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

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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

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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-Fran├žois 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