National Parks

A visit to Kruger Park in South Africa

Posted by Jacob Koshi on June 27, 2007

 
Forum Post

A visit to Kruger Park in South Africa

-Jacob Koshi M

Flights to South Africa from India are operated by Qatar Airways, Emirates, South African Airways etc. One can book tickets through the travel agent or directly through the internet.

In case of planning to club with visits to another country, request for Multiple Entry visas from the South African Embassy in Mumbai. Booking can be made through the net for stay in the tourist lodges or hotels near the Kruger Park. I stayed in a resort called Kruger Park Lodge which is close to Kruger Park. Bookings can be made through the internet to this place. Or if one is a member of Mahindra Resorts or RCI, they have affiliations to this place.

For those who intend to visit the Kruger Park, the following description & tips will help in planning the trip. 

Johannesburg to Nelspruit 350 kms Nelspruit to Whiteriver 23 kms Whiteriver to Hazyview 45 kms Hazyview to Paul Kruger Gate 41kms. Total = 459kms

 City bug (the 14 seater minibuses) operates from Joberg airport to Hazyview for Rand 200/- You can book your tickets online on www.citibug.com & pay using your credit card sitting in India.  The driver will have a computerised list of passengers. Show them your identity & he will take you in. There are other minibus operators also through whom you can book your tickets. Book your tickets both ways mentioning your date of journey & date of departure. For travel from Hazyview to Kruger Park Lodge (which is outside the Kuger Park), one can email & request for the Lodge’s vehicle for pickup for this small distance. This way, one can save lot of money for transport.

The lodge will arrange pick up from Joberg airport, but the rates will be prohibitively expensive. Once inside the resort, book your trips with tour operators who liaise with the lodge. Give them your preference of next day’s trips (they will explain over the phone the type of trip, rate etc) & your credit card number as security, they will collect you from your chalet at the preset time & drop you back after the trip.

In my case, I have booked a jeep safari trip starting at 5.45am & ending at 12.30pm.  Carry some cloths for the cold weather. The Kruger Park Lodge is an upmarket resort with spotless cleanliness & equipped with all the necessary things required for stay.  If you want to avoid using the restaurant for all the meals, (The restaurant & office building is some distance away from your chalet) buy breakfast items, eggs etc from the supermarket which is close to the lodge, but outside the lodge & store in the fridge. The restaurant food is purely continental & provide for lunch or dinner.  Besides, beer is very cheap & is available at restaurants.  International credit cards issued from India are acceptable for payment in South Africa.

Cell phones have full range even in the remotest area since connectivity is through the satellite. So, it is advisable to carry your cell phones from India for calling anywhere in the world. (You should take a SIM card with international roaming facility to call or receive, the rates of which have come down considerably after my visit) Carry your camera, binoculars & a powerful torch for viewing animals at night like deer, hippos etc at night from your chalet.

 

Kruger Park visit can be clubbed with a visit to diamond & gold mines on your return to Johannesburg.   All purchase made in SA will be charged VAT which can be claimed back at airports of departure in the prescribed counters.

Jacob Koshi M ( Click on the photo)

Little Known Destinations

Aravali Biodiversity Park

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 25, 2007

 
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Nature does not protest, it adapts!







Nature does not protest, it adapts!

The Delhi bird Group organized a Sunday morning walk in the Aravali Biodiversity Park, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. Here are some thoughts from the walk.

The Aravali Bio diversity Park is formed out of degraded land reclaimed from the business house of Scindias who had a mining lease for the 2.3 sq.km area. This means that anything that can be plundered out of the forest/earth including mica, sand and water have all been taken out.

So instead of the sprawling forest the ridge was once, we have land pockmarked by pits and hillocks with "Vilayati Keekar" growing all over, thanks to the areal seeding done by the forest department.

2004- Enter the DDA and Delhi University. The pits are cemented (with biodegradable slurry) to encourage rainwater retention. Native trees are planted under a systematic planting program to slowly remove the "Vilayati Keekar", which being an exotic species do not harbour native insects or birds.

June 2007 - A group of nature lovers take a walk in the Park. Dr. M.Shah Hussain along with Dr.Yasir lead the walk.

Coppersmith! little cormorant in flight! Koyal! Parakeets! The birders are excited at almost every turn.

As we walked on, Indian Robin, Red Vented Bulbul, White Eared Bulbul, Purple sunbird, common Mynas, Wren Warbler and some flying Black kites become common sightings during the trail. Plain tiger butterflies and blue pansy flitted about in the area
where native vegetation has started taking root.

At least a couple of peacocks showed up close; though the morning was pierced by their calls often.

Every now and and then a thundering sound of planes taking off from the airport nearby kept reminding us we are not far from an international airport.

As we reached the periphery of the park, a bevy of peahens took off into the air. Monsoon is expected in a week, and all of them must be having eggs about to be hatched or just hatched chicks. A group of over 30 walkers would have set the alarm calls for them. They have chosen the nursery space carefully-slightly higher ground with thick bushes so that rainwater will not harm them.

Do peahens also tend to remain close to each other while raising the young? So that they can forage by turn may be? Do peahen mothers care for peachicks not their own?

At the end of the walk, one was amazed at the manner in which nature adapted. The mining pits are now small water holes attracting water cocks and cormorants-Cementing the areas with bio degradable materials -the little bit of egging on by the CEMDE, Delhi University (Center for Environment Management & Degraded Ecosystem), is rejuvenating the forest.

Selective planting of native species like Berry, Jamun,Khiorni, Guava and Anar trees etc. are automatically collecting around them the natural biotic creatures-birds, butterflies, ferrals.

Nature does not protest but adapts!

Photographs in order of appearing
1.The soil is rich in Mica
2.Walkers in single file
3.Dr. Husain
4.Bird watcher
5. Natural lake

See photographs of som eof the birds and butterflies at DelhiBird
by clicking here
http://tinyurl.com/2t5mfy
[Open in new window]

Tribal Bill-How it will affect our forests

Send your comments in 45 days

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 22, 2007

 
Forum Post

 

Comments, objections and suggestions on the draft Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules, 2007, are being invited by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, New Delhi to reach by the 6th of August 2007.

Comments can be sent by email too.

 A copy of the Act as well as the draft rules can be viewed in the website

http://www.tribal.gov.in

 

General

Bicycle rally in Delhi

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 22, 2007

 
Forum Post

Delhi Cycling Club is organizing a bicycle rally  India Gate-Red Fort at 7.AM 0n 24th June 2007

to create awareness about various benefits of cycling;  Promote road safety  amongst cyclists;and demand from the Government the much needed cycle tracks on all main roads of Delhi. 

About DELHI CYCLING CLUB:

Formed by ITDP India in April 2007, Delhi Cycling Club is a forum of bicycle enthusiasts, health and environmental conscious citizens in New Delhi.

The club has been engaged in carrying out the following activities:

  1. Creating public awareness and sensitization about the environmental, health, economic, energy and other benefits of bicycling. 
  2. Educating various decision makers and stakeholders about the need and advantages of promoting cycling and NMT in our cities and integrating them with other modes of transportation. 
  3. Demanding fast implementation of better and safe cycling infrastructure in Delhi from the Government. 
  4. Planning regular traffic safety programmes for bicycle users in association with other NGOs and Traffic Police especially amongst the students and factory workers who are more vulnerable to accidents. 
  5. Planning and organizing regular bike trips on various themes such as Heritage Biking, Excursion trip, adventure trips, and bike rallies etc.

About ITDP INDIA:

The Initiative for Transportation and Development Programmes (ITDP India) is a Delhi based NGO involved in the research and advocacy of Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) cities and non motorized transportation. The organization is the India chapter of New York based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). ITDP is dedicated to the promotion of transportation policies and projects which are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable as well as equitable.

Wildlife Poaching

Bear Conservation

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 19, 2007

 
Forum Post

Bear Conservation and Protection

Online chat on IWC.com

6/18/2007 Moderator: Kartick Satyanarayan

 

Excerpts:

 

Sloth Bear  The Sloth Bear is used by Kalandar Communities in India for bear dancing, However the Kalandar communities in Pakistan also use the

Himalayan Black Bear for Dancing as well as Bear Baiting practices 

……………………………

Sloth Bear  Yes - it is possible that there could have been such brutal sports in Europe as well. Eastern Europe to this day has Dancing Bears. …..

………………..

Esskay  But then Europe is far more aware. The last issue of RD in fact carried an article on how a whole town got together to bid good bye when two of its last dancing bears were being released into wilderness  ….

……………………

Vasudha  Esskay, releasing animals back into the wild is I think a scientific process that is to be done with careful thought and planning  ………….

…………………..

Susan  The line between animal conservation and animal rights is blurred  ………………

…………………………

 

Sloth Bear  Also we could make a copy of the Video "The Last Dance" available for your members if they would be interested. ……………

…………………………..

Read on at the link

http://www.indianwildlifeclub.com/mainsite/ChatTranscript.asp

 

 

 

Climate change and Global Warming

Urban contribution to offset global warming

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 17, 2007

 
Forum Post

A modest increase in the number of urban parks and street trees in our major cities could offset decades of predicted temperature rise, a new study by researchers from the University of Manchester has revealed.

According to the team, a mere 10 per cent increase in the amount of green space in built-up centres would reduce urban surface temperatures by as much as four degrees Centigrade.

This 4°C drop in temperature is equivalent to the average predicted rise through global warming by the 2080s, and is caused by the cooling effect of water as it evaporates into the air from leaves and vegetation through a process called transpiration, said Dr Roland Ennos, the lead researcher in the team.

"Green space collects and retains water much better than the built environment. As this water evaporates from the leaves of plants and trees it cools the surrounding air in a similar way to the cooling effect of perspiration as it evaporates from our skin. Urban areas can be up to 12°C warmer than more rural surroundings due to the heat given off by buildings, roads and traffic, as well as reduced evaporative cooling, in what is commonly referred to as an ‘urban heat island’," said Dr Ennos.

For their study, the team took Greater Manchester as their model, and used Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping to build up a picture of the conurbation’s land use.

The team then worked out the impact of an increase in the amount of green space on the urban climate as well as on water retention.

The research also examined the effect an increased green space has on the amount of rainwater urban areas capture and retain; towns and cities lose a large proportion of rainwater through what is termed ‘run-off’ where precipitation quickly leaves the surface and drains away into streams and rivers, eventually returning to the sea.

"We discovered that a modest increase of 10% green space reduced surface temperatures in the urban environment by 4°C, which would overcome temperature rises caused by global warming over the next 75 years, effectively ‘climate proofing’ our cities,” said Dr Ennos.

Source:

Dr Roland Ennos ,Prof. John Handley and Dr Susannah Gill

Built Environment

Climate change and Global Warming

New assaults on nature to combat global warming

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 17, 2007

 
Forum Post

 

Capitalism, faced by natural obstacles, sees no alternative to a new assault on nature, employing new, high-tech armaments.


  The ecological irrationality of this response is evident in the tendency to
dissociate global warming from the global environmental crisis as a whole, which includes such problems as species extinction, destruction of the oceans, tropical deforestation, desertification, toxic wastes, etc.


It is then possible, from this narrow perspective, to promote biofuels as a
partial solution to global warming — without acknowledging that this will
accelerate world hunger. Or it is thought pragmatic to dump iron filings in the
ocean (the so-called Geritol solution to global warming) in order to grow
phytoplankton and increase the carbon absorbing capacity of the ocean — without connecting this at all to the current oceanic catastrophe. The fact that the biosphere is one interconnected whole is downplayed in favor of mere economic expediency.


 What all of this suggests is that a real solution to the planetary
environmental crisis cannot be accomplished simply through new technologies or through turning nature into a market. It is necessary to go to the root of the problem by addressing the social relations of production.

We must recognize that today’s ecological problems are related to a system of global inequality that demands ecological destruction as a necessary condition of its existence. New social and democratic solutions need to be developed and rooted in human community and sustainability, embodying principles of conservation that are essential to life. But this means stepping outside the capitalist box and making peace with the planet — and with other human beings.
   
-John Bellamy Foster

Professor of sociology at the University of Oregon in
Eugene, and editor of Monthly Review.   

Wildlife , Forest Laws

National Board for Wildlife

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 15, 2007

 
Forum Post
The National Board for Wildlife has been reconstituted with the following members. The members are Mahendra Vyas, Brijendra Singh, Divyabhanu Chavda, Dr. Ranjit Sinh, Biswajit Mohanty, Sekhar Dattatri, Bonani Kakkar, Dr. Bhibah Talukdar,Dilip Khatau and Valmik Thapar. WPSI, Reef Watch, Wildlife First, WWF-Iand BNHS are the instituional members.

Environmental Education

Environmental Impact Analysis

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 14, 2007

 
Forum Post

 

Here is an opportunity to learn about EIA-provided by Centre for Science and Environment

Training: Understanding EIA: From screening to decision making
New Delhi, August 27-31, 2007

=================================

CSE invites applications for its five-day training programme, which aims at demystifying Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for NGOs, environment managers and community-based organisations (CBOs). It also seeks to develop the capacity of state-level regulators and state level expert appraisal committees to screen and scope the EIA process, evaluate reports and conduct public consultations, especially after the new EIA notification.

The course will expose participants to:
- Technical and new legal aspects of EIA
- Environmental and social impacts of various types of developmental projects
- Hands-on exercises in screening, scoping, data analysis and developing environment management plans
- Tools and thumb rules to evaluate various environmental and social impact parameters
- Techniques to engage in public consultation
- Post-EIA monitoring

Last date for registration:
July 31, 2007

Register online >>
http://www.cseindia.org/programme/industry/eia/eia_form.htm

For more information contact:
Sujit Kumar Singh
<
sujit@cseindia.org>

Note:
- Course is open to NGOs, academicians, regulators, decision makers and industries
- Due discount will be given to grassroots NGOs and CBOs


Tiger Task Force Report

Issue is not People vs Tigers...

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 13, 2007

 
Forum Post

….Simple arithmetic provides a total, today, of around 1,300 tigers in the country; some tiger biologists believe the actual number may be less than 1,000, perhaps even as few as 800.
 

We do not need to argue the numbers: whichever way you look at the tiger’s situation, it is dire; it is a national crisis. But is the government bothered? Do we see the Ministry of Environment and Forests galvanised into action now that their own Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India project is providing data that confirms what conservationists have been saying for the last few years. Tragically not. What we find is a government at best silent, at worst still disowning and denying the figures. What will it take to convince it? We have had facts and figures and images of Indian tiger skins poached and swamping Tibet; we have had Indian tiger biologists with scientific data to back their arguments, we have had children petitioning the PM in for the tiger’s cause, we have a high-profile tiger reserve (Sariska) lose all its tigers; we now have a major ‘official’ study showing exactly where tigers can still be found and from where they are missing, a study showing how fragmented their habitat is, how precarious their existence: yet, the point is argued and denied. 

 

The issue is not people versus tigers, it is not that wildlife conservationists ‘bicker’ or put their egos before the tiger, it is not that there is a controversy within the informed community as much of the media like to portray; the major stumbling block to saving the tiger is simply that those with the mandate and muscle to maintain and protect natural India are failing to do so. The true battle is people — the forest-dependent people especially — and tigers versus the government. It is not only the tiger and other wildlife that is being squeezed. It does not take much newspaper reading even for city-dwellers to know that the farming communities, the tribal populations and other marginalised people are equally being sacrificed in our shining India march towards a global economy and double-digit economic growth in emulation of industrialised countries elsewhere.

…………… we must forge alliances and speak out in one voice to prevail upon the government that a new and professional system of wildlife care and management is required and must be instituted: one that involves and gives respect to all those living in and around the wilderness areas, that is transparent and accountable, that understands that knowledge is the basis for creative care and that science and research are required to provide that base. We do not have this now. The present poaching profile is that of serious organised crime and it will not disappear only by patrolling and regarding all local communities as potential poachers. We need a management system that understands that they are custodians of the most precious resources, not rajas with fiefdoms. We need a system that keeps communication channels with the wider world open so that it can evolve. If India’s wild areas are to survive, if India’s environment is to remain conducive to human survival, such changes must happen now.

 

-Joanna Van Gruisen is a wildlife photographer and former editor, TigerLink News

 

Source: Hindustan Times 25 May 2007

 

 
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