Saturday, August 28, 2010

Adansonia digitata: One of the Ten Heritage Trees of Karnataka

The state of Karnataka in the southern part of India has plenty of ancient monuments, structures and history that it takes pride in. But giving due respect to its natural heritage, the state has now come up with the latest list of ten heritage trees that have seen centuries pass by them and have roots going deep into the soil of this land.
While most trees making into the list are quite commonly found Indian trees like the Ficus Religiosa (Peepal) or the Tamarindus Indica (tamarind) trees, there are few that are not only ancient but also rare species to be found in these parts of the world like the 359 years old Adansonia digitata-Malvaceae in Bijapur taluk.

How the Adansonia digitata tree came to Bijapur

Two of these trees commonly known as the baobab trees, have been listed and identified in Bijapur. One is near the near the Ibrahim Roza monument in Bijapur with a girth of 10.84 m and height of 5 m. and another at Yogapur Dargah, near Bijapur, which is believed to be atleast 359-year-old with 9.2-m girth and seven-metre height. Both these trees were planted during the reign of Adil Shahis.

Experts say that the kings of Adil Shahi dynasty were all fascinated by nature and these particular saplings of the adansonia digitata had been imported from Turkey to be planted in Bijapur. The kings were very particular about the nurturing of these plants and took care of their needs like their own children.

Ayurvedic Importance

“Fruits and flowers of these trees are used for medicinal purposes. We consider herbal medicine prepared out of this tree’s flowers and fruits as a panacea for several critical diseases,” says the chief of Yogapur Dargah, without revealing what those critical diseases are.”

According to the site the tree is called goraksi in India and mostly believed to have been brought here by African and Arabian traders.

The site says, “Goraksi is sour and sweet in taste….. The pulp of the fruit is oily, cooling, beneficial to heart and mild laxative in properties. The bark skin is an appetizer, astringent, cooling and decreases the pulse rate. The leaves are oily and astringent……The bark skin, fruits and the leaves of goraksi are used for medicinal purpose. Externally, the paste of its leaves is applied on the swelling. Internally, the pulp of fruit is useful to alleviate the burning sensation in fevers. The skin of its fruit, by itself, reduces the fever. The excessive thirst is alleviated effectively with the pulp of fruit. It is also salutary in controlling hyperhidrosis in tuberculosis.”

Thus, the government of Karnataka has done a commendable job in atleast recognising the ancient trees and highlighting their importance in the ecosystem of the area.

Image credit Stig Nygaard, scot.zona, tatters:) via cc/Flickr

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Open sale of Endangered Species at Jakarta Expo

A Flora and Fauna exhibition was recently organised in Lapangan Banteng in Central Jakarta and while this exhibitions could have served the planet well by informing and educating people about the harms being done to the flora and fauna of the world, it was instead used as a mass sale festival of many endangered species of animals.

What was concerning from India’s point of view was the ease with which rare Indian star tortoises, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species were being sold here, at a price as high as $500 each. The vendors were also quite blatantly announcing that they could provide an undisplayed animals for a decent price.

This illegal trade acitivities happening in borad daylight, only highlights the imminent danger on the lives of so many plants and animals. When the complains of illegal trading at the expo reached Harry Santosa, the director for biodiversity conservation at the State Ministry for the Environment, he sent a team to check but miraculously found no buyers or sellers at the event.

Whether the vanishing act was preplanned or sheer luck on the vendors part is still not known. However Chris Shepherd, an official with TRAFFIC, a British-based international wildlife monitoring network,said Indonesia has grown as a hub for illegal marine species trading over the recent years.

“Recent surveys, and this expo, have shown that the trade continues and now involves more illegally imported species than ever,” he said. “Dealers know full well that it’s illegal and are taking advantage of the enforcement agencies’ lack of action.”
The flora and fauna exhibition is held annually at the city’s anniversary celebration and sadly it is also an annual affair when hundred of endangered and critically endangered animals from South Africa, Asia and south America are traded openly at the venue.

“It’s ironic that the expo is held to introduce Indonesia’s rich biodiversity, but turns out to promote the endangered ones — even those that are on the brink of extinction,” said Pramudya Harzani, spokesperson Jakarta Animal Aid Network.
Image credit Roberto Verzo via cc/Flickr

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shark Fin Soup making Sharks Endangered in Andhra Pradesh

Fishermen in Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh have found a new way of making money – through shark fins. The rising demand of shark fins in south Asian countries has led to the increase in shark hunting in the eastern coasts of the country.

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in countries like Singapore, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong and to meet the demand, sharks are being hunted in plenty by fisherman who directly export the fishes.

“The fishermen population mainly depends upon shark fishing nowadays because of the high value of sharks. The shark fins are dried and exported to other Asian countries," said D.E.Babu, Professor, Zoology Department of Andhra University.

The fishermen however are not ready to take the direct allegations. According to them, the shark hunting is not intentional but they are caught in the nets while fishing for other fishes.

It is nevertheless believed that traders make deals in thousands at the shores with the fisherman.

Shark fishing was banned under the Wildlife Act and the Marine Fishing Act of 1986.

Image Credit
Photo by StormyDog via cc/flickr

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Cheetah Will Run Again in India

It was in 1967 when Cheetah was last spotted in India. But now wildlife lovers can cheer as the animal is all set to make an entry again into the wild grasslands of the country where it will be re-introduced.
The move is being planned in order to save the grasslands and many other endangered species here.

The Wildlife Trust of India and the Wildlife Institute of India proposed in a report presented to the Ministry of Environment and Forest the reintroduction of cheetahs in India. They have identified three sites, Kuno-Palpur and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh and Shahgarh Landscape in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan where the animal can be brought and intitially it is being planned to import 18 cheetahs to the country.

The cheetahs will be brought from Middle East, where North African Cheetah are bred, Iran, Namibia and South Africa and the initial cost required for the re-introduction in each site would be almost ` 100 Crore in the next 2 to 3 years but it will be totally funded by the centre government.

Applauding the move Minister of State Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh said, "It is important to bring cheetah back to our country. This is perhaps the only mammal whose name has been derived from Sanskrit language. It comes from the word chitraku which means spots. The way tiger restores forest ecosystem, snow leopard restores mountain ecosystem, Gangetic dolphin restores waters in the rivers, the cheetah will restore grasslands of the country.”

It is believed that with the re-introduction of the Cheetah, the dire conditions of the grasslands will come into limelight thereby reviving the efforts needed to preserve the ecosystem and the endangered species like the carcal (Caracal caracal), the India wolf Canis lupus pallipes) and the three endangered species of the bustard family – the Houbara (Chlamydotis undulate macqueenii), the lesser florican (Sypheotides indica) and the most endangered of them all – the great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps).

This will also help benefit pastoralism in India where the largest livestock population in the world resides.
Image credit
Cliff1066 via cc/Flickr

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Now a Postage Stamp Honouring the House Sparrow

What was once a common sight in every home and garden in India has now become a part of distant memory for many Indian-the chirruping sounds, the twittering across the window panes and the squabble of playful house sparrows have all died down due to the rapid industrialisation, deforestation and urban development becoming a part of new India.

To remind people of the little beauties who are bearing the grunt of modernisation, the Postage Department of India, recently came up with postage stamps of the house sparrow as an addition to its growing stamps on endangered species.

S B Vyavahare, assistant director, Mumbai General Post Office (GPO) said.
“It has been found that sparrows, which were once a common sight, are now
rapidly disappearing not only in India, but across the world. This is our small
effort to help save the species,’’ he added.

Although in the era of emails and chats, not many use the postal department’s services as frequently as they used to, special commemorative postal stamps or stamps on nature have always been popular among kids and philatelists. The departments has in the past published stamps on endangered birds of India, Ganga River Dophins, flowers, International Year of Biodiversity etc.

“The stamps eventually draw attention to the habitats and other fascinating features of the species,’’ said Vyavahare.

Hope therefore that the house sparrow stamp does its work of creating a buzz among people to save these feathered friends from extinction.
Image Credit
photo by foxpary4 via cc/Flickr

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Countries Pledge to Double Tiger Count by 2022

It is the Chinese year of the tiger and thankfully nations are raising their voices of concern for the sorry state of the regal animal. In a bid to save the tigers from dying an untimely death 13 countries that are home to the tigers met at Bali to discuss strategic plans to conserve the tiger population.

The meeting is said to be groundwork for the Tiger Summit to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia later this year.

‘While there's still work to be done in the coming weeks, this has been
a crucial meeting ahead of the Tiger Summit,' said Michael Baltzer, leader of
WWF's Tiger Programme. ‘These countries have worked together to lay down solid
plans to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 - a critical goal to
save this endangered animal. '

While governments are always criticised for their visible neglect regarding wildlife issues, the coming together of these 13 countries seems like a positive move towards conservation according to Baltzer as they are at least willingly trying to make a difference.

In Bali the 13 governments first showcased their individual plans to protect tigers which could later be a part of the Global Tiger Recovery Program. The plans will overall cost almost 356 million dollars for immediate implementation.

‘Now that these countries have shown their
willingness to act, the success of any global plan launched in St Petersburg
will depend on financial support from the international community and the tiger
nations themselves,' Baltzer said.
The plan really is to double the count of tigers by 2022 and the success largely depends on the committed efforts of environmentalists and governments to save tigers. If the financial issues are resolved and looked as a means to achieve a greater dream, the tigers can surely be saved.
Image Credit
courtesy Pavel Sigarteu via cc/Flickr

Sunday, July 18, 2010

First Research Paper on Indian Bison

The IUCN red list names it as an endangered species and so do many Indian environmentalist, but the Indian Bison still does not claim the limelight as well as its other endangered friends- the tiger or the elephant. But now things are looking up for the Indian Bison also known as the Gaur with Dr. Farshid Ahrestani’s soon to be published research paper on the Indian Bison titled ‘Life history and Traits of Gaur: First Analysis’

Says the research scientist,“There have been very few studies done on a large
herbivore such as the gaur. The largest population of gaur is found in India,
but its number is declining due to various reasons. A comprehensive study on
them will help understand the species, and with knowledge we can intervene and
protect them from extinction.”

The research was carried out in Bandipur National park in Karnataka and Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. The researcher warns that there are very few of the gaurs left in the wild with the population in India being between 12,000 and 22,000. The Indian bison in genral looks tough but has a very short life span of just 20 years. With habitat loss and bovine diseases on the rise, 80 percent of the population has wiped out.

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has organised a lecture on the topic in order to educate and spread the knowledge about the Indian Bison so that more scientists and organisations come forward to help.
Image Credit
Photo by TheSeafarer via cc/Flickr

Friday, July 16, 2010

Endangered Asiatic Lions Cubs born at German Zoo

Asiatic lions are the pride of India. Sasan Gir National Park in Gujarat is the last bastion of the species in the world and good news is they are happy here with the latest census showing their number growing considerably to more than 400 lions in the reserve.
What comes as further good news for the species is that two new members have been added to the Asiatic lion’s family, although in captivity in Germany.
The German Magdeburg zoo was in a celebratory mood in May when the zoo’s lioness gave birth to two healthy Asiatic Lion cubs. The cubs have not yet been named but their routine medical tests show they are healthy and absolutely their naughtiest best in the zoo. The Magdeburg zoo is one of the few German zoos that take special interest in working towards revitalizing a species and the cubs are the fourth and fifth lions to be born at the zoo.
The cubs have been vaccinated and micro chipped.

Image Credit
Photo by wwarby via cc/Flickr

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Endangered Vultures Hatch in Captivity

They may not be freely flying over the skies yet but the three chicks of the long-billed vulture bred in captivity in India, surely raise hope for these critically endangered birds.

The three hatched in a breeding centre in Haryana in the months of February and March and took their first flight recently. They are an addition to the population of Asian vultures that have three varieties – the long-billed, slender-billed and oriental white-blacked vultures. All three species are critically endangered with just 60,000 left in the world today.

The main reason for the death of these vultures has been eating of cattle carcasses with diclofenac, a pain-killer given to sick cows. Over the last six years Indian scientists with aid and guidance from the Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, have been trying to breed the three species in captivity. While they had been successful in breeding the other two species, this is the first time that the long-billed vulture has been bred.

According to Graham Madge, spokesperson for the Britain royal society, now efforts are being made by them and Bombay Natural History Society to develop safe zones for the birds so that they can fly freely.
Image Credit
Photo by donjd2 via cc/Flickr

Monday, May 10, 2010

Expansion of countries like India a threat to the Environment says UN

In a report that is the starkest till date, United Nations has directly alleged developing countries like India, China and Brazil of not preserving the environment in their surge to be an economically developed nation.

The report says that there is a direct link between extinction of plant and animal species and the economic growth. As the human population increases manifolds and people consume more, death threats are being faced by animals and plants.

“It’s a problem if we continue this unsustainable pattern of production and consumption,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, the UN’s leading figure on biological diversity. “If the 9 billion people predicted to be with us by 2050 were to have the same lifestyle as Americans, we would need five planets.”
“The magnitude of the damage [to ecosystems] is much bigger than previously thought,” said Djoghlaf. “The rate of extinction is currently running at 1,000 times the natural historical background rate of extinction.”

What humans are not realising is also the fact that it is ultimately their own doom story they are writing down by clearly neglecting the fate of other living species. The threat is not just to few animals but to entire populations of marine life forms, terrestrial life forms and even areal species with new technology making humans conquer the skies like never before.

With the crusade to become as developed as USA, India is losing much of its rich biodiversity. Man-made malls are more in number now that nature made animals.

The global population is set to rise from 6.8 billion to 9 billion by 2050. With lack of space, it will again be the animals and plants that will have to leave the earth permanently to provide shelter to this uncontrollable mass of humans.

India can still fight back, by stricter population norms, stricter energy laws and more regulations and conservation measures for the plant and animal kingdom.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rs. 5000 Crores Grant to be given by Central Government for Forest Conservation

There may be lacunas down the line, but right now the central government has planned a definite financial support to be given to the forest departments of the whole country. Union minister of Environment and Forest has announced a grant of Rs. 5000 crores to be given to states this year in order to conserve forests.

The largest share of this grant will be given to Arunachal Pradesh with Rs.721 crore slotted for the state followed by Madhya Pradesh at Rs. 490 crore, Chhatisgarh Rs. 411 crore, and Maharashtra at Rs.310 crore.

There have been a number of factors analyzed before allotting the amount to each state, like the share of the total forest area of the country falling in a particular state, and also the state whose forest area is more than the national average.

The quality of the forest has also been taken into consideration for the compensation rewarded.

It is said that in the financial year 2008-2009 Rs. 8200 crore were spent on forests. It is hoped that this time the grant is successfully used for conservation of the forests rather than filling of the pockets.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by Micky

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Asian Elephants all set to Parade on London Streets

London streets are soon to be invaded by 260 Asian Elephants.
The elephants are live sculptures actually, painted by renowned artists, fashion designers, and students of schools and colleges for the grand parade in order to raise awareness on the depleting number of the species.

The Asian elephants were once more than quarter of a million in number but today the population has decreased to something between 25,000 and 35,000. The reason for the depleting population again point towards humans who have been encroaching their habitats and blocked the migration routes.

Says Mark Shand of the Elephant Family explaining about the initiatives they have taken to preserve the species, "In India alone, an elephant is killed everyday - a person is killed and a person kills an elephant, so you've really got a war on. Elephants have had these migratory routes, basically like islands connecting parks between each other, they've got no where to move and people have encroached on them. So we negotiate with the people to move from the land. We buy the land, build them houses, off the corridors and give them exactly the same amount of arable land back and they're very glad to be doing this."

The parade is being done to raise charity for the preservation of elephants. Artists have come up with various innovative ideas to create the sculptures, like a black cab shaped elephant that even has lights blinking and also a cloud like elephant that moves around in the city to collect signatures.

Care has also been taken to prepare the sculptures and transport them in the most eco-friendly way.

"We're going to raise about one million pounds from selling these elephants but that's nothing against the target in the field," said Ruth Powys, director of the Elephant Family. "The target in the field is 50 million.... the only way we're even going to get close to that is collecting signatures from the public, which we can then go and lobby governments with."

After London the organizers hope to take the parade to cities like New York and Delhi in order to raise awareness across the globe. Here is more information on the Elephant Parade
Image Credit
Flickr photo by mckaysavage

Friday, April 16, 2010

Patna may Become the New Breeding Centre for Endangered Vultures

There was a time when as many as nine species of vulture were found in India. But as the last decade progressed a shocking 98 percent decline in the population of vultures was registered. This was mostly due to the use of a drug to treat animals that remained in the carcasses and turned fatal when eaten by vultures.

While the drug called Diclofenac has been banned from veterinary use, hope has again risen for Vultures after Central Zoo Authority (CZA) officials inspected the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park at Patna and made tentative plans to open a breeding centre for the vultures in this zoo.

It is known that the zoo is already working as a successful breeding centre for rhinos and gharials and the vultures will be a welcome addition. Although vulture breeding centres are also established in Haryana, West Bengal and Assam, these are run by the Bombay Natural History Society with the help of Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Vultures have been spotted in the flood-prone Bihar districts of Bhagalpur, East Champaran, Supaul, Araria and Khagaria according to a forest official, therefore having a localized breeding centre in the same region would definitely be beneficial.

Vultures were declared 'critically endangered species' globally in 2000.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by foxypar4

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mangrove Forests Declining

The IUCN red list of threatened species is becoming longer every minute and the latest names to be included in this list dreaded by the environmentalist are many species of mangroves.

In a recent survey that was conducted to assess the condition of mangrove forests globally, it was found out that more than one in six species of mangroves were threatened ultimately making 11 out of the 70 mangrove species studied to be placed in the red list.

The reason quoted for their decline was coastal development, climate change, logging and agriculture.

“The potential loss of these species is a symptom of widespread destruction and exploitation of mangrove forests,” says Beth Polidoro, Research Associate of the GMSA at Old Dominion University and principal author of the study. “Mangroves form one of the most important tropical habitats that support many species, and their loss can affect marine and terrestrial biodiversity much more widely.”

Mangrove forests are an important part of the coastline. These not only form home to many varieties of fishes but also help in protecting coastal communities from damage caused by tsunami waves, storms and erosions.
Another important benefit of the mangroves is the way they can seize carbon from the atmosphere, forming source for nutrients and also helping other marine vegetations like sea grass weeds and coral reefs to survive.
What India should be concerned about is that one of the species of mangrove mentioned in the list called Sonneratia griffithii has been assigned a critically endangered status. Over the past 60 years 80 percent of the mangrove has been lost due to unplanned coastal development.
As Greg Stone, Senior Vice President of Marine Programmes at Conservation International warns, “The loss of mangroves will have devastating economic and environmental consequences. These ecosystems are not only a vital component in efforts to fight climate change, but they also protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people from extreme weather and provide them with a source of food and income.”
Image Credit
Flickr photo by brightsea

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bengal Tiger gets a New Home at Manas National Park

A Royal Bengal Tiger that had strayed into a village in Assam, was rescued and released into the Manas National Park.

The rescue mission was carried out by the Assam forest department and members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). After tranquilizing and capturing it the tiger was kept in the IFAW rescue centre for a period of three days while the officials planned the release operations.

Manas was selected as a suitable new home to the tiger because IFAW team is already involved in monitoring released rhinos and elephants in this park and have the proper set up for the post release monitoring process.

"We think Manas has a good prey base and good habitat for tigers. Even though there are other dominant males here, we hope this adult tiger will not have any conflict with them and will be successful in making its own territory very soon," said A. Swargiary, Field Director, Manas National Park.

The tiger was also radio collared before its release. Now the team hopes that it settles down well in the new environment.

Image Credit

Flickr photo by audreyjm529

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Interesting Facts About Tigers

• Tigers have been divide into 8 subspecies - Indian (or Bengal), Indo-Chinese, Sumatran, Amur (or Siberian), South China, Caspian (extinct), Java (extinct), and Bali (extinct).

• All tigers have more than 100 stripes on their body but not two tigers have the same pattern of stripes.
• Tigers keep their claws sharp by keeping it inside the retractable sheath and taking it out only when required for hunting.
• A group of tigers is called a streak.
• A tiger’s roar can be heard more than a mile away.
• Tigers, Lions, Leopards and Jaguars are the only four types of cats that can roar but cannot purr.
• White Tigers are not albinos. They just do not have the orange colored genes.
• A tiger can leap as high as 10 feet in a single jump.
• A tiger walks on its toes.
• The smallest of all tiger species is the Sumatran tiger and the largest the Siberian tiger.
• The tiger hunt by hearing and sight and not by smell.
• The vision of the tiger is six times better than a human at night.
• A tiger in one sitting may eat 22 to 32 kilograms of meat but it may also go hungry for weeks.
• It takes on an average 10 to 20 attempts to catch a prey.
• Tiger cubs are born blind and weigh about 2 pounds.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by kabil

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

93 Percent of Ayurvedic Plants Endangered

It is a case of overexploitation of medicinal plants. In a recent survey conducted by the Botanical Survey of India it has been revealed that almost 93 percent of medicinal plants in India are endangered.

Of the 359 prioritized wild medicinal plant species surveyed, 335 have been assigned Red List status ranging from critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable to near-threatened.

The list was taken out adhering to the Conservation Assessment and Management Prioritisation using International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List Categories.

Indian government officials who conducted the survey said that the most important reason for this was the over exploitation by herbal industries. The officials also added that almost 95% of these plants are harvested directly from the forest growing in the wild. It is this that is mainly leading to the fast depletion of the plants.

It is not that efforts are not being made to preserve the species. Organization like the National Medicinal Plants Board constituted in November 2000, has been developing a central scheme for conservation and development of cultivation methods for the plants.

State governments too have been instructed to give assistance to the state forest departments in protecting the species. Projects for setting up of 29 Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas (MPCAs) have also been implemented in the states covering mainly the medicinal plants like the Asoka, Guggal and Dashmool varieties.

But the big question here is whether enough is being done to save these varieties. Hopefully all will not be lost and herbal industries will see this survey as a wake up call to make amends. If the medicinal plants are endangered, that endangers their industry too.

More has to be done to save the green treasures of India.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by tatters:)

Friday, April 2, 2010

River Dolphin Aquarium a Mistake according to PETA, India

Jairam Ramesh, the Union minister for state for environment and forests recently announced that there might be a dolphinarium set up at the New Delhi zoo which will house Ganga River Dolphins, the national aquatic animal of India.

While most might look at it as a positive step towards conservation of the species, PETA, India thinks differently.

According to them, these are few of the dangers; an aquarium might put the dolphins into,
• Dolphins are social creatures living in family pods. Removing any one of them will disrupt the whole group.
• While catching a dolphin, the group is chased to shallow waters and often the unwanted ones are released leaving them sick and shocked. Some animals slowly succumb to pneumonia when water enters their lungs through their blowholes and near death.
• The act of catching may trigger pregnant females to abort their babies.
• Pools in the aquarium are chemically treated and not therefore an ideal environment for the dolphins.
• Captured dolphins only live half of their age and die prematurely.

PETA suggests a better way to encourage people to know about dolphins is to plan visits to the natural habitat. This will help people get to know them better in their home, and keep the intelligent, social and highly endangered species alive.

Related Links:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ganga River Dolphins at Risk

Many people are not even aware that the Ganga river Dolphins are actually India's national aquatic animals. And therefore their life being in crisis right now with just about 2000 left, may not come as a surprise either.
But like every samll and large animal and plant species that has a birth right to live and survive happily in this planet, the river dolpnins too need their little space in the aquatic world.

Here is some more information on the dire state of these dolphins.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Crocodile Swap Planned between India and Czech Republic

There is a new kind of swap being planned in the animal world, and that too cross country. Indian crocodile breeders from Chennai and breeders from a crocodile zoo in Protivin, South Bohemia have decided to exchange a number of crocodiles within the two countries to help the gene pool survive.

Two experts from the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, the world's best-known crocodile breeding and protection centre visited the Protivin Zoo a while back and have decided to send three gharial males and four females to the Protivin zoo and take two male and three female Cuban crocodiles to India. This move is being made to save endangered species from exticntion in both the countries.

It is already known that ghariyals in India are dying a fast death due to water pollution, hunting and changes in the climate and landscape. The last recorded population of the ghariyals showed just 1400 surviving in the wild.

With Cuban Crocodiles too the story is not good with only an estimate population of 3000-6000. It is endangered as a result of the small area it inhabits and also of crossbreeding with other species.

With breeders from both countries taking a keen interest in the conservation of the gene pool of the two species, it is hoped that ghariyals and the cuban crocodiles will make the new waters their home for life.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by wildxplorer

Monday, March 29, 2010

India’s Endangered Species

For all those new to conservation, here is a quick list of species that are struggling for survival in our vast country.
Pick any and start your campaign of conservation today.
Critically Endangered
• Jenkin's Shrew (Crocidura jenkensii). (Endemic to India.)
• Malabar Large-spotted Civet (Viverra civettina).
• Himalayan Wolf (Canis himalayensis) (Endemic to India and Nepal.)
• Namdapha Flying Squirrel (Biswamayopterus biswasi). (Endemic to India.)
• Pygmy Hog (Sus salvanius).
• Salim Ali's Fruit Bat (Latidens salimalii). (Endemic to India.)
• Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis).
• Wroughton's Free-tailed Bat (Otomops wroughtoni). (Endemic to India.)
• Indian Vulture
• Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)
• Asiatic Wild Dog/ Dhole (Cuon alpinus)
• Asiatic Black Bear (Selenarctos thibetanus)
• Desert Cat (Felis libyca ornata)
• Great Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)
• Hispid Hare (Caprolagus hispidus)
• Hoolock Gibbon (Hylobates hoolock)
• Flamingo
• Kashmir Stag/ Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu)
• Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus)
• Malabar Civet (Viverra civettina)
• Markhor (Capra falconeri)
• Nilgiri Leaf Monkey (Presbytis johni)
• Pygmy Hog (Sus salvanius)
• Andaman Shrew (Crocidura andamanensis). (Endemic to India)
• Andaman Spiny Shrew (Crocidura hispida). (Endemic to India)
• Indian Elephant or Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)
• Banteng (Bos javanicus)
• Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
• Capped Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus pileatus)
• Chiru (Tibetan Antelope) (Pantholops hodgsonii)
• Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
• Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica)
• Golden Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus geei)
• Hispid Hare (Caprolagus hispidus)
• Asian arowana (Scleropages formosus).
• Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta).
• Hoolock Gibbon (Bunipithecus hoolock) (Previously Hylobates hoolock).
• Indus River Dolphin (Platanista minor).
• Kondana Soft-furred Rat (Millardia kondana). (Endemic to India).
• Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus). (Endemic to India).
• Markhor (Capra falconeri).
• Marsh Mongoose (Herpestes palustris). (Endemic to India.) (Previously considered to be a subspecies of Herpestes javanicus).
• Nicobar Shrew (Crocidura nicobarica). (Endemic to India).
• Nicobar Tree Shrew (Tupaia nicobarica). (Endemic to India).
• Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius). (Endemic to India).
• Particolored Flying Squirrel (Hylopetes alboniger).
• Peter's Tube-nosed Bat (Murina grisea). (Endemic to India).
• Red Panda(Lesser Panda) (Ailurus fulgens).
• Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis).
• Servant Mouse (Mus famulus). (Endemic to India).
• Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia).
• Tiger (Panthera tigris).
• Wild Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). (Previously Bubalus arnee).
• Woolly Flying Squirrel (Eupetaurus cinereus).
• Narcondam Hornbill
• Brow-antlered Deer (Cervus eldi eldi)
• Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
• Brown Palm Civet (Paradoxurus jerdoni)
• Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)
• Common Otter (Lutra lutra)
• Dugong/ Seacow (Dugong dugon)
• Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica)
• Gaur (Bos gaurus)
• Goral (Nemorhaedus goral)
• Indian Wolf (Canis lupus indica)
• Himalayan W-toothed Shrew (Crocidura attenuata)
• Himalayan Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster)
• Himalayan Shrew (Soriculus nigrescens)
• Golden Jackal (Canis aureus)
• Indian Fox (Vulpes bengalensis)
• Andaman Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus cognatus). (Endemic to India.)
• Andaman Rat (Rattus stoicus). (Endemic to India.)
• Argali (Ovis ammon).
• Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus).
• Asiatic Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii).
• Asiatic Wild Ass (Equus hemionus).
• Assamese Macaque (Macaca assamensis).
• Back-striped Weasel (Mustela strigidorsa).
• Barasingha (Cervus duvauceli).
• Bare-bellied Hedgehog (Hemiechinus nudiventris). (Endemic to India.)
• Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra).
• Brown fish owl (Ketupa zeylonensis). (Endemic to India.)
• Central Kashmir Vole (Alticola montosa). (Endemic to India.)
• Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).
• Day's Shrew (Suncus dayi). (Endemic to India.)
• Dugong (Dugong dugon).
• Eld's Deer (Cervus eldi).
• Elvira Rat (Cremnomys elvira). (Endemic to India.)
• Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra).
• Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).
• Four-horned Antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis).
• Gaur (Bos frontalis).
• Himalayan Tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus).
• Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae).
• Indian Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica). (Endemic to India.)
• Irrawaddy Squirrel (Callosciurus pygerythrus).
• Jerdon's Palm Civet (Paradoxurus jerdoni). (Endemic to India.)
• Kashmir Cave Bat (Myotis longipes).
• Kerala Rat (Rattus ranjiniae). (Endemic to India.)
• Khajuria's Leaf-nosed Bat (Hipposideros durgadasi). (Endemic to India.)
• Kolar Leaf-nosed Bat (Hipposideros hypophyllus). (Endemic to India.)
• Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros).
• Mainland Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis).
• Malayan Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura).
• Mandelli's Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis sicarius).
• Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata).
• Mouflon (or Urial) (Ovis orientalis).
• Nicobar Flying Fox (Pteropus faunulus). (Endemic to India.)
• Nilgiri Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus johnii). (Endemic to India.)
• Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii). (Endemic to India.)
• Nonsense Rat (Rattus burrus). (Endemic to India.)
• Pale Grey Shrew (Crocidura pergrisea). (Endemic to India.)
• Palm Rat (Rattus palmarum). (Endemic to India.)
• Red Goral (Naemorhedus baileyi).
• Royal Bengal Tiger
• Rock Eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis). (Endemic to India.)
• Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus).
• Sikkim Rat (Rattus sikkimensis).
• Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus).
• Slow Loris (Loris tardigradus).
• Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata). (Previously Lutra perspicillata)
• Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus).
• Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura).
• Sri Lankan Highland Shrew (Suncus montanus).
• Stumptail Macaque (Macaca arctoides).
• Takin (Budorcas taxicolor).
• Wild Goat (Capra aegagrus).
• Wild Yak (Bos grunniens).
• Lesser Panda (Ailurus fulgens V)
• Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur)
• Leopard (Panthera pardus)
• Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes montana)
Image Credit
Flickr photo by mape_s, nborun
Photo by kctsang

Monday, March 22, 2010

Olive Ridley Turtles Begin Nesting

They have been about a month late this year but to the utter relief of many conservationists, about 20,000 Olive Ridley turtles began to come to the eastern shores of Orissa, to lay their eggs.

Concerns had earlier been raised about the nesting period of these turtles and missile tests happening in the same vicinity. In fact, the State Government had asked the Centre to ban tests for a few months when the turtles were supposed to come.

The arrival has been late this year and although many eggs will be lost to predators, it is hoped that a few of the next generation will make it through the first phase of their life and survive.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by Nodnab Truk

Saturday, March 20, 2010

World House Sparrow Day Today

Activists in many parts of the country are celebrating the first ever World House Sparrow Day on March 20 to create awareness about the species and to focus on the dwindling numbers of this sweet, small birds.

In places like Vadodara, activists have ordered special nest to be made for the birds out of cardboard boxes and earthen pots.

“Along with these nests, we will also keep track of all the people to whom we have given the nests. At the end of the year, we will conduct a survey to know what exactly happened to the nests, which birds nested in the boxes, and what was the success ratio. This will help us carry forward the campaign next year too,” said Vishal Thakur a participating activist.

It is hoped that more and more people will open their homes or atleast the verandas to these fast vanishing aviators so that they can built nests and bring the next generation into the world.

Nasik-based Mohammed Dilawar, who initiated the movement, said: “Our intention is not to celebrate the day just for the sake of celebration. That is why we have chalked out a plan of action and decided small steps that could easily be taken by the common man. Unless there is awareness among the common people, the house sparrow numbers will continue to dwindle. One can celebrate this day by going out on a picnic and doing some bird watching.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by Noel Zia Lee

Friday, March 19, 2010

India May Soon have the World’s First Environment Courts

Finally India is listening to the pleas of thousands of tortured animals, and innumerable cut trees.
The Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh announced that the country may soon see two initiatives called National Green Tribunal (NGT) with a network of specialized Environment Courts and National Environment Protection Authority (NEPA).

The NGT will give the Indian citizen first time judicial remedy as far as environmental damages are concerned. India would be the first country in the world to have such an extensive network of specialized environment courts.

Regarding NEPA he said, “We are taking steps to establish a National Environment Protection Authority (NEPA). NEPA’s core mandate will be to ensure that the standards and stipulation under which environmental approvals are granted are actually adhered to. CPCB and SPCBs will work under one umbrella of NEPA."

He also added that all licensing functions of the ministry will be given to NEPA. This will make the ministry a policy making body while NEPA will control the approval, rejections clearances etc.
Image Credit
Flickr photo by Takomabibelot

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CITES Meet in Doha to Decide Future of Endangered Species

Starting 15 March, delegates from 175 countries who are a part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, are meeting to find workable solutions that can protect endangered animal and plant species.

The future of the world's remaining tigers, elephants, rhinos, polar bears, blue fin tuna, sharks, and coral as well as rosewood, mahogany, and holywood will be decided over the next 10 days by the delegates meeting in Doha.

The meeting is held once every three years to decide trade rules for animals and plants at risk of extinction due to commercial trade. The CITES treaty offers varying degrees of protection to some 34,000 species of animals and plants in trade, through a system of permits and certificates.

As the year 2010 has been declared as the Year of Biodiversity, it is believed that CITES will play an important role in regulating the trade of plants and animals and also chalk goals for sustaining and conserving the species.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

IUCN asks India to Save River Dolphins

The population of river Dolphins in India is merely 2500 and with adult Dolphins giving birth once every three years, the numbers may well be dwindling than increasing if proper attention is not given to the situation.

That is why on his recent trip to India to attend a two-day workshop organized by the working group for Action Plan for Dolphin Conservation set up by the Union ministry of forest and environment, IUCN's Cetacean (Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises) Specialists' Group chairman Randall Reeves said that the two most important things that Indian government must do to save River Dolphins is,
• Proper management of gill net fishing
• Appropriate water management policy

Gill net fishing is a method that is adopted by most fishermen in catching river fishes but many times dolphins too are caught in the net and killed. Reeves has asked the government to come up with solutions so that the dolphins can be freed as soon as they are caught in such nets.

The chairperson of the conservation committee and one of the few dedicated people working for the Dolphins, R.K . Sinha supported Reeves views where he said that steps should be taken to declare some stretches of Indian rivers as closed areas in which gill nets should be banned.

Reeves’ suggestion come at a time when the world has already seen China's negligence on this front leading to extinction of Yangtze river dolphins, also known as baiji.

Mr. Sinha, especially was thrilled to hear that the IUCN was willing to share their tagging expertise with Indian scientists.

"We have tagging experts and IUCN is willing to share their expertise with Indian scientists through field training so that tagging of Indian river dolphins could be undertaken without causing any harm to the animals," said Mr. Reeves.

"Tagging of dolphins would help in getting vital information about their home range, dispersal and migration pattern," said Sinha, who is credited with having conducted first authentic study on river dolphins' surface behaviour.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by Zemlinki

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Study: Large Mammals need Improved Protected Areas

A team of researchers from the US and India who conducted a study on 25 large mammals species have found that improving the existing protected areas, making available new areas and better organization will help the species survive this century.

The team also found that the forest cover and human density were key factors affecting the survival of species like Lions, Tigers and Elephants.

"India's fragmented network of relatively small protected areas has high carrying capacities for large mammals," said Krithi K. Karanth, who conducted the study as part of her doctoral thesis at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "But given the overall patterns of extinction estimated in our study, we need to create new areas, and connect them better, if many of the mammals are to persist into the future."

She and her team also found that human tolerance to wildlife was an important factor when it came to their protection. The study revealed that species which were culturally important, and were believed to be non-threatening faired better than other species of animals.

To identify factors critical to the species' survival and estimate their extinction probabilities, the team collected 30,000 records, including hunting, taxidermy and museum records dating back to 1850. Using these historical data and current data they found which species was actually extinct in a locality and which was just non-detected.

Karanth added that for conservation to succeed, policymakers and land managers must also take into account rapid changes in land use, climate, population growth and spread, and economic development now occurring in India and southern Asia.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by chimothy27

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Netrani Island in Karnataka to be made a Biodiversity Zone

For Long, Netrani island, also known as the Pigeon Island in Karnataka has been used a naval training base and by people coming occasionally to catch fish. But soon, this island will be the preserved haven for species of plants and animals when it is declared as a Biodiversity Habitat region by the state government.

The Netrani Hill Island is situated near Murudeshwar in Bhatkal taluk of Uttara Kannada district and is under Mavalli Gram Panchayat limits. There are a number of rare plnat species found on this island and also some plants that may help scientists in researching more on evolution.

Like the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Netrani is also home to Corals, due to the clear seawater present in the area. Till date, 14 different types of corals have been identified in the area.

Birds too find the island to be a safe and secure home. From wild pigeons, white chest eagles, owls, to swift net birds many different kind of bird species have been found in the area. In fact the fine nest built by the swift net birds on the caves give a distinct identity to the area.

There are more than 150 species of fishes found in the islands including two endangered fish species and also other aquatic animals.

With the government planning conservation measure for the island, it is hoped that the kind of biodiversity found in the area will be preserved for a long long time.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by Hamed Saber

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dogs to Guard Wild Cats

In a newest bid to save tigers and other wild cats from poachers, dogs are being trained by forest departments of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.

The four German Shepard’s specifically bought by Traffic India of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are being trained rigorously for the purpose. It is believed they will help the officials track poachers and make it easier to locate and nab them.

According to the officials the first phase of the training is already complete with the dogs learning ‘obedience’ and now they will be imparted skills of nose work and trekking to track down the poachers.

"We are training four dogs - all German Shepard's - for the forest departments of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, to check poaching of animals, especially tigers," Madhya Pradesh Special Armed Force (SAF) 23nd Battalion's Dog Training Academy deputy superintendent of police (DSP) B B Rai said.

"We have asked the Madhya Pradesh forest department to provide us hides and bones of animals, particulary tigers to give nose smell training to the dogs," he added.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GPS Trackers Helping Protect Himalayan Black Bears

Putting technology to the best use in the wild, GPS trackers are now being used to track the endangered Himalayan Black bears in India.

There are just about 300 of these bears left in the wild and because of the frequent human-animal conflict, scientist have come out with the novel idea of using GPS devices to track the animals so that their location is known and the travelers are informed ahead of time, where they might find a bear.

The collars attached to the bears are also helping gather information like their migration pattern, location, lifestyle and behavior. Scientists are now able to gather information about the animals, that was never earlier possible and use it for the betterment of the wild species.

Within the last four years 24 people have been killed and more than 200 injured of bear attacks. The GPS tracking is helping immensely in controlling these attacks as an alert is sounded as soon as any bear starts moving towards human population.

With technology used efficiently, hopes are on a rise about sustaining and maintaining a healthy relation between the bears and the human inhabitants of the same area.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by judepics

Is the New Year going to be Happy for Rhinos? It's Doubtful

If the beginning of the year sets the tone for the next 11 months, the Rhinos of India surely know 2010 is going to be bad. Because, in just the first month of 2010, FIVE Indian Rhinos have been shot dead in Assam.

Of these four were killed in Kaziranga National Park and the other in Orang National Park.

Obviously, the reasons for the continuing massacre are the priced Rhino horns. The hard, hair-like growth is highly revered for medicinal purposes in a number of countries in Asia, often considered an aphrodisiac, and used for ornamental daggers in North Africa and the Middle East.

With less than 3000 Indian Rhinos remaining in the wild it is time officials not only contemplate ways to stop future attacks but make sure they reach the spot of poacher attack, before the animal is killed.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by mikel.hendrik

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Poachers Now Hunt for Wild Buffalo Horns

Poachers it seems have conspired to go to any extent to wipe out wild animals from their natural environment. The latest animal to bear the brunt has been the Wild Buffalo that already has a receding population of just 4000 left in the wild.

Recently, West Bengal forest officials seized a huge cache of endangered wild buffalo horns, a total of 627 horns found concealed underneath 16.8 tonns of coal from a truck in Chopra, Uttar Dinajpur district.Three persons, including the truck driver, were arrested.

As a first case of its sort even officials are baffled as to why Wild Buffalo horns were being carried in that truck. As the destination it was going to is still not known, forest officials can just make guesses as to the cause.

That the horn are definitely Wild Buffaloes’ is almost certain because then it would not have been carried hidden in a coal truck, clarifies Utpal Kumar Nag, Assistant Divisional Forest Officer.

Wild Buffaloes were once found to roam northern, eastern, north-eastern, central and Nepal border parts of India. But gradually their population has confined to the north eastern states.

"Wild buffaloes already face severe threats due to habitat destruction, disease transmission and competition from domestic livestock among others. If trade is established as a threat, then this is serious and will have to be studied further," said Ashok Kumar, Vice-chairman, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).

The wild buffalo is listed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, that mandates a punishment of three to seven years imprisonment for poaching and trade.

It is also classified as "endangered" in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species

Image Credit
Flickr photo by Siddy Lam

Monday, February 15, 2010

Missile Tests not Good for Olive Ridley Turtles, says Orissa Govt.

India’s missile tests may seem to be unavoidable and quite necessary to the Central Government but the Government of Orrisa is in fact not happy.

The reason for the spat between the centre and the state is that the country’s premiere defence research organization, DRDO is testing missiles at Wheeler's Island off the Orissa coast close to Gahirmatha, which is the mass nesting ground of Olive Ridley turtles.

The Orrisa government is fearful that if the missile tests take place between November and May, it would have an adverse impact on these creatures which are an endangered species.

According to state government officials, a letter has been despatched to the Union ministry of environment asking it to ban the missile tests from the island during this period.

The Olive Ridley turtles’ mass mating and nesting takes place in the months of November to May. Officials fear that if this is disrupted by the missile testing, the turtles may not move large distances to lay eggs or they may not come at all. This will be a calamity as their numbers are already dwindling.

It is yet to be seen if this war is won by nature or man-made ammunitions.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by motleypixel

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How Can You Revere an Animal and Then See it Die?

The tigers have fuelled our imagination for centuries. The Hindus have raised them to the highest pedestal by showing the powerful goddess riding a tiger.
It is an animal that is synonymous to strength, to bravery and to ferocity.

Tiger is the national animal of not only India, but also Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, North Korea and South Korea. So many societies, political parties, and people, who want to associate themselves with power and bravado, use the symbol of the tiger on their flags or emblems or logos.

Advertisements get a boost using the image of the tiger – for power, for glucose energy, for might and more.

In 2004, Animal Planet surveyed 50,000 people in 73 countries and found the tiger was "the world's favorite animal."

So, the question here is, an animal whose image we have exploited so much, the symbol of power we are ready to use in any show of strength, the ‘favorite’ animal of most people of the world, how are we so easily leaving it to die?

Why are we not doing enough to save the tiger from being hunted?

Why are we still letting people sell tiger parts, for medicines?

Why do we not do anything to preserve the ecosystems that are the tiger’s home?

Why do we not feel sad when we get to know that no a single tiger remains in a land called a national park, that was supposed to be a safe haven for the creature?

What do we do to make a difference in their lives?

What do we do to save the world tigers?

If you think you can really do something, anything for the tigers, let us know or do join organizations that are helping save the tiger.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by mape_s

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Barasingha Antlers Seized in Maharashtra

In a well coordinated operation by People for Animals (PFA) Pune and Amravati Forest Department and Amravati police, a dealer was caught red-handed selling antlers (horns) of a highly endangered species, called swamp deer or more popularly known as the Barasingha.

When the police and the forest department of Amravati came to know about a suspected dealer Bankatlal Daga selling antlers and some rare plant species, they planned an operation to seize the material.

“After getting a tip-off from Nagpur, a team compromising Deputy AWO Apurva Bute and I rushed to Nagpur and followed the tip to Amravati.” said animal welfare officer Manoj Oswal.

At Amravati a deal was made of Rs. 60,000 and Rs. 5000 was paid in advance to gain the confidence of the dealer. The officers later identified themselves and confiscated the antlers and plant species from the seller who unfortunately managed to flee.

A stock of 150 types of plants that was seized from him, had several endangered species covered under Section 38 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The antlers too had blood marks on them, proving that the deer had been cruelly murdered to gain access to the priced antlers.

The Barasingha once roamed freely in the jungles of Northern India and had a population of more than 3000 in 1950. But soon due to need for farmlands, lesser grasslands, hunting, poaching, the number diminished to an alarming 66 in 1970.

Since then, though concentrated efforts have helped the Barasingha survive amidst humans and presently the population stands at around 500 deers.

It is only team efforts like the above mentioned incident that can hamper antler trade and ensure the Barasingha roam the forests for a little more time.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by aloshbennett

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blackbuck Population on the Rise

It is time to pat some backs and spread the good news as one of the Schedule I endangered species of India- the Blackbucks have shown a 10 percent rise in their population in a survey taken on 30-31 January at Velavadar Black Buck National Park in Bhavnagar, Gujarat.

According to forest department officials, there were 3,950 blackbucks reported, which is 10 per cent higher than 2005's census figure of 3,590.

To add to the good news is the fact that 2,308 of the Blackbucks have been reported to be from the ecological zones, outside the National Park and the highly protected area.

"Apart from the flagship species, that is the blackbuck; Indian grey wolf and striped hyena were also sighted here more than often. In this landscape, wolves are apex predators. Wolves rely primarily on blackbucks in this area for food, which constitute about 80 to 90 per cent of their diet. The park also supports good population of striped hyena. The hyenas are considered scavengers. The presence of these animals is the indicator of health of ecological system," said assistant conservator of forest JS Solanki at the National Park.

The park definitely needs commendation for its efforts as it is the same area where the Blackbuck population had once diminished to just 200. Locals in the area believe that the rise is due to the better understanding of the human-animal relationship and continued efforts by the forest department in protecting the wild animals.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by pranav

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rhino Safety Meet

Kaziranga National Park is all set to play host to experts from Rhino range countries, who will discuss various efforts in saving the animal. The major agenda of the meeting will be to chalk out a global action plan to extend the survival of the animal in Asia.

The meeting is being organised by the Asian Rhino Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from 10th to 12th February 2010.

Although India still does not have a definite national strategy to conserve Rhino species, the state levels are doing there bit to save the animal from extinction. Commendable among them is the state of Assam which has increased the penalties for convictions of poaching “Schedule 1 animals” which include rhinos. The previous three-year jail term in the original act has been increased to seven years, and the seven-year sentence has been increased to 10 years.

There are three Rhino species in Asia - greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), Javan (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and Sumatran (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). Of these, the population of the greater one-horned rhinoceros is estimated at 2,800 and it is rising with a majority of the species found in India. The population of the Javan rhino is under 50 and of the Sumatran under 300 and the trend is declining in both the cases.

Experts say that the Javan and the Sumatran sub-species are critically endangered and if nothing concrete is done now, their survival is doomed.

In India, hope still survives for the one-horned rhino with its steady population rise, but this good news can only remain consistent with measures to re-introduce rhinos to former ranges and a stronger anti-poaching drive.

Image Credit
Flickr photos by Mister-E and CharlesSF

Saturday, February 6, 2010

2010 is the Year of the Tiger…maybe the Last.

2010 is the year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese Zodiac Sign and many conservationists believe it might be the last 'Tiger year' when Tigers are actually present in the wild.

The situation is becoming worse everyday with 3 of the 8 sub-species of the tiger becoming extinct in the last century - the Balinese in 1937, the Caspian in the 1950’s and most recently the Javan in the 1980’s.

Of the remaining five – Bengal, Siberian, Sumatran, Indo-Chinese and South-China too the news is not good at all with only 25 remaining of the last named sub-species.

Why is the decline so severe? Because an undamaged tiger skin can fetch between £6000 and £8000 and that is more than double of the annual wage earned by a villager in India, Russia or China. This prominently Asian issue of Tiger poaching and exploitation also gets its fodder from the Chinese belief that certain ailments can be cured by using tiger parts.

The other issues are well known. Industrialization, deforestation, rise of urban population which are destroying habitat and thus hampering the growth and survival of the National Animal.

While China has recently tightened its animal laws and raised awareness on the issue, India is waking up to the fact through certain private companies’ partnering with WWF and other conservation agencies.

There are only 35,000 Tigers left in the wild - In the entire world. While people fear its ferocity and respect its regality, it is the tiger that is bowed down right now in front of the two-legged men, asking for his life to be spared.

If you really want to do something for these shy, regal animals, here are couple of sites that might help you get started,
saveourtigers, tigerwatch

Image Credit
Flickr photos by Esparta, Koshyk and Pavel Sigarteu