April 10, 2008
Ladybugs, 720,000 of them, have been released in New York City to help protect one of the city’s biggest apartment complexes from pests.
The bugs will crawl into plants, flowers and shrubs in the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village complex in search of insects whose smell attracts them. Buying the bugs-at $16.50 for 2,000-means the complex’s owner can avoid using chemical insecticides.
"In most cases,we reach out to a can of pesticide-and we kill not only the ’bad guys’ but the ’good guys’, said Eric Vinje, owner of Planet Natural, which supplied the pestkillers.
He said a ladybug can eat up to 50 pests a day, plus insect eggs.
Source: The Hindu, Ocober 22, 2007
Photo: Ladybug on a carrot flower. The flowers are white with a pink centre to attract bees and insects. (Susan Sharma)
April 04, 2008
As we entered Hampi, the ancient city of Vijayanagar, scattered with the ruins of bygone splendour in granite stone, WILDLIFE was far from my thoughts. Still, a simple board announcing "Daroji Bear sanctuary just 15 km from here" caught my eye. We asked our
guide if it was worth the trip. "sure," he said," be there between four and five in the evening and you are sure to see the sloth bears”. I looked at the watch. It was 11 am. After walking through the Vitthala and Virupaksha temples during the day we can hope
to make it to the sanctuary before dark since we had hired a vehicle for the day.
I had heard about Wildlife SOS rescuing dancing bears and releasing them in rescue centres. May be this was one of them, I thought to myself. We reached the sanctuary in the evening, after driving through barren stone covered landscape for the most part. We
drove through the sanctuary gate into an expanse of more granite blobs and keekar trees. Well placed sign boards throughout the sanctuary (the sign boards were there on the road along the drive to Daroji too) made sure we reached the watch tower by 5.30 pm
To our surprise, there were a few tourists including a forest guard already there waiting for the bears to come out of their stone caves and descend to the tree and stone top where platefuls of jaggery had been placed by the guards to lure them. The bears are
wild and are the residents of this area since time immemorial. Besides sloth bears, leopards, wild boar ( the symbol of both Chalukia and Vijayanagara dynasty) and peacocks are easily seen, the forest guard said. The peafowl were already tasting the food on
the trees. Wild boars cannot climb the trees but a couple of them patiently waited for the bears, hoping for crumbs falling to the ground, no doubt.
Everyone was quiet and the only sounds were those of the partridges, which could be seen scampering about. ‘There he is’, muffled cries went out. A huge black figure had come out and was on his hind legs searching for something on a high rock cleft. ‘There
is some food there too’-the guard informed. Soon three more bears emerged from under the rocks-huge hefty and black -very unlike the craggy bears one remembered from childhood-the bears, which danced for the kalandahar.
One huge bear climbed the tree and started eating. Peafowl and boars in attendance on the ground. One could watch the magnificent creatures through some powerful binoculars. They were too far away for my still camera to capture them.
I remembered seeing sloth bears in Ranthambore a few years back. I had also seen them in Corbett National Park during a visit nearly 25 years ago. ( See a snap of the bear which came to Dhikala below). From those days the sloth bears have reduced steadily in
numbers due to poaching and habitat destruction that the forest department found it necessary to protect the species in an exclusive sanctuary. The sanctuary was formed in the year 1994.
The rock-strewn hillocks that stretch between Daroji of Sandur taluk and Ramasagar of Hospet Taluk in Bellary district have been the abode of Indian Sloth Bear (Melursus ursimus) since ages. In October 1994, the Government of Karnataka declared 5,587.30 hectares
of Bilikallu reserve forest as Daroji Bear Sanctuary.
It is estimated that about 120 Sloth Bears are living in this sanctuary, apart from Leopards, Hyena, Jackals, Wild Boars, Porcupine, Pangolins, Star Tortoise, Monitor Lizard, Mongoose, Pea Fowls, Partridges, Painted Spur Hen, Quails etc. About 90 species of
birds, and 27 species of butterflies have also been identified in this sanctuary in a preliminary survey.
Here is a link to the youtube video showing sloth bear from Ranthambore
The bear which came to Dhikala 25 years ago!
March 12, 2008
A Park exclusively for butterflies, exists in Thenmala hills, Kollam, Kerala. Situated on 3.5 hectares of forests, the artificially created safari park is filled with roosting plants, nectar providing flowers and a host of leafy shrubs that provide food
for caterpillars. Butterflies here are not kept in captivity. The humid climate, artificial waterfalls and puddles, host plants and shrubs attract butterflies. Monsoon season is said to attract maximum variety.
Rare and endemic beauties like ’Paris Peacock’ and ’Southern Bird Wing’ can be spotted here.
March 12, 2008
Rose-ring and Alexander parakeets are listed under schedule IV of Wildlife Protection Act. ( No person shall hunt any wild animal specified in Schedule, I, II, III and IV except when specifically authorised by Chief Wildlife Warden under exceptional circumstances).
Seelampur in North East Delhi seems to be the "adda" for poaching these birds as several raids reveal. Houses of poachers here have permanent cages built into the walls. These cages are so tiny that birds develop wounds through constantly pecking at one
After a recent raid of 150 parakeets, PFA(People for Animals) offiials said forty of the resued birds collapsed en-route to the Jain Bird Hospital. 35 healthy ones went to the police station.
The fate of poached birds are sad, to say the least. Hear what a zookeeper has to say about these unfortunate ones!
March 04, 2008
“Authorities in China recently
launched a crackdown on Web sites that openly trade in animal products made from threatened species, experts say.
The move follows pressure from two international wildlife advocacy groups, which found thousands of items made from protected species for sale on major Chinese Internet auction sites in 2007………
IFAW’s Gabriel noted that the two most popular wildlife products traded online in China
are elephant ivory and items made from tiger bone.
Ivory products include decorative and religious-themed carved figurines, chopsticks, and jewelry. They are sold among collectors, who are mostly white-collar and well educated, Gabriel said.
Tiger bone, which has been banned in China for the past 15 years, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat rheumatism.
Some manufacturers still produce tiger-bone wine and claim that it has magical powers and benefits for the skin.
The market for tiger-bone products generally consists of lower-income people in rural areas who shop at local vendors, though a small market for tiger-bone products exists online, Gabriel noted.
Rhino horn, tortoise shell, and antelope horn are also banned from being traded online.
One of the key challenges to policing online trade in illegal products, the conservationists note, is Chinese vendors’ ability to tweak the language to manipulate descriptions of their products.
"In other languages it might be difficult, but Chinese is tonal, and if you change the tone it could be a different word," Gabriel said.”
National Geographic News 29 Feb 08
February 25, 2008
The Cambodia Experience
Wildlife Alliance launched the acclaimed Kouprey Express mobile environmental education unit to teach Cambodian villagers of wildlife and forestry laws and help them manage their resources while protecting areas rich in biodiversity. The Kouprey Express
is a bus, outfitted with engaging and interactive education and outreach tools, that travels throughout rural Cambodia to villages, schools, and community centers.
The Kouprey Express spends much of its time working in communities that
are adjacent to national parks, protected forests, and other key centers for wildlife and biodiversity. There, communities are highly dependent on the environment, which provides much of their food, water, shelter, and traditional medicine. Because these communities
are so reliant on natural resources, it is vital that Wildlife Alliance help them to live sustainably alongside their forests, water supplies and wildlife.
To date, Wildlife Alliance’s Cambodia Conservation Program has reached more than 50,000 children and adults and provided schoolteachers in rural Cambodia with world-class environmental education curricula. The Kouprey Express theme for 2007-2008 is Our Forest,
Our Future. Through films, presentations, classroom exercises, interactive performances, and question-and-answer sessions.
February 24, 2008
|Published by Arpit Deomurari (deomurari AT gmail.com),
Participants: Arpit Deomurari (Birding Expert), Mr. Ken Hatshorn (UK) and Mr. John Hollyer (UK).
Birds: 283 Species
DAY 1 Sat 17th Nov: ARRIVE MUMBAI
DAY 2 Sun 18th Nov: MUMBAI – BHUJ – TERA/KERC
Fly this morning on Jet Airways from Mumbai to Bhuj. Met on arrival and transferred 1 ½ hours to KERC at Tera Village.
DAY 3 Mon 19th: KERC/NALIYA GRASSLANDS
Full day birding looking particularly for Great Indian Bustard.
DAY 4 TUE 20th Nov: KERC – CHARI DAND
Full day birding in consultation
DAY 5 Wed 21st Nov: CHARI DAND – BHUJ
Full day birding before driving back to spend the night in Bhuj – 1 hr 15 minutes.
DAY 6 Thu 22nd Nov: BHUJ – DASADA/LITTLE RANN OF KUCHH
Drive about 6 hours to the Little Rann of Kutch where the last of the Indian Wild Ass has been given protection in a dedicated sanctuary. The Rann is a fascinating terrain – essentially the shallow bed of the sea that drains out in the dry months and gets flooded
during the monsoon by the sea surging inland on the one hand and the seasonal streams in monsoon flood bringing in fresh water on the other. This mix of salt and sweet water provides ideal conditions for the prolific growth of crustaceans and other aquatic
food for the flamingoes and other birds that breed and winter here in enormous numbers. Apart from the Wild Ass the Little Rann is also the home for a wide variety of species that include wolf, chinkara gazelle, nilgai, blackbuck antelope, desert fox and
Asiatic Wild Cat.
In addition to the game drives this evening and the next morning you can visit Kharapat Rabari and Bahrwadi villages, tribes who have their own distinctive style of embroidery; then there are the nomadic Bajanias and Mirs, and the Paddhars, a tribe of fisher
folk. Your accommodation here is in pleasant and comfortable rooms based on the local mud hut architecture.
DAY 7/8 Fri/Sat 23rd/24th Nov: LITTLE RANN
DAY 9 Sun 25th Nov: LITTLE RANN – GIR
Drive 4 – 5 hours to Gir and check-in at Lon Safari Camp. Game viewing to begin from the PM drive.
DAY 9/10 Mon/Tue 26th/27th Nov: GIR
Two full days of game viewing and bird watching
DAY 11 Wed 28th Nov: GIR – BHAVNAGAR/VELAVADAR
At one of the good hotels in Bhavnagar. Pm: visit Velavadar
DAY 12 Thu 29th Nov: BHAVNAGAR/VELAVADAR
Full day Velavadar
DAY 13 Fri 30th Nov: BHAVNAGAR – AHMEDABAD
Drive 4 hours to Ahmedabad. Overnight at House of Mangaldas.
DAY 14 Sat 1st Dec: AHMEDABAD
GIR National Park:
GIR National Park the last abode of Asiatic Lions produced some very good birds, some of them …Brown breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui), Jungle Prinia, Excellent view of Mottled Wood owl Pair, etc. We had
very good sightings of 2 Lioness with 2 subadult cubs.
Velavadar Blackbuck National Park:
This park is famous as the largest concentration of Blackbuck in India and also Asia’s largest Roost of Harriers. We had all the harriers eg. Pallids, Montagu’s, Hen and Marsh Harriers etc. Apart from other
birds we had really great sightings of Striped Hyena in the park for 3 visits. And we had good sightings of Indian Wolf also.
February 22, 2008
VISIT TO THE KISHANPUR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
“Well the beautiful dream is over!” that is exactly what I felt, when I returned from back from the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary. The two days at Kishanpur were like a dream, a dream come true.
My friends and I started from Lucknow on a Saturday morning at around 8 A.M. Kishanpur Wild Life Sanctuary, a 4 hour drive from Lucknow, lies 13 km from Bhira town in Lakhimpur Kheri District. Spread in a compact area of 200 sq Km, it is a part of Dudhwa
Tiger Reserve. We reached Kishanpur Forest Rest House at around 1 P.M. The Rest House lay 6 km deep inside the Sal and Teak forest. It is an austere British style mansion with two suites, a kitchen, dining room, fireplaces, flush toilets and solar light arrangement.
It was a real paradise; a place where I oft dream to live.
We had our packed lunch and were ready by 2 P.M. to visit Jhadi Tal. Jhadi is a large clear water wetland formed by the flood waters of the Sharda. But we were told that we could only visit after 4 P.M. So, we stationed ourselves on the resting chairs under
the shade of a huge Ailanthus tree. Here we spotted the grey tits, treepies, woodpeckers and black headed orioles.
By now, a Forest personnel was ready to take us to Jhadi Tal. It was a great pleasure driving on the forest dirt track canopied by the tall Sal tress. In fact, this was a real ‘long drive,’ a city dweller ‘longs’ for. With no other vehicle on the track,
the smooth forest road was a treat. We soon reached Jhadi Tal. A number of migratory birds graced the Tal. On the far end, we could see the grasslands locally referred to as the phantas. We spotted a large herd of barasingha or swamp deer. It was, in fact,
a harem dominated by a solitary handsome stud in the company of some 24 females. They were all squatting on a circular island like mound. We made our way to the second machan. Here we saw an even bigger herd of swamp deer. I counted 47 of them. Most of the
members of the herd were males. Their mighty antlers glistened brightly. Most of members were seated near the grassland. The herd was waiting for the dusk so as to proceed concealed into the jungles to munch the soft grass. This was the largest herd of any
deer species ever seen by us. Infact Dudhwa Tiger reserve, particularly Jhadi Tal is the last refuge of Northern Swamp Deer.
We drove further ahead to the Sharda River. A narrow stretch of silted land separated the river from the Jhadi Tal. The river has been rapidly changing its course. It has shifted almost 4 km towards the Jhadi Tal over a short period of time. We could see
a number of uprooted trees on the banks. We also spotted a lonesome croc on the far bank. We made our way back to the second machan, eager to glimpse the evening retreat of the Swamp Deer into the Sal Jungles. But, unfortunately, the forest guide insisted
that he had orders to return. It was soon nightfall. The waxing moon was shining bright. We could not see many stars in the sky. We spent some time with the Forest Staff. Around the fire, we discussed about the mystical ways of nature. The jungle was now
wide awake. We heard the scary sounds of the jungle. The owls announced their presence. At close quarters, a cheetal hurled a call of alarm. The very feeling of the jungle king, the tiger, lurking around and observing you, was very exciting.
We went back to the Rest House tand had barely switched off the light, when I was awakened by some scratching noise. I fidgeted for a while wondering what it was. But the noise continued and continued, for ages it seemed. I reckoned that some people were
trying to barge inside the Rest House. Fearful, I awakened my friends. We braced ourselves for an impending crisis. After a little awhile, we discovered the cause; a stout rat perched on the tube-light. He made a mess the entire night with nibbling antics.
We couldn’t catch a wink of sleep.
Next morning, armed with binoculars, bird-books and breakfast, we were ready to visit Jhadi Tal again. As we moved on the jungle track, we saw the pug marks of a tiger. He was brazing our trail. I am certain, he saw us, liked us and blest us as well. We
reached the second machan. The moment we stepped out of our vehicle, the birds started to literally run away on the waters of the Jhadi Tal. We stationed ourselves on the machan and enjoyed the bread, butter, jam and grapes and watched birds at ease and peace.
It was for the first time that we saw the Red Crested Pochard. The distinct reddish pink beak was glittering. The tufted orangish hair on the head of the drake was very interesting; while his white body was a total contrast. The duck had a brown head. We also
saw the dabchicks, grebes, common pochards, pintails, mallards, shovellers, river terns, the distinct white eyed pochard, spoonbills, egrets, snakebirds, herons, black necked storks, Indian Water hen, purple moor hens and the cormorants.
A herd of swamp deer, numbering around 29, was also to be seen. Some active members locked their antlers for a rather brief mock fight. Oh! And how can I ever forget the naughty, chubby otter family. We saw five of them. At one moment they were perched on
the barringtonia tree just underneath the machan. And soon afterwards, they were swimming merrily and effortlessly in water. They would dive in and pop out their head with a glistening fish in their teeth. They gobbled up their catch in great gusto, gup-gup-gup.
They were indeed quite an amusing sight; but they also shooed the birds away. Wherever they went the birds drifted elsewhere. After sometime the otters were back on the same tree, looking very cute in their shinning coat.
We drove towards Jhadi baba (a mighty banyan with pillared ariel roots). Soon the Sal forest gave way to a dried and burnt grassland at the other end of Jhadi Tal, Hence, we entered the dense green riparian forest, which extended till the river. I prayed
to Jhadi Baba to save the precious Tal and to call us time and again to this great paradise. In this jungle of jamun, gular, khair, rohini, peepal, bargad we spotted a few chetals, hog deer and peacocks.
We returned back to the rest house at around 12:30 P.M. After lunch, we spent a leisurely afternoon napping in the winter sun on comfortable armchairs. Around 4:30 in the evening, we drove to the Tar Kothi area with the chowkidar. The track passed through dense
Sal and Teak forests. Tar Kothi was an uninteresting forest post near a bio-fenced farm; with a canal flowing nearby. We returned back through an interesting untouched forest track and spotted a Sambar mother and child duo on the way. In the Terai jungles,
the sambar deer is even rarer than the tiger. We also drove to Kishanpur Village around 2 km from guest house. This village of 500 voters is a big threat to the wildlife of the Sanctuary. The villagers have been provided with full fledged track for the movement
of their vehicles. From early morning till late night, the rattling tractors and bikes ply on the road, disturbing the tiger habitat. There was not a single sighting or even a trace of wildlife in the dense forest around the track.
On our return to the Rest House, the chowkidar set the fireplace ablaze. It was a real romantic setting for us. We sat near the fireplace for long time chatting, gossiping and philosophizing. The hot food was a treat as well. The troubling rat too was absent
and we could finally get some sleep. I was woken by the chital’s alarm call which was followed by the roar from the king himself. The king had come himself to greet us, but we were asleep! Well! We shouldn’t be complaining. It was our fault. We didn’t dare
venture outside the Rest House. Early next morning we packed our bags and drove back to Lucknow with indelible memories of the jungles of Kishanpur.
February 21, 2008
12 Days Gujarat & Kutch Birding and Wildlife Tour - 18-11-2007 to 30-11-2007
Published by Arpit Deomurari (deomurari AT gmail.com),
Participants: Arpit Deomurari (Birding Expert), Mr. Ken Hatshorn (UK) and Mr. John Hollyer (UK).
Birds: 283 Spec
Kutch (Great Rann of Kutch):
As we started from Kutch (Great Rann of Kutch), We had very good
sightings of 5 White napped tit, 2 pairs were on the same Bush and another single individual was 5-8 mt. away on the other bush. Another important sighting for Kutch was the Red-throated Pipit. We came across this very dark pipit on the coastal wetland near
Pingleshwar in Kutch region of Gujarat India on 19-11-2007.
After seeing this bird only two species come to our notice Pechora Pipit
Anthus gustavi and Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus. This is the first authentic record for the Gujarat state. After visiting Naliya Done and other area on the last day we had visited Chari Dhandh, A famous hot spot in Kutch for Raptors
and Grey Hypocolious, We sighted 12 Grey Hypocolious on the roosting time. And in the morning in the same area we had seen many raptor species including Steppe Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Common Buzzard, Long legged buzzard, Marsh Harriers, Oriental
Hobby etc. This seasonal wetland has also large population of White Storks, and other wetland birds.
Also the Rock Eagle Owl, A recent split form Eurasian Eagle Owl was seen nesting on the “PAKHI BHEET” area of chari dhandh. This small hill in the Rann provides very good habitat for many species
which also include Red-tailed Wheatear, Brown Rock Chat etc. A pair of Jungle cat with its kitten was observed on both days at PAKHI BHEET area.
LRK ( Little Rann of Kutch):
The marshy habitat of Vanod Saran, nr. Dasada is also a very good hotspot for birders you can find good number of species over here including, white tailed lapwing, grey lag geese, bar headed geese,
cranes, crakes and rails, etc. The show master of this wetland were the rosy pastor they were atleast in 2000-5000 in strength comes here for roosting and their acrobatics are really great to see at sunset. The flocks of rosy pastor were also having small
no. of Common or European Starling.
The biggest attraction of Little Rann of Kutch was sightings of 45 Sociable Plover. 22-11-2007, at Little Rann of Kutch near Vanod Village. A flock of 45 birds were seen roosting at a site where
the author (Arpit Deomurari) has reported 27 same birds last(2006-2007) year also. This flock is considered as the largest flock of sociable lapwing found in India till date.
This Lapwing is also listed in the Red Data Book as a Critically Endangered Bird Species. They breed on open grassland in Russia and Kazakhstan. Three to five eggs are laid in a ground
nest. These birds migrate south through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, to key wintering sites in Israel, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan and north-west India. Birds winter occasionally
in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Oman. It feeds in a similar way, picking insects and other small prey mainly from grassland or arable.
In 2004 BirdLife International categorized this bird as critically endangered, due to a rapid population decline for poorly understood reasons. The current population was estimated to be between 600 and 1,800
mature birds in 2006 (BirdLife International), but is currently being
revised. The current IUCN
classification is CR A3bc -
meaning that the population is expected to decline in the next decade or so by 80%, but based on theoretical considerations and the known habitat destruction rather than direct observation of the birds. Thus, the new discoveries might mean that as more
data becomes available, the species could be down listed to Endangered.
A Scientist working on the Sociable Lapwing Mr. Johannes Kamp has ringed 140 birds (mostly juv.) in Pavlodar region, NE Kazakhstan, this year (two colour rings on each leg, combination always starting with
a yellow ring). These birds are at the easternmost distribution border and thus supposed to go to India/Pakistan. Author (Arpit Deomurari) would like to ask any future observers to check these birds for color rings? The yellow ring is quite obvious to seeing
Another highlilght of the Little Rann of Kutch were 8
Macqueen’s Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii) in a 3 hours game drive and of course the largest lark of the world, Greater Hoopoe Lark(Alaemon alaudipes)
February 15, 2008
Waste to health bioconversion
The theory propounded by Dr. Uday Bhawalkar that excess nitrates affect abiotic and biotic phenomena which was a Phd Thesis in IIT Mumbai, has since been patented and is awaiting commercial exploitation.
Pollution reduction through a natural enzyme based bio catalyst, "Biosanitiser", which Dr Bhawalkar developed as a proprietary technology, has been patented in India nad America.
Treatment of waste generated at household, farms and other biological waste generating sources must include segregation, methanation and stabilisation along with the use of Biosanitiser to treat waste in a holistic manner.