Monday October 23, 2017
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Rare Vietnamese rabbit on verge of extinction?

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London: The Annamite Striped Rabbit, a rare species found in the forests of Laos and Vietnam, was recently spotted by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The rabbit was first documented by rabbit expert Diana Bell and colleagues from the UEA in the journal, Nature in 1999. It has rarely been seen since.

Researcher Sarah Woodfin, who is studying for a Masters in Applied Ecology and Conservation at UEA, set out on a three-month expedition to track the recently-discovered rabbit and study its habitat.

“It is genetically very distinct from other rabbit species. Sadly there is a possibility that this species could be at risk of extinction due to deforestation and hunting,” she said.

“I didn’t expect that I would ever see one up close. I certainly never expected that I would have the opportunity to hold one of these magnificent animals. I was utterly delighted,” she said of the encounter.

“My team and I encountered the rabbit completely by chance on the first night of my trip. It was found hopping along a stream bank eating vegetation. One of my team members managed to catch it and brought it back to camp, where we were all able to have a good look at it,” she added.

“The rabbit was very handsome, with dark stripes against a pale gold background and a red rump. We were able to take some measurements and photographs before we released it back into the forest,” Woodfin said.

Images of the rabbit had previously been caught by motion sensitive ‘camera traps’.

“It is extremely important that we understand as much as possible about this species so that we can evaluate its conservation status and implement appropriate conservation measures,” Woodfin said. (IANS)

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India is The Most Corrupt Nation in Asia with Highest Bribery Rates of 69 %

More than half the respondents have had to pay a bribe in five of the six public services in India

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India is the most corrupt nation
India Against Corruption - Protesters in Bangalore - 22nd August 2011. Wikimedia
  • India has surpassed Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam and, Thailand concerning bribery rate with 69 percent, the highest on the list
  • Vietnam stood second on the list after India at 65 per cent bribery rate
  • India also holds account for the highest bribery rates in public schools and healthcare sector, with 58% per cent 59 per cent bribery rate respectively

Sep 03, 2017: Indian government is struggling hard to defeat the evils of corruption, but there is still a long way ahead to fulfill the objective of corruption free India. According to a survey released by the Transparency International (TI) in March 2017,  an anti-corruption global civil society organization reveals that India stands as the most corrupt country in Asia with 69 % bribery rate. In the survey, approximately 22,000 individuals spanning across 16 Asian countries participated over a period of 18 months starting in July 2015.

As reported by ANI which further cited Forbes’ article “Asia’s Five Most Corrupt Countries”, the issue of corruption is pervasive across Asia. The TI report says that India has surpassed Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam and, Thailand concerning bribery rate with 69 percent, the highest on the list.

It was mentioned that more than half the respondents have had to pay a bribe in five of the six public services namely-  hospitals, schools, police, utility services and, ID documents.

The article by Forbes also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for persistent efforts to eradicate corruption from India.

Also Read: Not Just Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, these 9 People too Bore the Brunt of Speaking Truth to Fight Corruption 

“However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fight against corruption has made a mark: 53 per cent of the people think he is going it fairly or very well. And it has led to people feeling empowered, as 63 per cent believe ordinary citizens can make a difference,” it stated.

Vietnam stood second on the list after India at 65 per cent bribery rate.

Pakistan stands fourth on the list with 40 per cent bribery rate. About three-fourths of respondents in Pakistan consider mostly the policemen to be corrupt. It said that seven in ten people had to cajole police officers or the courts for a bribe. When asked about the change in the situation, people sounded dejected when it comes to wiping out bribery from the nation. Only one third feel that ordinary citizens can make a difference.

Last year, India was placed 76th out of 168 countries surveyed by the Berlin-based corruption watchdog in its Corruption Perception Index, mentioned ANI.

India’s corruption perception has been the same consecutively for two years 2015 and 2014’s  as 38/100, which shows no improvement in the scenario.

According to the March 2017 statistics, Pakistan most likely of all was the country to have higher bribes legal institutions. While in India, the police bribery rate was 54 per cent.

India also holds an account for the highest bribery rates in public schools and healthcare sector, with 58% per cent 59 per cent bribery rate respectively.


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Ground depression in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City taking place at an alarming rate

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Unhealthy sleeping patterns can lead to major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood, Wikimedia

Hanoi, April 18, 2017: Ground depression in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City is taking place at an alarming rate, a research report said on Tuesday.

Many areas in the eight districts of the city, were sinking by five to 10 mm a year, Xinhua news agency quoted research results announced by the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology as reporting.

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After comparing statistics over 25 years, the city has so far sunken by some 0.4 metres, said Associate Professor Le Van Trung at the university.

If attention was not paid to the depression issue, the sinking areas would face drastic depression, and some areas might even be submerged in seawater, he warned.

Key reasons for the ground depression in Ho Chi Minh City include over-exploitation of underground water, rapid urbanization and effervescent transport activities.

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In low-lying zones, depression plus sea level rise (by an average of three mm a year due to climate change) will expand the existing inundated areas and create new ones.

In coastal areas, the over-exploitation of underground water causes saltwater intrusion which negatively affects growth of plants and trees in particular and sustainable agricultural development in general.

Parts of the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam were also sinking, according to the Environment Ministry. (IANS)

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Biologists unlock 51.7 million year old genetic secret to Charles Darwin’s theory

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Primula allionii. Wikimedia.

December 6, 2016: A 51.7 million-year-old genetic secret to Charles Darwin’s theory proposed more than 150 years ago has been unlocked by scientists. The genes responsible for the reproductive traits in the Primula flower have been recognized by researchers.

Darwin suggested that certain plant species having two distinct forms of flowers, with the male and female reproductive parts of different lengths evolved in a way to perform out-crossing by insect pollinators.

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Darwin’s pioneering insight into the importance of the forms of flower called ‘pins’ and ‘thrums’ conceived the term ‘heterostyly’ and succeeding research added up to formulate the modern genetic theory.

The particular part of the species’ genetic code which defined them was identified by scientists at University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK. It was the result of an event which occurred more than 51 million years ago.

According to PTI, Professor Philip Gilmartin from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences said, “To identify the genes which control the biology noted by Darwin is an exciting moment. Many studies have been done over the past decades to explore the genetic basis of this phenomenon but now we have pinpointed the supergene directly responsible, the S locus”.

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Congregations of closely linked genes inherited as a unit together and allow the control of complex microbiology are called supergenes. The researchers worked in association with Earlham Institute in the UK to plot the Primula’s genes and sequence its genome to find the gene cluster responsible for the different flower morphs.

Gilmartin tells, “Understanding of the genetics which underpin flower development and reproduction of a species broadens our knowledge about the entire system of pollination, which underpins biodiversity and food security”.

He also said that with challenges like climatic changes and its effects on plant life and their insect pollinators, it is imperative for us to understand the mechanisms for pollination and how the species react.

Amidst the search for the controlling gene responsible for heterostyly, the researchers dated the initial mutation to 51.7 million years ago.

On finding the S locus, the researchers realized that the gene was a close relative to another one identified six years ago which is responsible for controlling the petals’ identity on a Primula flower.

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At some point, the duplication of the gene occurred and the gene entered itself in the S locus and mutated to take control over the positioning of the anther in the flower. The Nature Plants journal published the study.

-prepared by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram with PTI inputs. Twitter:@Shivam_Thaker.