December 19, 2006

Tree Nuptials offer solace

Tree nuptials offer solace
GG2.NET NEWS [06/12/2006]

HUNDREDS of people are flocking to a remote Indian town to offer prayers to two trees that were 'married' off in a bid to keep evil spirits at bay, officials said on Wednesday.

Alarmed by a string of accidental deaths, murders and burglaries, local people decided it was time the trees, one a banyan tree which had wrapped itself around the trunk of the other, tied the knot.

More than 250 people gathered in English Bazaar, in West Bengal state, on Tuesday for the ceremony as priests chanted hymns and decorated the conjoined trunks of two 25-year-old trees with colourful cloth, streaks of vermilion and garlands.

'There was an evil eye casting a spell and a few senior government employees had planted two trees here to bring peace but could not organise the marriage ceremony as they died from illness,' Gouranga Mandal, a local official, told agencies.

'The trees only can save us,' added Lakshmi Das, a 30-year-old housewife, who presented the trees with two saris and other wedding gifts.


Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore, And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.  -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

December 16, 2006

Let's Celebrate- THE BLACK DAY!!!

Associated Press Writer Wed Dec 13, 2:11 PM ET
BEIJING - A rare, nearly blind white dolphin that survived for millions of years is effectively extinct, an international expedition declared Wednesday after ending a fruitless six-week search of its Yangtze River habitat.
The baiji would be the first large aquatic mammal driven to extinction since hunting and overfishing killed off the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s.
For the baiji, the culprit was a degraded habitat — busy ship traffic, which confounds the sonar the dolphin uses to find food, and overfishing and pollution in the Yangtze waters of eastern China, the expedition said.
"The baiji is functionally extinct. We might have missed one or two animals but it won't survive in the wild," said August Pfluger, a Swiss economist turned naturalist who helped put together the expedition. "We are all incredibly sad."
The baiji dates back 20 million years. Chinese called it the "goddess of the Yangtze." For China, its disappearance symbolizes how unbridled economic growth is changing the country's environment irreparably, some environmentalists say.
"It's a tremendously sad day when any species goes extinct. It becomes more of a public tragedy to lose a large, charismatic species like the river dolphin," said Chris Williams, manager of river basin conservation for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington.
"The loss of a large animal like a river dolphin is often a harbinger for what's going on in the larger system as whole. It's not only the loss of a beautiful animal but an indication that the way its habitat is being managed, the way we're interacting with the natural environment of the river is deeply flawed ... if a species like this can't survive."
Randall Reeves, chairman of the Swiss-based World Conservation Union's Cetacean Specialist Group, who took part in the Yangtze mission, said expedition participants were surprised at how quickly the dolphins disappeared.
"Some of us didn't want to believe that this would really happen, especially so quickly," he said. "This particular species is the only living representative of a whole family of mammals. This is the end of a whole branch of evolution."
The damage to the baiji's habitat is also affecting the Yangtze finless porpoise, whose numbers have fallen to below 400, the expedition found.
"The situation of the finless porpoise is just like that of the baiji 20 years ago," the group said in a statement citing Wang Ding, a Chinese hydrobiologist and co-leader of the expedition. "Their numbers are declining at an alarming rate. If we do not act soon they will become a second baiji."
Pfluger said China's Agriculture Ministry, which approved the expedition, had hoped the baiji would be another panda, an animal brought back from the brink of extinction in a highly marketable effort that bolstered the country's image.
The expedition was the most professional and meticulous ever launched for the mammal, Pfluger said. The team of 30 scientists and crew from China, the United States and four other countries searched a 1,000-mile heavily trafficked stretch of the Yangtze, where the baiji once thrived.
The expedition's two boats, equipped with high-tech binoculars and underwater microphones, trailed each other an hour apart without radio contact so that a sighting by one vessel would not prejudice the other. When there was fog, he said, the boats waited for the mist to clear to make sure they took every opportunity to spot the mammal.
Around 400 baiji were believed to be living in the Yangtze in the early 1980s, when China was just launching the free-market reforms that have transformed its economy. The last full-fledged search, in 1997, yielded 13 confirmed sightings, and a fisherman claimed to have seen a baiji in 2004.
At least 20 to 25 baiji would now be needed to give the species a chance to survive, said Wang.
For Pfluger, the baiji's demise is a personal defeat. A member of the 1997 expedition, he recalls the excitement of seeing a baiji cavorting in the waters near Dongting Lake.
"It marked me," he said. He went on to set up the Foundation to save the dolphin. In recent years, Pfluger said, scientists like the eminent zoologist George Schaller told him to stop his search, saying the baiji's "lost, forget it."
During the latest expedition, an online diary kept by team members traced a dispiriting situation, as day after day they failed to spot a single baiji.
Even in the expedition's final days, members believed they would find a specimen, trolling a "hotspot" below the industrial city of Wuhan where Baiji were previously sighted, Pfluger said.
"Hope dies last," he said.
On the Net:
The Foundation:
AP writers Lindsay Holmwood in New York and Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed to this report.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore, And the individual withers, and the world is more and more. -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

December 15, 2006

Winged visitors protecting farmers crop in Bhal region of Gujarat

Winged visitors protecting farmers crop in Bhal region of Gujarat

Gandhinagar, Dec 8. (PTI): Farmers of Bhal region of Gujarat are very happy these days welcoming hundreds of winged visitors who have come from eastern Europe and are busy protecting their crops.

These visitors are of three varieties of migratory birds known as Harriers, which have come from far off places of Eastern Europe to escape the harsh winter there to the warmer climate of Bhal region of Gujarat near Bhavnagar district.

These migratory birds protect the crops of the farmers by eating up those insects which are detrimental to the crops, according to a senior forest official.

"These Harriers birds are one of the best friends of the farmers because they are voracious eaters of insects including grasshoppers, locusts and other insects which destroy the crops", said the Deputy Conservator of Forest Uday Vora.

The three varieties of Harriers include Pallid Harrier, Montague's Harrier and Eurasian Marsh Harrier which relish insects that eat the crops.

In fact, the capacity of the Harriers to devour the insects is so large that they can together eat up 15 milion insects during their sojourn.

These birds, which are known as raptors, also hunt small animals, rodents and small birds.

One can see nearly 2500 of Harrier birds in the Bhal region which incidentally is the worlds largest roosting ground for these birds.

One of the biggest advantage of the Harriers to the farmers is that their presence reduces the dependence of the farmers on the pesticides.

"The usage of pesticide becomes very less in these regions because these raptor birds eat up the insects. As a result, the farmers do not have to buy large qauntities of pesticides to kill these pests", Vora added.

This not only saves them a considerable amount of money but also helps preventing excessive pollution of the soil because of pesticides, Vora added.

Thus, the birds play a very vital role in conservation, he said adding that at times the birds are killed by the people because of their ignorance.

For instance, in certain parts of China, people used to kill a particular type of sparrow thinking that it was harming their crop when in reality it was actually eating up the worms and insects that damaged their crops, he added.

In Bhal region, in the vicinity of Velavadar Black buck sanctuary one can see more than 2000 Harrier birds hopping in and around the grasslands and the fields of farmers.


Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore, And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.  -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

December 08, 2006

The bat with the incredibly long tongue

A rare South American bat turns out to have a spectacularly long tongue. At up to 150% the length of its body, it is proportionally the longest of any mammal.

The bat appears to have evolved its incredible tongue in order to feed exclusively from a tubular flower found in the "cloud forests" of Ecuador.

Nectar bats’ tongues have tiny hairs on the end, which they use to mop up nectar and pollen from within flowers. The plants gain from this relationship by depositing pollen on the bat’s head, which it spreads from flower to flower.
Anoura fistulata is only the size of a mouse, but its tongue is around 8.5 centimetres long – more than double the tongue-length of similar nectar bats. Compared with its body, a tongue of this size is second only to the chameleon in terms of vertebrates, and it is the longest of all the mammals.

“It’s like a cat being able to lap milk from two feet away,” says Nathan Muchhala of University of Miami, Florida, US, who first discovered the species in 2003.

Close to heart
Such a small animal has had to evolve a way to store the tongue. “I had all sorts of theories, such as perhaps the tongue folded up inside, or coiled, or maybe its lower lip was critical somehow,” says Mucchala.

It turned out that the tongue extends down into the bat’s chest, and its base is between the heart and sternum. When extended, it stretches by up to three times its stored length.

Muchhala measured the bats’ tongues by training them to drink sugared water from a tube, which was approximately the diameter of a McDonald’s drinking straw.
The straws resemble a flower from the region, called centropogon nigricans, which has a funnel-like neck called a corolla, at the base of which is its nectar.

Competitive advantage
This flower is unique because it relies exclusively on fistulata to pollinate it. Most plants in the region have evolved so all nectar bats can feed from them, but this flower’s neck is too long for other bats to reach down with their tongues.

Such a close co-evolutionary relationship is rare, says Muchhala. It occurs in other species – some plants have evolved so that only hummingbirds can feed from them – but this is the first known example of a flower pollinated by only one species of bat. The flower gains an advantage over other species of plant in the region because it does not have to compete with them to attract the nectar bats.

The finding is also an example of convergent evolution, where two unrelated organisms independently evolve similar traits as they adapt to similar environments, says Muchhala. Other animals such as scaly anteaters have evolved similarly long tongues, which they use to feed.

Journal reference: Nature (vol 444, p 701)

November 30, 2006

Rhino Revives

Kaziranga's rhino fights back with villagers' support
Published: Monday, 27 November, 2006, 10:41 AM Doha Time

KAZIRANGA, Assam: India's endangered one-horned rhinoceros is charging back from the brink of extinction with forest wardens roping in villagers to combat poachers.

The sight of carcasses of two-tonne rhinos littering the Kaziranga National Park in the northeastern state of Assam was common a few years ago, but rangers said wanton killings have slowed down.

"No one thought rhinos would survive till 2006 with 100 animals perishing every year – half of them killed by poachers and the remaining dying of natural deaths," park warden Utpal Bora said.

The 430sq km park is now home to the single largest population of one-horned rhinos in the world.

According to latest figures, 1,855 of the world's estimated 2,700 one-horned rhinos lumber around the wilds of this riverine game park, their numbers ironically making the giant, herbivorous mammals a favourite target for poaching.

Park wardens, however, have reported a downslide in rhino poaching in the past five years. Only four were killed so far this year, compared to the early 1990s when some 50 rhinos used to be slaughtered annually in the park.

Organised poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which many believe contain aphrodisiac qualities, besides being used as medicines for curing fever, stomach ailments and other diseases in parts of South Asia. Rhino horn is also much fancied by buyers from the Middle East, who turn them into handles for ornamental daggers.

Profits in the illegal rhino horn trade are staggering.

A kg of rhino horn can fetch up to Rs1.5mn ($33,550) in the international market.

"Intensive protection mechanisms and a better intelligence network, coupled with support from local villagers living on the periphery of the park have helped us bring down incidents of poaching," Bora said.

Park officials last week arrested a poacher, while police seized a large cache of weapons believed to be meant for the rhino horn trading syndicate.

Until recently, many villagers acted as guides for poachers in Kaziranga, earning about Rs1,000 ($23) for showing them rhino tracks. But a series of anti-poaching awareness camps, set up by park authorities, seem to have won them over.

"The support from the villagers is unbelievable. The locals actually act as the first line of defence and tip us off whenever they spot suspicious looking people around the park," another ranger said.

Bhaben is a reformed man now - until recently he was involved with a rhino poaching gang here.

"I know I was not doing the right thing. At least the realisation dawned on me and when I think about my past, I really feel very bad. It would have been a nail in the coffin had the poaching activities not slowed down," said the middle-aged man who now takes tourists inside the park in his jeep.

Several villagers now earn a living by taking tourists on wildlife safaris inside the park, and others have formed vigilante groups to foil attempts by poachers to kill rhinos.

"Kaziranga is the source of livelihood for a majority of the people living in the vicinity of the park. From setting up eateries to resorts, hotels and guest houses, besides running jeeps for taking tourists, the locals are surviving on the park," said Arun Das, a young resident of the area.

"Who would come to Kaziranga if the rhinos are not there? It is for our own interest that we help the authorities in combating poaching." —IANS

URL : oops! pls. google it out!


Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore, And the individual withers, and the world is more and more. -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sariska on road to recovery

JAIPUR: Sariska is being put on the road to reform. In an attempt to ensure safety of wildlife in the reserve, the Rajasthan government has decided to construct an alternate road, bypassing the one running through the reserve.

The bypass road will ensure that vehicles do not enter Sariska and threaten the wildlife, especially the tigers.

At present, a road linking Jaipur with Alwar via Thanagai passes through Sariska and heavy vehicles plying on it have been creating problems for the wildlife.

The vehicles increase pollution, affecting the animals. Now we have decided to construct a bypass to divert the vehicles from Narayanpura.

"It will also help us monitor wildlife movement more efficiently," a senior forest official said.

Sariska, spread over 881 sq km, has been in news due to disappearance of tigers. A March 2005 report by the Wildlife Institute of India said there were no tigers left in Sariska, whereas an official census conducted in 2004 had indicated that 16 to 18 tigers lived in the reserve.

But from the middle of the year, no tigers have been spotted.Enquiries revealed the national animal was killed by poachers. Even leopards were targeted. The forest department and state government faced criticism on this issue.

Following this, the state government had submitted a detailed project to the Centre for rehabilitation of tigers in Sariska, which was sanctioned in October. The construction of the bypass is part of this rehabilitation plan.

"The Centre has sanctioned the Sariska recovery plan. Once we get the funds we will start undertaking the operation," the official said.

The forest department, along with officials working on the tiger project, will discuss shifting of four villages located in the vicinity of the Sariska reserve.

Once the plan is implemented, tigers would once again be part of the reserve

URL: oops! google it out.


Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore, And the individual withers, and the world is more and more. -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

November 23, 2006


Intelligence is the revolutionary factor in bringing cell phones instead stones and jeans instead animal skins. But it is somewhat sad that though we have gained intelligence, intellectuality is still scarce.


As far as rational thinking goes, nature is our mother. She’s far more subtle and serene than mankind has thought it to be. The physicists have gone chaotic and evolutionary biologists are still flapping hard to comprehend the complexity that lies beneath, at seemingly unfathomable depths below, the surface of reality.


On the grounds of spirituality and morality, it is necessary that we carry out sustainable harvesting of the nature’s bounties. Spirituality may defer from person to person but it surely, always, praises the serenity, charm & beauty of the living world around us.  As far as morality goes, bouncing black bucks and swirling kites mesmerize all the sensitive souls and saving them for our coming generations becomes an ethic.

November 22, 2006

Essay Competition

Dear All,
Greetings from SAYEN Secretariat!
SAYEN is pleased to provide you the opportunity to participate in the Asia and Youth Pacific Student Essay Competition on Sustainable Development. Please find the details enclosed in the attachment.
We request you to kindly send us your essays latest by November 26, so that we can compile everything and send it by November 30 which is the last date.
E-mail us at
Arpita Shukla


Asia and Pacific Student Essay Competition on Sustainable Development

The future of Asia and the Pacific region is in the hands of its young people. University students across the vast region are learning about the development challenges their countries face, including unemployment, illiteracy, disease, lack of adequate health care, and environmental degradation. Many students are acting to address these challenges in their communities. They have formulated ideas, often based on their own experiences in the places where they live, on how to overcome the problems holding the region back from achieving its full potential.

ADB and ROAD, with support of the Japan Special Fund, financed by the Government of Japan, invite university students to participate in the
Asia and Pacific Student Essay Competition on Sustainable Development.

The rules are simple: just submit an essay on one of the designated themes via this website no later than
30 November 2006.

To be eligible, you must be a student at a university, between the ages of 18 and 29, and a citizen of one of ADB's developing member countries (DMCs). Since the essay competition and Youth Forum are part
of the formal lead up to the Annual Meeting, which is being hosted in 2007 by
Japan, Japanese citizens studying in Japan are also eligible.

Essays must be submitted in English (only) and no longer than 2,000 words in length. Students without easy access to the Internet may deliver their essays in hard copy to the nearest ADB field office, which will then submit them on the students' behalf.

The overarching theme of the essay contest is "Promoting Sustainable Development in
Asia and the Pacific." Those entering the competition should choose one of three topics, which may be addressed from a
country or regional perspective. The essays can address the issues related to the regional public good based on the following 3 topics:

Topic 1: Do Economic Growth and Environmental Conservation go Together?

Essays written on this topic can explore issues related to energy, water resources, forest management, and/or desertification.

Topic 2: How Should we Develop Human Resources and Institutions?

Essays written on this topic can explore issues related to educational and vocational human resource development, governance, decentralization, civil society participation, globalization, and
traditional societies.

Topic 3: What are the Priorities for Industry and Infrastructure?

Essays written on this topic can explore issues related to globalization of economic structures, regional financial stability, agriculture and food security, urban and rural development, and cross-border infrastructure development.

A jury of distinguished individuals with a strong development background will judge the essays. Fifteen winners will be selected from across the five regions covered by ADB's regional departments - Central and
West Asia, East Asia, the Pacific, South Asia , and Southeast Asia (see list of eligible countries here). An additional 10 winners will be selected from young adults studying at Japanese universities, including three Japanese students and seven nationals of ADB developing member countries.


The 25 winners will be awarded a certificate and be expected to join and participate actively in the Asian and Pacific Youth Forum on Sustainable Development. The costs of the winning essayists'
participation in the Youth Forum will be covered by ADB.


Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore, And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.  -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In Chimp World, Males Find Older Females Sexier

In Chimp World, Males Find Older Females Sexier

November 21, 2006 — By Maggie Fox, Reuters

WASHINGTON — Chimpanzee males prefer to have sex with older females, U.S. researchers found in a study published Monday that shows one of the biggest behavioral differences between humans and our closest biological relatives.

Male chimps will chase down and fight over the oldest females, while the youngest female chimps are forced to beg for masculine attention, anthropologist Martin Muller and colleagues at Boston University discovered.

"It's really dramatic because it's not just that the old chimps are avoiding the youngest adult females. They actually have a strong preference for the older mothers," Muller said in a telephone interview.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, Muller and colleagues said they studied chimpanzees living in the Kanyawara community of Kibale National Park in Uganda.

It is easy to observe their mating behavior.

"Chimpanzee copulations are frequently preceded by a series of male courtship signals (e.g., glancing with erect penis and branch shaking), after which either the male or the female approaches the other to mate," the researchers wrote.

They also collected the chimps' urine to test for various hormones that demonstrate fertility.

They were checking to see if chimpanzees behave like humans, their closest living relatives, who form long-term mating bonds and who value younger females.

This is most definitely not the case with chimps. The very oldest adult females were the most sought-after.

"The males fight over them more," Muller said.

"They don't have to do anything to get the males interested. The males find them. They follow them around. If you look at the very youngest females, the males will mate with them but it does take more work on the female's part."


Also unlike humans, female chimpanzees actively advertise when they are fertile, with bright red swellings around the genital area. And unlike human females, chimpanzees apparently remain fertile their entire lives, although these wild Ugandan chimpanzees rarely lived beyond the age of 40.

Older female chimpanzees are more dominant socially and have access to better food. Muller said. "The females that have access to the most food are the most fecund -- the most likely to conceive in any cycle," he said.

Males may know that.

Older females may also be better mothers, the researchers guessed.

"The males do end up mating with all the females for the most part," Muller noted. But he said the study challenges common conceptions.

"Normally, I think peoples' default assumption is, 'Well other animals, they must also find young females attractive,"' Muller said. "And people assume that young females are more fertile than older females."

But female chimpanzees do not experience the rapid decline in fertility that is seen in human females after their 20s.

Humans may prefer younger females because of marriage and other "long-term pair-bonds," something that is nonexistent in the promiscuous world of chimps. Human men seeking progeny may need to start with younger prospective mothers, Muller said.

"Chimpanzee males may not find the wrinkled skin, ragged ears, irregular bald patches, and elongated nipples of their aged females as alluring as human men find the full lips and smooth complexions of young women, but they are clearly not reacting negatively to such cues," the researchers concluded.

Source: Reuters

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"Take this tip from nature: The forest would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best."

Bernard Meltzer

November 16, 2006

Campaign to Plant One Billion Trees in 2007

Kenyan Nobel Prize Winner Launches Campaign to Plant One Billion Trees in 2007

November 08, 2006 — By Elizabeth A. Kennedy, Associated Press

NAIROBI — A Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner called on people around the world to plant 1 billion trees in the next year, saying Wednesday the effort is a way ordinary citizens can fight global warming.

Wangari Maathai, who in 2004 became the first black African woman to win a Nobel in any category, urged participants to ensure the trees thrive long after they are planted.

"It's one thing to plant a tree, it's another to make it survive," said Maathai, who founded Kenya's Green Party in 1987 and focused on planting trees to address the wood fuel crisis here.

Maathai said the campaign is meant to inspire ordinary citizens to help the environment.

"This something that anybody can do," Maathai said Wednesday at the U.N. conference on climate change, which has drawn delegates from more than 100 countries to Kenya.

Scientists blame the past century's 1-degree rise in average global temperatures at least in part on the accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere _ byproducts of power plants, automobiles and other fossil fuel burners.

Africa is the continent expected to suffer most from shifting climate zones and droughts, like the one now in its fourth year in East Africa.

Destroying trees through burning contributes to global warming, releasing about 370 million tons of greenhouse gases every year _ about 5 percent of the world total _ scientists say. Planting trees can offset climate change in part because they absorb carbon dioxide.

The tree-planting project, organized by the United Nations Environment Program, shows that "action does not need to be confined to the corridors of the negotiation halls," said Achem Steiner, UNEP's executive director.

The project calls on participants _ including individuals, schools and governments _ to sign up on UNEP's Web site and register the trees they planted.

Also Wednesday, some climate conference participants said the results of Tuesday's midterm elections in the United States were a good sign for environmental issues. The U.S. _ the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases _ has rejected mandatory emissions cuts, saying they could hamstring the economy and because poorer countries are exempt.

On Tuesday, Americans swept Democrats into power in the House of Representatives for the first time in a dozen years and largely dismantled the GOP Senate majority.

"President Bush still has two more years in office so it's very unlikely that the U.S. negotiating posture will change," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

But, he said, the fact that Democrats, many of whom support emissions caps, took control of the House means climate and energy issues will be prominent in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Source: Associated Press

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Glorifying the rural life

Hats off to Ms. Chanda Shroff !
The painstaking and beautiful craft of hand embroidery dates back several thousand years. One of its traditional homes is Kutch, a corner of the Indian state of Gujarat. Known for its intricate and diverse styles, Kutchi embroidery has, since the 1960s, suffered a decline due to a modern emphasis on speed and profit, and a growing reliance on machinery and synthetic fabrics. An Indian woman, Chanda Shroff, aged 73, has worked tirelessly and voluntarily for almost four decades to reverse this decline.

Three wild elephants electrocuted in Assam

Guwahati, Nov 13: Three Asiatic wild elephants have died of electrocution after a high tension wire fell on a herd in Assam, wildlife officials said Monday.

A forest warden said an elephant herd Sunday strayed into the Behali tea plantation, about 230 km from here, and tripped over an electric pole.

"The high tension wire first electrocuted a full-grown female elephant and immediately two of her calves tried to rescue her and in the process all the three died," Chandan Bora, divisional forest officer, told IANS by telephone.

The herd of about 35 elephants was moving in the area for quite sometime causing large-scale depredation to paddy fields and damaging village huts.

"It was a touching sight when the rest of the herd surrounded the dead elephants and were literally in tears, trumpeting at times and licking them frequently ," the warden said.

The herd retreated from the accident site after sundown Sunday.

"We have ordered an investigation to probe if the electric wire fell on the elephant herd after the animals tripped on the pole or was it an intentional ploy by villagers to take revenge as the herd had damaged their properties," Bora said.

Deadly turf wars between humans and hungry elephants in Assam have reached alarming proportions.

Shrinking forests and encroachment on elephant territory by people have forced the animals to stray from their habitats into human settlements in the quest of food.

Elephants have killed nearly 240 people in Assam in the past five years while 265 elephants have died during the same period, many of them victims of retaliation by angry humans, said a wildlife department report released last month.

Satellite imagery shows that between 1996 and 2000, villagers encroached on some 280,000 hectares of thick forests in Assam, according to authorities.

The attitude of people towards elephants has become less tolerant as the pachyderms have become an increasing problem for villagers. Villagers often poison the marauding elephants, while in the past they drove them away by beating drums or bursting firecrackers, said officials.

Assam has India's largest population of Asiatic elephants, estimated at around 5,300, according to a wildlife census in 2002. 



"Take this tip from nature: The forest would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best."

Bernard Meltzer

November 11, 2006

Lizards...yikes!, have personalities! isn't that great?


Ewwww! that's what my mom says when she sees a lizard. And as a matter of being her son, i also found lizards... eeeewww! but now,,,,, I find them interesting and am trying to catch them by hands(strictly gloved!).
Here's an article that says.....lizards also, just like u & me have personalities!

Lizards have personalities too, study shows

13:35 08 November 2006 news service
Roxanne Khamsi

They may be cold-blooded, but some lizards have warm personalities and like to socialise, a new study shows.

A behavioural study reveals that lizards have different social skills: some are naturally inclined to join large groups while others eschew company altogether. The discovery of reptilian personality types could help ecologists better understand and model animal population dynamics, say the researchers involved.

The lizards were monitored from birth (Image: Jean-François Le Galliard)

Scientists define "personality differences" as consistent behavioural differences between individuals across time and contexts. But there is a need for more research on these differences in wild animals, says Julien Cote of the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, France. "Psychologists have explored the considerable range of non-human personalities like sociability, but mostly on domesticated animals," he says.

Scent of another

Cote and colleagues captured wild pregnant common lizards (Lacerta vivipara), and as soon as the offspring were born they were exposed to the scent of other lizards, to test their reactions. Over the next year the team monitored the newly born creatures to see how much time each spent in different areas of their enclosure.

Lizards that showed an aversion to other scents at an early age were more likely to flee highly populated areas of the enclosure, Cote's team found. These lizards were described as "asocial". In contrast, those that had been initially attracted to other scents often left sparsely populated areas of the enclosure to seek out areas of higher population density.

Understanding these personality differences in wild animals could give ecologists a more nuanced view of population dynamics, Cote says. "When studying and modelling how populations function, it is necessary to consider different kinds of individuals reacting differently to the environment rather than a unique behavioural response for all individuals."

Other experts agree that personality types could help explain why some animals might be more reluctant to leave a group and explore new turf. "If you have a personality by definition you are constrained," says ecologist Jason Jones of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, US.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B (DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3734)

"Take this tip from nature: The forest would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best."

Bernard Meltzer

October 27, 2006

Neanderthal instincts

Ancient human hunters smelt blood on the breeze
26 October 2006
Our ability to detect the characteristic metallic smell left on the skin after handling iron-containing objects like coins and keys may have evolved for a more gory purpose: to help our hunter ancestors track down wounded prey.

Fats on the skin break down to form volatile, strong-smelling substances called ketones and aldehydes when they come into contact with iron - whether it comes from the environment or from haemoglobin in blood - says Dietmar Glindemann, a chemist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg.

Glindemann and his team identified the chemicals after analysing vapours produced when seven volunteers rubbed metal objects on their skin. The strongest-smelling is 1-octen-3-one, the researchers report in Angewandte Chemie International Edition (vol 45, p 7006).

Glindemann then established that the same chemicals are produced by reactions between iron in blood and chemicals in the skin by rubbing his own blood on his skin and analysing the resultant vapour. He suggests that the ability to detect traces of the smelly chemicals allowed our ancestors to sniff out freshly wounded animals.

From issue 2575 of New Scientist magazine, 26 October 2006, page 16


"Take this tip from nature: The forest would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best."

Bernard Meltzer

Best Wildlife Photos of 2006

Photo: Best Wildlife Photos of 2006
Animal Behavior Winner: "Turtle Grooming"
Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, 2006

This green turtle is getting a full-body cleaning and massage courtesy of local fish at Turtle Pinnacle near Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

U.S. marine biologist Andre Seale, who took this photo, says the protected green turtles that come here rarely have to wait long for such a treatment from the fish, though some get more attention than others.

"Not all turtles attract so many fish, perhaps because of the amount of algae that's growing on them," Seale said.

The algae-eaters are colorful yellow tang and goldring surgeonfish, a species found only around the Hawaiian Islands. Also indigenous to the region is the saddleback wrasse, seen underneath, which feeds on dead and damaged skin.

"The turtles go up for a gulp of air, then come back down again," he added. "It's a bit like a car wash for them."
Photo: Best Wildlife Photos of 2006
Underwater World Winner: "The Great Mimic"
Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, 2006

It might want you to think otherwise, but this rare sea creature is actually an octopus.

The Indo-Malayan mimic octopus, a species first described only a year ago, is a master of disguise. When Michael Aw of Singapore first spotted the animal while diving off Indonesia's Banka Island, the octopus was pretending to be an eel, he says

Swimming alongside it for an hour, Aw says the shape-shifting octopus went on to assume the appearance of a sole, a ray, and then a sea snake. Its repertoire of disguises—used for both hunting and hiding—also includes hermit crabs, jellyfish, and sea cucumbers.

In the photo, the 1.5-foot-long (0.5-meter-long) octopus is mimicking a feather star, an animal related to the sea star, or starfish, Aw says.

"I guess it was saying, Please leave me alone, I'm really not interesting," the photographer said.
Photo: Best Wildlife Photos of 2006
Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year: "The Dilemma"
Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, 2006

Bug enthusiast Rick Stanley, 17, was exploring rain forests in the Dominican Republic with a group of naturalists when he and a friend heard a loud squeak from above. Looking up, they discovered a distressed Hispaniolan tree frog caught in the jaws of a green vine snake.

While Stanley, from Washington, D.C., recorded the drama on film, his friend Rubio decided to play a more active role.

"He felt sorry for the frog and touched the snake so it would let the frog go," Stanley said.

"It's amazing to think that snake could have eaten the frog," he added, noting the difference in size between the would-be predator and prey. "I guess we'll never know."

Stanley, who plans to become a biologist, accompanied a U.S.-led expedition that he says turned up seven new species of longhorn beetles.
Photo: Best Wildlife Photos of 2006
Overall Winner: "Beast of the Sediment"
Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, 2006

This image of a massive walrus looming through clouds of mud while probing for food in Arctic waters was voted best overall photo in the 2006 Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Unveiled October 19 at the Natural History Museum in London, the winning images—five of which are included in this gallery—were chosen from 18,000 entries from amateur and professional photographers in 55 countries.

Göran Ehlmé from Sweden captured top prize for this face-to-face walrus encounter off northeast Greenland, where the tusked giants come to root out mollusks from the seabed using their bristled snouts and powerful flippers.

Ehlmé, who has filmed walruses for National Geographic Television, is the first person to photograph the animals feeding underwater. Diving with walruses is fraught with danger, and Ehlmé took the plunge only after spending many years studying their behavior.

"They are highly unpredictable and dangerous," said Ehlmé, who has been attacked by the marine mammals in the past.

"I think this one was in a bad, bad mood when he saw me. Appearing through the mud clouds, he looks like an angry god coming down from the heavens."

"Take this tip from nature: The forest would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best."

Bernard Meltzer

October 26, 2006

New bird discovered in India

New bird discovered in India

The Indian bird species has added another feather to its plumage. With the discovery of 'Bugun Liocichla' by Pune-based radio astronomer and bird watcher Ramana Athreya, it is for the first time that a new species has been detected in mainland India since 1948. Now the total count of Indian bird species stands at 1226. Lt Gen Baljit Singh (retd) records the new entry into the avian world

Bugun Liocichla belongs to the Asian Babbler family
Bugun Liocichla belongs to the Asian
Babbler family

In the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pardesh, mid-way on the Tezpur-Bomdila-Tawang road in a forest tract of 218 sq km lies the little-known Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary. From near anonymity, it has overnight become the focus of worldwide excitement for ornithologists. On May 25 this year Ramana Athreya, a radio astronomer and an ardent bird watcher from Pune, discovered an Indian bird species hitherto unknown to science. The count of species, which stood at 1,225 for India since 1948, has now moved up by one digit.

In general, people are attracted to a bird either because of its brilliant plumage (the peacock) or its appealing song (the Blue Whistling Thrush). As far as the overall impact of colour is concerned, Ramana's discovery is so sublime that you can never have enough of it. Shades of red, black, flaming orange, yellow, brown, olive, grey, white, flesh pink and silver are deftly interwoven into a matrix, the ultimate in colour harmony.

The news of the discovery became public only in mid-September because many exacting demands had to be met to provide evidence. Ramana has provided all save one. He was very wise not to kill the bird for a "full museum specimen". He is to be congratulated for his courage and compassion to reject this one scientific pre-requiste because so far not more than 14 birds of the discovered species have been spotted. In any case, Ramana has irrefutable photographic evidence, sound recordings of the bird's song on tape, two feathers (one from the tail and another from the wing) and more than a dozen enthusiasts from the US and Europe as witnesses, who per chance happened to be with him on that fateful day. All evidence (of course, minus the witnesses) has been deposited with the Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai.

The black feathers on the head of the female (top) remain swept back, while the male (below) keeps them erect
The black feathers on the head of the female (top) remain swept back, while the male (below) keeps them erect
The black feathers on the head of the female (top) remain swept back, while the male (below) keeps them erect
The closed underside of the tail of the female
The closed underside of the tail of the female (top) and the male (below)
The closed underside of the tail of the male

What about the name of the bird? Well, it has been identified as a species from the Asian Babbler family. For the purpose of international convenience in usage, all birds are given a scientific name (in Latin) and an English (common) name. And, of course, they retain their vernacular (regional) name. Ramana very promptly named it Bugun Liocichla, which got Latinised as Liocichla Bugunorum. Buguns are the local tribe which cohabit the area with this bird. These tribesmen accompanied Ramana during all his ventures in that area. The name is both a token of Ramana's appreciation to them and the hope of a symbiotic relationship between the Buguns and the Liocichla.

For the present the bird has no common or vernacular name but in the fitness of things it would be just appropriate to call it Athreya's Babbler. There are very good reasons to do so. Firstly, there is the universal precedence in ornithology to assign eponyms to birds. For instance we have Jerdon's Double-Banded Courser, after Maj T. C. Jerdon of the Indian Army who had discovered it. To name just one more, we also have Tickell's Blue Flycatcher; Tickell too was from the Indian Army, a Lieutenant Colonel.

More than all other considerations, this is the only bird of India's 1,226 species that has been discovered by and whose scientific text has also been written by an Indian, Ramana Athreya. Do we need to labour on this aspect any more?

Now what takes Ramana, a graduate from IIT Kanpur (1989), a radio astronomer of international standing, currently on the rolls of the National Centre for Astrophysics on the Pune University Campus, to the Eaglenest in W Kameng? To begin with, it was to spend a short holiday with his wife, who was pursuing a field project in Kameng for her doctoral thesis. Birdwatching has always been a passion but when in January 1995 he first saw a pair of birds all he knew was that "they did not fit any description in S.Ali & S.D. Ripley's Complete Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan (1987)". The next sighting came after 10 long agonising years in January 2005; a flock of six at 3 p.m. and of another four at 3.45 pm. In collaboration with two friends from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, and with permission from the government, they attempted to mist-net a specimen between January 23 and 28, 2005, but did not succeed.

He returned to the site in March and April this year and over four different days saw 14 of these birds. On May 21, he attempted and succeeded in mist-netting one bird. Unfortunately, the bird escaped after just three photographs. Ultimately on May 25, Ramana's luck held when he netted one more. Now he created a complete photographic evidence, took bodily measurements with vernier calipers, made detailed notes and in less than two hours released the bird to join its kind. And the discovery became a fact of life from that moment!

Ramana first spotted this species in 1995
Ramana first spotted this species in 1995

In 1994, the North-eastern Himalayas were listed among the dozen biodiversity rich hot-spots of global significance. Once Ramana saw the Eaglenest sanctuary, he conceived a project to document its biodiversity, coopt the tribes (Bugun and Sherdukpen) as partners in conservation of biodiversity and in return provide them with alternative socio-economic sustenance such as eco-tourism. Funded by the Ruthford Foundation, the project was launched in November 2003. Birdwatchers from the US and Euorpe proved most eager for recreation of this kind. Ramana has already successfully conducted one such group in collaboration with the locals in 2004 and two in 2006.

All proceeds from this eco-tourism venture have gone to the Village Tribal Council, which has pledged to keep the project going. Ramana in the meantime has obtained funds from the Ford Foundation for creating tented accommodation for visiting groups. Indian professional and amateur ornithologists have been offered a "vacation-for-conservation" plan where participants are charged tariff at zero-profit, provided experienced guide gratis and all this is in return for simply documenting the flora and fauna of Eaglenest.

When Ramana Athreya had first seen the Bugun Liocichla in 1995 and then could not spot it till 2005, he "began to doubt what I had seen". And now whole of India sees and rejoices in having a spanking, cuddly new bird, just 2mm bigger than the familiar Red-vented Bulbul.


"Take this tip from nature: The forest would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best."

Bernard Meltzer

October 12, 2006

Trouble in Darwin's paradise

In the pantheon of evolutionary icons they have prime status - for biologists they are the closest thing to Mecca. Now the Galapagos islands are facing a two-pronged attack.

On one side are the rats, goats and other alien species that have made the islands their home, to the detriment of local flora and fauna and on the other, the hordes of eco-tourists descending on the equatorial paradise.

Last year around 126,000 people visited the Galapagos, and cruise ship companies have recently added the islands to their destinations. Felipe Cruz of the Charles Darwin Foundation, dedicated to conserving the islands, believes the Galapagos should not be used in this way.

"We don't want cruise ships in the Galapagos, we don't think it's sustainable," he says. The ships leave local people and the environment to deal with their laundry water and sewage waste. Second, the larger numbers of tourists visiting the same areas will disturb the wildlife. Third, the chances of bringing alien species or disease is greatly increased.

Cruise ships, however, are coming. The Ecuadorean government allows twelve 500-passenger cruise ships to visit the Galapagos a year. So far the only one has been the 698-berth MV Discovery, operated by Discovery World Cruises of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which visited in May. Classic International Cruises, based in Lisbon, Portugal, has the Athena, which is scheduled to visit in 2008. Cruz says the ships bring their own food with them and don't deal with local people, so the tourist money doesn't filter into sustainable tourism.

Pirates used the islands as hideouts until the 19th century, introducing many non-natives such as rats, pigs and goats. Leonor Stjepic of the Galapagos Conservation Trust in London says the potential ecological impact of mass tourism poses a similar threat. "It is very difficult to perform adequate quarantine checks on a large ship with lots of people and luggage," she says. "West Nile virus has already been detected in Colombia. Imagine the devastation if that - or avian flu - came to the Galapagos."

When asked about the ecological risk to the islands, Classic International Cruises told New Scientist they will comply with the rules set by the Ecuadorean government and the Galapagos National Park Management as far as protecting the islands is concerned.

Stjepic insists that cruise ships are not a good thing for the islands. "It goes beyond environmental impact assessment. Even now we get invasive species, such as thrips, and blackberry, which has devastated the daisy trees in the highlands of Santa Cruz."

Managing the Galapagos is difficult, but there are successes. Most notably, Project Isabela, which eradicated thousands of goats that had devastated many of the islands in the archipelago.

Even large islands like Santiago and Isabela, each home to almost 100,000 of these alien invaders, are now goat-free. "The success of this project has acted like a catalyst, giving us confidence to take on other huge challenges in Galapagos," says Cruz.

Later this year the island of Pinta is to be the setting for one of the boldest. One hundred giant tortoises from nearby Española will be released onto Pinta's volcanic slopes. There is only one surviving Pinta tortoise, Lonesome George, and he was moved to the Charles Darwin Research Station on the island of Santa Cruz in 1972. His closest living relative - the Española tortoise - will act as a stand-in for him and his long-dead ancestors. "This is the first time that conservationists in the Galapagos have attempted to replace one species with another," says Cruz.

The tortoises should fill a hole in Pinta's ecological make-up. "In the absence of a dominant herbivore, the structure of the island's vegetation is changing," says Ole Hamann, a botanist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark who has worked on Pinta since the 1970s. "Tortoises will open up the vegetation, making room for light-loving herbs and grasses."

Next for eradication are the non-native rats. In 2003, conservationists announced that around 200,000 Norwegian rats had been removed from Campbell Island, some 700 kilometres south of New Zealand. It was the most successful rat eradication scheme to date and the technique used, an aerial drop of poison specific to rats, is due to come to the Galapagos soon.

With cruise liners and mass tourism, however, enforcing adequate quarantine measures will be very difficult, says Stjepic. At the end of this month, there will be workshops to look at ways of capping the number of visitors to the islands. One obvious way is to put the price up, from the $100 entry fee currently charged, to $500.

From issue 2573 of New Scientist magazine, 12 October 2006, page 8-9

My comments:

"Should leave nature alone...if one cannot care for it"

September 29, 2006

Promiscuous queen bees make healthier hives

00:01 28 September 2006 news service
John Pickrell

The queens of bees, ants and wasps that indulge in the most promiscuous and lengthy sex marathons produce the healthiest colonies, a new study reveals.

Honeybee queens that mated with multiple drones were shown to foster bee hives with wider genetic variation. This variation meant they were much better able to fend off a debilitating disease, researchers found.

For many social insect queens, mating is a costly activity. In honeybees, for example, it involves her flying many kilometres from the hive to rendezvous sites with male drones – the longer she stays to mate, the more precious energy she expends, and the greater the chance there is that she will be devoured by predators.

This has made experts wonder why the queens of some species of social insects indulge in multiple sexual encounters, while others make do with a single male. Ideas include that the resulting genetic variation could help improve the division of labour in a colony, or that multiple mating might simply be a strategy to collect more sperm.

(In the picture:Queen bees, such as the one marked with a numbered tag, foster healthier colonies by 'sleeping around' (Image: David Tarpy))

Hotbed for life

But perhaps the most convincing theory is that queens that take many lovers produce colonies that are better protected against disease. "Insects living very closely in nutrient-rich environments are hotbeds for micro-organisms – they need mechanisms to protect against disease," says apiculturalist (bee expert) David Tarpy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, US.

To test this theory, Tarpy experimentally inseminated honeybee queens (Apis mellifera) with the sperm of either one or 10 drones. Twenty-four "multiple-mate" queens and 25 singly-mated queens were then encouraged to set up colonies in bee hives kept by Tarpy's colleague Thomas Seeley at Cornell University in Ithaca, US.

Once these colonies were established, Seeley sprayed them with water tainted with American foulbrood disease, a highly virulent infector of bee larvae.

The hives were tested for spread of infection five and nine weeks later. Though no colonies had completely escaped infection, the researchers found that colonies fathered by single drones were significantly weaker and were experiencing more intense outbreaks of disease.

Wipe out

The findings strongly suggest that multiple mating increases a colony's resistance to parasites, Tarpy says. "Honeybee queens are hedging their bets by mating with many males," he says. The resultant offspring would have a wider range of disease resistance and susceptibilities, meaning they are less likely to be wiped out in one go.

"This is convincing evidence that multiple-mated hives seem to suffer less disease," says Francis Ratnieks, who heads up Sheffield University's Apiculture and Social Insect Laboratory in the UK. "There are lots of ideas in this area, but not many good experimental studies."

The finding could have wider implications. Honeybees are thought to be directly responsible for about one-third of everything eaten in the US, due to service they provide as pollinators, says Tarpy. They are therefore worth an estimated $20 billion annually to the agricultural industry. Many of these are domesticated bees, and some are artificially inseminated.

Though honeybees naturally take 10 to 20 mates – beekeepers could help ensure hives are steeled against the ravages of disease by ensuring queens are as promiscuous as possible, perhaps through artificial insemination, says Tarpy.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B (DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3702)

Silky-footed tarantulas don't come unstuck

27 September 2006
From New Scientist Print Edition.
Michael Reilly

They have a deadly bite, but a soft footfall. Tarantulas, it turns out, can spin silk with their feet.

To crawl vertically and cling upside down, most spiders use minute claws and pads on their feet or "tarsi". These work on rough surfaces, but may fail on smooth or dirty ones. While this is not a problem for small spiders that can survive long falls, for a heavy tarantula a slip could be fatal.

To figure out how tarantulas make their way safely up vertical surfaces, Adam Summers of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues analysed the footprints of Costa Rican zebra tarantulas (Aphonopelma seemanni) as they climbed a glass wall. This revealed that the spiders left fragments of sticky silk a few micrometres in diameter and up to 2.5 centimetres long.

On looking closely at the spiders' feet the researchers found microscopic spigots that resembled the creatures' abdominal silk-producing spinnerets (Nature, vol 443, p 407). "With all the work that's been done on spider feet it's amazing to find something like this. Somehow it has been missed before," says Summers.

“With all the work that's been done on spider feet it's amazing to find this. Somehow it has been missed before”The discovery of these structures raises an interesting evolutionary question, as abdominal spinnerets are widely considered to be the remnants of ancient appendages. "It is thought that abdominal spinnerets could be vestigial legs," says Todd Blackledge, who works on spider silk at the University of Akron in Ohio. The spinnerets have jointed segments and have been shown to move in sync with the legs when spiders walk.

So far Summers and colleagues have found foot spigots only in tarantulas, so it is possible that they are a relatively recent adaptation to supplement the claws and pads. Identifying the genes involved in tarsal silk production will help determine whether they evolved to increase traction, or if they were co-opted from an organ with some other function. Testing these hypotheses will require detailed surveys of all spider species, says Summers, looking for any that might also have silken toes.

From issue 2571 of New Scientist magazine, 27 September 2006, page 12.

September 28, 2006


A small village on the bank of the river
The clear water could make you shiver
But soon the pollution
Caused it's execution
Now the river is a black, dirty sewer!


September 25, 2006

I lament

Snowy cotton mounds?
No!,white fluffy clouds.
Behind them the pink sky
Gives a tone-a bit shy.

Orange splashes here and there,
Absolute beauty at a wrongwhere!
Headlights and the running ants,
"Money,Money!", the greedy chants.

Not even a second, to look up to
Nature's show, its colours and hues.
I lament, while watering the plants;
Lovely sky and the echoing chants.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
-Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Thanks TOI

Thanks to Times Of India for quick response to this grave matter.

Chopping trees for garba? Bad idea


Ahmedabad: Chopping trees inside your society to make space for garba? Bad idea! Volunteers of environment NGOs are doing the rounds around societies and they would report felling of trees to civic authorities, an offence that could attract fine. 
A complaint against Goyal Intercity society block 'A' has already been registered by a volunteer of environment NGO Tarumitra, Hershal Pandya, with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), for lopping off all branches of 14 trees. 
"Some 14 fully grown trees inside the society compound have been reduced to 10-15 feet of naked trunks to make way for residents to do garba. The society took no prior permission and I reported the incident to the AMC," says Pandya. 
 AMC officials have warned residential societies to desist from chopping or badly pruning trees without permission. "I will look into this complaint and if the residents have lopped off branches, they will be fined. Mild pruning is permissible, but you cannot lop off branches this way," says general manager of AMC's parks & gardens department, IP Kakkad. 
While the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation itself has been chopping a number of trees as a part of its roadwidening exercise, many residents, too, are known to mercilessly cut trees within their societies without realising that they are committing an offence. 
 "We have reported two incidents of tree felling in the city recently, including a huge Neem tree chopped at Chandralok Apartments in Shahibaug and 4-5 trees cut in Swaymbhu Apartments near AMA," says Bhavna Ramrakhiani of Ahmedabad Community Foundation. 
The AMC started a 'green hotline' after a number of such incidents were reported earlier this year.


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
-Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
Black roses,
Sad Moses,
Bright smoke,
Glistening coke.

No more kisses,
Masked-beaked noses.
Exaggerated picture is,
Reality can-be this!

Lovely, chirpy, green nature,
Holds in-it-a beautiful future.
Let's save it, conserve it, re-kindle it,
Dark-is murdered, when-a candle is lit.

September 23, 2006

Ruthless Tree Cutting - For Navratri

I was pretty shocked to see people cutting down trees to nothing but a naked trunk.
Fourteen Trees in a row, standing naked and in front of them, a stage for band to play during navratri.
This is a scene in Goyal Intercity A, Nr S.A.L. Hospital. They are a set of ten-storeyed buildings with people of the upper strata living there.
It was a very sad thing to see uneducativeness of so called literate people.
I have already complained to the municipality and also informed the press. I hope they bring up the issue and enlighten the darkened minds.
May God bless them with some knowledge and love for nature! Else there is no stopping to the increase in gloom spread over the world........alas!.....i hope........may God......


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
-Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Lions Dying in Indian Zoo after Failed Experiment

Just a note :-) I think the Indian culture and Indianness shows up in this article.
Lions Dying in Indian Zoo after Failed Experiment

September 18, 2006 — By Palash Kumar, Reuters

CHANDIGARH, India — Twenty-one lions are dying in a zoo in north India after a cross-breeding experiment to boost the park's attractions went disastrously wrong.

In the 1980s officials at the Chhatbir Zoo in the northern city of Chandigarh, bred captive Asiatic lions with a pair of African circus animals, resulting in a hybrid species.

Within a few years it became obvious it had not worked.

The offspring found it hard to walk, let alone run, because their hind legs were weak. And by the mid 1990s the big cats -- which live for up to 20 years in captivity -- showed symptoms of failing immune systems.

But it wasn't until 2000 that the breeding programme was ended, and the male lions given vasectomies, by which time the zoo had 70 to 80 such lions.

Their number dwindled slowly, with disease killing some and some dying of wounds inflicted by other lions.

Authorities say they are waiting for the population to "phase out" before they can start breeding pure Asiatic lions.

"But the effort here is to help them die with dignity," said Dharminder Sharma, a senior zoo official. "We give them all the facilities to live a happy life in their last years. Some of the old lions are even given boneless meat."

Last year the zoo opened a special enclosure, away from the main exhibit area, where it keeps lions who have become too feeble to defend themselves.

It has been dubbed an "old age home" for lions.

Ailing Lakshmi and Lajwanti now live in these sheds, which have a small caged courtyard.

Both are hybrid and are extremely weak. They can barely stand up or walk. Their only activity is a small but painful walk to eat their meals. However, if challenged, they can still muster a spine-chilling roar.

In August, Lakshmi stopped eating. Doctors at the zoo put her on a drip and fed her glucose through water.

"Those were nervous times for us," said Sharma.

"We tried very hard to keep her alive and eventually succeeded when she slowly started to eat ... Even if they are meant to die, it doesn't meant we kill them by not treating them," he added.

Asiatic lions are found only in India and, at present, there are about 300 of them in the Gir national park in the western state of Gujarat.

In the mid-20th century, their numbers were less then 15 as they were vigorously hunted by the Maharajas and princes for whom the majestic animal was the most coveted game. The population recovered after a breeding programme launched in the Gir sanctuary in the 1960s.

Source: Reuters

Contact Info:

Website :


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
-Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Lebanon Begins To Clean Ravaged Coast After Wartime Oil Spill

Lebanon Begins To Clean Ravaged Coast After Wartime Oil Spill

September 22, 2006 — By Henry Meyer, Associated Press

BEIRUT — Shovel-wielding volunteers sifted through oil-stained sand on a beach where tourists once swam, now emptied by a massive spill caused by Israeli bombardment. Two months later, only 3 percent of the oil has been recovered.

"It's going to take a year before it's back to normal," said Commander Christian Nedelec, the head of an eight-person French team that has been helping the Lebanese government clean up the slick.

Lebanon's tourist and fishing industries remain battered by what has been described as the country's worst-ever environmental catastrophe, which erupted when Israeli warplanes struck the Jiyeh power plant in mid-July, spilling up to 110,000 barrels of fuel oil into the clear Mediterranean waters.

Less than 3,500 barrels have been cleaned up. Lebanon couldn't start any offshore operation for weeks, waiting for Israel to lift its naval and air blockade on Sept. 8.

Around two-thirds of Lebanon's picturesque and rocky Mediterranean coast has been fouled by the oil slick, which extends about 95 miles and has reached Syria's shoreline to the north.

"The timing is quite essential with an oil spill. The more you wait, the more it spreads," said Luisa Colasimone of the United Nations Environmental Program.

On Sunday, 20 volunteers were cleaning up the black gunk that tarred the 1.1-mile-long beach, Ramlat el-Baida -- Arabic for "white sand." The only public beach within about 60 miles of the capital, it is usually crowded with locals and tourists on summer weekends.

Tarek Moukaddem, an 18-year-old student, has come six or seven times to help clean, traveling by bus from his hometown north of Beirut.

"I usually spend all my time here. I'm here to clean it so I can come here with my friends and swim next summer," he said.

The airstrike at Jiyeh destroyed six fuel tanks at the plant. Israel said it hit the site, 12 miles south of Beirut, as part of a broader campaign against infrastructure used by Hezbollah guerrillas. Many Lebanese accuse it of hitting the station and other sites with few ties to Hezbollah simply to punish the country and force the government to take action against the guerrillas.

Israel insists the circumstances of the spill are unclear and it has not accepted responsibility.

"It's not clear that Israel was directly responsible for the oil slick. We certainly did not intentionally attack the oil containers," said Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev.

That explanation is of scant consolation to Mohamed Itani, a Beirut fisherman who not been out to sea in his boat since the spill, and is struggling to support his 7-year-old twin sons and his wife, who is expecting a third child.

The 35-year-old sat idly drinking tea, looking despondently at the thick, black sludge that has blocked the mouth of the small fishing port.

Along the length of Lebanon's coast, usually visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, more than 30 sandy beaches and rocky coves are covered with oil.

Lebanon's archaeological heritage also has suffered. Some 25 miles north of Beirut in the ancient Phoenician port city of Byblos, whose history stretches back 7,000 years, famous ruins were blackened by the slick.

The oil seeped into the foundation of the medieval harbor wall, staining the stones of the two ancient towers at the port's entrance. U.N. experts warn that the site will have to be cleaned for 10 weeks with hand brushes -- before winter to prevent permanent devastation.

It is marine life that could suffer the worst consequences, because in the Mediterranean, currents don't come in enough often from the ocean to sweep away pollutants.

Lebanese waters are known as a passage for migrating schools of fish, particularly tuna. The oil, which sank to the bottom of the sea, where it threatens plants and fish that live on the sea floor, could resurface unless treated and contaminate the coast for years to come.

It could take up to 10 years for the ecosystem of the eastern Mediterranean to recover fully, according to the country's environment minister, Yaacoub Sarraf.

Several Mediterranean countries including France, Spain and Italy have sent teams to help the Lebanese navy in coping with the oil spill, whose cleanup could cost $100 million.

Lebanon, meanwhile, plans to sue Israel for damages, though it has not said how much it will claim.

Rick Steiner, an American oil spill expert who worked on the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster and has been advising the Lebanese government, says Israel should pay $1 billion, including lost revenues from fishing and tourism.


Associated Press writer Steve Weizman contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

Source: Associated Press

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Taru Mitra Gujarat

What is this Taru Mitra Gujarat?

"Taru Mitra" in gujarati,sanskrit and hindi means "Friends of Trees"

We are a group of citizens concerned about the environment of the state and largely, the earth.

We are based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and our present activities revolve around the city of Amdavad.(thats in gujarati!) Our activities are also related to "Trees". We are engaged in stopping of Tree-cutting, growing more trees and in environmental education.

For more details on our group, please visit: Taru Mitra Gujarat Website

On this blog:
I intend to post News & Articles related to the Global Environment and Indian scenario"