1 Tahrcountry Musings: December 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Climate change plays havoc with wildlife in UK

The National Trust of UK has come up with a study, which shows the impact of climate change on UK’s wildlife. According to the trust UK wildlife is struggling to cope with erratic and unseasonal weather, which has taken its toll for a second consecutive year. Species under threat include puffins, marsh fritillary butterflies and lesser horseshoe bats.

The unusual seasonal patterns include the following.
•Snowdrops and red admiral butterflies were first spotted in January, earlier than normal.
• Bees were hit hard in April by frost and snow
• Rain in late May caused many birds' nests to fail, including those of the blue and great tits, because of the lack of insect food
• It was a poor summer for migrant insects - butterflies, moths, hoverflies, ladybirds and dragonflies - because of the wet and cold June
• In July, puffin numbers on the Farne Islands were down 35% on what they had been five years earlier
• The common autumn cranefly, usually in best proportions in September, was all but absent.

The trust concludes that climate change is not some future prediction of what might happen, it's happening now.

I feel that this piece of information from UK calls for an immediate study of the impact of climate change on India’s wildlife also. A pointer is the erratic birth of Nilgiri Tahr in Eravikulam National Park, Munnar, Kerala. It used to occur with clockwork precision in the first week of January. This is now getting delayed by more than one month. The distribution pattern of the animal inside park is also showing drastic changes. It is time to act.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Anamigo Pet Photo contest

Are you keen about of pets and their welfare? Then have a look at Anamigo.com a new online community for pet lovers and their pets. You have oodles of info about pets there. Anamigo is sponsoring a contest for pet lovers. Enter the Anamigo Pet Photo contest and you stand to gain up to $300 a week. There's a daily prize of $25 and a weekly prize of $125, totaling $300-a-week for the cutest pet photos (voted by users). Get your camera out and email your friends. Your furry friend could bring you in cash.

Anamigo.com, an online pet community is dedicated to giving our pets their own place online. Relax during a short break from the day-to-day and browse the cutest dog, puppy, kitten and cat pictures from pet people just like you. Create your pet's profile and upload as many photos as you like. Or dig in and participate in their forums, blogs and groups. If you are keen about joining log on to http://anamigo.smnr.us

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

WWF releases list of threatened species

World Wildlife Fund has released its annual list of some of the most threatened species of the world. The list includes polar bears, tigers, gorillas, pandas, elephants, whales and rhinos, black-footed ferret and vaquita. WWF attributes poaching, habitat loss and climate change-related threats as the primary reasons for the decline of populations.

Here is WWF’s “9 to Watch in 2009” list:
1. Javan Rhinoceros
Population: Less than 60. Location: Indonesia and Vietnam.
This is probably the rarest of the large mammal species in the world and is critically endangered. Poaching and pressure from a growing human population pose greatest risk to the two protected areas where they live. WWF teams actively monitor these rhinos and protect them from poachers.
2. Vaquita
Population: 150. Location: Upper Gulf of California, Mexico.
The world’s smallest and most endangered cetacean, this tiny porpoise is often killed in gillnets and could soon be extinct. WWF is working with local fishermen, local and international non-profits, and private sector and government officials on an unprecedented effort to save the vaquita. This includes establishing a vaquita refuge, buying out gillnet fisheries and developing vaquita-friendly fishing gear and other economic alternatives for the fishermen and their families.
3. Cross River Gorilla
Population: 300. Location: Nigeria and Cameroon.
The few remaining forest patches of southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon are home to the recently discovered Cross River gorilla, a subspecies of the western gorilla. But as timber companies open up its forests, hunters move in. Conservation measures are urgently needed for this beleaguered animal, which is probably the world’s rarest great ape. In Nigeria, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, a WWF Affiliate, is working with communities in the Cross River National Park to help save the Cross River gorilla.
4. Sumatran Tiger
Population: 400-500. Location: Sumatra, Indonesia.
Accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching could push the Sumatran tiger to the same fate as its now-extinct Javan and Balinese relatives in other parts of Indonesia. Tigers are poached for their body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, while skins are also highly prized. WWF is researching the Sumatran tiger population with camera traps, supports anti-poaching patrols and works to reduce human-tiger conflict as the cats’ habitat shrinks. Through the efforts of WWF and its partners, the Indonesian government in 2008 doubled the size of Tesso Nilo National Park, a critical tiger habitat.
5. North Pacific Right Whale
Population: Unknown, but less than 500. Location: Northern Pacific, U.S., Russia and Japan.
The North Pacific right whale is one of the world’s rarest cetaceans, almost hunted to extinction until the 1960s. It is rarely sighted and has a poor prognosis for survival due to collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing nets and the prospect of offshore oil and gas development in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. WWF is working to improve shipping safety to avoid collisions and trying to prevent oil and gas development in Bristol Bay, the whale’s primary summer feeding ground.
6. Black-Footed Ferret
Population: 500 breeding adults. Location: Northern Great Plains, U.S. and Canada.
Found only in the Great Plains, it is one of the most endangered mammals in North America because its primary prey, the prairie dog, has been nearly exterminated by ranchers who consider it a nuisance. Few species have edged so close to extinction as the black-footed ferret and recovered, but through captive breeding and reintroduction, there are signs the species is slowly recovering. WWF has been working to save the black-footed ferret and the prairie dog population upon which the ferrets depend.
7. Borneo Pygmy Elephant
Population: Perhaps fewer than 1,000. Location: Borneo, Malaysia.
These smallest of all elephants must compete with logging and agriculture for space in the lowland forests of Borneo. WWF is working to ensure protection of the “Heart of Borneo” and tracks the elephants through the use of satellite collars to learn more about these little-understood elephants.
8. Giant Panda
Population: 1,600. Location: China.
An international symbol of conservation since WWF’s founding in 1961, the giant panda faces an uncertain future. Its forest habitat in the mountainous areas of southwest China has become fragmented, creating small and isolated populations. WWF has been active in giant panda conservation for nearly three decades, conducting field studies, working to protect habitats and, most recently, by providing assistance to the Chinese government in establishing a program to protect the panda and its habitat through the creation of reserves.
9. Polar Bear
Population: 20,000-25,000. Location: Arctic.
The greatest risk to their survival today is climate change. Designated a threatened species by the U.S., if warming trends in the Arctic continue at the current pace, polar bears will be vulnerable to extinction within the next century. WWF is supporting field research to understand how climate change will affect polar bears and to develop adaptation strategies. WWF also works to protect critical polar bear habitat by working with government and industry to reduce threats from shipping and oil and gas development in the region.

Posted with inputs from WWF

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A new font that saves on ink

The prints that we use regularly use paper and lots of ink. Sprang creative communications, (Utrecht, The Netherlands) has developed a new font that is good for the environment. The new font reduce the amount of printer ink used by up to 20%. The idea came when Colin Willems thought of how much of a letter can be removed and made into white space while maintaining readability? After lot of trials with different kinds of shapes, the best results were achieved using small circles. This resulted in a font that uses up to 20% less ink.The font is pretty good for your personal needs. Here is what the company says, "After the Dutch holey cheese, there now is a Dutch font with holes as well."

Ecofont is an open source font based on Vera Sans. Even though Ecofont will help you reduce your ink consumption and paper remember that the best way to save printer ink and paper is not to print things you don’t need. If you are keen about this font and wish to download it click here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sweden cleanest, S. Arabia dirtiest

According to a report published on Wednesday by watchdogs at the UN climate change talks, the NGOs Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Sweden does the most for tackling of greenhouse gas emissions, while Saudi Arabia does the least. The annual "Climate Change Performance Index" placed Sweden only fourth on its list. No positions were allotted for the top three places. The Climate Change Performance Index compares 57 states that together emit more than 90 percent of the world's annual output of carbon dioxide. Sweden's fourth place was followed by Germany, France, India, Brazil, Britain and Denmark. The bottom 10 in descending order are Greece, Malaysia, Cyprus, Russia, Australia, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, the United States, Canada and Saudi Arabia. Last year’s index rating allotted first three places to Sweden, Germany and Iceland and the bottom three to Australia, the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Are we overestimating wildlife habitat?

Changwan Seo of the University of Seoul, South Korea, and his colleagues think that we are overestimating the wildlife habitat. They attribute the reasons for this overestimation to the present models that we are using. Present models divide the world into 50-kilometre grid squares, which gives a very coarse resolution. Changwan Seo and colleagues tested four models at a variety of spatial scales. The team found that larger the grid size, the more the chances of overestimating the amount of habitat available to a species. This could be in the range of two or three times the actual range available. The solution is to run models with smaller grid sizes, even though this costs more. Full details of the study can be accessed at (Biology Letters,DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0476).

Monday, December 01, 2008

Guide to low-carbon lifestyle

WWF has come out with an excellent guide that will help you to reduce your carbon footprint, The WWF Pocket Guide to a One Planet Lifestyle. Essential tips on how to be more environment friendly at home, the workplace and when planning a holiday is lucidly explained. The report is a sequel to recent launch by WWF of their “Living Planet Report” which warned that humanity was heading towards an “ecological credit crunch”. We currently use 30 per cent more resources than the planet’s ecosystems can naturally replenish. Americans have a “five planet lifestyle” and the Europeans a “three planet lifestyle”. With the aid of this eBook you can easily calculate your personal footprint, measure the positive effects of your lifestyle changes, find low-carbon alternatives to travel, and get help on how to find energy-efficient appliances or a green electricity supplier. The report is primarily available as an online e-book, The printed version is produced digitally on-demand on FSC certified paper and bound by screw rivets which enables the readers to easily unbind the book and insert updates, Paper wastage is virtually zero, and non-hazardous inks has been used. If you want to access the guide click here