GAUHATI, INDIA—The newly elected government of the northeast Indian state of Assam has launched plans to crack down on the poaching of the area’s famed one-horned rhinos.
The state’s Kaziranga National Park is home to the world’s largest population of the rare rhinos, with more than 2,000 of the species. While overall poaching deaths have dropped over the last few years, a series of rhino killings this year has led the new government to renew anti-poaching efforts.
The state’s new environment minister, Pramila Rani Brahma, said Saturday that local police have been asked to join the offensive against poaching. Previously, Kaziranga’s forest rangers and anti-poaching staff handled this responsibility on their own.
Brahma said allegations that some park staff may be involved in the trade in rhino parts were also being investigated.
On Tuesday, as Brahma and other officials visited Kaziranga to discuss the threat of poaching, a female rhino was shot dead by poachers in the vicinity.
In April, poachers killed a rhino at the 480-square-kilometer (185-square-mile) park hours after a visit by Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Kate.
The royal couple had spent several hours at Kaziranga in hopes of drawing attention to the plight of endangered animals, including the park’s one-horned rhinos.
All five of the world’s rhino species are under constant threat from poachers seeking their horns to sell on the black market. Demand is high in countries such as China and Vietnam, where people mistakenly believe consuming rhino horns can increase male potency. It does not.
This year, eight rhinos in Kaziranga have been killed for their horns, after 17 were poached in 2015.
Despite the threats, Kaziranga is a conservation success story. The reserve had 75 rhinos in 1905. In 1966, the number of rhinos in Kaziranga was put at 366. According to a 2015 estimate, the number has risen to 2,401. (Source: VOA)
Venice, the beautiful Italian city where nature meets culture, was recently in news, when calm returned to its overtourism-affected waters with aquatic life shining through clear canals.
Closer home, monkeys, buffalos, cows, and dogs have all come to be increasingly sighted on Indian streets, as human life remained under a tight lockdown from March-end. In Udaipur, one could spot fish swimming in the lake after decades.
Images from across the world have presented a very interesting picture – with people indoors, wild animals can be seen roaming the streets, birds sing on balconies, the dolphins have made a comeback in the rivers and the skies are blue and the air is clean, says WWF India on a campaign film ‘Our Planet, Our Home’, that visually illustrates this human-animal contrast.
The short film, that puts together visuals from across the world, is a clever satire on the idea of freedom, and how reduced human activity has led to the animal kingdom spreading its wings to territory it is kept out of.
“Any kind of development and industrial activity will have some impact on nature. What we have seen in the last few weeks, is that when human activity is decreased, and when we start behaving responsibly, we see the difference. Most of us are locked in our homes, not just because someone advised, but because we are also afraid of infection. If this responsible behavior was demonstrated against climate change, against use of plastics, today we’d live in a different space,” Dipankar Ghose, Director of the Wildlife and Habitats, WWF India told IANSlife.
Adding, Himanshu Pandey, Marketing Communication Director at WWF India says that he cannot imagine life, without wildlife. “When we talk about wildlife, it’s about their habitats, their ecosystem. Without nature, no human activity – whether economic or otherwise – is possible. This contrast of us being locked up in our houses and wildlife moving about freely in urban spaces, this is a reminder of the cruciality of conservation,” he said over phone.
According to WWF’s Living Planet Report, we have lost 60 percent of wildlife populations in the last 44 years, globally. So when we step out of our houses after the lockdown, let’s ensure we protect this biodiversity and build a sustainable world where nature and people coexist. This is a film that aims to inspire individuals, businesses and governments to strengthen positive action to help build a better world for our future generations, he added.
The campaign film, which puts forth a question of coexistence as compared to human-animal competition – “what remains to be seen is whether this will continue once life returns to normal” – has been developed by McCann Bangalore and Native Films.
“In advertising, we believe that all good ideas come from simple observations or insights. This insight came from the site of animals, who were on the streets while humans were caged inside their houses. This was like a role reversal of sorts. This irony was unmistakable in a sense. It was a big lesson for humanity because we truly understood the value of freedom, and not just ours, but that of other species too. It was a timely reminder that this place we call home, is theirs too. This is the film’s message: Coexistence is the key to our survival,” Sambit Mohanty, Creative Head (South), McCann told IANSlife.
Coexistence, as per Ghose, is more of a perception that something which is practically happening. “Animals are reclaiming, I would say, urban biodiversity has always been there, we started observing them, hearing different sounds, and appreciating them. If you want to hear these koyel sounds, we have to change certain things in our behavior,” he concludes. (IANS)
How many of you remember that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the earth was facing another crisis- the environmental crisis?
Amid the lockdown, social distancing and quarantine, people across the globe have noticed drastic changes in the environment. People have reported that they can now see the sky clearer and can breathe better due to decreasing pollution levels.
According to a CNBC report, Clear water is seen in Venice’s canals due to less tourists, motorboats and pollution, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Venice, Italy. People have also noticed fishes and dolphins in the venice’s canals after many years.
Recent satellite images from NASA of China also showed less air pollution amid the country’s economic shutdown, due to less transportation and manufacturing, says a CNBC report.
The coronavirus pandemic has surely resulted in a huge loss of lives and economy, but on the other hand the animals and the nature are enjoying their days while the humans are locked in their homes.
In the waters of the Bosphorus, dolphins are these days swimming near the shoreline in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul with lower local maritime traffic and a ban on fishing.
Humans getting a photoshoot was too mainstream before the lockdown and that is why have a look at this happy Red Panda posing.
This picture clearly depicts how the sheeps are enjoying grazing while no human is around to litter the land.
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With the lockdown in force, most zoos and parks are now closed and that is why animals are now getting the privacy they wanted. You can see how happy the two pandas are while there is no disturbance.
Well, this is a rare happening, to find sea lions on a street. The only unchanged thing about the sea lions in this photo is their laziness.
When was the last time an aerial photo of a sea or water body looked so clean and greenish? Well, let the water bodies breathe until the humans are adhering to the quarantine rules.
Before the lockdown, there was a time when these flamingos couldn’t enjoy in the pond because of the noise and environmental pollution by people visiting the pond in Navi Mumbai
Why should only humans go out for a walk to refresh themselves amid the pandemic? Pretty sure the pelicans must be thinking the same while posing for the pictures in the park.
Well before the lockdown and the pandemic, the Ganga and Yamuna river were mostly known for the pollution. But now, as people haven’t been moving out of their houses, the rivers are now cleaner and even more pure.
With lesser pollution, flowers and plants are now blooming even more.
The question now being raised in the minds of environmental experts is that how long will this positive effect of Coronavirus pandemic last on the environment? Is it all temporary?
Most experts believe that once the lockdown is lifted across all countries, humans may resume their normal lives and hence we will again face the environmental crisis.
It’s now “our” decision to preserve the environment and the wildlife!
Bird photography as a hobby and profession has taken off to a major extent in India. It has led to important discoveries of species not previously known from the country, a globally renowned ornithologist said on Sunday.
In his latest paper published in BirdingASIA, the biannual bulletin on Asian birds, Nature Conservation Foundation Scientist K.S. Gopi Sundar told IANS the number of bird species in India is growing owing to improved genetic capabilities that have helped discern differences between birds that looked and sounded somewhat similar.
However, there is still a very slow growth in the understanding of individual species.
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Autecology, or the science of how a species interacts with its surroundings, is the branch of ecology that assists scientists in determining where species are found and what they do.
For the vast majority of Indian bird species, this basic information is either absent or very poorly known, said Sundar, who is the Co-chair of the IUCN Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Specialist Group.
Looking for a species for many years in multiple locations is the ideal way to improve knowledge of the species. But this takes time and more importantly resources that countries like India do not appear to be relegating to basic studies.
“Given this background, with some colleagues, I wanted to see if there are faster ways of improving knowledge of bird species using available resources that may not be being used as best as they could,” he said.
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“The idea began when a small group of us saw a black-bellied form of the variable wheatear in Udaipur in 2018. The variable wheatear is a neat little black-and-white bird that migrates to India for the winter, and eats millions of insects while here,” he said.
“It is quite common in the northern parts, even seen inside cities and in farmlands. Also, the bird is interesting in having three distinct colour forms that vary in the quantity of white and black on the bird. Not surprisingly, exceedingly little is known of the ecology and requirements of this species in India.”
The black-bellied form was new for the researchers and therefore mildly exciting.
The only available information on this form was in field guides that compile all and any information they can get on birds to make maps that help people interested in birds.
Field guides suggested that the black-bellied form was found only in a small patch in Pakistan along the Indus river during the winter.
“By then, we had seen the form in three different locations in Udaipur. We waited for another winter, and behold, the black-bellied form appeared again in all the three locations of Udaipur. Clearly, existing information on this form needed updating,” he said.
Bird photography as a hobby and profession has taken off to a major extent in India.
It has led to important discoveries of species not previously known from the country, and over-zealous photographers have also destroyed bird habitats and disturbed nesting birds.
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But since the emergence of the internet, several institutions have set up forums for photographers to donate their images of birds, primarily to assist other people with identification.
“We scanned various portals for photographs of variable wheatears, and ended up with a database of over 540 photographers of the three forms that also had year and location,” he said.
“We created maps for all three forms and also assessed if any were being seem more in recent times. We discovered that our maps, created using photographs donated online by photographers, matched field guides only for one form. Two other forms of the variable wheatear were distributed much more widely than was suspected,” Sundar said.
Photographers, of course, do not go to all places equally, and some are more generous with their photographs than others.
“So it is likely that all three forms are distributed much more widely than what we have discovered. What was most exciting for us that it is possible to use already-available resources to create information on birds, however basic, in India,” he said.
With so many researchers following the lockdown to help combat the novel coronavirus, perhaps many more attempts could be made to see what other aspects of Indian birds the freely-available photographs online can reveal, Sundar added. (IANS)