Saturday, April 05, 2014

Creating awareness and support for Indian wildlife - Rahul Kumar

This is a repost from IUCN website. We hope this article would act as an inspiration for other budding conservationists.

21-year-old Rahul Kumar is a dedicated undergraduate Biology student from India. He has worked with several organizations in his home country to protect wildlife and create better practices for conserving natural habitats and resources. His project, an online platform to create awareness and public support for wildlife issues in the state of Bihar, India, was one of the winners of the 2013 CoalitionWILD Wilder World Challenge. He is now a CoalitionWILD Ambassador.

CoalitionWILD is an exciting ongoing program to inspire and empower younger generations into the future. As a movement of rising leaders creating a wilder world, the initiative promotes successful projects via a website ( and acts as an action catalyst as well as an inspirational hub for tomorrow’s leaders.

Rahul is definitely one of these inspirational young leaders, with his website that engages more individuals into protecting nature in India and functions as a central information source and platform for public participation, connecting communities throughout the country. Ensuring that local wildlife concerns are thoroughly documented and highlighted with regular updates is the main goal of the website. Additionally, it will allow anyone to report illegal activities, seek assistance in case of an emergency (rescue or treatment of wildlife), as well as increase awareness for local environmental campaigns.

Working in wildlife projects since high school, Rahul has also committed himself to exposing corruption, illegal wildlife trade and creating awareness of exploitive activities occurring in local communities and zoos in his hometown of Patna as well as Bihar, such as the capture of rare species of snakes by snake charmers, the illegal extraction of snake venom, and the sale of endangered species of birds. In 2012, he became a survey assistant for the Ganges River Dolphin Survey, a project from the Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Center collecting information about the Ganges River biodiversity, specifically the endemic dolphin populations, and socioeconomic conditions of fishing communities. The Ganges River dolphin is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and this project contributes to its conservation by also providing important recommendations for developing sustainable fisheries.

Exposed to the harming river management practices, last year Rahul started working on a sub-project of the Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Project named “Dolphin Mitra” or Friends of the Dolphins. This sub-project seeks to involve local fisherman in becoming active in the monitoring and reporting of illegal activities in the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary because “it is crucial that we encourage agile participation at the grassroots level”. Creating this network of vigilant fisherman has already exposed some individuals with illegal and incredibily destructive fishing practices, such as using a mosquito net to fish, which can now be closely monitored. The network also aims to establish safer practices which are more sensitive to the needs of the endangered dolphin population.

Rahul Kumar is thus part of this new generation of conservationists tirelessly working and campaigning to induce change around the world. Although acknowledging that it’s a long road ahead, he firmly believes that the “time to begin the wildlife conservation crusade worldwide has arrived” and we shouldn’t be pessimistic because “there are infinite possibilities everywhere!”

Thursday, April 03, 2014

2014 DICE MSc Scholarship

The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent is pleased to announce the launch of the 2014 DICE MSc Scholarship scheme.

The successful applicant will receive a fully funded studentship on one of our taught Masters in our Conservation Science and Management programme. 

Deadline 13 April 2014. 

Applicants must:
• Be nationals of or have official refugee status in a country that is officially recognized as Lower to Upper-Middle Income
• Have at least two years of work experience in the conservation sector.
• Be in possession of a good undergraduate degree,

• Meet the English language requirements as required by UKBA.

Get the Full details here.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Staying one step ahead of poachers

Protecting endangered wildlife against the onslaught of poachers armed with latest gadgets and weapons is a daunting task. There certainly is no silver bullet solution for the menace.

Technology can come in handy in staying ahead of poachers. I found this news item in Discovery describing the arsenal that can be used by wildlife enforcement officers very useful

Have a look at the arsenal HERE 

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) and Wildlife Management

My friend James and I, had always maintained that local ecological knowledge (LEK) has a great place in the wildlife mangers’ repertoire. We very effectively demonstrated this in Eravilulam National Park, but there were not many takers for our views on wildlife management. In fact many a times we were jeered, for our pro-indigenous community slant. Against this context, I was pleasantly surprised to read a recent paper in Biological Conservation by Turvey ST, Fernández-Secades C, Nuñez-Miño JM, et al  Is local ecological knowledge a useful conservation tool for small mammals in a Caribbean multicultural landscape?, highlighting the importance of LEK.

The authors were studying the ecology and behavior of Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and the Hispaniolan hutia (Plagiodontia aedium). Very little is known about the status, behavior and threats faced by these animals. To their surprise and delight, the researchers found that local people had a wealth of useful information about both species, and were able to identify them from photographs and even identify causes of death. The scientists were bowled over by the LEK.

The researchers write "Our results demonstrate that LEK can represent an important conservation tool for determining status and threats for a much wider range of species than the large-bodied charismatic or economically significant taxa that have been the primary research focus of most previous interview-based studies," 

So, doubting toms of the forest department go ahead and read the paper and include the views of the indigenous communities in your management plans. It is the most cost effective way of getting to know about your area, on par with scientific research.

Biological Conservation, Volume 169, January 2014, Pages 189–197

Thursday, March 06, 2014

A Marsupial Frog

Here is the pic of something unusual. A marsupial frog (Gastrotheca dysprosita).
 The discovery was made in the Andes of Northern Peru.
Duellman, William E. "An Elusive New Species of Marsupial Frog (Anura: Hemiphractidae: Gastrotheca) from the Andes of Northern Peru." Phyllomedusa12.3-11 (2013): n. pag. Web.

Pic Credit: W. E. Duellman

Monday, March 03, 2014

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World Wildlife Day

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World Wildlife Day, to be observed on 3 March:
For millennia, people and cultures have relied on nature’s rich diversity of wild plants and animals for food, clothing, medicine and spiritual sustenance. Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage. That is why the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 March — the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) — as World Wildlife Day.
Despite its intrinsic value to sustainable development and human well-being, wildlife is under threat. Some of the world’s most charismatic species, as well as lesser-known but ecologically important plants and animals, are in immediate danger of extinction. A major cause is habitat loss. Another is the increase in illicit trafficking.
The environmental, economic and social consequences of wildlife crime are profound. Of particular concern are the implications of illicit trafficking for peace and security in a number of countries where organized crime, insurgency and terrorism are often closely linked.
While the threats to wildlife are great, we can reduce them through our collective efforts. On this inaugural World Wildlife Day, I urge all sectors of society to end illegal wildlife trafficking and commit to trading and using wild plants and animals sustainably and equitably.
Let us work for a future where people and wildlife coexist in harmony. Let’s go wild for wildlife!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wildlife crossing structures and gene flow

Montana State University researchers have shown that wildlife crossing structures can help maintain genetically healthy populations of bears. The study was based on 10,000 hair samples from black bears and grizzlies that were collatedin Baniff National Park, Canada spanning the crossings in the Trans-Canada Highway. There are currently 44 crossings in the park spanning Trans-Canada Highway and this is the most extensive system of wildlife crossing structures on the planet.

WTI scientist Michael Sawaya, who wrote the paper, says “While there have been a lot of studies showing that wildlife are using these crossings, this is the first time anyone has shown that animals using the crossings are breeding often enough to ensure that the populations on either side of the highway are not being genetically isolated.”

Details of the study appear in the British journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Global Forest Change Data 2000–2012 Available For Download

The forest change data is now available for download. This has been made possible by the University of Maryland, Google, and other partners. You will be able to create derivative maps, visualizations, and aggregations.

This is the original study which you can utilize in conjunction: Hansen, M. C., P. V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S. V. Stehman, S. J. Goetz, T. R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C. O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend. 2013. “High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change.” Science 342 (15 November): 850–53

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Book Recommendation

Birds & People by Mark Cocker
Photography: David Tipling

Here is a remarkable book by Mark Cocker -- the UK's finest living nature writer -- and David Tipling -- one of the best bird photographers in the world. The book gives insight in to the relationship between birds and humankind, with contributions from bird enthusiasts from round the world. In his introduction, Cocker states, “This is an unusual bird book, in that it is as much about humans as it is about birds.”

The blurb states “ Part natural history and part cultural study, it describes and maps the entire spectrum of our engagements with birds, drawing in themes of history, literature, art, cuisine, language, lore, politics and the environment. In the end, this is a book as much about us as it is about birds. Birds and People are also exceptional in that the author has solicited contributions from people worldwide. Personal anecdotes and stories have come from more than 650 individuals in 81 different countries. They range from university academics to Mongolian eagle hunters and from Amerindian shamans to some of the most celebrated writers of our age. The sheer multitude of voices in this global chorus means that Birds and People is both a source book on why we cherish birds and a powerful testament to their importance for all humanity”.
Sunday Times described the book like this "A sumptuous encyclopedia of humanity's relationship with birds."
·         Hardcover: 592 pages
·         Publisher: RHUK (1 August 2013)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 0224081748
·         ISBN-13: 978-0224081740
·         Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 22.4 x 4.6 cm

Saturday, February 08, 2014

A World Heritage sanctuary for the world’s most threatened cat

The known history of Doñana National Park goes back over 700 years – the area was once a favourite hunting reserve of several Spanish kings. In 1963, the Spanish Government, in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), decided to acquire 7,000 hectares (27 sq miles) of land to create the Doñana Biological Reserve. Six years later, Doñana National Park was born, with its boundaries being extended in 1978 and again in 2004. Since 2006, the park’s management has been the exclusive responsibility of the Autonomous Community of Andalucía’s government.

Today, it is the world’s only protected area that is not only a National Park but also a World Heritage site (designated in 1994), a Ramsar wetland site, a Biosphere Reserve, and a European Community Special Protection Area.

The uniqueness of Doñana is due to the great diversity of biotopes it contains, allowing for the coexistence of a wide variety of plant and animal species. In addition to its marsh ecosystem, which is characterised by high productivity, a set of exceptional environmental units converge here: beaches, fixed and mobile dune fields, scrub woodlands and maquis, and numerous lagoons scattered among the vegetation. The park’s size and strategic location make it one of the most important wetlands in Europe: as a wintering area, it receives more than half a million water fowl each year, and also serves as a stop-over for migratory birds on the route to and from Africa.

Having been inhabited and altered by humans throughout its history, the Doñana region continues as a stronghold for traditional uses such as beekeeping, harvesting of pine cones and agriculture. Important traditional events include the “Saca de las Yeguas”, a livestock event, and the “Romería de El Rocío”, one of the most popular religious pilgrimages in the country.

Info Courtesy: IUCN

Friday, February 07, 2014

WildLeaks -The first, secure, online whistleblower platform dedicated to Wildlife & Forest Crime

A group of organizations fighting wildlife crime have banded together and launched WildLeaks - the first global, secure online whistleblower platform dedicated to wildlife and forest crime.

"Our first priority is to facilitate the identification of criminals and corrupt governmental officials behind the poaching and trafficking of endangered species such as ivory, rhino horn, big cats, apes, pangolins and birds, as well as forest products", said Andrea Crosta, Project Leader of WildLeaks . The platform also has proviso for protecting the people who chose to send them information, not only by providing a state-of-the-art secure system but also by managing and using the information in the correct way. Files are encrypted at every stage.

Click HERE to go to the website of WildLeaks

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

World Wildlife Day - March 3

The United Nations General Assembly has designated March 3 as World Wildlife Day. This will coincide with the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The General Assembly reaffirmed the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions, including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic, to sustainable development and human well-being. The CITES Secretariat, in collaboration with UN agencies, will implement World Wildlife Day.

CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said “World Wildlife Day is an ideal opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts. We invite all member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system as well as all other interested organizations and individuals – from airports to museums to schools – to get involved in this global celebration of wildlife.”

The CITES Secretariat has created a dedicated World Wildlife Day Facebook page to share news and stories of the Day, which can be followed at: