1 Tahrcountry Musings: 2005

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sports and Wildlife Conservation – Project Worthy of Emulation

The project launched by Wildaid, the conservation organization, in association with Ecuador´s premier soccer team Seleccion Nacional and Norlop JWT is proving to be a tremendous success. Sports is directly helping the cause of conservation. Soccer celebrities Alex Aguinaga, Johny Baldeon, Ivan Hurtado, Ulises de la Cruz, Edwin Villafuerte, and Técnico Luis Fernando Suarez have agreed to act as spokespersons. The immediate aim is Shark Conservation. Over-fishing, over-consumption of shark products and wasteful practices such as finning and needless bycatch are threatening Sharks in Ecuador.

At the fag end of 2005 Tahrcountry call up on Sportspersons worldwide to contribute their mite for conservation of endangered species.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Monkeys Have Accents

Research by Japanese scientists over an eight-year period has thrown up fascinating facts about monkeys. It has revealed that Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), can acquire different accents based on where they live. Until now humans were considered to be the only primates able to mimic each other's vocalizations.Groups living far apart had acquired distinct accents.The finding, the first of its kind, will appear in the January 2006 edition of the German scientific journal Ethology

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Female Gorillas and Menopause

A new study of gorillas at 17 U.S. zoos has thrown up surprising facts about Gorillas. Female gorillas reach menopause just like human women do. The researchers are quite excited by the significant parallels found between gorillas and human females in their life stages. The findings could aid our understanding of the physiological changes that occur at menopause, including diseases linked to the onset of menopause.

WWF Wildfinder study creates world's most comprehensive database of of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Scientists have long debated whether it is more effective to focus on areas with endemic species or on areas with many species overall. A paper published in the latest issue of journal Nature, sheds new light on this debate. The paper authored by scientists from WWF and the University of Virginia comes to the conclusion that conserving places with many endemic species will also conserve overall species richness. As part of the study titled Wildfinder,
the authors created the world's most comprehensive database of the distributions of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. For the first time, geographic information for 26,000 species can be found in one place.

Gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey remembered

Rwandans are commemorating the 20th death anniversary of Dian Fossey. The ceremonies were held in the Volcanoes National Park, where she had had her research base. It has never been established who killed her in her jungle cabin in 1985.She spent two decades working among Rwanda's rare mountain gorillas. Only about 700 gorillas survive in the remote range of volcanoes spanning the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A third of them live in Rwanda.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Russia's Indigenous People Fear the Worst

Nanai, Russia's Indigenous People in the Far East village of Dzhari are a worried lot. Potentially cancer-causing nitrobenzene and other poisons spewed into their river by a chemical plant explosion in China last month is expected to arrive in the village any time now. A shamanic legend holds that when fish disappear from the Amur River, so will the Nanai from the face of the earth. The Nanai eats fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Top Environment Award for Ecosystem Assessment

The 2005 Zayed International Prize for the Environment, awarded for 'scientific and or technological achievement in environment' went to 1,300 biodiversity experts from 95 countries for their work on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), whose final report was completed earlier this year. The award was set up in 1999 by the crown prince of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in memory of the environmental commitments of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The international jury that awarded the prizes described the MEA as a "landmark study on the condition of the world's ecosystem services from fisheries and freshwaters up to the carbon capture of the world’s forests". The prizes will be presented in Dubai on 6 February 2006.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Thousands of Miles across Asia in search of baby food

A Frigate bird named Lydia has made a record, by flying non-stop for 26 days and covering nearly 2,500 miles - across Indonesian volcanoes and some of Asia's busiest shipping lanes, in search of food for her baby. Scientists at Christmas Island National Park tracked the trip with a global positioning device. Though the journey was a record for a frigate bird, it falls short of the top trip among birds monitored by scientists. The record is a 46-day round-the-world trip by a Grey-headed Albatross.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Scientists discover well preserved bones of dodos

A team of Dutch and Mauritian scientists led by Dutch geologist Kenneth Rijsdijk has discovered well-preserved bones of about 20 dodos at a dig site in Mauritius. Researchers believe the bones are at least 2,000 years old. The discovery has been hailed as a breakthrough by the scientific world. DNA samples from the dodo bones could revolutionize understanding of how the birds lived. Dodo took its name from the Portuguese word for "fool" for its apparent lack of fear of armed hunters. The bird was hunted to extinction within 200 years of Europeans landing on Mauritius.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Journal Science proclaims evolution the breakthrough of 2005.

The journal Science on Thursday proclaimed evolution the breakthrough of 2005. According to the editors 2005 stands out as a banner year for uncovering the intricacies of how evolution actually proceeds. Path breaking research has shown that there is a mere 4 percent difference between human and chimpanzee DNA. Other breakthroughs in the journal's Top 10 include research in planetary exploration, the molecular biology of flowers, the violent ways of neutron stars, the relationship between genetics and abnormal human behavior, the new field of cosmochemistry, a protein that controls the flow of potassium ions to cells, fresh evidence of global warming, an engineering approach to molecular biology and superconductivity.

Panama - Environmentalists Oppose Jungle Power Plan

A plan by Panama and Colombia to link power grids via Panama’s Darien Gap have the environmentalists and indigenous groups worried. The project will require cutting a path of at least 40 meters wide through virgin rainforests. The Darien Gap hosts more than 900 different species of mammals and birds, and over 2,000 plant species. It is also one of the world's most unspoiled wildernesses. Kuna Indians who inhabit the area has the apprehension that this will also impact their livelihood. The environmentalists have urged the Government to abandon this project, which will have serious impacts on this delicate environment.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Quarter-Century of Giant Panda Protection

WWF and Chinese researchers are celebrating 25 years of giant panda conservation. 25 years of work has moved giant pandas from the brink of extinction to a solid foundation for survival. According to the results of a survey conducted by WWF and China's State Forestry Administration, there are nearly 1,600 pandas in the wild now.

Stranded Whales Rescued off New Zealand

Volunteers and conservation officials refloated more than 100 pilot whales stranded on a beach near New Zealand’s South Island on Wednesday. Conservation officials washed them with water to keep them cool and prevent their skin from drying and then herded the whales out to sea. New Zealand, which has 41 whale species in its waters, has a high rate of strandings because of its long coastline and sometimes shallow waters.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

South Asian experts meet to protect endangered Elephants

75 elephant experts from five South Asian countries have met in a two-day meeting in southern Bangladesh in an effort to Protect Endangered Elephants. The conference was jointly sponsored by the Washington-based Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Nairobi-based organisation for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants. The meeting adopted policies and programmes for the conservation of endangered elephants. Asian elephant numbers across Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Combodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, are now 60,000, down from 150,000 two decades ago.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tracking Pygmy Elephants in Borneo

Five Pygmy elephants collared by WWF and Malaysia's Wildlife Department in Sabah, with support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service are being tracked by the same satellite system used by the US military to track vehicle convoys in Iraq. The pygmy elephants were determined by WWF in 2003 to be a likely new subspecies of Asian elephant but very little is known about them, including how many there are. They are found only on the Northeast tip of Borneo, mainly in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Since elephants live in matriarchal societies, WWF collared only adult female elephants so that each elephant collared represents a whole herd’s movements. The Sabah Wildlife Department described the study as very important and the results could be used to assist the department in preparing Sabah’s elephant conservation plan.

Kofi Annan Awarded $1 Million UAE Environment Prize

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been awarded the United Arab Emirates' $1 million Zayed environment prize established in honour of the UAE's late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan. The jury mentioned Annan's efforts "to catalyse political and public opinion to an understanding that the environment is a fundamental pillar of sustainable development". Previous winners include former US President Jimmy Carter and the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Rabbit decline threatens endangered Iberian Lynx

Myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease, combined with habitat loss and over-hunting, have brought rabbit numbers in Spain and Portugal to as low as 5% of population estimates 50 years ago. The Iberian Lynx, whose diet consists of 80-100% rabbits, has seen its own numbers fall to little more than 100 adults, according to the latest official figures, partly due to rabbit decline. The Iberian Imperial Eagle, another rabbit specialist predator has declined to around 150 pairs. At least 39 predator species rely partly or exclusively on the rabbit, and rabbits are also important for many invertebrate and plant species. Rabbit expert Andrew Smith, Chairman of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) LagomorphSpecialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN said it was now vital to recover rabbit populations in Spain and Portugal.

Extinct Mammoth DNA decoded

A team of researchers - from Germany, the UK, and the US has decoded DNA of extinct Mammoth. Mammoths lived in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America between about 1.6 million years ago and 10,000 years ago during the Pleistocene epoch. The results show that the Mammoth was most closely related to the Asian rather than the African elephant. The findings have been published in online edition of Nature.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Kenya's Maasai Protest Against export of wild animals to Thailand

During last month's visit by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Kenya had agreed to ship 175 assorted wild animals for a tourism project in Thailand. Now Maasai tribesmen are protesting against the Kenyan government deal to export wildlife to Thailand. Masais say they would even take up weapons to defend the animals. The protesters appealed to President Mwai Kibaki to overturn the government's decision to send wild animals to Thailand. A petition signed by 15,000 people was also sent to the Government.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Tsunami - sourcing timber from Indonesia’s depleted forests threatens ecosystem

With the major reconstruction phase about to begin in Aceh following the 2004 tsunami that killed more than 250,000 people in the region, WWF has warned that sourcing timber from Indonesia’s already depleted forests would result in further tragedy for the people of Aceh. Deforestation in Indonesia has been blamed for landslides and flash floods that have killed hundreds of people in recent years and left thousands homeless.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Healthy Corals fared best against Tsunami

Status report, released by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the CORDIO programme(Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Ocean ), indicates that the healthy coral reefs were better able to withstand the force of the December 2004 Tsunami, and may have offered increased protection to adjacent coastal areas.“Reefs continually degraded by over-fishing, coral mining, dynamite fishing and land-based pollution are more susceptible to future natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, creating a vicious circle of reef destruction and huma suffering,” says Jerker Tamelander, IUCN-CORDIO Marine Coordinator for South Asia and one of the report’s authors.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Philippine Eagle-Owl born in captivity - A world's first

The Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation Inc, Philippines, has successfully bred in captivity the threatened and endangered Philippine Eagle Owl( Bubo philippensis ). This is the first time ever that a Philippine-Eagle Owl has been born in captivity. Philippine Eagle Owl is on the critically endangered list. Very little is known about the breeding biology of this bird.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Shell oil platform in Russia's Far East driving Western Pacific grey whales to extiction

Western Pacific grey whales are highly endangered. Only about a 100 remains. An oil platform, constructed by Royal Dutch Shell in the Russian Far East, is disrupting the feeding patterns of the last remaining population. This has enraged the conservationists. They have called for an immediate halt to this deleterious project that would spell doom of Western Pacific grey whales

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Arctic seas highly polluted – Killer Whales tell it all

Killer whales are found throughout arctic Norway, including Svalbard and the Barents Sea. Blubber samples taken from killer whales in Tysfjord, as part of the research carried out by the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) has shown that Norwegian killer whales are the most toxic mammals in the Arctic. The blubber was full of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides and even a flame retardent often used on carpets. Killer whales are regarded as indicators of the health of our marine environment. Whales are particularly vulnerable to contaminants because they feed at the top of the food chain and therefore accumulate contaminants from the species they prey on. The study clearly shows that the arctic seas are not as clean as they should be.

794 species on the brink of extinction

A study conducted by scientists working with the 52-member Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) has identified 794 species on the brink of extinction. The list includes the Bloody Bay poison frog of Trinidad and Tobago, the monkey-faced bat of Fiji, the ivory-billed woodpecker in the United States, the cloud rat of the Philippines, the Spatuletail, a hummingbird limited to one Peruvian valley and Mexico's volcano rabbit. 595 sites have been identified. Only one-third of the sites are known to have legal protection. It is worth mentioning that almost 800 species have become extinct since 1500.The study is published in the US-based Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (www.pnas.org)

Monday, December 12, 2005

New Books - Tigerland: And Other Unintended Destinations — Eric Dinerstein

In this fascinating book Eric Dinerstein, now chief scientist for the World Wildlife Fund–U.S chronicles his field studies of majestic and endangered animals and plants - Tigers in Nepal,threatened tropical-dry forests of New Caledonia, the lions and rhinos of the miombo region of East Africa and the bison of the U.S. Great Plains. He also writes about the need for balance between conservation and economic development.

Shearwater Books, 2005, 288 p., hardcover, $25.95. -
ISBN: 1559635789

Endangered Animals Given Conservation Boost

The just concluded eighth conferences of the parties to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS), has given a boost to the conservation of the Mediterranean population of the Short-beaked common dolphin, Henderson’s petrel, the Basra reed warbler; the Large-eared free-tailed bat or Giant mastiff bat; the Strange-tailed tyrant; the Basking Shark and the Saffron-cowled blackbird. Governments and delegates also backed a seven-point plan to improve knowledge and understanding of avian flu as it relates to wild migratory birds.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Elephant prompts United States government security warning.

A United States government security warning has further fueled fearsome reputation of Mutware, an elephant in Akagera National Park, Rwanda. The elephant has terrified visitors and destroyed vehicles. US citizens have been advised, "to exercise extra caution" in Akagera.

Fiji – Efforts on to save Vesi

Vesi (Intisia bijuga) a high-value native timber, is being overexploited and facing extinction on the island of Kabara as a result of commercial logging and wood carving trade. The tree is of great cultural and economic significance. There is hardly any regeneration going on. To reverse this trend, WWF and the government of Fiji have set up the first tree nursery on Kabara, which will enable the community to collect and nurture Vesi seedlings. A reforestation programme is on way. The idea is to develop a community-based forest reserve.

CRISTAL - A new tool to help communities and projects in reducing climate change impacts

CRISTAL (Community-based Risk Screening Tool - Adaptation and Livelihoods) was tested in the World Conservation Union’s field project in the Inner Delta of the NigerRiver in Mali, the widest continental wetland in West Africa and an area of remarkable biological diversity. The tool is being developed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Institute for
Sustainable Development, the Stockholm Environment Institute-Boston Center and Intercooperation. The aim is to get a thorough understanding of the links between livelihoods and climate change impacts, and thereby help communities and project managers to maximise opportunities to adapt to climate change

Friday, December 09, 2005

Switzerland - Return of the Brown Bear

After a 100-year gap, bears may be coming back to Switzerland. The first brown bear was sighted in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. This has generated lot of excitement. The bear is believed to have come from Trentino region of Italy. Their comeback is a sign that the overall alpine environment has improved. Bear populations were once found in healthy numbers throughout Switzerland

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Researchers Decode Dog Genome

Researchers at Broad Institute in Cambridge have decoded the dog genome. Tasha, a female boxer was selected for the experiment. Researchers chose to sequence Tasha's genome because boxers are quite inbred. Tasha being a female, the scientists did not have to bother with a Y chromosome, whose long palindromic regions make work a bit tedious.The findings have been reported in the latest issue of journal Nature .

New Transboundary Protected Area

Lake Skadar, the biggest lake in the Balkans will become a new transboundary protected area between Albania and Montenegro covering almost 900 km2. Lake Skadar hosts some of the most important bird habitats and migratory areas of the region. 250 recorded bird species, including the Dalmatian pelican and golden eagle, and 45 fish species inhabit the lake

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Claude Martin hands over reins at WWF International

After 34 years of service to conservation and WWF, Claude Martin has stepped down as Director General of WWF International. At the WWF Board meeting held in Gland on Monday Martin handed over the reins to his successor Jim Leape.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wasps Could Replace sniffer Dogs

Trained wasps could in the immediate future replace dogs for sniffing out drugs and bombs. A species of non-stinging wasps known as Microplitis croceipes can be trained in only five minutes and are just as sensitive to odours as dogs. Dogs require up to six months of training for the same job. U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist Joe Lewis and University of Georgia agricultural engineer Glen Rains are at the helm of research. The researchers believes that Wasp Sniffers could be available for sale in three to five years

'New mammal' discovered in Borneo woods

A research team led by biologist Stephan Wulffraat has discovered a new mammal in the dense central forests of Kayan Mentarang National Park,Borneo. The animal is bigger than a domestic cat, dark red, and has a long muscular tail. Two images have been caught on infrared cameras. Efforts are on to capture the new species in a live trap so it can be properly studied.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Japan - Green tax supported

A poll by Environment Ministry in Japan indicates that, majority of Japanese would accept the idea of an environment tax on the carbon produced by burning fossil fuel. The ministry and environmentalists have long urged the introduction of such a tax, which would help curb energy use and reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, But the Japanese business houses are against any such move. A tax of 2,400 yen (US$19.92) per ton of carbon emitted from fossil fuels would cost each household roughly 2,100 yen a year.

Creating a “Digital Earth” – a new Conservation initiative to integrate

Very few attempts have been made to integrate taxonomic and geographic (or geospatial) data, and effectively put these assets to work for conservation, The “digital earth” idea is a new initiative to address this challenge, presented at the 11th meeting of SBSTTA, the technical body of the Convention on Biological Diversity currently taking place in Montreal, Canada. In partnership with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and in conjunction with theWorld Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), an advanced geographic model – “digital earth” - will be applied to the challenge of integrating widely disparate biodiversity data and geospatial information. This will be available on demand and in real time.

Endangered species and flawed research

In the latest issue of the journal Conservation Biology UC Davis conservation biologists, professors Tim Caro, John Eadie and Andrew Sih examine the research practice of using surrogate animals to predict what is endangering another species. The authors say population disturbances affect common and rare species in different ways and advocate making every possible effort to examine the target species directly before resorting to substitute species.
Flagship substitutes are often chosen because they are biologically similar to the troubled species or can be used to develop a predictive model.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

China – Environmental Chief gets the axe

The chemical spill that has seriously polluted the country's northeastern Songhua River in China has set the heads rolling. China's cabinet has approved the resignation of Xie Zhenhua, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). Xie is the highest-ranking official to be removed from office for an environmental incident in China.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

World’s largest Wildlife law enforcement network launched

Southeast Asian countries have launched the world’s largest wildlife law enforcement network in an effort to tackle growing illegal wildlife trade. The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be known as ASEAN-WEN, for ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network .will promote cross-border cooperation, information exchanges, cooperation between national environmental and law enforcement officials, and training for wildlife trafficking agencies.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Early birds had Dinosaur Feet,new Study reveals.

A 150 million-year-old fossil of Archaeopteryx,found in Germany's Bavaria region, strengthen theories that birds descended directly from dinosaurs. The first known bird had feet like a dinosaur. The creature could hyperextend its second toe in a dinosaur-like way. The discovery was made by Gerald Mayr of the Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg in Frankfurt, Germany, and colleagues at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Changes in Bird Song patterns gives warning of habitat fragmentation

Reserch byDr Paola Laiolo and Dr José Tella, of the Estación Biológica de Doñana in Seville shows that birds in Spain and Morocco are having trouble hearing and copying each other's songs because of the way their habitat has been broken up, Habitat fragmentation has led to the birds living in more isolated groups and only learning songs from their closest neighbours. Researchers fear that this will lead to genetic erosion. Increase in agricultural land, forest plantations and roads have contributed to the fragmentation. Dr Laiolo and Dr Tella believe that their song matching technique could be used in other places to measure how fragmented a habitat has become.

330 million years Tracks of Extinct, Giant Scorpion discovered in Scotland

Martin Whyte, a geologist working at the University of Sheffield has discovered Tracks made 330 million years ago by a six-legged water scorpion bigger than a human, in Scotland. This is the largest terrestrial track of a walking arthropod to be discovered so far. According to Whyte the now extinct giant scorpion had at least three pairs of appendages of different lengths. The report appears in the current issue of the journal Nature.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Genealogy of scaly reptiles rewritten

Comprehensive analysis of the genetic relationships among all the major groups of snakes, lizards, and other scaly reptiles has resulted in a radical reorganisation of the family tree of these animals. The analysis was done by two biologists working at Penn State University: S. Blair Hedges, professor of biology, and Nicolas Vidal, a postdoctoral fellow in Hedges' research group (Now curator at the National Museum in Paris). The old tree is based primarily on morphology. The new tree is based exclusively on comparisons of the molecular structure of the animals' genes. Because the current tree has been widely accepted for nearly a century, there will be a delay of few years before the general scientific community gets used to the new tree. The research is reported in the current issue of the journal C. R. Biologies

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

IV World Congress on Mountain Ungulates,Guidelines for the Submission of Abstracts and Presentation of Posters

IV World Congress on Mountain Ungulates,
12-15 September, 2006, Munnar, Kerala, India

Guidelines to Authors for the Submission of Abstracts

The Conference Organizers wish to make the compilation and printing of Abstracts of the IV World Congress on Mountain Ungulates, a valuable substitute until the papers are published in Journals. Therefore, we request all the authors to submit abstracts (500 - 600 words) for the papers/posters that they wish to present at this Congress. The abstracts should be submitted by email to Dr. A.J.T.Johnsingh, ajtjohnsingh@ncf-india.org, Dr. S. Sathyakumar, ssk@wii.gov.in and Mr. Mohan Alembath, alembath@gmail.com

The following format be used for the abstract submission.

Font type: Times New Roman, Font size: 12 pt, Length: 500 – 600 words

Category: Oral Presentation / Poster Presentation

Title: Should be precise and not exceed 15 words (in UPPER CASE)

Name(s) of Author(s) & Affiliation including Email

Abstract: 500 - 600 words in 1.5 line spacing (to include a brief introduction to the study, species studied, study area and study period, methodology, results, discussion, conclusions, and a maximum of five key references).

Key words: 5 to 7.

Last Date for submission of Abstract: 31 May 2006

Also provide information on the following in a separate page

Name(s) of Author(s) & Affiliation including Email

Mountain Ungulate Species studied: (give Common & Scientific names)

Geographical coordinates of the study area: In Degrees, Minutes, Seconds (For example 12o 34’ 56” N 65 o, 43’, 21” E)

Geographical location/addresses of the author(s): City/Town, State, Country (also give geographical coordinates)

The above information are for the Congress data base / website to give all of us an idea on the Mountain Ungulate Species studied, study area coverage in the world, and the geographic location/addresses of mountain ungulate biologists and managers.

Guidelines to Authors for the Presentation of Posters

The authors are requested to kindly follow the format specified below for the presentation of posters to ensure uniformity and save space.

Poster Size: 35” X 55” Poster orientation: Portrait ; Lamination: optional

Title: Should be precise and not exceed 15 words (in UPPER CASE)

Name(s) of Author(s) & Affiliation including Email

Photographs of the Mountain Ungulate Species Studied and the Presenter(s): The photo of presenter(s) will be useful so that delegates could recognize and contact him/her regarding the poster during the time of congress.

Poster Content: Introduction to the study, species, study area and study period, methodology, results, discussion, conclusions, a maximum of five key references and acknowledgements. Please include a map of the study area, tables, figures and photos wherever necessary. Text Font Minimum Size 28 point, so that the poster is readable from a distance of at least 1.5 m from the panel.

Additional space that would be available below your poster on the panel could be used for displaying any exhibit (such as samples brought from the field, additional photographs, a folder containing the displayed poster in A4 size and business cards of authors for delegates to see/collect).

Time for putting up and removal of posters will be intimated to all delegates at the beginning of the Congress. Board Pins, Sticking Tapes, Scissors etc. will be provided at the venue by the Organizers.

UN General Assembly urges governments to protect endangered sea turtles and sea birds

A resolution adopted by consensus by the 191 nation General assembly on Monday, has urged governments to take urgent steps to protect endangered sea turtles and sea birds from an indiscriminate fishing technique. Large fishing vessels in the Pacific Ocean use a form of industrial fishing known as longline fishing, snaring millions of sea turtles and birds along with the fish they catch. One of the hardest-hit is the leatherback sea turtle. Scientists have issued warning that leatherback could disappear in the next five to 30 years unless fishing techniques are altered. The resolution also advocates closing some fishing areas on a seasonal or continuous basis

Monday, November 28, 2005

Rare snails successfully bred

London Zoo, in an attempt to save Bermudan land snail from extinction has successfully bred them in captivity. Less than 300 remain in free ranging state. A colony of 56 Bermudan land snails were flown to London Zoo in February after the native population fell to critically low levels. The programme was designed to establish a secure population away from their natural habitat.

Unravelling chemical signatures in Mammoth Tusks

Adam Rountrey, a graduate student in geology at the University of Michigan and his advisor, Daniel Fisherare are analysing the chemical signatures in mammoth tusks to understand the lives of the ancient elephant like creatures. Mammoths are related to African and Asian elephants and roamed vast stretches of North America and Eurasia until their extinction about 10,000 years ago. Mammoth tusks grow a little bit every day. Akin to using rings to reveal a tree's age, markings and chemical signatures in tusks help scientists to find out details like when a mammoth reached maturity and what it ate. The findings were presented recently at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Mesa, Arizona.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

'Life in the Undergrowth' - Sir David Attenbourough’s latest series

Sir David Attenbourough’s latest venture 'Life in the Undergrowth’ peeps in to the remarkable microscopic world of invertebrates. It is an incredible piece of cinematographic excellence. For every one of us, there are 200 million invertebrates. Microscopic world of butterflies, spiders, beetles, worms, and many other amazing creatures are presented in breathtaking details. Get to know fascinating facts like, how do insects fly? Why do cicadas spend so long underground? How do insects breathe underwater? and many more.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Boost for Central Asian Saiga Antelope Conservation

The 8th meeting of the conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), which concluded yesterday, has approved a Memorandum of Understanding for the conservation and management of the Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica tatarica). The agreement and action plan were ratified by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and formally signed byTurkmenistan’s Minister of Nature Protection, as well as by the Mongolian Minister of Environment, IUCN, the CMS Secretariat and WWF. Saiga antelope is now recognized as endangered by the IUCN (World Conservation Union). The MOU covers the Central Asian populations in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Saiga, which numbered over one million, as recently as the early 1990s, has now been reduced to around 40,000.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Escaped salmon threaten wild Atlantic stocks

Saboteurs have slashed five cages in a salmon farm in New Brunswick, Canada and released thousands of farm-bred fish. This villainous act can jeopardise the few remaining wild Atlantic salmon in North America. This is a nightmarish situation. Farmed fish are bred for fast growth, but have lost many key genetic characteristics and usually do not survive at sea. This is spawning time for local wild salmon. Salmon hatch in rivers and streams, then spend one or two years in the ocean, returning to their native streams to spawn. Unlike Pacific salmon, Atlantic salmon do not die after spawning, but return annually for a number of years to spawn again.

Dolphin therapy for depression

University of Leicester researchers have found that Swimming with dolphins alleviate mild to moderate depression. All the volunteers who took part in the trial stopped taking antidepressant drugs or undergoing psychotherapy at least four weeks before the start of the experiment. The researchers say dolphins' aesthetic value, and the emotions raised by the interaction may be the factors inducing healing properties. Dolphin therapy is already used to help children undergoing rehabilitation for a range of conditions. This is a shot in the arm for pet assisted therapy. The study is published in the British Medical Journal.

Basking Shark, Henderson Petrel – Britain appeals for protection

Britain is pressing other Governments to give more protection to Basking Shark and Henderson Petrel listed as endangered by IUCN. Plankton-eating basking shark is the largest shark found in British waters. Meat and fins of Basking Shark are considered a delicacy in some countries. The fins of a single shark can fetch up to 20,000 pounds on the international market. Most of the world's Henderson petrels breed on the tiny, uninhabited Henderson Island, a British territory in the southern Pacific Ocean. Henderson petrel's decline is believed to be caused by predation by rats and overfishing. Britain believes only concerted action by international community can ensure the survival of these two species.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

China plans Green Tax

China is planning a consumption tax for disposable chopsticks, plastic bags, diapers and other environmentally harmful goods starting next year. Chinese authorities say the move is aimed at bringing about an “environmentally friendly society.” Levying the tax is also intended to discourage consumers. However Chinese scholars also warned that it was difficult to identify products as disposable. The move follows the step of New Zealand, which will tax the emission of smoke and dust, and Sweden, which will levy a traffic congestion tax starting 2006.

Palm oil production without threatening tropical forests

Consumers of Palm Oil can now partake it with a clean conscience following acceptance by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) — a group of producers, buyers, retailers, financial institutions and NGOs — on a set of criteria for the responsible production of palm oil. Bad practices in parts of the industry have brought about high ecological and social costs. WWF has urged the companies to implement these criteria as soon as possible to ensure the conservation of tropical forests that are valuable for both people and endangered species, such as elephants, tigers, and orang-utans. As sustainable palm oil production gains momentum, it will stop further destruction and save some of the world’s most biodiversity rich forests. WWF initiated Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in co-operation with business partners in 2003.

Submarine sonars threatens Dolphin and Whale Survival

A new report brought out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) says the use of powerful submarine sonar is harming the ability of some 71 types of cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoises - to communicate, navigate and hunt. These low frequency sounds travel vast distances, hundreds if not thousands of kilometres from the source. Species like the Beluga whale, Blanville's beaked whale and the Goosebeak whale are seriously at risk

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wolf hunting – Environmentalists slam Swiss Government

The Swiss proposal to allow hunting of wolves has come in for criticism from environmentalists. Swiss officials argue that the wolf population presents a threat to local communities in mountain areas. The proposal was packaged as a measure for ameliorating the conflict with mountain farming. Taking up the cudgel, WWF said the proposal was "unacceptable and irresponsible, and any culling in the Alps would be a disaster for the wolf population there." Wolves were driven to extinction throughout most of Western Europe by the beginning of the last century. Dedicated conservation efforts have seen the animals returning to the European Alps from Italy’s Apennine Mountains. WWF does not agree that the wolf population in Switzerland constitutes a threat to local communities, and says there is no legitimate reason to decrease the wolf’s protected status.

Major Tiger Poaching Ring busted

Four poachers responsible for killing at least 10 tigers have been nabbed near Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. The police are hot on the heels of those who received these tigers and those who smuggled them. Police officials said that it is quite possible that these arrested poachers were responsible for more killings. Detailed investigations are on.Environmentalists have urged the Government to carry forward the investigations on a war footing.

EU Tightens Rules to Protect Baltic Cod and Herring

Baltic Cod and Herring are under threat due to over fishing. On Tuesday EU fisheries ministers agreed to streamline rules for trawling in the Baltic. This move augurs well for the Cod and Herring. Cuts to annual fishing quotas are in the offing. Minimum sizes for catches will be stipulated. Driftnets will be outlawed across the Baltic from 2008.

France makes major commitment to international conservation

France and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has signed a four-year framework agreement on conservation. From 2005 to 2008, France will provide support to a shared programme of work totalling 8.3 million Euros, promoting conservation mainly in the francophone world. The agreement will strengthen IUCN’s work supporting the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements. It will also support the development of the IUCN biodiversity conservation programmes in Oceania, the Caribbean and the European Overseas Territories.

UK calls for action to save rare birds of prey

At the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species, which is taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, UK has urged world governments to sign up an agreement that would protect migratory birds of prey and owls. Many of these inter-continental migrants face major threats, such as shooting, poisoning, illegal trade or loss of habitat, somewhere in their migratory range within Africa / Eurasia. Research carried out by Nature Bureau published in September this year, found that more than half of the 60 species of migratory birds of prey found in Africa and Eurasia are threatened, with extinction. The UK has proposed an inter-governmental conference to carry forward the proposals.

A dozen West African countries to sign UN treaty on protection of elephants

A dozen West African countries are scheduled to sign a treaty on protection of elephants at a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) meeting in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. Elephant population in West Africa has plummeted to around 5,000 and 13,000 in recent years. Setting up wildlife "corridors" and many other measures, including cross-border co-operation better equipment for staff is on the agenda. Scientific activities in the elephants' migratory range will be co-ordinated closely. Benefits to local communities will also be ensured.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Chile - Pulp mill devastates black-necked swan sanctuary

In what appears to be an environmental catastrophe, a recently opened pulp mill in Chile has devastated Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary, one of South America’s most biologically rich wetlands, decimating its famed population of black-necked swans. Numerous other species are also threatened. Before the pulp mill, there were more than 5,000 black necked swans in Carlos Anwandter. A WWF team, which visited Carlos Anwandter recently, could find only four black-necked swans.

"Planète Mers" an IUCN co-production wins prestigious Palme d'Or

Planète Mers, a book about the beauty and fragility of the world’s seas co-produced by IUCN and Editions Lafon and l’Oeil d’Andromède, has been awarded the Palme d’Or (gold medal) at the 32nd Festival of Underwater Imagery. The book has stunning underwater photography by marine photographer Laurent Ballesta.

Islands engines of evolution?

Islands have generally been considered evolutionary dead ends. Christopher E. Filardi, and Robert Moyle biologists at the American Museum of Natural History have found evidence that islands can act as engines of evolution instead of dead ends. The results turn on its head present beliefs and suggest that conserving biodiversity on islands is vital for the evolution of new species in the future. Filardi and Moyle have published their results in the latest issue of Nature

Missing link in the evolution of extinct swimming reptiles identified

A study by Michael Polcyn, a paleontologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, has identified the missing link in the evolution of extinct swimming reptiles. A lizard named Dallasaurus turneri whose fossilised bones were discovered near Dallas, Texas, 16 years ago has been identified as the missing link in the evolution of extinct swimming reptiles. Details appear in this month’s Netherlands Journal of Geosciences.

EU abetting destruction of forests of poor countries, WWF says

EU countries are abetting destruction of forests of poor countries through massive imports of illegal timber, WWF said today. WWF produced the report after studying the trade between EU nations and countries in the Amazon Basin, the Congo Basin, East Africa, Indonesia and Russia. Some of the trade is routed indirectly through China. Britain was the biggest defaulter followed by Finland, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands on the WWF list.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Forests flushed down the toilet

European tissue manufacturers are not offering enough recycled toilet paper, towels to consumers and must be more responsible when sourcing their wood, according to a new WWF report. The report analysed the practices of the five largest European tissue manufacturers – Procter and Gamble, SCA, Kimberly Clark, Metsa Tissue, and Georgia Pacific – which together supply about 70 per cent of the European market. According to WWF everyday about 270,000 trees are effectively flushed down the toilet or end up as garbage around the world.

Indonesia – What Do you want? Orangutans, Pygmy Elephants and Rhinos or Oil Palm?

The decision of the Indonesian Government to go in for large-scale oil palm plantations, in West and East Kalimantan, hacking down rainforests has enraged the conservationists. The area is popularly known as the Heart of Borneo, and is one of only two places on earth where endangered Orangutans, pygmy elephants and rhinos exist. Fourteen of 20 major rivers on the island originate from the region.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Greenpeace to go on anti-whaling expedition

Greenpeace has announced an expedition to oppose continued whaling in the Southern Ocean by Japan. In what the greenpeace described as the most ambitious ship expedition ever to defend our ocean 2 ships will leave Cape Town today. After the expedition is over one of the ships, MY Esperanza, will leave on a 14 month cruise across 4 of the globe’s 5 oceans to highlight their wonders and the threat they face.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to expand collaboration with IUCN

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has agreed to expand collaboration with IUCN. Proposed joint projects are the development of a “Waqf Fund” and the “100 Arabic Books on Conservation”. Achim Steiner Director General of IUCN says, “The international community has so far paid little attention to some of the important conservation initiatives implemented in the Arab world during the past decade. Saudi Arabia is no exception and its commitment to protected areas, species reintroduction and marine conservation are noteworthy examples of this commitment”.

Friday, November 18, 2005

New Book Highlights transboundary protected areas

The new book Transboundary Conservation: A New Vision for Protected Areas provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive assessment of the world’s internationally-adjoining protected areas (IAPAs). The book represents the work of 50 conservationists, scientists, and professional photographers. It focuses on 29 transboundary parks around the world .The book also lists the world’s 188 transboundary parks,which cover about 17% of global protected areas and span 112 countries.

What is transboundary conservation?

IUCN defines a transboundary protected area as: “an area of land and/or sea that straddles one or more borders between states, sub-national units such as provinces and regions, autonomous areas and/or areas beyond the limit of national sovereignty or jurisdiction, whose constituent parts are especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed co-operatively through legal or other effective means”.

Never ending marvels of nature

An improved LED developed by scientists recently has striking similarities to what the nature has been using for 30 million years. African swallowtail butterflies have been attracting their mates with glowing splashes of colour on their wings with a technique quite analogous to the latest research breakthrough. The new breed of LEDs uses specialised mirrors and tiny structures called photonic crystals to generate more efficient light from the semiconductor materials. The butterfly has natural versions of these specialised mirrors and photonic crystals, which deliver glowing splashes that attract the mates. Pete Vukusic and Ian Hooper, physicists at the University of Exeter in the U.K report the findings in the latest issue of the journal Science.

Timid to daring – One gene away

Dr. Gleb Shumyatsky, an assistant professor of genetics at Rutgers, who led a team that included investigators from Columbia, Harvard, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says that by removing a single gene they can turn normally cautious animals into daring ones. The experiment was done on mice. The scientists found that a protein called stathmin, produced by the stathmin gene was responsible for producing fear like conditions. Using genetic engineering, the scientists removed the gene that produces fear from mice and bred a line of the animals, without this gene. When left alone on an unfamiliar whitesurface, the engineered mice spent about twice as long exploring as did the normal mice. In other response inducing experiments also genetically altered mice cane out winning. Scientists claim this discovery could revolutionise drug research in the coming years.The discovery has been reported in the latest issue of journal Cell.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

‘Early turtle’ fossil discovered

Scientists from University of Portsmouth say a 120-million-year-old fossil discovered in Brazil is in all likelihood the oldest known creature that resembles a modern turtle. The find is linked to present-day representatives by its heavily webbed, paddle-shaped foot. The researchers have enough of the specimen to determine it belongs to a new species, which they have named Araripemys arturi.The details are appearing in the latest issue of the journal Paleontology

Global warming and the danger of killer caterpillars

Lee Dyer a researcher at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, warn that with global warming, parasitism against caterpillars will decrease. This in turn will free the caterpillars to devour agricultural fields and forests. Dyer and his team point out that parasitism decreases as climate variability increases. The researchers are uncertain as to the exact mechanisms that cause parasitism in caterpillars to decrease as climate variability increases The details of the research are given in an upcoming edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mediterranean Sea – Threat to Bluefin Tuna

Blufefin Tuna is under threat in Mediterranean due to over fishing. According to WWF sources it is a real crisis for Bluefin Tuna in the Mediterranean. It is estimated that 45,000-50,000 tonnes of bluefin tuna were caught in 2004, well beyond the 32,000 tonne quota allowed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Current levels of fishing are 2.5 times higher than the Bluefin Tuna populations can sustain. WWF says unless something concrete is not done we will soon reach commercial extinction of Bluefin Tuna

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

175th Birthday Bash for Harriet the Tortoise

The Australia Zoo has celebrated the 175th birthday of Harriet, the Galapagos Tortoise (Geochelone nigra).The day was marked with a pink hibiscus flower cake. It is believed that British naturalist Charles Darwin studied Harriet The age was assessed by DNA testing. Harriet now weighs 150kg and is roughly the size of a dinner table.

US - Reprieve for California's Giant Sequoia

California's Giant Sequoia trees have got a reprieve from being hacked down. A federal judge has temporarily barred a logging project. The project had envisaged thinning trees across 535 hectares, a quarter of which are within the Giant Sequoia National Monument. US District Judge Charles Breyer granted the request for an injunction, saying the project's potential effect on wildlife had not been properly evaluated.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

New Books For you - The Smaller Majority by Piotr Naskrecki

Most of Earth's inhabitants, including insects, amphibians, and crustaceans, are smaller than a human finger. In this fascinating book Naskrecki, an entomologist, brings these creatures into sharp focus with more than 400 full-colour photographs. The author vividly describes some of the fascinating small creatures, including scorpions that glow under ultraviolet light, butterflies that drink 600 times their own weight in water at a sitting, and geckos that slip out of their skins to evade predators. To top it the author describes photographic techniques also. Published by Belknap Press, 2005, 288 p., color photos, hardcover, $35.00.

Deforestation slowing down says FAO

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, presenting details from a new report says global deforestation is slowing down. This is attributed to planting new trees and restoring degraded lands as well as natural forest expansion in some regions. But the world's forests are still being destroyed at an alarming rate, says the report “Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005”. An average 7.3 million hectares was lost annually over the last five years. Deforestation, mainly conversion of forests to agricultural land, continues at a rate of about 13 million hectares (32 million acres) per year. The full report will be released in January 2006.

UK - Greenpeace dumps coal outside the Prime Minister's residence

Greenpeace dumped five tonnes of coal outside the Prime Minister's London residence in protest at what they said was his tardiness in tackling global warming. The World Wide Fund for Nature UK, says the Prime Minister speaks one thing but does the opposite on climate change. Tony Blair had made global warming one of the key themes of Britain's G8 presidency. Greenpeace spokesman Ben Stewart and WWF-UK director Andrew Lee accused the Prime Minister of not practising what he preaches on Global Warming.

USA - New Bison preserve in the offing

The vision by conservationists for a new Bison Preserve will begin to take shape this week. The preserve is about 50 miles south of Malta in Montana.On Thursday, 16 buffalo(Bison) will be released from a holding pen onto a portion of the nearly 32,000 acres of land that has been purchased or leased as the start of Bison reserve. The bison being released on the preserve came from Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. The conservationists hope it will eventually grow to hundreds of thousands of acres. The Montana project began four years ago when the World Wildlife Fund found mostly pristine prairie in a patchwork of public and private land neighbouring the 1.1 million-acre Charles M. Russell Federal Wildlife Refuge. World Wildlife Fund has high hopes about this project.

A new guide to developing GEF project proposals on land degradation

A new guide entitled “Land Degradation and the GEF”
Intended for developing project proposals on land degradation
has just been launched by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the GlobalEnvironment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Environment Programme and other partners at the seventh Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification held in Nairobi. This guide is an excellent and very practical tool not only for NGOs, government agencies and other stakeholders to understand how GEF works, but also how to apply for projectfunding for sustainable land management. The guide is designed to avoid bureaucratic language and unnecessary detail.
For more information contact:
Joachim Gratzfeld, Programme Officer,
Ecosystem Management Programme, Tel. +41 22 999 0267; Fax: +41 22 364 9720;

Monday, November 14, 2005

To dam or not to dam? Five years on from the World Commission on Dams

WWF has made a fervent plea, in its report To dam or not to dam? Five years on from the World Commission on Dams, to have a rethink on big dams. The World Commission on Dams was established in 1998 as an independent, international, multi-stakeholder process to address what had become one of the most controversial areas of infrastructure development. The report shows that dams can damage drown or even dry out wetlands, an important source of water. They also destroy fisheries and threaten endangered species. WWF adds, “This is not the engineering heyday of the 1950s when dams were seen as the hallmark of development. We know dams can cause damage and we must put this knowledge to work," In Belize, the US$30 million Chalillo Dam was meant to reduce electricity imports and lower electricity prices. Yet since its recent completion, local people have seen an average increase of 12 per cent in electricity prices while the dam has also flooded 1,000ha of pristine rainforest.

Want to host Olympics? The Key - Care for the environment

Competence in tackling environmental issues is of paramount in the bidding process for Olympics. Pat Schmitt, chairman of the IOC Sport and Environment commission revealed this at the sixth World Conference on Sport and Environment at the United Nations Environmental Programme, which is based in Kenya. He was speaking to the representatives of future Olympics. He reiterated that athletes want clean air, clean water and healthy food to compete at the highest level. Sustainable development and peace are essential adjuncts.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hi Guys Next update will be on 14th

I am out in the field for 3 days where I have no access to Internet. So the next update will be on 14th. Bye for now.

Endangered lemur named after comedian John Cleese

The lemur Avahi cleesei was discovered in western Madagascar in 1990 by a team of scientists from Zurich University. The lemur has been now named after comedian John Cleese by the team of scientists, led by anthropologist Urs Thalmann and his colleague Thomas Geissman,in tribute to Cleese's promotion of the plight of the animal. Lemurs are considered the most endangered of all primates

Remains of 'Godzilla' crocodile discovered

A US-Argentine team of researchers have discovered fossilised remains of a crocodile that ruled the oceans 140 million years ago in Patagonia. Because of its dinosaur-like snout and jagged teeth scientists have nicknamed the creature Godzilla.The species is formally known as Dakosaurus andiniensis. It hunted large marine vertebrates such as the giant marine reptile, Ichthyosaurus, rather than small fish. Details have been published in the latest issue of journal Science.

Europeans descended from Hunters, not Farmers, new study reveals

A study by anthropologist Joachim Burger of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, in Mainz, Germany, based on DNA evidence has come to the conclusion that Europeans owe their ancestry mainly to Stone Age hunters, and not to migrants who brought farming to Europe from the Middle East. The immigrant farmers left a cultural legacy by introducing agriculture some 7,500 years ago, the researchers say. The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Science.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

50 MEDITERRANEAN PLANTS THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION – World Conservation Union(IUCN) takes initiative to stem the tide.

Many of the close to 25,000 Mediterranean native plants that make the region one of the world’s 34 biodiversity ‘hotspots’ are disappearing. 50 species are on top of the list. A new conservation tool, The Top 50 Mediterranean Island Plants, launched yesterday by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) at the 14th meeting of the Barcelona Convention on Protection of the Mediterranean Sea, lays out a conservation strategy for species from the familiar hyacinth, carnation, and violet families, along with less known, plants such as moon trefoil, Lefkara milkvetch, Troodos rockcress, and Casey’s larkspur. The handbook aims to reverse the decline of these natural treasures by helping policy makers in the respective countries take appropriate decisions to protect their natural heritage.

Panda Wedding in Thai Zoo

Two pandas, 5-year-old male Chuang Chuang and 4-year-old female Lin Hui, were married in northern city of Chiang Mai Thailand, on Wednesday to mark the 28th birthday of their zoo in a traditional Chinese ceremony. Chiang Mai is Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's hometown. To avoid offending conservatives who think "marrying" animals is undignified, a proxy wedding by two proxies was arranged. The pandas live in a $1 million refrigerated cage. After the ceremony, the real pandas, which eat only bamboo, were showered with fruit. Their human proxies were sprinkled with water to fight the heat. Thailand's hot climate is expected to bring forward the pandas' mating season to November from the March-May period in their native China.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands- 9th Conference of Parties (CoP) on at Kampala,Uganda.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has started its 9th Conference of Parties (CoP) in Kampala,Uganda, against evidence of accelerating loss and degradation of wetlands around the world. The theme of this year’s conference is “Wetlands – supporting life, sustaining livelihoods”. This is shown by the Wetlands Synthesis Report of the Millennium EcosysteAssessment(MEA), which will be released at the CoP this week.

Achim Steiner,Director General of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in his opening address said “The gap between the spirit and guidance of this Convention and the state of wetlands is becoming bigger. It is clear that such an assessment [the MEA] requires a clear response from the Contracting Parties and the organisations that work closely with them,”. Steiner urged participants to follow that example and integrate wetland conservation into otherPolicies and sectors. “The key principles of this convention must be integrated into Poverty Reduction Strategy papers, and be the basis for our engagement with the water sector, finance ministries and development agencies,” he suggested.

China – Rare butterfly disappearing

A rare butterfly in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, is disappearing because of the city's expansion. The butterfly, the Chinese Tiger Swallowtail, is found only in China and has been around for about 80 million years. The fast disappearance is attributed to Falling plant diversity. The Chinese Tiger Swallowtail butterfly likes eating wild ginger, a plant that has disappeared rapidly during the city's development. Chinese environmentalists have urged the Government to take appropriate measures before it is too late.

Seal Meat and California Condor conservation

With its total wild population currently standing at 130, California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) remains one of the world's most endangered birds. Writing this week in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Page Chamberlain, professor of geological and environmental sciences at Stanford University in California, brings out interesting features about dietary preferences of Condors and how a change in diet can help their conservation. By comparing carbon and nitrogen traces in the birds' feathers and bones researchers were able to tell whether condors historically ate remains of land or marine mammals. The analysis of modern, historic (1800 to 1965), and prehistoric (up to 36,000 years ago) condor remains revealed major shifts in the bird's diet since the last ice age, which ended around 8,000 years ago. It switched from land to marine and back to land. The study team now recommends reacquainting California condors with marine-mammal meat as part of efforts to establish viable condor populations in the U.S. Loss of habitat for large mammals in the Central Valley and southern California would most certainly reduce the possible food sources for wild condors. The California sea lion population is increasing by 5 to 6 percent a year, with total numbers up to around 240,000, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Chamberlain says, “If condors can tap into this food source, the prospects of the birds spreading across their former West Coast range are excellent." Scientists aim to encourage the birds to eat seal carcasses by setting up holding and release sites near these rookeries. The initial results of the experiment is very encouraging.

England – Red Squirrel conservation strategy launched

Red Alert North England, which is made up of wildlife trusts, the Forestry Commission and landowners, has launched North England Red Squirrel Conservation Strategy. The effort is intended to save Britain's native red squirrels from extinction. The species has been declining since American grey squirrels were introduced in the 19th Century and outnumber reds by 66 to 1. The strategy will focus on carefully selected red squirrel reserves in forests in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Merseyside and Northumbria. Management strategies have been worked out which will cancel out the grey squirrel's natural competitive advantage.

Drunken elks

Two tipsy elks laid siege to an old people’s home in Sibbhult, southern Sweden.
The elks got drunk on some fermented apples outside the home. The female elk and her calf developed a taste for the tipsy stuff and refused to leave the premises. Police had to be called in. The exasperated police had to seek the services of a professional hunter with dog to chase the animals away.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fiji's Great Sea Reef to become marine protected area

Efforts are on to form one of the world's largest networks of underwater sanctuaries in Fiji. The local chiefs of Great Sea Reef have launched the first of a series of marine protected areas. Great Sea Reef, locally known as Cakaulevu, is globally important in view of its rich diversity. The islands of the Fiji archipelago, which number more than 300, are scattered over a 1.3 million square kilometer area. Fiji archipelago is often called the soft coral capital of the world.


Director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,Professor Sir Peter Crane FRS will step down in summer 2006 after seven years in the job. Prior to his appointment at Kew Sir Peter spent 17 years in Chicago as the Director of the Field Museum of Natural History. He will return to the USA to take up a new position at the University of Chicago. The post of Director Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the world's most prestigious botanical-horticultural posts..

Florida - Ingenious way of smuggling birds

A woman who tried to smuggle a rare green parrot by hiding it in her bra has landed in jail in Florida. Florid Fish and Wildlife officials say the offence is punishable by imprisonment for 5 years and/or $ 5000 in fine or both.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pilot tracks 4800 KM Monarch Butterfly migration

Vico Gutierrez a pilot flying his ultralight for 72 days has ended his 4,800-km odyssey of following the migration of Monarch butterfly. His journey from Canada ended near the Angangueo Sanctuary set aside for Monarchs in Mexico. Not one butterfly makes the round-trip journey. The offspring of those who start it head instinctively for a place they have never been. It takes three or four generations of monarch butterflies to reach their summer grounds in Canada and northern areas of the United States.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

There is a plus side to global warming for Norway

A study by Norwegian institute for water research indicates that global warming may benefit Salmon in the rivers of Norway. A problem with Salmon was the poisoning due to the nitrates. Nitrates have been acidifying the rivers of Norway caused by industrial gases blown in from other parts of Europe. The warming has induced more rains. This is benefiting Salmon smolt by diluting the nitrates. Even though immediate effects are rosy long term Global warming effects could bring catastrophe in the form of droughts, floods and inundations.

Mexico Coral Reef set back 100 years by Wilma

Mexico’s National protected area Commission says in its report that the delicate coral reefs off the coast of Yucatan province will take at least 100 years to recover from the damages inflicted by Wilma. Work is on to assess and repair the damage. The commission has requested help from outside agencies to repair the damage.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Tri-Nation agreement in Pacific augurs well for leatherback conservation

Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have committed to a partnership for conserving the critically endangered western Pacific leatherback turtle within the Bismarck-Solomon Seas Ecoregion. The beaches of these three countries harbour the largest remaining leatherback turtle populations in the Pacific Ocean. Leatherback turtles are classified as critically endangered. Some populations in the region have declined by as much as 90 per cent in the last twenty years. The new initiative will also ensure protection of large number of species ranging from coral reefs to migratory species such as tuna and whales in the region.

Sydney – Robot to the rescue of bird

A robot meant for diffusing bombs has come to the rescue of a stranded cockatiel. The cockatiel was stranded for two days after a building partially collapsed, undermined by a new tunnel. No one was allowed near the precariously perched building. The owner Karen Bruce was running from pillar to post for the rescue of her pet when help came in the guise of robot. The robot emerged from the building carrying the bird in her cage. Karen was profuse in her thanks to the police force.

England - RSPB seeks help to find Hen Harrier

RSPB has sought the help of concerned citizens to track one of England's rarest birds of prey. Hen harriers.
Hen harriers have been described as 'the most endangered bird of prey in England'. The male hen harrier performs gravity-defying aerial food passes as part of courtship rites. In recent years, only a handful of hen harriers have nested in England, usually on moorland. Five chicks fledged from a nest near Geltsdale, the highest number in England this year. Three were fitted with wing tags and miniature radio transmitters. The young birds have now moved away from the nature reserve at Geltsdale. Two of the harriers have been tracked down. One of the harriers has disappeared off the radar and the RSPB is asking for help to locate it. The young birds can be recognized from the coloured and uniquely numbered wing-tags fitted on both wings. The tags are numbered 5, 6 and 7. The harrier that disappeared is a female bird and has a blue tag on the right wing and a yellow tag on the left - the tag is marked with the number 7. If you are a reader from England and if you come across this bird please email dave.ohara@rspb.org.uk. Others may please bring this to the kind attention of friends from England if they are not already aware of it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

International Day of Action on Climate Change -Demonstrations around the world planned for Dec 3

To coincide with the 'Meeting of Parties' Climate talks in Montreal, November 28th -December 9th , International Day of Action on Climate Change has been planned, endorsed by the Assembly of Movements of the World Social Forum in January 2005. Synchronized demonstrations are planned around the world - in as many places as possible - to press for urgent action on climate change. For more info email info@globalclimatecampaign.org

Honduras – Forests shrinking due to illegal logging

The Environmental Investigation Agency, a US -based environmental group says Illegal logging driven by an underground timber trade is destroying the forests of Honduras. The underground activities have links in Europe and United states. The report urges the United States, the European Union and other nations to ban imports of illegal timber. Honduran officials say they are hamstrung by lack of resources and personnel.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fiji – New species discovered in Great Sea Reef

A WWF survey of Great Barrier Reef of Fiji has come up with a bounty of new discoveries. 43 new hard coral species and a new damselfish( pomacentrus sp.) The Great Sea Reef is the world’s 3rd longest great barrier reef.

Bees can solve complex colour puzzles

University college London researchers Beau Lotto and Martina Wicklein have discovered that bees are capable of solving complex colour puzzles. The study will be of great help in robotics. Developing a visual system that deciphers information is an obstacle facing robotics. The study appears in the proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Manas National Park sprucing up for Centenary Celebrations

Manas National Park in Western Assam, contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan is bedecked to celebrate its 100 years of existence. Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council (BTAC) authority and Assam Forest and Wildlife Department spearhead the celebrations. The yearlong centenary celebration of the national park would be kicked off with a four-day inaugural ceremony from December 12 to 15. The park has 60 species of mammals, 312 species of birds, 42 species of reptiles, 7 amphibians and 54 species of fish. The park is also a World Heritage Site.

Love songs by Mouse

A team from Washington University headed by Tim Holy and Zhongsheng Guo has discovered that male mouse sing ultrasonic love songs as part of the courtship rites.
Mice now joins the exclusive club of mammals that can sing, which has until now has been the preserve of only human beings, bats and cetaceans. The discovery was quite accidental. The scientists were dabbling with pheromones. When the males encountered a swab with pheromones they broke into song. The details have been published in the scientific journal PLoS Biology.

Greenpeace fined

Environmental organisation greenpeace has been fined $7,000 for damaging coral reef at a world heritage site in the southern Philippines. The organisation’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior II, hit the coral reef while negotiating, and damaged about 100 square metres of reef. Greenpeace blamed inaccurate charts supplied by Philippines for the mishap. The park authorities said they appreciate the good work being done by Greenpeace but the fine is mandatory for the damages.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Environmentalists protest against new Italian – French rail link

Environmentalists have expressed anguish at the proposed high-speed rail link between Turin in Italy and Lyon in France. LTF a consortium of French and Italian railway operators moot the project. According to environmentalists, the environmental impact of this new project is enormous. Italy’s green party has asked interior minister Gieusepe Pisano to intervene.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Tourism affecting Loggerhead turtles in Cape Verde

Beaches of Cape Verde (Republic of Cape Verde, group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal) are famous tourist destinations. They are equally famous for Loggerhead turtles that flock its white beaches to lay their eggs. Unbridled tourism has started affecting the welfare turtles and other indigenous species. In the last decade, visitors increased seven-fold to more than 180,000 a year. The government plans to increase it further in an effort to boost economy. In a report called "Paradise on the Brink", the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said plans to increase tourist arrivals were not supported by coherent environmental studies or infrastructure projects. Cape Verde's coral reefs are among the world's most important and most threatened, and the islands' waters are also a feeding ground for humpback whales. WWF has urged the Government to take more pragmatic steps in terms of conserving wildlife while devising tourism plans.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

England - Tony Blair pushes for biofuel

Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a plea for mixing biofuel with petrol and diesel in an effort to cut down pollution and global warming. The initiative will be in place by2010. Although the biofuel mix will be only 5%, it will cut down Britain’s carbon dioxide emission by more than 1%. The move is a sequel to warnings by Prince Charles that climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity.

Complex topography disorients whales?

The death of 110 whales last week following beaching in the Marion Bay area, Tasmania, Australia, has again brought up the question of why it happens. Initial figures were 60 but casualty went up as another incident followed suit. Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service officials say the most likely reason for the stranding was the complex topography of the area, which disoriented the whales. Treacherous frequently changing water depths, sandy spits and rocky outcrops, as well as a narrow opening to the ocean could have upset the navigation prowess of whales. Environmentalists have long held that use of sonar by navy cause whale and dolphin stranding. Oil industries’ seismic testing has also been blamed for stranding.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

US suspend import of Caviar, Sturgeon from Caspian Sea area

US has suspended import of Caviar and Sturgeon from Bulgaria, Romania, Russian Federation, Georgia, Serbia, Ukraine and Turkey. Sturgeon is a threatened species. The ban is intended to prod the Governments concerned to initiate appropriate conservation measures. Sturgeon is one of the oldest type of living vertebrates on earth. They can grow up to 3M in length and can weigh up to 100Kg. Caviar is made from sturgeon eggs. A full grown female can yield up to 6Kg of Caviar. Sturgeon population has been on the decline since the 70s. Caspian sturgeon used to live up to 45+ years. Now with unfettered fishing average has dropped to below 30.

New breeding grounds for Short Tailed Albatross suggested

Almost the entire world's remaining short-tailed albatrosses breeds on a steep slope of the Japanese volcanic island, Torishima Island. About 2,000 short-tailed albatrosses left in the world spend their winters on the remote Japanese island but spend their summers in Alaska's southern coastline. The island is subject to eruptions, mudslides and erosion. Other threats include entanglements with fishing gear, oil spills and ingestion of plastic debris. US Fish and Wildlife Service has come up with a relocation idea. The ides is to lure the birds using decoys and recorded birdcalls to safer islands. Changing breeding sites of the albatrosses, which mate for life and are fiercely loyal to their places of birth, is not going to be easy. The plan focuses on chicks, which might form attachments to new places if moved at the correct time.

Friday, October 28, 2005

England – Beaver reintroduction on way

Beavers became extinct in England 500 years back. Hunters wiped it out. Six Beavers from Bavaria have been released at the Cotswold Water Park on Thursday in an attempt to restore the species in its former habitat. If successful the programme will be extended. Conservationists are hoping for the day, when the Beaver will be freely roaming about in the countryside of England.

Congo - Local Chief honoured for Lowland Gorilla conservation

Local Chief Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya has been awarded the prestigious Cond Nast Traveler Environmental Steward award, for his invaluable contribution to Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) Conservation, during the war torn years. Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya organized other chiefs to protect Lowland Gorilla and other wildlife. It is a pointer to the fact community run endeavour can succeed in conservation. The award is a shot in the arm for conservationists of Democratic Republic of Congo

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Australian Government gets highest accolade from WWF

WWF has presented the Australian Government With a" Gift to the Earth," the organisations' highest accolade, for design and implementation of the Great Barrier Marine Park zoning plan. The zoning sets the benchmark for marine protectd area network in Autralia and around the world. The award ceremony took place at the opening of the inaugural Internationl Marine Protected area Network Congress(IMPAC) at Geelong Australia.

12 more protected areas for Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is adding 12 more protected areas. Papua New Guinea currently has one of the lowest coverage of protected area in the world. The 12 additions will bring the current protectd area land total to around 4 per cent. The proposed protected areas are in Madang, the Sepik River, Mount Bosavi (Southern Highlands and Western Provinces), and the TransFly (Western Province), which together will add a further 771,451ha to Papua New Guinea’s protected area, an increase by almost 50 per cent. Local communities own all the protected areas, and the management practices will be developed and run by the communities themselves. Papua New Guinea has the largest block of tropical rainforest in the Asia Pacific, the largest and healthiest wetlands in the region and some of the richest coral reefs on earth.

Scientists complete first phase of Hap Mapping

The Human Gnome Project mapped the three billion letters that make up the human genetic code.It showed that any two people are 99.9%the same. Now a group of scientists drawn from Britan,US,Canada,Japan,Nigeria and China has completed a detailed chart,showing markers of genetic variation,or single nucleotide polymorphisms(SNPs) to explain the 0.1 diffrence. The first phase contains more than 1 million SNPs. The second phase will add another 2 million. The first phase of the Hapmap has been published in the science journal Nature. The Hapmap provides scientist with indicators, with which they can focus on looking for genes involved in common diseases.

Wildlife Tourism -Tanzania goes for high yield, low volume tourism

Huge number of visitors, is causing wildlife reserves in Tanzania, to resemble refugee camps. Waste and litter have become big problems. In a bid to preserve the environment and curb the human impact of mass tourism Tanzania is hiking entry fees. From first January 2006 Mount Kilimanjaro climbers will have to pay US$60, up from $30. Visitors to Serengeti National Park will be charged US$50 a day, instead of $30. Efforts will be made to redistribute visitors to the low season also.

60 Long finned pilot whales dead after stranding in Southern Australia

60 Long Finned Pilot Whales died after stranding in a remote beach near Marion Bay in Southern Australia. Around 80 volunteers and wildlife officials are desperately trying to drive back the 10 surviving whales back in to high ocean. Long Finned Pilot Whales are medium sized whales reaching up to 20 feet in length. Whales are known to beach themselves in large numbers. The scientists are yet to unravel the mystery behind this.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

First conference on marine protected areas

The first conference on marine protected areas,is now on at Geelong, a Southern Australian city. Autralia established the world heritage listed, Great Barrier Marine Park, in 1975 over an area of 35 million hectares. 700 scientists from 70 countries are attending this trailblazing conference. The scientists are drawing up a plan for a network of marine parks to save the world's ocean from fish stock depletion and pollution. Half of the world's coral reefs might be lost in the next 40 years unless urgent measures are taken to protect them against climate change and other threats. A conservation plan for the unregulated high seas would be produced by 2008 for adoption by world Governments by 2012. This move is spearheaded by IUCN the World Conservation Union.

Otters set to return to Thames- Spin off from Olympics

The Otters are set to return to Thames in London. The massive clean up of Thames planned in conjunction with olympics is bringing cheer to conservationists. London Development Agency(LDA) and London Wildlife Trust(LWT) in association with Olympic authorities, sees return of Otters to Thames as a symbolic gesture.Otters were brought to near extinction in the years immediately following 2nd world war due to widespread use of Organo-Chlorine pesticides which contaminated the fish they eat. After the massive clean up of Thames wildlife authorities hope that the otters would return to Stratford,East London first, and gradually spread their range.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Biodiversity, Eco-tourism and Shrinking Wetlands - SSARC experts meet in Sunderbans

Thirtfive wildlife and environmental experts from seven SSARC countries and US, are meeting at a four day international workshop at the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve starting today. The experts would discuss problems and issues relating to the growing threats to the country's wetlands and their extremly fragile ecosystem and how to support a diverse variety of flora and fauna. The experts would also exchange views on all the 19 Ramsar sites in India. Detailed interactive sessions with the local people of Sunderbans delta will be held to know their problems and try to solve it. The workshop entitled "Ecotourism and Biodiversity: Shrinking wetlands"is organised by United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) in association with Department of Forests, Government of West Bengal.

Molten lava flowing through Galapagos National Park

Galapagos islands are famous for its giant tortoises. These giant tortoises helped inspire what became the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin. A volacanic eruption on the Galapagos islands is sending hot molten lava through Galapagos National Park. A press note issued by Park authorities says the giant tortoises are safe. Slow moving lava is edging down the mountain side and could reach the sea in a week's time.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Now Protein Music

Mary Anne Clark, a biologist at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth has come up with an ingenious way of looking at building blocks of life. All living things are made up of proteins. Each protein is a string of amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids, and each protein has thousands of them. Mary Anne Clark first wrote down these amino acid sequences as series of text letters. Clark and her colleagues then assigned musical notes to the different values of the amino acids in each sequence, and presto you have music in the form of "protein songs."

Gangetic Dolphin facing threat

The Gangetic Dolphin (Platanista Gangetica) is found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra river system in seven states of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Rajasthan, UP and West Bengal in India. Unbridled commercial fishing Habitat degradation, and sand mining are threatening the very existence of the species. Large number of barrages in the upper stretches of Ganges has isolated the river dolphin population leading to inbreeding. Latest surveys show the population, which swam freely in India's sprawling Ganga and Brahmaputra river systems, had fallen to just 1500 from the already moderate 5000 from the 1980s.The situation is very grave in UP. UP have around 687 dolphins in Ganga, Ghagra and Chambal rivers. The Uttar Pradesh government is seeking urgent help of the Central Government in an effort to reverse these dangerous portents for the endangered species.

Panama declares Sanctuary for Migrating Shorebirds

Panama became the first country in Central America, to create a wildlife reserve that will provide a crucial resting-place for migrating shorebirds. The Upper Bay area was declared a Sanctuary. The Upper Bay of Panama provides a rare feeding and resting ground for 2 million shorebirds that travel annually from North America through the Isthmus of Panama to South America, and back again. The site is used by more than 30 percent of the world's female population of western sandpipers, and is important for at least six other species of shorebirds globally.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Przewalski's horse – Good tidings from Mangolia

In the 1960's, hunting and habitat destruction drove Przewalski's horse (Equus verus przewalskii) to the brink of extinction. The horse disappeared from its natural range throughout Mongolia and Central Asia and survived only in captivity mainly in Europe. Wildlife biologists led by a Dutch preservation group organised a breeding program and, in 1992, started reintroducing Przewalski'sHorse in Mongolia. Now after years of careful management at least 300 of the horses roam the mountainous terrain. About 170 live in Hustai National Park. The rest are in two remote parks in the western Gobi.
Now, after reintroduction of Przewalski's horse to its former habitat and years of careful management, the growing numbers of Przewalski’s horses that now roam the mountainous terrains of their ancestors encourages conservationists.

Boost for Black Rhino Conservation

21 endangered Black Rhinos (Dicers bicornis) were recently released in Soth Africa’s Zululand Rhino Reserve as part of the WWF Ezemvelo Rhino Range Expansion Project. The reserve is made up of 20 neighboring properties whose owners have removed their internal boundaries to make one compact block of 24000 Ha for the endangered animal. This is the second Rhino initiative. The first population released last year in Munyawana Game Reserve has settled well. The Black Rhino was once the most prolific of the Rhinos. But poaching drove them to the verge of extinction.Authorities in South Africa views Range Expansion programme as the bulwark against the extinction.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Parrot succumbs to Avian Flu In UK

A parrot imported from South America, which was in quarantine in UK, has died of Avian Flu.UK’s chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds said: "The confirmed case does not affect the UK's official disease free status because the disease has been identified in imported birds during quarantine”. All the birds in the quarantine unit are now being culled. It was not immediately known whether the pathogenic strain is H5N1 variant which killed 60 people in Asia.

Flaws in Florida Panther research

Scientists have identified serious flaws in the research done on Florida Panthers (Puma concolor coryi) in the US. The flaws have adversely affected the conservation of these endangered animals. Fewer than 100 Florida panthers roam the National and State Parks and adjoining lands. A prominent researcher had taken in to account only the daytime activity and failed to take in to account the nocturnal nature of the animal. This led to serious miscalculation of the range activity of the animal. Land use patterns were based on this research which was taken as gospel. The implications of the flaws are discussed in a paper slated to appear in the Journal of Wildlife Management in January 2006.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Brazil's Amazon forest shrinking fast

Latest satellite images reveal that Amazon forest is disappearing twice as fast as scientists previously estimated. Ecologist Gregory Asner and his colleagues arrived at this conclusion after developing a new way to analyse satellite images to track logging there. Additional loss is due to illegal selective logging, which removes trees piecemeal. Asner plans to use the technique developed by him to look at other tropical rainforests such as those in Peru and Bolivia.

Anti-freeze from Snowfleas

Researchers from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario have discovered that the bodies of the six-legged snow fleas also known as springtails, contain proteins that limit the growth of ice by lowering the freezing point of fluids by 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit). The findings could help protect plants or animals from frost, or allow donated transplant organs to be stored and transported at lower temperatures. The report is published in the latest edition of Science

Chimp Talk

Primate experts at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland say they have the first evidence that chimpanzees speak to each other. According to them the chimps utter high-pitched noises or low-pitched grunts to tell each other about objects in their environment. The findings have been published in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology.

Avian Flu - Threat to Rare Birds

Avian Flu carrying deadly H5N1 virus is threatening to push some of the world's rarest birds towards extinction. Birds such as the aquatic warbler, the Dalmatian pelican, the marbled teal, the slender-billed curlew and the spoon-billed sandpiper are particularly susceptible. 10 percent of the world’s population of wild bar-headed goose died in a recent bird flu outbreak in China.

Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) warned that any attempts to cull wildfowl suspected of carrying the disease could simply scatter the virus more widely by driving flocks away from their normal routes, doing more harm than good.

Pere David's deer – A reintroduction success story from China

Pere David's deer was reintroduced in China 20 years back. They have established well in Central Yangtze region. A recent count put the number at 2,500 individuals at the three national nature reserves. The Pere David's deer was once found only in China along the central and lower Yangtze River basin. Hunting and habitat depredation led to the extinction of the species in the wild in the early 20th century. 39 animals from the Woburn Abbey Wildlife Park outside of London were re-introduced to the Central Yangtze in 1985 and 86. To mark the 20th anniversary of the species re-introduction, a celebration was held on Wednesday at Yangtze Tian’ezhou Oxbow Wetland Reserve, home to the species' largest population (600 deer).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Italian amateur photographer wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year award

Manuel Presti, an Italian amateur photographer has won the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award with a black and white image of a flock of birds trying to flee from a falcon.
The annual competition, staged jointly by Britain's Natural History Museum and the British Broadcasting Corporation, is one of the most prestigious wildlife photography awards in the world. The winning pictures and many others go on show at London's Natural History Museum from Saturday until April next year

Congo goes for private conservationists to save endangered northern white rhinos

Government of Democratic Republic of Congo has sought the help of the African Parks Foundation (APF), set up by South African conservationists and a Dutch businessman, to manage Garamba National Park in an effort to preserve the rare White rhino. Poachers, including Sudanese gunmen on horseback pose serious threat to the endangered animal believed to be the most endangered large mammal on earth. Garamba is a United Nations World Heritage Site. APF would spend roughly 1 million euros ($1.2 million) a year reorganising and equipping anti-poaching teams.

Canada's Cruel and Senseless Seal Hunt enrages conservationists

Conservationists are aghast at what is happening to baby seals across the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. Over the next 3 years nearly million baby seals will be clubbed or shot to death in Canada. Every winter, Northwest Atlantic harp seals migrate to Eastern Canada to give birth and mate. The pups remain helpless and vulnerable on the ice until they can swim and catch their own food. It is at this time that baby seals will be clubbed or shot to death. About 96% of the seals killed will be less than three months old. The operation benefits a small minority of boat captains armed with big ships and snowmobiles. Killing for profit.

African Quiver Tree threatened by Climate Change.

The African quiver tree (Aloe pilanssi) is facing threat. The famed desert tree has an iconic status. The tree has been used by generations of African Bushmen to fashion quivers for their arrows. Wendy Foden, a researcher at the South African National Biodiversity Institute said observations at over 50 sites throughout the trees' range in Namibia and South Africa highlighted two disturbing trends, which could clearly be linked to climate change.
1) For populations found on slopes, mortality was much higher at lower elevations than at higher ones -- that is, where it would be warmer on a slope.
2) Higher mortality rates in the north of its range, towards the equator, than those found in the south.
The models worked out by the researcher forecast a 76 percent reduction in its population over the next 100 years,

Yellowstone Bison (wild buffalo a la Americans) in deep trouble

Yellowstone bison, an icon of the American West, is facing a new threat. Animals, which wander on to public grazing lands used by cattle ranchers are being butchered. The thin veil of justification used for this atrocity is that the buffalo present a disease threat to domesticated cattle
50 million buffalo once roamed the Great Plains. Millions were slaughtered and at the end of the 19th century only 23 wild bison remained. The survivors, who found refuge in Yellowstone National Park, are the ancestors of America's only remaining wild herd.
Environmentalists have appealed to the US Government for more humane, science-based programs to manage Yellowstone buffalo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

New Zombie Worm discovered

The UK-Swedish team, Adrian Glover and Thomas Dahlgren affiliated to Goteborg University,
have discovered new species of marine worm that lives off whale bones on the sea floor. The new species has been named Osedax mucofloris. The findings have been reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Yellowstone – Wolf reintroduction brings Spectacular results - New book tells it all

Wolf reintroduction has brought in its wake spectacular changes in the ecology of Yellowstone.
The remarkable changes have been recounted in the recently released book "Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone," by Mr. Smith and Gary Ferguson. In 1995, 14 wolves from Canada were brought into the park by truck and sleigh, held in a cage for 10 weeks and released. Seventeen were added in 1996.10 years after wolves were introduced to Yellowstone, the park has 130 wolves dispersed across 13 packs.

Cameroon trying to get back smuggled Apes from South Africa Zoo

Cameroon is negotiating the return of four endangered Western Lowland gorillas,
smuggled via Malaysia to a South African zoo. The primate is classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The gorillas were smuggled via Nigeria to Malaysia's Taipeng Zoo in July 2002, then shipped to South Africa's Pretoria National Zoological Gardens two years later. South Africa is bound by CITES, to return smuggled animals to their country of origin

Mauritius - Prime Minister stops the construction of road in ecologically sensitive area

Mauritius Prime MinisterNavin Ramgoolam has stopped the construction of a road aimed at speeding up journeys to Ferney Valley, primarily to service the island's lucrative tourism industry. Ferney Valley has flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. Environmentalists have been crying hoarse from the beginning. The Prime Minister made an on the spot evaluation before taking this decision.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Former Chairman of Greenpeace passes away.

Former Chairman of Greenpeace Matti Wuori has died. Wuori died in Helsinki on Saturday of lung cancer. He was 60. Wuori was chairman of Greenpeace International from 1991 to 1993

Surprising facts about Plesiosaurs

A team of researchers led by Dr Steve Roe from the University of Sidney has come up with surprising facts about the feeding habits of Plesiosaurs. Analysis of fossilized remains of 2 elasmosaurids,the most extreme form of Plesiosaurs have revealed that they were eating lot of bottom dwelling(benthic) animals. Traditionally it was assumed that Plesiosaurs, which existed in Dinosaur times, were fish and squid eating animals. The results of the study have been detailed in latest issue of Science magazine.

Hawaiian Monk Seals to get more protection

In an effort to give more protection to Hawaiian endangered monk seals and turtles, Government of Hawaii has formed North Western Hawaiian Marine refuge. Fishing in the tiny islands and atolls has been banned. Public access has also been regulated

Whose gene is it now?

A study reported in the latest issue of journal Science, reveals that more than 4,000 genes, or 20 percent of the almost 24,000 human genes, have been claimed in U.S. patents. 63 percent of patents are assigned to private firms and 28 percent to universities. In the U.S. patent system, human DNA is treated like other natural chemical products. Genes are valuable research tools, useful in diagnostic tests or to discover and produce new drugs.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Brought back from dead

Botanists at Kew’s country garden in Wakehurst Place, West Sussex have resurrected Bromus bromoideus, a Belgian grass not seen in its native habitat for the last 70 years. Only a quarter of the stored seeds found in Belgium were viable, so the National Botanic Garden of Belgium,
sent some to the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place to increase their chances of germination. Belgium grass success has shown that modern seed banking is a vital conservation tool.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

England – Frogs in a mess

Britain’s common frog (Rana temporaria) is threatened by Chytridiomycosis and ranavirus. A third of species is facing extinction.

The charity Froglife is now asking Brits to count common frogs in an effort to find out how serious is the effect of the diseases. Charity says to provide a scientifically sound report they need at least a 1000 responses. Froflife has appealed to all concerned citizens to chip in with their efforts.

Orangutans’ survival threatened

Orangutans, Asia's only great ape could be wiped out within 12 years, says environmentalists. Orangutans are found only on Borneo, which is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Destruction of jungles has caused a decline in orangutan numbers. Wildlife centers in Indonesia had plenty of orphaned baby orangutans this year that had been rescued from forests cleared to make way for new palm oil plantations. Representatives from Fauna and Flora International (FFI) World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the UN's Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP), and UNESCO gathered on Wednesday in Pontianak to try and pool their expertise to save the orangutan, and come up with firm proposals for their welfare.

Combating Poaching- Kerala goes in for modern techniques

Alarmed by the recent spurt in poaching of tigers, the Kerala Forest and Wildlife department has decided to go in for genetic finger printing of animals. A start will be made with tigers and leopards. The collaborating agency is Thiruvananthapuramm based Rajiv Gandhi center for Biotechnology. The center is already at work, developing primers and probes.

Bonobo Peace Forest formed

At the just concluded 8th Wilderness congress one of the highlights, was the formation of Bonobo peace forest in the Congo Basin rainforest, for the protection of endangered ape Bonobos (Pan paniscus). It covers 20000 square kilometers of bonobo habitat. Genetically very close to human, the little known bonobos lives in the rainforests of Republic of Congo only. The initiative will benefit the bonobos and the interests of the local communities. The interests of the local community will not be prejudiced in any way.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

International League of Conservation Photographers

International League of Conservation Photographers was launched at the 8th Wilderness congress by 40 of the world’s finest conservation photographers. The photographers will work on global campaigns to highlight current issues. They will contribute their mite in the conservation communities’ efforts in protecting wilderness areas and endangered species around the world.

Hurricane Katrina – Wildlife returns to New Orleans

The hurricane Katrina had brought in its wake extensive damage to wildlife in New Orleans. The wildlife is slowly limping back. In the lake Pontchartrain 8 dolphins were seen gamboling this week. The Manatees have not been seen so far. Flocks of Pelicans were also seen which is an indication that fish is also bouncing back

Rethink on bird evolution

Discovery of fossil remains of a small birdlike dinosaur, Buitreraptor gonzalezorum, with wing-like forelimbs, from the Nequén Basin in central Argentina has the scientific community in a huddle. This latest find could imply that flight evolved twice, once in birds and once among this group of Gondwanan dromaeosaurs. The lineage can be traced back to the Jurassic (206 to 144 million years ago). Details of the discovery appear in the journal Nature

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oil spills, climate change spell doom for British birds

Research led by Professor Tim Birkhead of the University of Sheffield shows for the first time that major oil spills double the mortality rate of adult guillemots in Britain. Surprising fact is that pollution occurs, hundreds of kilometres from the birds` breeding grounds. The researchers also found a direct link between a warmer North Atlantic climate and a higher mortality rate among British guillemots. November issue of the journal Ecology Letters carries the details of this study.

Trans-frontier conservation initiative in Africa

At the summit held by central Africa leaders in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, in February 2005, TRIDOM accord was signed, which set up the institutional framework to facilitate implementation of a trans-boundary conservation programme in Cameroon, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo. Now following that initiative Cameroon has set up two new national parks.Boumba Bek and Nki National Parks, both located in southeast Cameroon, cover an area of more than 600,000ha. The area has rich population of elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, forest antelopes, Nile crocodiles and bongos, as well as 283 bird species such as the rare Dja warbler, Nkulengu rail, and Bate’s night jar and 300 species of fish.

Dragon flies with radio tags

Very little is known about dragonfly migration. Now a study is underway in USA, which is being led by Martin Wikelski, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University .The first radio tags were attached in September. The transmitters, which weigh .0.3 gram and are about 1 centimetre long, are glued to the insects' undersides Wikelski puts the receiver in his plane and follow the insects. Uncertainties exist on how dragonflies navigate. Do they use their big eyes as an aid in navigation? Or do they have an internal compass? Scientists are intrigued.

Now a third species of elephants

Genetic fingerprinting shows that Africa's forest and savanna elephants are two genetically distinct species.Till now elephants have been divided into two species—Asian and African.The DNA evidence, reported in the journal Science, provides a definitive answer to the long-debated controversy. The differences between the two have long been noted, says F.V. "Loki" Osborn, an elephant researcher based in Zimbabwe. Using the old classification yardsticks, the forest elephant was merely a subspecies of the savanna elephant. The study was funded by the National Geographic Society, European Union, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service