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‘World’s last male white rhinoceros will never mate’

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White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.

London: White rhinos are on the verge of extinction as it is unlikely that their last male member would father an offspring, conservationists say.

The world’s only remaining male of his kind, 42-year-old Sudan, is counting his days under armed protection to guard him from poachers, Daily Mail reported.

White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.
White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.

“Sudan is quite an old animal as far as rhinos are concerned – he is an old animal and going to die soon, I think that is the reality,” said Richard Vigne, the chief executive of Ol Pejeta Conservancy – a 90,000-acre not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya.

“The quality of Sudan’s sperm is not particularly great. His ability to mount a female is almost non-existent due to problems with his back legs. It was always going to be a shot in the dark. We had the last remaining potentially reproductively viable northern whites left in the world and to recover a species from that level was always going to be a long shot,” he said.

Sudan was caught in the Shambe region when he was just one-year-old and shipped to the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.

In December 2009, he was moved to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy with two female northern white rhinos and another male, for a ‘Last Chance To Survive’ breeding program.

Three of the five northern white rhinos left in the world lived at Ol Pejeta and it was hoped Sudan would be able to mate with the females Fatu, 15, and Najin, 25, but so far all attempts have failed.

The other remaining male has now since passed away – meaning that as the last remaining male in the world, the fate of the species rests solely on Sudan’s shoulders.

The majestic animal is under guard 24-hours-a-day to protect him from poaching, and his horn has been filed down to further lower the risk of attack.

(IANS)

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Sambhar Lake Becomes Death Bed for Large Number of Birds

The excessive salt in the water led to the poisoning, causing hypernectremia, which is water deprivation due to sodium intoxication

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Sambhar Lake
After witnessing drought for many years, this year the Sambhar Lake, however, brimmed with water due to heavy rains. The inflow made the water toxic due to the change in its alkalinity. Pixabay

A deadly game of survival is on in the Sambhar lake of Rajasthan for decades — salt versus birds. The result came a few days back: thousands of birds were seen floating dead in the lake and their carcasses scattered on the edge of the 12 km catchment area.

The dead birds seen floating in this largest inland salt lake in the country, include plovers, common coot, black winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet among many other migratory birds.

Harsh Vardhan, a renowned environmentalist, told IANS that no forest department official has ever been appointed to look after the lake. The lake comes under the Hindustan Salt Limited, a public limited enterprise formed in the post independence era to manufacture salt. Its job is to manufacture salt. So who should look after the lake; this has never been decided, he said.

The lake has not been handed to the forest department, and the area, where birds come, is no one’s land. Sambhar lake may be a part of the Hindustan Salt Ltd, but the company has nothing to do with the birds, he says.

The chief wildlife warden Arindam Tomar has maintained silence over the issue.

Even, Principal secretary, forest and environment Shreya Guha has washed her hands off the issue. All that she did was to a give statement that the Jaipur and Nagaur District Collectors have been asked to remove the bodies. She added that 4,800 birds have been dead till date, which is disputed by experts like Harsh Vardhan, who say that counting is not easy in the vast area.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday held a meeting on the issue.

Sambhar Lake
A deadly game of survival is on in the Sambhar Lake of Rajasthan for decades — salt versus birds. Pixabay

Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan questioned the presence of several private salt miners and entrepreneurs, who have set shops in and around the lake. “They dig tube wells which suck water from the land making it parched. The remaining water gets evaporated leaving crystal of salts which are packed and sold in gunny bags,” he said.

Lack of water and drought has haunted Sambhar lake for years. State government has been spending huge money to woo tourists through activities like mobiking, balloning, race, Bollywood shoots, etc. A resort on the rim of the lake showcases salt manufacturing for the tourists. Crores of Rupees have been spent on the upkeep of the narrow gauge train and watch stations, but birds and conversation issues were always overlooked.

As Sambhar lake went dry, concentration of salt deposits came up within it. The water from surrounding rivers, meant to flow into the lake, was diverted by the miners.

After witnessing drought for many years, this year the lake, however, brimmed with water due to heavy rains. The inflow made the water toxic due to the change in its alkalinity.

The excessive salt in the water led to the poisoning, causing hypernectremia, which is water deprivation due to sodium intoxication, Vardhan said.

It seems birds which came in high numbers due to high water quantity this season died due to hypernectermia after consuming their feed which is the planktons, the microrganisms found in water.

Sambhar Lake
The dead birds seen floating in this largest inland salt lake i.e Sambhar Lake in the country, include plovers, common coot, black winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet among many other migratory birds. Wikimedia Commons

The only step that has ever been taken by any government in the state was in 1981 when it was decided to designate the site as wetland and was renamed as the Ramsar site.

According to an estimate, around 60,000 birds visited the lake in a year which has come down to less than 20,000.

Vardhan says that if the lake remains with the Hindustan Salt Limited, which has been a loss making unit since years or if it is handed over to the private operators, who do excessive mining of water, then the lake and the birds are sure to die.

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Experts like him want the lake to be handed over to the forest department which can develop it as a wetland. (IANS)