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Man Vs Wild: People trying to coexist with Tigers at Sunderbans

The islands of Sundarbans (meaning beautiful forests) are a home to nearly 4 million people as well as 200 tigers.

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At Sunderbans. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

It is man versus wild at Sunderbans, where surviving everyday is a struggle. Suderbans  (a United Nations World Heritage site) is the world’s largest mangrove forest found in India and Bangladesh. Spread in about 4000 square miles, they provide an intense habitat for the Bengal tiger and various other endangered species.

  • 3 rivers the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna form a delta in Sundarbans and merges into the Bay of Bengal. It comprises of several islands, some miles long whereas some are as small as sandbars. The islands of Sundarbans (meaning beautiful forests) are a home to nearly 4 million people as well as 200 tigers.

Mangrove roots, Wikimedia commons
Mangrove roots, Wikimedia commons

  • Unlike other big cats, Bengal tigers can comfortably swim in water for miles and this way they cross islands. According to locals “So you only see them when they decide that you’re good enough to be given a vision of orange and black.”
  • However, not everyone’s desire is to see them. As there has been several cases of peoples being eaten up by tigers. They attack in stealth mode and rip out their prey.
  • Debnath Mondal, a local ranger was recently attacked by a tiger. His mouth was pulled to the right, near his cheek by the tiger. In an interview, he said “I saw the tiger coming in. Everyone shouted, ‘Tiger!’ But before I could do anything, it pounced on me. It landed on my thighs and chest and bit my face and head, I had 80 stitches on my scalp. I can no longer see out of my left eye or hear out of my left ear.” Even after all this he is back now in the forest on his duty.
  • Locals believe that tigers are an integral asset of the forest. If forests are destroyed then humans will also not survive. There’s a saying that goes here that “Tigers give us life. So we have to save them along with the forest.”
  • According to Saghal, the editor of Sanctuary Asia “With every high tide, a huge amount of land in the Sundarbans disappears and never return. This shrinks the land, so tigers, people, everybody gets squeezed into smaller land areas“. Moreover, when people’s lands and farms become unusable then they move into deeper forests in search for their livelihoods. As a result, they often are encountered with tigers. All this ultimately leads to the death of tigers as well as humans.

512px-Royal_Bengal_Tiger_Kanha
Royal Bengal tiger, Wikimedia commons

  • With shrinking space, Tigers even crawl to people’s home. Several techniques have been proposed to prevent attacks from tigers. Some wear backward-facing masks with a face on the back to confuse tigers (It didn’t work though).
  • The World Wildlife Fund has helped these people in establishing their livelihoods. They have provided means so that people don’t forge deep into the jungle.
    • A solar energy project run via a power station has been set up in the local village. Ratan Saha, head member of this project further elucidates “Spending less time inside the forest means less exposure to the tiger. Beyond this, having light deters tigers and other wildlife and means people can see their own surroundings more easily.”
    • Renewable energy experts are going for the “leapfrogging” technology i.e. skipping straight to the better technology rather than gradual advancement.
    • Night time lightings have been introduced which has decreased the forest dependency of people. People are now making households products and are selling them to markets.
    • Televisions, computers, and printers are now available in the village. This way they are becoming socially more aware and their living standard are also enhancing significantly. With dreams in their eyes, people now want to study and want to help in restoring the balance of an ecosystem. A 17-year-old daughter said, “I want to serve human beings”.
  • Fast disappearing Sunderbans are now posing a threat to the very existence to the Royal Bengal Tiger. Sarah Christie (a tiger conservative expert) says “The Sunderbans is one of only a handful of remaining forests big enough to hold several hundred tigers. To lose the Sunderbans would be to move a step closer to the extinction of these majestic animals

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Prepared by : Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself. 

Twitter handle @pritam_gogreen

 

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Did You Hear about the New Species of Spiders Named After Leonardo DiCaprio, Bernie Sanders and Barrack Obama?

The new species of spiders have been named in honor of leaders and artists who promoted sensible approaches for a better world

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Did you hear about the Bernie Sanders spider? (representational image) Pixabay

Vermont, September 30, 2017 : What if we tell you that a team of researchers has recognized and named 15 new species of spiders in the Caribbean after your favorite stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders?

Not in Hollywood, Washington, DC or Vermont – but you might now be able to catch a glimpse of Spintharus davidattenboroughi, S. barackobamai, S, michelleobamaae, S. berniesandersi, S. davidbowiei along with S. leonardodicaprioi on the Caribbean islands and some other southern spots.

Ingi Agnarsson, expert of spiders and professor of biology at University of Vermont, who led the new study revealed the rationale behind the undergraduate study and on choosing the intriguing names. “(We) wanted to honor people who stood up for both human rights and warned about climate change—leaders and artists who promoted sensible approaches for a better world”, he said.

ALSO READ Exclusive : Our Islands Are Vanishing! | Tracing the Inundation of Parali I Island

The Smiley-Faced Spider

Popularly recognized as a global hotspot for biodiversity, there continues to be several species in the Caribbean that are outside the spectrum of research and study. This includes the ‘smiley faced’ spider in the genus Spintharus- named for a smiley face pattern on their abdomens.

Previously recognized as one widespread species, researchers from the UVM discovered that there exist many more endemic species within the genus, 15 of which have been recognized in the research.

These samples were collected from Florida, South Carolina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, the Lesser Antilles and Columbia.

Each team member got to decide names for the new species of spiders. Alongside naming them after friends and family members, many species have been named after distinguished figures.

“We all named the Bernie Sanders spider together,” said Lily Sargeant, one of the students who worked on the project. “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”

Some of the other names include,

Spintharus davidbowiei

Named after the great artist David Bowie, who passed away in 2016. His music will continue to inspire generations and the authors decided to honor his legacy by naming a spider in his name.

Spintharus barackobamai

Named after the widely popular, and largely loved, former President of the United States Barack Obama. The authors love him for his statesmanship and humanitarianism, and named the spider species after him, to honor their president and his devoted service.

Spintharus michelleobamaae

Named in honor of the Former First Lady of the United States for her poise, confidence and elegance, her fight for human rights and for always striving to uphold the principles of justice, fairness and equality for all.

Spintharus davidattenboroughi

The authors of the research also named a species of spiders after the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, to recognize and celebrate his efforts to educate people of the wonders of the natural world and sowing a seed of caring for nature in humanity.

The study has been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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Google Integrates Brazil’s Indigenous Territories into its Maps

Google Maps and Earth now represent Brazilian indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes known to the local communities

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Google Integrates Brazil's Indigenous Territories into its Maps. Wikimedia Coomons
  • Google on Sunday announced the integration of Brazil’s indigenous territories into its maps
  • Most of these territories are in the rapidly-changing Amazon region, the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world
  • Google Maps and Earth now represent Brazilian indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes known to the local communities

New York, July 31, 2017: In a bid to prevent deforestation and preserve culture, Google on Sunday announced the integration of Brazil’s indigenous territories into its maps.

In partnership with Fundacao Nacional do Indio (FUNAI), Brazil’s governmental agency overseeing indigenous affairs, Google Maps and Earth now represent Brazilian indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes known to the local communities.

“On Google Maps and Earth, you can now see the names of certified indigenous territories in Brazil, search for indigenous territories using the name of the ethnic group living there and see how forests are maintained in these areas compared to other parts of the Amazon,” Raleigh Seamster, Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach, said in a blog post.

Brazilhas one of the world’s most diverse populations, with more than 500,000 indigenous people living on 472 territories certified by the government — representing 13 per cent of Brazil’s total land.

Most of these territories are in the rapidly-changing Amazon region, the largest and most bio-diverse tract of tropical rain-forest in the world.

Also Read:“Museum of Yesterday” : New App Reveals Little-known History of Rio de Janeiro Port

Deforestation has had a devastating effect on indigenous people and the local economy, destroying biodiversity, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Google said that integrating indigenous territories into its maps is an essential step in accurately reflecting the world and showing how the indigenous communities play an important role in preserving the natural biodiversity and cultural richness of the Brazilian Amazon.

“By defining Brazil’s indigenous territories we can show the world the role these communities play in maintaining global socio-biodiversity,” Artur Nobre, Presidential Advisor, FUNAI, said in a statement.

This update builds on other work by Google Earth Outreach to support cultural preservation and land management.

A similar update was announced earlier this month for Canada. (IANS)

 

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“Rally for Rivers” Campaign: To Restore the Depleting River Flow in India

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Rally for Rivers Campaign
Rally for Rivers Campaign is organised by Isha Foundation. Wikimedia
  • The Rally for Rivers Campaign is an initiative of Isha Foundation, headed by Sadhguru
  • It is a campaign about the rivers of the country and the need for water protection and security
  • The Isha Foundation has laid out a Comprehensive River Rejuvenation plan to reform the state of rivers in India

July 28, 2017: The Isha Foundation, headed by Sadhguru, is organizing the Rally for Rivers Campaign. The initiative is formulated as an effort to raise awareness.

As Sadhguru had said about the campaign, “This is not a protest. This is not an agitation. This is a campaign to raise awareness that our rivers are depleting. Everyone who consumes water must Rally For Rivers.”

Unlike other movements, the Rally for Rivers is not to question or complain. Rather, it offers solutions. The Isha Foundation has designed a Comprehensive River Rejuvenation plan to restore the depleting rivers.

The Indian Rivers are going into depletion. The perineal rivers have become seasonal. The River Ganga has been named as one of the world’s most endangered river. Important rivers like Krishna, Kaveri, Narmada have stopped making it till the sea for four months. Every major river in India has undergone reduced water levels.

According to the estimations by researchers at Isha Foundation; by 2030, only 50% water will be available for our survival. Further, 25% of India is becoming desert. As compared to 1947, we have about 75% lesser water per person available today.

Thus arises a need for awareness and solutions. Isha Foundation has formulated a Comprehensive River Rejuvenation plan for river restorations. One of the solutions offered; planting tree covers. Tree covers should be created for a stretch of one kilometer on either side of the full river. For a tributary, the stretch is for half a kilometer.

To revitalize rivers, government owned land along the river banks will create and maintain native forest trees. On a private farm land, however, organic fruit cultivation shall take place.

ALSO READ: Swaraj India launches a unique campaign asking people to blow Whistle whenever they see anything Wrong happening around them

As the campaign explains, the need for a state as well as central government to be on the same page is vital to the success of the campaign. Rivers fall under the concurrent list, that is, the jurisdiction of both state as well as centre. Thus, any policy designed must be acknowledged equally by the both for effectiveness.

Additionally, for creating awareness, Sadhguru has himself planned a travel from Kanyakumari to Delhi. He aims to create as much awareness so that grass-root level support is provided to the campaign and its associated policies.

The campaign will begin from Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore on 3rd September and after more than ten stops end at Delhi on 2nd October. A total of 13 states are to be covered, in which 21 major cities are part of the campaign. Sadhguru has taken upon himself to cover the entire stretch of a total 6560 kms.

The organizers have made sure that the event is fun and entertaining for a maximum number of people to show up. Along the way and all the major stops, celebrations will be seen. Events like cultural fests, musical concerts, nukad natak, paintings and handicrafts, and public sessions have been organized by the Isha Foundation. Also, all the stakeholders of policies as well as rivers are cordially invited to learn and discuss more. Journalists, Corporate people, politicians, villagers, farmers and many more are expected to turn up at the event and contribute in whatever way they can.

The success of the Rally for Rivers campaign depends mostly on people’s support and encouragement to the cause. The campaign can be joined online.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394