1 Tahrcountry Musings: March 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006


Till 15th April I have only limited access to internet,that too very erratic. I will be travelling a lot to areas where internet is only a dream. The updates will resume their normal schedule from 15th onwards. I will try my level best to post very important news when I get a chance. Bye for now.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Malaysia - Good News For Orangutans

Consistent campaigns and pleas by environmental groups to protect the habitats of orangutans in the rainforests of Borneo is bringing in results. The Sabah state government has announced that it would cease all commercial activities in the Ulu Segama and Malau forests by December 2007. The area covers more than 200,000 hectares of forest and is home to a third of the wild orangutan population in Malaysia Borneo."

This comes as a whiff of fresh air amidst all the bad news about Orangutans that we have been getting these past few months. Kudos to the environmentalists who have been working ceaselessly, and to Malaysian Government for heeding to their pleas.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Greenpeace slams Australia for promoting GMO seeds

Greenpeace criticized Australia on Friday for promoting the experimental use of highly controversial "terminator seeds".Greenpeace says the GMO seeds undermines biological diversity and creates dependence among poor farmers. A very bad dependence on multinational companies to supply them with the seeds. Terminator seeds could spread their genes into conventional crops and make them sterile. Australia has been lobbying hard at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, in the Brazilian city of Curitiba, to lift the ban on GMO seeds saying it impedes scientific research.

Kudos to Greenpeace.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Prince of Wales Receives British Environmental Award

WWF has presented His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales with an Awareness Award. The award is given in recognition of achieving an outstanding impact on public consciousness on the subject on the environment. " The determination of the prince not only to highlight the issues threatening the environment as well as proposing possible solutions, but also to act as a catalyst for change" was highlighted by the WWF. The prince said, “What we need now is a set of positive actions that will really engage human ingenuity and determination and create some solutions, matched by the political and personal will to carry them through."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Italian Celebrities Join Hands With WWF To Protect Biodiversity

Italian football star Gianfranco Zola has teamed up with WWF-Italy to promote environmental education programmes in Italian schools. Zola is one of several celebrities being recruited by WWF to help spread the message of biodiversity protection in Italy. “We have asked celebrities to come back to their primary schools and explain to young children the importance of protecting nature and biodiversity,” said Alessandra Vivarelli, WWF-Italy's Head of Public Relations. Other celebrities include the singer Elisa Toffoli, television presenter Paola Saluzzi, and soap opera Actor Marzio Honorato.

This is wonderful. Tahrcountry call up on celebreties, particularly sports celebreties all over the world to emulate this wonderful experiment. You can ceratainly play a great role here. Our children are our future.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bleak future for global biodiversity.

The just published Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO) holds bleak future for the biodiversity. The GBO says "unprecedented efforts" will be needed to achieve to slow the decline in the richness of living systems. Forests continue to be lost at a rate of six million hectares a year and similar trends are noted for marine and coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs, kelp beds and mangrove forests. The report stresses that despite the gloomy trends, the target set by the Convention - involving a stabilisation, not a reversal of these losses is still within reach.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Protecting endangered species improves the lives of local communities

A new WWF report based on studies in Nepal, Uganda, India, Namibia, Costa Rica and China indicates that protecting endangered species improves the lives of local communities. Conservation and sustainable management of species and their habitats means better protection of forests, freshwater and marine areas. As a result, the rural poor who depend on these areas will have more access to goods and services they provide. This not only increases incomes, but access to freshwater, health, education and women’s rights often also improves. Ecotourism projects based on the observation of species in the wild generate significant amounts of money to communities. A prime example, is Tortuguero (Costa Rica), where live turtles are worth more to the local economy than turtle meat and eggs ever were. The community strongly supports conservation measures to promote ecotourism, and both turtle and tourist numbers have been climbing over the past 30 years.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Poaching reduces Borneo’s population of Sumatran rhinos

A field survey in the Malaysian State of Sabah and analysis of data on historical rhino habitat has come up with disturbing news that poaching has significantly reduced Borneo’s population of Sumatran rhinos. Field staff from WWF ,Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Parks, the Sabah Foundation,the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project, SOS Rhino, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Operation Raleigh participated in the survey. Evidence of at least 13 rhinos in the interior of Sabah is the only silver lining. Populations on the Indonesian side of the island and in the Malaysian State of Sarawak are believed to be extinct. There are believed to be fewer than 300 Sumatran rhinos left in the world.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Achim Steiner Nominated as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has Nominated Achim Steiner as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. He will succeed Klaus Töpfer, who finishes his second term on 31 March 2006. Achim Steiner is currently the Director General of IUCN - The World Conservation Union. Mr. Steiner serves on a number of international advisory boards including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) and the Environmental Advisory Council (ENVAC) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Chinese Frog and Ultrasonic Communication

The first non-mammalian species known to use the ultra-high frequencies that humans cannot hear has been discovered. The pride of place goes to a rare Chinese frog, Amolops tormotus. In the mammalian world Bats, whales and dolphins use it to communicate. Kraig Adler, a biologist at Cornell University in New York, first noticed the frog with no external eardrums while surveying amphibians in China. Detailed study and confirmation regarding use of ultrasonic waves was done by Professor Albert Feng of the University of Illinois

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Brazil's Plans To Dam Two Rivers Angers Environmentalists

Brazil's plans to dam two rivers in the Amazon basin are threatening some of the rarest wildlife Environmentalists say. World Commission on Dams (WCD had advised that dams should be avoided in areas rich in species. Thirty-three endangered mammal species live in the region to be flooded. Several species of large catfish that migrate some 4,500 km to breed in the upper Madeira will disappear with the dam.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Environmentalist Opposes Elephant Capture In Sumatra

Environmentalists are opposing Elephant Capture and translocation in Riau Province of Sumatra. The Government has initiated this move in an effort to put an end to elephant – man conflict. Sumatran elephants are highly endangered. Many of the endangered Sumatran elephants die during and immediately after the capture process. Environmentalists accuse that the Government is not dealing with the underlying problem, which is the uncontrolled conversion of forests that are home to some of Sumatra’s last wildlife populations. Riau has lost 57 per cent of its forests over the past 23 years. Half of the elephant population has been lost in the last seven years, with the remaining population numbering only about 350.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Leatherback Turtle Project Begins In Gabon

Leatherback Turtle is an endangered species. Gabon, West Africa, is believed to be the species last major ‘stronghold’. A conservation project designed to help protect the endangered leatherback turtle has just been launched in Gabon. In order to understand their migratory habits the turtles will be tagged and tracked. Dr. Brendan Godley of the University of Exeter leads the study. The leatherback is the largest living turtle and is so distinctive that it is placed in its own separate family, Dermochelys. It travels the farthest and dives the deepest The largest leatherback on record was a male stranded on the West Coast of Wales in 1988. He weighed 916 kg.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rat Squirrel Rediscovered

Researchers of the New York-based conservation society were intrigued last year by the bodies of one animal brought for sale at a meat market in Laos. They thought this was a new species to science. It had the face of a rat and the tail of a skinny squirrel. Careful analysis has thrown up the fact that it's a species believed to have been extinct for 11 million years. a member of a family until now known only from fossils. The species is called Diatomyidae. Details appear in the latest issue of journal Science

Friday, March 10, 2006

Germany Pledges €5 Million For Caucasus Transboundary Nature Conservation

Germany has pledged €5 million to support the establishment of a transboundary nature conservation fund in the southern Caucasus region. The Caucasus region, covering some 50 million hectares belongs to the 200 most important ecoregions on this planet. Its most prominent species are the Caucasus leopard, lynx and the brown bear. The conservation fund aims to cover half the operational costs for the most important conservation areas in this biodiversity-rich region. The governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are expected to cover the other half. Only the interest will be used for project work, leaving the capital stock intact.

123 Taxa of East Africa Threatened

A Plant Red Listing Workshop for the Eastern Arc mountains and Coastal Forests of Kenya and Tanzania has assessed 123 taxa as Threatened, and an additional 12 as Near Threatened. The region hold at least 1,800 endemic or near endemic plant species. Among the Threatened taxa are a number of spectacular Annonaceae including Sanrafaelia ruffonammari Verd., a recently described genus and species endemic to the foothills of the East Usambara Mts., assessed as Critically Endangered. Another Usambara endemic Annonaceae, Anonidium usambarense R.E. Fr., has not been seen since the Type collection in 1910 despite extensive searches, and was therefore assessed as Extinct. Organized and led by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Workshop was supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dalai Lama’s Appeal Brings About Exciting Turn Of Events

In January this year at a prayer meeting, Dalai Lama had appealed to his people to do away with animal skins and artifacts. The Supremo had said he was "ashamed" to see images of Tibetans decorating themselves with skins and furs. Now reports are pouring in from Tibet that people have started burning wild animal furs. India's dwindling tiger population is an immediate beneficiary. There has been a sharp rise in the poaching of tigers and leopards in India in recent years to feed demand from Tibet. Since December, 1999, 18 out of 19 major seizures of wildlife parts or skins in India either involved Tibetans or were strongly linked to Tibet.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

TRAFFIC receives Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Award

This years’ Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime award has gone to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring agency. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of IUCN, the world conservation union and WWF. UK’s Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight presented the Award to Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC International at a function held in London Zoo on Tuesday. TRAFFIC's focus is both local as well as global. The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) was set up ten years ago to bring together policymakers, enforcers and non-government organisations with an interest in this field.

Monday, March 06, 2006

BBC Unveils Spectacular New Series – “Planet Earth”

BBC ‘s new series “Planet Earth”, promises to be a veritable feast for the eyes. Planet Earth, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, took four years to make. New technology has helped the producers in depicting what would have been unthinkable 5 years back.
The series includes

  • A complete hunt by wolves filmed from the air.
  • Grizzly bears in the Rockies tending newborn cubs and feeding on moths.
  • Displaying birds of paradise captured with a low light camera, including the blue bird of paradise which has never been filmed in the wild before.
  • Footage of a new species of blind cave fish in Thailand.
  • Pink river dolphins presenting stones as gifts during courtship - the only known use of tools by wild dolphins.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

India and US sign wildlife agreement

India is the newest member of the US-led Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), a coalition that collaborates in the fight against illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife parts. India and the US also agreed to exchanges of park and customs officials for better implementation of the agreement. Launched in September 2005, the Coalition against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) focuses political and public attention on growing threats to wildlife from poaching and illegal trade. The agreement is a sequel to the increased poaching of tigers and concerted efforts to stem the tide.

Friday, March 03, 2006

World’s most endangered cat species threatened by EU funds

Despite the EU's commitment to halt biodiversity loss by 2010, vast sums of European Union money are being spent on roads, dams and irrigation schemes which threaten critically endangered species and key habitats in Europe. Habitat of the Iberian lynx(lynx pardinus) the world’s most endangered cat species is being destroyed in the process. In Spain, the remaining Iberian lynx population,with around 100 individuals left, including just 25 breeding females is under major threat due to loss and fragmentation of habitat. EU funds are used here for infrastructure, such as 20 dams and 16 roads, including the new highway Toledo-Ciudad Real-Puertollano-Cordoba, which will have a detrimental impact on lynx habitat.Other major threats to the Iberian lynx's survival include plummeting numbers of wild rabbits (the lynx's principal prey), and illegal hunting.

New Shark Species Discovered in Mexico

Mexican marine biologist Juan Carlos Perez has discovered a new shark species in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Perez and his team have named the new shark "Mustelus hacat," after the word for shark in a local Indian dialect. Worldwide, marine biologists tend to discover two or three new shark species in any given year. But Perez's discovery is the first shark discovery in the Sea of Cortez since the tiny Mexican Horn Shark (Heterodontus mexicanus) was identified in 1972.

Chimps As Team Players

Till now altruism has been considered to be a human trait. But latest research on Chimps is turning this view topsy-turvy. In a controlled experiment chimps were seen helping each other. In the experiment there was no reward, and they still helped. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany conducted the study. Researchers also found that chimpanzees recognised when collaboration was necessary and chose effective partners. Details appear in latest issue of journal Science

Thursday, March 02, 2006

New Paraguay reserve for giant otters, armadillos and anteaters

A new nature reserve in Paraguay will protect some of the world's rarest mammals,the Giant Otter, Giant Anteater and Giant Armadillo. The new reserve is being set up by the legacy in memory of Sid Templar a British Businessman based in Halesworth. The acquisition is handled by England's Suffolk-based conservation organisation World Land Trust (WLT) and the reserve will be owned and managed by Guyra Paraguay, a non-government organisation working in partnership with the World Land Trust. The reserve will also protect a healthy numbers of jaguars, which feed mostly on capybaras (a giant aquatic relative of the Guinea Pig) and caiman (South American crocodiles). There is also spectacular array of birds including the Hyacinth Macaw.

Great stuff. Here is an example for other corporate houses to follow. Many developing countries are strapped for cash when it comes to conservation of wildlife.

Sumatra Rhino Population Reduced by 50 Percent

The population of the Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) ,the most endangered of all rhinoceros species in the world, has dropped by around 50 percent over the last 10 years due poaching and deforestation. Sumatran Rhino, the only two-horned rhino in the Asian region, is found in Leuser, Kerinci Seblat, South Bukit Barisan and Way Kambas National Parks. In the past, their habitats were connected to each other. But now, they are totally fragmented due to the opening of forest areas for plantations and human settlements, he said. Environmentalists are desperately seeking ways to stem the tide.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

International Year Of The Turtle 2006

2006 is the Year of the Marine Turtle. March 1 marks the official start of the Year of the Marine Turtle within the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian region. Six of the seven species of marine turtle — Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Kemp's Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Green — are classified as “Endangered” or “Critically Endangered”. Many species migrate for thousands of kilometers between feeding and nesting grounds. Regional cooperation is absolutely essential to ensure that turtles are protected at different stages in their life cycles. They suffer from poaching and over-exploitation, as well as from capture in fishing gear and habitat loss. International Year of the Turtles will pool international effort and expertise to ensure the well being of this magnificent creatures of the ocean.