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Habitat Management & Restoration

India Rishi Offline
( This post was last modified: 03-04-2020, 08:22 AM by Rishi )

Spurt in tiger sightings at Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
Priyangi Agarwal | TOI | March, 2020

Experts said luck too matters in sighting of tigers but tourists should look forward to enjoying the ecosystem rather than focusing only on tigers. 
*This image is copyright of its original author

BAREILLY: A visit to Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) this year is proving to be a memorable trip for tourists as there has been a spurt in tiger sightings. Forest officials say at least one batch of tourists manages to spot a tiger every day. DTR boasts of nearly 100 tigers but these shy felines were rarely seen in the past.

Field director, DTR, Sanjay Pathak told, “Tigers are being sighted almost every day across the reserve either in the morning or evening shifts. The tiger sightings have increased here in comparison to three years ago.”

Giving reasons behind the rise in tiger sightings in DTR, Pathak said, “From December, we start grassland management and a large number of herbivores came out to consume fresh grass. Tigers too followed as they prey on herbivores. The tourists did not spot the big cats on days when it rained last month but as the weather has become clear, tigers are coming out to bask in the sun. Even in summer, herbivores come near water bodies to drink and the big cats lie in wait there to capture them.”

Fazlur Rahman, wildlife photographer who spends much time in the forest and has sighted tigers a few times over the past two months, said, “Better management by Dudhwa authorities and good population of tigers are the reasons why tourists are spotting tigers here.”

*This image is copyright of its original author

According to forest officials, UP governor Anandiben Patel who visited DTR in the first week of this month was able to “catch a glimpse of a tiger”. However, her family members “sighted a big cat”, they said.

In November last year, a few tourists who visited the reserve spotted a tigress along with its five cubs. However, for the protection of tigress and cubs, forest authorities have restricted movement of tourists on routes near its location. A tigress can become very aggressive in order to protect its cubs.

Experts said luck too matters in sighting of tigers but tourists should look forward to enjoying the ecosystem, lest go home unsatisfied. 
Leeladhar Sonu, a guide at Dudhwa, said, “It is a good sign that there has been increase in tiger sightings but the big cats are not the only the highlight of Dudhwa. Apart from tigers, tourists can spot rhinos, elephants, migratory birds and five types of deer.”

Forest officials, nearly 40,000 to 50,000 tourists visit DTR every year and they are expecting the same number this time. 
"Everything not saved will be lost."

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India Rishi Offline

Gaur back in Valmiki Reserve thanks to increase in grassland cover
At least 150 gaur in the reserve currently, according to information from camera traps

Mohd Imran Khan
Monday 9th March 2020

*This image is copyright of its original author
Gaur (Bos Gaurus), listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN’s Red List 1986 & the largest extant bovine in the world, have not only returned to Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR), but are also breeding there due to an increase in grassland cover, officials have said.

A large numbers of gaur had been spotted in camera traps — a sign of improving biodiversity and a positive development for VTR, field director Hemkant Roy told Down To Earth on March 9, 2020.
“Gaur have been attracted to VTR due to the increase in grassland cover. Gaur are grassland specialists and their main food is grass,” Roy said. He added that there were more than 150 gaur including calves, in VTR currently. “We will try and bring further improvement to the habitat so that these animals add to biodiversity,” he said.

VTR was set up in the early 1990s. It is spread over 899 km² in Bihar’s West Champaran district, bordering Nepal’s Chitwan National Park to its north and Uttar Pradesh to its west.

Gaur, which are native to south and southeast Asia, had shifted to Chitwan a few years back due to grassland destruction in VTR. But in the last one decade, VTR had increased its grassland cover to 15% from 4% by reclaiming degraded scrublands & had created 22 water holes to provide easy sources of water for wild animals within the reserve area, according to Roy.
“Increasing grasslands in VTR is a right step for tiger conservation,” Santosh Tiwari, director of ecology at Bihar’s Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said.

Herbivores, which big cats such as tigers prey on, depend on such grassland. An increase in their cover thus helps in supporting the prey population, in turn increasing the chances of the carnivores’ survival.
The increase in grassland will arguably provide a better environment for the tigers — VTR had more than 40 of them including atleast 9 cubs by last internal count. It is up from 8 in 2010.
"Everything not saved will be lost."

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United Kingdom Sully Offline
Ecology and Conservation

Animals large and small once covered North America’s prairies – and in some places, they could again

19Feb, 2020
By Joel Berger

Editor’s note: Joel Berger, Barbara Cox Anthony Chair in Wildlife Conservation at Colorado State University, and Jon Beckmann, adjunct faculty at University of Nevada, Reno, wrote this piece for The Conversation in February 2020. Colorado State is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public. See the entire list of contributing faculty and their articles here.

*This image is copyright of its original author
Bighorn sheep on grassland in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Joel Berger, CC BY-ND
In the grip of winter, the North American prairies can look deceptively barren. But many wild animals have evolved through harsh winters on these open grasslands, foraging in the snow and sheltering in dens from cold temperatures and biting winds.
Today most of our nation’s prairies are covered with the amber waves of grain that Katharine Lee Bates lauded in “America the Beautiful,” written in 1895. But scientists know surprisingly little about today’s remnant biodiversity in the grasslands – especially the status of what we call “big small mammals,” such as badgers, foxes, jackrabbits and porcupines.
Land conservation in the heartland has been underwhelming. According to most estimates, less than 4% of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem that once covered some 170 million acres of North America is left. And when native grasslands are altered, populations of endemic species like prairie dogs shrink dramatically.
Together, we have more than 60 years of experience using field-based, hypothesis-driven science to conserve wildlife in grassland systems in North America and across the globe. We have studied and protected species ranging from pronghornand bison in North America to saiga and wild yak in Central Asia. If scientists can identify what has been lost and retained here in the U.S., farmers, ranchers and communities can make more informed choices about managing their lands and the species that depend upon them.

*This image is copyright of its original author
Major types of North American grasslands. Karen Launchbaugh/Wikimedia Commons
Two harsh centuries of settlement
North America’s prairies stretch north from Mexico into Canada, and from the Mississippi River west to the Rocky Mountains. Grasslands also exist in areas farther west, between the Rockies and Pacific coastal ranges.
When Thomas Jefferson approved the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803, this territory was home to Native Americans and abundant wildlife. Vast, unbroken horizons of contiguous grasslands supported millions of prairie dogs, pronghorn, bison and elk, and thousands of bighorn sheep. Birds were also numerous, including greater prairie-chickens, multiple types of grouse and more than 3 billion passenger pigeons.
Lewis and Clark kept detailed records of the plants and animals they encounteredon their three-year journey. Their journals describe grizzly bears and wolves, black-footed ferrets and burrowing owls, sage grouse and prairie chickens. Sources like this and John James Audubon’s “Birds of America,” published between 1827 and 1838, confirm that before European settlement, North America’s prairies teemed with wildlife.

*This image is copyright of its original author
Pronghorn, which Lewis and Clark called ‘speed goats,’ under the shadow of Wyoming’s Wind River Range.
Joel Berger, CC BY-ND
That changed as European immigrants moved west over the next hundred years. Market hunting was one cause, but settlers also tilled and poisoned, fertilized and fenced the land, drained aquifers and damaged soils.
As humans altered the prairies, bison disappeared from 99% of their native range. Prairie dogs, black-footed ferrets, wolves and grizzly bears followed the same sad course.
In the mid-20th century, conservationists began fighting to protect and restore what remained. It isn’t surprising that wildlife agencies and conservation organizations focused on targets that were big, famous and economically important: Birds for hunting, deer for dinner and fisheries for food and sport.
Some efforts succeeded. Montana has retained every species that Lewis and Clark observed there. In 2016 Congress passed legislation declaring bison the U.S. national mammal, following various restoration initiatives in places such as the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
Pronghorn antelope, which Lewis and Clark called “speed goats,” have rebounded from fewer than 20,000 in the early 20th century to some 700,000 today, ranging across grasslands from northern Mexico and Texas to North Dakota, Montana and southern Canada

But elk remain rare on the grassy savannas, as do prairie dogs and wild bison. North American grassland birds – larks and pipits, curlews and mountain plovers – are in decline or serious collapse. Introduction of nonnative exotic fish, reduced water flows in prairie rivers and streams due to agriculture, and declines in water quality and quantity have decimated native fish species and aquatic invertebrates, such as freshwater mussels, in the waterways of grassland ecosystems.

Where the animals still roam

In contrast to North America, other regions still have large intact grasslands with functional ecosystems. White-tailed gazelles and khulan (Asiatic wild ass) still move hundreds of miles across the vast unfenced steppes of Mongolia. White-eared kob, a sub-Saharan antelope, travel hundreds of miles every year across a North Dakota-sized swath of southern Sudan in one of Africa’s longest land migrations.
Chiru (antelope) and kiang (large wild asses) maintain their historical movements across the vast Tibetan plateau. Even war-torn Afghanistan has designated two national parks to ensure that snow leopards, wolves and ibex can continue to roam.

Some parts of the North American prairies could support this kind of biodiversity again. The Flint Hills of Kansas and OklahomaNebraska’s Sandhills and Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front all retain areas that have never been plowed, ranging from 1 million to 4 million acres. Public agencies and nonprofit conservation groups are already working in these areas to promote conservation and support grassland ecosystems.

Knowledge gaps impede conservation

Conserving native species on American grasslands has moved slowly because this region has been so compromised by land conversion for farming and development. What’s more, despite technological innovations and powerful analytical tools, scientists don’t have realistic estimates today of abundance or population trends for most vertebrate species, whether they are mammal, bird or fish.

*This image is copyright of its original author
White-tailed jackrabbit in Wyoming. Joel Berger, CC BY-ND

Measuring remnant diversity is a first step toward deciding what to prioritize for protection. One way we’re doing this is by posing simple questions to families who’ve lived out on these lands for multiple generations. One Montana rancher told us the last porcupine he saw was – well, he couldn’t remember, but they used to occur. Another, in Wyoming, said it had been perhaps two decades since he had last seen white-tailed jackrabbits, a species once common there.

From Colorado to New Mexico and the Dakotas to Utah, responses are similar. Across the region, the status of species like foxes, porcupines, white-tailed jack rabbits, beavers, badgers and marmots is punctuated by question marks. Continent-wide trends remain a mystery.

The good news is that national parks have inventory and monitoring programs that make it possible to assess trends more comprehensively for some of these species. Citizen scientists are helping by reporting occurrences of species such as black-tailed jackrabbits. As scientists delve further into databases, patterns of species retention or loss should become clearer.

For example, our work on white-tailed jack rabbits revealed that decades ago they were abundant in the valleys in and around the Tetons of northwest Wyoming and spanned Yellowstone National Park’s northern range. However, by the year 2000 they were absent from the Tetons and occupied only a small area of Yellowstone.
The U.S. has a history of protecting its majestic mountains and deserts. But in our view, it has undervalued its biologically rich grasslands. With more support for conservation on the prairies, wildlife of all sizes – big and small – could again thrive on America’s fruited plains.
"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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India Rishi Offline

"Everything not saved will be lost."

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India Rishi Offline
( This post was last modified: 03-24-2020, 10:36 AM by Rishi )

Gotta mention the recent drastic changes in Venice (some of the popular photos/videos are from adjoining areas though) here! Coronavirus lockdown has transformed La Serenissima’s waterways & coastal waters.

The apparent cleanliness of the water is not in fact due to a lack of pollution, but the reason is the absence of motorised transport, which normally churns up the muddy canal floor.
With the water-traffic halted & tourists gone, the canals got a clear view of the sandy bed, but shoals of tiny fish, scuttling crabs and multicoloured plant-life.

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

Birds like cormorants & ducks, have returned to dive for fish they can now see.

*This image is copyright of its original author

As its common with social media, some claims are over the top though.
Swans were already regular visitors in canals of Burano, an island in the bay of Venice. Marine wildlife, like dolphins, would sometimes enter the bay, but the supposedly recent video was actually filmed last year.

*This image is copyright of its original author


The Venice lagoon is a fragile ecosystem... If possible then after this crisis blows over, they should keep some parts off limits.
"Everything not saved will be lost."

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