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World likely to lose 68 Percent of its Wildlife by 2020, 6th mass Extinction on cards: WWF

The report says that about 41 per cent mammals, 46 per cent reptiles, 57 per cent amphibians and 70 per cent freshwater fishes are "threatened with extinction" in India

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Representational image. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 27, 2016: The future of many living organisms is under question as the world may lose 68 percent of its wildlife by 2020 — a possible prelude for the sixth mass extinction, a major WWF report has said.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Living Plant Report 2016, 58 percent of the global population of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles has already been lost between 1970 and 2012.

These patterns are directly attributed to human-induced climate change.

The report says that about 41 per cent mammals, 46 per cent reptiles, 57 per cent amphibians and 70 per cent freshwater fishes are “threatened with extinction” in India. Four of the 385 species of mammals are already extinct in India.

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Seven per cent of birds may also extinct in the world.

Globally between 1970 and 2012, 38 percent of the terrestrial population, 81 percent of fresh water population and 36 per cent of the marine population had declined.

“Habitat loss and degradation and over-exploitation of wildlife are the most common threats to the terrestrial population,” the report says.

As per the report, by 2000, 48.5 percent of the tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forest habitat had been converted for human use. This has led to a 41 percent overall decline in tropical forest species.

The report held food production to meet the complex demands of an expanding human population as the primary reason for the destruction of habitats and over-exploitation of wildlife.

The world’s population has grown from about 1.6 billion people in 1900 to today’s 7.3 billion.

“By 2012, the bio-capacity equivalent of 1.6 Earths was needed to provide the natural resources and services humanity consumed in that year,” the report said, pointing out how planetary boundaries were stretched due to human-produced alterations to the functioning of the Earth system.

WWF focused on nine such alterations including unsustainable fresh water use and ocean acidification. As per studies, by 2050 there will be more polythene in the ocean than fish.

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“This is not just about the wonderful species we all love. Biodiversity forms the foundation of healthy forests, rivers and oceans. Take away the species and these ecosystems will collapse along with the clean air, water, food and climate services that they provide us,” said Dr Marco Lambertini, International Director General, WWF.

The researchers are already calling this time as “Anthropocene” — an era during which the climate changes, oceans acidify and the entire community of flora and fauna disappears — during a single human lifetime.

All these changes may lead to the world’s sixth extinction, following the extinction of reptiles, mammals (twice) and dinosaurs (twice).

As per IUCN, the total threatened animal species has increased from 5,205 to 8,462 since 1996. India, Indonesia, Brazil and China are among the countries with the most threatened mammals and birds.

“Not only wild plants and animals are at risk, people are victims of the deteriorating nature. Patterns suggest that without action during the Anthropocene the earth will become much less hospitable to our modern globalised society,” the report says.

India ranks fifth in terms of bio-capacity — means an ecosystem capable of producing resources like food, fibre and absorbing carbon dioxide. However, large population size and growing wealth which may change the consumption pattern is a challenge.

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“Our consumption patterns are constantly shaping the future of our planet,” said Ravi Singh, CEO, WWF-India.

WWF, however, finds addressing the social inequality and environment degradation as best remedy.

“There is still considerable room for optimism. Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. We must create a new economic system that enhances and supports the natural capital upon which it relies,” says WWF.

While the prediction of losing two-third of the global wildlife population is expected by 2020, the landmark Paris climate agreement (COP21) that would enter into force the same year, is seen as another sign of optimism. (IANS)

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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.

ALSO READWhy China’s Tiger Farms are a Threat to the Species!

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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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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