November 18, 2007
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.
October 30, 2007
Three out of 34 biodiversity hotspots identified globally -Himalayas, Indo-Burma and Western Ghats cover parts of India. The Northeast of India is traversed by the first two. Northeast also houses 21% of Important bird Areas identified nationally.
In recent years biologists have discovered new species of mammals and smaller life forms in this region which is waiting to be fully explored yet.
The region has also been identified as India’s future "powerhouse" and 168 large hydroelectric projects totalling 63,328 MW are planned. The Envronment Impact Assessments done hurriedly and casually ignores the rich wildlife of the area.
Areas known to be having 300 bird species have been dismissed with five species; A river with 135 recorded species finds mention with just 55 species.
The EIA report for the Teesta III project in Sikkim does not have a single mention of the Khanjhenjunga National Park or the biosphere Reserve after a year-long study, even though the project is within a kilometer of the former and is within the latter!
October 20, 2007
"So as the trees are felled and land cleared of its carbon-stripping units, the earth simmers and mourns the growing loss of creatures that have survived ice ages but not the fatal pincer of man’s insatiable hunger for land, lumber and lips-smacking mammalian
delicacies. As ecologist Richard Corlett noted, many long-studied forests in Southeast Asia have nothing left but deer and boar, and some not at all. And as the elephants, rhinos, orang-utans, gibbons, tapirs and bears vanish, they take with them the future
generations of trees that once relied on these beasts to disperse their seeds and carve new clearings in the jungle where saplings might sprout. "
"Unfortunately, the sun bear’s preferred haunts are also where fine furniture lovers obtain their raw materials, such as Bornean ironwood, a tree so densely built that it sinks and takes nearly a thousand years to reach a harvestable size. With the additional
impetus of biofuels that now drives a crazed and counterproductive frenzy to cover the region with ’climate friendly’ oil palms, the sun bear and its homelands, face a future that is bleak at best and at worst incapable of sustaining advanced life. "
October 01, 2007
Komodo National Park Indonesia - some lessons for India
Komodo, is famous for its Komodo Dragons, but its underwater environments are virtually unrivaled in biodiversity. Blast fishing was common throughout the region and responsible for decimating the underwater ecosystems. The tourist infrastructure in disrepair,
the locals with few economic opportunities, very little constructive engagement with the government, all these are problems we in India identify with.
Nature Conservancy partnered with the Indonesian government to revamp all aspects of the park. The strategy the Conservancy is
1. No-take zones for fishing -- These are enforced by floating ranger stations, in order to allow the reefs to regenerate and allow for sustainable fish populations.
2. A system of concession fees for tourist operators -- These were established in order to help fund park maintenance and provide local communities with an additional revenue stream
3. Increase ecotourism and opportunities for alternative livelihoods - using aquaculture and fishing outside of the protected areas.
"Just as important, if we want to limit direct access to biological resources for local populations, we need to provide the people with alternative forms of economic development. This is not only fair, but the only strategy that has the potential to permanently
align their interests in the direction of long-term conservation"
says an article in nature.org at the following link
June 06, 2007
No species can survive on this planet without respecting the three basic laws of ecology.
(1) The law of biodiversity—that the strength of an eco-system is dependent upon the diversity of species within it.
(2) The law of interdependence—that these species must be interdependent to support a strong eco-system and
(3) the law of finite resources—that there is a limit to growth. Growing human numbers utilized vast amounts of resources and steal carrying capacity from other species resulting in the collapse of diversity.
The greatest fear is not something in the future but something happening now. We are in the midst of a mass extinction event and thus in danger of radically altering the entire biosphere.
Captain Paul Watson, Founder and President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, USA in
May 15, 2007
Slow Lorises need your help!
The 14th Conference of Parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Fauna and Flora) takes place in The Netherlands next month. Up for consideration is Cambodia’s petition to transfer this noctural Asian primate to Appendix I. This would
mean the animal is considered threatened with extinction and CITES would prohibit international trade except, for instance, for scientific research.
Two NGOs, Care for the Wild International and PROWILDLIFE, are seeking support for the petition. For details on what you can do to help check here:
February 27, 2007
In February, 2007 scientists from around the world kicked off the Amphibian Ark project, a global campaign to protect the world’s vanishing amphibian species from a ravenous killer fungus, widespread habitat loss and exposure to pollution and global warming.
Project organizers are asking zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums around the world to each take in at least 500 frogs from a threatened local species to protect them from the killer fungus, chytrid.
January 11, 2007
Following efforts that lasted for over five years, the first white-backed vulture baby was born at the Haryana-based Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC), run by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)
and Haryana’s Forest department at Pinjore, on January 1. "This is the most precious new year gift from nature to the vulture conservation efforts," Dr Vibhu Prakash, principal scientist and head of Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme in India, said here
"In the wild, the incubation period is about 55 days. However, in the VCBC the egg hatched in about 54 days. The eggs were laid in November 2006," Dr Prakash said.
“We will have to be quick in effectively implementing the ban on the killer drug Diclofenac to assure a better future to this newborn vulture," Dr Asad Rahmani, Director BNHS said.
"The Conservation Breeding Programme is the only hope for recovery of vultures. We aim at releasing 100 pairs of the three critically endangered vulture species to repopulate the wild population. The killer
drug Diclofenac has to be wiped off before the release of vultures," Dr Rahmani added.
Long considered nature’s most efficient scavengers, vultures are on the verge of extinction. Nine species of vultures are recorded from the Indian subcontinent, of which the White-backed vulture Gyps bengalensis,
Long-billed vulture Gyps indicus and Slender-billed Gyps tenuerostris vultures were by far the most populous species in India. Over the last decade, however, there has been a drastic crash in the population of these vultures in most parts of the country. The
rapid vulture population decline was first taken cognisance by the BNHS.
Ornithologists initially felt that there might be a variety of reasons for the decline in vulture population. However, in May 2003, they - after marked research - attributed the decline to a commonly used non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory veterinary drug, Diclofenac, which is used as a painkiller for the livestock. If the animal dies during or after treatment of this painkiller, and if vulture feeds on the carcass, Diclofenac enters into the vulture’s body. The vulture gradually
dies because of kidney failure. Therefore, unless this killer drug is withdrawn from the system with strict implementation of the ban, there is no hope for vultures to be released in the wild from the conservation breeding centres, point out ornithologists
engaged in the project.
The Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme of the Bombay Natural History Society is supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, the Darwin Initiative for the survival of species,
UK, the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) of UK, Zoological Survey of London (ZSL), UK, and the State Governments of Haryana, West Bengal and Assam.
January 11, 2007
Wildlife officials are all set to start breeding of the endangered species Mouse Deer, also known as `Spotted Indian Chevrotain’, at Nehru Zoological Park, which is fast becoming a major centre for breeding
of endangered species using technology.
Sporting a brown colour speckled with white markings, the Chevrotain is a nocturnal animal and is considered to be very timid, which vanishes into dense vegetation at the least hint of danger. Chevrotains basically
are very shy creatures and because of this, officials point out that it is difficult to study and observe them in the wild. The diet of Chevrotain is quite varied and includes both plants and sometimes even small animals.
Acting on a proposal sent by zoo officials, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) recently agreed to allow breeding of Chevrotain at the zoo. The zoo officials had cited the success of raising a healthy spotted deer
by artificial insemination in collaboration with researchers of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. "Very soon special enclosures would be constructed for the Mouse Deer at the zoological park.
The zoo has eight Mouse Deer now and they are hoping that the numbers would be just enough to start the project. CZA has agreed to fund this project.
December 28, 2006
A new report by WWF details how scientists have uncovered dozens of species of plants and animals formerly unknown to science in the jungles and coastal waters of the Indonesian island of Borneo. Scientists working under the auspices of WWF’s Heart of Borneo
program report discovering 30 unique fish species, two tree frog species, 16 ginger species, three tree species and one large-leafed plant species.
"These discoveries reaffirm Borneo’s position as one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world," says Stuart Chapman, coordinator of WWF’s Borneo program. "The more we look the more we find."
Chapman emphasizes the importance of such findings in light of the acceleration of forest clearing on the remote Indonesian island, which he considers one of the world’s final frontiers for science. Since 1996, deforestation across Indonesia has increased
by an average of five million acres a year, with only about half of Borneo’s original forest cover remaining. Chapman hopes that the discoveries made by his team and other scientists will help convince the governments of Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, which
jointly administer Borneo, to institute greater checks on deforestation and resource extraction there.