1 Tahrcountry Musings: February 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Beaver Sighted In Bronx River After A Gap Of 200Years

Scientists of the Wildlife Conservation Society have photographed a Beaver in Bronx River. This is exciting news because Beavers have not been sighted in New York for more than 200 years. This is the result of care taken to clean up the mess in Bronx River. It was US Rep. Jose Serrano of the Bronx who spearheaded the whole operation. Scientists of the Wildlife Conservation Society have named the beaver Jose in Serrano's honor.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Chimpanzees Fashion Spears

The journal current biology has some astonishing information about Chimpanzees. Researchers Jill Pruetz and Paco Bertolani from the center of evolutionary studies, Cambridge, UK, reports that Chimpanzees in Senegal were observed making and using wooden spears to hunt other primates. The chimps adopted four to five steps to fashion the spear. They also trimmed the edge of fashioned spear. Females’ particularly adolescent females were seen to pick up this habit more frequently. Young chimps pick up the habit easily from their mothers. The adult males were lax in this respect. The authors say that this finding also support the theory that females may have played a significant role in the evolution of use of tool in early humans.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

First Colossal Squid Landed In New Zealand

The first intact adult colossal squid (Masonychoteuthis hamiltonii) has been landed in New Zealand. New Zealand fishermen landed the fish while they were trying to fish Patagonian tooth fish in deep Antarctic waters. The species was first identified in 1935. It took 2 hours to haul in the 250 kg squid.

UK - Rare Fish Saved From Extinction

Gwyniad, (Coregonus pennantii), a fish akin to herring has been saved from the jaws of extinction. The fish dates back to the ice age. The fish native only to one lake in Gwynedd was facing extinction due to poor water quality, and lack of oxygen. A small fish called Ruffe introduced in the lake, which ate the eggs and young fish of Gwyniad, compounded the danger. Now fertilized eggs have been successfully relocated to Llyn Arenig as part of a two-year project. The fish is expected to thrive in the new environment. The relocation project is a joint effort of Countyside Council for Wales and Snowdonis National Park authority.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Army To The Rescue Of Malawi Forests

Government of Malawi has brought in the intervention of army to save its forests from depredation. Forests have been hacked down for charcoal and firewood, and this has made the deforestation rate one of the most pathetic in African continent. 50,000 hectares are lost every year for charcoal alone. Another culprit is the tobacco industry that uses huge quantities for its curing needs. The Government says the forest areas used by the army for its training purposes are absolutely intact, and it was this that prompted the Government to think in terms of roping in the army.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Robot Ornithologists Looking Out For Rare Bird

An automated ornithologist installed in Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas, USA is looking out for elusive Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. The bird was thought to be extinct but reported sightings in 2004 renewed the interest of ornithologists, with University of Cornell leading the way. The wetland and forest region of the lower Mississippi river valley is 250 sq km and observations are tricky. Human presence can also affect the behaviour of the bird. These aspects prompted the scientists to install the automated device. The device consists of two high-resolution video cameras connected to a hard disc. Any shot that it believes does not contain a bird is discarded. No picture of the bird has been obtained so far.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bukhara deer reintroduced in Kazakhstan

The endangered Bukhara deer has been reintroduced to its former habitat on the right bank of Kazakhstan's Ili River. This was the result of joint efforts by WWF and the Altyn Emel National Park Service in Kazakhstan. Two bucks and seven does were reintroduced. The Bukhara deer population throughout Central Asia had dropped due to habitat loss and poaching. By the end of the 1990s there were only 350 deer left. Since WWF started its Bukhara deer conservation project in Central Asia in 1999, the population has increased to 1,000 deer.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Peruvian Rain Forest In Peril

Peruvian rainforest is home to exotic animals like Jaguar, harpy eagle, and giant river otter. But unsustainable harvesting of timber is posing a threat to the very existence of these denizens of the rain forest. Big-leaf mahogany, a threatened species is being extracted flouting all acceptable norms. Peru is the world's largest exporter of big-leaf mahogany, with over 90% going to the North American market. Peru's system of annual export quotas for mahogany does not comply with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Environmentalist have demanded a Big-Leaf Mahogany Action Plan that ensure full compliance with CITES.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Heart of Borneo conservation initiative launched

Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia have signed the Heart of Borneo Declaration, to conserve and sustainably manage the Heart of Borneo that spans the three countries’ common borders. This large chunk of rainforest is one of only two places on the planet where elephants, rhinos and orangutans co-exist. It is also a place where new species have been found at a rate of three per month for the last ten years. UK will provide practical support to implementing the Declaration, through working in association with WWF.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Giant Squid That Uses Light To Disorient Victims

Japanese scientists have come across a giant squid, Taningia danae that throws blinding light to disorient victims. The action has been captured on Video. This use of bioluminescence in hunting is a new info. The researchers say the light emission is used also as a courtship display. The video was taken in deep waters off Chichijima Island in North Pacific. Dr Sunemi Kubodera from the National Science Museum, Tokyo led the research. The details appear in the proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

EU To Crack Down On Environmental Criminals

EU Commission has called for stricter norms to deal with environmental crimes and recommended a minimum term of five years jail and fines of at least 750,000 euros for offences done intentionally or with serious negligence. The member states would be required to make activities such as the illegal shipment of waste and unlawful trade in endangered species or ozone-depleting substances criminal offences. The new proposals will be subject to a vote by qualified majority from the member states and approval from the European Parliament.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Church Suggests Green Weddings

Appalled by the phenomenal expenditures involved in marriages the Church of England has appealed for moderation and adoption of environment friendly practices. The new church guide called “making the most of weddings” advocates travel in a taxi, hitch a ride, wear fair trade dress, invitation on recycled paper and use of rings handed down through family. It appeals to the people planning to get married to go for the words environment friendly attitudes. To top these things why not ask the guests to contribute to the charity asks the church.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Got The Best Idea To Remove Carbon Dioxide From Atmosphere? -Here Is Your Chance To Win $ 25 Million

Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson has offered a prize of $ 25 million for the guy who comes up with the best idea to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The winner will have to come up with an idea that will remove at least one billion tones of carbon from the atmosphere per year. Former US Vice President Al Gore was present on the occasion of the announcement in London. NASA scientist James Hanson, Gaia theory man James Lovelock, environmentalist Sir Crispin Tickell and Australian Mammologist Tim Flannery heads the panel, which will decide the winner.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Moth And Gyroscope

Scientists studying the moth Manduca Sexta, have come up with the finding that moths control their flight by tiny gyroscope like sensors in its antennae. This has helped unravel the mystery of moths’ flight in crepuscular conditions where visual clues are absent. The researchers have found that a structure called Johnston’s organ holds the clue. A spin-off from this finding could be the development of robotic flying insects. Dr Sanjay Sane of University of Washington, Seattle, headed the study. The details appear in the latest issue of Journal science. Dr Sanjay is the lead author.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

President Chirac Expresses Support For The 4th IUCN World Conservation Congress And Moots A New Powerful UN Environment Organisation

At the just concluded Paris Conference for Global Ecological Governance President Chirac has expressed strong support for the 4th IUCN World Conservation Congress. The Paris Conference for Global Ecological Governance was organized at the initiative of President Chirac. The conference brought together government ministers, scientists, company heads, NGOs and public figures from over sixty countries around the world.

President Chirac emphasized the need to create a new powerful United Nations Environment Organisation(UNEO). Mr Chirac said "We must build world environmental governance. In this area as in others, unilateralism leads nowhere. Just as multilateralism is the prerequisite for peace, it is the key to sustainable development. The United Nations Environment Programme is outstanding, and I want to pay tribute to it. But it does not have adequate powers or institutional clout. We must aim to transform it into a fully-fledged United Nations agency. This UNEO will act as the world’s ecological conscience. It will carry out impartial and scientific assessment of environmental dangers. It will have policy-making terms of reference giving it the legitimacy to implement action jointly decided. It will lend greater weight and greater cohesion to our collective endeavours."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

SOS from Indonesia - Orangutans In Peril

The latest United Nations Environment Programme report does not bode well for the Orangutans. Orangutans are the only great apes outside Africa. The report says the orangutan population has dropped below twenty seven thousand and human activities have taken away up to fifty percent of the orangutan’s environment. The rate of loss has been accelerated during the course of last five years. Female orangutans are usually killed to steal their babies for sale as pets. If no action is action is taken 98% of forests on the island of Sumatra and Borneo will be gone by 2022. Smuggled timber finds it way to the West. Illegal logging is ravaging 37 of Indonesia’s 41 National Parks. Indonesian Government has made a fervent plea to the western countries to help check the menace.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nilgiri Tahr Births On In Eravikulam National Park

This year's birth season for the highly endangered Nilgiri Tahr has started in Eravikulam National Park near Munnar,Kerala,India.The park will remain closed to visitors till March 15th to minimise disturbances.Core areas are absolutely taboo to even forest officials. Nearly half the world's wild population of Nilgiri Tahr lives in Eravikulam. The Forest and Wildlife Department of Kerala which takes great pride in protecting the animal is bestowing extra care to look after the welfare of this endangered denizen of Eravikulam

Butterflies- Bacteria's Powerful Effect On Mating

The latest issue of Current Biology has some interesting news about butterfly promiscuity. A study of the species Hypolimnas bolina, common in SE Asia revealed that bacteria Wolbachia that kill off male butterflies increases promiscuity in females. As male population fell females mated more frequently. Wolbachia bacteria is passed from mother to son and kill the emryo before it hatches.The study was headed by Dr Sylvain Charlat of the University College London.

Monday, February 05, 2007

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Global Mercury Ban Urged

A consortium of NGOs from around the globe “Zero Mercury Coalition”, has called for immediate action by governments worldwide to phase out mercury and export of the toxic metal. The case will be forcefully argued at the next week’s meeting of UNEP to be held in Nairobi. Mercury poisons the brain and is a threat to future generations. 5 years back UNEP came up with a “Global Mercury Assessment Report” but no firm action has been initiated so far. Even though use of mercury has come down in developed countries its use is shooting up alarmingly in developing countries. The environmentalist wants the governments to set firm reduction goals and put legal obligations on the companies.