Wiping Out Lantana Weeds

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 27, 2006

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Delhi University has developed a technology to wipe out Lantana Camara, a weed which has created havoc invading millions of acres of deserted landscapes. 

The technology prescribes cutting the plant from its roots and removing the 'copppising zone', which is normally buried inside the soil and is very crucial for the weeds life.

"The plant has to be cut in a manner so that its coppising zone is removed from inside the soil.  Then the uprooted plant should be put upside down for a few days, so that it will be dead."Prof. C.R Babu, Project Director , The center for Environment Management of degraded Ecosystem(CEMDE), said.

Lantana(exotic plant introduced by the Portugese in 19th century from South America) has the potential to kill the native plants where it grows. The fruits and flowers are not eaten by animals/birds.


Living on a Blue planet

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 04, 2006

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“The oceans define our planet, and their fate may to a large extent determine our fate, now and in the future.”

The study ’Impact of biodiversity loss on ocean system services’ showed that the loss of one species accelerates the unravelling of the overall ecosystem, while conversely every species recovered adds significantly to its productivity, stability and ability to withstand stresses.

Data for 2003 shows that 29% of currently fished species were considered “collapsed” –that their catches had declined by 90% or more. This trend is accelerating as per the study.

(Source: The Hindu dated 4 November, 2006)


Yamuna Bio-diversity Park

Posted by Susan Sharma on September 16, 2006

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Yamuna Bio diversity Park

 I visited the Yamuna Biodiversity Park in September 2006 and was quite impressed by the work being done to save the Yamuna Wetlands. Read a brief report on this in our yahoo group

To view the photographs posted in the group, you will have to join the yahoo group.


Leatherback turtles

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 20, 2006

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The Decmber 2004 tsunami has seriously disrupted breeding patterns of the endangered leatherback turtle in the Andaman and Nicobar islands where 400-600 used to nest during the winter, according to a UNDP report.

The report also said the turtle population had become virtually extinct in Malaysia and had deprived the country of one of its most "charismatic tourist lures". The tsunami had caused localised damage to turtle habitats in 11 countries, the 166-page United Nations Environment Programme report observes.

India, Thailand and Sri Lanka are the worst affected, with some nesting beaches completely destroyed. Marine turtle conservation projects in these countries also suffered significant because of the loss of lives of conservation staff.

"It's far too soon to say whether this is a long-term downward trend or simply a natural fluctuation in the population size," the report says. The main threats to the pre-historic creatures of the sea, which can grow up to 700 kg or more, include mortality in fisheries, human egg harvest, depredation of eggs by pigs and dogs and loss of critical habitat -- especially beaches needed for nesting.


What can a city dweller do?

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 16, 2006

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Simple actions such as maintaining a wildlife friendly garden can actually contribute to biodiversity. Its a long shot but if everyone where to modify their gardens in this way it could actually make a difference to some species e.g. the declining populations of house sparrows to name one.

 Let your lawn go natural for wildlife.

Save trees by reducing your junk mail


Can evolution run backwards?

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 06, 2006

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Can two species that have evolved from one species collapse into one once again? In other words, can evolution run backwards?

Two fledgling species can become different enough genetically so that they can no longer hybridize effectively. But, if the barriers to gene flow come down too soon the two may hybridize and merge again. A recent issue of New Scientist ( 20 May 2006) describes two studies that point to such a possibility. One study relates to two finch ( a small seed-eating songbird) species on the Santa Cruz island ( off the coast of California )-one with large bills and one with small bills-but rarely medium sized ones. This feature reflects two populations specializing in eating two different sizes of seeds. This was in 1960. Four decades later the researchers found that only birds living in sparsely settled parts of the island still showed two different bill sizes. Near the island's only town, birds with middle-sized bills had become more common! The earlier two distinct groups had collapsed into one! What could be the reason for the change? The researchers attribute this to the fact that people are providing bird feeders filled with rice and hence it is no longer a disadvantage to have an intermediate beak! Apparently everybody can eat this rice! Is the impact of human beings on environment forcing evolution into reverse?

Another study relates to Homo Sapiens-human beings. It is really asking who we are and where we came from! True, humans did not evolve from modern apes, but humans and modern apes shared a common ancestor, a species that no longer exists. In other words, we are cousins. Evolution is not a ladder. it is a branching bush. because we shared a recent common ancestorwith chimpanzees and gorillas, we have many anatomical, genetic, biochemical, and even behaviuoral similarities with the African great apes. We are less similar to the Asian apes -orangutans and gibbons- and even less similar to monkeys, because we shared common ancestors with these groups in the more distant past. In this study, genomes of humans, chimps and gorillas were compared using a "molecular clock" to estimate how long ago the three groups diverged. The further back two species diverged, the more differences would have accumulated between their genome sequences. The study suggests that the two lineages split over 6.3 million years ago. But later both the species re-hybridized in a "reverse speciation" event! Complete speciation between humans nad chimpanzees took place less than 6.3 million years. Natural selection then favoured those hybrid individuals whose chromosomes carried fewest of the genes that lower fertility! Evolution just selected what worked! May be, hybridization between the two fledgling species might have provided traits that saved our ancestors from extinction! The growing genomic information should bring us closer to the understanding of the key steps in evolution-the origin of species. Surely every bit of bio-diversity is invaluable. We never know which one would trigger the next innovation. 

Excerpts from article by Dr.V.B.Kamble at



Asiatic Lion

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 24, 2006

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The Asiatic lion is struggling to survive in its last wild home in India. The Asiatic lion is considered a different species from its African cousin.

Read a well researched article about the Asiatic lion at

Frontline Magazine


Wild Buffalo ( Water Buffalo)

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 23, 2006

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With only a few hundreds left in the wild, the wild buffalos (Bubalus Bubalis) in India could soon turn extinct unless an urgent action for their conservation is initiated. Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in collaboration with the Chattisgarh forest department started a three year plan for its revival from the present small population in the state.

An estimate by the forest department suggests 120 individuals in the state. Udanti WLS is considered to hold the maximum number-about 60 individuals, followed by Indravati NP - about 49 individuals and Pamed WLS about 8 individuals. From the other two, Sitanadi and Baihramgarh Wildlife Sanctuaries considered extinct.

Wild buffalos are said to originate only in two states, Chattisgarh in central India and Assam in northeast India. Assam has the maximum number, about 3000 individuals.

IUCN in 2004 estimated that the total world population is certainly less than 4000 but it may be less than 200 and possibly no pure bred wild Asian buffalo left in the wild. Read the full story at



Jerdon's Courser

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 23, 2006

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Jerdon’s Courser - which is a small nocturnal bird found in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh was thought to be extinct till it was re-discovered in 1986. But the Telugu-Ganga Canal Project, which runs through the Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife Sanctuary (SLWLS), threatens to destroy the habitat of the bird.

 "Endemic to a country where some 13 per cent of the world’s birds have been recorded, the Jerdon’s Courser clings to existence in a tiny habitat of scrub forest threatened by livestock grazing, quarrying, and canal-building"

 says P. Jeganathan and Dr. Asad Rahmani

Read the full article at



A afternnon activities of Birds

Posted by aditya on May 14, 2006

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As every bird watcher knows morning time is best time for bird watching or evening time. But any time have You tried What are the activities at afternoon?

Yesterday I went with my friend Dr. Pramod Bansode[ One of the best bird watchers and Wildlife photographers] to see the afternoon activities.  The tremendous heat and initially no activity, which make us feel bored. But since we had expected it, we waited with patience. and as we know "Sabra ka phal Mitha hoto Hai!" .After Locating one small pond with water which was surrounded by many trees, we took our positions and started observing the birds. In starting there are 2 pairs of Red whiskerd bulbuls  in the water and their water play was going on and suddenly 6 jungle babblers arrived and started playing in water along with them; 1 pair of Magpie Robins and pair of Common indian Mynahs joined the water party. A wonderful play of all these birds we were watching on that day. There are other party animals too look Brahminy Skink, Rat snake and One  Common Indian Mangoose. For actual Detail report of this Article mail on


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