Chennai: Wildlife census put off

CHENNAI: The Forest Department has rescheduled the combined census covering carnivore signs, vegetation data and anthropogenic pressures to the forest cover in the State.

According to Forest Department officials, it was originally planned to conduct the census for eight days from February 6.

From THE HINDU

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Coimbatore: Wildlife census in forest ranges

Coimbatore: The Forest Department, Coimbatore Circle, in association with the Wildlife Trust of India and Osai conducted a two day census in Coimbatore Division spread over 693 sq km in six forest ranges.

District Forest Officer I. Anwardeen said the objective of the census was to assess the wildlife population, habitat usage and sighting pattern. The data compiled would help in comparison of the wildlife population with the previous data base. The data generated would be of immense help in evolving future forest, wildlife and habitat management policies, Mr. Anwardeen said.

On Saturday, the census carried out by 130 volunteers in various trek routes was guided by Ramesh, Kalidas and Ganesh and Wildlife Biologist Kannan.

The volunteers were deployed in 44 blocks whereas on Sunday the census was based on sighting wildlife in water holes. For the carnivore population, the volunteers resorted to indirect evidences such as wildlife excreta, pug marks and various other indirect evidences. The water hole count outside the forest areas was also done in water bodies around the city in a bid to take stock of the birds visiting these water bodies.

From THE HINDU

Wildlife: Climate change could drown out Sundarbans tigers

January 2010. One of the world’s largest tiger populations could disappear by the end of this century as rising sea levels caused by climate change destroy their habitat along the coast of Bangladesh in an area known as the Sundarbans, according to a new WWF-led study published in the journal Climatic Change.

A small rise in sea levels would drown the Sundarbans. Credit © Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

Tigers are among the world’s most threatened species, with only an estimated 3,200 remaining in the wild. WWF officials said the threats facing these Royal Bengal tigers and other iconic species around the world highlight the need for urgent international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Tigers are highly adaptable – They just need some space

“If we don’t take steps to address the impacts of climate change on the Sundarbans, the only way its tigers will survive this century is with scuba gear,” said Colby Loucks, WWF-US deputy director of conservation science and the lead author of the study Sea Level Rise and Tigers: Predicted Impacts to Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Mangroves. “Tigers are a highly adaptable species, thriving from the snowy forests of Russia to the tropical forests of Indonesia.
“The projected sea level rise in the Sundarbans will likely outpace the tiger’s ability to adapt.”

Just 28cm sea level rise will destroy 96% of the Sundarbans

An expected sea level rise of 28 cm above 2000 levels may cause the remaining tiger habitat in the Sundarbans to decline by 96 percent, pushing the total population to fewer than 20 breeding tigers, according to the study.

Mangrove trees in the Sundarbans National Park, Bangladesh. © David Woodfall / WWF-UK

Unless immediate action is taken, the Sundarbans, its wildlife and the natural resources that sustain millions of people may disappear within 50 to 90 years, the study states.

One of the world’s most threatened habitats

“The mangrove forest of the Bengal tiger now joins the sea-ice of the polar bear as one of the habitats most immediately threatened as global temperatures rise during the course of this century,” said Keya Chatterjee, acting director of the WWF-US climate change program. “To avert an ecological catastrophe on a much larger scale, we must sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change we failed to avoid.”

Ganges Estuary

The Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by India and Bangladesh at the mouth of the Ganges River, is the world’s largest single block of mangrove forest. Mangroves are found at the inter-tidal region between land and sea, and not only serve as breeding grounds for fish but help protect coastal regions from natural disasters such as cyclones, storm surges and wind damage.

Up to 400 tigers live here

Providing the habitat for between 250 and 400 tigers, the Sundarbans is also home to more than 50 reptile species, 120 commercial fish species, 300 bird species and 45 mammal species. While their exact numbers are unclear, the tigers living in the Sundarbans of India and Bangladesh may represent as many as 10 percent of all the remaining wild tigers worldwide.

Using the rates of sea level rise projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Fourth Assessment Report (2007), the study’s authors wrote that a 28 cm sea level rise may be realized around 2070, at which point tigers will be unlikely to survive in the Sundarbans. However, recent research suggests that the seas may rise even more swiftly than what was predicted in the 2007 IPCC assessment.

Already under pressure from population growth

In addition to climate change, the Sundarbans tigers, like other tiger populations around the world already face tremendous threats from poaching and habitat loss. Tiger ranges have decreased by 40 percent over the past decade, and tigers today occupy less than seven percent of their original range. Scientists fear that accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching could push some tiger populations to the same fate as their now-extinct Javan and Balinese relatives in other parts of Asia.

Tigers are poached for their highly prized skins and body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The 2010 Year of the Tiger will mark an important year for conservation efforts to save wild tigers, with WWF continuing to play a vital role in implementing bold new strategies to save this magnificent Asian big cat.

Recommendations in the study include:

Locally, governments and natural resource managers should take immediate steps to conserve and expand mangroves while preventing poaching and retaliatory killing of tigers.
Regionally, neighbouring countries should increase sediment delivery and freshwater flows to the coastal region to support agriculture and replenishment of the land;
Globally, governments should take stronger action to limit greenhouse gas emissions;
“It’s disheartening to imagine that the Sundarbans – which means ‘beautiful forest’ in Bengali – could be gone this century, along with its tigers,” Loucks said. “We very much hope that in this, the Year of the Tiger, the world will focus on curtailing the immediate threats to these magnificent creatures and preparing for the long-term impacts of climate change.”

From Wildlife Extra

Global warming indigestion may push gorillas, monkeys to extinction

WASHINGTON: Global warming-induced indigestion could threaten the existence of mountain gorillas and other leaf-eating primates, suggests a new study.

Experts predicted that the annual temperatures are expected to rise by 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century in some climate models and higher temperatures could lead the animals to inaction, and spending more time lounging in the shade to avoid overheating.

Principal investigator Amanda Korstjens, a biological anthropologist at Bournemouth University in the U.K, and colleagues said sitting mountain gorillas and African colobines, a large group of species including colobus monkeys, combined with less nutritious food, may push the animals to extinction.

“A two-degree temperature increase is not a very farfetched idea,” National Geographic quoted her as saying.

“Animals can adapt … and maybe primates will find another way of coping. (But) I expect that they are at their limits already,” she added.

Colin Chapman, a primate ecologist at Montreal’s McGill University, added “if the assumptions are correct,” he said, “shows a pretty big potential in changes in distribution and extinction risk.”

The study was published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

From TOI

Commercial activity around Corbett threatens wildlife

A view of the Corbett National Park. Unhindered commercial activity around Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand is posing a serious threat to this eco-fragile zone and obstructing movement of animals. File Photo; The Hindu

 From THE HINDU

National Park: 70% of Corbett resorts host parties, races

NEW DELHI: Is Corbett national park, India’s best known tiger sanctuary, becoming a hunting ground for party animals at the cost of real ones? A study commissioned by the Union tourism ministry on Corbett has found that 70% of the resorts around the park are venues for weddings, rain dances, parties, bike races and zorbing rather than for visitors interested in wildlife.

There are 77 resorts in the area with 17 more likely to come up this year alone. Incidentally, the tiger reserve has a ceiling of a maximum of 600 visitors daily.

This rampant commercialisation and mismatch in numbers drawn to Corbett has set off alarm bells within the ministry that is now considering tighter norms for hotels and resorts coming up in ecologically-sensitive places.

The study conducted by the Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa surveyed areas around the 10km periphery of the park in December last year.

“The findings are very worrying. We plan to bring this to the attention of the ministry of environment and forests before Corbett becomes another Sariska. There must be stringent guidelines for commercial establishments,” Sujit Banerjee, tourism secretary, said.

Besides indulging in activities like parties and rain dances, resorts keep bright lights on throughout the night. Turning a blind eye to environmental friendly practices, 31% of the properties dump their waste outside while 26% burn it.

About 94% of the properties are fenced or walled. This has resulted in two animal corridors connecting Corbett with Rajaji national park being blocked. The fencing aside, vehicles and encroachment by villagers displaced by the New Tehri dam have also contributed to choking the corridors that are a lifeline for the animals.

Another worrying point is the fact that of the 77 vehicles plying within the tiger reserve, 26 run on diesel. Among steps being taken to check this disturbing trend, officials said resorts and hotels in fragile ecological zones will now have to take the nod from the tourism ministry before they begin commercial operations. These zones – like national parks, hill stations and coastal areas – will be defined in the new set of regulations. The ministry also plans to conduct surveys around other important national parks like Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh and Kanha.

Corbett National Park is becoming a party zone, posing a hazard to the environment. Besides indulging in activities like parties and rain dances, resorts keep bright lights on throughout the night.

Turning a blind eye to environment friendly practices, 31% of the properties dump their waste outside while 26% burn it. About 94% of the properties are fenced or walled. This has resulted in two animal corridors connecting Corbett with Rajaji national park being blocked. The fencing aside, vehicles and encroachment by villagers displaced by the New

Tehri dam have also contributed to choking the corridors that are a lifeline for the animals.

Another worrying point is the fact that of the 77 vehicles plying within the tiger reserve, 26 run on diesel. Among steps being taken to check this disturbing trend, officials said resorts and hotels in fragile ecological zones will now have to take the nod from the tourism ministry before they begin commercial operations. These zones — like national parks, hill stations and coastal areas — will be defined in the new set of regulations.

From TOI

Mysore: Kumble spreads message of wildlife conservation

MYSORE: His love for animals doesn’t end at photographing and adopting them. Vice-chairman of State Wildlife Board and former Indian captain Anil Kumble is spreading the message of wildlife conservation.

Speaking at the valedictory function of Mysore Zoo Youth Club-2009 on Sunday, he called upon youths to have concern for animals and environment. And he was proud to adopt eight-day-old giraffe, Lakshmi’, at Rs 25,000 on the occasion.

The Youth Club had organized programmes to familiarise children with the life of animals. Richa, student of Sadvidya School, had this to say about her 23-week experience at the Youth Club. “Though I was reluctant, I joined the club due to my dad’s pressure. But now I realise its importance. Through this club I not only learnt many things about animals and birds, but I also improved my presentation skills.”

The club members were exposed to classroom lectures on biodiversity, ants, Himalayas, wildlife, reptiles, primates, insect vectors, forest and wildlife. They were held every Sunday. The club conducted activities throughout the year and 99 children who won various prizes received certificates and prizes.

From TOI