Monday, May 31, 2010

New Ways to Improve Forestry Education

The latest issue of Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education has an excellent paper on forestry education and ways of improving it authored by Javier Arevalo, Barbara Jarschel, Sari Pitkänen, Liisa Tahvanainen, and Jorma Enkenberg.
The paper is based on a study of a 5-year Brazilian undergraduate programme in forestry. The study found that what students perceive as important, change as they progress through program. The authors suggest that this could act as pointers to improve forestry curriculum and create more attractive forestry programs to reverse the global decline in forestry student enrollment.
The most frequent concern among first-year students was conservation, but later-year students were speaking about production, sustainable management forest legislation and policy.
The authors suggest that since beginner students perceive conservation as an important concern, conservation-related issues should be incorporated into first-year studies to leverage maximum benefit from the education. The subjects taught later on could tailored as per the preference of the students, to get maximum benefit.
The importance of excelling academically decreased across study years, while the importance of having a good social life increased across study years. According to the authors this may signal dissatisfaction or de-motivation linked to a perception that academic achievement is not appropriately compensated
While the majority of students at the beginning of their studies preferred to continue for master programs at the same university, later on they tend to prefer the same university, a different university, or studying abroad. This also could act as pointers to sort out deficiencies in the system.
The findings from this study offer new insights into the perceptions of forestry education and shows ways of improving the content of the syllabus for forestry education.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Excellent Work by Kaziranga Forest Guards

Amidst depressing news of poaching of Rhinos here comes some happy news. My contracts in Kaziranga National Park inform me that the forest guards have put up a spirited show against poachers on Friday.
A six member team of forest guards was on routine patrol of the park when they heard gunshots.  The poachers were targeting an adult rhino near the Mihimukh range. Seeing a band of six the poachers the forest guards gave a chase and a gunfight ensued. In the encounter that lasted nearly 30 minutes four poachers were killed. Two managed to escape in the melee. A rifle and large quantity of ammunition was also recovered.
This is the second major success for the frontline staff this week. On Tuesday, seven poachers were arrested while they were on their way to sell a rhino horn to an international smuggling syndicate.
Well done frontline staff of Kaziranga National Park.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Urine Therapy for Errant Tigers

Dr S S Bawaskar, a young veterinarian of Nagpur zoo has come up with a brilliant idea to stop marauding tigers from entering villages.
Ranmangli village near Nagpur in Maharashtra was frequented by a tigress and two sub-adult cubs. The tigress had already killed a woman last month sending panic across the region. The forest officials of the region were a harried lot.
Tigers spray urine on trees and shrubs or scrape and deposit urine on the ground to mark their territories. The scent lasts for several days and sends a clear message to other tigers.  When fresh, it is easily detectable by humans also up to 2-3 m away (Smith et al. 1989). A tiger coming across a scent mark usually sniff, leap back and snarl. Dr S S Bawaskar thought why not give this a shot. He suggested spraying urine in areas frequented by the marauding tigress.
Taking cue from Dr S S Bawaskar Nagpur forest division officials collected urine of captive tigers in the city’s Maharajbagh zoo and sprinkled it near the spots frequented by tigers. After the spraying tigers have stopped coming to the village.The officials are keeping their fingers crossed to see whether this proves to be permanent solution.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Munnar - The Overkill

Munnar has been voted as the second best destination in Asia by Tripadvisor’s 2010 Traveller’s Choice Destination award. It is good news. Tourism Principal Secretary Dr Venuis is reported to have said
“Millions of travellers rely on Tripadvisor for travel inspiration. So we are thrilled and humbled that Munnar has been honoured by travellers this year,’’ 

We have full respect for the hard work being done by Dr Venu for making Kerala a preferred international destination for tourists. At the same time we have a feeling that in Munnar you are doing an overkill. Have you carefully looked at the environs as you travel from Neriamangamlam to Munnar?. The evidences of unregulated tourism are visible everywhere. There are mountains of refuse left by the tourists.The most appalling part is the plastic litter

The other day Mr Mohan Varghese, the chairman of HRWEPA was narrating to me an incident that happened near Naeriamangalam. The monkeys were picking up the vomit thrown out by tourists and gobbling it along with the plastic bags. Makes you puke just reading about it.

So venu Saab have a thought for the delicate mountain ecosystem of Munnar. Very strict guidelines have to be chalked out for tourists visiting Munnar.They should not remain on paper. They have to be put in place ruthlessly. We wish you the very best.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ray of Hope in Panna

Panna has the dubious distinction of a wildlife reserve where the tigers have disappeared.  Panna had more than 30 tigers four years ago. All of them had disappeared. When authorities planned reintroduction there were many doubting toms. The prophets of doom have been proved wrong.
Two tigresses- one from Bandhavgarh and another from Kanha were translocated to Panna on March 6 and March 9. The government has plans to relocate four more tigers.
It is happy tiding in Panna right now. The tigress, translocated from Bandhavgarh has given birth to three cubs. It is the first time that a translocated tigress has given birth in India.
Conservationists are elated at the latest developments in Pana. All is not yet lost. There is hope on the horizon.