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Human effects on wildlife worse than radiation: Chernobyl study

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New York: A team of international researchers has discovered abundant wildlife population at Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear accident that released radioactive particles into the environment and forced a massive evacuation.

Abundant with moose, roe deer, wild boar and wolves, the disaster site in Ukraine looks more like a nature preserve than a disaster zone – nearly 30 years after the world’s largest nuclear accident, the researchers reported.

Previous studies in the 1,621-square-mile Chernobyl Exclusion Zone showed evidence of major radiation effects and significantly reduced populations of wildlife.

For the first time since the Chernobyl accident, researchers have long-term census data that reveal thriving wildlife populations in the zone.

Our data are a testament to the resiliency of wildlife when freed from direct human pressures such as habitat loss, fragmentation and persecution,” said study co-author James Beasley, assistant professor of wildlife ecology at University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina, US.

“The multi-year data clearly show that a multitude of wildlife species are abundant throughout the zone, regardless of the level of radiation contamination,” Beasley noted.

“This does not mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming and forestry, are a lot worse,” team coordinator Jim Smith, professor of environmental science at the University of Portsmouth in Britain explained.

The number of moose, roe deer, red deer and wild boar living in the zone are similar to numbers in nearby uncontaminated nature reserves in the region, the results showed.

The census data on wolves in the area indicated they are seven times greater in number than those living in the nearby reserves.

Aerial census data collected from 1987-96 revealed rising numbers of moose, roe deer and wild boar in the zone.

The findings appeared in the journal Current Biology.

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Cheetahs in Malawi: Poaching and Wildlife Trafficking endangers Africa’s most Iconic Species

A total of four cheetahs – two males and two females – were airlifted to Liwonde National Park in Malawi from South Africa in May

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Cheetahs back from the brink in Malawi
The cheetahs spent their first three weeks in an enclosure before being released into Liwonde National Park in Malawi. VOA
  • Liwonde National Park in southern Malawi has just welcomed some new inhabitants – four cheetahs
  • Liwonde National Park has a population of 12,000 large mammals including bush buck, water buffalo, and antelope
  • Park officials say they also plan to reintroduce leopards and lions to restore the park’s lost glory

LIWONDE NATIONAL PARK, MALAWI, June 10, 2017: Poaching and wildlife trafficking have endangered some of Africa’s most iconic species and the loss of the animals has cost African countries critical tourism revenue.

But at least one national park is getting a second chance. Liwonde National Park in southern Malawi has just welcomed some new inhabitants – four cheetahs relocated there from South Africa courtesy of the nonprofit African Parks group.

Park rangers lured the first cheetah out into its new home with a fresh carcass. It’s the first cheetah Malawi has had in the wild in two decades.

The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, but even that couldn’t protect the species in Malawi. Poachers killed off the cheetahs’ prey and ultimately the cheetahs themselves.

“They were last seen in Malawi about 20 years ago,” said Craig Reid of the Liwonde National Park. “Specifically in Liwonde area, they have been absent for over a 100 years. So, as part of the rehabilitation of the park, we feel it is very important to bring back the cheetah to Malawi and Liwonde specifically.”

A total of four cheetahs – two males and two females – were airlifted to Liwonde from South Africa in May.

Before being released into the park, the cheetahs spent their first three weeks in an enclosure to allow them to become acclimated to their new surroundings.

Liwonde National Park has a population of 12,000 large mammals. These include bush buck, water buffalo and antelope.

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The cheetah is the first large predator to be reintroduced to the park.

“We have a very healthy animal base and now that the protection measures are in place as we have got a very good law enforcement in the park,” Reid said. “The numbers of animals are increasing very rapidly and, as a result to that, there are more than enough animals to provide for some carnivorous animals such as the cheetah”.

Officials are holding meetings with communities surrounding the park.

“Those people are likely to face danger,” said David Nongoma of African Parks. “And our message to the community is to say that…they refrain from entering the park and stop doing what they used to be doing because these animals are definitely very dangerous. They can kill a human being.”

Park officials say they also plan to reintroduce leopards and lions to restore the park’s lost glory. (VOA)

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Young Indian Cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty wins top conservation award for issues related to Wildlife, Environment

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Indian Cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty, Source: kolkatabirds.com

New Delhi, May 22, 2017: Avid bird watcher, Rohan Chakravarty has turned his love for wildlife and environment into his muse by drawing cartoons centred on conservation issues under the banner of Green Humour, a comic strip that is being distributed internationally

His cartoons make you laugh out loud. They also carry a strong message of conservation that leaves an instant impression in the minds of young and old alike.

Chakravarty, a wildlife and environment cartoonist from India, has won this year’s WWF International President’s Award for his efforts to change attitudes towards nature.

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The award is the top accolade given by WWF to recognise leadership in young conservationists who are under the age of 30 from around the world. The award ceremony was held recently in Manado, Indonesia.

Hailing from Nagpur (also known as the tiger capital of India), Chakravarty has been an enthusiastic bird watcher since childhood. He was on his way to becoming a dentist when the sighting of a magnificent tigress at a waterhole at Nagzira Tiger Reserve threw his planned career off gear.

It fired up the wildlife lover in him, compelled him to leave dentistry and instead use doodling as a conservation tool. It was a stark and risky career shift in a country where traditionally a lot more emphasis is given to academics rather than creative pursuits when it comes to choosing a profession.

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Today, this young cartoonist and illustrator has made his mark for sketching passionately and consistently on wildlife, climate change and other environmental issues and has many national and international magazines and newspapers lining up for his works.

With over 400 cartoons, Chakravarty probably has one of the largest online cartoon repositories — under the banner of Green Humour — that centres around environmental issues.

Green Humour, which is also the country’s first comic strip to be distributed internationally, showcases how artistic skills can become an effective communication tool to highlight green issues. And for those who like quirky collectibles, there are cartoon mugs and T-shirts available on the website.

“I am honoured to receive the title, which, more than an award, is a reminder of my responsibility to both my art and my muse — wildlife. Cartoons and humour ensure that a reader not only retains a message but also responds to it, and are hence indispensable tools in both communication and conservation,” Chakravarty said.

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“Rohan represents the younger generation of conservationists in India, one who combines his talent for fun, positivity, nature and science through his art, visualising forests and wildlife in a refreshing yet compelling form,” said Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India.

“Through his work and dedication and his added ability to mentor, Rohan inspires individuals in a way that each person can make a positive difference with expression and knowledge.”

From gossiping Arctic Terns — the bird species that encircles the whole planet on its migratory route — to fun maps of tiger reserves in the north-east Himalayan states of India, to portraits of various raptors, to a stressed-out frog who refuses to kiss a fairy-tale princess, to laughing at his own fun caricatures, Chakravarty has doodled them all.

Many of his cartoons also give insights and interesting details about the behaviour of various wild species while others address burning environmental issues. (IANS)

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Thirsty six-feet-long snake leads to panic among tourists at Taj Mahal

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Taj Mahal
Is Taj Maha just a 'cemetery'? Pixabay

Agra, May 16, 2017: An unexpected visitor slithering through the shrubs in the gardens around the Taj Mahal, in search of a water and a cool place, led to panic among tourists at the 17th-century monument on Tuesday, officials said. The snake was later captured by wildlife experts.

As soon as tourists saw the six-foot-long reptile, there were shrieks and shouts for help.

The snake was found hiding under a water cooler in the water filtration plant and Archaeological Survey of India officials immediately contacted Wildlife SOS.

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ASI Senior Conservation Assistant Munazzar Ali said: “There are four RO plants inside Taj Mahal to ensure proper water supply for public water taps. As soon as the snake was spotted inside the plant, considering safety of tourists and workers, we immediately contacted Wildlife SOS for their assistance.”

The team from Wildlife SOS, which reached the spot, identified it a harmless rat snake, feeding mostly on birds and rodents.

The plant was stopped, workers and curious tourists moved to a safe distance before Wildlife SOS activists started the rescue process. After an hour long operation, the team managed to successfully extricated the reptile and moved it safely in to a transport container.

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“The severe heat must have driven this snake in search for water and a cool place. We thank ASI and the officials of the Taj Mahal for considering the safety of the tourists and the snake and contacting Wildlife SOS.

“Such sensitive rescue operations require expert staff to address these situations as well as patience and a high degree of skill. The rescued snake was kept in observation for some time after which it was released back in to its natural habitat,” said Wildlife SOS’ Director, Conservation Projects, Baiju Raj M.V. (IANS)

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