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