Press on Environment and Wildlife
Chandipur promises to be new home to dolphins (October Week 3 (2005)) Ecologists are thrilled over the recent discovery of another home for dolphins on the Orissa coast. The sighting of a couple of dancing dolphins in a small gorge in the course of river Budhabalang, near Chandipur, and a few km from the Bay of Bengal, is being considered a highly welcome phenomenon in view of the fact that the population of these sea mammals has been on the decline in the Chilka lake.
The dolphins in Chilka are under threat because of the fast-changing ecological behaviour of this internationally famous brackish water lagoon. The Chilka water is losing its salinity day by day, as a result of which fresh water condition is prevailing in the lake at a fast pace. Such a situation is proving detrimental to the habitation of dolphins.
Coupled with the rapid ecological changes is the man-made danger to the existing dolphins in the form of the increasing use of fishing devices like trawlers and nylon nets in the lake to catch prawn and other fish. No wonder, the dolphin population in Chilka has now dwindled to less than 170, compared to several hundreds till some years ago.
Ecologists point out that degradation of Chilka's eco-system and human depredation have already extinguished a species of sea mammal called dugong from the lake. While dolphin is a hunter, dugong is vegetarian. The mermaid is a slow and gentle animal that lives on sea-grass.
The dancing mammals are unsafe in Chilika lake as well as in the new habitat. Fishing devices like trollers and nylon nets, used for catching fish in Budhabalang and Chilika, are becoming threats to these two aquatic species of the eco-system.
Recently, the State Government took a slew of measures to protect the endangered Irrawadi dolphins of the Chilika lake with a massive awareness drive in the State. The Government is also considering a ban on motor boats in the Chilika lake as it is considered the main threat to dolphins. Further, the State Government is planning to declare the whole of Satapada area a sanctuary as most of the dolphins are sighted here, reports The Poneer.
Need for River authority, protection force stressed (Issue of the week, October Week 2 (2005)) A seminar was organised by Kerala Nadeetheera Samrakshana Samithy as part of the River Day on Monday. Samithy took a River Day pledge on the banks of the Periyar. The seminar session discussed the problems faced by rivers and provided many suggestions for reviving those rivers which are facing extinction. Experts said that without proper conservation of rivers, the drinking water shortage in the State could not be solved.
"Sand-mining is not the only concern. There are many serious problems faced by the rivers like reclamation, waste discharge and deforestation," said an expert.
Environmental experts who spoke in the seminar session stressed the need for a River Authority and River Protection Force.
Films on natural disasters (October Week 2 (2005)) Members of and tsunami response watch have organised the screening of a series of films on natural disasters and the response after as part of a documentary film festival travelling South India till October 30.
The screenings, coming in the context of tsunami and now Katrina, are on October 8 and 9 at the Indian Social Institute, Benson Road, Benson Town, 5.30 p.m. onwards on both days.
Max Martin, who coordinates the website with four of his friends, and is into ecology and development reporting, says the impact of one of the documentary films, `Living on the Edge,' persuaded them to organise a film festival. "That film by Magimai Prakasham represented the impossibility of living under tin-sheds that were built for people hit by tsunami in Nagapattinam district. The film reached the district collector who went on record to say that relief was a shame.
“The film also reached the U.N. and a German meet. We and so many other journalists had reported fairly extensively on tsunami, but the impact the film made was enormous. We realised a visual could do a lot ." says a report in the Hindu.
Wildlife Week (October Week 2 (2005)) Participating in a wildlife week celebrations held at Louis Levail Higher Secondary School, in Ramanathapuram, Sudhanshu Gupta, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park Wildlife Warden has stressed the need to conserve biodiversity of the Gulf of Mannar as a section of people cause degradation by throwing plastic bottles and bags on the sea.
Mr. Gupta said though the forest cover in Tamil Nadu was around 21 per cent it was just five percent in Ramanathapuram district.
The people should shoulder the responsibility of increasing the forest cover on a par with the State average.
If the people could plant at least a sapling during their birth anniversaries, the forest cover would go up.
Schools, colleges, voluntary organisations and other institutions should come forward to dedicate themselves for the betterment of the forest cover.
Educational institutions should take students to various bird and animal sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu so that their knowledge would be improved with regard to conservation of nature.
A host of programmes was organised by the Kozhikode-based (Kerala)Malabar Natural History Society in connection with the Wildlife Week observance.
More than 40 college and school students participated in the `bird and mangrove' study trip to Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary near here on October 2.
T.N. Vijayakumar, T. Ajith Kumar, and C.S. Arun led the team.
The participants could sight large swarms of migratory shorebirds such as Lesser Sand Plovers, Terek Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Red Shank , among others.
The students were educated on the importance of mangroves and estuarine ecosystem not only in wildlife conservation but also in the livelihood of the local people by way of providing food, besides occupations such as fishery, shell mining, and coconut husking in the mudflats there.
Senior orinthologist C. Sasi Kumar, District Forest Officer (Social Forestry) O. Jayarajan, MNHS secretary Jaffer Palot, among others, participated.
Indo-American conservation project spells green success (October Week 2 (2005)) A report in The Hindu gave an overview of Projects undertaken in India by U.S Fish and Wildlife Services.
Delivering the Salim Ali Memorial Lecture at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, David A. Ferguson, of U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, said the Wildlife Service had supported 40 multi-year research conservation projects, identified by the Government of India as high priority issues, over the past two decades, under the Multinational Species Conservation Fund programmes. This was in addition to short-term activities and one-year grants.
He said the service had provided nearly Rs. 26.4-crore over the last 30 years for these projects, in addition to a sizable amount for outside advisors, equipment and training. ``All these projects originated in India, were designed to address relevant conservation issues, collect baseline biological data, provide options for management and strengthen institutional capacity."
Eighteen of these projects went to the Bombay Natural History Society, one of the first institutions recommended by the Government for cooperative activities because of its solid reputation and capabilities for studying natural systems and wildlife species. Another reason was the leadership provided by ornithologist Salim Ali.
Other organisations included the Botanical Survey of India (Kolkata), Wildlife Institute of India (Dehra Dun), Centre for Environmental Education (Ahmedabad), Centre for Wildlife Studies (Mysore), Centre of Wildlife and Ornithology (Aligarh), Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association (Udhagamandalam), Jainarayan Vyas University (Jodhpur), Punjab University (Chandigarh), Centre for Arid Zone Studies (Jodhpur), Guwahati University (Guwahati) and the Institute for Restoration of the Natural Environment (Nagercoil).
The Wildlife Service took up more responsibilities with the passage of various legislative Acts dealing with the conservation rhinoceros, tiger, Asian elephant, gibbon and marine turtle. Local organisations received one-year grants.
These projects created careers for several Indian wildlife biologists some of who played crucial roles in research and conservation. In some institutes, the infrastructure grew through the funding and training obtained while working on the projects.
Among the institutions that benefited were the Wildlife Institute and the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, the offshoot of the Bombay Natural History Society.
Besides producing hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific publications, these projects enabled about 100 Indian scientists to receive their M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees. Many more students received their M.Sc. degrees through the Wildlife Institute.
``Species are no longer viewed as inanimate objects to be studied without context, but as parts of dynamic natural systems that function in an interdependent manner,'' he added.
Kuno set to be second home for Asiatic lions (October Week 2 (2005)) The target date for the translocation is 2008. “We are working towards translocating the lions from Gir to Kuno. This project may safeguard the Asiatic lions from going extinct,” said Dr A J T Johnsingh, a wildlife expert from WII, who is working with the translocation project.
Kuna wildlife sanctuary is considered as the best area where 20-30 lions can be managed. The MP government has submitted a proposal for a 20-year project with an outlay of Rs 64 crores that is approved by the Centre. The project period of 20 years has been divided into various phases. In the first phase, the state government will free the area of human population. Already 24 villages belonging to local tribes including Saharias have been resettled. The Forest Department of MP and WII are preparing short and long-term measure plans to solve the water and irrigation problems in these areas.
Attempts are being made to enrich Kuno with adequate prey base which will be better by 2008, reports the Deccan Herald. “We are optimistic that you may hear the roar of the first batch of five Asiatic lion in another two years,” said Dr Johnsingh.
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