Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fossils and the way to restoring lost island biodiversity

University of Florida scientists have discovered how fossils can be used to restore lost biodiversity. The scientist hit on organic materials found in fossil bones, which contain evidence for how ancient ecosystems functioned. The clues gave vital inputs for saving endangered island species and re-establishing native species.
The scientists say “A better understanding of species' natural roles in ecosystems untouched by people might improve their prospects for survival."
The details of the study appear in the September issue of Journal of Herpetology.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Road in Kutch sanctuary Okayed. Is it the right thing to do?

The wildlife board has Okayed, a road through Kutch sanctuary. The road was opposed by environmentalists and the previous board. The main arguments against the road was that it would, in all probability, result in the abandonment of the breeding site of flamingos and India would lose the only breeding site of flamingoes. There is also an argument that an alternate alignment which is feasible, cost-effective and easy to build is available. The environmentalists also say the proposed road would also eliminate the sacred grove of "Shravan Kavadia'', a unique mangrove system, found nowhere else in the world.

Tahrcountry makes a fervent plea to the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister, to look in to all aspects before giving a final clearance to the project. The misgivings of the environmentalists have to be allayed. The common man should feel that tax payer’s money has been spent on a project that would take the country forward without compromising on environment. If more studies are needed it should be done. Development is the need of the hour for the country, but it should not be at the cost of destroying what is irreplaceable.

Friday, September 19, 2014

World's first microbe-powered, self-sustaining wastewater treatment system

Researchers from Washington State University have developed a unique method to use microbes buried in pond sediment for waste cleanup in rural areas.

The newly invented Microbial fuel cells use biological reactions from microbes in water to create electricity. The fuel cell does the work of an aerator and uses only the power of microbes in the sewage lagoons to generate electricity. In the lab the microbes were able to successfully power aerators for more than a year. The researchers hope to test a full-scale plant shortly for eventual commercialization.

The researchers claim that the technology could be used in underdeveloped countries to clean polluted water effectively at a cheap rate.

Details of the research appears in the latest issue of journal “Journal of Power Sources

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Newly constituted wildlife board of India – Now a signature campaign is on

As mentioned in my previous post, some of the frustrated men who have been left out from the new wildlife board had already started a whisper campaign against the new members. Now, if my Delhi contacts are to be believed, they have started a signature campaign against the new members. I am aghast by the puerile mentality of the guys. These old guys had usurped membership by their political clout for years. For them it was an easy way to flaunt themselves as champions of wildlife conservation and earn junkets to wildlife reserves. One of my friends invited a couple of years back, one of the aggrieved guys from Delhi for a conference. His first question was “Where am I going to be accommodated. I stay only in 5 star hotels. These guys are out of sync with reality in the field. They never bother to stay deep in the forest with the frontline staff and find out their problems. They want cushy accommodation in forest rest houses. I am delighted to see that the new Government under Narenrdra Modiji has broken the vicious nexus. The new sets of guys are dedicated and aware of problems in the field. They are never shy of getting their hands dirty. Tax payers money should not be squandered away to pander to the whims and fancies of the elite.

Monday, September 15, 2014

In praise of reconstituted National Board for Wildlife, India

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Prakash Javadekar have delivered a coup de grace to arm chair conservationists, while they reconstituted National Board for Wildlife, India. For far too long, arm chair conservationists from Delhi and Mumbai have been calling the shots entrenching themselves in successive boards, with their political clout.

The names of the members of the newly constituted board, reads like who is who of India’s best field men. They know the heart throb of India’s wildlife. An even better aspect is their thorough knowledge of the problems relating to protection and the hardships experienced by the frontline soldiers of conservation. I am sure all these augurs well for India’s wildlife. I have no hesitation in rating this as the best board India has seen to this date.

I wish the new members the very best in their endeavours to promote the welfare of India’s wildlife. I salute Narendra Modiji and Prakash Javadekarji for the excellent work they have done

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Whoa! 46 Centimeter Shrimp

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have posted several photos of a 46 Centimetre  Shrimp on Facebook.  The photo was taken by fisherman Steve Bargeron, who watched a fellow fisherman hook a massive crustacean at a dock in Fort Pierce, Florida.

                                                                 Pic from MyFWC's post | Facebook


Friday, September 05, 2014

Essential Readings in Wildlife Management and Conservation

There are certain papers which any aspiring or practicing wildlife professional should read. I read a few days back a wonderful book, titled Essential Readings in Wildlife Management and Conservation which is a compendium of forty-two such papers carefully selected, by two leading authorities in the fields of wildlife management and conservation, Dr Paul R. Krausman and Dr Bruce D. Leopold.
The book  is divided into four sections: the philosophical roots of wildlife management, biology, habitat, and human dimensions and contains the classic publications of  K. T. Adair, R. A. Baer, L. C. Birch, W. H. Burt, L. H. Carpenter, G. Caughley, T. C. Chamberlin, E. L. Charnov, L. C. Chase, F. E. Clements, L. C. Cole, J. H. Connell, R. N. Conner, Z. J. Cornett, P. D. Dalke, D. J. Decker, L. R. Dice, J. G. Dickson, D. F. Doak, P. R. Ehrlich, R. Y. Edwards, C. S. Elton, P. L. Errington, D. Esler, C. D. Fowle, T. A. Gavin, V. Geist, M. Gilpin, H. A. Gleason, J. Grinnell, J. P. Hailman, G. Hardin, N. T. Hobbs, C. S. Holling, S. S. Hutchings, D. H. Johnson, S. R. Kellert, R. H. Klopfer, B. A. Knuth, C. C. Kreuger, A. Leopold, R. L. Lindeman, C. A. Loker, R. H. MacArthur, J. Macnab, S. P. Mahoney, G. F. Mattfield, D. R. McCullough, S. L. Mills, A. J. Nicholson, J. F. Organ, R. T. Paine, G. Parsons, M. E. Richmond, S. J. Riley, S. J. Schwager, V. E. Shelford, W. F. Siemer, D. S. Simberloff, M. E. SoulĂ©, G. Stewart, J. W. Thomas, B. Van Horne, S. C. Wecker, E. O. Wilson
I recommend the book unreservedly.
Dr Paul R. Krausman is the Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Montana and past president of The Wildlife Society. Dr Bruce D. Leopold is a professor and head of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Tree frogs speed up life cycle when there is threat of being preyed on

We believe that events in the life cycle of animals happen consistently, with a set pattern. This view is going to be turned on its head with the latest findings on tree frogs. Researchers  Sinlan Poo and David Bickford of the National University of Singapore, Singapore, have  discovered that Hansen's tree frog (Chiromantis hansenae) speeds up its life cycle to hatch earlier once its eggs are preyed upon. 
Hansen's tree frog is found in Thailand and parts of Cambodia.

Details of the study appears in the latest issue of journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Bringing plants into offices can improve well-being and make people feel happier at work.

Researchers from University of Exeter, University of Groningen in The Netherlands, and the University of Queensland, Australia, have come up with the finding that ‘Green’ offices with plants make staff happier and more productive than ‘lean’ designs stripped of greenery. The researchers monitored productivity levels over several months in two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands.

Lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, said:  “Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.

“Although previous laboratory research pointed in this direction, our research is, to our knowledge, the first to examine this in real offices, showing benefits over the long term. It directly challenges the widely accepted business philosophy that a lean office with clean desks is more productive.”

Co-author Dr Craig Knight, of Psychology at the University of Exeter, said: “Psychologically manipulating real workplaces and real jobs adds new depth to our understanding of what is right and what is wrong with existing workspace design and management.  We are now developing a template for a genuinely smart office.”

Professor Alex Haslam, from The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, who also co-authored the study added: "The 'lean' philosophy has been influential across a wide range of organizational domains. Our research questions this widespread conviction that less is more. Sometimes less is just less".

Posted with inputs from University of Exeter

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

A stark reminder - The death of the world's last passenger pigeon

I wanted to post this yesterday, but was tied up with lot of chores

On September 1, 1914, one hundred years ago, the last member of what was perhaps the most numerous bird species on the planet died in a cage in the Cincinnati zoo. 

                                                           Painting by John James Audubon

Monday, September 01, 2014

Lee Acaster - The overall British Wildlife Photography award winner – 2014

                                          Pic credit: BWPA
The Tourist: by Lee Acaster

The winning picture is by Lee Acaster, for his image of a Greylag Goose in London

Judge Mark Ward, Editor-in-Chief, at RSPB Nature’s Home Magazine commented “The winning photograph shows a familiar bird in a familiar setting, but the visual impact is extraordinary. The stormy, brooding backdrop sets a dramatic scene, while the orange and pink from the bird bring vibrancy to the monochromatic cityscape. Lee’s stunning photograph proves you do not have to travel far from home to capture the very best of Britain’s wildlife images.”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It is uncharitable to paint Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ant-wildlife

Lot of recriminations is doing the rounds, after the recent reconstitution of Indian Board for Wild Life. Lot of apprehensions have been voiced by conservationists regarding the manner in which reconstitution has been done. Many see is it as an attempt to plant guys who are “yes men” for giving clearances to development projects. I think it is carrying things a wee bit too far. The Prime Minister may be a pro-development man and a go getter if he makes a decision, but it is uncharitable to paint him as anti-wildlife. You don’t have to look beyond Gujarat, to see what I am driving at.

The infamous lions poaching case of 2007 in Gujarat hogged the headlines in press across India. Between February and March 2007, organized poachers from Madhya Pradesh had killed eight Asiatic lions in and around the Gir National Park. Narendra Modiji, who was the chief minister of Gujarat, at that time, visited the area twice. Know of any other Chief Minister, who has visited a poaching spot even once? He gave full support to the team of investigators. He was not in the denial mood which is the wont of politicians. He sought help from outside sources also. WPSI Executive Director Belinda Wright chipped in with help for scientific forensic investigation.  Chief Minister himself was monitoring the progress of the case regularly. The Gujarat government appointed special prosecutors at all levels up to the Supreme Court to pursue the case. All these resulted in conviction of all 39 accused, a rare occurrence in India.

Yes, I think, you can put Narendra Modiji on the right track if you convince him. That is your job, environmentalists. Look at the bright side of things and work with a positive attitude. You cannot blame the Prime Minister for toeing the development line, in his effort to build a dynamic and prosperous India.

PMO will look at your concerns, if it is genuine. A few days back I sent a representation to the Prime Minister, regarding the plight of wildlife trained forest officers in India. They are given the short shrift, and incompetent, untrained officers posted in wildlife reserves across India, at the behest of politicians, who look for pliant officers. It is a shame that after spending huge amounts of taxpayers’ money, the trained officers have to sit in office as pen pushers. Others are doing jobs that have nothing to doing with wildlife. This does not augur well for India’s wildlife. PMO has forwarded my representation to ministry of environment for follow-up. They immediately informed me about what is going on. I am sure something positive will come out of this.

Chinese traffickers spell doom for African elephants

A new  report, called Out of Africa; Criminalisation of the African Ivory Trade, commissioned by Born Free USA and C4ADS (a nonprofit organisation that is dedicated to data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting of conflict and security issues worldwide), has come up with some disturbing findings about role of Chinese gangs in the criminalization of African ivory trade.

The report points out that the majority of the illegal ivory trade is dominated by a small number of gangs spearheaded by Chinese and that the majority of the ivory is shipped via just 100 large annual consignments that make up 70-80 per cent of the trade. Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar are the ports of exit while the top three airports in the chain are Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Johannesburg.

Adam M Roberts, CEO of The Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA said, approximately 229,729 elephants were killed and trafficked in fewer than six years.

Read the full report HERE