January 31, 2007

Congratulations to the Virgin Mother - Komodo Dragon

Baby komodo dragon photo

January 22, 2007

Chester, England, United Kingdom

The product of a virgin birth, this baby komodo dragon is one of five hatchlings that made their appearance at the Chester Zoo in England this week.

Their mother, Flora, never had a mate and instead reproduced asexually (Read "Virgin Birth Expected at Christmas—By Komodo Dragon" [December 2006].)

This marked the second recorded incidence of asexual reproduction in a female komodo dragon, the other having taken place in April 2006 at the London Zoo.

Two more of Flora's eggs have yet to hatch.

January 30, 2007

Rhinos Back To Wild

IFAW Releases Rhinos Back To Wild in India

(Assam, India – 30 January 2007) – IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare, www.ifaw.org) and its partner, WTI (Wildlife Trust of India), today announced the successful release of two one-horned Asian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) back to the wild in India with support from Assam Forest Department.

The rhinos, female calves nicknamed Manasi and Roje, were rescued from the floodwaters that annually spill over the banks of the Brahmaputra River. The pair, both three years old, were rescued in the summer of 2004 and rehabilitated at the Centre for Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC). CWRC is located near Kaziranga National Park, in North East India, and was founded in 2001 through a collaboration between WTI, IFAW and the Assam Forest Department. CWRC was one of India's first multi-species rehabilitation centres and is designed to care for a variety of animals until they are capable of surviving release back into the wild.

"The rhinos will wear radio collars for post release monitoring," said Dr. Ian Robinson, who heads up IFAW's Emergency Relief team. "We want to do everything possible to assure a successful transition back to the wild for these animals."

The rhinos were translocated from CWRC, via an overnight convoy, to Manas National Park and released at an event attended by more than 100 onlookers, wildlife experts, and dignitaries including Abhajit Rabha, Director of Manas National Park and Ritesh Bhattacharjee, Field Director of the Manas Tiger Project.

"We are confident that the rhinos will do well in Manas as we are involving not just governments but also the local people," said M.C. Malakar, Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam. "The CWRC rescue centre has helped us rescue and rear more animals than before. I thank IFAW for setting up the rescue centre with WTI."

"Manas once supported a lot of rhinos, however certain problems wiped them out. Now, as these rhino calves are released, it is good to release them in Manas as it is conductive to rhino populations," said D.M. Singh, Director Kaziranga National Park. "Earlier we would rescue animals and take them to the zoo and that was the end. But now the CWRC rescue centre has made rehabilitation into the wild a possibility."

At Manas the two rhinos will be held in an enclosure and will later join a four year old rhino that was moved there last year. IFAW and WTI released that female rhino at the same location in February 2006. It was the first rhino in Manas in more than a decade. Wild rhinos in Manas National Park, a World Heritage site, once numbered more than 100.

"The enormous effort of veterinary doctors, IFAW, the staff of the forest department, and the WTI animal keepers at the CWRC rescue centre has made this possible," said Professor P.C. Bhattacharjee of WTI.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW works around the globe to protect animals and habitats promoting practical solutions for animals and people. To learn how you can help, please visit


No real attempt to save trees

[ 17 Mar, 2003 2310hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
(situation isn't better four years later, actually worse!)
AHMEDABAD/VADODARA/SURAT: According to a scientific study, a tree with a life span of about 50 years generates Rs 3,75,000 worth of oxygen per year. It recycles Rs 4,50,000 worth of water and provides Rs 3,75,000 worth of soil erosion control and soil fertility.

It also provides Rs 7,50,000 worth of air pollution control and provides Rs 3,75,000 worth of shelter and home for animals and birds. Going by these figures, it is difficult to estimate the losses suffered by the environment in Gujarat on every Holi.

Approximately 30,000 Holi fires are lit across the state. And considering that 100 kg of wood go up in flames in each bonfire, the final figure touches a mindboggling 30,00,000 kg of wood and, in the process, taking toll of over 7,500 trees.

"These figures do not include the value of the fruit, timber and beauty the tree provides in its lifetime," says Gopal Jain of the Centre for Environment Education. However, the forest department officials argue that most of the trees used in the religious fire is 'desi bawal'. "The wood mainly comes from the farm forests," informs chief conservator of forest, Balaguru Swami.

According to N Nagori, former president of the Gujarat Timber Merchants' Association, a large chunk of the wood is brought from the Kheda district. It's mainly cut from the roadside.

Says Himanshu Nagori, president of the Ahmedabad Timber Merchants' Association, "The wood used during Holi is mostly useless." Haribhai Panchal of Sadvichar Parivar, an organisation which has been working hard to spread awareness on the issue, believes it's high time something has be done to save the environment.

"Thousands of tonnes of wood are burnt on Holi. Instead of having numerous Holis, we should have one symbolic fire. Can you imagine around four lakh kg of wood is burnt in Ahmedabad alone?" he says. Panchal recollects one instance when jail inmates had taken the Parivar's advice seriously and had a Holi fire using waste products instead of wood.

In Vadodara, if the authorities are to be believed, bonfires will consume as much as 2 lakh kg of wood.

"A housing society that has more than 100 houses would require almost 200 kg of firewood, whereas those with a lesser number of houses will utilise anywhere between 50 and 100 kg of firewood, on this day. The wood commonly used comprise neem, tamarind, gulmohar and banyan," says general secretary of International Society of Naturalist (Insona), GM Oza.

"According to a recent estimate, almost 100 to 200 kg of firewood is burnt by small as well as medium-sized societies in the city," says deputy conservator of forests, social forestry division IA Chauhan.

In Surat, at more than 300 places holika dahan will be organised and on average in each case, one to two quintals of wood would be burnt, according to chief fire officer G M Kotwal of the Surat Municipal Corporation.

Deputy forest conservator D B Patti told TNN that though vigil has been stepped up on the occasion to prevent ferrying of timbers from the forest region to the city areas, in almost all the cases, only fuel-wood, collected from fields or purchased from wood sellers, is used for the purpose.

January 23, 2007

Unique Sanctuary

Unique sanctuary
pls keep patience....n read the whole article.....this sanctuary...is really unik!


THE KITALE CONSERVANCY- a 136-hectare botanical garden with over 850 plant species , has finally been opened to the public.

The garden is owned by career educationist Boniface Ndura, who says that a country's identity should not be determined by culture only but also the uniqueness of its vegetation.

The plant species in the garden are planted systematically according to families to facilitate learning and understanding by laymen.

All the species are indigenous, depicting distinct ecosystems in Kenya, from the tropical rain forest in Kakamega, the alpine meadows on Mt Kenya to the semi-desert areas like Garissa in the northeastern.

The park is 6km from Kitale town on the Kitale-Kapenguria highway.
Mr Ndura advocates the promotion and conservation of indigenous plant species in their diversity not only for ecological usefulness but also for "our ecological identity."

The botanical garden has a special focus on endemic and endangered species and the management argues that they need to be replicated elsewhere from their original habitats to save them from extinction through the genetic drifts that affect confined gene pools.
All the traditional uses of the plants are being studied and documented to preserve the rich ethno-ecology and wisdom, that Mr Ndura says has been accumulated over prolonged periods and should not be allowed to die with the few elders scattered in various communities.

Mr Ndura says his botanical garden is a sign of what commitment can do.
"Many institutions spend huge sums of money from donors but hardly produce anything worth the name," he laments.

He says the main reason conservation fails in Africa is because of the mentality that we must be "funded" to conserve our resources, arguing that conservation is a culture and attitude.
Western Kenya has only a few natural habitats set aside for conservation of either indigenous forests or natural populations of wildlife.

The main conservation areas are the trans-boundary Mt Elgon National Park and Saiwa Swamp, the smallest national park in Kenya. Both are managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service.
While private conservation is common in the savanna areas of Machakos, Laikipia and Naivasha, it is less so in western Kenya.

At Endebbess, there is the Delta Crescent Sanctuary, which was hitherto the only successful sanctuary of rare species like the Rothschild giraffe and white rhino. It is also a popular tourist destination, offering camping and horse riding.

Kitale Conservancy is the second significant private conservation initiative in the area.
Besides education — its main purpose is offering recreational activities like boat riding, camping and nature walks.

Beyond the restaurant at the gate, the trail is lined with indigenous tree species from different ecosystems in Kenya and the management has documented their ecological and cultural significance to the communities where they originate.

The nature trail then winds through different habitats, among them a thick riverine forest along the Sabwani River, a tributary of the Nzoia. Then there aredry grassland and marshy land, all hosting the appropriate species.

From a conservation perspective, the most unique species are the De-Brazza's monkeys, the sitatunga and crested cranes.

The De-Brazza's monkeys is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN, or the World Conservation Union) as an endangered species in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda because its habitats are being eroded by cultivation and deforestation.

In Kenya, the species is found only in the west of the country, with pocket populations in Kakamega forest, Mt Elgon National Park and Saiwa Swamp National Park, 15 km from Kitale Conservancy.

IT IS SIGNIFICANT THAT KItale conservancy is the only private conservation area where the species occurs.

Although the monkey is shy, a patient visitor has a chance to spot it either on the nature trail along the river or near the restaurant at the main gate. The farm hosts a population of about 30 of this elegant species which are attracting researchers from different learning institutions worldwide.

The sitatunga is listed in literature as rare or locally endangered in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Lake Chad. It is the only amphibious antelope in Kenya, distinguished by its shaggy long legs with splayed hooves and spreadeagled stance. These are an evolutionary adaptation for living on boggy ground.

In Kenya, the sitatunga is found mainly on the shores of Lake Victoria and in minor pockets of western Kenya. Saiwa Swamp national park is the only protected area where sitatunga live and breed, though there is some conflict with neighbouring farmers.

The Kitale Conservancy has a 20-hectare wetland dedicated to sitatunga conservation and, with the assistance of KWS, the farm is now a sitatunga sanctuary making it the second private farm, after Lewa Downs in Nanyuki, to become a sitatunga sanctuary.

The Saiwa swamp is the only known protected area in Kenya where the Uganda crane and the black crowned crane breed.

The two cranes are unique in that they are virtually endangered due to loss of wetland habitats in the country, most of which have been reclaimed for agriculture.

While the conservancy's conservation credentials are unassailable, the farm has a controversial component.

Among the principal attractions is a set of livestock with bizarre genetic deformities.
Mr Ndura says he decided to offer sanctuary to these animals to save them from persecution.
Such animals are taboo in some communities, where they are killed immediately after birth, but Mr Ndura says they have a right to exist like other animals, adding that their presence on the farm offers great educational insight.

He says he has on several occasions hosted university students of veterinary genetics and some external scholars in the field who confess to having read about but never seen such evolutionary aberrations.

For Mr Ndura, the opening of the park to the public is the culmination of a dream nurtured since he bought the first 45 hectares of land in 1974.

He painstakingly bought more land to ensure a viable area for conservation and hopes to finally use the park to teach the public that "conservation" is not waste of agricultural land but a profitable land use as well."


Bihar Today : Endangered Garuda birds are breeding in Bihar

Hershal has sent you a link to a blog:

Blog: Bihar Today
Post: Endangered Garuda birds are breeding in Bihar
Link: http://bihartoday.blogspot.com/2007/01/endangered-garuda-birds-are-breeding-in.html

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Bye to Baiji

Source: http://www.fracturedearth.org/?p=224

i thought i would reproduce something i read in the ny times this morning.

Robert L. Pitman has spent 30 years studying the world's whales, dolphins and other aquatic mammals. He returned to San Diego, Calif., last week after a fruitless six-week expedition in which teams of five observers on two vessels scoured the Yangtze River from the Three Gorges Dam to Shanghai, seeking the last members of the rarest cetacean species of all, a white, nearly blind dolphin called the baiji, Lipotes vexillifer. The dolphin is now considered, at best, "functionally extinct." Dr. Pitman wrote this note in response to a reporter's question about the broader implications of this, the first apparent extinction of a cetacean in modern times.

but first, a photograph of Lipotes vexillifer. this is a snap of, as the nytimes says, one of the last known baiji, photographed in captivity before its death in 2002.
One of the last known baiji, photographed in captivity before its death in 2002. Nobody eats baiji, but it became a bycatch of other fishing.
and now, on with what pitman says…

Locally, the Yangtze River is in serious trouble; the canary in the coal mine is dead. In addition to baiji, the Yangtze paddlefish is (was) probably the largest freshwater fish in the world (at least 21 feet), and it hasn't been seen since 2003; the huge Yangtze sturgeon breeds only in tanks now because it has no natural habitat (a very large dam stands between it and its breeding grounds). The whole river ecosystem is going down the tubes in the name of rampant economic development. There is a huge environmental debt accruing on the Yangtze, and baiji was perhaps just the first installment.

Globally, scientists have been warning for some time of an impending anthropogenic mass extinction worldwide. Previous bouts of human-caused extinctions were due mainly to directed take: humans hunting for food. What we are seeing now is probably the first large animal that has ever gone extinct merely as an indirect consequence of human activity: a victim of market forces and our collective lifestyle. Nobody eats baiji and no tourists pay to see it — there were no reasons to take it deliberately, but there was no economic reason to save it, either. It is gone because too many people got too efficient at catching fish in the river and it was incidental bycatch. And it is perhaps a view of the future for much of the rest of the world and an indication that the predicted mass extinction is arriving on schedule.

For the Chinese, I think that losing a half-blind river dolphin and a couple of oversize fish was a fair trade for all the money that is being made there now. China is an economic model envied by most of the rest of the world, and I think that many other (especially third world) countries will be confronted with similar decisions of economic development versus conservation of habitats and animals, and the response will be the same. From now on we will have to choose which animals will be allowed to live on the planet with us, and baiji got cut in the first round. It is a sad day. I know it is their country, but the planet belongs to all of us. We came to say goodbye to baiji, but after its being in the river for 20 million years, we apparently missed it by two years.

Sorry if I got a little emotional here, but the disappearance of an entire family of mammals is an inestimable loss for China and for the world. I think this is a big deal and possibly a turning point for the history of our planet. We are bulldozing the Garden of Eden, and the first large animal has fallen.

Robert L. Pitman, NOAA Fisheries Ecosysem Studies Program

stark, isn't it? "We came to say goodbye to baiji, but after its being in the river for 20 million years, we apparently missed it by two years." if you want to read more about the baiji, the mammal that accompanies 2006 into the history books, go here — the blog that the expedition maintained. on a related note. if you are looking for a good environmental history of china, try the retreat of the elephants by mark elvin.


"That's the direction in which the world should progress according to me - the direction in which we finally become freed from the label of country and become global citizens. Instead of being global citizens then - we become the same thing we started out with - being humans."


'Gujarati hospitality has winged visitors checking in'

'Gujarati hospitality has winged visitors checking in'
Syed Khalique Ahmed
Ahmedabad, January 22: EVER thought why do migratory birds from Russia, Central Asian countries and even Iran and Iraq, wing their way to Gujarat in winter? If forest department officials are to be believed, 'Gujarati hospitality' to winged visitors, apart from variations in its habitat, are reasons that has them flocking in largest number to this coastal state.
The number of avian visitors to the State this year is reported to be higher than the last year though no bird census is being conducted this year.
According to a survey conducted in 2005, over 20 lakh migratory birds had visited over 20,000 big and small wetlands and water bodies in the State during winter that year. The number swelled this year owing to 'good health' of State's wetland, courtesy good monsoon last year and water released in some of the wetlands and lakes through a network of Narmada canals.
Another reason for the migratory birds making the State their temporary home during winter is 'safety'.
"People in Gujarat are hospitable to birds and avoid 'shikar' (hunting ) as compared to other states, which is one of the major reasons why birds home in on Gujarat for winter," says Pradeep Khanna, Principal Chief Conservation of Forests (Wildlife).
Variation in its ecological habitat and food availability for avians in its wetlands, particularly, along the coastal belt too draws in largest number of migratory birds.
If wetlands along the coastal belts provided small fish as food for migratory birds, variation in agricultural practices attracts avian friends, especially in Saurashtra region that's dotted with thousands of small checkdams.
According to Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife Research and Training) H S Singh, winged visitors like common cranes relish groundnut the most, hence the reason for the climb in the number of cranes visiting Gujarat, mainly Saurashtra with largest tracts of land sown with groundnut.
The migratory cranes feed on the groundnut seeds leftover in the fields after cultivation.
Moreover, there's also high degree of tolerance towards birds in Gujarat due to food habits of the people in the wetland areas.
Moreover, Gujarat has the largest area of wetlands and accounts for 37 per cent of the total wetlands in the country.
Out of 139 international bird sites in India, 11 are in Gujarat.
Among them, Nalsarovar near Ahmedabad, Khijadia and Charkala in Jamnagar, Salt Pan near Bhavnagar, Thol lake, Wadhwana in Vadodara, Flamingo city in Great Rann of Kutch with variations in their habitats attract largest number of migratory birds.
According to forest officials, winged visitors this year were almost widely distributed throughout the State as all the water bodies were brimming and provided good habitat. Few waterbodies, where water level went down, was filled with water from Narmada river.

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January 12, 2007

Wildlife officials release smuggled turtles in Uttar Pradesh

Wildlife officials release smuggled turtles in Uttar Pradesh

Etawah (Uttar Pradesh), Jan 8: Wildlife officials in Uttar Pradesh released over 1600 endangered turtles today, which were being smuggled to West Bengal for consumption and trade.

The turtles were seized here from poachers, who were taking the consignment in jute sacks to West Bengal.

Police have arrested six persons in the case while two managed to flee. The arrested men have been booked under stringent anti-poaching and wildlife Laws.

"We surrounded the place where the accused were staying. We have recovered 34 sacks with 1654 live turtles and five sacks with dried turtle skins weighing 38 kilos. They are sold for a heavy price in the international market and retail for 10,000 rupees per kilo. The skin is used in medicines and other things," said O.P.S. Dhaka, a Police official.

Water bodies and rivers in Etawah are among the major breeding grounds of turtles.

"The trade in these turtles begins in winter in Etawah and continues till March. The people who collect them from rivers and other water bodies, do so for their skin and even for live trade. In winters, trade is usually for live turtles while in summer, it is for their skins," said Rajeev Chauhan, General Secretary of Society for Conservation of Nature, after releasing the turtles to Chambal River.

The Government has banned their trade under the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act, but the huge profit margins and tax laws have allowed poachers to rule the roost.

Thousands of fresh water turtles are caught every year for food. The worth of the turtles in international market was not immediately known. Each turtle weighed about two to two and a half kilograms, and was meant for consumption. Their flesh is considered a delicacy in eastern India.

They are also smuggled out of India to buyers, who use them to make medicines and tourist souvenirs.

According to studies, only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings normally reaches adulthood.

The reptiles are mangled by fishing trawler propellers, or suffocated in fishermen's gill nets. They are also killed by pollution, and by poachers, who hunt them for their meat.

--- ANI

URL :http://www.newkerala.com/news4.php?action=fullnews&id=76342


"That's the direction in which the world should progress according to me - the direction in which we finally become freed from the label of country and become global citizens. Instead of being global citizens then - we become the same thing we started out with - being humans."


Hooorraay! First Vulture Chick! wow

A first: Vulture bred in captivity
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 7
There's a reason for vulture conservationists to rejoice, the New Year's dawn, wrapped in fog and cold, brought with it the first white-backed vulture chick born in captivity at the Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre, Pinjore.

In a programme that has put Haryana on the world map, the birth of the chick has brought with it the hope of saving vultures from imminent extinction. "The chick came as a New Year gift for the centre. This is the first success we have seen since the project of the Forest Department along with the Bombay Natural History Society began in 2004. There is a great need for in-situ as well as ex-situ conservation of vultures," Haryana Minister of Forests and Tourism Kiran Chaudhary says.

The wildlife officials, too, have reason to smile. "The egg was laid on November 10 and came from a pair of vultures from Haryana. We kept the development under wraps because two eggs were laid last year as well. However, both did not hatch much to our disappointment. We were slightly skeptical about this one also since our birds are still young," says Chief Wildlife Warden R.D. Jakati.

On the first day of the year, the officials, keeping a tab on the egg, noticed the vulture pair moving around frantically. "We were expecting a chick but were not sure if it was born since the nest is too low down. Finally, three days later, we saw some movement in the nest. Sunk low in the nest among the twigs, we saw something rise and take food from the parent vulture's beak. That's when the birth of the baby was confirmed," Mr Jakati states.

While nobody has seen the chick with naked eyes, the baby is being monitored only through the CCTV installed near the nest. "Nobody was allowed near the cage housing the nest since the egg was first noticed. The CCTV is our only window to their world. However, the CCTV does not allow zooming in which made watching the movements difficult especially when we are all excited about this birth and want to see and know as much as we can," he maintains.

While the chick will be able-bodied in a month's time, it will be able to take care of itself in three month's time. "Till then, we are keeping our fingers crossed. However, the New Year has got off to a good start and we are hoping our luck will carry through the year," another official, closely associated with the programme, says.

The programme was established as a vulture care centre in August 2001 when injured and dying vultures were brought for care. It was upgraded to a breeding centre in 2004 when the reason for the death of the birds became known. Diclofenac, the killer drug, was banned last year.

This is the first birth of the vulture in captivity. At the Centre, efforts are on to breed the white-backed, slender bill and long-billed vulture. All three are facing extinction with nearly 90 per cent of the vulture population already dead.

While Haryana is the first state to have agreed to shoulder the responsibility of breeding vultures in captivity, another breeding centre was set up in West Bengal last year.


"That's the direction in which the world should progress according to me - the direction in which we finally become freed from the label of country and become global citizens. Instead of being global citizens then - we become the same thing we started out with - being humans."