Press on Environment and Wildlife
Chambal otter under threat: WWF (April Week # (2007)) World Wide Fund for Nature, India, is planning to commission an otter conservation programme in the National Chambal Sanctuary.
Speaking to The Pioneer, WWF-India secretary general Ravi Singh said that the otter conservation programme would be in addition to the gharial and riverine dolphin conservation programmes being executed by the WWF in the National Chambal Sanctuary.
Elaborating on the activities of the WWF in Madhya Pradesh, Singh - on a visit to the city to attend a seminar on environment protection - said that the otter conservation programme was the need of the hour as the mammal is facing a severe threat in the Chambal.
He said that otter skins are prized all over the world , thus making the smooth coated otter a target of poaching. Illegal sand mining in the Chambal has also contributed to enhancing the threat to the species.
Associated with the banking industry for three decades, Ravi Singh joined WWF India in 2003. He said that WWF India was supporting tiger conservation in the state through the Satpura Maikal Landscape programme.
The Satpura Maikal Landscape programme is one of the five programmes being executed by the WWF in the country.
Under the programme, a field site is operated in Mandla district where inhabitants of about 15 villages are sensitised towards conservation.
The WWF also operates an income generation programme that aims to reduce the dependence of the villagers on forests.
Singh also said that the Gharial conservation programme being implemented in the National Chambal Sanctuary with
the help of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and the Jiwaji Rao University would also be strengthened.
On the support extended by the WWF to Madhya Pradesh vis-à-vis other states, Singh said that the state has a bank of bright forest officers and is also well endowed with forests and wildlife.
"However, resources in Madhya Pradesh like other states are also facing population pressure which is taking a toll on the environment," he said.

SOURCE : The Pioneer, Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Central probe panel to assess threat to Gir lions (April Week # (2007)) Waking up to reports that after decimating tigers at Sariska in Gujarat poaching gang are now targeting Gir lions, Ministry of Environment and Forests has set up a probe panel to assess threat to the king of the jungle.
The announcement follows Gujarat Government's decision to set up a probe panel headed by the State Chief Secretary. The National Tiger Conservation Authority on Monday set up an appraisal committee to look at causes of death of Gir lions, whose population has been stable in the past decades. Gir is the last home in the wild for Asiatic lions. The probe committee comprises Environment Ministry's Joint Director Pramod Krishnan and regional deputy directors Meeta Banerjee and Santosh Tiwari. It is expected to look at natural or otherwise factors leading to death of lions. It will also suggest strategy of lion protection considering the dependency of maldharis (nomads) on the forests.
The committee will also look at possibilities of restoring crucial corridors linking Gir to nearby forests to ensure that the lion population in Gir is not insulated. Studies have shown that overpopulation in Gir is leading to fights among the males for territory and prey. Younger lion are often pushed to the periphery of the forests and often foray into what was once lion territory but now human habitation.
The committee, together with State officials, expected to submit its report within a month. The Pioneer on Sunday reported that investigation by State official revealed that poachers operating in Sariska were also behind the poaching of three lions in Gir last month.
After an on-the-spot assessment of the park, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 40-crore project to protect the endangered wild cats.

SOURCE : The Pioneer, Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Ganga among 10 dying rivers WWF Report (Issue of the week, March Week # (2007)) The Ganga, which is virtually synonymous with Indian civilisation, is dying. Pollution, over-extraction of water, emaciated tributaries and climatic changes are killing the mighty river, on whose fecund plains live one in 12 people of this planet.
This grim prognosis was made by conservation group WWF on Tuesday. Apart from Ganga, Indus, Nile and Yangtze are among the 10 most endangered rivers of the world. Over-extraction, climate change, pollution and dams are threatening the world's top rivers, leading to severe water shortages.
"Poor planning and inadequate protection of natural areas mean that we can no longer assume that water will flow forever,'' states the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report "World's Top 10 Rivers at Risk,'' released here on Tuesday ahead of World Water Day on March 22.
"In India, barrages control all the tributaries to the Ganga and divert roughly 60 per cent of the flow to large-scale irrigation. Over-extraction for agriculture in the Ganga has caused reduction in surface water resources, increased dependence on groundwater, loss of water-based livelihoods and destruction of habitat of 109 fish species and other aquatic and amphibian fauna,'' says the report.
The other rivers on the list are: the Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween in Asia, Europe's Danube, the Americas' La Plata and Rio Grande, Africa's Nile (Lake Victoria) and Australia's Murray-Darling.
The Ganga basin makes up almost a third of India's land area and its rich soil is home to millions of people. However, indiscriminate extraction of water with modern tube wells from the river as well as its basin, coupled with the damming of its tributaries for irrigation, have seriously reduced its flow.
Climate change has added to the threat. Said WWF programme director Sejal Worah: "Glaciers account for as 30 to 40% of water in the Ganga and this goes up to 70-80% in the case of Indus. Studies are required to gauge the impact of melting glaciers on the flow."
Apart from humans, many other kinds of lives are in danger due to Ganga's degeneration. The river is home to more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganga river dolphin. And Ganga is, of course, sacred to Hindus, besides having spawned many great cities on its banks.

SOURCE : Times of India, The Hindu, Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Carbon trading firm to open office (March Week # (2007)) CantorCO2e will announce the official launch of its Indian operations next month.
Managing Director of the company's Indian operations Ram Babu said here on Tuesday that the London-based CO2e and the US-based Cantor Environmental Brokerage firm joined hands last week and created CantorCO2e.
Cantor Environmental Brokerage was one of the first emission brokerage firms in the world to create liquidity in the environmental markets in the US, while CO2e was formed to address the prospect of global greenhouse gas emission trading created by the signature of the Kyoto Protocol. CantorCO2e was responsible for the certified emission reductions (CERs) in Europe and Canada.
Though several companies in India were vigorously pursuing clean development mechanism (CDM) in their industries and were into trading emission credits, at least 50 per cent of their applications were blocked at the CDM executive board in Bonn.
CantorCO2E was providing the necessary guidance to companies secure CERs to operate in the carbon market. India accounted for the highest percentage (32.88 per cent) of registered project activities for obtaining CERs, followed by Brazil (17.12 per cent).
Mr. Ram Babu said that once the industries understood that the CERs would fetch money, the business would further increase.

SOURCE : The Hindu, Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Mangrove eco tourism project soon (March Week # (2007)) Protecting the specialised forests part of the WB-aided programme
Inspired by the success of Maredumilli and Rampa Eco Tourism projects, the Forest Department proposes to launch another World Bank-aided project based on the mangrove eco system during the first week of April.
The idea is to attract tourists and, at the same time, involve local people, predominantly the fishermen, in protecting the specialised forest eco system that prevented devastation during the previous cyclones and also the recent tsunami.
Already, afforestation of mangroves in coastal areas of Kakinada division has commenced under the tsunami mitigation plan as part of the Andhra Pradesh Community Forest Management project. The mangroves of Gouthami and Godavari extend up to a stretch of 332.66 km in East Godavari, from the southern periphery of the Kakinada bay to Pondicherry lagoon.
Under the project, authorities have proposed to promote eco tourism activity by providing basic requirements for visitors such as well-furnished motorboats enabling them to visit the specialised mangrove forests and related marine fauna.
Tourists will have the opportunity of visiting the mangrove system and watching the marine wildlife, birds and flying fish and enjoy the food and other refreshments on the boat itself.
The project coast is estimated at Rs. 33.55 lakhs and expected to fetch revenue of Rs.1 lakh in the initial year.
The project will be supervised by the Forest Department and managed by the local fishermen who are members of the Vana Samrakshana Samitis (VSS).
"It is a one-time investment project and subsequent maintenance is by way of regenerating the resources in a self sustainable way involving the local community," says District Forest Officer Ananda Mohan.
Already, the VSS members of Masanithippa, Balusutippa and Chakalipet have been deputed for training in other eco tourism projects in the district.
They would receive part of the revenue of the tourism project towards gainful employment that paves the way for bettering their living standards.

SOURCE : The Hindu, Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Four-foot-long fishing cat sighted in Bhitarkanika (March Week # (2007)) The Bhitarkanika forest officials on Sunday spotted a four-foot-long rare fishing cat at Ekakula Island under Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
According to Rajnagar District Forest Officer AK Jena, some Kolkota-based tourists, who were moving at Ekakula, informed him that they had spotted a rare species. Later, he, along with forest officials, went to Ekakula and found that the spotted species is a big fishing cat.
Jena said that the current status of the fishing cat is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and in Appendix II of CITES. The species is designated as "vulnerable" in the Red Data Book. Their number in the State is declining owing to killing and habitat loss.
The Bhitaknaika National Park is the home to hundreds of fishing cats, as it provides a congenial atmosphere for the species. After a gap of a couple of years, the forest department has sighted such a big fishing cat, said Jena.
Of the 11 species of small cats in India, six are known to be in Orissa. Each sanctuary has one or more species of small cats. The Bhitarkanika National Park has three species of small cats each, namely leopard cat, fishing cat and jungle cat. The fishing cat is strongly associated with wetlands. It is typically found in swamps and marshy areas, oxbow lakes, reed beds, tidal creeks and mangrove areas.
Wetland destruction is the primary threat faced by the fishing cat. Causes of this destruction include human settlement, draining for agriculture, construction of aquaculture facilities and woodcutting. High content of pesticides in rice fields and fishponds result in adverse impacts. Since the harmful chemical residues enter aquatic food chains and affect top predators such as the fishing cat.
Destructive fishing practices have also greatly reduced the fishing cat's main prey base. The fishing cat is hunted because it is considered edible and its skin is still valued by the fur trade.

SOURCE : The Pioneer, Tuesday, March 20, 2007
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