February 01, 2007
I travelled to the lesser known Daroji Bear Sanctuary a few days back. with atleast 22 sightings of the Sloth bears, the trip was very succesful.
View Trip report
January 31, 2007
Maharashtra all set to induct women foresters
CHANDRAPUR: For 21-year-old Yogita Madavi, the steep climb of Tipagarh hills in the naxal-hit Gadchiroli last month was no mean feat. Physically challenged, this tribal girl wanted to prove a point. "My friends used to taunt by calling me a langdi. Every
time they did so, I got more determined to prove my mettle some day. And I think I’ve done it," she says.
Yogita is one of the 11 successful girls who were recruited by the Maharashtra Forest Department last April after a written and physical test. She and her co-mates literally walked into what was hitherto a male bastion. "We walked 16 km in four hours on
the trot to pass the physical test. All of us here passed the test at ease," the gutsy recruit says. “This is the first batch of women foresters in Maharashtra. And it’s doing very well,” said S P Wadaskar, principal of Rangers Training College. Though a
few other states have already recruited women cadres before, this is the first time in Maharashtra, he said. After a two-month training, the 11 women foresters would join work, the principal said.
Their responsibilities include everything from joint forest management to catching poachers and safeguarding wildlife. They have to lead separate teams of guards to monitor the depleting jungle wealth.
Three of the 11 female recruits are married. Motivated by their husbands, all of them decided to join the department as foresters post-marriage. "It was my husband who motivated me to go for the test," said Seema Sherki nee Gore.
Last year, the forest department received 47,000 applications, including 7,000-odd from female aspirants for 36 vacant posts. Of them, 36,000 got short-listed for the preliminary examination.
About 520 got through for the mains, and finally only 33, including 11 women were selected, Wadaskar said. Amrapali Khobragade, one of the women recruits, says: "We are no less than men. And we are extremely anxious to prove that women can work even harder
than men. This was, perhaps, the only field without women. There is no field left now where women haven’t countered risks and challenges successfully."
Source: DNA, January 21, 2007
January 31, 2007
Sustainable management of natural resources at grass roots-Foundation for Ecological Security
Many of the human activities that modify or destroy natural ecosystems cause deterioration of ecological services whose value, in the long run, far outweigh the short term economic benefits that human society seeks to gain. As ecosystems remain at great
jeopardy so do the livelihoods and continued well being of communities everywhere. Poor communities are particularly vulnerable since they rely more on natural resources for subsistence and income and are less likely to share in property rights that give them
legal control over these resources.
In this context, FES promotes the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, forests and water in particular, through local self governance institutions.The crux of their efforts lie in locating forests and other natural resources within
the prevailing economic, social and ecological demands at the level of villages and village conglomerates and in intertwining principles of conservation and local self governance for the safeguard of the natural surroundings and improvement in the living conditions
of the poor.
They aim to integrate forests in the overall land use planning by highlighting the critical role that forests play in terms of sustaining agriculture, animal husbandry and rural livelihoods in general, and also position community based forest governance
in the larger unfolding of decentralisation of governance in India.
January 30, 2007
An amazing treetop walk through the dense forests of Naduvathumoozhy, near Konni, is likely to become a reality soon. And God’s Own Country will be able to offer tourists one more major attraction.
"The idea is to set up the facility at Naduvathumoozhy, on the banks of the Achencoil river, near Konni, in cooperation with the Forest Department and the Tourism Department,’’ District Collector of Pathanamthitta Ashok Kumar Singh, who is the chairman of
the District Tourism Promotion Council, told The Hindu .
Mr. Singh, a former Additional Director of Tourism, said the treetop walk would be similar to those in Australia and many southeast African countries.
He said the project was part of the council’s efforts to provide a range of recreational amenities to visitors with different interests and varying levels of trekking and hiking experience. The proposed facility would be the first of its kind in the whole
country, he said. What made the project unique was its structure. The walkway would be made of light-weight steel trusses built on steel pylons to form a secure ramp, he said.
"The walkway can be erected, linking giant trees in the forests. A boardwalk meandering through the thick forests and that too at a height of 50 to 60 metres will be really amazing to the visitors.’’
The length of the walkway can be from 1 to 1.5 km. The visitors can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy from the hanging walkway. It will be a peaceful experience with quiet spots to sit and reflect on the special nature of the forest. The walk
under the canopy of thousands of stars will provide the opportunity to see nocturnal wild creatures.
Mr. Singh said the council’s proposal was to protect native flora and fauna, while allowing the public access to certain areas of the reserve forests for recreation. The exact location of the project would be chosen with much care, ensuring that no tree
felling was required, he said.
He said it was better if the Forest Department ran the proposed eco-tourism project funded by the Tourism Department. He had already moved the proposal to the Government.
SOURCE : The Hindu, Tuesday, January 30, 2007
January 30, 2007
The number of sick birds, both wild and domesticated, continues to mount at the Sukhna lake in Chandigarh, with the UT wildlife department rescuing a large egret and a domesticated goose on Monday. While the egret showed signs of weak legs and was unable
to fly, the goose was on the verge of collapse displaying sign of shivering and a drooping neck.
With Monday’s rescue operation, the number of sick domesticated geese which live near the Lake Club has gone up to four. Twelve migratory wild birds have died since January 13 out of which the UT Wildlife department has managed to recover only nine, with two
Spotbill ducks and a likely wood sandpiper going missing within hours of their discovery in the Sukhna marshes on January 13.
Along with the rescue operations, a team of expert bird trappers of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) netted a Greylag goose, a Coot and a Northern Shovellor for blood sampling. The samples from a Ruddy Shelduck (Brahminny duck) trapped on Monday by
Ali Hussain have been sent to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratary at Jalandhar.
BNHS veterinarian Dr Debojit Das, who examined the sick geese, said, "The birds were displaying symptoms of a nervine disorder that is common to avian diseases like botulisim and cholera. This means the birds’ functioning is affected by a nervous disorder that
reveals itself in symptoms like it going in circles or trying to look skywards.
Water pollution in Sukhna could be a possible cause. Dead storage level and pollution level in the Lake has been rising.
UT Wildlife Department might have acted fast in the matter concerning the death of migratory birds, but it is yet to explore the role of Sukhna’s water in the rising mortality of birds. Water quality of the Lake, experts in water conservation area say, might
have solutions to the mystery behind the death and sickness among the flocking birds. Very often, fall in the levels of dissolved oxygen in water has been found to cause bird mortality.
In case of Sukhna, therefore, testing of water samples is an absolute necessity. Over the past, pollution levels in the Lake have raised rapidly on account of several reasons, main being the rise in dead storage level of the Lake. Dead storage level is the
level below which water cannot be drained out of the Lake. Water present below this level is always highly polluted because it gets saturated with toxic elements and gets devoid of dissolved oxygen present in water.
The same might be true in case of Sukhna Lake where dead storage level currently stands at elevation -- EL 1151 feet. There was a time when the level was 1148 feet, but the same has risen over the past due to increase in water level of the Lake by three
feet. Naturally, more and more water under the dead storage level would have become concentrated, making it unhealthy for aquatic life.
Another reason why Sukhna’s water has become highly polluted is that the Lake’s spill away gates were last opened in the monsoon season of 2005. That is more than one and a half years earlier. During 2006, there was no escape of water from the Lake at all.
This has led to increased level of toxicity in the water and this toxicity, in turn, could cause sickness and death among birds, unless detected otherwise.
Admitting to the possibility of water pollution behind the death of birds, Mr G.S. Dhillon, water resources expert, said a similar problem had once arisen in Harike Lake. "In certain pockets of the Lake, migratory birds were found dying without apparent
symptoms. We sampled the waters from those pockets and sent them to Irrigation and Power Research Institute at Amritsar for testing. We found that water was so toxic and so deprived of oxygen that no aquatic or any other form of life could exist. For years,
decaying organic matter had caused the absence of dissolved oxygen in water, leading to death of birds. Finally, water had to be pumped out of the Lake and fresh water introduced."
The same institute can be asked to conduct water sample testing of Sukhna.
SOURCE : The Tribune, Monday, January 29, 2007 and Times of India, Tuesday, January 30, 2007
January 30, 2007
January 29, 2007
Mollem National Park: The core zone of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary ( GOA) comprising an area of 107 sq. km. was notified as a National Park during 1978.
The forest range officer at Mollem, Amar Heblekar,decided to turn a motley band of high-school dropout tour operators into wildlife experts and here is his success story.
With permission and funds from the Goa Forest Department, Heblekar arranged a workshop. He was aware youngsters of the area had already been identified as troublemakers. The Doodhsagar Tour Operators Union (DTOU), as the guides called themselves, monopolised
the business, charged unreasonable rates and were also accused of threatening tourists.
Heblekar went around meeting the senior members of the DTOU, and passed out invitations for the nature interpretation workshop.
Earlier, the Goa Forest Department, on Heblekar’s suggestion, had registered the operators as official tour guides for an annual fee of Rs 5,000 to ensure their activities would remain under its watchful eyes. "Most of the participants came to us unsure about
what they would get from the day-long workshop," says Heblekar.
Heblekar was convinced the guides were ideal for spreading awareness about wildlife conservation. "They work in the field and if they knew about the rich flora and fauna of Mollem, they would be able to help tourists appreciate the environment a lot better.
In the process, they would automatically become wildlife enthusiasts and conservators," he says.
"We discovered a wonderful new world around us," says an enthusiastic Khandeparker. A tour guide for over three years, 22-year-old Khandeparker was one of those who attended the first workshop. From a novice, Khandeparker developed his new-found expertise
to rattle off the difference between a Giant Wood Spider and a Funnel Spider as well as little-known facts about termites and their importance.
Originally envisaged for 40 participants, the first workshop had 65 applications. On the next one, 46 were picking up basics on wildlife conservation and eco-tourism. Heblekar also arranged for an initial donation of 30 books from the forest department for
a fledgling wildlife library for the enthusiastic tour operators.
Contact Mollem National Park, Goa. Tel: 0832-2612211
January 25, 2007
Our transportation choices obviously have a major impact on the environment, so what can we do to lessen our impact on the planet and reduce our dependence on oil?
The Federal Transit Agency(USA) reports, “Americans lose more than 1.6 million hours a day stuck in traffic. Without transit, the nation’s $40 billion in annual traffic congestion losses would be $15 billion higher. In fact, if all the Americans who take
transit to work decided to drive, their cars would circle the Earth with a line of traffic 23,000 miles long.”
Long-distance trains, so-called “heavy rail,” are making a comeback, despite setbacks. Amtrak in USA, as a whole has lost about $25 billion since it was created in 1971, a staggering sum until you consider the $40 billion annually spent on highways.
Rapid-transit ferries can compete with cars in commuting times. The city of Sydney, Australia, for instance, makes major use of ferryboat commuting, as does Hong Kong, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. There are some environmental problems and some
cost issues with ferries, but, overall, when you have feasible water routes, it’s a great mode of transport.
Biking is also gaining in popularity, for health, for its environmental benefits and to eliminate auto-related costs. The National Personal Transportation Survey found that approximately 40 percent of all trips are less than two miles in length—which represents
a 10-minute bike ride or a 30-minute walk. Fifty-four percent of all commuters live within 10 miles of their worksite—making their commute time by bike or car just about the same.
Employers also benefit, because studies show that people who bike to work are more productive and take less time off for illness. Bikers cut down on an employer’s need to subsidize employee parking, and exercise tends to make workers more alert.
Europe is showing the way forward in many ways.
European car-free zones have become very successful. Sixty cities have declared that they’re going to make their centers car-free. Britain has developed a car-free day, which is supported by 75 percent of the British public. Similar ideas have spread to
Central and South America. In some places, such as Athens or Singapore, because of pollution problems, you can drive only every other day (license plates ending in an odd number one day, even the next), and London now is charging cars a hefty fee to enter
the city center. In Copenhagen, Denmark, 30 to 40 percent of commuters get to work by bicycle.
January 25, 2007
In a new study issued last week, automotive consumer information service Intellichoice.com reported that gasoline-electric hybrid cars and trucks—favored by environmentalists for sipping instead of guzzling gas—have significantly lower total cost of ownership
than equivalent traditional gas-only models.
“Across the board, we found that all 22 hybrid vehicles have a better total cost of ownership over five years or 70,000 miles than the vehicles they directly compete against,” said Intellichoice.com publisher James Bell.
“Hybrids are proving themselves to be an excellent alternative for car buyers,” Bell added. “Even when factoring in the additional upfront costs for their purchase, the long-term savings hybrids generate makes them a sensible and attractive purchase.”
Intellichoice.com’s findings run contrary to previous analyses from Consumer Reports which concluded that hybrid owners cannot make up the higher up-front costs of a hybrid with fuel savings down the road. The key difference is due to the fact that Intellichoice.com
factored in hybrids’ retention of resale value as well as the availability of various tax and financial incentives.
January 24, 2007
The sea is steadily eating into the Sundarbans, the world’s largest delta and mangrove forest, threatening an ecological disaster for the Bengal basin region. The 20,000 square kilometre forest delta stretches across the lower reaches of the Bengal basin
- 60% falling in Bangladesh and the rest in West Bengal.
Satellite imagery shows that the sea level in the Sundarbans has risen at an average rate of 3.14 centimetres a year over the past two decades - much higher than the global average of two millimetres a year. Scientists believe that in the next 50 years,
a rise of even one metre in sea level would inundate 1,000 sq.km of the Sundarbans.
In the past two decades, four islands - Bedford, Lohachara, Kabasgadi and Suparibhanga - have sunk into the sea and 6,000 families have been made homeless. Two other islands - Ghoramara and Mousuni - are fast going under. The district administration has
constructed huge embankments to ring the coastal inlands. But during high tides, the embankments are damaged. Some develop cracks and collapse.
A total of 54 of the 102 islands in the Indian Sundarbans are still habitableAbout 2,500 sq.km have been set aside as a tiger reserve since 1973. Since the first settlements in 1770, the population of the Indian Sundarbans has risen 200% to nearly 4.3 million.
The population has put pressure on the ecosystem, which acts as a nursery for the aquatic resources of the Bay of Bengal. Scientists say that the Sundarbans, South Asia’s largest "carbon sink" - which mops up carbon dioxide - must survive to help prevent
global warming. But will it?