Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Printable Version

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 05-30-2014

'Uncontrolled dolphin tourism is a big problem for Chilika Lake'

Shekar Dattatri is a well-known wildlife and conservation filmmaker based in Chennai. His award-winning documentary, Chilika — The Jewel of Odisha, talks about the dying lake which was later restored to life by the Chilika Development Authority. In an email interview, he talks about the importance of conservation and much more.

Why Chilika Lake? What were the reasons for a documentary on this lake?

The impetus for making the film came from the government of Odisha's Chilika Development Authority (CDA), which was keen to have a well-researched, high quality film that would showcase the biodiversity of the lake and highlight its conservation. The fact that this was once a dying lake that was restored to life was a further motivating factor, as I believe that it's very important to also document conservation success stories.

What can be done to protect the biodiversity of Chilika Lake? 

I think the most serious problem facing Chilika is over-fishing. In any exploited ecosystem, it is important to have catch limits and open and closed exploitation seasons to safeguard biodiversity. Right now, fishing goes on without limits throughout the year.

In your documentary, boat propellers are shown to disturb the endangered dolphins in the lake. According to you what will be the best solution to protect the dolphins and to ensure the livelihood of the villagers around Chilika Lake? 

One of the big problems in Chilika is the uncontrolled growth of dolphin tourism. This has led to a competitive spirit among tourist boat operators and many of them chase and harass the dolphins to satisfy their clients. In many other countries, tourism of this sort is carefully monitored, with strict regulations on how close boats can approach marine mammals. It is imperative that such limits are imposed to make dolphin tourism sustainable.

What collective initiative do you suggest to conserve the environment?

Even seemingly benign tourism in wild habitats can have severe negative impacts when thousands or tens of thousands of people visit such places. Those who make wildlife tourism a habit should be sensitive to this problem and try to give something back to nature, such as contributing to conservation NGO or taking up initiatives that will help safeguard our vanishing wilderness.

Did you face any difficulties while making or shooting this film? If yes, then what were they? Please specify. 

Making an ecosystem film is always challenging because it's hard to keep an audience engaged and interested in a film about a place. This is especially so when there are no 'dangerous' species involved. Apart from this, shooting in Chilika posed quite a few practical problems. Most of the 'action' is limited to the winter months, when thousands of migratory waterfowl arrive. And getting close to the birds isn't easy in most parts of the lake. To make matters worse, the light was hazy most of the time, making it quite difficult to get great looking footage. The only mammals that could be filmed were Irrawaddy dolphins, but they are quite shy and show very little of themselves outside the water. Filming them underwater wasn't an option because of the turbidity of the water. So every day in Chilika was a quest to find something interesting and film it successfully!

The audience for documentaries is limited but the message is universal and valuable. How do you feel can a documentary reach out to more people? 

The best way of propagating documentaries these days is online, where they can have a permanent presence and be seen by anyone from any corner of the world.

What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Are they necessary?

Most documentary films makers work quietly on their own, and film festivals are a great opportunity to interact with other filmmakers and see their work. Sometimes, film festivals can also be a place where one can market one's films and meet executives and producers from television channels. Major wildlife film festivals such as Wildscreen in the UK were very important in the days when I was producing films for international television channels.

What films/documentaries have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why? 

Wildlife documentaries by veterans of yesteryear, such as Alan Root, Jen and Des Bartlett and Dieter Plage were extremely inspiring when I first started making films nearly three decades ago. They were well researched, painstakingly shot and incredibly captivating. I'm still blown away by the quality of those early films.

Would you like to make a full-length feature film someday? 

Every year, I try to make films that are shorter! Full-length features are not my forte.

Can social media play a role in promoting documentaries or short films? 

Yes, social media can play a role, but there are so many people promoting so many things out there that things can also get lost in all the white noise!


RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 05-30-2014

Swamps in Werstern Ghats Falling Prey to Farming

Swamps in Western Ghats, where many endemic plants and animals thrive, are rapidly being converted to areca and paddy farms, said experts.

A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) recently discovered a ‘night frog’ in the Myristica swamps (a type of fresh water swamp found only in two places in India) of Kathalikan near Jog Falls.  The frog belongs to the genus Nyctibatrachus  — ancient frogs found in India.

Around 27 species of this genus has already been identified and are endemic to the Western Ghats. The male covers the eggs with mud to camouflage it.

The scientists decided it was a new species on the basis of its morphology, call, behaviour and genetics.

“If the biodiversity of the Western Ghats is to be preserved, all states where the range passes should help to preserve them,” say experts.

Dr G Ravikanth, scientist at ATREE and a member of the team that discovered the frog said, “Myristica swamps are composed of a species such as Myristica fatua, Gymnacranthera canarica and Semecarpus species. These are wild varieties of nutmeg plants. Since swamps are the only areas with water in summer, they are ideal habitats for paddy and arecanut. These trees have a unique modification of roots like mangroves. The space and clay under these roots is an ideal habitat for wildlife. Hopefully, this discovery would draw attention on conserving these unique habitats in the Western Ghats.”

Experts also agree that the Western Ghats harbour a high degree of biodiversity and must be conserved along with the Myristica swamps. Dr KP Dinesh, post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Ecological Sciences and another member of the team, said, “This is the only frog in the world that shows this specialised behaviour. Females tend to take care of the progeny. In this case, the female goes away and the male takes care of the eggs.”

Prof R Sukumar, who is one of the authors of the Ecology Expert Panel Report, said the northern part of the Western Ghats are more exploited.The highest population of tigers is in the Western Ghats.

The Ghats have had several indigenous tribes such as Kotas, Kurumbas, Todas, Badagas, Irulas, Soligas, Betta Kurumbas, Kanis, Arayans, Malasars and Chota mayikas (stone gatherers).



RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 05-31-2014


Some ‘hope’ for this island despite hurdles

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Not just the residents, many social activists and environmentalists are also opposing the proposal to turn the island into a tourist attraction

Hope Island, a beautiful island spread on an area of about 1,000 hectares near Kakinada, and which protects the city from tidal waves and cyclones, continues to be at the centre stage due to its potential for tourism.

Located in the Bay of Bengal about 15 km from the Kakinada coast, the island provides habitation to fishermen, and a variety of flora and fauna flourish on it. The government has been toying with the idea of converting it into a tourist attraction by improving transportation and constructing cottages.

Not just the residents of the island, but many social activists and environmentalists are also opposing the proposals by voicing their protests time and again. However, the government seems to be going ahead with its plan and the transportation has been improved to the island from the mainland.

“Developing the Hope Island as a tourist hub is on my priority list. I will go through the detailed plan and make necessary changes to it,” says P. Ravindra Babu, MP-elect from Amalapuram parliamentary constituency. Former MP G.V. Harshakumar evinced interest in tourism promotion in the island and allocated funds from the MPLADS for installing solar lighting system. A boat facility arranged by the AP Toursim from Jawahar Jetty to Hope Island, however, is receiving lukewarm response from the tourists and the officials are in two minds over continuing the service.

“Since Hope Island is a part of the Coringa wildlife sanctuary, prior permission from the Ministry of Environment and Forests is mandatory to take up any permanent constructions there. Obtaining the permission itself is a tedious task,” observes R. Ramasubramanian, principal scientist from the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, which is working for the fishermen along the coast.

Pollution threat

“Tourism activity will result in environmental pollution, which will harm the flora and fauna on the island. Turtle varieties and migratory birds will be affected badly in the event of pollution,” points out P. Sathiyaselvam, conservation scientist from EGREE Foundation, an UNDP-funded service organisation working for the conservation of Coringa wildlife sanctuary.

“Coastal village Uppada Kothapalli is suffering soil erosion only because of the dredging operations taken up by the seaport on Hope Island. Toursim development is nothing but destroying the island completely,” says Dasari Satyanarayana, founder president of the Coastal Rights Protection Committee.



RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 05-31-2014


UN adopts new global platform to tackle wildlife, forest crime

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In response to the rising levels of illicit trafficking of fauna and flora, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (
UNODC) has adopted a new global platform taking aim at this “particularly devastating’ form of organized crime involving a raft of illegal activities – from poaching to timber smuggling and money laundering.

The Global Programme for Combatting Wildlife and Forest Crime will be implemented over the next four years and is an important step towards building Government capacity to prevent and combat such crime on a regional, national and local basis. It will also raise awareness to contribute to the reduction of demand for wild fauna and flora.

“The emergence of this Global Programme shows just how much this critical issue has come to the fore in recent years,” commented UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, who emphasized that the initiative highlights a serious and growing problem and one which UNODC is in a unique position to help fight.

The adoption of the Global Programme follows the 23rd Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice which concluded last week in Vienna. During its meeting, the Commission called for more work to be done on tackling environmental crime, and introduced a draft resolution aimed at strengthening targeted crime prevention and criminal justice responses to combat illicit trafficking in forest products.

The development of the Global Programme comes amid increasing recognition that responding to the threat posed to wildlife and forests is no longer purely a conservation issue. With a growing understanding that organized crime is a key factor driving the unprecedented growth of this cruel and illicit trade, the need to tackle it from this angle is ever more urgent.

In this regard, and drawing on UNODC’s ability to assist with law enforcement and criminal justice concerns, the Global Programme will support a number of areas such as building legislation to address this crime, strengthening investigative, prosecutorial and judicial capacities, and combating related issues of money-laundering and corruption. It will also support Member States in their efforts to introduce livelihoods to affected communities.

“By working in a coordinated, global manner that allows us to complement existing initiatives by our partners, I am confident that we can help contribute to real change at both the supply and demand side” said Mr. Fedotov.

UNODC says that wildlife and forest crime present a particularly devastating form of organized crime. The number of tigers in the world, for example, has plummeted from about 100,000 a century ago to approximately 3,000 today, and they continue to fall with an average 110 tigers killed every year.

Further, the rhino population is under threat with three of the five living rhino species listed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “Red List.” In South Africa, home to 90 per cent of Africa’s rhino population, 1,004 rhinos were killed in 2013 – a devastating climb from 2003 when 22 rhinos were killed. Meanwhile across Africa it is estimated that over 20,000 elephants are poached annually for their ivory.

There are also strong links to other forms of crime. Says UNODC. Fraud, money laundering and corruption are all frequently associated with this crime, and the existing modus operandi and routes used for the trafficking of drugs, people and firearms are employed by traffickers of fauna and flora.

It is also a major funding source: in East Asia and the Pacific alone – a region particularly vulnerable to timber trafficking – criminal groups make around $23 billion annually from wildlife and forest crimes. This constitutes a large part of the $90 billion a year that is generated from transnational organized crime in the region collectively, according to UNODC.


RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 06-02-2014

Farmers to reap for not sowing in Umred-Karhandla sanctuary

In a first experiment of its kind in the country, a 'community conservancy' project is in the works in Umred-Karhandla wildlife sanctuary to develop a strong working relationship with the community allowing wildlife to flourish.

The idea is being conceptualized and taken forward by Sanctuary Asia editor and wildlife expert Bittu Sahgal with the support from Deutsche Bank at Gothangaon area in Kuhi range of the sanctuary.

Sahgal confirmed the project is being worked out. Nagpur district honorary wildlife warden Roheet Karoo is coordinating the project.

Community conservancy will be launched in Umred-Karhandla taking a cue from Masai Mara national reserve in Kenya, where it was established two years ago when a group of hotel lodge and camp owners formed the organization with a goal of uniting all the Masai landowners and tourism partners operating within the confines of the Koyaiki Lemek conservation area.

On the same lines, community conservancy is planned on 110 acres of agriculture land belonging to 39 families who were rehabilitated over a year ago. The land, allotted to them as pattas in 1977, lies in the backwaters of Gosikhurd dam in Kuhi range. The land cannot be sold as per rules.

"Either the farm land is lying idle or those cultivating it face huge problem of crop depredation from wild animals and hence farming is not viable. Plan is to pay compensation to these farmers for not growing crop. A fixed amount will be paid to them as per the land holding," said Pench officials.

They said farmers will be encouraged not to cultivate their land for handsome returns. The farm land will be converted into grasslands, which will invite herbivores followed by tigers. The concept is at take offstage and several rounds of meetings have already been held with the locals.

There are plans to develop a resort by inviting open bids from private parties. A tripartite agreement will be signed between the developer, land owner and Deutsche Bank. The bank will pay money under its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

"It will not be a commercial project. Community conservancy nowadays is as important as tourism and conservation. There will also be profit-sharing between locals," officials said.

What it means?

* Professional management of the conservancy allowing wildlife to flourish, preserving the environment, and strengthening the ecosystem for generations to come.

* Seeking to develop a strong working relationship with the community leading towards the establishment of a model 'Community Conservancy' disseminating increased prosperity to individual landowner. Secure fund-raising for community initiatives and provide secure lease incomes for landowners.

* Promoting responsible land use through strict management planning covering tourism development, grazing and settlement.

* It will unite all areas of the ecosystem in one integrated management model.



RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 06-02-2014

DNA-based tool to probe poaching

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Two South African wildlife experts on Tuesday gave forest officials at the Assam State Zoo a demonstration of the Rhino DNA Indexing System, a DNA-based forensic tool. The RhODIS, used to investigate and prosecute suspects in cases of rhino poaching, has been on the Assam government’s wish-list. The tool involves the collection of each individual rhino’s unique DNA profile into a database which can be referenced when presenting legal evidence in cases of rhino poaching.

The two experts — Cindy Harper, Director, Veterinary Genetic Laboratory of University of Pretoria, and Rod Potter, a professional wildlife investigator associated with South Africa’s National Wildlife Crime Intervention unit — will also visit the Kaziranga National Park to educate its forest officials on the RhODIS’ utility in crime-scene investigation.

Assam’s Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain said the government had plans to introduce RhODIS in the State, where poachers often went unpunished for want of irrefutable evidence.

Mr. Hussain said poachers killed and dehorned 41 rhinos in Assam and about 1,000 rhinos in South Africa in 2013. However, he observed, South Africa had successfully cracked down on rhino poaching by international gangs and carried out effective prosecution. As many as 16 rhinos have been killed in Kaziranga so far this year.

Mr. Hussain said the Assam government has been exploring the option of setting up fast-track courts to carry out speedy trials against poachers. The RhODIS would help provide concrete evidence before the trial court, as required for conviction in poaching cases, he said. The State has now planned to introduce RhoDIS in collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature — India to build a database of the DNA profiles of translocated, poached or naturally-dead rhinos.

The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria has over 5,000 rhino samples on its DNA database and has contributed towards over 400 probes in the east and southern African region.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden in Assam R.P. Agarwalla said poaching had been posing a major threat to rhino conservation efforts. It was the market in China and Vietnam, which use the rhino horn for various purposes, including medicinal, that the poachers sought to tap, he said.

Fourteen poachers have been killed, six arrested and seven firearms seized so far this year. The rhino population in Assam is estimated to be 2,553. Of this, the KNP has 2,329, the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park 100 rhinos, the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary 93 rhinos and Manas National Park 31 rhinos.



RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Pckts - 06-02-2014

Nice to read about all these "crackdowns" but at the end of the day all I keep hearing is, "rhino poached here", "tiger poisoned there" "lion hit by car" or a million other sad stories. Less talk and political nonsense, and lets see some action. Convictions, captures, animal rescues, etc... The time for policy is over, if the UN want's to assist, allocate a huge conservation unit, pay them the same you pay other law enforcement, train them, and lets see you show some results.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - sanjay - 06-02-2014

Well Said Pckts. Despite of all these efforts bad incident keep occurring. No government will ever think seriously about them because it is not going to give them votes. This is least priority agenda for almost every government.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 06-03-2014

No mercy for whale shark pups at Neendakara

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An alarming loss of the IUCN red-listed whale shark (Rhincodon typus) population is taking place along the Kerala waters.

The largest extant fish species, the whale shark is protected in India under Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, a protection status on a par with tiger.

Seafood agents at the Neendakara fishing harbour in Kollam say since April at least one whale shark pup is being sold daily at the auction hall here. There are days when three or four pups are sold.

On Wednesday, four pups came for auction. A pup fetches between Rs.3,000 and Rs.5,000 depending on its size. Whale sharks do not find much of a place on the domestic menu and have not been listed on the export figures of the Marine Products Export Development Authority.

But in the export market, liver oil, meat, cartilage, and skin of this species have commercial value. The products are exported on the sly to China, Taiwan, and the Philippines via Sri Lanka.

The landings rise between April and June as whale sharks undertake pre-monsoon migration through the Kerala waters.

Though whale shark hunting is not an active fishing activity in India, those accidently getting caught, both adults and pups are not released.

When big sharks get entangled, nets, which are very costly, are completely destroyed. Fishermen haul the catch ashore and sell it at the auction hall to compensate for the loss. They claim if they release the shark, they lose that money as well as their net.

Gujarat is the only State that provides compensation to the fishermen for nets that suffer damage when whale sharks are accidently caught. The Gujarat government pays a compensation of Rs.25,000 to the fishermen if the whale shark getting entangled in the net is released.

Environment activists do not entertain arguments of the fishermen in the case of whale shark pups.They say when the pups get entangled, there is not much of destruction to the nets. Yet, the pups are not released and brought ashore.



RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 06-03-2014

Madagascar Could Be on the Brink of Invasion by Asian Toad

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Read the full article in the link below 

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Pckts - 06-03-2014

(05-28-2014, 05:21 AM)'Apollo' Wrote:  

Plight of Africa’s vulture

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Read the full article in the link below




I didn't read the article, but I watched a documentory on Vultures. Since they started poisoning them and their numbers have dropped, the rivers fill up with corpses that the vultures used to scavenge and eat, and the rivers now become infested with bacteria and the locals drink this water and become sick and can die as well.
Ignorant people, when will they learn? Human existence is tied hand and hand with animal existence, healthy animal populations, healthy climate, lots of land, green lush areas, uninterupted water ways etc. Are all key for both humans and animals alike to survive. People think the extinction of one animal is no big deal. They don't understand the amount of unhealthy things that must occur for the animal to be unable to survive in a area it onced thrived in.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 06-04-2014

(06-03-2014, 10:14 PM)'Pckts' Wrote:
(05-28-2014, 05:21 AM)'Apollo' Wrote:  

Plight of Africa’s vulture

*This image is copyright of its original author

Read the full article in the link below




I didn't read the article, but I watched a documentory on Vultures. Since they started poisoning them and their numbers have dropped, the rivers fill up with corpses that the vultures used to scavenge and eat, and the rivers now become infested with bacteria and the locals drink this water and become sick and can die as well.
Ignorant people, when will they learn? Human existence is tied hand and hand with animal existence, healthy animal populations, healthy climate, lots of land, green lush areas, uninterupted water ways etc. Are all key for both humans and animals alike to survive. People think the extinction of one animal is no big deal. They don't understand the amount of unhealthy things that must occur for the animal to be unable to survive in a area it onced thrived in.


Do you have the link for that documentary ?

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Pckts - 06-04-2014

I believe it is this one

here is another on the vanishing vulture


RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 06-04-2014

(06-04-2014, 10:52 PM)'Pckts' Wrote: I believe it is this one
here is another on the vanishing vulture

I'll keep looking for the exact one


Thanks alot Pckts.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Pckts - 06-04-2014

Check out India's vulture as well. It may be worse off than its african cousin's