1 Tahrcountry Musings: June 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

World's first fully recyclable paper cup

                                               Pic credit: Jane Mingay/Green Your Cup

 British entrepreneur and engineer Martin Myerscough, has come up with world's first fully recyclable paper cup. The innovation has the potential to divert millions of cups away from landfill.

Conventional paper cups are made from paper laminated with plastic. This aspect makes them difficult to recycle. The plastic layer is intended to keep the drink warm and stop the paper from getting wet.  Since separating the lining from the cup is very cumbersome, most companies do not bother about it. They send them straight to land fillings instead.

The new cup has a thin film liner that is designed to separate easily from the paper in the recycling process. The left over paper can be easily recycled. It can come back to us in the form of newsprint.

The innovator Myerscough said: "I always thought it was such a waste that disposable coffee cups couldn't be easily recycled. In these times of limited resources and diminishing landfill space, a single-use cup that can't be recycled is an indulgence we just cannot afford. I hope Green Your Cup will make a difference to how people think about the wastefulness of some of our everyday habits “.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Discarded android phones and conservation

Here is another use of technology to keep poachers at bay. Rainforest Connection (RFCx), a San Francisco-based non-profit startup, in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has developed a technology using old Android phones to monitor audio signals associated with logging and poaching. The system automatically alerts authorities who can rush in to stop the crime. Initially this will be deployed in the endangered rainforests of Central Africa. The system was field-tested last year in Indonesia's West Sumatra and gave very encouraging results.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The bullet man bites the bullet

This blog usually does not deviate from wildlife affairs. Today I am going to make a departure. This is to eulogize the Prime Minister of India Shri: Narendra Modi, who is a no nonsense man and a go-getter

In government circles Mr Modi is known as, the bullet man. While dealing with government secretaries he wants them to come up with bullet points portraying succinctly the targets, what has been achieved, what remains to be done and what are the constraints. He has a penchant for power point presentations that puts the points across without any ambiguity. He frowns at secretaries coming up with voluminous files and trying to access the details from them. He is also stickler for timing. He comes to his office well in advance and wants the others to report in time. He gives lot of leeway to officers in their functioning and encourages original thinking. He has ensured that officers with proven mettle remain in their post for at least five years. For him there is no sweeping of problems under the carpet. They have to be dealt with head on. I am sure it is going to be a carrot and stick policy. All these augurs well for the future of India.

The bullet man recently bit the bullet nonchalantly by hiking railway fares. The railway is in shambles. Successive governments pandered to the vote bank and did not have the will to raise the fares, which in turn landed the railway in its pathetic state now. The only way forward is to raise the fares and ensure good governance.

As a former government officer, I am impressed by the actions of a dynamic leader. No wonder right thinking men in the opposition like Shashi Tharoor and Jayram Ramesh recently acknowledged the good fall outs of Narendra Modi’s style of working, even though they have sharp differences with him from ideological points of view.

I wish the Prime Minister the very best in his endeavour to build a dynamic and prosperous India.

A writing competition for budding conservationists

Pete Bethune, founder of marine conservation organization, Earthrace, is a well known figure in international conservation circles. Pete is a world-record holder for the fastest trip around the world in a powerboat and is an avid supporter of marine life conservation. He is also the author of two best-selling books. The book Whale Warrior covers his time in Antarctica and is a treat to read.

Pete believes that youngsters are the key to future success of conservation. He founded the Earthrace Junior Activists Club in 2008. This club is run by Earthrace volunteers Alison Banks, Natalie Borghardt and Junior Activist Captain, 17-year-old Zach Affolter. The club has over 1,200 young members.

In an effort to encourage a growing network of children and young people from around the world who care about preserving and protecting the oceans Pete is launching a writing competition. Anyone up to the age of 18 can submit an essay or short story of no more than 500 words based on the theme ‘what the oceans mean to me’.  There are four age categories for the ocean writing challenge:  Under 10; 10-12 years, 13-15 years; and 16-18 years. The first prize is Earthrace remote control boat. Other prizes include a remote control shark, signed copies of Pete’s book Whale Warrior, Junior Activist t-shirts, caps, bumper stickers, signed posters, plush Maui’s dolphin toys and wristbands.

Entries should be sent by email to alison@earthrace.net by the closing date of 31 August 2014. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bumblebee hummingbird

Here is a beautiful recording of Bumblebee hummingbird (Atthis heloisa) captured by by Roberto Pedraza Ruiz at the Sierra Gorda Mexico

Rare video capture of Siberian tiger by Chinese fishermen

While fishing in the Ussuri River, which acts as a border between Russia and China, two Chinese fishermen got a prize catch on their mobile - A Siberian tiger swimming. Have a look at this rare video

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Yet another break

Man proposes, God disposes. I had planned to be back on blogging scene on 15th, but one of my close friends from Calicut is in dire straits and needs immediate help. I am heading to Calicut to give him a helping hand.  I will be back on the blogging scene on 26th only.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Out travelling

I am out, travelling for the next four days. Consequently there will not be any update for the next five days. If you are a new visitor and a nature enthusiast have a look at the older posts. Have a wonderful time folks.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Is biodiversity offsetting a boon or a licence to trash?

Conservationists are divided when it comes to biodiversity offsetting. Replacing nature lost in one area by planting in another area looks enticing, but it can never be a full- fledged nature restoration. It should be adopted only as a last resort.

A recent conference in London Zoo saw heated exchanges.

Jonathan Baillie, conservation director at the Zoological Society of London, said: “Biodiversity offsetting is controversial. It polarises the conservation community. (We must accept) there is going to be development and changes as world population increases from seven billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. It may be appropriate to do offsets but that should be as a last resort.”
Baillie brought in the example of world heritage-classified Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo where plans are afoot for oil exploration. “For this there should not be offsets. There are many other examples where offsets are just not applicable,”

Julia Martin-Lefevre, director-general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said “We cannot compensate for loss in world heritage sites like Virunga. Nor can projects go ahead if it means the extinction of a species. We have to take a precautionary approach.”

Hannah Mowat, of Fern, which tracks EU forest policies, was very severe in her criticism. She said “Destruction of complex and site-specific biodiversity cannot be offset. It is time to be clear that offsetting will not tackle biodiversity loss but may impoverish communities.” “Developers are already gearing up to use biodiversity offsetting to bulldoze some of our most precious wildlife sites. There is no clear evidence that biodiversity offsetting works. Attempts abroad have frequently ended in failure,”

Saturday, June 07, 2014

FIFA world cup and the conservation of three-banded armadillo

The Brazilian three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus) is an armadillo species endemic to Brazil, where it is known as tatu-bola. This is the official mascot of 2014 FIFA world cup.

A plea by Brazilian scientists to protect the endangered mascot of the 2014 World Cup has produced desired results.  The plea was made by the scientists in an article published on 22 April in the Biotropica journal. Brazilian government is pushing ahead with an action plan to conserve this armadillo, which is unique to Brazil. It is good to see sports playing a role in conservation.

Bravo scientists and Brazilian Government

Friday, June 06, 2014

Saving the most threatened group of fish in the world

When it comes to most threatened group of fish in the world, the slot unfortunately goes to Sawfish. Sharks and rays regularly hog lime light in international media but there is nothing much on Sawfish.

Now Shark Specialist Group of the IUCN has come to the forefront of rescue of this fish. They have launched a global strategy to save the fish.

 Dr. Nick Dulvy, who serves as IUCN SSG Co-Chair and Canada Research Chair at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia says  “The sawfishes, revered for millennia by coastal cultures around the world, now face greater extinction risk than any other family of marine fish,” said strategy co-author, “With this comprehensive strategy, we aim to reignite sawfish reverence and spark conservation action in time to bring these iconic species back from the brink.”

The scientist are exhorting the following points as part of the conservation strategy

National and regional actions to prohibit intentional killing of sawfish,
Minimize mortality of accidental catches,
Protect sawfish habitats,
Improve effectiveness of communications,
Capacity building,
Strategic research,
Responsible husbandry and
Fundraising to ensure implementation

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Wandering Oregon Wolf finally has pups

                                             Pic credit;USFWS

This is indeed heartwarming. This spring conservationists were delighted when famous radio collared wolf OR-7 was found to be in company of a female wolf, after years of wandering over thousands of kilometers from NE Oregon. Now comes this delightful piece of news that the couple has pups. The new wolf pack is now in Cascade Mountains, the first confirmed wolf pack in those mountains since the 1940s.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

French sculptor Pascal Chesneau wins David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation 2014 Wildlife Artist of the Year award

French sculptor Pascal Chesneau has won the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation 2014 Wildlife Artist of the Year award for his creation Transparence Elephant. The award carries £10,000 as prize money. Chesneau accepted the £10,000 prize at an event in London on Monday night.

The famed artist uses recycled metals for his pieces. Bravo  Pascal Chesneau 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Alarming ivory trade in Europe

Although the EU trumpets a lot about elephant conservation, recent figures show that the ivory trade is thriving. In 2012, ivory stood second among smuggled wildlife goods in the EU. This was 14 per cent of all wildlife seizures. Lot of clandestine trade is occurring in the name of   “pre-Convention ivory” fuelled by EU documents certifying it as ivory acquired before trade rules of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) came in to force. More than 20,000 carvings and 564 tusks were exported with official EU documents during the period 2003 and 2012.

Mary Rice, of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) recently said: “We are calling on EU countries to halt all ivory trade within, to and from the EU and strengthen enforcement. This includes measures to destroy their stockpiled ivory – both carvings and raw tusks – irrespective of its source and alleged age. We will only be able to end the elephant poaching crisis when the trade fuelling it is banned and demand curbed.”