Environment Awareness

Threats to Melagiri forests

Posted by Aparna V K on June 23, 2010

 
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A strong odour of cattle dung hit us even before our eyes caughtsight of it littered everywhere like shopping freaks in Bangalore'sMall. And here we were  in the middle of a thick scrub jungle come todo a census on the flora and fauna of the Hosur Forests also called asMelagiris. Kenneth Anderson Nature  Society together with Asian NatureConservation Foundation have taken up several surveys in this regionthat spreads over an area of almost 1200 sq kms  containing a mix ofseveral vegetation but mainly abounded by the dry scrub forest to studythese forests and restore the region back to its original state.



Theseforests  face manifold threats and perhaps the one by cattle grazingtops the list. Cattle here are grazed in large numbers and pegged downin large  cattle-pen called pattis. The absence of large carnivores anda blind eye by the forest department has made the Hosur forests acattle grazing grounds for  the locals. There is a suspicion that thecattle that's been grazed belongs to the wealthier families in TamilNadu living far away from Hosur employing the  services of the local.While the locals are allowed to graze cattle and sheep, grazing goatsis illegal, though one can frequently come across goats grazing  in theMelagiris. This has been made illegal because while the cattle/sheepfeed mainly on grass the goat eats up tender shoots thus denying theforests to  rejuvenate.


Chital that is so abundant inthe other side of the Cauvery, on the Karnataka side, that you yawnwhen you sight herd after herd thudding away in your wake  has in thisregion become a sight to feast on. So why have the herbivores beenthinning out even as the forests remain? Answer, human interference andCattle  Grazing. These herbivores have been hunted down for meat andskin. Also since they naturally avoid man increased human interferencehas made them to flee  these forests. The dwindling grass cover by thecattle even as it sprouts and the foot and mouth disease, poaching formeat has all played a major role in  wiping out the larger populationof the herbivores. With such a small prey base and poaching has wipedout the tigers, not to mention cattle-kill poisoning  carried out bytheir distraught owners long ago. Although we have recorded pug marksof leopards and wild dogs, tigers and hyena have are no longer to be found although the locals claim to have seen one or two a while.




Thick lantana jungle has sprung up everywherewiping away the native plant species. Its likely that these dry bushescatch up fire at the slightest chance  building up into a roaringfurnace and destroying the forest. KANS (Kenneth Anderson NatureSociety) has drawn plans to employ locals to remove this invasive  weedfrom the roots. However no amount of de-weeding can remove themforever, the seeds of lantana are spread by birds and need but a briefspell of rain to  grow back to numbers. A sustained effort over timeonly can put a cap on the lantana jungle.



Man-Elephantconflict is on steady rise. The Elephants have taken to crop-raidingdue to a variety of reasons - perhaps because the farms have replacedtheir  original forests? or because they face shortage of food withinforests due to expansive cattle grazing? Some also say the Elephantshave taken a liking to  easily available farm produce while othersvehemently deny it stating elephants are shy of humans and doeverything in their power to avoid human habitation.  And havingexperienced that first hand I must say I agree with the latter belief.Human death toll is getting higher too. Unwary locals and forestguards  have been trampled by bulls occasionally.


Atseveral places Villages have taken permanent residence within theforest boundaries. Re-settling these villages from the Melagiris isessential to give  the forests and wildlife a chance to revive. Howeverthis is a very sensitive issue, the tribals in this region have beenliving in the forests are called  Poojaries and have since timeimmemorial developed a culture that is deeply associated with theforests. It is indeed very difficult to separate the  original settlersfrom the new families that must have taken residence in the recentpast. A fair approach must be followed and enough compensation must begiven for the families  to persuade them to move out of the forests. Afew of the natives could be soaked in as the forest staff as theirknowledge of these forests is exhaustive and indispensable towardsstudying and protecting them.


The locals have beenusing the forests to extract a variety of forest produce includingfirewood, tamarind pods, honey to list a few. KANS has drawn up plans to provide LPG gas to the families to cut down on the firewoodgathering. Farmlands are extending their tentacles into the forestlands steadily. When the  Melagiris assume Sanctuary status, withenough security, it can be said that Timber extraction, poaching andsuch illegal activities can be capped.


RecklessTourism is another contributing factor. Although Melagiris arerelatively unknown patch of forests it can be predicted that with allthe  conservation activities in progress, the limelight on the floraand fauna will inevitably attract a steady stream of picnic-goers.Already tourists are seen  loitering around. At a prominent lake wherethe elephants usually gather in large numbers at dusk touristsunmindful of the danger have been seen in groups.  Although there is nostraight forward solution to the Tourism issue but it must be handledwith caution.


Although the list of threats does notend here, they are not new. Our forests throughout India are reelingunder the same tell-tale signs. We have only  around 3% land underforest cover protecting a fragile eco-system. New lands are almostimpossible to secure for the already threatened plants and animals and the majority of the forests in this 3% fall as reserved forests. Theforest staff are few, they are underpaid and not well equipped to fightthe poachers.  There are many problems and many more solutions. Todaythe cry of the hour is to guarantee the security of our remainingforests, to guarantee a life to the  many beasts and wild plants thatabound our lands. The time is to act.

Environment Awareness

Jellyfish at Kovalam beach

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 08, 2009

 
Forum Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kovalam beach is a favourite with tourists for swimming in the sea. There are coast guards around who keep a watchful eye. The beach is advertised as ’jelly fish Free’ on the various travel sites. So it was a surprise to find large number of purple jellyfish being washed onto the shore by the waves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coast guards assured us they are dead and harmless. The fishermen throw them out when they get caught in their nets. It seems there is a migration of jelly fish for about a fortnight in October, when the sea gets foamy with the gelatine in the jelly fish. Kovalam beach never fails to arouse curiosity! Squids which made jelly fish their home, were seen crawling inside and attracted other beach goers. I am sharing a small clip uploaded in ’wildbytes’ channel of youtube.

Environment Awareness

Solar Eclipse 2009

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 20, 2009

 
Forum Post
Here is a visual journey of the total solar eclipse in New Delhi. The Nehruplanetarium at Teenmurti was surrounded by parked cars in hundreds well before 6 AM on 22nd July 2009. The Sun is about to rise and the video camera of an enthusiast or of some TV channel is hoping to catch it first! Young and old alike are waiting for the solar spectacle to unfold. At 6.40 AM this is how the sun looked to the naked eye. But the screen put up on Teen Murti lawns showed a different picture! The secret was to cut out all other light by looking through the unexposed portion of an X-ray film. Some school girls were seen distributing the X-ray films to those who wanted them. Many were also looking through the X-ray film spectacles sold for the purpose. I decided to put an X-ray film in front of the view finder of my digital camera. Here is what I saw. At 6.44 AM on 22nd July 2009 At 7.19 AM on 22nd July 2009 That was truly a "once in a life-time" experience!

Environment Awareness

Advertising Indianwildlifeclub.com!

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 14, 2008

 
Forum Post

See the ad we created for your club!

The tiger in the ad is photographed by Aditya Singh.

Environment Awareness

Eye- catching ads on wildlife!

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 12, 2008

 
Forum Post

WWF ( World Wide Fund for Wildlife) came out with the following advertisments ( Animals painted on closed fists)

tigerhand

 

crochand

elehand

 Wildlife SOS, another NGO brought out a telling ad as follows

wildlifesosad

WPSI (Wildlife Protection Society of India) grabbed the opportunuty to create awareness about tigers among cricket fans.   These were some of the catchy slogans which were heard and seen during the ICL Indian 20:20 championship from 30 november -16 ecember 2007.

 

LET THE TIGER PLAY

YOU’VE GOT CRICKET
DON’T MAKE US YOUR GAME

YOU DON’T NEED TIGER BONE WINE
TO BOWL A STRAIGHT LINE

THAT’S A 4
DON’T SILENCE THE TIGER ROAR

C alling
R esponsible
I ndividuals to
C onserve NOT
K ill our
E ndangered
T iger

SHERON KO NA MARO
NEHI TO SHAIR MAR JAYEGA

PEELE PAR KALI DHARI KA
BAGH RAKHWALA JAL JEEVAN KA

SHOR MACHAO
SHER BACHAO

BOUNDARY FOR YOU WE NEED SOME TOO
LEAVE US OUR FORESTS

THE FINGER IS UP
THE TIGER IS DOWN

BAT 4 THE TIGER

GO OVER THE TOP
FOR THE TIGER

GREAT
CATCH

NATION’S PRIDE
GOING WIDE

THE TIGER
IN OR OUT?


Environment Awareness

Cigarette butts

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 23, 2008

 
Forum Post

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.

Environment Awareness

Are plastics the villain again?

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 17, 2008

 
Forum Post

Thousands of chemicals have come on the market in the past 30 years, and some of them are showing up in people’s bodies in low levels. Scientists studying obesity are focusing on endocrine disrupters - which have already been linked to reproductive problems in animals and humans - because they have become so common in the environment and are known to affect fat cells.

But could something in the environment also be making Americans fat in epidemic numbers?Animal studies in recent years raise the possibility that prenatal exposure to minuscule amounts of common chemicals - found in everything from baby bottles to toys - could predispose a body to a life of weight gain. The chemicals, known as endocrine disrupters, mimic natural hormones that help regulate, for example, how many fat cells a body makes and how much fat to store in them.These findings have led some scientists to put forth a provocative argument: They say diet and too little exercise clearly are key reasons for the worldwide rise in obesity in the past 20 years, but they may not be the only ones. Food intake and exercise just haven’t changed that much in that period, they argue. And while genetics obviously play a role - just think of someone you know who can eat three Big Macs a day and never gain an ounce - these researchers say it would be impossible to see such widespread genetic change in just two decades, giving them more reason to suspect the environment.

Source:
http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2008/01/14/is_plastic_making_us_fat/

Environment Awareness

Visiting the Zoo

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 24, 2007

 
Forum Post

Visiting the Zoo

A colorful campaign aimed at parents and children is playing up the “wild” in the premier attractions owned and operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Those attractions are the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn. A new agency, Deutsch, is encouraging potential visitors to “Go wild” in a campaign with a budget estimated at $7 million — and, as the elephants at the zoo might say, that’s hardly peanuts.

 The campaign includes television and radio commercials; signs and posters; print advertisements; trading cards bearing pictures of animals, which are of course called “wild cards”; and a Web site where computer users are invited to “build your wild self” and forward the images to friends.

With species going extinct at an alarming rate, wildlife protection is possible only if the adults who are now in charge, do their bit. 
While the ad companies are doing a good job of attracting kids, can they do something to make "visiting the zoo" serious adult business too?

Environment Awareness

Lake pollution

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 15, 2007

 
Forum Post

Cross posting from Water Community (se-wes@solutionexchange-un.net.in)

Please visit the homepage of ILEC (International Lake Environment Committee, Japan):

 http://www.ilec.or.jp/eg/index.html.

I was a Recipient, Ibaraki Kasumigaura Lake Prize, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan and I found that the site has many useful publications, world lake database, a journal and conference information. 

 1. See if the lake receives discharge from ground water or it recharges the aquifer. In the later case, a polluted lake can pollute ground water.

 2. The quality of lake water varies within the lake, laterally and vertically. If possible, have at least one sampling point per Km of lakeshore. Vertical sampling in the lake centre may be done twice a year, after Monsoon rains (October) and end of summer (May).

3. Initially, just concentrate on basic parameters like Temperature, TDS, Ph, E Coli, Heavy metals, Nitrates, Nitrites, BOD, COD, DOC and Trihalomethanes.

Best wishes,

Shrikant D Limaye

Ground Water Institute Pune

Environment Awareness

Forests and Health

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 01, 2007

 
Forum Post
".......... it makes a lot of sense for conservation movements to use the
public health angle rather than the environment angle, as this has a
direct bearing on people. In a nation, where human lives themselves
are so ’cheap’, animals are perhaps, a ’collateral damage’!........many diseases have been directly linked to deforestation
and bad management of ’development projects’! Some diseases like
Kyasanur Forest Disease, Malaria (especially in NE India) and West
Nile Encephalitis are directly tracable.
MB Krishna (of bngbirds) pointed out about how Ronald Ross worked on
avian malaria. In fact, the role of swamp
malaria has been better worked on in Africa than in India. Many of the
swamps were earlier located deep in forest areas and were hardly
accessible to humans. However, due to rapid deforestation and sudden
exposure to human beings, lethal forms of Malaria are being seen.
I have been regularly going to Arunachal Pradesh over the last few
years, and had the opportunity to see first hand in some of the tribal
communities, the high mortality of Malaria. Most of these are what are
categorized as "Forest Malarias". These are generally acquired in
transit through forests! Also, what is surprising is that the vector,
in this case, Plasmodium fluviatilis, I think) is adapted to breeding
on ’fast breeding streams’, and so the classical public health
measures of covering all stagnant water/kerosenese etc are useless!
This mosquito is probably a forest mosquito, for which humans are
’just another mammal’!
                                                      -N.S Prashanth
Source: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bngbirds/message/12832
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