Trek on foot!

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 24, 2007

Forum Post

Trek on Foot!

Long-distance hiking is incredibly romantic — the idea of spending weeks
or months at a time in some of the most beautiful backcountry areas in the
world is almost universally appealing, especially when contrasted to the
fluorescent lights, traffic jams, and overwhelming email inboxes of modern
life. But long-distance newbies need to realize that the reality of
long-distance hiking is not always pleasant: you can’t just “float” by like
you can in “the real world” — there are always miles to be walked, stormy
weather to fend off, fatigue and soreness to treat, discomforts to cope
with, etc. You have to earn the “Beautiful moments” — the sunsets, wildlife
encounters, 12,000-foot ridgewalks, and trail magic from generous locals.
If you understand the work-to-reward ratio of long-distance hiking, and if
you’re okay with it, you’ll have much more success and you’ll enjoy yourself
much more.

For new trekkers:
1. Familiarise yourself with all that you can read about the place.
2. Read trip reports by others
3. Develop skills, become more familiar with your gear and
maps/guidebook, and understand better the terrain and weather. Ideally go
with a more experienced backpacker who can transfer knowledge they have
learned from others and from their trials and errors.


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?


National Parks

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 18, 2007

Forum Post

National Parks

National Parks around the world need to get more media space than they get today. These Parks hold the key to the future of mankind- with rare species of animals, birds, plants and aquatic life waiting to be explored.

India has 85 National Parks and 450 wildlife sanctuaries.

National Parks

Big Bend National Park ( U.S.A)

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 17, 2007

Forum Post


Big Bend National Park (Texas)


"Off we were looking to get away, relax, enjoy nature, and forget about the daily distractions of life. I called a Texas Park Ranger to be our family trip planner hoping she could point out the best Texas RV Park. She suggested.....


Read the full report at


Climate change and Global Warming

Oil Spill

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 16, 2007

Forum Post

Oil Spill

This week, November 2007, a massive storm swept into the Black Sea, sinking dozens of ships and breaking apart a Russian oil tanker. Over 1,890,000 litres of thick fuel oil was spilled and initial reports suggest some 30,000 birds may have been killed. Thousands more are covered in oil and face death in the coming weeks.

Over 50 kilometres of Russian coastline are impacted by this oil spill, including critical habitat for migrating and wintering birds.

nature/wildlife films

Open University Films

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 16, 2007

Forum Post

Open University Films

Here is an initiative by the Open University of Britain, well worth emulating by our own Indira Gandhi National Open University!

An epic journey across the length and breadth of Britain is continuing with The Nature of Britain, co-produced by The Open University and currently showing on BBC ONE, BBC TWO and BBC FOUR.

Presented by Alan Titchmarsh, The Nature of Britain concentrates on the unique ecology of different landscapes and eco-systems throughout the UK and the diverse behaviour of the animals and plants that live in them. During his journey, Alan shares his enthusiasm for the British wildlife, encouraging viewers to step outside and explore the natural history on their doorstep.

The series features eight key landscapes - Island; Farmland; Urban; Freshwater; Coastal; Woodland; Wilderness and Secret Britain. It paints a beautiful contemporary portrait of Britain’s wildlife and provides the definitive guide to The Nature of Britain.


"Wildlife is marvellous on TV but our local natural world is fascinating too. Every time I observe wildlife I see something - a plant, an animal, a pattern of behaviour, which I have not seen before. You don’t have to be a zoologist to experience this and the series shows some of the special things right on our doorsteps. The regional films will be great for informing viewers of what they can do locally to experience the natural world themselves and of how they can make a difference."


Environment Awareness

Lake pollution

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 15, 2007

Forum Post

Cross posting from Water Community (

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

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

Engineers and Environment

Solar illuminations -no electricity needed!

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 15, 2007

Forum Post

"Perfect for use as a festive decoration at Christmas time or use all year round to decorate trees, shrubs, parasols, and other outdoor items. Perfect for areas where electricity is unavailable or difficult to run wiring. That makes these solar string lights perfectly safe to use almost anywhere. The most important feature we wanted to ensure, was dusk to dawn illumination. Therefore we incorporated a powerful, but compact, solar panel and a high capacity battery all contained in a neat, weatherproof controller box, which has a removeable ground spike. In most applications these lights should run dusk to dawn after a full charge. In fact, after a full charge, during our tests, they were still functioning over 100 hours later without seeing any sunshine. These are probably the best solar string lights you will find so order your set now while stocks last! The 104 LED bulbs never need replacing. They automatically illuminate at dusk and switch off at dawn and come on an approximate 37’ cord. The controller allows several different modes, such as slow twinkle, fast twinkle, all on, slow sequence, fast sequence, reverse sequence etc. Available in three color choices, choose from a set of all white, or a set of white & blue, or a set of green, amber & red. Color of fixture is black."



Urban Wildlife

Feeding wildlife

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 15, 2007

Forum Post
the following is an excerpt from an interesting post I found at
’......the news paper called to tell me there have been 
numerous reports of filthy conditions caused by too many 
Ducks at the citie’s main park. 
To this day hundreds of people each day fill up their 
water jugs with this well water.   The problem is they 
are standing in Duck POOP. It seems that every year or 
two the Parks Superintendent has to take some of the 
ducks to a wildlife preserve.  
but the city folk want some ducks at the pond to 

The duck problem sounds very similar to the Monkey
problem we have in Delhi. Too many monkeys congregate at 
places where people feed them ( temples and even offices 
The real solution is to stop feeding wildlife. The ducks
and monkeys are capable of sourcing their food by 
travelling ( around the globe in the case of mallards).  
We are doing a great disservice to them by offering them 
Fast food!!

Tribal Bill-How it will affect our forests

Tigers and Tribals

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 14, 2007

Forum Post

Tigers and tribals


” Is it possible to reconcile the interests of what seems to be two competing groups?

Two years ago the debate was stormy. The draft forest rights bill was being worked upon by a government just sworn into power. Around this time, it was discovered—to everyone’s horror—that all tigers from what was supposed to be a protected area, the Sariska National Park, had been poached. Opposition to the draft bill mounted; conservationists argued that this “populist” measure would be the last nail in the tiger’s coffin.

I was asked to head a task force to suggest how tigers could be safeguarded. Over three months the specialists we met believed that it was important to reserve areas for wildlife. These would need to be inviolate areas—exclusively earmarked for animals where human interference would have to be kept at its minimum. Otherwise, they said, the tiger would not survive. They believed that if the forest rights bill gave people ownership over these lands it would be disastrous.

I approached the issue from different perspectives. I had for long understood that the future of people and forests is entwined. I also knew from experience that regeneration of forests is not possible unless local people benefit. But I was willing to listen to the experience of those who believed in the tiger. If co-existence was not possible, we needed to find strategies to relocate people who lived in the tiger’s territory.

The issue seemed simple, but the replies shocked me. After 30 years of wildlife conservation efforts, fronted by the country’s most powerful, we had forgotten people. In these 30 years we had managed to relocate 80-odd villages from protected reserves. We estimated that another 1,500 villages existed in just 28 tiger reserves. Worse, relocation was done in the most ham-handed and inhuman manner. We met families who had decided to return to the harassment and poverty of their homes within the sanctuary as their resettled parcel of land was full of stones. The authorities had done just about everything to make people trespassers in their own land; everything to turn them against the tiger we want to protect. This would not work we concluded.

Our answer was two-pronged. One, we agreed that inviolate space was important for wild animals. But the people who were making space for the tiger needed to be given a good deal—not marginal forestland which would make them more destitute. Two, we said that we needed to be realistic. We suggested the need to identify and prioritize relocation of those villages that were in the most critical of wildlife habitats. This had to be done within a time-bound schedule. In the remaining villages, which would have to live in the reserves, we suggested a new bargain—sharing benefits of conservation with local communities—from preferential shares in tourism to collaborative management of our reserves.

This led to some developments. The government agreed to enhance the package for relocated families from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh; it agreed to conduct a census of tigers in the country, which would pinpoint their presence in different habitats. The tiger census is the first step to identify the critical habitats that need to be protected and to list the human settlements that need to be relocated. With this done, the agenda of co-existence will need to kick in.

------------- In late 2005, the bill presented to parliament included a provision that temporary pattas (land deeds) would be given to people who were to be relocated from sanctuaries and national parks. This would ensure that their rights were protected, but also it would ensure that government would undertake their relocation within a time-bound schedule.

Then the tribal lobby, which has the upper hand in parliament upped the ante. In late 2006, the act, finalized by a joint parliamentary committee, dropped this clause. Inside, it inserted an altogether new term, critical wildlife habitats, which would need to be established as areas to be kept inviolate for wildlife. In the rules for the act to go into force, they have rubbed in this point. They want ministries to issue guidelines regarding the nature, process, validation and interpretation of data to be collected and roles of expert committees who will now designate critical wildlife habitats, virtually questioning the legality of all protected areas.

This has led conservationists to react. They want all wildlife areas (some 600-odd) to be re-designated as critical wildlife habitats and removed from the ambit of the act. Now they have the upper hand. For now, the act is stalled. The next round belongs to the tribal lobby. It is after all a wrestling match.

In all this, let us be clear, the losers are tribals and tigers. It is not tigers versus
tribals. It is everyone against them.”


–Sunita Narain




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