Sunday, July 18, 2010

5-day 'Butterfly India Meet' to be held in Arunachal Pradesh

Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh's Changlang district is all set to be a centre of attraction as butterfly lovers from across the country are gearing up to throng the Park to be a part of the 'Butterfly India Meet' at Deban, 24 km off Miao Township, from July 19 to 23.

Local NGO, Society for Environment Awareness and Conservation of Wildlife (SEACOW), established way back in 2000, ever since its inception has been playing a significant role in nature conservation in this part of the region. SEACOW general secretary Phupla Singpho and Arif Siddique, a distinguished photographer, have been instrumental in bringing the meet of global importance and interest to Deban. The former is hopeful that weather will not play spoilsport.

Mr Singpho informed that there are 335 species of butterflies in Deban area alone. ''Some are understood to be so tiny that your normal vision might fail to fathom them,'' he reveals while adding that butterfly lovers can discover new species if the weather god shows mercy.

The Butterfly India Meet was held for the first time in the Northeast at Jairampur in the district in 2006. It was organised by the Namchick Valley Society for Eco-Tourism and Wildlife Conservation and was a grand success.

The five-day meet at Deban will be the second of its kind in the region. The event does not have any sponsorship and is a meet of Butterfly India Core Group comprising of a bunch of enthusiasts from various pockets of the country.

Hinting of sure success of the meet, Namdapha Project Tiger Field Director S Jongsam has shouldered the responsibility of accommodating the participants at Deban for the five days.

''The memories of the enticing butterflies may fade away with changing times but the tryst with tortuous Miao-Deban road may linger on,'' he added in a lighter vein.

Mr Jongsan informed that the fourth day of the meet will witness children from various schools partake in 'Breakfast with Butterflies' during which they will be provided a wealth of knowledge on butterflies by the experts.

Courtesy: UNI

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cuckoo signals warmer Manipur

Environment experts see signs of climate change in bird sighting

 A cuckoo: Rare sighting 

The vagrant cuckoo that carefully chooses its temporary resting grounds depending on climate and food has been sighted in Manipur after several decades — a sure sign of the state’s warmer weather. “It was recently reported that cuckoos (locally known as kokil) were sighted by villagers in the hills. Though people said there were cuckoos in Manipur, they were not sighted in the past several years in the state,” environmentalist and ornithologist Rajkumar Ranjan Singh said. 

Experts said cuckoos are found in other parts of India, which are normally warmer. They can also be spotted in the Corbett National Park, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Pench National Park and Barwala Bird Sanctuary.

“Drifting species like cuckoo is normally found in warmer places. Their arrival in Manipur simply says that the state’s climactic condition has undergone a sea change and the temperature is becoming similar to hotter cities like Calcutta,” Ranjan Singh said.
The state, which normally received heavy rainfall, has been suffering from rain deficit for the past 30 years, according to experts. It even experienced a draught last year.
As a fallout, the temperature shot up. 

About two decades ago, the maximum temperature hovered around 28 to 30 degrees Celsius. Last year, the maximum temperature rose to 36 degrees Celsius.

In the early 20th century, Manipur had about 500 wetlands. Today, the few remaining ones — 19 according to a recent survey — are on the verge of drying up because of the climate change.
The change is also affecting fish, with a number of local species, nganap, ngamu, ngaton and khabak now on the verge of extinction. Widespread deforestation could also be one of the reasons for the gradual rise in temperature, experts said.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nagaland struggles to save state bird

Forest fire and hunting affect the beautiful Blyth’s tragopan population in the area 

A  Blyth’s tragopan

The orange-breasted speckled bird that intrigued ornithologists and inspired Nagaland enough to make it the state bird is dwindling in number, with a mere 2,500 being sighted in the world.
Blyth’s tragopan, found in Bhutan, north Myanmar, southeast Tibet and China, also flocks to the evergreen oak and rhododendron forests of the region.
In Nagaland, it is sighted in mount Japfu and Dzukou valley of Kohima, Satoi range in Zunheboto district and Pfutsero in Phek district. What intrigues ornithologists is that it flies to higher altitudes than most birds, touching 1,800-to 9,000 metres. Random destruction of forest and hunting, however, have affected the tragopan population.

According to the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary Trust, Dzukou valley was the natural habitat of more than 1,000 tragopans. In January, campers in Dzukou valley accidentally set fire to the tragopan habitat. 

A larger fire in January 2006 destroyed over 72 square km of forest. So devastating was the blaze that villagers and youths of the southern Angami areas, Assam Rifles, Police, Fire Service and other state agencies had to struggle for a week to douse the fire. There are no surveys, academic research or government wildlife data to determine the exact number of tragopans in Nagaland, but the bird is regularly hunted for its flesh and plume.

A pair of tragopans is priced between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 in the black market. The chief wildlife warden of Nagaland forest department, K.S. Shashidhar, said considering the land-holding pattern in the state, the community has a major role to play in the management of biodiversity and conservation. “The forest department has joined hands with the community for protection and conservation of the species,” he said. 

In 1998, a village council passed strictures to regulate hunting in 70 square km of forest near Khonoma. The council also banned the sale of wild meat. Violators were fined Rs 3,000. Later, hunting was completely banned in 2000, even though some still violate the order. Adjoining villages like Mezoma and Jotsoma where tragopans are found have also banned hunting. 

 Courtesy: The Telegraph

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Imphal Zoo inundated, barking deer rescued

Imphal Zoo inundated, barking deer rescued

Barely a few days after a barking deer was found dead at the Manipur Zoological Garden following the inundation of the low lying areas of the zoo, another barking deer was rescued by wild life enthusiasts and have found a new home for the animal at the State run animal house. Following the heavy downpour sometime back and interspersed by sudden heavy downpour in between, many parts of the Zoological Garden including the enclosure for the deers have been submerged under water for quite some time. Employees of the zoo are hard pressed to ensure that the animals do not suffer from any water borne diseases.

The barking deer was rescued by local people of Lamlai and subsequently handed over to the zoo authority. "Though the deer was healthy, we found it suffering from some scratches on its skin and we have applied the required balm and taken up other necessary steps," said an official from the zoo on being contacted. Contrary to reports that a deer had earlier died due to the inundation of their habitats, the zoo official said that the deer died from natural causes due to its old age.

Covering 9.5 hectares of land, the zoo currently houses over 400 animals including 31 species of mammals, three reptiles and twenty birds.

Eleven Sangais are also staying at the zoo.

"The animals have strong resistance against contagious diseases". Nevertheless, we have been taking up effective measures to ensure their protection," added the zoo official. As safety measures, the employees of the zoo have been administering lime and other chemicals regularly at the submerged areas.

On April 8, this year a 9.5 feet long King Cobra was seen for the first time in the State and it has got a new home in the State zoo, Incidentally the reptile was caught by the locals of Lamlai. Manipur Forest officials, who have confirmed that the snake is a King Cobra did not rule out the possibility of the presence of this highly venomous snake in the State.

Courtesy: The Sangai Express

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wetlands authority with ‘dirty’ mission


The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is poised to set up a regulatory authority that is expected to keep ecologically sensitive water bodies as “naturally dirty as possible”. “For some strange reason, the focus of conservation in India has never been on wetlands. We have undertaken this mission with the belief that wetlands should be allowed to remain nature’s dustbin,” Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh told during his visit to launch the Green India Mission. 

On the MoEF panel’s hit list are 115 wetlands in India. These include 25 Ramsar sites – a tag for the most critical water bodies across the globe – covering an area of 677,131 hectares.

Four of these wetlands (Tsomoriri, Wular, Hokarsar and Surinsar-Mansar) are in Jammu and Kashmir, three each in Himachal Pradesh (Pongdam, Chandratal and Renuka), Kerala (Ashtamudi, Sasthamkotta and Vembanad-Kol) and Punjab (Harike, Kanjli and Ropar) and two in Orissa (Bhitarkanika and Chilika). “Surveys have revealed lagoons such as Chilika and Vembanad aren’t under as much threat as the inland wetlands. Real estate developers are the main culprits in this regard and among the worst affected have been the water bodies in and around Coimbatore,” Ramesh said.

Encroachment and industrial invasion have also affected the health of highly sensitive Ramsar sites such as Deepor Beel on the western edge of Guwahati, Loktak Lake in Manipur and Rudrasagar in Tripura. “We are weighing complaints vis-à-vis brick kilns and coke factories allowed perilously close to Deepor Beel,” a MoEF official said. Part of this wetland – it sustains more than 400 species of resident and migratory birds – was devoured by a railway track a decade ago.

In the case of Loktak, the world’s only floating wildlife sanctuary, controlled flow of water from a National Hydro Power Corporation project has over the years thinned the phumdis, the floating biomass that sustains rare wildlife species such as the brow-antlered deer. Rudrasagar, on the other hand, has been a victim of silting and resultant paddy cultivation. Besides restricting such activities, the wetland authority proposes to ban solid waste dumping, conversion of wetlands to non-wetland use, setting up of new industries and expansion of existing industries, and discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

New partners of the Worldwide Save Loktak Lake Campaign

NECEER Press Release

Volunteer for Manipur, a youth organisation of Manipur and GOMANIPUR, an online portal are now partners of the Worldwide Save Loktak Campaign. Volunteers for Manipur is an active youth organisation based in Imphal with team both residing in Manipur and across the globe. 

NECEER, Imphal is pleased to have both the organisations as partners for the save loktak lake campaign. We do hope more and more organisations would join the campaign and help in creating awareness for the conservation of this natural heritage of Manipur. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Youth Leader India is now partner of the Save Loktak Lake Campaign.

NECEER Press Release
Youth Leader India is now partner of the Worldwide Save Loktak Lake Campaign
Youth Leader India is a part of Youth Leader (global magazine) which has been awarded thrice by UNESCO as of the best projects and is an official project of United Nations Decade of Education and Sustainability Development (2005-2014).
Worldwide Save Loktak Lake Campaign is two year long awareness programme initiated by NECEER, Imphal for the conservation of Loktak Lake. More than 600 volunteers, 32 city Coordinators, Publicity Coordinator and 1 Worldwide Coordinator are involved in organizing this campaign. The campaign is to create awareness about the conservation of Loktak Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Northeast India. The lake was recognised as Ramsar site in 1990. Keibul Lamjao, the only floating national park in the world is situated at the south west part of the lake. It is home to the endangered Manipur brow antlered deer ‘Sangai’ - Cervus eldi eldi and many endangered species.

Involvement of youth and mobilization of public for the conservation of Loktak Lake is the main objective of the campaign. The campaign is supported by more than 20 international and national organizations. The campaign will conclude in 2012 with a grand campaign at the vicinity of the Lake by involving the local inhabitants, local NGOs and Government officials.

Worldwide Save Loktak Lake Campaign is supported by several organisations across the globe. Some of the organsations are listed below.


About Loktak Lake:

Loktak Lake is the largest fresh water lake in Northeast India. It has an area of 300sq km and has been recognised as Ramsar site in 1990. Keibul Lamjao, the only floating national park in the world is situated at the south west part of the lake. It is home to the endangered Manipur brow antlered deer ‘Sangai’ – Cervus eldi eldi and many endangered species. The lake has been a main source of income and sustenance for inhabitants of the area. For the last few decades the lake has been facing all round destructions due to both natural and anthropogenic activities. Rapid expansion of ‘Phumdis*’, siltation, pollution, agriculture and adverse effect from Loktak Hydropower Project are some of the main problems which had led to an alarming destruction of the lake.

* Phumdis are floating islands of heterogeneous masses of vegetation, soil and organic matter in different stages of decay. They cover a substantial part of the lake area and are found in different shapes and sizes. Keibul Lamjao National Park, the largest single mass of phumdi is the world’s only floating national park covers an area of 40 km2; the park is the natural habitat of endangered Sangai, found only in this area.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Assam to focus on plantation drives

Assam to focus on plantation drives
7 lakh saplings planted in five years 

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi distributes saplings at Rabindra Bhawan in Guwahati. 
Picture by Eastern Projections 

The Assam forest department plans to take up more plantation drives to increase the forest cover in the state. Speaking on the concept and importance of Van Mahotsav Week, which is observed from July 1 to 7, state forest minister Rockybul Hussain today said the plantation drives undertaken in the past five years would yield results in the future. The minister said seven lakh saplings have been planted in the past five years. “There was no plantation drive between 1991 and 2000 and there has been a huge backlog for which we had to speed up,” Hussain said. 

The present forest cover of Assam according to the State of Forest Report, 2009, is 35.03 per cent. The report also said there was a loss of 66 square km in the overall forest cover of the state. It said there was a decrease of 3 square km of very dense forest, loss of 66 square km of moderately dense forest and an increase of 32 square km in open forest. 

The minister said climate change because of global warming was not reversible now but planting more trees could minimise its effect as forests act as carbon sinks — reservoirs that can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The department has asked all social forestry ranges to plant 500 seedlings in educational institutions and other important places while territorial ranges will have to plant saplings in 10 hectares. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the growing realisation of importance of conserving forests was one of the most positive developments in Assam of late. 

“Exploiting natural resources in an extreme way benefits some but in the long run they and their next generation will suffer,” said Gogoi. He said the movement towards deeper commitment to protect the environment through planting new trees and taking care of the existing one was rapidly gaining momentum all over Assam, which is evident from the successful implementation of various schemes. As part of the Van Mohatsav Week, the Kokrajhar social forestry division today distributed over 1,000 saplings at a programme held at Kokrajhar main town near Government Higher Secondary School.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

Rare butterfly flutters after 95 years

A butterfly that has eluded scientists for almost a century has been rediscovered in the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh. The butterfly species – Bhagadatta – had fluttered into oblivion soon after lepidopterists from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) discovered it in 1915 from Rottung village near the Abor Hills in East Siang district. The International Union for Conservation of Nature subsequently put the critically endangered tag on this species, belonging to Limenitis, a genus of brush-footed butterflies commonly called the Admirals. 

Forest zoologists at the Itanagar-based State Forest Research Institute (SFRI) did not expect to spot Bhagadatta – named after Pragjyotishpura's (ancient Assam) mythological king who sided with the Kauravas in the Mahabharata war – when they undertook a project last year. The project, funded by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, was titled 'Study on butterfly diversity in Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve'. 

The area of this reserve straddles five districts in western and central Arunachal Pradesh. "Out of 452 specimens in the reserve, we collected 153 specimens of butterflies belonging to 90 genera and nine families," said SFRI zoologist Asham Borang from Itanagar. He handled the project along with colleague Bharat Bhushan Bhatt. "While scouting in the Molo area, we spotted a colourful butterfly with brownish hue hiding under the leaf of a plant. To our amazement, we found it be the same Bhagadatta (Austenia purpurascens) that was spotted 95 years ago. Further study confirmed our hunch," Borang said.

Arunachal Pradesh is a vital segment of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot, the world's most fragile. Bhagadatta is expected to improve the faunal profile of the state, which has since 2002 seen many new animal species being discovered. Among these are the Arunachal macaque (a large brown primate with relatively short tail), the small leaf deer, Bugun liocichla (a multi-coloured bird) and a pit viper with suicidal tendencies locally named Barta.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Friday, July 2, 2010

Green mission launched in Sikkim


“Going green” means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations. State of Sikkim had  initiated  their journey on a very conscious note in 1995 when they  observed the year as Harit Kranti Varsha generating mass awareness about the environment and about agents likely to bring about negative impacts on the environment. Some of the historical initiatives have been the introduction of compulsory environmental education in schools, launching of the Smriti Van program and Green Mission plan, the creation of the State Biodiversity Park, Eco-Club, Green Funds in schools and colleges, establishing a Climate Change Commission, a ban on the use of plastic, a ban on green felling in forests, a ban on grazing, a ban on killing of wildlife, etc. As a result, there has been palpable improvement manifesting in the increase in forest cover from 43.95 percent in 1993-94 to 46.28 percent now. There has been an increase in the number of wild animals and regeneration in the endangered species of flora and fauna among other results.

Green mission in Sikkim was launched  by Hon’ble Chief Minister on 27/2/06 in the presence of his Ministers, officers and the public of Sikkim in the programme organized by the Forest Environment and Wild Life Management department at Chintan Bhawan, Gangtok with some aims and objectives as followings:

  1. To create green belt and avenues for meeting aesthetic recreational needs to the people
  2. To beautify the areas for tourist attraction.
  3. To reduce the surface run-off discharge and checking erosion in the downhill side.
  4. To create a store house of genetic diversity by planting all the indigenous trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, creepers, conifers and green foliages including fruits and medicinal plants.
  5. To promote tourism as a sustainable and eco friendly activity
  6. To make the State of Sikkim as a Garden State
  7. Mass Afforestation along the roads and vacant land, streams and water falls, etc.

Sikkim is one of the smallest states with total area of 7096sq. km out of which 80% of the area  remains uninhabited under forest and alpine area.  There are 84 glacier present in the Tista basin. The total  area under glaciers and permanent snowfields is approximately 691.525 in the Tista basin and permanent snow cover-stored water in the Tista basin is estimated as 145.05 cu km. Biodiversity may be the buzzword, but  as a concept it lies at the heart of ecological research.It refers to the variablility among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and other ecological complexes of which they are part,this includes diversity within species,between species of ecosystem. In this aspect,  Sikkim boasts of nearly 26% of the total floral biodiversity available among the total biodiversity of the country although it has only 0.2% of the total land area of the country.It is also rich in  faunal biodiversity. Various policies has been initiated to conserve and preserve these rich biodiversity such as Afforestation Work, development and protection of Water Sources, Enforcement of Non bio Degradable Act, pollution control & environment Protection etc. contributing to growth of forest cover higher than the national average. For the relentless environmental protection measures of the small Himalayan, State of Sikkim has also  received a reverberating endorsement from the Centre with the Union Tourism Minister, Ms Kumari Selja declaring Sikkim as an ‘Eco-friendly Tourism State’. A Green Bonus has also been announced for the state of Sikkim by The Union Forest Minister, Mr Jairam Ramesh, “Sikkim has been continuously awarded as the  Best Tourism Performing State in the North East & the Country”.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling while launching the fifth phase of the Green Mission at Chintan Bhavan stated that: “From the time we came to power in 1994, we undertook policies and measures to protect the environment and our forests. As a result, the forest cover of Sikkim has increased by four per cent till today,”.He also added that  “The Green Mission is not of the government alone but it is a mission of the people and we have to set a successful example for the nation.” The Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who also holds the Finance portfolio, presented the Annual Plan Budget for the year 2010-11 allocated by the Planning Commission, Government of India of Rs. 1,175 crores.Likewise, Rs. 20 crores has been allocated for the Sikkim Organic Mission, while Rs. 30 lakhs for the Sikkim Green Mission and another Rs. 30 lakhs for the Bio-technology mission during this financial year. As stated by Baphilia “ Biodiversity conservation cannot be brought about by enforcement of laws. It must come from within because we love the Earth and all living being  thereof”.

Courtesy: Voice of Sikkim

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cultural impact on environment stressed

While the close relation between the environment and the cultural lifestyle of the people can never be delinked, some of these cultural practices have had a deteriorating effect on the environment. Environmental degradation and its resultant change in the climate condition has also led to loss of many indigenous biodiversity species and invasion of exotic species in Manipur. According to environmentalist Dr Kh Shamungou, some of the cultural practices like burning of fat and oil in the temples, dumping of festival waste/leftover food, emerging of chemically treated idols of gods and goddesses in the water and sacred dips during auspicious days, etc have contributed to the degradation of our environment.

Death of fishes in river and sea have been reported largely after Durga Pujah festival because of the contamination of the water from the chemical used in beautification of the submerged idols, Dr Shamungou said, during an interaction session with media persons on the sidelines of capacity building programme on 'reporting climate change and environment issues' at Keibul Lamjao National Park on June 26. He went on to point out that degradation of our natural environment and its resultant change in the climate condition has also led to loss of many indigenous biodiversity species and invasion of exotic species in Manipur.  In his regard, Dr Kh Shamungou explained that Koyal (Eudynamys Scolopacea), a bird of the warm climate, has started appearing in Manipur. This shows that the climate and environment in Manipur has today changed to such an extent that Koyal can live comfortably here. Moreover, with festival like Kwak Tanba and flower named Kwaklei, the association of Crow (Kwak in Manipuri) with the cultural ethos of the Manipuri society is undeniable. But diminishing Crow population has led to a crisis for the proliferation of Heikreng, an important plant used during the funeral rites by the Meiteis. Crow feeds on the fruit of this plant and the seed of this plant can germinate only after it has been softened inside the stomach of the Crow. However, with the population of Crow diminishing on account of rampant use of chemical insecticide by the farmers, the fate of an important plant like Heikreng has been sealed. Hill area of Manipur is no exception to the loss and drifting pattern of biodiversity species from destructive human activities. 

Dr RK Ranjan, another environmental activist, who participated in the programme as a resource person, cited the instance of Siri birds stopped migrating to Siroy hill in Ukhrul district after the Champaka forests have been cleared. Siri lives on the fruits of Champaka trees and the flesh of these migratory birds is considered the choicest delicacy of the people in Siroy hill range that any young woman would give second thought over the prospect of marriage a man from another village, he added.

The day-long capacity building programme for the journalists on 'reporting climate change and environment issues' was organised by All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU) and supported by Environment and Ecology Wing, Wildlife Wing (Forest and Environment), Government of Manipur and PANOS South Asia.
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 

Call for Research Proposals

Call for Preliminary Research Proposals on  
Faunal Research of NE Region and Research in Avian Biology 
from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi

The Department of Science and Technology through its Program Advisory Committee on Animal Sciences, aims to strengthen wild life research in North Eastern (NE) Region, which is one of the hotspots of biodiversity. Initially, a Brainstorming Session was held at Manas Sanctuary, Guwahati, in November, 2008, wherein participation was from local administration, forest department, NGOs and academic institutions. Then, a thematic workshop with participation from all parts of NE region was organized in October, 2009 at the Department of Zoology, Guwahati University. Herewith, the Department invites preliminary research proposals/ideas on various aspects of faunal research. Such proposals should emanate from the researchers based in NE Region or should actively involve a researcher from the NE region. The proposals may be submitted in the following format : (i) Name and affiliation of the PI (s), (ii) The state of art in the subject (iii) Objectives (iv) Research Methodology (v) Biodata of the PI (s) with research publications in the last 05 years (vi) Tentative budget.

Five hard with a soft copy of the proposal may be submitted by July 31, 2010 to : Dr. Bhanu Pratap Singh, Scientist "G", Department of Science and Technology, Room No. 2, Hall D, Technology Bhawan, New Mehrauli Road, New Delhi – 110 016. Tel No. 011-26521865, 26590302; Email :