Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Times of India - Pune edition, Page 05 - "Ministry identifies critically endangered species;calls for conservation,protection "

Ministry identifies critically endangered species;calls for conservation,protection 


Pune: The ministry of environment and forests has come up with a list of critically endangered species of India,which includes,birds,mammals,reptiles and amphibians.The ministry has called for conservation and protection of these species.
The ministry has observed that conservation efforts are often focused on large animals like the tiger and elephant,however,there are a host of species that do not rank very high on the conservation totem pole,although they are under great threat and are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
According to Dr Erach Bharucha,environmental scientist,the population of smaller species is dwindling.Also,there is not enough data to understand their declining population.
Some of these endangered birds and amphibians are also found in Maharashtra.
Out of the five listed bird species,three are found in Maharashtra.The Jerdons Courser is a nocturnal bird and belongs to the scrub jungle which is under extreme threat because of clearing of scrub jungle,creation of new pastures,growing of dryland crops,plantations of exotic trees,quarrying and the construction of the Telugu-Ganga canal and illegal trapping.It is endemic to Andhra Pradesh,however,19th century records attribute its presence in the neighbouring areas of Maharashtra.
The Forest Owlet is found in south Madhya Pradesh,in north-west Maharashtra and north-central Maharashtra.After 113 long years,the owlet was rediscovered in 1997.Their habitat is the dry deciduous forest and the major threat in logging operations,burning and cutting of trees.
The White-bellied Heron is an extremely rare bird found in five or six sites in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh,one or two sites in Bhutan and a few in Myanmar.Their habitat are rivers with sand or gravel bars or inland lakes.Unfortunately,loss and degradation of lowland forest and wetlands are the major threat.
It is also alarming to note that out of the nine species of vultures found across India,the population of three species have declined by 99 per cent.And this is due to the use of painkiller diclofenac for veterinary purposes.
The Bengal Florican, a rare Bustard species,is native to three countries Cambodia,India and Nepal.It is found in Uttar Pradesh,Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.The ongoing conversion of the birds grassland habitat is mainly responsible for its population decline.
According to ornithologist Sharad D Apte,the major threat is the habitat loss and change in crop pattern.There has been global climate change,but scientists and experts are not sure whether it has an adverse impact on birds.
In the mammal category,the Pygmy hog,the worlds smallest wild pig with the adult weighing only eight kg,needs relatively undisturbed tall terai grasslands,now restricted to only a single remnant population in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and its buffer reserves.The main threats are loss and degradation of grasslands,dry-season burning,livestock grazing,afforestation of grasslands and hunting.
The Gharial, the most uniquely evolved crocodilian in the world,is also in the critically endangered list.Sadly,their dire condition reflects the tragedy of rivers.They live in clean rivers with sand banks.They are found in Uttar Pardesh,Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.And a small non-breeding populations exists in Son,Gandak,Hoogly and Ghagra rivers.The combined effect of dams,barrages,change in river course,pollution,sand-mining,riparian agriculture has led to their loss.
The Leatherback turtles and Four-toed river terrapin (turtle) are both critically endangered.Leatherback turtles weigh as much as 900 kg and are found in the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic,Pacific and Indian oceans.Unfortunately,their decline can be attributed to high sea fishing operations,harvesting of eggs and destruction of nests.
The omnivorous diet of the Four-toed river terrapin makes them an essential part of the efficient clean-up systems of aquatic habitats.They are found in Bangladesh,Cambodia,India,Indonesia,Malaysia.The major threats are use of flesh for medicinal purposes,and demand for eggs.
The Gliding Frog,endemic to the Western ghats,are found in the Indira Gandhi National Park and surrounding areas of Anamalai hills,Tamil Nadu presently.The threats include conversion of forested areas for timber and non-timber plantations and timber extraction activities.
Bhau Katdare,who works extensively on turtle conservation in Maharashtra,said that there is a rise in human population and people are negligent towards nature.Habitat destruction is the major threat for different species.They do not have sufficient space and food, he added.


Critically endangered is the highest risk category assigned by the IUCN Red List to wild species 

Critically endangered means that the natural population of a species has decreased,or will decrease by 80 per cent within three generations and all the available evidence indicates an extremely high risk of its extinction in the wild 



y Himalayan Quail 

y Pink-headed Duck 

y Siberian Crane 

y Sociable Lapwing 

y Spoon-billed Sandpiper 


y Andaman Whitetoothed Shrew 

y Jenkins Shrew 

y Nicobar Shrew 

y Large Rock-rat 

y Malabar Civet 

y Namdapha Flying Squirrel 


y Knifetooth Sawfish 

y Ganges Shark 

y Pondicherry Shark 

y Largetooth Sawfish 

y Deccan Labeo 


y Hawksbill Turtle 

y Red-crowned Roof Turtle 


The Siberian crane (left) and the Gharial are on the list of critically endangered species 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baaraat : the procession

Baaraat : The Procession
There’s a rhythmic beat of drums floating across, weaving its way through the by lanes of our colony, turning and dancing with the breeze that transports this soulful music during the early hours of a divine Tuesday morning. The Sun is yet to reach its hottest and the winter chill makes this morning a rather fog-filled tranquil lazy one. Amidst the “morning walkers” there are bustling house-helpers scurrying around with vessels, cleaning equipment, dog chains, and a variety of utilities.
This mad almost blind rush can relate to only one thing. A Wedding. There’s a wedding set to take place during the course of the day and the family is trying its best to meet deadlines, get everything arranged perfectly for their oldest daughter is set to embark upon a new journey, a new life.
As the ladies can be seen in a flurry, the men are rather relaxed but soon, everyone around will realize that that thing about the men, it’s just a fa├žade. In reality, their hearts are jumping up and down to finally be standing in the present.
As a viewer, all of this chaos seems rather exaggerated but with that thought, comes the realization, that every girl probably thinks like this about a wedding until her day finally arrives. At that point, she’ll probably turn a deaf eye and a blind ear to the wonkies around her J [I haven’t mixed the sensory organs up..I’m just trying to portray the sheer confusion that is, a wedding]
There are so many things to do, so many places to be at, so many people to meet, so many things to eat! I wonder, how, during all the pre-wedding running around, the couple getting married doesn’t forget the reason behind their marriage! It’s like bribing a child preparing for a tough exam with a big box of chocolates every 2minutes until the child finally forgets what he was doing in the first place!
I wonder how many people really put their ‘reason for getting married’ on a higher priority when compared with the menu, the guest list, the date, the venue, and whatever else there may be. Those weddings where everything is so red or pink are very confusing to someone like me. No doubt it all looks wonderfully done, but how come people don’t want to bring some colour into their soon to be new life? Before the wedding, everything is orange and green and yellow and blue and purple and suddenly, after it, things go red!
I’m not sure when people get married, why they do so, but I honestly think a wedding should remain something to be cherished and remembered all your life not only by you, and your spouse, but also, your family, friends, and every bloke who attended it! I’m sure the extravagance has no effect on emotions whatsoever! And as I see it, that’s the beauty of it. The fact that emotions, smiles, love, affection, are unscathed by shimmering metals and gem stones, 53 cuisines at the food counter, imported flowers and cars and a guest list that includes the world and their brother.
Whether one chooses to ‘tie the knot’ under water while scuba diving, or while climbing a mountain during a trek, or spontaneously at a family dinner, how does anything apart from the feeling matter?  Being thoughtful and extravagant are two different things although most parents will go all out on their children’s weddings especially if they’re a single child family.
Even though I never quite understood why the madness has to creep into something that is a celebration of two people uniting and their close friends and family being there to bless them.
The prospect of being able to share your life with someone who completes you is unmatched!  To be able to call someone your own, who will look out for you, look after you, and stand beside you all through, is a gift and a precious one at that. When you’re walking along the sea shore, and you turn to look behind at the impressions of your feet on the wet sand, when you see two pairs instead of one, that strengthening feeling of companionship, is heavenly! :)
To have someone to dance with even though you are the world’s worst dancer, to have a human mirror that reflects to you, who you really are; to learn how to cook things that are not Maggi or plain dal and rice, to be able to step out in the rain without an umbrella and not do it alone; ..these aren’t fairytale stories or Mills and Boons pages. They’re emotions and somehow, for me, they don’t go with the fan-fare!
A wedding is a day for the groom and his bride.. and that’s how it should be :) It’s not a day the bachelor dies. It’s not a day when a mental prison is inaugurated. It’s a day that marks the beginning of the period when you show each other off with the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Tags :) Sometimes, it’s ok to let the good stuff prevail over the bad, especially when it’s about a very special moment in the lives of two very happy people :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Day of the G[raduate] R[escue] E[xpedition]

They say it's the city of dreams. The city that never sleeps. The city where people come with that ONE passion in mind. The city that either makes or breaks. In short, Mumbai.
  Now I don't qualify as someone who thinks of this city as any of the above. I admire the spirit with which is bounced right back from all the bombs that cowards have flung at it. But as a city that I'd like to call home, I just don't like it. So this, is about my day off from Pune, and evidently, my day off IN Mumbai.
  To wake up at 5am after having fallen asleep at 1am and then to board a bus to Mumbai at 6:30 in the freezing winter morning, isn't the start I would like to any day. So here I was, looking out the bus window at people, trees, bridges, water bodies, birds, garbage, cars, roads.. and strangely, I realized during this visit to Bombay, that perspectives alter not only with time, but also sometimes, with company! When you have no one but yourself to talk to, there's nothing you hesitate from saying, or keep to yourself. 
  When you are holding on to a rung hanging from the support rails of a local train compartment, and standing right at the door and looking out, you practically see Bombay go by. I have grown up visiting family there and I refuse to call it Mumbai because for me, it will always be Bombay. Having long since overcome my fear of Bombay local train travel, I comfortably hopped onto one to get to Dadar and realized, this was easy because  there was no point being afraid even if I was afraid. Because all I had, was me! There was no one who would say it's stupid to be afraid and what not. So I just chucked it and climbed on. Those 25minutes enlightened me. 
  I realized, after a long time, that just because on the outside, this city is coated with drugs and slums and garbage and bureaucracy and sky scrapers, on the inside, it's just really a 'home'. It's home to I dont even know how many people! But when one has a very fixed impression about a place, one tends to miss out on seeing the little tiny things that make it human, in totality. 
  I saw that the other day. I saw a young girl of about 6 or 7 yrs sitting on a stair with her grandfather while her grandmother looked at the two of them as the warm looking grandpa pointed to the local and the child was thrilled with his stories.. They sat there, without a care in the world, concentrating just on that moment with each other and at that point it hit me, that no matter how this city is on the outside, it's heart, is still very human. Because it's these people, that are the common people who get ignored day in and day out and they dont have to do anything spectacular to keep their feet on the ground. They're regular people with families, jobs maybe, worries, happy moments.. 
  As I smiled at the sight from my vantage point in the local train, the train had gone by almost 2 stations when I was jolted out of my engrossed memories and thoughts. I guess, when you don't go looking for examples, that's when they all come stand in front of you and practically parade around! I was in the ladies compartment, and there was an old man standing right behind me. A blind, old, poor man who relied entirely on his ears to guide him around. One hand holding the folded walking stick, and the other holding on to the railing, he stood there silently waiting for his station without having realized he was in the ladies compartment. I asked him where he wanted to get off because he was getting scarily close to the edge of the door and he said "Dadar utarna hai" so I thought I'd help him off when I get off at Dadar too. The train was now almost at Bandra and just as it pulled out, I happened to glance at the foot-over-bridge and I saw a dad throwing his son up in the air and catching him again. I saw the little kid smile and chuckle, then I saw the dad repeat his action and bring another smile on his son's face and I realized, even in this frightfully busy city, some people DO manage to enjoy the little things! Because those little things, ARE important! 
   As that father-son duo climbed slowly down the bridge, the train had covered significant ground. We were then at Dadar and just as I turned to the blind man to ask him if he needed any help, his foot touched the platform and he was on his way! Surprised at his timing and judgement, I thought, circumstances and places and sometimes, people, teach us a lot more than we give them credit for. This man was absolutely at ease with his disability and he didn't want sympathy. He had learned to master the art of  "seeing through his ears" so marvellously that I stood there, still shocked and by the time I realized I should be walking out, he was gone. 
   So as I walked across Dadar's platforms and got out on the East side and walked towards Dadar TT bus stand, I saw hundreds of people trying to make their way around each other without bumping into one another to get to their destination in a hurry. I walked with my hands in my pockets, slowly, observing and thinking and people around me, changed by the second! One second there was a lady in a pink dress next to me, and the next, there was a man carrying vegetables! I just kept walking. I didn't ask anyone how I could get to where I needed to be because this, is where I had spent so much of my time as a kid! All the buildings around had changed. The 'scar's from the bomb blasts could still be seen, and more so, imagined, but ultimately, this was a part of town I knew instinctively. I dug up those decade old memories as I clambered on and I realized, they were rather fond memories! Memories of clean beaches, of streets and lanes lined with trees on both sides like avenues, of coconut water that we would just keep drinking as kids, of those hide and seek games which had o restrictions on hiding place ranges. And it hit me, where had those memories gone? Where were my cousins now? Why was I walking alone in Bombay when half my family lives in this city? Distances exist because we let them.
  And then as I was passing a beautiful, old building, I retraced my steps and asked the security guard whether Mr. D'Costa still lived there and he said he didn't know who that was but there had only ever been one D'Costa in that building and he was no more. As the guard went off to his post, I stood with the vacuum like realization that the nice uncle who we would run into several times while we played at Shivaji park, who always smiled at us and sometimes even enthusiastically offered to show us some innovative hiding places, was no more. I don't think he'd have remembered us anyway but I had only one memory of him and now, he was gone. As kids, we were too busy to notice the realities of the world. We were too young to realize that growing old is part of the plan. And now, as I wobbled back on to the footpath, the temporary character of things hit me. Whoever said nothing is permanent, wasnt entirely wrong... I guess. 
  Some emotions I think, are permanent but the point here was, there's so much to learn from the things and people around you! Why do we always try to look so far that we miss out on seeing what's practically under our noses? Why are we so busy that we can't stop to smile at someone we run into at work or someone waiting for a bus or train at the station? Why have we forgotten how to appreciate the small aspects of life? Why does material comfort satisfy us today? Why ,, there are so many Why's! 
  While all this was happening, I even forgot about the fact that I had gone to Bombay to give an exam, the GRE. After all those thoughts, it was no wonder that I had even forgotten to call home and say the exam was over. When you spend 3 months almost under self-implicated house arrest, and then when you finally have the chance to go out and live a little, the exam seems to be an obstacle! Hence the title, Graduate Rescue Expedition :) Of course, I'm still not fond of Bombay at large but at least now, Im willing to accept, it IS human. 
  I don't think I will ever like the city very much, because frankly, I don't like too many of the people in it and having spent so much of my childhood there, I've seen it go from it was to what it is. All in all, my one day Dadar- Andheri visit taught me to go back and appreciate some stuff I'd forgotten about a long time ago :) and for that, I thank you Bombay :) 
 -" ay dil hai mushkil jeena yahaan, kaheen building kaheen traamein kaheen motor kaheen mill, milta hai yahaan sab kuch, ik milta nahi dil, insaan ka nahi kaheen naam-o-nishaan, zara hatke zara bachke, yeh hai bombay meri jaan..."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It Happens Only in India

Don't get me wrong. I'm characteristically, a very patriotic person but then this isn't about me. It's about some things that one wouldn't see anywhere else in the world and no, that doesn't mean the Taj Mahal. 
Thing is, the rate at which we're going, there may be a new Taj Mahal that comes up in say, Uzbekistan and it appears that will happen sooner than conservation.
[you can download this photo from the WWF website]

  I'm frankly afraid to even click on the "News" tab on Google. I really don't want to read any more Tiger death reports. I'd be very optimistic if I were to think that all those reports were about the same tiger. In the last 2 weeks, I've read about a minimum of 5 Tiger deaths. 3 in Kaziranga, 1 in Assam, 1 in Ranthambhore, and god knows how many others that go unreported!

I honestly find it a little weird that when, on one hand, so MUCH money is being poured into conserving JUST the Tiger, from so many countries, how is the ONE country with the largest wild population of the Royal Bengal Tiger, not able to keep them alive? Forget healthy and secluded.. but alive? I mean isn't that, a basic necessity? Life?
On the other hand, our government has its ambitious Project Tiger and the lesser I say about that, the better. But the point is, when we can make impromptu decisions to "relocate" Tigers from Ranthambhore to Sariska, because the latter 'ran out' of Tigers, we can't even ensure their safety? We don't do our research when we select the Tigers to be relocated, we put those animals through the immense pressure of tranquilization, load them into helicopters just outside Ranthambhore, and then fly them to Sariska and live with the notion that within months, Sariska will be choc-a-block with Tigers again! Is it just me or did all that just go waste? 
Because as I see it, the latest report about Tigers going extinct in the next 12 yrs if conservation efforts and governments don't pull up their socks [right now, stockings], may just turn out to be true. It may not be 12 years, it may end up being 16yrs. But is that why a massive proportion of the global population is trying their level best to pull India's national animal back up?

How does it not create an uproar, and I dont mean the social networking site kind, I mean an actual uproar, a revolution; when people hear of or read about or see the news about a Tiger relocated from Ranthambhore to Sariska dying? A large male in Bandhavgarh is missing, a Tigress in Bandhavgarh was run over by a speeding gypsy WITHIN the tiger reserve, a Tiger was shot dead yesterday morning by government officials in Assam because it attacked and killed 2 people [as per reports], 2 male Tiger cubs [they weren't exactly adults] were found dead near the Banas just outside Ranthambhore [please don't get technical about geography, it's not as important as the point Im trying to make].. and why just Tigers? For every Tiger that's reported dead [whatever the reason], at least 7 leopards go un-noticed. Is that fair as well?

I have utmost respect for the Leopard for I have never known  of a big cat more adaptive to changing environments. It is genuinely, the ultimate survivor. And even the ultimate survivor is falling. Why can't mankind just stop being such a proud race? Because quite honestly, we've done more harm than good to our home. We're paying for drinking water, we've got rains coming in randomly from any given minute of any given day, we've got mining leases being handed out like a buffet lunch on Sundays, we've got THE MOST diverse ecosystems imaginable for the world's 2nd most populated country and we're treating them like dog shit [sorry, but it's true]. We just drive over everything in our way. 

I do not say this because I will officially be a conservation biologist in a few years, but because I have the deepest, most pure and aggressive form of love for animals that there could be. And personally, I don't want my kids to learn about the most captivating cat species through their school history books! The mere thought scares the crap out of me! 

I am of the firm belief that if I had the opportunity, I would exterminate China, Japan and the two Koreas. That would cut off more than half the illegal wildlife trade market but unfortunately, it wont work. Africa, India, Indonesia, even Vietnam[!!], Madagascar, you name it, and the country is either the victim and/or a participant in this trade. Now is when we really need to buck up, we really need to speed up and what I call "sincere-ise" the process of conservation. There have been way too many Tigers, Leopard, Crocodiles, Snakes, Bears, Pangolins, Birds, Insects, Whales, Corals, Elephants, Gorillas, Gibbons, Monkeys, sacrificed at the gallows. We NEED to step up and take action. And very honestly, just a few productive, well planned, well thought out, and well executed, well meaning, and sustainable actions are better than a million "movements" initiated on social networking sites but zero in terms of on-ground-results. 

photo credit : Santosh Saligram

The single largest threat that so many of us know of - habitat destruction isn't that much of an "addiction" that we can't control it if we really want to, the most important words here being "really want to". I wouldn't be very gung-ho about having some weirdo bulldoze through my house and throw me out on the street because he wanted to build a shopping mall there! I'd turn around and fight. So is it that wrong for the wild animals to do just that? Im refraining from using the term "encroachment" because I don't think it sums this up. It's just a part of the problem. We've gone and multiplied faster than rabbits which is quite something by the way, and so we now have to struggle for equitable distribution of basic necessities [roti, kapda, makaan] and then, the life skills [education,employment, etc.], and then the luxuries [BMWs, Ferraris, pent-houses, 3 more houses, branded products, multiplexes, 5 star resorts, computers, junk food.. the list is endless]. 

A rather disturbing proportion of this country's population is living below poverty, an even more depressing number have no access to education, 2 meals a day, transport etc. And yet, somehow, we manage to complain about so many things! A little odd I'd say, considering we oust wild animals from their basic necessity providing areas and leave them barely ANY choice!

So I guess it's going to be a match unto death or a fight unto death between history text book publishers and conservationists/naturalists/environmentalists/the general population of the country and more importantly, the wildlife. Will we wait and watch as always, with the tele on in front of us and a bag of potato chips to dig in to, or will we get up, move our arses, and do something about it? 

Friday, September 10, 2010

God Bless You!!

The lights, the crowd, the corn being sold at every nook and corner of every street.. it's like the entire city decided to take a walk at the exact same time! 10years ago, we'd have to walk so much to feel like a true adventurer the next day. There used to be at least 15mins of a walking radius between one Ganpati mandal and another. There used to be craft and lovely figurines on display, there'd be decorations, scits and plays.. 
  Anyone with this memory of the festival of Ganesh chaturthi, would be shocked outright if he/she were to witness the exact same festival today. Select one street. Walk down the street. And you're sure to pass by at least 3 mandals if it's a by-lane, 5mandals if its a wider longer road, 7 if its a main road, and if you're as lucky as I am, 11. 
  I wonder why people in this country, and to be more specific, in this city, find it so difficult to celebrate ANY festival silently! Why is it so hard to accept that this is not what God's will was! He/She/whatever god is never wished for a decibel tribute! The fanfare about who has the biggest and best speakers in the neighbouring mandals, who has the loudest and latest songs playing, who has the prime location [blocking a main road entirely is considered prime!].. and so on.. is simply baffling! 
  Thousands and thousands of stalls, selling idols of Ganesha, decorations, music CDs, speakers on rent, and god knows what else.. [pun unintended]. For the next 10 days, there will be parades, processions, drums, horns, traffic jams, choked by-lanes, power cuts, decibel levels tearing through roofs, plastic cups, plates, half-eaten corn lining roads and lanes and every public place, public toilets will be nightmares, public transport, even more so! Worse still, the corporation strongly believes in barricading people inside their own houses for they block all entrances and exits to my entire colony so none of us can get out or in.. 10 glorious days of house arrest! Months after the festival is done with, potholes from the mandals will still remain and poor unsuspecting souls walking on roads like decent people, will twist their foot in one of them and fracture it adding to their woes. 
   Festivals, as we were taught in school, are meant to spread happiness. When did they stop being cheerful gatherings and turn into these rival competitions against fellow beings? When did they stop being happy events and turn into tormenting and traumatic times that people wish wouldnt arrive at all? When did they become the things that people dread? I never thought I'd see a day when I'd be wishing that festivals just get cancelled, or celebrations are forcefully silenced! And yet, here I am, and Im only 21. This transition from the quintessential festival of cheer, beauty, happiness, social gatherings, and peace of mind.. just became an ugly nightmare!! 
   I dont think people realize what a fool they're making of themselves when they go around piling up food in front of an idol, and when they worship the exact same idol, and then "immerse" it in hopelessly polluted water bodies! You should see people at immersions now! They practically drown the poor Almighty in plastic infested rivulets!! I dont blame Him for the floods in Ladakh and Orissa and Bihar and Delhi ... its his way of "immersing" us. 
   Anyway, all those people who strongly believe they have the insight to read "God's will" - may God Bless You!! 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pune Municipal Corporation's Take on Timely Work

A week ago, I got home to this suffocating foul smell. After 5mins of absolute cluelessness, it struck me - the drainage. I went out into the balcony and looked outside. There is a lane exactly opposite my house. To the right of this lane, is a building being constructed. To the left, is another building which is being used my a courier company. At the gate of this courier company building is a drain cover that was lying in two pieces, leaving the drain open. 1cm from the drain, is a 6-7 feet long spread of garbage dumped by well, people. Now why the PMC has never bothered to reprimand or fine those who actually dump garbage there, beats me. I have personally been accused of dumping garbage there when the employees who come to clean the area every morning, know well that the people living in this house use the yellow dumper for their trash. Not the street.
   I have seen others come, dump trash, and walk away royally..all while the PMC people stand watching. Quietly. Where is their arrogance and voice then? Cat got it eh? Who knows.
   Anyway, this issue is entirely different. So yes,  5days ago the drain started overflowing and a LOT of absolute disgusting stuff came out from it..on to the road, which we walk and drive on. Unlucky us, we also live opposite it. Now it seems the only family being bothered by the nasal harassment, was our's. So 5 days ago, we complained to the PMC saying this was the situation and that the smell was becoming unbearable and the drain water would breed mosquitoes. Everyone with their wits about them knows that malaria, dengue and fever are spreading like wildfire in Mumbai and Pune this past month and stagnant water puddles just make matters worse. Which they did.
   After 4 phone calls to a coporator called Mr.Ashok Yanpure whose office, incidentally is in Lane no.5 Subhash Nagar, which is the lane just after our's, the PMC had still done nothing about it because apparently one of the days was Raksha Bandhan.. so the brothers got priority. Granted. They still had 4 other days.
   The situation is such that I cannot use "Hit" or "Baygon" in my house because we have two people with severe asthma and bronchitis living in this house, both of whom face serious breathing problems when these two repellents are used. Odomos is not a bright option because I refuse to smell like a repellent all day long.
  And why must citizens wait for breeding to begin, and malaria to be diagnosed in a family member for the PMC to take action? Are things really that bad that the Corporation can take such things so lightly even during the chain of illnesses including swine flu going around?

   This morning, I took some images finally and decided to email the article along with the images to a few local newspapers. I dont know whether any of them would be interested in helping solve such ground level problems, but Im hoping they will. I honestly don't think it takes more than some responsibility to do work that you get paid for, and especially when you have the audacity to talk to citizens in a tone of voice that even our Prime Minister doesnt use.

The brown specs on see on the water are mosquito larvae breeding on this water. God knows what else is in there.
Kasba-Vishrambaug Wada ward and Subhash Nagar electoral ward- lane no.4, subhash nagar.

High time someone paid heed to the growing problem of pathetic hygiene standards. Or do we wait till anyone else contracts Malaria?

- Apoorva Joshi.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wildlife Rescue Centre needed at Chanda


CHANDRAPUR: The absence of a proper facility where stressed and injured animals rescued from the wild could be treated was once again felt after an ailing tigress died of prolonged illness and senility in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) a few days back.

Despite the recommendation of 
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to shift the tigress to a suitable facility where constant attention of a veterinary officer would be available, TATR officials failed to find such place for the critically ailing beast anywhere in Vidarbha.

The ailing tigress, named Zarina, was kept in TATR and was treated by a team of veterinary doctors from 
Nagpur and Chandrapur. An NTCA team comprising expert wildlifers monitored her condition. Zarina stayed in the small squeeze cage for one-and-a-half months. After examining the condition of the tigress during treatment, the NTCA team had ruled out her release into the wild.

But she needed to be shifted to a place where constant attention of a veterinary officer was available. Her weak health was a constraint for long journey. The authorities looked for facilities like Maharajbagh Zoo, Seminary Hills in Nagpur and 
Rambagh in Chandrapur, but none was found suitable. A written statement issued by TATR said Maharajbagh zoo was unable to receive Zarina because of restriction under zoo regulations and inadequate veterinary care facility. Absence of suitable enclosure, vicinity to children's park and residential area were constraints for shifting her to Rambagh area in Chandrapur. Even Seminary Hills at Nagpur did not have suitable enclosure and has high disturbance level.

Thus, all three locations were ruled out and Zarina was kept in a small squeeze cage and treated in TATR. "We have strongly recommended establishment of wildlife rescue centre in 
Chandrapur district in our report forwarded to NTCA. Man-animal conflict in Chandrapur district is high and the case of Zarina was not the first one. Hence, a permanent facility is badly needed in Chandrapur," said member of NTCA team and senior conservationist Kishor Rithe. He claimed that such a facility would also provide employment to over two dozen local people.

Rithe, however, lamented the lack of political will in building of such a facility. "When it is some other developmental issue, politicians are hyperactive in pushing the project. However, when it comes to wildlife protection, politicians are least interested," said Rithe. He appealed to the MLAs and MP in the district to take up the issue.

Notably, the issue of building rescue centre for wildlife in Chandrapur in pending since 2008. More than two dozen predators, including many tiger cubs, were captured in forests of Chandrapur and shifted either to Maharajbagh zoo in Nagpur and elsewhere during last two and half years.

Former forest minister 
Babanrao Pachpute had assured then MLA Shobhatai Fadanvis in legislative assembly to build a wildlife rescue centre during winter session of 2008. It is almost two years now, but the forest department has failed to build the facility so far.

Chandrapur forest circle has forwarded a proposal to build a wildlife rescue centre here a couple of months back. CF, Chandrapur circle, GRK Rao agreed that there is a proposal of building a wildlife rescue centre in Chandrapur.

"We have marked a land aside 
Rangers College here for the rescue centre. The facility will have large enclosures and other amenities to treat and nurse at least eight wild animals at once. The proposal has been forwarded to PCCF office and its clearance is awaited," said Rao.
Read more: Needed: Wildlife rescue centre at Chanda - Nagpur - City - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Needed-Wildlife-rescue-centre-at-Chanda/articleshow/6408451.cms#ixzz0xXxz38Jq

Elephant tusks and Rhino horns Seized in Kenya

Two suspects were arrested over the weekend after authorities found two tons of raw elephant ivory and five rhinoceros horns at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the Kenya Wildlife Service said Monday.
The cargo had been disguised as avocados, according to the service, which says its mission is "to sustainably conserve and manage Kenya's wildlife and its habitats in collaboration with other stakeholders for posterity."
"Most of the tusks seem to have been collected from natural deaths of about 150 elephants over the last 20 years with the latest likely to be 6 months old," it said in a news release. "None of the tusks had the indelible ink used for marking government-held stocks. DNA tests will be conducted to determine the tusks' actual origin."
The seizure and arrests resulted from a joint operation that included the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Revenue Authority, Lusaka Agreement Task Force and the Kenya Police, the wildlife service said.
On Saturday night, the airport's warehouse security contacted a canine unit after becoming suspicious about a cargo destined for Malaysia through Dubai by Emirates Airline, it said.
"The cargo, which was falsely declared as containing only fresh avocado fruits, was packed in 12 wooden boxes, which raised a red flag due to its mode of package, weight and destination," it said.
Inside the boxes, officials found the contraband packed among avocados and wrapped in black paper and banana leaves -- packaging used in an attempt to evade detection, the wildlife service said.
Last year, 204 elephants were illegally killed in Kenya, up from 94 in 2008 and 47 in 2007, the service said.
Also last year, 13 rhinoceroses were illegally killed in the country, up from five in 2008, it said.
In 1979, Africa was home to some 1.3 million elephants; by 1989 only 600,000 remained, a drop blamed almost wholly on the killing of elephants for ivory, the service said.
There are currently about 400,000 elephants in Africa, it said.
After the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species banned international commercial ivory trade in 1989, demand dropped as did the price of ivory -- from $300 per kilo to about $3 per kilo, it said.
As some southern African elephant populations appeared healthier, restrictions eased in 1997 and 2002, when Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe were allowed to sell limited stocks of ivory to Japan.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Corridors - give it a read.


NAGPUR: In a bid to mitigate damage to wildlife and to the corridor for four-laning of national highway number six in 80 km patch in Bhandaraand Gondia divisions, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has been recommended construction of eight underpasses. 

The recommendation comes from two consultants├ó€”RN Indurkar, former chief conservator of forests (CCF) for wildlife, and SS Deshpande, ex-assistant conservator of forests (ACF). The experts submitted their report to NHAI project director NY Wadetwar on Tuesday. 

The NHAI is implementing the four-lane project stretching from Chhattisgarh border to Wainganga Bridge near Bhandara. Of the total 80 kms project stretch, about 24 km passes through forests. The NHAI had submitted proposal to divert 85 hectare forest land for the project. 

The consultant has recommended eight underpasses of 10 feet height and 20 feet width at every two km in the forest patch. Other measures of the mitigation plan include fencing, water conservation works and providing tractor, tanker fitted with pump for Navegaon Park. 

As per NHAI estimates, it would cost another Rs 10 crore to implement mitigative measures. This includes Rs 45 lakh for each underpass, Rs 1.20 crore for erection of fencing upto 40 km, Rs 3 lakh towards 10 rescue gates and ramps, Rs 2.10 lakh for 14 cattle guards, Rs 32,000 for each wicket gates and expenses towards sign boards. Additional expense of Rs 35.65 lakh for repair of old water tanks and construction of new has been recommended for the forest department. 

The consultants have suggested adoption of water conservation measures and have identified nine places including two compartments (202 and 203) of Navegaon National Park. 

Water is important constraint which compels wildlife to move from inside to the fringes where they meet with accidents. In view of this, nine spots have been identified where repairs to dam, desilting of water holes, deepening of tanks construction of nulla bunds have been suggested. These works should be monitored by the forest officials. The report states that this may be perhaps the first project in India focusing to mitigate damage to wildlife. 

TOI in January 2009 had first reported how the four-laning will cut the corridor between Nagzira-Navegaon and Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). Based on the report, Wildlife Trust of India(WTI), an NGO working for tiger conservation, had moved centrally empowered committee (CEC) of the supreme court in June 2009. 

The WTI objected that widening of the road will break the corridor and stop dispersal of tigers as its falls between nine tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The stretch was later inspected by the CEC members on June 24, 2009. They had also asked CCF (wildlife) Nandkishore to send a report. 

Nandkishore in his report sent to CEC on August 17, 2009 had recommended 8-13 underpasses in five stretches viz. Shirpur-Nawatola; Maramjob-Duggipar; Duddipar-Bamhni; Soundad-Sendurwafa; and Mundipar-Sakoli. The NHAI consultants too have suggested 8 underpasses in these patches. 

"A copy of the report will be submitted to the forest department and NHAI headquarters at Delhi as it is," Wadetwar told TOI. "As it has been decided that the right of way (ROW) of NH-6 will be 45 metres instead of 60 metres in forest stretches, requirement of land had reduced to 38.32 hectares," he added. 

The report admits that at one stretch, the boundary of the Navegoan park is just a km away from the road and comes under the eco-sensitive zone of the park. Hence, special treatment needs to be given in and around these areas.