International protection for ‘cute’ otters: what is CITES, what does it do?

Context Over a hundred nations, acting within the framework of an inter-governmental agreement, approved a proposal by India, Nepal, and Bangladesh Sunday to prohibit commercial international trade in a species of otter native to the subcontinent and some other parts of Asia. CoP18 One hundred and two votes were cast Read More …

CITES CoP 2019

Asian small-clawed and smooth-coated otters were included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at the ongoing 18th Conference of Parties (CoP) in Geneva on August 26, 2019. The proposal to list the otters was floated by Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines. They were Read More …

Mars Solar Conjunction

Mars Solar Conjunction On the surface of Mars are NASA’s Curiosity rover and InSight lander. Above Mars are several orbiters, including India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft (Mangalyaan), which has completed its official mission life but remains in orbit. Antennas on Earth and those on active spacecraft on or around Mars regularly Read More …

Difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon

The only difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon is the location where the storm occurs. In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Read More …

When did the Anthropocene Epoch begin on Earth?

Context Although global archaeological data show that human transformation of environments began at different times in different regions, by 3,000 years ago most of the planet was already transformed by hunter-gatherers, farmers and pastoralists Examples of how human societies are changing the planet abound — from building roads and houses, Read More …

Explained: A war on plastic

Context Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the importance of shunning single-use plastic both in his latest Mann Ki Baat radio broadcast and in his address to the nation on Independence Day. The PM invoked Gandhi in his appeals, and it has been speculated that a specific ban may be announced on October Read More …

Explained: How hurricanes are categorised?

Context Dorian is coming for Florida — that much gets clearer with each bulletin from the National Hurricane Center, even if the forecasters still can’t say just where in the state the storm will crash ashore. The where is important, but so is the how much. Over the horizon, out in Read More …

Explained: Why forest fires are sometimes a good thing

Context In a rainforest-like the Amazon, massive forest fires are a disaster. They irretrievably destroy the habitat of tens of thousands of plant and animal species. If the rainforest burns down, all nutrients are lost because they are stored in the plants themselves, not in the soil. Tropical Rainforests Despite Read More …

Why is part of the Amazon burning?

Context The thousands of fires burning in the Amazon don’t look like the major forest fires of Europe or North America — instead, they are fuelled mainly by branches, vegetation and other byproducts of deforestation in cleared areas, experts say. Details The dramatic scale of this year’s fires is the result of Read More …

7 new species of insects that can walk on water discovered

Context Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India have discovered seven species of water treaders, semi-aquatic insects that can walk or run on the surface of water. Details The newly described species belong to the genus Mesovelia whose size ranges from 1.5 mm to 4.5 mm and are equipped with hydrophobic setae Read More …