- Endosulfanis an off-patent organochlorine insecticide and acaricide that is being phased out globally.
- The two isomers, endo and exo, are known popularly as I and II.
- Endosulfan sulfate is a product of oxidation containing one extra O atom attached to the S atom.
- Endosulfan became a highly controversial agrichemical due to its acute toxicity, potential for bioaccumulation, and role as an endocrine disruptor. Because of its threats to human health and the environment, a global ban on the manufacture and use of endosulfan was negotiated under the Stockholm Convention in April 2011.
- The ban has taken effect in mid-2012, with certain uses exempted for five additional years.
- More than 80 countries, including the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, several West African nations, the United States, Brazil, and Canada had already banned it or announced phase-outs by the time the Stockholm Convention ban was agreed upon.
- It is still used extensively in India, China, and few other countries.
- It is produced by Makhteshim Agan and several manufacturers in India and China.
Describing the effects of Endosulfan as “devastating”, the Supreme Court directed the State government to release the entire compensation to over 5,000 victims, mostly newborns, and their families in three months.
The Supreme Court has given the Kerala government three months to disburse Rs 500 crore as compensation for over 5,000 persons who suffered from various deformities and health complications after using Endosulfan pesticides in the state.
- The court has also asked the state to consider setting up a centre to provide lifelong medical treatment to all the victims.
- The court also observed that the state government was at liberty to take necessary measure to recover compensation paid to victims from the Centre through appropriate proceedings.
- The directive came while the bench disposed off a public interest petition filed by Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in 2012, which complained about the adverse effects of Endosulfan.
- Both the Centre and Kerala were opposed to the ban of the pesticide due to their effectiveness on pests, but the top court stopped its usage in 2012. The Supreme Court had ordered the immediate ban of Endosulfan while disregarding pleas of over 150 private export companies. It had said “any decision affecting human life, or which may put an individual’s life at risk, must call for the most anxious scrutiny.”
Three-spined stickleback fish:
- The three-spined stickleback fsh is endemic
to most inland coastal waters north of 30°N.
- It is very tolerant of changes in salinity and most populations are Anadromous.
- It is found abundant in Alaska Lake– Aleknagik.
- Recent Global Climate change prompts the
fish to change its breeding behavior.
- It breeds earlier and more often each season in response to earlier spring ice breakup and longer ice-free summers. Thus it breeds more often in a single year.
- Thus the emergence of multiple breeding in a vertebrate as a response to climate change is seen for the frst time.
- An Anadromous fish lives in seawater but
migrates to freshwater for spawning i.e
- Catadromous fish migrate from
fresh water down into the sea to spawn.
- Environmental Emergency refers to a situation when Particulate Matter of size less than 10 Microgram Per Cubic Meter (µg/m3) or (PM10) and Particulate Matter of size less than 2.5 µg/m3 or (PM2.5), in the air exceeds the values of 500 µg/M3 or 300 µg/M3 respectively.
- The word Environmental Emergencywas coined by National Green Tribunal
- The immediate context of defining this word was the severe air pollution witnessed in many states particularly in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, in the first week of November 2016 when PM10 levels touched over 990 µg/M3.
- NGT noticed on the advice of experts that where P.M10 exceeds the value of 431µg/M3 and when PM 2.5 reaches 251 µg/M3, then it is a situation of ‘severe pollution’. If those values reached 500 µg/M3 or 300 µg/M3 respectively then it is a case of ‘environmental emergency’. The prescribed safe limit of PM10 and PM2.5 is 100 µg/m3 and 60 µg/m3 respectively. (For more details on the levels of pollution see the write up on National Air Quality Index)
- NGT suggested constituting a centralized monitoring Committee and State Monitoring Committee for ensuring proper implementation of its judgments.
- NGT directed that in a situation of environmental emergency, the concerned State and the State Committees shall constitute a special task force to ensure that there is no burning of waste of any kind, roads are mechanically cleaned and there is no undue traffic congestion in the city particularly during the period of environmental emergency.
- The committee shall prepare a complete action plan for environmental emergency as well as prevention and control of air pollution, wherever parameters are found to be in excess of prescribed standards.
- The action plan so prepared shall be submitted to the Central Committee which will approve the same and fix the period for its implementation in regular course of business of the concerned authority, Corporations, etc.
Further the concerned states shall ensure that
- the water is sprinkled through helicopters all over the city and other areas where the values are found to be in excess of the above standards.
- It shall immediately provide happy seeders in the agricultural fields to ensure removal of agricultural residue and its utilization at the concerned quarters including Power Generation Plants, Bio-Mass Plants, and Cement plants, Industries manufacturing Building and allied products. This is to prevent the pollution due to burning of fields to remove the stubbles left after harvesting.
- The State Government shall issue the order to all such companies, plants and public undertakings to discharge their Corporate Social responsibility and collect the agriculture residue from the field of farmers while providing them with money as consideration for lifting of the agricultural residue.
- All the stone crushers working in the area shall be directed to shutdown forthwith.
- All the Power Generation Plants, Brick kiln, Hot Mix Plant, if found to be emitting in excess of prescribed standards, should be ordered to be shut down temporarily and till they take remedial measures and bring the standards within particular limit.
- Thermal plants, Waste to Energy Plants also may be shut down only if they violate the parameters or otherwise.
- All the construction, demolition activities and transportation of construction material shall be stopped temporarily till the ambient air quality standards are brought down below the severe pollution standards afore-stated.
- The authority would ensure that the diesel generation sets if in operation anywhere should be adhering to the prescribed norms. In the event of default they should be not only shut down but even confiscated.
The National Green Tribunal
- Has been established on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.
Pilikula Biological Park stops admitting injured birds
- The Pilikula Biological Park (Zoo) at the Dr. Shivaram Karanth Pilikula Nisargadhama here has stopped admitting injured and rescued birds in view of suspected bird flu in some parts of the country.
ABOUT PILIKULA BIOLOGICAL PARK
- Pilikula Nisarga Dhama is a major Eco-Education and Tourism Development Project promoted by the district Administration of Dakshina Kanada in the beautiful city of Mangalore in Karnataka State, India.
- Pilikula is an integrated theme park with wide variety of features; it has many attractions of cultural and scientific interest. Pilikula extends over an area of 400 acres along the banks of Gurupura river.
- The Pilikula Biological Park is one of the major attractions of Pilikula Nisarga Dhama. The park has an area of 150 acres. In accordance with prevailing laws, the Central Zoo Authority of India has recognized the park as a major zoo. As per modern zoological practices, the animals are kept in spacious enclosures closely resembling their natural habitat.
- The park has well equipped veterinary hospital complex with quarantine, post treatment ward and post-mortem block, X-ray and ultrasound scanning facilities. Central Zoo Authority has funded the construction of hospital complex.
- Pilikula Biological Park is aesthetically one of the best designed premises in the country meeting all modern international standards of Zoo management. The park serves as a good educational center for students of all ages in enriching their knowledge on conservation of wildlife.
- Pilikula Zoo houses about 1000 animals of 98 species of mammals, reptiles and birds. Pilikula has the credit of breeding some of endangered species of mammals, reptiles and birds of Western Ghats region. It is the only zoo to breed King Cobra in captivity.
The park area is covered with thick vegetation, which serves as a natural habitat for wild animals. Number of free ranging mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects are found in the zoo premises. It also serves as a nesting ground for birds (more than 70 species recorded)
Swachh Bharat Survekshan
- Swachh Survekshan of 500 cities launched.
- Swachhata Helpline ‘1969’, Swachhata App launched to promote people’s participation
- Swachh Bharat Mission not a mere slogan, a people’s movement for Clean India.
- Minister also unveils ‘Asli Tarakki’ campaign to promote use of toilets
- 3 sanitation workers felicitated for exemplary work, RWAs, Corporates, TV artistes also honoured
- 115 cities become ‘Open Defecation Free’; 739 more cities to become ODG by March next year
- Minister of Urban Development launched ‘Swachh Suvekshan-2017’ to assess and rank 500 cities and towns based on levels of sanitation and efforts made by respective urban local bodies and also to capture progress towards achieving ‘Open Defecation Free’ status.
- The Minister also released in New Delhi today various publications and mobile applications to help the 500 cities and towns prepare for the survey to be conducted in January next year.
- Cities will be ranked based on the reports by urban local bodies on the progress made towards construction of toilets, feedback of citizens and independent observation of sanitation levels. Cities with a population of one lakh and above each, heritage and tourism cities, capital cities with less than one lakh population are included in this survey, the second since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.
- Stressing on the need for behavioral change in favour of using toilets, ‘Asli Tarakki’ campaign highlighting the need for construction of toilets and using them well is also launched.
- This campaign to be mounted on TV channels and in print media soon brings out that having two wheelers, air coolers, TV sets etc., is not ‘Asli Tarakki’ (real development) if such people did not either have toilets or don’t use them.
Quality Council of India which conducted the last Survey in 73 cities will conduct the survey in 500 cities and towns.
Zealandia: 8th continent under New Zealand
- There is an entire, submerged and unrecognised continent that has been hiding until now, according to scientists.
- New Zealand is sitting on top of the geological entity, most of which sits underneath the South Pacific and so can’t be seen.
- The researchers explain that Zealandia measures five million sq km which is about two thirds of neighbouring Australia.
- The continent – known as Zealandia – is a distinct geological entity and meets all the criteria that are satisfied by the existing seven continents.
- It is elevated above the area that surrounds it, has its own distinctive geology, the area that it takes up is well defined.
- It also has a crust thicker than the regular ocean floor – just like the seven masses we currently class as continents.
- The new continent is 94% under water, according to the new paper.
- It is made up of three major landmasses: New Zealand’s north and south islands, and New Caledonia to the north.
- Scientists said that by classifying it as a continent they would be able to study how they are formed and break up and cohesion of the earth’s crust.
- Finding data on the continent has been difficult because so much of it is beneath the sea.
Earth’s Crust: Know More
- The crust of the Earth is composed of a great variety of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. The crust is underlain by the mantle.
- The upper part of the mantle is composed mostly of peridotite, a rock denser than rocks common in the overlying crust.
- The boundary between the crust and mantle is conventionally placed at the Mohorovicic discontinuity. This is a boundary defined by a contrast in seismic velocity.
- The crust occupies less than 1% of Earth’s volume.
Here are a few things you must know about Zealandia:
- In 1995, American geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk gave the name Zealandia to this south-west Pacific continent for the first time.
- New Zealand geologist Nick Mortimer, along with other scientists, published a paper in the Geological Society of America’s Journal today, calling Zealandia “distinct enough to constitute a separate continent”.
- The GSA report says that Zealandia is around five million sq km in size. That would be about the same size as the Indian subcontinent.
- Almost 94 per cent of Zealandia is underwater in the Pacific Ocean.
- It encircles New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Lord Howe Island group, and also the Elizabeth and Middleton reefs.
- As it so happens, New Zealand’s North and South Islands, and New Caledonia are actually parts of Zealandia. These are the few bits of the landmasses that remains out of water.
- Despite being mostly underwater, Zealandia meets all the criteria to be qualified as a continent: it is elevated above the surrounding area, has distinctive geology, well-defined area, crust thicker than the usual ocean floor, etc.
- It is believed that Zealandia sank some time between 60 to 85 million years ago, after it broke away from Gondwana, the landmass that Australia was once a part of.
- Geologists have been researching and pitching for Zealandia to be recognised as an independent continent for over 20 years now.
If approved, Zealandia will become the world’s seventh and smallest continent, joining the crew of Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, and Australia.
Enrolment of Non-Mechanical Propelled Vessels Under New Proposed Bill
- Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) being implemented with technical and financial assistance of the World Bank envisages preparation of Disaster Management Plan (DMP) and Emergency Management Plan (EMP) to take care of the activities like navigation, terminal & jetty operation, oil spill, disaster contingency etc. after the commissioning of the project and while operating cargo and passengers vessels on National Waterway-1 (NW-1).
- The mechanically propelled inland vessels are governed by the Inland Vessels Act, 1917 (1 of 1917) and rules framed by State Governments have provisions for Life Saving Appliances to be kept on board.
- The registration of inland mechanically propelled vessels by the State Government is also mandatory.
- The new Inland Vessels Bill, 2017 also proposes for enrolment of non-mechanically propelled vessels by Local Self Administration and administering, enforcement and implementing its provisions in Part XIV by local self- governance.
Prescribing basic minimum standards for construction and safety of non-mechanically propelled vessels are also envisaged in the proposed Bill.
India to frame policy on synthetic biology:
- New life forms can potentially be made in labs and existing life forms, such as bacteria and other microbes, tweaked to produce specific proteins or chemically useful products
- The Environment Ministry will be convening a group of experts on biodiversity and biotechnology, to assess synthetic biology work pursued in Indian labs, potential benefits and risks, and the implications of the trans-boundary movement of such life forms
- Synthetic biology in microbial systems holds promise for production of drugs, vaccines, fuel components and other chemicals.
A popular example is the production of artemisinin, a powerful anti-malarial drug, in yeast, at a commercial level. Microorganisms have also been constructed to act as sensors that can detect a toxin in vitro (outside a living organism) or in vivo (inside a living organism).
New birds species discovered in Nepal
- A new species of birds has been discovered in the high mountainous region of Nepal, bringing the total number of avian species in the Himalayan country to 866.
- A Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxitilis), considered an autumn passage migrant bird species in Pakistan and India, was first seen and photographed by an expedition last year near the Shey monastery within the Shey-Phoksundo National Park.
- Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush is considered an autumn passage migrant bird species in Pakistan and India, ‘The Kathmandu Post’ reported.
Rare leaf-nosed bats sighted after 37 yrs
- With an extinction record of 37 years, an specie of the bats aboriginal to the Thar desert, has been re-sighted by a group of zoological researchers.
- Identified as Hipposideros Fulvus (a leaf-nosed bat), the bat has been found roosting in ancient cavesat Daijar near Jodhpur.
Great Himalayan National Park
- The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh was accorded the Unesco World Heritage Site status.
- The Unesco World Heritage Site Committee at Doha in Qatar granted the status to the park under the criteria of “exceptional natural beauty and conservation of biological diversity.”
- The GHNP has now come in the league of Indian World Heritage Sites (WHS) such as the Taj Mahal, Ellora, Kaziranga National Park, Keoladeo National Park, Manas National Park, Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve and the Sunderbans.
- The Great Himalayan National Park(GHNP), is one of India’s national parks, is located in Kullu region in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
- The park was established in 1984 and is spread over an area of 1,171 km2at an altitude of between 1500 and 6000 m.
- The Great Himalayan National Park is a habitat to numerous flora and more than 375 fauna species, including approximately 31 mammals, 181 birds, 3 reptiles, 9 amphibians, 11 annelids, 17 mollusks and 127 insects.
- They are protected under the strict guidelines of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972; hence any sort of hunting is not permitted.
- In June 2014, the Great Himalayan National Park was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
- The Unesco World Heritage Site Committee granted the status to the park under the criteria of “outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation”.
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
- A new species of birds has been discovered in the high mountainous region of Nepal.
- This is bringing the total number of avian species in the Himalayan country to 866.
About Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush:
- A Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxitilis), considered an autumn passage migrant bird species in Pakistan and India, was photographed by an expedition near the Shey monastery within the Shey-Phoksundo National Park.
- Researchers from an NGO Friends of Nature (FoN) Nepal spotted the bird while studying Himalayan wolf, wild yak and snow leopard last year.
- The identification of the bird reported by the team was confirmed by the bird experts Carol Inskipp and Hem Sagar Baral.
- The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and Bird Conservation Nepal authorised the presence of a new bird species in the country.
- Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush is considered an autumn passage migrant bird species in Pakistan and India.
- The sighting location was very remote and rarely visited by ornithologists.
Ecologically crucial Wetlands
- The SC provided major direction to preserve ecologically crucial wetlands threatened by encroachment in many parts of the country.
- Supreme Court directed the Centre on 8th Feb 2017 to frame a policy to protect wetlands by June 30.
- The court’s direction will cover over 2 lakh wetlands across India which were identified through satellite imagery by ISRO.
- The Centre has been asked to draw up a phased plan of action to conserve the water bodies.
- The Centre is to notify all 2,01,503 wetlands and asked the states to provide details too.
- The bench set a deadline of June 30 to frame policy for preservation of wetlands that are seen as effective carbon sinks to mitigate climate change and support a wide variety of arial, land and aquatic wildlife and fauna.
- Wetlands are defined as areas of land either temporarily or permanently covered by water.
- They play a key role in the hydrological cycle in storm and flood control, water supply, providing food, fibre and raw materials.
- They support lakhs of migratory birds from colder regions of the world in summers, apart from mangroves that protect coastlines and filter pollutants.
- With wetlands endangered by land grabbing activities, including by initiatives by state and central governments that include releasing lands for commercial development, environmentalists approached the Supreme Court seeking measures to protect the ecosystems.
- The SC has been examining the issue since 2001 and passed various orders.
- The Centre informed the court it had formed a comprehensive scheme of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) for conservation and restoration of lakes and wetlands.
- The ministry has so far identifies 115 wetlands and 63 lakes in 24 states and 2 union territories for conservation and management under the scheme.
- So far, since 1987-88 an amount of Rs 780 crore has been released for undertaking various conservation activities.
Mapping and State-wise Distribution of Wetlands
- ISRO had in 2011 prepared a national wetlands atlas on the basis of satellite image and 201503 wetlands were mapped.
- Total wetland area estimated is 15.26 Mha, which is around 4.63 per cent of the geographic area of the country.
- Area under inland wetlands is 10.56 million hectare and area under coastal wetlands is 4.14 Mha.
- State-wise distribution of wetlands showed that Lakshadweep has 96.12% of geographic area under wetlands followed by Andaman & Nicobar Islands (18.52%).
- Daman & Diu(18.46%) and Gujarat (17.56%). Puducherry (12.88%), West Bengal (12.48%), Assam (9.74%), Tamil Nadu (6.92%), Goa (5.76%), Andhra Pradesh (5.26%), and Uttar Pradesh (5.16%) are wetland rich states.
- The least extents have been observed in Mizoram (0.66%) followed by Haryana (0.86%), Delhi (0.93%), Sikkim (1.05%), Nagaland (1.30%), and Meghalaya (1.34%).
According to new study was published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, scientists have identified the evolutionary pathway that led some plants to turn carnivorous.
- The new finding explains why pitcher plants (carnivorous plants) from different parts of the world appear strikingly similar despite having evolved independently.
- Pitcher plants or carnivorous plants grow in very nutrient-poor habitats.
- Just like other plants, they produce carbon through the usual photosynthetic processes.
- However, their habitats do not provide enough phosphorus and nitrogen for their growth. They obtain these essential nutrients feeding on insects.
- These plants capture insects by luring them into a trap, a cupped leaf with a waxy, slippery interior that makes it difficult to climb out.
- A blend of digestive fluids sits at the bottom of cupped leaf’s chamber that breaks down the flesh and exoskeletons of prey.
- The study had probed the origins of carnivory in several distantly related pitcher plants from Australia, Asia and America, which appear strikingly similar to the human eye.
- Though, each species of the pitcher developed carnivory independently, scientists concluded that the biological machinery required for digesting insects evolved in remarkably similar fashion.
- The similarity for has long been known to be an example of convergent evolution in which distinct species independently develop the same traits.
- These plants have a genetic tool kit so they look similar, with a cupped, waxy leaf that is slippery on the inside to trap insect inside.
- During the course of their evolution, digestive fluid of these plants co-opted for proteins that were originally used to defend against disease, and repurposing them into enzymes that could aid the digestion of insects.
- These plants have enzymes basic chitinase, which breaks down chitin the major component of insects’ hard, exterior exoskeletons and purple acid phosphatase.
- This enables them to obtain phosphorus, a critical nutrient, from victims’ body parts.
- Neurocalyx calycinus: A herbal plant to cure cancer! A medicinal plant endemic to the southern parts of Western Ghats and Sri Lanka could offer scientists the key to new herbal formulations.
- It could also pave the way for modern drugs for the treatment of cancer and wounds and burns.
- Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) here have confirmed the multiple therapeutic properties of Neurocalyx calycinus.
- This herb used by the Cholanaickan tribe, one of the particularly vulnerable groups in Kerala, to treat inflammations and wounds.
- The researchers have filed for a patent on a novel herbal drug formulation possessing wound-healing, burn-healing, anti-cancer, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, immuno- enhancing, platelet-augmentation and anti-oxidant effects.
- The scientists came to know of the miracle plant in 1988 during a biological survey deep inside the Nilambur forests.
- Neurocalyx calycinus is known as pacha chedi in local language.
- Animal trials have proved that the leaves of N.calycinus possess wound-healing properties comparable to the standard drug Povidone/ Iodine in the early phase of inflammation.
- The anti-inflammatory activity of the leaves was found comparable to the drug diclofenac sodium.
- The pre-clinical trials confirmed the therapeutic effects of N.calycinus against burn wounds and pain, besides its immuno-enhancing, platelet augmentation, and anti-oxidant potential.
- The presence of high Vitamin E content and potent cytoprotective activity in cell lines in the plant species have also enhanced the prospects of developing an anti-cancer drug.
- In a presentation that won the best paper award at the Kerala Science Congress, Aneesh kumar AL, a researcher, said the work had thrown up promising leads for the development of novel herbal formulations and modern medicines.
Pada Chedi: Know More
- Neurocalyx calycinus is a shrub endemic to South West India.
- It is found in evergreen forests.
Recent researches suggests this plant has wound-healing, burn-healing, anti-cancer, analgesic, anti-inflammatory.
- Plastic pyrolysis, a technology by which plastic is broken down into smaller molecules of pyrolysis oil and gas to generate energy, has a potential to turn the waste into energy.
·It can prove to be an alternative to biogas plants and mass incinerators.
·Plastic pyrolysis or tire pyrolysis is the process of converting waste plastic/tires into industrial
fuels like Pyrolysis Oil, Carbon Black and Hydrocarbon Gas.
·Plastic and tire pyrolysis takes place in pyrolysis reactor. Pyrolysis reactor creates following process conditions to carry out plastic or tire pyrolysis:
- Absence of oxygen
- Temperature of more than 370 Degree Celsius
- Agitation to accelerate heat exchange
- In pyrolysis, the polymer waste is not burned but broken down into usable finished products like Pyrolysis Oil, Hydrocarbon Gas and Carbon Black
Notifications on wetlands baffle green activists
- Two notifications on wetlands issued by the Union environment ministry on December 14 have puzzled legal activists who have been campaigning for protection of wetlands.
- One of these notifications is to announce the constitution of Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) -the nodal agency for identification, conservation and protection of wetlands- for a term of just two months.
- The other notification omits two clauses in the Wetland Rules 2010 on the constitution and term of the CWRA.
- This notification states that the authority will be constituted under the Environment Protection Act instead of under the Wetland Rules.
- Under the 2010 rules, the term of CWRA was for 3 years.
- These developments are significant because the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is hearing an application seeking directions to the government to identify all wetlands in the country as specified in the Wetlands Rules (Conservation and Management) 2010.
Greater flamingoes spotted in Himachal’s Pong wetlands
- More than 125,000 birds of 93 species have been spotted in Himachal Pradesh’s Pong Dam Among them, greater flamingoes, a common migratory species in India’s coastal areas, have been recorded for the first time here, an official said.
- A total of 52,530 bar-headed geese, the world’s highest-altitude migrant and a rare winter migrant in other Indian wetlands, were also recorded. They are regular winter migrants here.
- The man-made Pong Dam wetlands, one of the largest such in the foothills of the Himalayasin the picturesque Kangra Valley, are located 250 km from state capital Shimla.
- The bird, which stands four feet tall with its S-curved neck and is a common migrant to the Rann of Kutchin Gujarat, has been spotted in the marshy areas of Nagrota Suriyan.
- In 2013, a rare winter migrant, the whooper swan, was spotted here for the first time.
- The gregarious bar-headed geese, which start arriving in October and stay till March-end, fed at night in the grasslands on riverbanks and breeds in high-altitude lakes in Central Asia, as also in Tibetand Ladakh.
- Listed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the global population of the bar-headed geese is believed to be around 130,000, wildlife experts say.
- The Pong wetlands are also home to many native birds like the red jungle fowl, large Indian parakeet, Indian cuckoo, bank myna, wood shrike, yellow-eyed babbler, black ibis, paradise flycatcher, crested lark and the crested bunting.
More Details on Pong Dam:
- The Pong Dam, also known as the Beas Dam, is an earth-fill embankment dam on the Beas River just upstream of Talwara in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India.
- The purpose of the dam is water storage for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
- As the second phase of the Beas Project, construction on the dam began in 1961 and was completed in 1974.
- At the time of its completion, the Pong Dam was the tallest of its type in India.
The lake created by the dam, Maharana Pratap Sagar, became a renowned bird sanctuary.
‘Conservation Status’ To Kappatagudda Tiger Reserve:
- The State Board of Wildlife (SBW) of Karnataka has deferred the decision on declaring Kappatagudda in Gadag district as a “conservation reserve”.
·This has escalated ongoing tug-of-war between environmentalists who are seeking the tag and the mining lobby opposing it.
World’s smallest porpoise vaquita marina close to extinction
- Vaquita marina is edging closer to extinction as scientists warned Wednesday that only 30 of them are left
- Illegal fishing nets have been responsible for the killing the world’s smallest porpoise.
- At the current rate of loss, the vaquita will likely decline to extinction by 2022.
Known as the “panda of the sea” because of the dark rings around its eyes, the 1.5-meter (five-foot) cetacean has rarely been seen alive.
In a possibly last-ditch effort to save the vaquita, scientists plan, after getting government approval, to capture specimens and put them in an enclosure in the Gulf of California where they can reproduce.
Ireland became the world’s first country to stop investing in fossil fuels
- Ireland has voted to be the world’s first country to fully divest public money fromfossil fuels.
- TheIrish Parliament passed the historic legislation in a 90 to 53 vote in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the 8bn (£6.8bn) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, part of the Republic’s National Treasury Management Agency.
- The bill, introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle, is likely to pass into law in the next few months after it is reviewed by the financial committee.
- “This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate changeand their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated,” Mr Pringle said. “We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration and civil unrest as a result.”
Endangered Irrawaddy dolphins species
- The salt-water estuaries of Bhitarkanika national park and Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Odisha continue to be a congenial habitat for endangered Irrawaddy dolphins species
- Irrawaddy dolphins(IUCN: Vulnerable ) are found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia, and in three rivers: the Ayeyarwady (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo) and the Mekong.
Corbett gets nod to kill poachers:
- The Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR)issued shoot-at-sight orders against poachers. But the orders were to be carried out only for “self-protection against poachers carrying arms,”.
- Such orders were given by the State Chief Secretary in the past too for the protection of forest department workers.
- According to the tiger census data released in 2015, Uttarakhand, with 340 tigers, has the second highest tiger population in the country after Karnataka.
- According to wildlife experts, the tiger population has gone up in the past two years.
Jim Corbett National Park:
- Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger.
- It is located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand and was named after Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment.
- The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative
- The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristic
- Dense moist deciduous forest
Olive Ridley turtles march to Gahiramatha for nesting:
Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary
- Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is a marine wildlife sanctuary located in Odisha
- It extends from Dhamra River mouth in the north to Mahanadi river mouth in the south.
- It is very famous for its nesting beach for
- It is the one of world’s most important nesting beach for turtles
Olive ridley turtles
- The are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
- Inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- Best known for their unique mass nesting called where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
- The species is recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list.
World Wetlands Day celebrated at Bhoj Wetlands, Bhopal
This year World Wetland Day is being celebrated by centre in collaboration with the Government of Madhya Pradesh at Bhoj Wetlands, Bhopal, which is one of the 26 Ramsar sites that India has designated under the Ramsar Convention.
- Also, all the State Governments have been requested to celebrate the World Wetland Day in their respective States in a befitting manner.
The theme of World Wetlands Day for 2017 is ‘Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction’. This theme has been selected to raise awareness on the vital roles of healthy wetlands in reducing the impacts of extreme events on communities and in helping to build resilience.
About World Wetlands Day:
World Wetlands Day is celebrated on February 2 each year to mark the Day the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian City of Ramsar in 1971. India is a party to the Convention since 1982 and committed to the Ramsar approach of wise use of wetlands.
About Ramsar convention:
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. It is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea, where the treaty was signed on 2 February 1971. Known officially as ‘the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat’ (or, more recently, just ‘the Convention on Wetlands’), it came into force in 1975.
Montreux Record under the Convention is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.
It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List. The Montreux Record was established by Recommendation of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (1990). Sites may be added to and removed from the Record only with the approval of the Contracting Parties in which they lie.
India’s first floating elementary school:
- Loktak lake, the largest freshwater lake in northeast india, has now become home to first of its kind loktak floating elementary school.
- Situated about 50 km from Imphal, the school has been inaugurated at Langolsabi Leikai of Champu Khangpok village in Manipur.
- It aims to provide education to drop outs students, who were rendered homeless due to the recent evacuation of phumdis.
- The school has been opened under the initiative undertaken by All Loktak Lake Fisherman’s Union with the support of an NGO – People Resources Development Association (PRDA). The school will not only cater to the need of the children but for the illiterate adults as well. The school will be accommodating around 25 students and two teachers from the community.
- The honorarium of the volunteers will be sanction by the PRDA, under the project called ‘Empowering vulnerable local communities for sustainable development’, which is funded by Action Aid India.
| ·Keibul Lamjao National Park is located at the southwestern part of the lake. It is the world’s only floating national park and is home to the endangered Manipuri brow-antlered deer, Sangai.|
·Sangai is the state animal of Manipur. Its hooves are adapted to walk on the phumdis.
·It was designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990. Later it was also listed under the Montreux Record in 1993.
·Loktak is a birder’s paradise. The most commonly sighted birds in the region include black kite, northern hill myna, East Himalayan pied kingfisher, lesser skylark, lesser eastern jungle crow, Burmese pied myna, and more.
·The lake is now endangered, with innumerable threats like pollution, decline in diversity of avifauna and thinning of phumdis. All this, in turn, threatens the Sangai deer.
- A clouded leopard called Kheleo has been chosen the official mascot of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017.
- The clouded leopard is a vulnerable wild cat whose habitat extends from the Himalayan foothills to mainland Southeast Asia.
- The U-17 WC will be the first FIFA tournament to be hosted by India, and will be played from October 6- 28, 2017.
- The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a wild catoccurring from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China.
- Since 2008, it is listed as Vulnerableon the IUCN Red List.
Record olive ridley nesting baffles wildlife experts:
A record-breaking mass nesting by 3.8 lakh endangered olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) took place at the Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district of Odisha in February 2017. Interestingly, no mass nesting had taken place at the site a year ago.
- It is believed that several environmental factors, including chemical factors like salinity of the beach and the sea near the coast, may have prompted these marine reptiles to give the coast a miss in 2016.
About Olive Ridley turtles:
Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, Olive turtles are a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
- They are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers.
- The olive ridley is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
- The Convention on Migratory Species and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles have also provided olive ridleys with protection, leading to increased conservation and management for this marine turtle.
Critically Endangered Impatiens Plant Species
In a major breakthrough in eco-conservation, forest officials in Munnar have spotted two critically endangered impatiens plant species on the peripheries of the Eravikulam National Park.
- The newly discovered specis include- Impatiens Mankulamensis and Impatiens Panduramgani. They are included in the critically endangered category of IUCN.
- Impatiens, also called jewel weeds, are seen in pristine forests where moisture content and relative humidity are high. The Eravikulam National Park and the Mankulam forest division are surrounded by sholas.
- The plant normally flowers in the rainy season of July to October. The flowers are white in colour with a pink border.
Eravikulam National Park:
- located along the Western Ghatsin the Idukki district of Kerala in India Eravikulam National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Second capital of Himachal Pradesh
- Dharamshala is declared as the second capital of Himachal Pradesh.
- Dharamshala is located in the Kangra Valley, in the shadow of the Dhauladharmountains.
- The major water body at Dharamshala is Dall Lake and Kakeri Lake.
- It is the ‘Capital in exile’ of The Dalai Lama and also serves as the headquarters for
Tibetan government in India. So the region is predominantly inﬂuenced by the Tibetan
- The Namgyal Monasteryin the region serves the devotees of Buddhism.
- The famous festival is Hindu Lohri festival and folk dance is called as “Lhamo”.
- In addition to Gahirmatha coast in Odisha, Hope Island also becomes the destination for olive ridleys breeding area.
- Hope Island is a small island situated off the coast of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh State.
Anthropocene, International Commission on Stratigraphy, Holocene
- The Anthropoceneis a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems.
- The Anthropocence thus includes, but also transcends, the duration of anthropogenic climate change.
- Anthropocene, as this proposed epoch is called, roughly means the ‘Recent Age of Man’ and was first proposed by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and atmospheric scientist Eugene Stoermer around 2000.
International Commission on Stratigraphy:
- The International Commission on Stratigraphy(ICS), sometimes referred to by the unofficial name “International Stratigraphic Commission” is a daughter or major subcommittee grade scientific daughter organization that concerns itself with stratigraphy, geological, and geochronological matters on a global scale.
- It is a subordinate body of the International Union of Geological Sciences—of which it is the largest body within the organisation—and of which it is essentially a permanent working subcommittee that meets far more regularly than the quadrennial meetings scheduled by the IUGS, when it meets as a congress or membership of the whole.
- The geological epoch that began after the Pleistocene at approximately 11,700 years before present.
- The term “Recent” (usually capitalised) has often been used as an exact synonym of “Holocene”, although this usage is discouraged in 21st-century science.
- The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Ancient Greek words ὅλος (holos, whole or entire) and καινός (kainos, new), meaning “entirely recent”.
- It has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1, and can be considered an interglacial in the current ice age based on that evidence.
- The Holocene also encompasses the growth and impacts of the human species worldwide, including all its written history, development of major civilizations, and overall significant transition toward urban living in the present.
- Human impacts on modern-era Earth and its ecosystems may be considered of global significance for future evolution of living species, including approximately synchronous lithospheric evidence, or more recently atmospheric evidence of human impacts.
Given these, a new term, Anthropocene, is specifically proposed and used informally only for the very latest part of modern history involving significant human impact.
India’s only volcano active again
- India’s only live volcanoin the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has started spewing smoke and lava again.
- After lying dormant for 150 years, Barren Island volcano erupted in 1991 and has been showing sporadic activity since then.
- The Andaman basin is an active back-arc spreading basin known for strong seismicity, submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal activity.
- These volcanoes are formed due to the rising magma formed deep in the mantle due to the melting of the subducted Indian Ocean crust.
The volcanic island is uninhabited and its northern part is, as the name suggests, barren and devoid of vegetation.
Bangladesh pushes on with Rohingya island plan
Bangladesh is pushing ahead with a controversial plan to relocate tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to a remote island, despite warnings it is uninhabitable and prone to flooding.
The government has set up a committee made up of state officials in the coastal districts, ordering authorities to help identify and relocate undocumented Myanmar nationals to Thengar Char in the Bay of Bengal.
- Hatiya Island is an island in the northern Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, at the mouth of the Meghnariver.
- The Island falls under Noakhali District of Bangladesh. Other major offshore islands of this region are Bhola Island (which is the largest) and Manpura Island.
- In 2015, Bangladesh government decided to relocate some Rohingya Muslims to Hatiya Island after the recommendation of Myanmar state-appointed body headed by Kof Annan.
Thai cops seize record three tonnes of pangolin scales:
- Pangolinsare mammals of the order
- The one extant family,Manidae, has three genera: Manis, which comprises four species living in Asia, Phataginus, which comprises two species living in Africa, and Smutsia, which comprises two species also living in Africa.
- These species range in size from 30 to 100 cm (12 to 39 in).
- A number of extinct pangolin species are also known.
- Pangolins have large, protectivekeratin scales covering their skin; they are the only known mammals with this adaptation.
- They live in hollow trees or burrows, depending on the species. Pangolins arenocturnal, and their diet consists of mainly ants and termites which they capture using their long tongues.
- They tend to be solitary animals, meeting only to mate and produce a litter of one to three offspring which are raised for about two years.
- Pangolins arethreatened by hunting (for their meat and scales) and heavy deforestation of their natural habitats, and are the most trafficked mammals in the world.
- Recently, UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, known as CITES, placed the eight species of pangolin on the convention’s “Appendix I”.
- Thus adding pangolins under “Appendix I” will prohibits any cross-border movement in the animals or their body parts for commercial purposes.
Hundreds of Pilot Whales Returned to the Water:
- Pilot whales, which are social animals, are well-known for stranding in groups of just a few to several hundred individuals.
- A member of the dolphin family, pilot whales use echolocation to get around, and if that ability is disrupted it could also lead to a stranding.
- “The most likely hypothesis is that pilot whales’ echolocation is not well-suited to shallow, gently sloping waters, because they generally prefer high relief (steep) areas such as the edge of the continental shelf,” according to a DOC fact sheet.
- “This would also explain why most mass strandings happen in summer, when the whales follow popular food sources inshore.”
- Oceanic dolphins are a widely distributed family of dolphins that live in the sea of the order Cetaceans.
- Cetaceans consist of the whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
- Oceanic dolphins include several big species whose common names contain “whale” rather than “dolphin”, such as the killer whale and the pilot whales.
Seven new species of night frogs from India:
· Indian Scientists have discovered seven new frog species belonging to the genus Nyctibatrachus, commonly known as Night Frogs in the Western Ghats.
· These are among the smallest known frogs in the world.
Green Building Performance Monitoring Platform -‘Arc’ Adopted by IGIA:
- The Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), Delhi has adopted first-of-its-kind Green Building Performance Monitoring Platform – ‘Arc’ developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) for Terminal 3, Delhi Airport.
- The adoption of “Arc” is in line with the continued focus on Environment Sustainability and is aligned to make Delhi a Smart airport.
Arc facility is already operational.