1 Tahrcountry Musings: January 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

A green view from the classroom can improve students’ performance

Latest research from the University Of Illinois Department Of Landscape Architecture has indicated that students perform better on tests if they are in a classroom with a view of a green landscape. They also recovered better from stress. Students' capacity to pay attention increased 13 percent if they had a green view outside their classroom window.

The researchers suggest “planners can identify sites for new schools that already have trees and other vegetation, or they can plant many trees on the site; architects can locate classroom, cafeteria and hallway windows so they look onto green spaces; and school schedules can allow short breaks to restore students' attention and help them recover from stressful tasks.”

The findings are being published in the April 2016 issue of the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge – Top slot for Indian IT firm

The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge is an initiative of USAID, in partnership with National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution and TRAFFIC. They have announced the winners of its competition for designing new, innovative solutions to the most intractable issues in the fight against wildlife trafficking.

Indian IT firm Binomial Solutions Private Limited (India) has found the top slot for its innovative “e-Eye ® (Electronic Eye): Real-time Anti-Poaching, Surveillance & Wildlife Tracking System.” Congrats. Give a big hand to them, guys.

The other winners are
Bosque Antiguo (Mexico): “High Throughput STRs and Sequence Genotyping as Forensic Tools for Species Protection”.
For the Fishes (U.S.): “Tank Watch--The Good Fish/Bad Fish Tool for Saltwater Aquariums.”
Jennifer Jacquet (U.S.): “Enforcement Gaps Interface.”
Kalev Hannes Leetaru (U.S.): “A Real-time Global Platform for Mapping, Forecasting, and Network Assessment of Wildlife Crime.”
Mars Omega Partnership Ltd (U.K.):“The JIGZAW Information Collaboration Project.”
National Whistleblowers Center (U.S.): “Secured Internet Wildlife Crime Reporting System.”
New England Aquarium (U.S.): “Live Digital Invoices for Real Time Data Analytics to Enhance Detection of Illegal Wildlife Trade.”
Paso Pacifico (U.S.): “The Trade of Endangered Sea Turtle Eggs: Detecting and Monitoring Regional Transit Routes.” 
Planet Indonesia (U.S.): “Enhancing Bird Market Monitoring in Indonesia through Smartphone Technology.”
University of Leicester (U.K.): “Universal Species Identification in the field by Rapid and Affordable Nanopore DNA Sequencing.”
University of Pretoria (South Africa): Internationalization of RhODIS® and eRhODIS®
University of Technology Sydney (Australia): “Rapid Chemical Odor Profiling for Frontline Identification of Illegal Wildlife Products.”
University of Washington (U.S.): High Throughput Methods for Locating Source Populations in the Illegal Wildlife Trade.”
Yayasan Inisiasi Alam Rehabilitasi Indonesia (Indonesia): “Conservation of threatened Indonesian Slow Lorises Using DNA-based Forensic Methods to Tackle Trade.”
Zoological Society of London (U.K.): “Instant Detect- Exposing the Movement of Poachers in Real Time.”

USAID will award USD10, 000 to each winner and provide technical support to help them fine tune their solutions to stamp out illegal trade in wildlife. Winners are eligible to compete for a Grand Prize of up to USD500, 000.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Road ecology and small animals

Road ecology is a comparatively new stream,but tremendous advances have been made recently. The  main problem is that road ecologists bestow lot of attention to the travails of big animals while the needs of the small animals gets short shrift. It is against this background that I read a good book detailing the needs of the small animals. The book titled 'Roads and Ecological Infrastructure' is authored by Kimberly M.Andrews, Priya Nanjappa and SethP.D.Riley and published by Johns Hopkins University in association with Wildlife Society
 This is the first book to focus on reducing conflict between Roads and small animals.. Challenges involved from a transportation and ecological point of view are put under scanner and discussed extensively.The goal is realistic problem solving.. I recommend the book unreservedly to practising and budding road ecologists.

I have been traveling for the past two weeks and just managed to finish it .The due date for return is tomorrow. Today I am going to fade into areas without net connectivity for a couple of days. For the past two weeks I have been using my phone for all communication. Couple of typos have crept in while typing. Sorry about this guys. Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A good paper on local community tolerance for endangered carnivores

I just read a good paper on local community tolerance for endangered carnivores. The paper authored by Chloe Inskip,Neil Carter, Shawn Riley, Thomas Roberts and Duglas Macmillan examines the tolerance for Tigers in Bangladesh. The paper appears in the latest issue of journal Plos One.
 Fostering community participation is a core component in present day Conservation strategies.. The researchers used stated preference approach for measuring tolerance, based on the "Wildlife Stakeholder acceptance capacity' concept. The results indicate that beliefs about tigers and perceived current population trend are predictors of tolerance. Positive beliefs about tigers and the belief that tiger population is currently not increasing are both associated with greater tolerance towards the species. Contrary to common belefs negatice experience about tigers do not directly affect tolerance.;instead their effect is mediated by villagers beliefs about tigers and risk perceptions concerning human-tiger conflict incidents.. The findings stress the urgent need to explore and understand the socio-psychological factors that encourage tolerance towards endangered species.

I thank Vidya Athreya for sending me the paper.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Europe's migration dilemma is threatening wildlife

Yesterday I talked to some of my contacts in Europe. The guys are a worried lot after the migration crisis hit Europe. Every other day we hear about human suffering related to migration in Europe, but very little attention is paid to the suffering of wildlife that the migration engenders.
The hastily built anti-refugee fences along national borders is bringing in animal casualties. It is curtailing animal movements..Some of the animals involved are highly endangered. For small endangered species like lynx every individual is important.The crisis is deep and needs immediate attention. The guys jokingly said what is needed is a cross border Schengen for the animals. I hope the efforts of conservationists in Europe would bear fruits. All the best guys

A better conservation drone

Keeyen Pam from Conservation Drones Asia team has tweaked his drone for better performance.. It can now fly 100 KM, approximately 3 hours. That is a big boost for conservation biologists and managers.The basic equipment remains the sturdy Skywalker air frame. The major breakthrough comes in the form of new Lithium ion battery pack. Large mapping is now possible with a single flight. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Planning a genetic rescue ? Take a cue from this

Dr Richard Frankham after extensive studies has found that genetic rescue benefits persist to at least the F3 generation. A meta - analysis was carefully done by him to arrive at the conclusion.

 Many species with inbred populations facing high risk of extinction stand a reversal in fortune with outcrossing. Doubts have been voiced whether the benefits persist across generations. Dr Frankham found that outcrossing was beneficial inF1, F2 and F3 generations.

 Read the details in the journal Biological Conservation,March 2016,Vol195:33-36

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Publishing scientific papers? Soon 16 digit ORCID Id might become mandatory

For researchers getting noted for their work is an absolute must for the advancement of their career. This becomes difficult when you have a common surname compounded if the first name also happens to be equally popular. World's leading academic publishers recently got together to resolve this dilemma. They have recommended that researchers apply for an ORCID 16 digit identifier and attach it to their papers in future. The publishers will soon make it a mandatory requirement in the immediate future.

ORCID is a non-profit organisation identified by the publishers for issuing the 16 digit id

Friday, January 15, 2016

A global assessment of the social and conservation outcomes of protected areas

There is good paper on global assessment of the social and conservation outcomes of protected areas in the latest issue of journal Conservation Biology .The paper is authored by j A Oldekop, G. Holmes, WmE.Harris and K.E Evans. 165 PAs were put under scanner based on171 published papers. They assessed how PAs affect the well being of people, the factors associated with these impacts, and the relationship between PAs conservation and socioeconomic outcomes. Wherever PAs adopted comanagement regimes , empowered local people ,reduced economic inequalities and maintained cultural and livelihood benefits positive socioeconomic outcomes were noted.. The analysis amply demonstrates that conservation and development objectives can be synergistic
 Conservation Biology
 Volume 30,Issue 1,Pages 133_141,February 2016

What has gone wrong with administration in Kerala Forest Department

The administration in Kerala Forest Department is adrift like a ship that has busted its engine in midsea.
when Mr Brandon S Corey a comparatively young officer was appointed to the post of Head of Forest Forces lot of high hopes were reposed on him. He had no ghosts of the past chasing him and the coast was clear to make some sea changes. But alas things have not gone  the right way.The department is now split vertically with a pro and anti corey groups baring  fangs ready to pounce
 I know Mr Corey personally.. He is good at heart and both he and his wife are excellent hosts. I have experienced the warmth.

How did this vertical split occur.?How can an officer under you show open defiance? .There can never be smoke without fire. There must be something in the style of working of Mr Corey that irritates the offcers under him..Mr Corey should come out of he ivory tower and should be willing to do an introspection. He should start administering with an iron hand but with a marshmallow heart.There is still time to make amends.

Mr Corey is also accused of being acting as a lackey of the minister. You may have to listen to politicians but an IFS officer need not bend over backwards to please the politicians. When asked to bend there is absolutely no need to crawl if your hands are clean.,
I earnestly request Mr Corey Saab to put the house in order at the earliest. It would also be worthwhile to put your hands on latest wildlife  papers and get a grip of what exactly is happening in the wildlife scenario.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

How people who pretends at being friends can screw up your life

This blog usually does not veer away from wildlife and gets into personal affairs.Today I am making an exception and writing about some of my bad experiences. I have changed names deliberately.
Bhaskar is a guy I met widway through life. It was too late before I realised his skills at machinations. This guy always puts up a facade of oozing friendship. But it all depends on how much money he can make short time or long time. Many have rued the day they befriended him. Santhanam is another guy who I have befriended for long time. We shared many happy moments.I had told Santhanam in glowing terms about Bhaskar. Santhanam who had excellent contacts with higher ups introduced him to some VIPs. Soon Bhaskar started his machinations and money alone was the criterion. I defended Bhaskar like a fool without realising the full implications. This in turn created bad blood between me and Snthnom who happens to be good at heart but easily gets hurt. A series of incidents made the situation even worse and it reached a stage beyond recovery. Now Santhanam is not in talking terms with me. Attempts by friends to patch up did not succed.Santhanam started spreading canards about me which naturally infuriated me. I started giving tit for tat for every canard. Thus ended a beautiful friendship. One weaknesses I have is that I am brutally frank. This has antagonised many guys. Surprising fact is that I have absolutely no problems with guys from Europe and America. They love my frankness and there has not been even a single case of rubbing them the wrong way.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

AirAsia on a downswing?

On 4th night when I walked in to the Kochi Bangalore flight I was in for a shock. Below and right in front of my seat there was litter. As it was the last flight to Bangalore and I had walked in at the last moment I did not create a scene. The landing at Bangalore airport was most probably done by a trainee first officer. It was an atrocious landing. May be the crew wanted to land and rush off to home. The affair was a far cry from my experience with Airasia a few months back. The aircraft was spick and span and the landing was perfect. It was what a pilot would describe as butter landing. I can speak authoritatively as I hold a Pilots licence.
The very next morning I wrote a email letter to AirAsia describing my experience. I had expressed my distress at the litter found on the aircraft. AirAsia did not bother even to acknowledge the email. Indigo immediately responds  to customers emails.
I had expressed my apprehension that AirAsia is cutting corners in an effort to save money

 I have enough of AirAsia. I will now stick to my favourite airline Indigo.