May 25, 2007
"Four or five years ago you couldn’t give environmental and conservation programmes away, but in the past 18 months, the increase in concern about
global warming has changed that, and international broadcasters are increasingly asking what we’ve got coming down the line," says Ian Jones, president of distributor National Geographic Television International (NGTI).
Looking ahead, National Geographic US will make its
Earth Report - a signature year-end programme that premiered at the end of 2006 - an annual event. Essentially, it is an audit on sustainability and quality of life indicators across the planet, specifically looking at the impact of human activity on
the Earth in the previous year. For 2007 there will be an extended web component and the National Geographic magazine will initiate a major push, as will all of the National Geographic channels. In addition, National Geographic is working on a major society-wide
global warming project, and it is also preppinga sequal to the series Strange Days on Planet Earth,
with many episodes set to have a definite green tinge.
However, based on projects in development now, the lion’s share of programming in 2008 will focus on what people are doing, and what we can all do
to reverse the effects of global warming. Broadcasters are shying away from doomsday warnings, and are instead using terms like ’empowering,’ ’inspiring,’ ’aspirational,’ and ’proactive’ to describe the programming they’re after.
New programming throughout the coming year will also likely look at the economic repercussions of going green, from the impact of energy and fuel
conservation on our own wallets to big decisions that politicians face, like enforcing clean industry and promoting train transport above air travel.
May 23, 2007
Project Tiger has been reviewed by the Tiger Task Force constituted by the
National Board for Wildlife, Chaired by the Hon¹ble Prime Minister.
- The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has already come
into force w.e.f. 4th September, 2006.
- Apart from above, all the Tiger Reserves have been evaluated by a panel of independent experts based on a set of criteria (45) developed by the World commission on Protected Areas, as adapted for Indian conditions. The evaluation has been peer-reviewed
by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Both the assessment as well as peer-review have been placed in both the Houses of Parliament.
- The process of All India estimation of tigers, copredators and prey animals using the refined methodology, as approved by the Tiger Task Force, is ongoing in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India. The said process on completion, would indicate
the status of tiger population, its copredators, prey animals and habitat in the country.
- Assessment of tiger habitat status in the country at Taluka amplification in the Geographical Information System (GIS) domain in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India. Comparative appraisal of forest cover status in and around tiger reserves
(upto a radial distance of 10 kms.), in collaboration with the Forest Survey of India for evolving reserve specific restorative strategies involving local people in the peripheral / buffer areas.
- Bilateral agreements have been signed with Nepal and Republic of
China for controlling trans-boundary illegal trade in wildlife.
Source: Information given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2007
May 23, 2007
The organized environmental movement has been almost totally ineffective at protecting the environment since the mid 1980s.
The big groups have been successful at protecting some resources in certain regions—staving off the drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife
Refuge and gaining more wilderness designation in the Green Mountain National Forest are two notable successes in the U.S.A—but in terms of protecting the major ecosystems and the general environment, they have largely failed.
There are many other environmental crises including loss of species diversity, loss of natural resources like wetlands and forests, and the
collapse of ocean fisheries.
A large coalition of environmental groups in 1970 endorsed a resolution stating that, “population growth is directly involved in the pollution and degradation
of our environment—air, water and land—and intensifies physical, psychological, social, political and economic problems to the extent that the well-being of individuals, the stability of society and our very survival are threatened.”
The connection between population growth and the environment is perhaps best expressed through what is known as the foundation formula or the environmental
What this says is that any environmental impact is the result of three factors; the size of the population, the affluence or wealth of that population and
the technology or type of consumption that the population spends its wealth on.
What has happened is that environmental organizations have disregarded the population part of the equation and focused almost entirely on the technology
part of the equation, be it driving more fuel-efficient cars or encouraging “smart growth.”
The Environmental Magazine
May 21, 2007
Lion claws are cult symbols in and around Saurashtra. There is a belief system built around them. Fishermen wear them before venturing out to sea, apparently to make them "lion -hearted".
The forest department destroys all the claws collected from the carcasses of dead lions so there is no official route of getting these talismans. Forest officials do not believe locals in Saurashtra would be hunting lions for their claws and claim that
mos of the claws are fake.
The Kathi Darbar Community wear them as status symbols. Sold at prices rising up to Rs 25,000 per claw, they are flaunted in pendants worn on bare chests.
Conservator of Forests, Junagadh has powers to apprehend those wearing lion claws. But there is no information of anyone having been booked so far, over the years.
source: Times of India, 13 April, 2007
May 21, 2007
Yamuna is in danger and no single organization or person can handle
this. Everybody in Delhi has to come together to tackle its problems.
Instead of laying a concrete jungle, we should build a natural jungle of
10,000 hectares on the flood plain of the river. The people should help
in reviving recharge structures and distributaries of the river. The
Ridge should be declared as a recharge zone and the baolis and talaabs
that existed there should be restored. The ghats on the Yamuna should
also be restored.
The Jal Satyagraha 2007 was also launched at the event. It aims to raise
awareness among school and college children. It will create awareness in
both rural and urban India on the optimal use of water and need to
recharge to groundwater. The Satyagraha will work with media to raise
public awareness on water-related issues. It will advocate water as a
basic human right and hold camps in different states. The campaign will
also discourage people from using bottled water and drinking soft
drinks. Lastly, it will work to stop the privatization of rivers and
other water sources.
May 20, 2007
Birdbrain is no longer a sign of stupidity; indeed it could be a sign of surprising intelligence.
Scientists Bernd Heinrich and Thomas Bugnyar reveal a series of experiments that back the idea that ravens are the brainboxes of the natural world. "These birds use logic to solve problems and some of their abilities even surpass those of the great apes."
The experiment they outline involved ravens that were allowed to sit on perches from which pieces of meat dangled from string. To get a treat, a raven had to perform a complex series of actions: pull up some of the string, place a loop on the perch and hold
it with a claw, then pull up another section of string and hold that loop on the perch. By repeating the process half a dozen times, a raven could reach the end of the string and get the meat.
Source: Guardian Newspapers Limited April, 2007
May 20, 2007
Doddamakali Fishing Camp (12th May 07, 140kms from Bangalore)
My mind and soul both were craving for some kind of adventure and I was also sick and tired of slogging at work. Actually, I was looking for agn opportunity to unleash my Beast on the road and it came at the right time. This is about a trip that Netra (my
wife) & I cruised along the gorgeous locations of Karnataka (Halagur – Malavalli – Doddamakali) searching for Mahseer. It was just ’awesome’. That’s the only word comes to my mind when I think about it. This write-up is all about three entities - we two and
BISON (the Bullet).
Meandering through the woody landscape amidst the forests of Karnataka is the Cauvery the most majestic and sacred river of South India. The river offers both adventure and opportunity for nature lovers. Nestled along this mighty river is the Doddamakali
Fishing Camp, world-renowned as home to the great ‘Mahseer’ - the finest & the largest tropical sporting fish known to man. Tucked away from the milling crowds, yet close enough for you to reach, this camp offers a slice of nature that is entirely unique,
one in which you can totally feel free! JLR has exclusive rights to vast stretches of the Cauvery. Four different kinds of Mahseer (Large Headed) fish are found in these waters Silver, Gold, black and Pink. However, in light of decreasing sizes and numbers
of good specimens, ’Catch-and-Release’ has become a necessary practice. Other fish often found are carp, catfish and many small ones useful as bait.
Doddamakali Camp is situated 6km upstream from Bheemeshwari. This place is as remote, rugged and as primitive as any place could be. Hugging the River Cauvery, the Camp is absolutely protected and riparian—sylvan in solitude and great for bird sightings
& Mahseer fishing. Mammals that are spotted around the Camp include leopard, elephants, wild pigs, sambar, spotted deers, the highly endangered grizzled giant squirrel, Malabar giant squirrel and jackals. Reptiles that can be sighted are marsh crocodile, turtles
(Leith’s Soft Shelled Turtle, an endemic species is found in these waters), chameleon, python, cobra, russell’s viper and banded krait. However, the Mahseer fish is the main attraction of the waters of River Cauvery
Over 200 species of birds have been identified around the camp. Among the water-based birds, you can spot the grey-headed fishing eagle, spot billed duck, small pied kingfisher, black-bellied river tern, osprey, and many more. There are also a number of
rare land-based birds such as the honey buzzard, tawny eagle, pied crested cuckoo, etc. Our cruise was quiet smooth till Mandya through the four-lane highway. After that the roads were little bit rough & uneven. After doing some left, right turn and riding
on smooth road, Netra & I reached the old tarred road and then kacchi sadak.. the way to Doddamakali.. 8 km stretch which took us around 45 mins-1 hr. It was very interesting journey on that road both times. We were finally at camp at 11:40am, but via a slope
hugging zigzag path with no soul around.
After reaching there we were welcomed with a glass of lemon juice. It was like "amrut jal" or may be "tirthanm" after 3 hrs ride. I couldn’t resist jumping in to the river even after reading about crocs & whirlpools in the stream; swam for an hour and then
lunch around 1:30. After lunch we were at river side & I fixed my fishing rod to ankle the Mahseer; a legendary fighting fish which can grow to over 100lb in weight. These fish are famous for being able to strip a reel bare of 40lb line on the first run and
can easily swim upstream, against rapids, at over 20 knots. Netra was resting on hammock & fell asleep.
Putting her to sleep, I swiftly changed into my fishing gear and taking my trusty spinning tackle, called forth with determination. After I had worked out the kinks from my casting arm, I was rewarded by a Silver Mahseer, who seized my large spinner with
a vengeance as soon as it struck the water. In no time the reel was singing, my arm was straining against the pull from the Mahseer, who was whizzing downstream looking for refuge in the rapid and rocks. This gave me time to overcome the initial shock of hooking
a big one, and also a respite to my pounding heart. I now concentrated on landing this monster. The usual tricks of playing and tiring the fish were applied with great care and eventually I landed my first 1 pound Silver Mahaseer which is the smallest anyone
could catch, after about an hour of sheer grit and pleasure.
Around 4:00 we went for the coracle ride... Delirious with excitement, Netra & I jumped into the Coracle. Not fresh to such conduct, indulgent rowers stop me and hand over a lifejacket in glowing orange. I put it on, and gingerly get into a coracle that
shudders fleetingly under my weight. The coracle whirled, twirled, swirled, and finally drifted rhythmically. The oar touched the water with a plop & hit the rocks, Netra & I started disquieting the Gille (guide) for some local wildlife news as usual
We were there till the tea & planned to climb up the roads around 5:00pm, except for my BISON no vehicle can reach out there. On the way back we spotted couple of spotted deers, wild fowls, and mongoose. By the time we reached Halagur, it was past 6 pm.
Since we were on a day tour (no accomodation available for the night) we had to return to Bangalore. We had spent only about 8 hours at the camp but it was an extremely satisfying and relaxing trip. My mind was away from all the worries of every day life and
was raring to go back to work full blast.
May 19, 2007
The CO2 levels are going up by 2ppm per year, with Delhi adding 963 new cars daily to the city’s fleet. To ensure that the temperature does not go up by more than two degrees by the turn of the century, we have to ensure that CO2 levels stay below 450 ppm.
Vehicular traffic is the single largest contributor of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Even the trees lining the road cannot help unless we reduce the number of vehicles.
Source: Times of India, May4, 2007
May 19, 2007
Chintpurni, Dharamshala, Pragpur, April, 2007
-Partha Praim Pal
It has been long time since we both (Kirti and myself) took a break from Delhi on religious reasons . As some of you are aware we had been blessed by
a daughter some five months back – we undertook a visit to Chintpurni, Chamunda, Kangra Devi and Jwala ji along with Vanya (our daughter).
We reached Chintpurni on 14th evening.
Next morning I woke up very early more due to people’s voice walking in the street – All eager to do a darshan early morning being Basaikhi weekend .Not expecting any bird life
in that cacophony of people ,Radio, Stereo and of course Mandir mike – I moved out of the Dharamshala with heavy feet and heart with my Binoculars hanging on my neck .
Just 200 mtrs from the Dharamshala, I hit upon a dirt road, which took me to semi jungle kind of a habitat, which lifted my spirit. There was a sudden
expectancy in the air . Nearly 15 pairs of Asian paradise flycatcher with their long white tail fleeting around with few just couple of meters away.
A pair of Blue rock thrush, Flocks of Plum headed Parakeet and Common Rose finches, Ten odd golden orioles and quite a few more species were sighted within span of hour. Only regret being I didn’t listen to Kirti’s advice of carrying the camera for the
16th afternoon we reached Paragpur our destination for next two days. We stayed in a resort called “Judge’s Court” basically a Pre independence Haveli turned into Welcome heritage resort . As expected luxury at its
best mixed with old royal eloquence. Paradise flycatcher once again was the highlight of the little birding I did around the property, not to miss the Grey Hornbill’s fight for nest with the Rose ringed parakeet who ultimately lost all the three juveniles
to aggressive Hornbill, omnipresent brown headed, Blue throated barbet, tiptoeing Grey wagtail, various warblers, various Myna & starlings,
huge flocks of Common Rose finches etc.
17th was again an out and out
religious day with three of us visiting the balance temples as mentioned above.
Except an odd sighting of Egyptian vulture and Himalayan Griffon at Kangra fort area, no birding.
Down with a severe headache due to excessive heat,
I didn’t have the strength to do any birding that day , though we reached the hotel by 5pm.
18th morning was the D day marked for my morning birding at Maharana Pratap Sagar wetland which is 20 odd kms from the hotel.
Armed with my camera and binoculars ably supported by driver Daler Singh we reached the destination early morning.
Initial scanning of the area was very disappointing though villagers informed us in advance that all migratory ducks have flown back.
I was awe struck by the huge water body.
Initial disappointment gave away to some relief when I saw a Little Ringed plover feeding at the edge of the water.
(Text and photographs--Partha Pratim Pal )
Gradually one after the other species came tumbling out as if they were hidden in some closet – only favouring the brave who can fight the ever rising temperature which was getting unbearable with every minute, though cold
draft from the Sagar did help me to stay there for nearly two hours . Whether it was terns, wagtails, larks, pipits, Blue tailed Beeaters, Bar headed geese,
First winter Palas Gull, Eurasion wigeon, Small pratincole, Lapwings and of course my only two lifer of the trip Richard Pipit and Eurasian Skylark, I enjoyed every bit of the two hour of birding.
I cannot wait to visit the birding paradise again.
May 18, 2007
"Developing world can leapfrog to a new energy future-from no fuel to the most advanced fuel. The biofuel can come from non-edible tree crops-jatropha in India, for example-grown on wasteland, which will also employ people.
This fuel market will demand a different business model. It cannot be conducted on the basis of the so-called free market model, which is based on economies of scale and, therefore, demands consolidation and leads to uncompetitive practices.
In today’s model, a company will grow the crops, extract the oil, transport it first to refineries and then back to consumers.
The new generation biofuel business needs a model of distributed growth in which we have millions of growers and millions of distributors and millions of users. Remember, climate change is not a technological fix but a political challenge. Biofuel
is part of a new future."