by for the peahen? Once widely seen in India, the peafowl is now limited to certain pockets in India.
Prof. M.G.K Menon, President IIC in his keynote address quoted Gandhi’s prophetic words “ Nature gives enough for man’s needs but not enough
for man’s greed".
The nesting of the peafowl might have been an insignificant event but for the nature group’s efforts to bring it to focus and put it in perspective.
Prof. Menon was happy to see the group of nature lovers present in the hall, who braved the pulls of competing events around the neighborhood, to understand the problems faced by our National Bird. The hatching of the chicks in a precarious perch and
the subsequent care by the IIC staff on a call beyond duty shows the interdependence of man and nature. Taking inspiration from nature warriors of old like the "Chipko Women", the time has come for each one of us to become a nature warrior
in the situation he or she is placed in.
After the larger picture given by Prof. Menon, it was time to watch the story of Matari being documented as it is unfolding in the IIC lawns.
The story so far was superbly scripted and edited by the Bedi brothers in a short yet powerful film-‘Matari-Story of a Peahen’.
The delicate interaction of man and bird –the former wanting to protect and the latter accepting with grace help offered- was touching and thought provoking.
The future of our wildlife especially urban wildlife is dependent on man’s dispensations more and more.
September 12, 2007
A wild tusker from Jharkhand enacted a play of passion in the middle of the night, broke through the fence of a circus and eloped with a female circus elephant.
Drawn by calls of the four female elephants in the circus, the 26-year-old tusker raided the circus, broke the tin barricade and barged into the stable where the female elephants were kept, reports said.
It didn’t take long for Savitri, four years older than him, to give in to his wild charms. Despite entreaties from her keeper, the female elephant broke free of her shackles and went with him into the jungle where the residents spotted the two frolicking
near a pond.
The tale of love and passion has shocked Savitri’s manager Chandranath Banerjee, who has sought the forest department’s help to trace the female elephant. "I have never seen anything like this. Savitri’s loss could be huge as she was one of our prized elephants,"
The elephants were finally spotted moving from Badam Bagan to Nepali Para in Raniganj by a district forest officer in Durgapur, Kumar Bimal.
When a team of forest department officials along with her keeper Kalimuddin Sheikh tried cajoling Savitri to come back, she entwined her trunk around her lover’s leg in a show of defiance.
A crestfallen Kalimuddin said this was the first time she had disobeyed him.
Till late at night, the forest officials were seen trailing the pachyderms with flaming torches. They were last seen heading towards Mejia in Bankura district along the Ranigunj-Mejia Road.
Reported in Indian Express dated Aug.30, 2007
September 08, 2007
The Mandakini Magpie
Bird Watcher’s Camp!
Even as some of us sit in Delhi and discuss the intricacies of ecotourism and how it’s different from tourism, there are people all over this country who are practicing the former – in the real sense of the word (‘eco’-tourism). One such person
is Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi who runs a bird watching camp christened, ‘The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp’.
Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi
One such person is Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi who runs a bird watching camp christened, ‘The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp’. The camp is located in Kakragad on the bank of River Mandakini en route
to Sri Kedarnath, a few hours drive from Rudraprayag.
Mr. Negi is a wonderful person who is not only dedicated towards his work but also has in-depth knowledge about birds and the Himalayas. He has been running this camp for the past seven years which
is wonderfully exemplified by his experience and expertise.
Apart from bird watching, Mr. Negi also takes interest in collecting good books on orinthology. He even has a good collection of abandoned bird nests and also of some classic books on bird identification,
wildlife and Himalayan Biodiversity. Lately, he has also started making a herbarium of those plant species in which the birds make their nest or feed.
Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi may not know the difference between Tourism and Ecotourism.
He may not have even heard of ecotourism.
But how he runs his bird watchers camp can be a basic case study of ‘ecotourism in the Himalayas’.
He runs his camp all himself with some help from other people of the area. The tent houses are well maintained and are very inviting with names like ‘Woodpecker Tent, Sparrow Tent, etc!
In his camp, very little of ‘transmitted’ electricity is used. He has solar lanterns which are extensively used instead of the regular electricity.
Solar Lanterns at Mr. Negi’s Camp
All in all, a visit to the Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp is a must for every bird watcher, nature lover or for anyone who wants a lesson or two in Ecotourism!
Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi can be contacted at the following number: 09412909399
September 07, 2007
Travelogue: A Visit to the
Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary!
Visited in: Feb-March, 2007
While words may fail...pictures never!
1. Sonprayag Township: The Base Camp. While it is difficult to find a place to step a foot during the warm season (of the Sri Kedarnath
yatra), the town is lazy and ghostly during the rest of the year.
2. Sonprayag: Concfluence of Songanga (on the left) and Mandakini (seen in the middle) Rivers
3. Entry bridge to the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary - just above Sonprayag.
4. Gaurikund: The last motorable town en route to Sri Kedarnath. Steps lead to the entry-gate of the 14 Km. trek to Sri Kedarnath.
5. and 6. Poly-bag menace at Gaurikund
7. To Sri Kedarnath
8. and 9. An interesting fungus and the HIMALAYAN TAHR!!
10. and 11. Leopard Pug marks..apparently not alone!! (Verified by Dr. Sinha of the WII)
12. Jangal Chatti
13. Nature is kind enough to the wildlife - to prevent people from going above Jangal Chatti (owing to avalanches, snow, etc.) Am glad it is! So, the best view of Sri Kedarnath that I got.
14. Back to Sonprayag - to make the long journey back home.
15 . A View of the Chaukhamba peak several kilometers away from where it is (zoomed into focus)! Just a reminder of the glorious glory of the Himalayas. Reminded me of a poem I had read long back in my Hindi class.."Giriraj Himalaya
ka Bharat se kuch aisa hi naata hai...."
P.S. The above was a University of Delhi Research trip. Unless one has a permission (at times not even then), it is not possible to go beyond Gaurikund during off-season.
The images can be used for any socially useful purpose after proper citation.