Stranding response programme for endangered marine species suggested

Wildlife Institute of India says this will strengthen cause of research

CHENNAI: The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, has suggested to the Centre the initiation of a stranding response programme for endangered species of marine animals, WII scientist B.C. Choudhury said here on Thursday.

Addressing a two-day national consultation workshop for identification of research gaps in coastal and marine biodiversity conservation hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Prof. Choudhury said a stranding operation (involving rehabilitation of rare species that wash up on the shores sick or injured), provided scientists a unique opportunity to study these creatures out of their natural habitats.

Pointing out that many of the threatened species such as the dolphins, river terrapins and horse shoe crabs remained least studied specimens, Prof. Choudhury said a stranding programme could strengthen the cause of research in this direction.

Prof. Choudhury said India’s coastal and marine ecosystems were under increasing threat in spite of the great importance accorded to balancing livelihood issues and economic output to the national GDP along the 8,500-km coastline with ecology conservation. He advocated a multi-Ministry collaborative approach to the conservation agenda for the coastal and marine environment.

Prof. Choudhury pointed out that traditionally, the contribution of densely populated coastal regions to national wealth was much higher than that of land-locked systems. The coastal zone was home to half the world’s population, two-thirds of the largest cities and contributed half the tourism earnings.

Priorities

Prof. Choudhury spelt out as the priorities macro-level research in coastal and marine habitats, floral and faunal diversity values and identification of natural and anthropogenic threats. Some of the least-studied systems, in spite of their significant ecological importance, were sand dunes, estuaries, salt marshes, inter-tidal mud flats and sea grass beds, he said.

In her inaugural address, Aruna Basu Sarkar, Chief Conservator of Forests and Director of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust, called for integration of policy framing, implementation, research and community engagement for an effective coastal and marine biodiversity conservation programme.

K. Siva Kumar, WII scientist, said the workshop was the starting point in the consultative process to evolve a roadmap for future research on coastal and marine biodiversity conservation in India.

The specifics of the workshop include identification of research gaps, prioritisation of research, mandating specific roles for partnering institutions.

From THE HINDU

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World Environment Day programmes

Coimbatore: A cycle rally, a signature campaign and planting of saplings will mark World Environment Day celebrations in the city on June 5.

The cycle rally to create awareness among people on the need to save fuel and using cycles for short distance travelling, is being organised by The Hindu and The Chennai Silks.

The rally will start from The Chennai Silks’ branch on Oppanakara Street at 6.30 a.m. The participants should bring cycles.

The finishing point is The Chennai Silks branch at Gandhipuram.

The other sponsors of the event are SCM garments, Sree Kumaran ThangaMaligai and The KTM Jewellery Private Limited. For registration details, contact: 81440-33671/ 0422-2490888.

The signature campaign is being organised by Environment Conservation Group (ECG), a Non-Governmental Organisation.

It will be held at Race Course from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. For details contact: R. Mohammed Saleem, president of ECG at 97878 78910.

Home Guards will organise a rally on the day from the Police Commissioner’s office to Stanes Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School at 9 a.m. A release from Area Commander T.K. Dhanashekar said that Coimbatore City Police Commissioner C. Sylendra Babu will flag-off the rally.

Later, they will plant saplings on the school premises. S.K. Dogra, Additional Director General of Police, Director of Civil Defence and Deputy Commandant, Home Guards, Tamil Nadu, will preside over the meeting. A. Sivakumar, Commandant General in Chief, Tamil Nadu Home Guards, and M. Jagannathan, Vice-Principal, Civil Defence Training Institution/Assistant Commandant General, Home Guards, Coimbatore Range, will attend the function.

From THE HINDU

UNICEF: Paediatric HIV care should be integral to health programmes

Early diagnosis of HIV without regular follow ups that ensure access to health services is of little use. Keeping that in mind, paediatric HIV care and treatment need to become an integral part of infant and child survival and health programme, a Unicef report said Monday.

A day before World AIDS Day, the report said failure to follow-up on mothers and children after birth represents both avoidable child death and a massive loss of investment as children identified in need and who have been referred to services do not access them. 

In this regard, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in India is planning to roll out the early infant diagnosis by 2010 in 700 integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTC) across the country.

‘Since 2005 many lives have been saved because of interventions, such as combination prevention efforts with young people, early infant diagnosis of HIV and antiretrovirals (ARVs) for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV,’ the report which was released in New York said.

In terms of results, the report said that there has been a substantial increase in access to preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.

‘In 2008, in low-and middle-income countries, 45 percent of pregnant women living with HIV received antiretroviral drugs to keep them from passing the virus to their babies. That represents an increase from 35 percent in 2007 and from just 10 percent in 2004,’ it said.

India reported 10,673 women receiving ARV prophylaxis in 2008 out of an estimated 49,000 HIV positive pregnant women.

From Sify