September 08, 2007
The Mandakini Magpie
Bird Watcher’s Camp!
Even as some of us sit in Delhi and discuss the intricacies of ecotourism and how it’s different from tourism, there are people all over this country who are practicing the former – in the real sense of the word (‘eco’-tourism). One such person
is Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi who runs a bird watching camp christened, ‘The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp’.
Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi
One such person is Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi who runs a bird watching camp christened, ‘The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp’. The camp is located in Kakragad on the bank of River Mandakini en route
to Sri Kedarnath, a few hours drive from Rudraprayag.
Mr. Negi is a wonderful person who is not only dedicated towards his work but also has in-depth knowledge about birds and the Himalayas. He has been running this camp for the past seven years which
is wonderfully exemplified by his experience and expertise.
Apart from bird watching, Mr. Negi also takes interest in collecting good books on orinthology. He even has a good collection of abandoned bird nests and also of some classic books on bird identification,
wildlife and Himalayan Biodiversity. Lately, he has also started making a herbarium of those plant species in which the birds make their nest or feed.
Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi may not know the difference between Tourism and Ecotourism.
He may not have even heard of ecotourism.
But how he runs his bird watchers camp can be a basic case study of ‘ecotourism in the Himalayas’.
He runs his camp all himself with some help from other people of the area. The tent houses are well maintained and are very inviting with names like ‘Woodpecker Tent, Sparrow Tent, etc!
In his camp, very little of ‘transmitted’ electricity is used. He has solar lanterns which are extensively used instead of the regular electricity.
Solar Lanterns at Mr. Negi’s Camp
All in all, a visit to the Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp is a must for every bird watcher, nature lover or for anyone who wants a lesson or two in Ecotourism!
Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi can be contacted at the following number: 09412909399
September 07, 2007
Travelogue: A Visit to the
Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary!
Visited in: Feb-March, 2007
While words may fail...pictures never!
1. Sonprayag Township: The Base Camp. While it is difficult to find a place to step a foot during the warm season (of the Sri Kedarnath
yatra), the town is lazy and ghostly during the rest of the year.
2. Sonprayag: Concfluence of Songanga (on the left) and Mandakini (seen in the middle) Rivers
3. Entry bridge to the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary - just above Sonprayag.
4. Gaurikund: The last motorable town en route to Sri Kedarnath. Steps lead to the entry-gate of the 14 Km. trek to Sri Kedarnath.
5. and 6. Poly-bag menace at Gaurikund
7. To Sri Kedarnath
8. and 9. An interesting fungus and the HIMALAYAN TAHR!!
10. and 11. Leopard Pug marks..apparently not alone!! (Verified by Dr. Sinha of the WII)
12. Jangal Chatti
13. Nature is kind enough to the wildlife - to prevent people from going above Jangal Chatti (owing to avalanches, snow, etc.) Am glad it is! So, the best view of Sri Kedarnath that I got.
14. Back to Sonprayag - to make the long journey back home.
15 . A View of the Chaukhamba peak several kilometers away from where it is (zoomed into focus)! Just a reminder of the glorious glory of the Himalayas. Reminded me of a poem I had read long back in my Hindi class.."Giriraj Himalaya
ka Bharat se kuch aisa hi naata hai...."
P.S. The above was a University of Delhi Research trip. Unless one has a permission (at times not even then), it is not possible to go beyond Gaurikund during off-season.
The images can be used for any socially useful purpose after proper citation.
August 30, 2007
Out of adventure for a long time, I decided to cycle from Mysore to Waynad, through Bandipur. Took my cycle from BLR to MYS by bus and began cycling. The road was plain and flat did not cause much trouble(except for head wind). I knew Bandipur linked Banerghata
and cauvery range. The locals assured me that the elephants were less dangerous when compared to their presence in Banerghata(many factors for this).
Well as I entered Bandipur (No gaurds at their post, luckily) a huge hoarding welcomed me, it read "WELCOME TO BANDIPUR, PART OF PROJECT TIGER". A huge lump in my throat, but pressed on faster never taking a break even to leak. As I cycled, I became part
of nature & enjoyed it thoroughly. Also realised the animals are as scared of humans like we are about them. It took me just a day to cycle about 125 km (Fear, Exitement all combined).
August 23, 2007
Singapore’s government is encouraging the city-state’s hotels to go green. Under a new scheme run by the National Environment Agency (NEA), energy-efficient hotels can compete for an “Energy Smart” label. To gain this distinction, they must measure themselves
against a set of energy benchmarks devised by the NEA and the National University of Singapore.
The NEA is also helping to fund the energy audits. The winners of the inaugural award in August were the Regent, the Shangri-La, the Intercontinental and Changi Village. But much work still needs doing: hotels currently account for a whopping 2% of Singapore’s
greenhouse gas emissions.
August 23, 2007
Singapore is getting hotter and wetter. According to the National Environment Agency, average temperatures in the city-state have risen by between 1º and 1.5º Celsius over the past 50 years. The agency, which suggests that global warming may be the culprit,
also reported an increase in rainfall, noting that December 2006 was the wettest on record.
The agency is expected to publish a larger study on Singapore’s future weather conditions sometime next year.
August 21, 2007
"Most of bird identification is based on a sort of subjective impression- the way a bird moves and little instantaneous appearances at different angles and sequences of different appearances, and as it turns its head and as it flies and as it turns around,
you see sequences of different shapes and angles," David Sibley says. "All that combines to create a unique impression of a bird that can’t really be taken apart and described in words. When it comes down to being in the field and looking at a bird, you
don’t take the time to analyze and say it shows this, this, and this; therefore it must be this species. It is more natural andinstinctive. After a lot of practice, you look at the bird, and it triggers little switches in your brain. It looks right. "You
know what it is at a glance."
Quote From ’BLINK’ by Malcolm Gladwell
August 19, 2007
Robert Shapiro rose to the top of Monsanto Corp. with a powerful vision for transforming the company from a chemical manufacturer to a life sciences company using genetic engineering to produce "Food,Health and Hope." His logic seemed impeccable: use science,
specifically genetics, to engineer plants that were resistant to disease, drought, and insects and that produced better yields per acre using less energy and pesticides. Monsanto spent millions of dollars developing the technology and several billion to acquire
the seed companies and distributors it needed to make Shapiro’s vision a reality. Wall street applauded Monsanto’s pioneering efforts. The stock price even rose after the company slashed its dividend to help cover its heavy spending.
Monsanto’s genetically engineered products were a hit with big American agricultural companies. The soybean, corn, cotton, and other seeds, while more expensive to purchase than unmodified seeds, fulfilled Monsanto’s promise of better yields. Cultivation
of genetically modified crops in the United States soared from 18 million acres in 1997 to 58 million acres in 1998. By the end of that year Monsanto was on a path to generate $10 billion in annual revenue from a pipeline of new products to be introduced over
the next few years.
Then the problems began. A farmer in Canada reported that some canola seeds, genetically modified to be pesticide resistant, had escaped and cross pollinated with a related type of weed on the fringes of his field, creating, in effect, a "super weed" that
couldn’t be controlled by existing pesticides. A rival seed company introduced genes from a from a Brazil nut into a soybean to make it more nutritious as animal feed. But soybeans are a big source of protein for human consumption too, and some people are
fatally allergic to Brazil nuts. The product never made it to the market, but news accounts speculating that modified soybeans could kill people allergic to Brazil nuts got plenty of attention. And then there was the Terminator gene. Monsanto bought a seed
company that had patented the technology to insert a gene in crops that effectively sterilized new seeds when the crop was harvested. The idea was to prevent farmers from saving the seeds from a portion of their crop to plant the next year, in effect, protecting
the seed company’s proprietary genetic modification technology. Farmers would have to buy new seeds each year.
Everything came to a head when Monsanto applied to sell its genetically modified seed in Europe. Europeans were already reeling from a decade of health scares related to food, including Britain’s terrifying encounter with "mad cow" disease. Although the
European Union’s regulators gave Monsanto permission to sell its modified products, consumer reaction on the Continent verged on hysteria. Environmental groups and the media led the charge against Monsanto, labeling its products "Frankenstein Foods". Prince
Charles weighed in with the opinion that "I happen to believe that this kind of genetic modification takes mankind into realms that belong to God, and to God alone." The German subsidiaries of both Nestle` and Unilever said they would not use Monsanto’s genetically
modified soybeans. Polls showed huge majorities of Europeans firmly against altered foods. Monsanto’s efforts to counter the critics-a $5million advertising campaign that told Europeans that while they were new to biotechnology, Monsanto has been researching
the subject for twenty years-instead inflamed public opinion as being condescending.
Shapiro wasn’t swayed by the furor. "This is the single most successful introduction of technology in the history of agriculture, including the plow," he proclaimed. He acknowledged the opposition, but contended that "eventually, scientific proof should
win over reluctant and skeptical consumers."
But science had never been the real issue. Public opinion was what counted. A consultant whom Monsanto brought in to mediate with the company’s growing number of critics gave up, claiming that Monsanto just didn’t get it. "There is a barrier to really
listening to what people are saying." he said of the company. In the United States, where small farmers were becoming increasingly incensed over Monsanto’s efforts to collect fees and put restrictions on their use of modified seeds, Agriculture Secretary
Dan Glickman got straight to the point, warning Shapiro to keep quiet because" every time he opens his mouth, U.S. agriculture loses millions more bushels of agriculture exports." Monsanto’s stock price fell 35 percent even as the overall market rallied 30
percent in 1999.
( Source Know-How by Ram Charan)
August 17, 2007
Judge declares river dried up by diversion to LA revived
The city of Los Angeles has sufficiently restored
a stretch of river along the Sierra Nevada it siphoned off decades ago
by aqueduct and no longer has to pay fines of $5,000 a day, a judge
Inyo County Superior Court Judge Lee Cooper said the city has revived
a 62-mile section of the lower Owens River that was left essentially
dry in 1913 when its flows were diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
"I can now officially declare that the lower Owens River is a river,"
Water was directed back to the riverbed in December, marking a
concession in an infamous water war between Los Angeles and the valley
200 miles north of the city.
Ecologists said the revived river was making a remarkable recovery and
reported seeing birds, fish, and plants in the channel.
The judge had imposed the $5,000 fine per day in July 2005 when he
grew frustrated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s
long-delayed plan to restore the river.
During a hearing Wednesday, Cooper also approved an agreement between
the DWP, Inyo County officials, residents and environmentalists that
spells out requirements for the city to keep the water flowing. The
judge warned he would impose fines under the deal if the city didn’t
meet its obligations.
"The restoration of the river has been a long-term goal of Inyo County
and we are heartened that river’s recovery is well under way," Jim
Bilyeu, chairman of the county’s board of supervisors, said in a
Source: U.S. Water News Online, July 2007
August 15, 2007
Indian National Snakebite Protocol
India has now become the first country to formally approve a National Snakebite Protocol. This
includes both treatment and first aid. In addition, the Government committed to nationwide training for each
State and a comprehensive programme of research with the Indian Council
for Medical Research. This will address many of the unanswered
questions on snakebite management and identify the ever growing list of
medically significant snakes in India.
The notion of ’the Big 4’ was abandoned as being inaccurate and dated. More medically significant snakes are emerging which has serious
implications for the supply of effective anti venoms. A significant amount of training has already taken place in 6 States
and more will follow. India has now taken major steps to remove itself from the top of the mortality list where snakebite is concerned.
Wild Goa Yahoo group Posting by email@example.com
August 14, 2007
In recent years many western communities have shifted their reliance from drilling, mining and logging to recreational activities like camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, climbing and boating on public lands for jobs, economic growth and vitality.
According to a report prepared by Sierra Club, outdoor recreation across the American West generated more than $60 billion and over 600,000 new jobs in 2006 alone. Western communities situated closest to federally protected public lands showed the strongest
economic growth in recent years. The Sierra Club says it is working to get traction for this information so that policymakers and the public can counter industry propaganda about the need to increase drilling, mining and logging on Western lands.
“Public lands drive the tourist-based economies in our western states,” says the Sierra Club’s Keren Murphy, who authored the report. “If we protect special places, they’ll provide a source of income and enjoyment for generations to come.”