1 Tahrcountry Musings: January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

UK - Saving The Red Barbed Ants

Red Barbed Ants (Formica rubibarbis) one of the rarest native species in UK, is on the decline due to habitat loss. It is now found only in one site in Surrey and a few colonies in the isle of Scilly. The ants are unique in the sense that, they form only all female colonies, or all male colonies. The one nest in Surry is producing all females only. So males have to be introduced there on a war footing if the species is to survive. Scientists will take females from the nest in Surrey, and males from colonies found on the Isles of Scilly in an effort to form breeding colonies needed to spread the species to new areas. Threat from rapidly spreading “slave maker ants” also needs to be obviated to conserve the species. Slave maker ants take away pupae, carry it to their nest and bring them up as slave ants. Scientist from Zoological Society of London(ZSL) are spearheading the whole operation.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lights Out On February 1St

The "Alliance pour la Planète" (A national grouping of environmental
associations) has appealed to all citizens to give the planet 5 minutes respite on 1st Of February.


GMT (+1) - i.e. Spain, France and central europe - 7.55pm

GMT - Portugal & UK - 6.55pm
GMT (-5) - Eastern USA - 1.55pm
GMT (-8) - Western USA - 10.55am

India - GMT (+5.30) India
February 2, 2007 at 12:25:00 AM

The purpose is not just to save electricity for 5 minutes that day, but also to draw the attention of citizens, the media and the authorities to the waste of energy and the need to initiate action! 5 minutes respite for the planet:that's not long; it costs nothing and will show our politicians that climate change is something, which should figure, prominently in political debates.

February 1st has been chosen because that is the day on which the latest report of the United Nations Panel of Experts is to be released in Paris. Although this event is scheduled to take place in France, we should not miss this opportunity of drawing attention to the global climatic situation.

If all of us participate our actions will have great public and political resonance, at an important moment in our life.

Please make this appeal as widely known as possible in your own circles andnetworks. Please also publish it on your websites and in your newsletters.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

UK- National Survey Of Garden Birds Begin

The Big Garden Bird Watch, a national survey of garden birds, organized by RSPB in Britain is a unique event. The event was kick started in 1969 as an activity for children who are members of the Young Ornithologists Club. It caught on and became a national event in which people of all shades started participating with gusto. Thousands of enthusiastic birdwatchers across Britain will spend time in their garden this weekend taking part in this national survey to assess the visitors to home gardens. Last year 470,000 people took part and counted 8 million birds in 270,000 gardens. A severe drop in Starlings and House sparrows has been observed over the years according to RSPB. On the plus side Greenfinch and Wren have shown an increase.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Plunder Of Tuna Goes On Unabated

The plunder of Tuna has been bothering the environmentalists for some time now. Global tuna stocks are critically depleted and some species, such as blue fin tuna, used for high-end sushi and sashimi, are at high risk of collapse. It was hoped that the latest round of talks by members of the five regional management organizations in Japan, would yield some results. But the expectations have been belied. Talks regarding the concrete action to reduce fishing capacity to sustainable levels, ensuring legally caught supplies of tuna to markets did not reach any consensus. The failure will bring about further erosion in Tuna stocks and loss of livelihood for lot of fishermen across the globe. The only outcome of this much-touted conference was an agreement to meet again to resolve the issue. The recourse now is for responsible fishing industry, responsible retail sector and responsible consumers to chip in with their efforts to save the Tuna. Officialdom seems to have failed in their duty.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Indonesia Promises To Stop Illegal Coffee Growing In Sensitive Wildlife Areas

Last week WWF had alleged that coffee growers had cleared land in Bukti Barisan Sewlatan National Park and this is posing serious threat to endangered wildlife. WWf had expressed the apprehension that if the trend continues like this, elephants and tigers will disappear from the area in 10 years time. The local Government of Lampung has come out with the statement that the allegation is not entirely true. Even though the data released by WWF for the period 2004-05 is with the substance the Government has taken steps to stop this trend. Part of the forest was indeed cut down during 2004-05.The Government has promised serious action to curb malpractices in future. Government of Lampung has also issued instructions to Indonesian Coffee Exporters association to stop buying coffee suspected to be grown in encroached wildlife areas.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

World’s First Artificially Inseminated Rhino Gives Birth

The World’s first Rhinoceros Conceived By Artificial Insemination has been born in Budapest zoo. The vets at Budapest zoo decided to do artificial insemination as the female rhino failed to conceive normally. The gestation period lasted 16 months and 15 days. The 58kg baby is in very healthy state and stood on its leg within an hour of being born. The baby needs to be fed artificially till the mother is ready to nurse.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Radio Frequency Identification Tags Snoops In To Wasp Behaviour

A study of wasp behaviour using radio frequency identification tags, in the tropics of Panama, by Zoological Society of London is throwing new lights on the behaviour of wasps. The target species of wasp was Polistes Canadensis. The worker wasps were observed tending nearby relative holding nests also, helping to raise the young ones. The researchers believe that this is an effort at boosting their chances of propagating the genes. Details appear in the latest issue of Current Biology

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Barrow Island, Australia Needs Your Help

Barrow Island described as Australia's 'Galapagos' because of its rare and endangered species, is the second largest island in Western Australia, and is one of Australia's oldest nature reserves. It is famous for marsupials like the burrowing bettong, the golden bandicoot and many other threatened and endemic species. The Australian Government is going ahead with the development of a huge gas plant by the energy companies, Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil against the advice of its own Environmental Protection Authority. The environmentalists of Australia need help from people worldwide to stop this atrocity. Please send mails to Australian Government and energy companies, Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil requesting them to stop this suicidal project. To make things easier you can go to WWF site and sign a petition there.

Biplane Design Of Flying Dinosaurs

The latest issue of Proceedings of National Academy of Science Journal has interesting info about flying Dinos. It postulates that the flying Dinos dropped its hind legs with feathers below its body adopting a biplane configuration. This contrasts with earlier belief that the Dinos maintained their wings in a tandem pattern. The result is extensive research done on Microraptor gui fossils obtained from China. Microraptor lived 125 million years ago. The researchers are Sankar Chatterji and Jack Templin

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Scientists Fascinated By Brilliant White SE Asian Insect

Incredibly white scales whiter than the enamel on human tooth and 10 times thinner than human hair on a SE Asian Cyphochilus beetle has fascinated the scientists and is providing fodder for lot of experiments. According to lead scientist Dr Pete Vukusic of Exeter University such pure whiteness is quite uncommon and mimicking it could lead to an array of industrial applications like papers, plastics, paints or white-light displays. The scientists have done detailed analysis of the phenomenon. The finding has been reported in the latest issue of Science Magazine.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Montgomeryshire Declared Best Wildlife Area In Wales

A survey conducted by BBC Wildlife Magazine has selected Montgomeryshire as the best wildlife area in Wales. What impressed BBC team were the enormous areas of protected land, Stunning well protected Lake Vyrnwy reserve and the tranquil unpolluted countryside where wildlife lives without human interference.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rhino Poaching In Nepal- IUCN Members Call For Urgent Action

From a population of 612 individuals in 2000, the Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) population in Nepal has come down to 405 today. The main reason for this drop is poaching. Concerned about this decline, the commission members of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in Nepal, has submitted a petition to the Environment Conservation Committee of the Nepalese House of Representatives requesting immediate action to save Rhinos. The members have also come up with a set of germane recommendations. IUCN Nepal has also handed over the much needed field gears and equipment to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation to give a boost to the conservation efforts of Rhinos. For more info log on to www.iucnnepal.org

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Protection Of Edge Animals Set To Get A Boost

Edge Animals are those having few close relatives, genetically distinct, and require immediate action to save them from extinction. Now under a scheme titled “Evolutionary distinct globally endangered project” Zoological Society of London is on to a unique conservation initiative. Species like Bumblebee Bat, Pygmy Hippo, Slender Loris will get special protection. Scientists have identified a total of 564 species that fall within the definition of edge species and the Zoological Society of London will focus on the top 100 initially.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Beavers Helping To Check Decline in Frog Population

Researchers from University of Alberta Canada, surveying streams in the forests of Alberta, believe that Beavers are helping to check decline in frog population. They believe the beaver dams may be providing favourable conditions for developing tadpoles. The scientists recorded large numbers (approximately 5,000) of male frogs and toads on streams that had beaver dams, but didn't record any on the free-flowing unobstructed streams. The beavers create an environment that seems to allow tadpoles to develop and grow. The findings have been published in the latest issue of journal Biological Conservation.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Madagascar Pochard Rediscovered

Madagascar pochard(Aythya innotata) last seen alive in 1991 has been rediscovered in the wild after a search of 18 years. Scientists of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust made the discovery. The bird is extremely secretive and little is known about its life cycle and behaviour. Scientists had all along believed that the bird preferred marshy lakes with lots of reeds and emergent vegetation and had concentrated on these areas but the newly discovered population was found in a steep-sided volcanic lake with little shoreline marsh and reeds. The scientific world is agog with this discovery

Thursday, January 11, 2007

All Set For Capture Of Rhino Birth On Webcam

In what is believed to be the first of it kind in the world, birth of a Rhino will be captured on a BBC run webcam. The historic event will take place in Paignton Zoo, in Devon, where cameras are trained on one tonne Black Female Rhino Sita. Sita is expected to give birth at the end of January or early February. Scientists around the world are eagerly looking forward to this event.

The Whale And The Sailing Boat – A Sweet Story

A Whale has accidentally hit a sailing vessel about 80 nautical miles off the west coast of North Island, New Zealand and damaged it. Lindsay Wright, the owner, was sleeping when he was awoken by a loud noise and rushed up on to the deck to find himself staring at a whale. Lindsay said he could pick up the vibes from the animal saying " Sorry mate, that was unintentional”. Emergency services were rushed to Lindsay on receipt of distress signal and a helicopter rescued him.

I am delighted by the attitude of Lindsay. Picking up vibes from the whale - that is real groovy. How sweet

Monday, January 08, 2007

Threat To Grenada Dove

Unbridled tourism development plans are posing serious threat to Grenada dove (Leptotila wellsi). Government of Grenada is planning to sell off Mount Hartman National Park to the Four Seasons hotel group, which has ambitious plans to build hotels and resorts. Ironically Grenada dove is the national bird of Grenada and a quarter of the worldwide population of Greneda dove lives in Mount Hartman National Park. Environmentalists are up in arms against this suicidal policy of the government.

This is indeed disaster and shameful. The total population of Grenada dove around 180 and the species is crtically endagered. This shows utter disregard for the environment.We exhort environmentalists worldwide to throw their weight behind the environmentalists of Grenada

Saturday, January 06, 2007

White-Tailed Eagle Reintroduction Trials in Ireland

Ireland's National Parks and Wildlife Service is planning reintroduction of White-Tailed Eagle(Haliaeetus albicilla), one of the world's largest birds of prey in Ireland in an ambitious 5-year project. The birds became extinct in Ireland the early 1900s. Unbridled egg collection and shooting were the causes of the diappearance.15 chicks will be brought into the region annually from Norway and released into Killarney National Park. The authorities hope that the chicks will start breeding after four to five years.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

IUCN – New Director General Takes Over

The new Director General of IUCN the World Conservation, Ms Julia Marton-Lefèvre has assumed office. Before joining IUCN, Ms Marton-Lefèvre was the Rector of the University of Peace in Costa Rica. She has worked as Executive Director of LEAD (Leadership for Environment and Development) International), Executive Director of the International Council for Science (ICSU), and Vice Chair of the World Resources Institute. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of the United Kingdom. Born in Hungary, Julia moved to the United States when she was eleven years old with her parents who were political refugees. She spent most of her adult life in France, where she continued her education.

Monday, January 01, 2007