1 Tahrcountry Musings

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Social and biological implications of using conservation drones in the field

Conservation drones are increasingly being deployed by biologists and managers in conservation. Drones are great tools that gives us new perspectives unimaginable a few years back. From the comforts of my tent in the field or from my office, I can get information on my laptop in real time.  I have used a borrowed drone for a short period  and has been bowled over by the innumerable way that I can use it. Conservation drones are going to open new vista in conservation.

As drones becomes a hot favourite with researchers and managers, it also time to think about social and political implications involved in the use of drones. It could very well  be perceived as an invasion in to their privacy by the local communities and indigenous peoples. It is here that stakeholder involvement assumes great significance. Talk to the people and allay their fears and prejudices. The political implications also have to be tackled right at the beginning. A proper interface has to be established between wildlife researchers social scientists and local stakeholders. Over to you conservationists managers and social scientists.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


First Announcement

The Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Cyprus, Frederick University, and the IUCN Caprinae Specialist Group, invites you to attend the:  6th WORLD CONGRESS ON MOUNTAIN UNGULATES and  5th INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON MOUFLON
AUGUST 29 - SEPTEMBER 2, 2016, NICOSIA, CYPRUS,Under the Auspices of the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Socrates Hasikos.
Congress Chairman:Dr Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis

The website is under construction. We will keep you updated about latest announcements.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The failure of High Range landscape project to take off in Kerala

The failure of High Range landscape project to take off in Kerala should act as an eye opener to planners in Kerala. It was a grandiose project conceived with very good intentions. But, in a thickly populated and highly literate state like Kerala the planners should have taken much more care before even thinking of implementing it.
The project funded by UNDP was planned in near secrecy with deliberations limited to few individuals. The interaction with local administrators lacked the urgency and empathy that was obviously needed. The local administrators were treated with disdain and supercilious attitude.
The attitude of UNDP officials also came in for criticism when they visited areas like Munnar. They had the know all attitude. Disdain and insouciance was written large in their demeanour. A furious estate manager rang me up and said" Who the bloody hell the UNDP officials think they are. They were trying to lord it over us. We do not like the attitude"
Even the wording of the project document had lot of lacunae. Sentences like an increase in protected area is expected was thrown out of context by the politicians and the bogey of taking away peoples' rights was spread by the politicians with ulterior motives. The officials concerned failed to read the danger signals in time or may be they took it lightly in their stride.
The church which has sizable followers in High Ranges also took a negative attitude. The mix of politicos and church was potent. Emotions were whipped up by interested elements with ulterior motives and their own agendas.
The failure of proper dialogue spelt the death knell of the project. Even within the departments proper dialogue was not initiated. Forest department which was the nodal agency failed miserably in this respect. When the newly appointed chief of forest forces Dr B.S Correy was asked about his comments on the project by a journalist he was frank enough to admit that he does not know anything much about the project. "It was conceived by a coterie within the forest department and they tried to implement it according to their will and pleasure". That in a nut shell explains the reasons for the failure of the project.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

LID (Low impact development) may help in controlling urban storm water runoff

University of California researchers contend that LID (Low impact development) may help in controlling urban storm water runoff. LID mimic pre-urban stream functions. The researchers give the examples of green roofs that absorb and evapotranspire rainfall, rainwater harvesting tanks in homes and other buildings, use of permeable pavement for roads and parking lots. We need to capture the runoff as close to where it's generated says the researchers. Rainwater could be effectively used in homes for toilet flushing and laundry.  Using drinking water to flush toilets is literally washing our future down the drain exhorts the researchers.

Journal Reference:
Asal Askarizadeh, Megan A. Rippy, Tim D. Fletcher, David L. Feldman, Jian Peng, Peter Bowler, Andrew S. Mehring, Brandon K. Winfrey, Jasper A. Vrugt, Amir AghaKouchak, Sunny C. Jiang, Brett F. Sanders, Lisa A. Levin, Scott Taylor, Stanley B. Grant. From Rain Tanks to Catchments: Use of Low-Impact Development To Address Hydrologic Symptoms of the Urban Stream SyndromeEnvironmental Science & Technology

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Surreptitious move to open up more areas in Eravikulam National Park for Tourism

There is a Surreptitious move to open up more areas in Eravikulam National Park for Tourism. This move is spearheaded by Tourism department with the blessings of some ignoramus bigwigs of the forest department.
Eravikulam National Park is a very sensitive area in terms of ecology. The area harbours some unique flora and fauna endemic to the area and found nowhere else in the world. Some of them have distribution of a few Km only. An example is the newly discovered frog species with a distribution of couple of square Km only
Imagine a scenario where tourists merrily go up and down the slopes of the hills of Eravikulam. They are going to wipe out some flora for sure. It has been amply demonstrated by research in US that vegetation trampled by tourists in hills take at least two decades to recoup even when the area is closed.
Unfortunately some photographers and self proclaimed environmentalists have also joined the band wagon seeing the money offered by tourism department. They are hand in glove with the tourism department. The tourism department is coming out with a colourful book on Eravikulam depicting its breath taking landscape. This will spell doom for Eravikulam as there will be increasing clamour for opening new areas. It is easy to get patronage and blessing of the ruling politicians for such moves. An area zealously guarded by Britishers and a couple of generations of committed forest officers is going to the dogs. Environmentalists now is the time to put a break. Speak out. The tourists should remain in tourism zone Rajmalai. Rest of the area is for denizens of the wild

Friday, October 09, 2015

Motorola Service is Horible

Motorola service obviously has taken a dip. I have a Moto G 3rd generation less than two months old which developed touch problems. It gets stuck and refuses to budge. As per the policy of Motorola, after one month, customers are not eligible for an immediate replacement. It has to go to the service station.The service centre people say it will take at least one month for the spares to arrive. Nice scenario, isn't it?  I wrote to Motorola directly. All I get is "We are looking in to it". If they have no spares they should willingly replace the instrument instead of taking the consumer in circles. I am waiting for the call from service centre. I will never again buy a Motorola Phone

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New trout species from Turkey

Researchers from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University, Faculty of Fisheries in Turkey have discovered a new trout species. The new species gets the name, Salmo kottelati and is named after Maurice Kottelat, who contributed significantly to the knowledge of the fish fauna of Europe and Asia.

                                             Natural habitat of the new trout species
Pic Credits: Prof. Dr. Davut Turan

Friday, October 31, 2014

Taking annual break

Hi guys,
             I am taking my annual break. I am going on a trip filled with hiking, Microlight flying and skydiving.
I will be back on blogging scene first week of December.
             Have a great time

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inger Andersen named IUCN Director General

 Inger Andersen has been appointed as the new Director General of IUCN starting in January 2015. A Danish national, Ms Andersen began her career working on desertification and dryland issues in Sudan, and with the UN Sudano-Sahelian Office in New York. With the establishment of the Global Environment Facility(GEF) in 1992, she moved in  as the Arab Region Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a position she held until 1999 when she moved to the World Bank. She is Currently Vice President for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the World Bank. At the World Bank, Ms Andersen worked primarily on water, environment and sustainable development, with special focus on the Africa and MENA Regions.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Biodiversity conservation - We need better metrics rigorously tested

The different t metrics, that we use, such as species abundance and extinction risk, paints different impressions of conservation success. Collen and Nicholson argue that to be successful, conservation efforts require an agreed set of metrics of biodiversity change. These metrics may include existing as well as new ones and must undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they are suitable for our conservation aims

Science 10 October 2014: Vol. 346 no. 6206 pp. 166-167

Friday, October 10, 2014

The 50th anniversary of IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,

As part of communications and fundraising campaign to support the 50th anniversary of   IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, IUCN have released a stunning video explaining the importance of The IUCN Red List as a powerful tool that drives action for nature conservation. The video was produced by the photographer and filmmaker Mattius Klum, who is also an IUCN Goodwill Ambassador.

Monday, October 06, 2014

A beautifully written book

It is not every day that you read a good book. I was delighted to read this very interesting book by Christopher Uhl during my sojourn and it gave me tremendous satisfaction.

Christopher Uhl explores the path to living in harmony with Earth. He believes it begins - not with fixing the environment - but with fixing ourselves, vis-à-vis, our perceptions about Earth. The book gives us enough reasons to ponder the road we are taking and what the future holds in store for us and the corrections that are long overdue.

According to Uhl, economism is the driving force of life stories of people today. Everything is seen in terms of money, without understanding the consequences of their actions on the Earth and on others. Uhl describes economism as a pseudo religion and believes that the present time is an "age of separation”.

Activities and discussion questions follow each chapter, making it a highly useful book for students. It makes them aware of what it means to be alive and to be surrounded by life.

Go ahead and read this wonderful book