Whale found dead with 100kg ‘litter ball’ in stomach

Whale found dead with 100kg ‘litter ball’ in stomach

NEW DELHI: Fishing nets, ropes, bags, plastic cups, and gloves are just some of the items that have been found in the stomach of a sperm whale stranded on a beach. The whale was found dead on the Isle of Harris, Scotland on Thursday by locals.

Experts from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme , which investigates the deaths of whales and dolphins, said there was no evidence that the 100kg “litter ball” had “impacted or obstructed the intestines”. But they said the discovery of so much plastic pollution in its stomach was “nonetheless horrific”, and most likely “compromised digestion”.

“This amount of plastic serves to demonstrate the hazards that marine and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life,” the group added. The number of cetaceans being stranded on UK shores has risen, with 1,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises found washed up in 2017 alone.

Himalayan flora-fauna in critical phase to global warming

Himalayan flora-fauna in critical phase to global warming

PITHORAGARH: Of the total 19,600 endangered species of and fauna in the country, the Himalayan region is home to 133 which are passing through a critical phase due to changing weather patterns and massive deforestation, scientists warned at a seminar in Almora on Wednesday.

“Scientists maintained that if the global warming trends in the Himalayan region remain as they are, several flora species of fungus, algae and lichen besides fauna species like bharal, snow leopards and musk deer will disappear from Himalayan region,” R S Rawal, Director of G B Pant National Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development that hosted the event said.

Massive deforestation, rampant conversion of agricultural land for construction purposes and the ever growing concrete jungle were held by scientists as the principal culprits for the changing weather patterns in the region, he said.

Flora and fauna in the 2,400 km long Himalayan range are passing through a critical phase as global warming is affecting the regional eco system most, he said.

Arun Kumar, Director of Dehradun-based Dolphin Institute said that the depleting number of bharal and musk deer in their habitats in the Himalayan region is a problem on which the new researchers in the field need to focus.

Scientists from several institutes across the country took part in the seminar including Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Nature Conservation Foundation, Pantnagar University, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu (Nepal), IIT Roorkee, Central Agricultural University and BSIP Lucknow.

Making a special reference to the research paper presented by P R Ojaswai, Director of Dehradun based Indian institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Rawal said Ojaswai claimed that global warming has started affecting crops in the region as an increase of one degree in temperature has lead to a decrease in wheat production ranging between 15 to 20 per cent.

Ojaswai also warned that the one degree increase will cause paddy crops production to decrease by 6 per cent while crops like maize will disappear from the fields, Rawal said.

Source: Times of India

Thousands of migratory birds die mysteriously in Rajasthan's Sambhar Lake

Thousands of migratory birds die mysteriously in Rajasthan

SAMBHAR: Thousands of migratory birds of about ten species were found dead around Sambhar Lake, the country’s largest inland saltwater lake near Jaipur, sending shock waves among locals and authorities.

Officials said they suspect water contamination as one of the reasons for the deaths but were awaiting viscera test reports. Though the official toll was 1,500, locals claimed the number of dead birds could be as high as 5,000.

“We have never seen anything like that. Over 5,000 birds died mysteriously all over the place,” 25-year-old Abhinav Vaishnav, a local bird-watcher, told PTI.

When Vaishanav went on a stroll along the edge of the lake on Sunday, he took the hundreds of dark lumps strewn across the marshy land for cow dung. But it didn’t take him and his fellow bird watchers Kishan Meena and Pavan Modi to realise the lumps were bodies of hundreds of lifeless migratory birds.

Carcasses of hundreds of dead birds including plovers, common coot, black winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet were scattered on the edge of 12-13 km of the catchment area of the lake, leading to a possible number of over 5,000, they said.

Forest ranger Rajendra Jakhar said a possible reason could be the hailstorm that hit the area a few days back.
“We estimate about 1,500 birds of about 10 species have died. We are also looking at other possibilities like toxicity of the water, bacterial or viral infection,” he said.

A medical team from Jaipur has collected a few carcasses and water samples are being sent to Bhopal for further examination.

Ashok Rao, a veterinary doctor and part of the team, said that while the exact reason for the deaths was uncertain, he ruled out the possibility of bird flu.

“At initial examination we did not find any sort of secretion from the birds, which is a giveaway in the cases of bird flu,” he said.

R G Ujjwal, nodal officer, animal husbandry department, joined Rao and listed possible reasons behind the mysterious calamity.

“Their could be some sort of contamination in the water. The increased salinity of the water could also be another reason, as it increases salt concentration in the blood, which can further lead to slow blood flow and the internal organs like the brain may stop working,” Ujjwal said.

The lake is also a favourite of flamingos, stilts, stints, garganey, gulls and a number of other species of birds.

Jakhar informed that the lake every year hosts approximately 2-3 lakh birds, which include about 50,000 flamingos and 1,00,000 waders.

The strange episode has left villagers and people of the forest department baffled for the lack of a sensible explanation.
“I have never seen such a thing in 40 years of my service in the forest department. First I thought it could be because of the hail, but that occurs every year. There is no chemical waste in this water either,” said Ramesh Chandra Daroga, a local working with the forest department.

Ashok Sharma, joint director, State Disease Diagnostic Centre, said that once the reason was ascertained further steps will be taken.

“We don’t think it is a case of infection, but if it turns out to be the case we will take further steps to make sure it doesn’t spread,” he assured.

Meanwhile, the carcasses were collected in a tractor-trolley and buried in a ditch. A total of 669 dead birds were buried while hundreds lay strewn around as the forest staff hesitated to venture into the slippery muddy areas.

This is the second such incident in the state within a week. Last Thursday, 37 demoiselle cranes were found dead in Jodhpur’s Khinchan area. Their viscera too have been sent for investigation and reports are awaited.

Source: Times of India

Indian Tiger Circuit

Country’s tiger population up by 750 in 4 yrs to 2,976

NEW DELHI: Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said in the Rajya Sabha that tiger population in the country has increased by 750 in the last four years to 2,976.

Earlier, the country’s tiger count was 2,226, he said during the Question Hour in the Upper House. 

“Now the tiger count is 2,976. We must be proud of our whole ecological system. Tigers have increased by 750 in last four years ,” Javadekar said in reply to a supplementary question.

He said lions, tigers, elephants and rhinos are India’s assets and if reports of any deaths from viruses surface, special investigations are conducted to ascertain facts.

In reply to another supplementary question, the Minister said the country’s Northeast has a peculiar problem of Jhum cultivation but has forest cover of over 75 per cent in all states.

Jhum cultivation is the process of growing crops by first clearing the land of trees and vegetation and burning them thereafter.

About the decline of the forest cover in certain areas there, he said there will be a new survey of 2019-20 by the end of this month.

The minister said that while a meeting of forest officials of the Northeast was convened, Himachal Pradesh has also framed an ambitious five-year plan to protect its forests.

Javadekar said the country’s geographical area of forest cover has increased by 17,374 sq km between assessments of 2007 and 2017. 

“However, within the above ten year period, forest cover increased by 6,788 square km between assessments 2015 and 2017 itself,” he said.

The top three states which have increased the forest cover include West Bengal, undivided Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. 

He said the total forest cover of the country, as per the current assessment, is 7.08 lakh sq km which is 21.54 per cent of the geographical area. 

The tree cover of the country is estimated to be 93.81 sq km which is 2.85 per cent of the geogrpaphical area, he said.

Source: Times of India