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Coral reefs facing heat of thermal, chemical impact: Experts

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 17 Desember 2014 | 22.33

PANAJI: Coral reefs which are home to over 25 per cent of marine life, are facing a double blow across the globe in the form of thermal and chemical impact, a senior scientist said.

"Thermal impact on the earth is seen in terms of global warming. Earth has warmed by about 0.34 degree Celsius since the mid 1970s and the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001," senior scientist with Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) Dr Mahua Saha, told representatives of SAARC nations.

Saha was deliberating on the topic impact of climate change on coral reefs during ongoing five-day workshop of SAARC nations organised by NIO for SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre at Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which concludes on December 19.

"As per IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), by the end of this century, the best estimate of temperature increase is almost two degree Celsius. This trend makes the land and ocean warmer and alters long term weather patterns," she said.

Policy makers and scientists from four SAARC nations - India, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka - are taking part in the event.

The discussions during the workshop will decide the roadmap for the SAARC nations on the issue.

Dr Saha said since industrial revolution, human activities have increased the concentration of green house gases leading to gradually increase the temperature of land and the ocean.

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Tigress drowns in farm well near Tadoba

CHANDRAPUR: A full-grown tigress met with a tragic end when it fell into a farm well and drowned, apparently while pursuing a prey in Shivni range under Tadoba buffer zone some times during Monday night. It is the second incident of drowning of a large carnivore in a farm well without parapet wall, in TATR buffer area within a week. The district administration and zilla parishad have drawn severe criticism from wildlife activists for its apathy towards building parapet walls on farm wells in forested areas.

Farmer Namdeo Gahane was shocked to find the animal's carcass floating in his farm well, around 2km from Shivni village in the morning. He immediately informed local forest officers who rushed to the scene. The carcass was fished out with the help of ropes and moved to Shivni range office for post mortem.

"The tigress fell into the well having no parapet wall while chasing some prey. Unable to scale up the slippery walls, the beast died of drowning in water," said honorary wildlife warden Bandu Dhotre, who was present as NTCA representative during autopsy. Post mortem has revealed that the feline was on an empty stomach. Recovery of water in the lungs confirmed drowning as cause of death. Earlier, on December 11, a leopard had died in similar incident in Varwat, also in TATR buffer zone.

"Open wells without parapet walls have become death traps for tiger and leopards. Repeated demands of wildlife activists to build parapet walls on such wells have fallen on deaf ears of forest department and district administration," Dhotre said. In a letter given to forest department and Chandrapur SP, he has warned to take up intensive agitations if administration fails to start building parapet walls on farm wells within seven days.

As per records, at least 15 incidents of tigers, leopards and bison falling into the farm wells and tanks, having no parapet walls, have been reported since November 2007. Two tigers, six leopards and an Indian Gaur have died of drowning in such wells, while forest officials were forced to take up rescue operations, often facing the wrath of local villagers, to rescue half a dozen felines trapped in wells.

Since 2007, six leopards fell in the well and died. In 2012, two bisons were rescued while another died in 2013. In 2012 and 2014, two tigers drowned.

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Tourists in Jaipur face threat of zoonotic diseases

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 16 Desember 2014 | 22.33

JAIPUR: Tourists are endangering their health and safety by interacting with elephants that are not screened for any zoonotic diseases, with no vaccination and treatment records with the mahouts, observed PETA.

A team of four veterinarians assessed the health of elephants and various issues came to light during the inspection.

The overall assessment of 34 elephants at Amber was carried out with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) checklist, 'Asian Elephant Body Condition Index', 'Elephant Physical Examination Record' and 'Elephant Medical History'.

Many serious epidemic diseases are zoonoses that originated in animals. These include rabies, Ebola virus and influenza. In a systematic review of 1,415 pathogens known to infect humans, 61% were zoonotic.
"The owners/mahouts did not have any record of vaccination and treatments carried out in the past for their elephants. They did not maintain vaccination register nor the disease and treatment register," said Dr Manilal Valliyate from PETA.

Here elephants suffering from corneal opacity, cracked nails, swelling, abscesses, injuries caused by ankus or crupper etc. They were not given even the basic necessary treatment," said Dr Manilal Valliyate from PETA.

On enquiry, the elephants' association members informed the inspectors that none of the elephants have been vaccinated against any infectious diseases such as tetanus and rabies which are quite common. "This shows the serious lack of concern for the health and well-being of the elephants and the tourists who come near them. In India, elephants are known to be common carriers of the infectious diseases such as tuberculosis," said Dr Manilal.

Besides, many elephants had severe swellings on their back due to constant chaffing by the heavy metal saddle tied on to seat tourists. Forcing these elephants to work in the steep Amber Fort area in spite of the painful swellings further aggravates the suffering of these elephants.

Many elephants had eye problems such as corneal opacity and cataract. One of the elephants was found to have conjunctivitis. Few elephants were suffering from unilateral blindness (blind by one eye) and partial blindness (poor vision), possibly due to corneal opacity. It is extremely cruel to force blind elephants to work in this manner, observed PETA.

During the inspection it was also found that almost every elephant had fresh wounds or healed lesions on the dorsal base of ears and the trunks indicating the rampant use of metal ankuses to control them. Majority of elephants also had multiple holes in each ear. On enquiring about the same, the elephant association informed that the elephants' ears were pierced in many places to hang decorative items during ceremonial functions.

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Greenland ice loss may be worse than predicted: Study

MIAMI: A warming planet may lead to swifter ice loss on Greenland's ice sheet, and faster sea level rise for the rest of the world than previously predicted, scientists said on Monday.

Two separate international studies raised concern about the pace of ice melt on the world's second largest ice sheet after Antarctica, and suggested that scientists may have underestimated the variable behavior of Greenland's ice.

"The current models do not address this complexity," said Beata Csatho, an associate professor of geology at the University at Buffalo and lead author of the paper in the Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

Currently, scientists use simulations based on the activity of four glaciers - Jakobshavn, Helheim, Kangerlussuaq and Petermann - to build forecasts of melting into the ocean.

But the new PNAS study used NASA satellite data to look at nearly 100,000 points of elevation and how they changed from 1993 to 2012, painting a much fuller picture of where melting has happened in the past.

Researchers also came up with a new number for how much ice has been lost in recent years on Greenland's ice sheet. For 2003-2009, the time period with the most accurate data, 243 metric gigatons of ice were lost annually, adding about 0.68 millimeters of water to the oceans each year, said the PNAS study.

"This information is crucial for developing and validating numerical models that predict how the ice sheet may change and contribute to global sea level over the next few hundred years," said co-author Cornelis van der Veen, professor in the department of geography at the University of Kansas.

A second study in the December 15 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change projects that lakes atop Greenland's ice sheet will become twice as common in the next 50 years as they are today, and by moving from the coasts to the inland areas they could have a major impact on the way the ice sheet melts.

The bodies of water, known as supraglacial lakes, are darker than other areas, attracting more sunlight and leaking water that can cause ice nearby to melt.

"Supraglacial lakes can increase the speed at which the ice sheet melts and flows, and our research shows that by 2060 the area of Greenland covered by them will double," said lead author Amber Leeson from the University of Leeds' School of Earth and Environment.

When the lakes get large enough, they begin to drain through fractures in the ice, making the entire ice sheet more slippery and prone to faster melting.

Researchers had never before simulated the future behavior of these lakes, which have already been migrating slowly inland since the 1970s.

But using data from the European Space Agency's Environmental Remote Sensing satellites, they made new simulations of how meltwater will flow and pool on the ice surface to form supraglacial lakes in the years to come.

Today, the bulk of Greenland's ice sheet is too cold for these lakes to form and they are restricted to band along the coast.

The band has already gained 35 miles (56 kilometers) since the 1970s, and by 2060 the area where these lakes can form will have crept inland up to 68 miles, or about double the area they cover today.

Greenland's ice sheet is considered an important factor in sea level rise from climate change, and has been expected to contribute nine inches (22 centimeters) by 2100.

Since prior projections did not include the changing behavior of these lakes, those projections may be far short, said the researchers, but just how short has yet to be forecast.

"Because ice losses from Greenland are a key signal of global climate change, it's important that we consider all factors that could affect the rate at which it will lose ice as climate warms," said co-author Andrew Shepherd, also from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds.

"Our findings will help to improve the next generation of ice sheet models, so that we can have greater confidence in projections of future sea-level rise."

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Kingfisher gets trapped in nets on Lokhandwala lake

Written By kom nampultig on Senin, 15 Desember 2014 | 22.33

MUMBAI: Avid bird watcher and naturalist, SunjoyMonga, noticed nettings attached to poles come up overnight on the Lokhandwala lake on Sunday, and a white-throated kingfisher got trapped in it.

''I suspect some poachers had set up these nets just above the water level to hunt for exotic birds which visit here. At 7.40am on Sunday, I saw this white-throated kingfisher sitting on the pole of the net, from where it dived after spotting a prey in the water. Unfortunately, the bird got trapped.''

Even as a small crowd of morning walkers gathered at the lake to raise an alarm about the struggling bird caught in the nets, Monga called up a few persons and officials he knew of.

''Finally, on seeing the commotion, a BMC employee came to the spot to free the kingfisher. We had to cut the net in order to let the bird fly again,'' said Monga, and added that these nets have been strategically placed on the eastern side of the lake in order to trap such birds and also ducks.

Monga had earlier counted as many as 102 birds species here.

''I just want to ask citizens and civic authorities to help save this amazing waterbody that continues to suffer from human abuse, indifference and neglect in Lokhandwala. It is turning into a garbage dump. It is perhaps the only surviving shallow, bird-rich waterbody in this part of Mumbai, and I have over the past 4 years recorded here as many as 102 species of birds,'' he said.

Monga said that they have periodically hauled the refuse but it just results in fresh garbage within a few days. ''It was just a coincidence that someone happened to be there and locate the nets and have the kingfisher saved but I am sure many other birds must not be that lucky,,' he said.

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Rare northern white rhino dies in US zoo

SAN DIEGO: A northern white rhinoceros that zoo officials said was only one of six left in the world died on Sunday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Angalifu, who was about 44-years-old, apparently died of old age.

"Angalifu's death is a tremendous loss to all of us," safari park curator Randy Rieches said in a statement. "Not only because he was well beloved here at the park but also because his death brings this wonderful species one step closer to extinction."

His death leaves only one northern white rhino at the zoo — a female named Nola — one at a zoo in the Czech Republic and three in a preserve in Kenya.

Rhino horns are valued as dagger handles and are mistakenly seen as an aphrodisiac. As a result, poaching has pushed the critically endangered rhinos to the brink of extinction.

Attempts to mate Angalifu with Nola weren't successful.

Just last week, preservationists at the Old Pejeta animal sanctuary in Kenya conceded that their one male and two female northern white rhinos will not reproduce naturally. The animals were flown from the Czech zoo to the Kenyan conservancy in December 2009 in hopes the natural environment could be easier for them to breed there than in captivity.

Efforts will now be made to keep the species alive through in vitro fertilization. That experiment could take place with a southern white rhino surrogate mother. Southern white rhinos almost went extinct at the end of the 19th century, plunging down to only 20 at one point. Decades of conservation efforts gradually brought them back to life.

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Female leopard, two cubs found dead in three days

Written By kom nampultig on Minggu, 14 Desember 2014 | 22.33

PTI | Dec 13, 2014, 08.21PM IST

Page 1 of 4

VADODARA: A six-year-old female leopard and two cubs were found dead near here in last three days, forest officials said on Saturday.

Carcasses rpt carcasses of a six-year-old female leopard and a 5-month-old female cub were recovered near ravines of a river in Manpura village of Dabhoi taluka in the district on Friday, while a six-month-old male cub was found dead in Rajpura village on December 10, Dabhoi Range Forest Officer C C Rohit, told PTI.

Soon after receiving the information, a team of forest officials and veterinary doctors were sent to both the spots to recover carcasses rpt carcasses and for conducting postmortem, he said.

"The cause behind the deaths is yet to be ascertained and viscera of the leopard and cubs will be sent to FSL Lab in Surat next week to establish the exact cause," he said.

A team has been constituted to investigate the deaths as no external injuries were found on carcasses rpt carcasses of the animals, Rohit said.

Article continues

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Rich-poor tiff delays Lima pact by a day

LIMA: The UN climate talks spilled into an extra day on Saturday with developing nations including India and China rejecting the draft text, released on late Thursday night, calling it a mitigation centric document which substantially diluted the four other elements including provision of financial assistance to poor nations to help them adapt to the threats of climate change.

Subsequently, a new draft text was released around 3 AM on Saturday. The new five-page text is a watered down version of the earlier seven page one that gave various options to countries to decide on the fate of the final outcome of the Lima.
READ ALSO: The heat is on as Lima climate talks reach final round The result of the new draft will be known only on late Saturday as the secretariat here announced an official postponement until 10 am (Peru time) of the closing session of a working group tasked with finalizing the document.

The postponement was a result of continued standoff between rich and poor nations.

Interestingly, the new draft urged the developed countries "to provide and mobilize support to developing country 'Parties' for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions, especially to 'Parties' that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change; and invites other 'Parties' willing to do so to complement such support".

READ ALSO: Lima climate talks run into extra time with uncertain outcome

The plea reflects the chair's strong wish to come out with something concrete to show as a positive outcome of Lima. But, it will happen only after both the rich and poor nations compromise with their respective stated positions. Obviously, the developed countries have to go an extra mile and give due weightage to all elements including adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building.

"We are almost there. We need to make just a final effort," Peruvian environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who is the president of the COP 20, pleaded with negotiators on Friday.

He said, "We need to take political decisions."

READ ALSO: Lima climate summit: Saarc stands up to be counted as one

The deadlock continued because rich nations want developing nations like India and China to cut their emissions. The developing nations, on the other hand, insist that the developed ones must bear a bigger burden for carbon cuts as they had emitted a lot more in the past due to early industrialization in those parts of the world.

Reacting over the contents of the new draft, Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said, "Though the co-chairs claimed that all groups had been consulted while preparing the draft, it turned out that most developing countries were not".

Bhushan, attending the climate conference as an observer, said, "The COP 20 will be remembered for bad process, non-transparency & non-inclusiveness. It has further widened the trust gap between the developed and the developing countries".

The new version of the draft document was released early Saturday, with the intention of holding a meeting straight away for it to be passed. It will then be submitted to the plenary for adoption as outcome of the Lima talks, deciding what the countries should pledge under their 'nationally determined' goals to mitigate (emission cut) -- called INDCs -- and adapt to the challenge of climate change.

Pulgar admitted that the text was "not perfect", but said it reflected common ground.
READ ALSO: Javadekar begins his bilateral round at Lima climate conference
Observers here believe that a compromise by both rich and poor nations will, at the most, bring out a weak commitment that may not ultimately help the world to achieve its goal of keeping temperature rise below 2 degree celsius this century.

The new draft merely "invites" all parties to "consider communicating their undertakings in adaptation planning or consider including an adaptation component." It doesn't even have a provision on 'loss and damage' --- the ways and means to help countries who have already faced the consequences of global warming like impact of sea-level ride and drought.

As a compromise on the contentious issue of 'progress review' (ex-ante review) of the commitments made by the nations, the new draft mentions a "non-intrusive and facilitative dialogue, respectful of national sovereignty".

Bhushan, however, said, "The ex-ante review of INDCs has been reduced to facilitative dialogue and that too has been made optional. This means that big polluters can avoid being subjected to review of their efforts now".

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Pak court extends stay against construction of nuclear plants

Written By kom nampultig on Sabtu, 13 Desember 2014 | 22.33

KARACHI: A local court here has extended for another week its stay order restraining the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) from carrying out work on the two nuclear power plant projects in Karachi without adhering to environmental laws.

The Sindh high court on Saturday extended the stay after hearing the PAEC counsel who said that the project was duly approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

A two-judge panel of chief justice Maqbool Baqar and justice Shahnawaz Tariq was hearing a petition challenging the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), which approved the two plants.

Earlier, the bench had directed the government not to start work unless they met the requirements set under Section 12 of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014.

The PAEC recently started preparing sites for the two nuclear power plants named K-2 and K-3 adjacent to the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (Kanupp).

The government is also considering building two more plants K-4 and K-5 in the same locality.

PAEC counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan told the judges that France was also using the same technology and providing over 400 megawatts to its neighbouring countries.

He said the project was aimed at providing electricity to people in Karachi on a priority basis and part of the government's policy to make the electricity available in every part of the country.

The counsel said that a guideline already available to ensure life and property of the people was strictly being followed by the government.

The petition named the PAEC, Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), Sepa, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pepa) and the environment and alternative energy department of Sindh as respondents.

According to the petition, the reactors had purportedly been designed and would be built by the China National Nuclear Corporation on a design known as ACP-1000, which was not operating even in China.

While Advocate Khan was still on his feet, the bench rose for the day, adjourning the matter to December 18.

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Female leopard, two cubs found dead in three days

VADODARA: A six-year-old female leopard and two cubs were found dead near here in last three days, forest officials said on Saturday.

Carcasses rpt carcasses of a six-year-old female leopard and a 5-month-old female cub were recovered near ravines of a river in Manpura village of Dabhoi taluka in the district on Friday, while a six-month-old male cub was found dead in Rajpura village on December 10, Dabhoi Range Forest Officer C C Rohit, told PTI.

Soon after receiving the information, a team of forest officials and veterinary doctors were sent to both the spots to recover carcasses rpt carcasses and for conducting postmortem, he said.

"The cause behind the deaths is yet to be ascertained and viscera of the leopard and cubs will be sent to FSL Lab in Surat next week to establish the exact cause," he said.

A team has been constituted to investigate the deaths as no external injuries were found on carcasses rpt carcasses of the animals, Rohit said.

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