Palani: Wild elephants destroy crops

PALANI: Several acres of standing crops, including perennial crops, near Sattaparai were destroyed when two wild elephants ran amuck in agriculture fields on Sunday. The elephants came down from the reserve forests in lower Palni hills and raided maize field and other farms.

When villagers tried to drive them into forests from the maize field, the angry elephants entered into neighbouring coconut and guava farms and uprooted several trees. Eye witnesses said that the elephants were confused and irritated as villagers surrounded them and tried to drive them in all directions. With persistent threat from all corners, these elephants ran from one corner to another corner of the field destroying crops.

Moreover, live electric fence around some farms too angered these wild animals. These animals have been camping in the farms near the village since Saturday night. They were standing just half kilometre away from Sattaparai-Ayakudi main road. Vehicle movement was also stopped fearing that the animal could attack people at any time.

But no forest officials came to the spot till Sunday evening. Having tired of contacting forest officials, local people have been struggling to drive these wild animals in an unorganised manner.

If forest officials do not come to their help, these elephants will destroy several acres of maize crop, a major crop in Palani taluk, farmers said.

The sudden raid by the wild animals was not new to several villages near Ayakudi and other areas along lower Palni hills. “We had appealed to forests officials to install solar fence or dig a pit along reserve forests to prevent entry of wild animals into villages. We will incur a huge loss when these animals stay in agri-field for a single night,” farmers said.

When the mating season starts, the quantum of destruction will be more, they said.

From THE HINDU

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Kullu: Himachal’s First Wilderness Emergency Rescue Course

Kullu: The Forest Department is becoming proactive in its ecotourism training especially in the Great Himalayan National Park. A 10 day first aid cum Wilderness Emergency Rescue course sponsored by the Great Himalayan National Park began on the 5th of December 2009. It consisted of 20 persons belonging to the Wildlife and Forest department, Ecotourism members of the Society for Biodiversity Tourism and Community Advancement (BTCA) and staff of Sunshine Himalayan Adventures (SHA). The course is being overlooked by Jiteder Lal Gupta and members of the Kullu Medical center.

Rescue Course

This emergency course was designed by Dr. J L Gupta ( head of Kullu Medical Center) and Mr. Ankit Sood ( Ecotourism Consultant GHNP) seeing various problems that may arise in trekking in the GHNP. The syllabus of the Wilderness Emergency Course covers everything from gradients, snow blindness, acute mountain sickness, first aid, surgical management, camp hygiene, water related diseases and their prevention, snake and animal bites, bandage, Splint Usage Dressing of wounds, general medication, first aid kits, cleanliness, Mountain rescue to CPR and Mountaineering Rescue. The training is done with practical sessions of theoretical classes.

Use of drama and actual scenario training along with audio visual aids including LCD projector, first hand interaction with foreigners and site visits to local hospitals is makes the course intensive. The first aid course uses theoretical sessions in first half, practical after lunch and evening sessions taken by foreign volunteers belonging to the Kullu Project.

From Himachal

WWF – UK – People should stop crime against Wildlife

WWF put out plea for public to be eyes and ears in wildlife crime

The WWF say that by lending them your eyes and ears, you could make a real difference to the future of hundreds of endangered species. They say they need help to fight the illegal trade in wildlife. If you see or hear about any suspicious trade in the UK or abroad, they ask you to please let them know by either using the report form on their website or by calling the Eyes and Ears Hotline: 01483 426111. Once they have heard from you, they will investigate, analyse and report your findings to the relevant authorities.

WildLife CrimeStoppers

WildLife CrimeStoppers

For urgent reports If you witness any wildlife crime that you would like to report urgently, call Crimestoppers anonymously and free of charge on 0800 555111. Alternatively, report it to your local police station.

They add an important caution though and that is:- Please do not attempt to investigate anything suspicious yourself. This could expose you personally to legal action. Never jeopardise your own safety. Remember that criminals often go to great lengths to protect their illegal activities. WWF Eyes and Ears respondents must be 16 or over.

DOs and DON’Ts Don’t draw attention to your interest.

Don’t take any action yourself.

Don’t arouse suspicion in any way. You don’t want to alert criminals that you may be onto them.

Don’t buy anything as evidence. This only encourages the trade and could even leave you open to prosecution in some countries.

Don’t ask any questions that might let criminals know you have spotted something suspicious.

Do look and listen as our Eyes and Ears, but don’t attempt to investigate anything yourself.

Do use your common sense and don’t put yourself at risk.

Do call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if you see or hear something suspicious that you want to report urgently.

www.wwf.org.uk

Himalayan wilderness yields 350 new species

Smallest species of deer ever known among new forms of wildlife discovered

By Lewis Smith

Monday, 10 August 2009

TRIMERESURUS GUMPRECHTI: Gumprechts green pit viper is venomous and grows to at least 130cm

TRIMERESURUS GUMPRECHTI: Gumprecht's green pit viper is venomous and grows to at least 130cm

One of the last frontiers of nature has yielded more than 350 new species of animals and plants in just the last 10 years. The eastern Himalayas contain vast tracts of remote and inaccessible terrain that few scientists have managed to reach and which provide a home for some of the planet’s most mysterious animals.

New species are turning up at a rate of 35 a year and highlights uncovered in the region since 1998 include the miniature muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis), also known as the leaf deer, which at 60 to 80cm tall and 11kg is the smallest species of deer in the world, and the Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala) – the first new monkey to be found in a century.

Among the most visually striking are the red-footed but otherwise bright green flying frog (Rhacophorus suffry) and Smith’s litter frog (Leptobrachium smithi), which boasts huge golden eyes and was described by the WWF, which has compiled a report on the region, as “among the most extraordinary-looking” frogs in the world.

Other new species include catfish with sticky stomachs, a luridly green pit viper, a freshwater beetle living at 5,100 metres above sea level – higher than any other beetle – and a bird restricted to a site less than a square mile.

Overall, from 1998 to 2008, two mammals, two birds, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, 244 plants and more than 60 invertebrates have been identified in the region, according to the WWF report, The Eastern Himalayas – Where Worlds Collide.

The area is already the stronghold of the Bengal tiger, the only home of the snow leopards and the last sanctuary of the greater one-horned rhino, but has so much unknown wildlife that researchers expect many more discoveries to be made in the future.

The eastern Himalayas – divided between Nepal, Bhutan and parts of China, India, Bangladesh and Burma – is regarded as one of the most rugged and beautiful areas of the world.

Mark Wright of WWF said: “The exciting thing about this is it is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know everything about the world. But this report shows there’s still a huge amount out there about which we know almost nothing. Even once we’ve ticked the box of identifying a species we have only just scratched the surface of what there is to know.”

Although they have only just been discovered, the new animals and plants are already under threat, as are many thousands of other species in the region. “While we can be really happy and excited about finding them, the elephant in the room is climate change,” he said. “We know that along with the Poles, mountain areas are going to be the regions most heavily impacted by climate change. The data we have suggests it’s warming in the Himalayas far faster than the global average.”

The impacts, such as the spread of disease, the destruction of crops and the large migrations of people desperate to move to other parts of the world, will eventually be felt as far away as the UK.

“One in five of all mankind gets its river water from the water that rises in the Himalayas. One way or another, that’s going to come back to haunt us in the UK at some stage. We will have to pick up the cost.”

Discoveries have also been made of species which lived in the region millions of years ago and were preserved when they became encased in amber resin.

Among the creatures preserved in amber was the earliest known gecko (Cretaceogekko burmae), from 100 million years ago which was identified in 2008. Others included the oldest known tick and the earliest recorded mushroom.

The region is a hotspot for wildlife and harbours a huge number of species including 10,000 plants, 300 mammals, 977 birds, 176 reptiles, 105 amphibians and 269 types of freshwater fish. WWF has launched the Climate for Life campaign to raise public awareness of environmental problems in the Himalayas and is working with local communities to help them cope with the impacts of climate change.

The wealth and variety of wildlife being found in the region makes the eastern Himalayas comparable with better recognised ecological hotspots such as Borneo.

However, despite its remoteness only 25 per cent of the original habitat remains intact and the plants and animals face threats including illegal logging, the spread of agriculture, poaching and pollution.

More Pictures

By THE INDEPENDANT