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( This post was last modified: 01-06-2019, 09:06 PM by Sanju )

In a first, octopus spotted in Narmada river
mumbai Updated: Jan 06, 2019 15:24 IST

*This image is copyright of its original author

Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Mumbai

*This image is copyright of its original author

The 17 specimens of Cistopus indicus are 190-320mm in length.(HT Photo)

Quote:The 17 specimens, which are 190-320mm in length, are about the size of a human arm. The maximum length of the species was 325mm with a weight of 56.2g. The maximum length of this species along the Indian coastline was 600mm from the Bay of Bengal

In a first along the Indian coastline, an octopus species was recently spotted in the estuarine zone of Narmada river, said scientists. Marine biologists confirmed that there were no previous reports of octopuses being spotted in inland waters along the Indian coastline.
Octopus is a marine species that is spotted up to the depth of 50m and is known to inhabit coastal sea waters. It is rarely observed in the estuarine brackish waters.

Seventeen specimens of the Cistopus indicus, commonly known as the old woman octopus, were identified by scientists from the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) Vadodra, Gujarat, under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The octopuses were spotted during CIFRI’s routine survey as a part of a fish catch at Bhadbhut village, 35kms off the Gulf of Khambhat on December 16. CIFRI scientists declared their findings on Friday. “According to data collated by us since 1988, in India, octopuses are caught mainly as by-catch in trawl nets used for shrimp trawling, shore seines, boat seines, hooks, lines and stake nets, but they have never been caught within brackish estuarine water bodies,” said Dr Dibakar Bhakta, scientist, CIFRI Vadodra.

The 17 specimens, which are 190-320mm in length, are about the size of a human arm. The maximum length of the species was 325mm with a weight of 56.2g. The maximum length of this species along the Indian coastline was 600mm from the Bay of Bengal, said Bhatka. There are around 200 species of Octopus reported across the world and 38 species reported from Indian seas.

According to Bhakta and his team, the salinity of the Bhadbhut and adjacent Mahegam region was in the range of 18-20 parts per thousand (ppt) during December. The salinity of water in the ocean is around 35 ppt. The mixture of seawater and fresh water in estuaries has salinity ranging between 0.5 and 35 ppt.
“Initial analysis and high salinity show that ingress of high tide water may have allowed this marine species into the estuary. However, considering the low quantity of marine fish catch in these brackish waters between 2017 and 2018, environmental disturbances and anthropogenic alterations to their habitat can be another cause for their displacement,” said Bhakta.
Deepak Apte, director, Bombay Natural History Society, said marine species, mostly fish, are known to move into brackish waters for breeding mostly around winter months. “However, there are no previous records of octopuses depicting such behaviour.”

Independent experts who have carried out research on octopuses also said high tide water had most probably brought the species to the estuary. “It is extremely rare to spot such a find and further studies need to ascertain the level of water during low and high tide and species diversity in both phases,” said Vinay Deshmukh, marine biologist and former scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).

Octopus made up merely 0.72% of the total molluscan resource (61688 tonnes) that landed in Gujarat during 2017. “This is clearly the first documentation of an octopus found along inland waters in India. It is unusual for such marine benthic species, irrespective of their size to survive in salinity ranging between 18-20 ppt. We need to study whether similar reports have occurred from other parts of the country to ascertain habitat changes,” said E Vivekanandan, former principal scientist and national consultant, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute and currently heading the Bay of Bengal project on biodiversity conservation.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-ne...WkZbM.html
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( This post was last modified: 01-07-2019, 01:58 PM by Sanju )

Exotic trees eating up Western Ghat’s grasslands

*This image is copyright of its original author
Aathira Perinchery
Kochi, January 02, 2019 23:14 IST
Updated: January 02, 2019 23:14 IST

 
*This image is copyright of its original author


But shola forests have remained “relatively unchanged”

The new year heralds bad news for the high-altitude grasslands of the Western Ghats.
Quote:Over four decades, the country lost almost one-fourth of these grasslands and exotic invasive trees are primarily to blame, find scientists.
Though grassland afforestation using pine, acacia and eucalyptus ceased in 1996, the exotics still invade these ecosystems, confirms a study published on January 2 in the international journal Biological Conservation.

When satellite images revealed to a team including scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER, Tirupati) grassland loss in Tamil Nadu’s Palani hills in early 2018, they decided to study how shola-grasslands (characterised by patches of stunted evergreen shola trees in the valleys and grasslands on hill slopes) across the Ghats – from the Baba Budan Hills in Karnataka to Tamil Nadu's Ashambu Hills – changed in extent between 1972 and 2017. The satellite images they accessed reveal that 60% of the shola-grassland landscape has changed; almost 40% (516 km2) of native high-elevation grasslands have disappeared.

Most of this loss occurred on the mountain tops of the Nilgiri, Palani and Anamalai hill ranges, which comprise more than half of the Ghat’s shola-grassland ecosystems, primarily due to the expansion of exotic trees (pine, acacia and eucalyptus). Even though no plantations were established between 2003 and 2017, invasion by existing trees increased areas under exotic plantations by 27% in the Palanis and 17% in the Nilgiris. Broadly, shola-grassland ecosystems in Tamil Nadu showed the highest rates of invasion. The researchers also visited 840 locations across the Ghats to confirm these changes. Despite this, there’s some good news: shola forests have remained “relatively unchanged” over these years. The Anamalai-Munnar areas have also remained stable during this time.

‘Little research focus’
However, all possible efforts must be made to conserve the remaining grassland tracts, said scientist Dr. Robin V. Vijayan (IISER Tirupati), one of the authors who led the study. “There is very little research focus on grasslands and mechanisms to restore them are also few, unlike forests,” he added.
“The immediate reaction would be to remove all exotics including mature plantations from grasslands but that should not be done,” said Godwin Vasanth Bosco, who has restored some grassland patches in Udhagamandalam.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/k...ALQj40IefI
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Blue Macaw Parrot From The Movie ‘Rio’ Is Now Officially Extinct
January 5, 2019 Animals,

Remember Blu? The blue macaw from the movie Rio who thought that he was the last of his species? Well, his nightmare has come to life and the blue macaw parrots, who were declared endangered about seven years ago, are now officially extinct in the wild.

*This image is copyright of its original author

This bird from Brazil, also known as the Spix’s macaw can no longer be seen in the wild, concluded a study done by BirdLife International. The study found that the blue colored bird now only exists in captivity and the numbers are extremely few and heartbreaking. Extinct IN THE WILD 20 years after the last sighting in its natural range (though one, probably a release, has been seen in in 2016) .

*This image is copyright of its original author

According to the organization, the bird has gone extinct due to the rise in deforestation and constant loss of habitat. The birds were also not so adaptive and lived near dominant species and predators. 

The birds are believed to still exist in some breeding programs, there’s no official proof of the statement though.
The threat that the species might become extinct and we must do everything to conserve it was sparked in the 1980s! Author Tony Juniper even penned a book called “Spix’s Macaw: The Race to Save the World’s Rarest Bird”, in an attempt to make people aware of the situation in 2002.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Other than the blue macaw, 7 other bird species have been declared extinct. The announcement was made this week, based on the statistical analysis by BirdLife International. Five of the species belong to South America and were victims of deforestation and too much human interference.
Three species – namely – the cryptic tree-hunter and the Alagoas foliage gleaner from Brazil and Poo-Uli from Hawaii have been completely wiped out and are now gone forever. All these extinctions were caused by human interference and not natural causes, it is sickening. How many more extinctions will it take for humans to finally learn to respect the privacy of other animals?

https://beyondblindfold.com/blue-macaw-p...x8iaNp9Yzg
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( This post was last modified: 01-25-2019, 11:13 AM by Sanju )

102 one-horned rhinoceros poached since 2008, 209 poachers arrested: reveals RTI
 
Updated Jan 22, 2019 | 22:27 IST | Mirror Now Digital

As many as 102 one-horned rhinoceros have been poached and killed in the country since 2008, as per the data obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act

*This image is copyright of its original author


A year-wise analysis of the data shows that the maximum such killings took place in 2013 and 2014 (22 each year), followed by 11 in 2010, eight in 2015 and 2009, seven in 2011, 2012 and 2018, five in 2016, three in 2008 and two in 2017.  |  Photo Credit: Getty

Lucknow:
Quote:Since 2008, 102 one-horned rhinoceros have been poached and killed in the country. According to data obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as many as 209 poachers have been arrested for the crime.

According to a report by news agency PTI, the maximum killings of 84 one-horned rhinoceros have been reported from Assam, according to data provided by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Meanwhile, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are the only two states which have reported such killings, with 17 and one deaths, respectively, during the period.

The PTI report claimed that a Noida-based lawyer Ranjan Tomar had sought state-wise data on the number of one-horned rhinos that were killed by poachers in the last 10 years. The offenders were arrested from the WCCB, a statutory body formed to combat organised wildlife crime in the country.

Reportedly, the WCCB in a written reply said, "As per data available in the records of the bureau based on the information from the state forest and police departments, 102 one-horned rhinos have been killed and 209 poachers have been arrested in the last 10 years in India."
Tomar had also sought to know the estimated monetary value of body parts of the rhinos killed by poachers during the period. However, the bureau replied to this as they do not maintain such data.

A year-wise analysis of the data shows that the maximum such killings took place in 2013 and 2014 (22 each year), followed by 11 in 2010, eight in 2015 and 2009, seven in 2011, 2012 and 2018, five in 2016, three in 2008 and two in 2017.

https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/...als/352165


15 out, 485 more to go: Crocodiles removed for seaplane to Unity statue ( Garrr.. Angry *Gujarat!!!)
Aditi Raja | Vadodara | Updated: January 25, 2019 8:06:59 am

Related News

*This image is copyright of its original author

Statue of Unity a way to rectify historical wrongs: Venkaiah Naidu

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Govt lines up events at Statue of Unity to give tourism a boost


*This image is copyright of its original author

Using fish as bait to lure them into cages, the Forest Department has started removing the crocodiles, the largest of them so far about 10 feet. There is no deadline as of now for finishing the operation. 

A crocodile is taken away from the Sardar Sarovar dam pond.
Amid confusion over where the reptiles would be released, the Gujarat Forest Department has started evacuating crocodiles from two ponds on the Sardar Sarovar Dam premises on the Narmada, to make way for the seaplane service planned to promote tourism at the Statue of Unity.

Until last Tuesday, 15 crocodiles had been evacuated. There are roughly 500 of them in the two ponds located adjacent to each other on the dam premises. The mugger crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris) in the Narmada fall under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, which covers the most endangered species.
A multi-level committee comprising officials of the Civil Aviation Department and Gujarat government had cleared Pond 3, locally called ‘Magar talav (crocodile pond)’, for setting up the seaplane terminal, to connect cities of Gujarat to the Sardar Patel statue site.
Using fish as bait to lure them into cages, the Forest Department has started removing the crocodiles, the largest of them so far about 10 feet. There is no deadline as of now for finishing the operation.

Dr K Sasi Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Narmada, said, “We are rescuing the crocodiles from Ponds 3 and 4, which are close to the site. We have put 10 teams of officials for the exercise.” For about a week, the crocodiles were in the custody of the Forest Department. Then, after considering the possibility of releasing them in their natural habitat, it was decided to let them out into the reservoir of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam. “That’s where most of them will be released,” Kumar said.
Questioning this, a top official of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), who refused to be named, said, “For many years now, the Forest Department has been releasing crocodiles into the reservoir of the dam, apart from the main canal, the Ajwa reservoir and other canals. This particular exercise involves hundreds of crocodiles. It may not be possible to release all into the reservoir in one go. They will have to be distributed in other places as well. It is most likely that a lot of these crocodiles could end up going back closer to the human habitats from where they were once rescued and brought to the Narmada.”

Crocodiles captured from human settlements during the monsoon are released into the Narmada dam ponds as a practice. Ajwa reservoir closer to Vadodara is already home to hundreds of crocodiles.
Dr Jitendra Gavali, Director, Community Science Centre, Vadodara, called the transfer of reptiles in such large numbers for making a seaplane terminal “against the principles of the Wildlife Protection Act”. Warning that the crocodiles may be harmed, he pointed out that firstly officials can’t be sure of their exact number in the ponds. “Moreover releasing them into the dam reservoir would mean that the female crocodiles may not be able to nest if the slope of the dam is more than about 40 degrees. Crocodiles need space on land to nest and also to come out of the waters during winters… If the government has spent crores of rupees making the Statue of Unity, it should spend some more money to make an artificial pond for landing the seaplanes without disturbing the ecological balance and natural habitat of crocodiles.”

A feasibility report on the seaplane service had been prepared in the run-up to the inauguration of the Statue of Unity, in October last year, by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Department of Civil Aviation. The Centre had promised this service in the state, with Prime Minister Narendra travelling in a seaplane from Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam in Ambaji in December 2017, marking the end of his campaign for the Gujarat Assembly polls.
Eventually, the rocky-bed Pond 3, officially called Panchmuli lake, had been identified as ideal to build the seaplane terminal. An SSNNL official said, “Pond 3 has a vast body, making it perfect. The Civil Aviation team also liked the site. It will take care of the operations.” A seaplane requires a water body of minimum 900-metres width and 6-feet depth to land.
Incidentally, Pond 3, which is the biggest of the four lakes around the Sardar Sarovar Dam and boasts of a scenic view, was once open to boating. But this ended in 2013, when a boat with about 60 tourists got stranded in the waters and was surrounded by crocodiles, spreading much panic. It took a couple of hours to rescue the tourists.
The other sites shortlisted for development of water aerodromes in Gujarat are Palitana and Dharoi Dam. Officials said the Civil Aviation Ministry was also contemplating classifying the operations under the Udan initiative for regional connectivity.



Quote:An official of the Gujarat Tourism Department said, “Tourism (**** your tourism die for it) in Narmada has received a big boost due to the Statue of Unity and aerodrome services will come as an added advantage.”




https://indianexpress.com/article/india/...e-5554420/
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Australia’s blistering heatwave is breaking records, killing animals en masse
By Josh K. Elliott National Online Journalist, International  Global News

https://globalnews.ca/news/4878062/adela...-heatwave/
WATCH ABOVE: Australia is going through an extreme heatwave this week, with temperatures reaching record highs

While many Canadians and Americans suffer through the depths of winter, blistering summer temperatures are wreaking havoc with Australia‘s environment, killing animals, cooking fruit and toppling decades-old heat records.

Adelaide set a record for the highest temperature ever recorded in an Australian city Thursday, when the heat peaked at 46.6 degrees Celsiusshocked . Adelaide’s previous record of 46.1 Celsius was set on Jan. 12, 1939. The city of 1.3 million people is the state capital of South Australia, where temperatures are typically milder than in the north.
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Birds Can See a 'Colour' Humans Can't. Now Scientists Have Revealed This Hidden World
TESSA KOUMOUNDOUROS
27 JAN 2019
Birds see a very different world to the one we're familiar with, and now we can get a hint of what that looks like thanks to a specially designed camera that simulates birdo-vision.
Apart from being fascinating, the resulting images also explain why birds can navigate so accurately through dense foliage.
Behavioural biologist Cynthia Tedore formerly from Lund University in Sweden explains that the team wanted to look for patterns in nature that birds see, but scientists have not yet thought to look for.
They chose to explore bird vision because birds are very visually orientated - they use their sight to forage and hunt for food - and unlike human eyes, bird eyes can detect a fourth colour.
In our eyes, we have three types of colour receptors, or cones - they are sensitive to red, blue and green frequencies of light. Birds have a fourth receptor that varies across species in the type of frequency it can detect.
Some birds, like Australian honeyeaters, have their fourth colour receptors sensitive to violet light; in others, such as parrots, these cones can detect light further into the UV part of the spectrum.
To find out how these violet- and UV-sensitive cones translate visually, researchers photographed dense forest habitat in both Sweden and Australia using a multispectral camera with specially designed filters to mimic what a bird can see.
What they discovered was quite striking.

*This image is copyright of its original author
Normal photo, left. Photo that includes green light and UV colours, right. (Cynthia Tedore)
The multispectral images clearly show how UV sensitivity detects a greater contrast between the upper and lower surfaces of leaves, making each leaf's position and orientation stand out in a very clear, 3D way.
"What appears to be a green mess to humans are clearly distinguishable leaves for birds. No one knew about this until this study," said biologist Dan-Eric Nilsson, also from Lund University.

Both the upper and lower leaf surfaces reflect similar levels of UV light, so the researchers think the differences are due to how much UV the leaves reflect versus transmit.
UV light was reflected off the leaves more than 25 times the amount that was transmitted through them.
In comparison, our beady eyes can't tell the difference because green light is both transmitted and reflected around the same amount, creating far less contrast when viewed through green frequencies.
"[UV vision] likely helps birds fly and hop through dense foliage with greater agility," Tedore told ScienceAlert.
"Many birds search for insects and spiders hiding on the lower surfaces of leaves, and being able to quickly pinpoint these surfaces should enhance their foraging efficiency."
Using computer modelling, Nilsson and Tedore also worked out that the maximum leaf contrast is seen at short UV wavelengths in well-lit, open canopies and at longer UV wavelengths in lower-lit, closed canopies. This may explain why the fourth colour birds detect varies.
Of course, what we see in the visualised UV images is only a simulation of bird vision because our eyes are sadly not fully up to the task.

"Since birds have four cone classes (red, green, blue, and UV), and we only have three (red, green, blue), we can only visualise three of birds' cone channels at a time," Tedore explains. "It is impossible for us to generate a realistic representation of what vision with four cone channels might look like."
But even if we can't truly see these extra colours ourselves, we could still make use of bird super-colour-vision through technology.
"The enhanced 3D structure in the UV could be visualised by remotely-controlled or autonomous vehicles to help them better navigate complex forest environments without becoming entangled by leaves," Tedore suggests.
As amazing as seeing in four colours sounds, it probably also comes with some drawbacks.
"One disadvantage of having a fourth cone class is that it takes up space in the retina that could have been occupied by more of the other three cone classes," says Tedore. "This can have detrimental effects on resolution and on sensitivity under dim light conditions."
Tedore says the next step in understanding bird vision will be to see how their food sources display in UV. And they could also further explore how bird vision varies across species and environments.
"We may have the notion that what we see is the reality, but it's a highly human reality. Other animals live in other realities, and we can now see through their eyes and reveal many secrets. Reality is in the eye of the beholder," Nilsson concludes.
Their paper was published in Nature Communications.

https://www.sciencealert.com/birds-can-see-uv-light-now-scientists-can-show-us-what-that-looks-like
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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/01/26/300-crocodiles-relocated-protect-tourists-worlds-tallest-statue/
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Activists see red over shifting of crocodiles from SoU site
Feb 3, 2019, 00:02 IST

Vadodara: Environment activists are seeing red over the move to remove crocodiles from their natural habitats next to world’s tallest statue – the Statue of Unity - near the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadiya colony in Narmada district.
On Saturday, city-based Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) sent legal notices to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, principal chief conservator of forest of Gujarat government as well as chief secretary and additional chief secretary of Gujarat demanding that translocation of crocodiles should be immediately stopped.

The activists warned that such a move will cause further problems for the nationally vulnerable schedule I species and result in multiple issues within the area for different stakeholders.

The notice said that Gujarat forest department has started relocating crocodiles from two ponds near the dam project for which the purported reason given is “tourist safety” but is most likely being done for the proposed seaplane project.

Questioning the necessity of translocation of the crocodiles from these ponds, the activists have sought response from the authorities on whether they had taken any scientific advice before starting the move.

“The drastic and mindless action of the forest department will result in destruction and degradation of the habitats of many species and undermine the multiple values and ecological services of nature,” the notice issued by PSS said.

“The translocation of crocodiles under the pretext of “tourist safety” is neither an apt reason nor a good solution because such translocation means shifting the problem from one place to another. This may necessitate many more translocations in the near future or the species might migrate back to these impoundments in future. Hence, the so-called problem would persist,” the activists warned.

PSS said that in absence of unknown number of crocodiles in the present Dyke 3 and 4, it is not possible to claim a crocodile free water body.

“Moreover, there is also the possibility of crocodiles entering the dykes from adjoining water bodies that are at the distance of 18-20 km from the Narmada dam and main river course,” the activists said, adding that crocodiles have a strong homing instinct and it tends to come back in original site – which has been scientifically proven.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city...svQq8sFh54

Relocation of crocodiles: Green outfit sends legal notice to CM, Centre
The notice urged the recipients to reconsider their decision and follow the guidelines of the Wildlife Protection Act to preserve the crocodile species.
By Express News Service |Vadodara | Published: February 3, 2019 5:03:59 am
Related News 
15 out, 485 more to go: Crocodiles removed for seaplane to Unity statue

*This image is copyright of its original author

Govt lines up events at Statue of Unity to give tourism a boost

*This image is copyright of its original author

A crocodile is taken away from the Sardar Sarovar dam pond. (Express file photo)

Days after The Indian Express reported the state government’s decision to relocate hundreds of crocodiles from Pond 3 and 4 of the Narmada Dam in Kevadia Colony to clear path for the sea plane terminal connecting the Statue of Unity, the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) on Saturday served a legal notice to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest & Head of Forest Force (HoFF) of Gujarat as well as the chief secretary of the Government of Gujarat to stop the translocation, calling it “drastic and mindless action”.

The notice, which has also been sent to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, called the decision of the state government a “short-sighted (one) with long term impacts”. It also questioned the necessity of the said translocation and demands that it must be made known who made the decision and the consultation sought before executing the translocation of the crocodiles. “On what scientific and technical bases and supervision this action is undertaken? The drastic and mindless action of the Forest Department will result in destruction and degradation of the habitats of many species and undermine the multiple values and ecological services of nature. Let us not overlook the needs and habits of the crocodiles and other food-web species for some selfish, human-centric ends.”

*This image is copyright of its original author

The Indian Express report of January 24

The notice urged the recipients to reconsider their decision and follow the guidelines of the Wildlife Protection Act to preserve the crocodile species. It stated, “The purported reason given (for the translocation of crocodiles near the world’s tallest statue) is “Tourist Safety” but most likely this is being done for the proposed ‘Seaplane Project’. We strongly believe that translocation of crocodiles will cause further problems for this nationally vulnerable Schedule I species and result in multiple issues within the area for different stakeholders, including the authorities concerned.”
The notice further stated, “In absence of the known number of crocodiles in the present Lake 3 & 4, it is not possible to claim a crocodile-free water body. Moreover, there is also the possibility of crocodiles entering the dykes from adjoining water bodies that are at the distance of 18-20 km from the Narmada Dam and the main river course.”

Raising concern over the arbitrary translocation of crocodiles close to their breeding season, the notice stated, “The government’s decision to incarcerate and relocate crocodiles from their natural habitat is against the principles of ‘The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972’. Especially such an act by the Forest Department which very well knows that this period is the breeding season of the crocodiles raises questions on their role in the management of wildlife and its habitat. More significantly, the importance of this species is illustrated by the multiple legal and policy efforts which have been developed by the Government of India to protect the crocodile’s population. Any activity which is against the survival of the highly protected species without having been approved by the State Wildlife Board and National Wildlife Board and the Government of India is patently illegal. There are established Rules, Regulations, and Policies to be followed before attempting to relocate scheduled species.”

According to Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, the organisation will file a petition in the competent court of law if the government continues its exercise to evacuate crocodiles from their natural habitat

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities...77dlyor-C0
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( This post was last modified: 02-06-2019, 10:05 AM by Sanju )

Statue of Unity: NGO sues Gujarat govt over shifting of crocodiles

*This image is copyright of its original author
By Nandini Oza February 05, 2019 20:15 IST

*This image is copyright of its original author

A view of Statue of Unity | PTI

The Gujarat government's move to relocate a majorly endangered species of crocodiles from two ponds near the Statue of Unity—the world's tallest statue—has invited wrath from environmentalists with one group even serving a legal notice.

The mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) is a species protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. A Schedule I animal means that it is highly endangered. Sources said that the reptiles have been removed to make way for seaplane to land in the water. 
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 182-feet tall statue last year, the government has started a chopper service in the area to give an aerial view of the structure. The possibilities of seaplanes were also talked about when Modi took off from Sabarmati River Front ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in Gujarat.

No figures are available about the total number of crocodiles in the ponds and the number of reptiles that were shifted in the last 15 days.
Talking to THE WEEK, Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, who has served a legal notice to the state government, wondered how the numbers will be available when there is no census.

The state government has also not officially announced as to where the crocodiles have been relocated to. There is a possibility that the crocodiles have been released in the reservoir of the Sardar Sarovar Dam or Ajwa Reservoir, near Vadodara. Forest minister Ganpat Vasava could not be contacted.
Dr Jitendra Gavali, director of the Community Science Centre in Vadodara, asked as to whose permission the state authorities took before shifting the crocodiles. He also raised the possibility of crocodile mortality due to infighting at the places where they have been released.

Mentioning that the crocodiles do not attack humans without any reason, Dr Gavali said that if there was a need to clear away the reptiles, the state government could dig a canal at the site as a lot of space is available in the area. Humans and crocodiles have lived together from time immemorial, he observed.
Prajapati said that the shifting of crocodiles was in violation of various Acts, including the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010.

“We have sent a legal notice to the state government,” Prajapati claimed, adding that if the government failed to comply with scientific guidelines and reconsider the translocation activities, it would have to face further action. 

The reptiles were removed to start a seaplane service

https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2019/0...diles.html
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Almost gone: How the Gangetic Dolphin is struggling to cope with the Ganga's increasing salinity

Quote:The national aquatic animal population is taking its last breaths and we all are culpable of its mass murder.

  4-minute read |  05-02-2019

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Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg
   
If you took a holy dip in the Ganges during the recent Kumbh and believed your sins to have been washed away, do say a prayer for the Gangetic dolphins that keep taking hundreds of dips in the revered river every single day of their entire lives.

The gentle — and blind — Gangetic Dolphin is facing yet another anthropogenic threat.
According to the findings of a five-year study conducted in the Sundarbans regions, the rising salinity level in the water is threatening the habitat of the dolphins. The survey was conducted in the lower stretch of the river Hooghly, covering a 97 km stretch of the western, central and eastern Sundarbans in India, intermittently between 2013 and 2016 in different seasons.

Simultaneously, researchers also measured the salinity level of the water. Based on interactions with local fishing communities, the study area was demarcated for boat-based and land-based surveys. The findings of the study were published as a report in the Journal of Threatened Taxa.

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The Gangetic dolphin faces threats to its habitat and existence due to the creation of several dams and irrigation projects. (Photo: WWF)

A survey of a nearly 100-km stretch of the Sundarbans delta in India adjoining Bangladesh has confirmed the presence of the dolphin populations only in the westernmost segment, in the lower reaches of the river Hooghly, where the salinity is lower than that of natural seawater. The mammals stayed away from the central Sundarbans — where siltation in the waterways has disrupted the freshwater flow, leading to high salinity levels. 
The study found “no sighting record for Gangetic dolphin in waterways wherever the salinity level crosses 10 parts per trillion (PPT)”.

The study — led by Sangita Mitra, a senior consultant at the National Biodiversity Authority — goes on to establish that "decline in the range of Platanista gangetica in the Indian Sundarbans" attributing the extirpation to a triple whammy — elevated sedimentation, reduced freshwater discharge and swelling salinity.

Biologist, environmentalist and the Vice Chancellor of Nalanda Open University Dr Ravindra Kumar Sinha, also known as the 'Dolphin Man of India', affirms the findings.
"Gangetic dolphins are freshwater animals and they never enter the sea. They are found in brackish water zones such as those in the Sundarbans estuary. But freshwater flow has declined over the decades and seawater has ingressed, increasing the salinity. They are rarely visible now, whereas once they were plenty," Sinha reportedly said.

Historically, the dolphins covered the entire range of the Ganga. Sinha explains that the biggest threat to Gangetic dolphins is the declining flow in the Ganga, owing to the erection of dams and barrages, and water-intensive agriculture in the basin, contributing to the base flow petering out and fragmenting their habitats.

To corroborate this, records dating to 1879 reveal that these freshwater cetaceans swam along the entire length of the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers, and all their tributaries from the delta at the Bay of Bengal till the Himalayan foothills. Even in the month of May, when the water in the Ganga was very low, dolphins were reportedly seen as far up the Yamuna in Delhi.

Lead author Sangita Mitra agrees. “The Gangetic dolphin is an obligatory freshwater species and its range has declined due to salinity and other ecological factors. Although the study has not concluded, we would like to draw the attention of the concerned authorities as well as the public about threats to this freshwater habitat as it has a direct implication on Gangetic river dolphin,” she reportedly said. Local extinction of Gangetic dolphins has already been predicted by the Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Centre.

Clearly, there is not too much of a difference between the Gangetic Dolphin and those who make the policy decisions for its conservation — both swim blind.
Unless the policymakers are shaken out of their reverie immediately, we are heading towards mourning the loss of a national symbol.

Also read: National Waterways is all set to bid a tricolour adieu to the Gangetic Dolphins

#National aquatic animal, #Brahmaputra, #Ganga, #Sunderbans
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Rajeshwari Ganesan
@rajeshwaridotg
Assistant Editor, DailyO

video : https://www.dailyo.in/variety/gangetic-dolphin-sunderbans-ganga-brahmaputra-national-aquatic-animal-wildlife-protection/story/1/29312.html
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Do you know that ? Polar bears being aggressiv in Russia islands because of the climatic change:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47185112
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Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'

Exclusive: Insects could vanish within a century at current rate of decline, says global review
Why are insects in decline, and can we do anything about it?
Damian Carrington Environment editor

Sun 10 Feb 2019 18.00 GMT Last modified on Mon 11 Feb 2019 01.00 GMT
             
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The rate of insect extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. Photograph: Courtesy of Entomologisher Verein Krefeld
The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.
More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.


The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.

Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.
“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”

     
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Scarce copper butterflies. Photograph: Marlene Finlayson/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Quick guide
Insect collapse: the red flags


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The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors.


“If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” said Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who wrote the review with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.
The 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years is “shocking”, Sánchez-Bayo told the Guardian: “It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”

One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” he said. Such cascading effects have already been seen in Puerto Rico, where a recent study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.
The new analysis selected the 73 best studies done to date to assess the insect decline. Butterflies and moths are among the worst hit. For example, the number of widespread butterfly species fell by 58% on farmed land in England between 2000 and 2009. The UK has suffered the biggest recorded insect falls overall, though that is probably a result of being more intensely studied than most places.
     
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Surveying butterflies in Maine, US. Photograph: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Getty Images

Bees have also been seriously affected, with only half of the bumblebee species found in Oklahoma in the US in 1949 being present in 2013. The number of honeybee colonies in the US was 6 million in 1947, but 3.5 million have been lost since.
There are more than 350,000 species of beetle and many are thought to have declined, especially dung beetles. But there are also big gaps in knowledge, with very little known about many flies, ants, aphids, shield bugs and crickets. Experts say there is no reason to think they are faring any better than the studied species.

A small number of adaptable species are increasing in number, but not nearly enough to outweigh the big losses. “There are always some species that take advantage of vacuum left by the extinction of other species,” said Sanchez-Bayo. In the US, the common eastern bumblebee is increasing due to its tolerance of pesticides.

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Most of the studies analysed were done in western Europe and the US, with a few ranging from Australia to China and Brazil to South Africa, but very few exist elsewhere.
“The main cause of the decline is agricultural intensification,” Sánchez-Bayo said. “That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.” He said the demise of insects appears to have started at the dawn of the 20th century, accelerated during the 1950s and 1960s and reached “alarming proportions” over the last two decades.

He thinks new classes of insecticides introduced in the last 20 years, including neonicotinoids and fipronil, have been particularly damaging as they are used routinely and persist in the environment: “They sterilise the soil, killing all the grubs.” This has effects even in nature reserves nearby; the 75% insect losses recorded in Germany were in protected areas.

     
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German conservation workers inspect an urban garden for insects. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The world must change the way it produces food, Sánchez-Bayo said, noting that organic farms had more insects and that occasional pesticide use in the past did not cause the level of decline seen in recent decades. “Industrial-scale, intensive agriculture is the one that is killing the ecosystems,” he said.

In the tropics, where industrial agriculture is often not yet present, the rising temperatures due to climate change are thought to be a significant factor in the decline. The species there have adapted to very stable conditions and have little ability to change, as seen in Puerto Rico.

Sánchez-Bayo said the unusually strong language used in the review was not alarmist. “We wanted to really wake people up” and the reviewers and editor agreed, he said. “When you consider 80% of biomass of insects has disappeared in 25-30 years, it is a big concern.”

Other scientists agree that it is becoming clear that insect losses are now a serious global problem. “The evidence all points in the same direction,” said Prof Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK. “It should be of huge concern to all of us, for insects are at the heart of every food web, they pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects.”

Matt Shardlow, at the conservation charity Buglife, said: “It is gravely sobering to see this collation of evidence that demonstrates the pitiful state of the world’s insect populations. It is increasingly obvious that the planet’s ecology is breaking and there is a need for an intense and global effort to halt and reverse these dreadful trends.” In his opinion, the review slightly overemphasises the role of pesticides and underplays global warming, though other unstudied factors such as light pollution might prove to be significant.

     
*This image is copyright of its original author


Volunteers look for the wormwood moonshiner beetle in Suffolk, UK. Photograph: Sean Smith/The Guardian
Prof Paul Ehrlich, at Stanford Universityin the US, has seen insects vanish first-hand, through his work on checkerspot butterflies on Stanford’s Jasper Ridge reserve. He first studied them in 1960 but they had all gone by 2000, largely due to climate change.

Ehrlich praised the review, saying: “It is extraordinary to have gone through all those studies and analysed them as well as they have.” He said the particularly large declines in aquatic insects were striking. “But they don’t mention that it is human overpopulation and overconsumption that is driving all the things [eradicating insects], including climate change,” he said.
Sánchez-Bayo said he had recently witnessed an insect crash himself. A recent family holiday involved a 400-mile (700km) drive across rural Australia, but he had not once had to clean the windscreen, he said. “Years ago you had to do this constantly.”
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Australian cassowary and emu no replacement for New Zealand's missing moa

By Stuart Gary  Posted 13 January 2016 at 4:46 am


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Artists impression of a pair of giant New Zealand moa being attacked by raptor. (John Megahan/PLoS Biology)

Importing Australian emus and cassowaries to New Zealand to fill the ecological gap left by the extinction of the moa would not work, according to insights into the giant flightless birds' feeding behaviours.
The findings, reported in the journal Proceedings of Royal Society B, show the nine species of moa were able to co-exist in New Zealand by using different feeding strategies.
Quote:With the coastal and other moa now extinct, there's nothing in New Zealand to fulfil the range of ecological rolls the moa had.
Dr Marie Attard
"My research shows each moa species specialised in different types of food and it's not certain we can introduce other species to New Zealand to fill those roles because they're quite diverse," the study's lead author Marie Attard, of the University of New England, said.
"I don't think you can introduce a single species like an emu or cassowary into New Zealand to act as an ecological surrogate — which is what others have proposed in the past — to fill the role of the moa."

It is thought that the extinction of these birds 550 years ago left indelible holes in New Zealand's ecosystem and likely led to drastic changes in fire frequency, regeneration patterns and seed dispersal opportunities of plants.
But scientists have had little real understanding of how this damage manifested because they know little of how the moa lived and co-existed.

Dr Attard and her colleagues obtained CT scans of the skulls of five different moa species and conducted MRI scans of the mummified remains of one moa that still had all its jaw muscles attached to create the first three-dimensional computer models of how the muscles worked in each bird.
The team then compared the moa models to 3D models created from the skulls of its Australian cousins the cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) and emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae).


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Three dimensional computer models used to simulate the response of the skull to different biting and feeding behaviours. (Dr Marie Attard)

The models showed different species used different skull biomechanics depending upon the types of food they ate.
"We could simulate how the birds would bite down on a twig which is how they could grab vegetation off plants," Dr Attard said.
"We also did other simulations like shaking, bowing and twisting the head, as well as various other strategies that we find in living birds to see which of those methods were best suited for different types of feeding habits."

The researchers were surprised to discover how diverse the different moa species' feeding behaviour was.
The little bush moa (Anomalopteryx didifornis) possessed a relatively short, sharp-edged bill designed to cut twigs and branches, supporting the idea that they primarily fed on fibrous material from trees and shrubs.
You may also like ... "Another species called the coastal moa (Euryapteryx curtus), seemed to be very suited to eating soft fruits, and would have ranged over a large area to find those fruits, which made them quite good at distributing seeds," Dr Attard said.
"With the coastal and other moa now extinct, there's nothing in New Zealand to fulfil the range of ecological roles the moa had."
The team found the bite mechanics of both species of Australian birds were quite weak compared to the moa, which suggested the extinct birds used different feeding strategies their modern cousins.
Dr Attard said the findings indicated the Australian birds would be poor replacements for moa and would not be able to restore lost ecosystems.
"Kiwis will be really glad that no other species will be introduced into New Zealand — no foreign species should have been introduced in the first place," Dr Attard said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2016...ry/7083500
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We saw a great event filmed on January 10, 2019, when a small number of people were seen around Dender National Park, where elephants have not been encountered since the 1960s, but where their presence is still documented by footprints and excrement. . These wonderful animals are still under severe threat in Sudan, including from illegal fishing. Climate change is also a serious threat to species that have potential impacts on natural habitats.
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The source and پphoto are certified to manage the Sudanese wildlife.
#ADAPT! The project was funded by UK Aid - UK in Sudan



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