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.