Friday, November 26, 2010

Untrained Wildlife Wardens, Here is a Piece of Advice For You

Many of our wildlife reserves are managed by officers, who have no formal training in wildlife management. This creates lot of impediments in properly managing wildlife reserves.

I agree that it may not be a feasible proposition to train all officers in wildlife management techniques. Let me ask you a small question. What prevents you from reading wildlife literature? Read everything that you can lay your hands on, concerning the species that you manage. If you are thorough with ecology and behaviour of the species, you will not go wrong in your assessment of ecosystem needs. You will not go about building check dams where it is not needed. You will not go about scraping grass in a pristine grass land ecosystem. I am giving two examples. The list is lengthy.

Reading literature also empowers you. You will be able to talk on equal terms with scientists. You will create a great image about the department in the minds of people interacting with you. The name of the state also gets a boost in the process.

So guys go ahead and read pertinent literature. This is not sermon; it is a sane piece of advice from a man who has spent 30 years in wildlife and has gone around the world after retirement on the strength of experience gained in the field. I can assure you, it is big bonus that you gain in the field. People sit up and take notice of what you are talking and they do it with rapt attention.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hummingbirds and Gusty Winds

                                                         Image Courtesy: New Mexico State University.

I have always been fascinated by hummingbirds and wondered how the small birds tackle gusty winds. Now the scientists have come up with an answer. A team of researchers at New Mexico State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, and Continuum Dynamics Inc. has built a robotic hummingbird wing to discover the answer.

The wings of hummingbirds oscillate in a figure eight pattern to produce lift on both the downstroke and upstroke. This way they achieve that extra lift they need to hover by creating a vortex on the leading edges of their wings. The Scientists explain that the wings create the vortex with a high angle of attack on the downstroke. Then they flip their wings around on the upstroke, so as they shed one vortex, they create another on the other side of the wing, thereby managing to maintain high lift forces. Thus hummingbirds continually readjust their wing angles to maintain high lift forces.

The researchers hope to identify robust algorithms that will allow the creation of stable ornithopters that can operate reliably under real-life conditions for surveillance and other applications.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Biggest Zoological Discoveries of All Time

BBC wildlife magazine has selected a list of the biggest zoological discoveries of all time. I found it very interesting. The list is given below, in forward order.
10) Tool use by chimps
In 1960, Jane Goodall discovered that chimps in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania stripped leaves from twigs and inserted them into termite mounts to fish for grubs. The discovery challenged anthropologists' description of humankind as "man the toolmaker".
9) Symbiosis in coral
What we call coral is the hard shells of animals called polyps. But these marine creatures would die were it not for a symbiotic relationship with photosynthesising algae called zooxanthellae. The algae take up residence inside the polyps, trading the products of photosynthesis for a safe haven.
8) How the giant squid hunts
The giant squid is the largest invertebrate on the planet, but lives at such inaccessible depths that little was known of its behaviour in the wild. In 2004, Japanese scientists Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori lowered a bait-laden video camera 900 metres under the sea and snapped around 50 images of the beast in action. The footage showed the squid lunging, tentacles first, out of the gloom.
7) Migration routes
Modern tagging techniques have provided researchers with detailed knowledge of where birds migrate to with the change of the seasons, but for thousands of years their whereabouts was shrouded in mystery. Outlandish speculations ranged from the birds hibernating at the bottom of ponds, flapping up to the moon, or simply staying put but morphing into new species.
6) Mendelian inheritance
It took the patience and perseverance of Gregor Mendel, a 19th century monk, to discover that traits were passed on from one generation to the next. Mendel, who grew thousands of pea plants and painstakingly observed their inherited characteristics, showed that each new generation received "elements" from both of its parents, and that some were recessive and others dominant, thereby laying the foundations of genetic inheritance.
5) Death of the dodo
The extinction of the dodo stands as the most striking example of the human impact on wildlife. The last of its kind were alive in the late 17th or early 18th century.
4) Hydrothermal vents
The discovery of marine creatures living around geothermally heated water that gushed from cracks in the seabed overturned the notion that sunlight sustained all life on Earth.
3) Photosynthesis
The process by which plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars and oxygen underpins most of life on Earth. It is hard to credit any one researcher with the discovery, though key findings were made by the Dutchman Jan Ingenhousz in 1779, who revealed the crucial role of sunlight in driving the process.
2) Microscopic life
The 17th century Dutch scientist Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek made some of the best microscopes of his time, using them to discover microorganisms, or "animalcules". His work led to dramatic re-evaluations of the causes of disease and improvements in hygiene.
1) Transitional species
The most impressive breakthough of all, according to the judges, was the discovery of the fossilised remains of Archaeopteryx, a creature that shares some features with ancient reptiles and others with modern birds. The transitional species – often misleadingly called a missing link – lived around 150 million years ago and had wings and feathers, but also claws, teeth and a long, bony tail. More than any other discovery, Archaeopteryx helped drive the idea of evolution into the public consciousness.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Take Action to Ban Dangerous Endosulfan

Endosulfan is an extremely hazardous and outdated agro-chemical banned in over 70 countries, including all EU countries, the US, Australia.lia and Brazil

Environmental justice Foundation(EJF) is spearheading a movement around the world, to force the arm of Government of India, to ban this dangerous chemical. India is one of the few countries sticking on to this outdated chemical .You can make a difference with your strident voice. Click HERE  to read about the efforts of EJF and sign a petition.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Unfulfilled Dream of Ratan Tata

This blog usually blogs about wildlife matters. Today I am making an exception.

 I am an unabashed admirer of Tatas. No other business house in India has their social commitment. While I was working as Assistant Wildlife Warden and Wildlife Warden of Eravkulam National Park, I have received unstinted support from Tatas for wildlife conservation. One of the General Mangers of Tata Tea, Mr. M.R.P Lappin had left standing instructions that when the wildlife warden come calling, even if there is an important meeting the wildlife warden should be ushered in.

I was fortunate to realize my dream of flying when I was young.  Flying solo in the small Pushpak aircraft of Trivandrum Flying Club was an exhilarating experience. I had read so much about the pioneering effort of JRD Tata to bring in civil aviation to India, in those days. I had always wondered why Tatas did not enter the civil aviation field when the field was opened up in India, even though they were instrumental in forming Air India in the 1930s, which was later on taken over by the Government. Now the reason has come out straight from the horse’s mouth. Tatas indeed wanted to start an airline in cooperation with Singapore airlines. A minister asked for a bribe of 15 crores which Ratan Tata was not willing to pay. What a shame........    Mr Rattan Tata divulged the information while answering questions after delivering a lecture on 'India in 21st Century: Opportunities and Challenges' in Dehra Dun.  In any other country he would have been a hero and the key for starting the airline handed over to him on a gold platter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

US wildlife officer killed by poacher

In a rare incident of its kind in USA, a Pennsylvania wildlife conservation officer, David Grove, 31, was killed on 12th of this month in a shootout with a man using a spotlight for illegal hunting. He is the first wildlife officer to die in the line of duty in the state since 1915. The last Pennsylvania Game Commission officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty was Joseph McHugh in Weatherly, Carbon County, on Nov. 7, 1915.
Grove had served as volunteer deputy for several years before becoming a fulltime conservation officer two years ago. He was a very dedicated officer going after poachers with single-minded purpose. This month's Pennsylvania Game News includes an article by Grove, "A Shot in the Dark," where he describes an encounter with poachers while he was on patrol with a cadet.

We at High Range Tidings  doff our hats in memory of this brave wildlife conservation officer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

International Conference on Forestry Education and Research for the Asia Pacific Region, Manila, Philippines

International Conference on Forestry Education and Research for the Asia Pacific Region
Manila, Philippines
November 23-25 2010

This international conference aims to strengthen the contribution of forestry education and research towards sustainable forest management against the backdrop of the changing priorities and needs of the Asia Pacific Region. It plans to act as a forum linking education and research to ensure that would-be foresters are constant recipients of vital research information that they need in the execution of their duties and functions.
Key objectives are
(1) To assess the state of forestry education and research in the Asia-Pacific Region;
(2)To identify major issues and challenges confronting the forestry education and research sectors; and
(3) To initiate the process of charting the future direction of forestry education and research

For further details, please contact:
Forestry Development Center
College of Forestry and Natural Resources
University of the Philippines Los BaƱos
College, Laguna 4031, PHILIPPINES
Telephone: +64 49 536-3097 | 536-2341

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What Do Ecological Paradigms Offer to Conservation?

International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2010, Article ID 250754, 9 pages

Here is a good paper worth perusing. I found it very interesting. I am giving below the abstract as it is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License

Ecological theory provides applications to biodiversity management—but often falls short of expectations. One possibility is that heuristic theories of a young science are too immature. Logistic growth predicts a carrying capacity, but fisheries managed with theLotka-Volterra paradigm continue to collapse. A second issue is that general predictions may not be useful. The theory of islandbiogeography predicts species richness but does not predict community composition. A third possibility is that the theory itself may not have much to do with nature, or that empirical parameterization is too difficult to know. The metapopulation paradigmis relevant to conservation, but metapopulations might not be common in nature. For instance, empirical parameterization within the metapopulation paradigm is usually infeasible. A challenge is to determine why ecology fails to match needs of managers sometimes but helps at other. Managers may expect too much of paradigmatic blueprints, while ecologists believe them too much. Those who implement biodiversity conservation plans need simple, pragmatic guidelines based on science. Is this possible? What is possible? An eclectic review of theory and practice demonstrate the power and weaknesses of the ideas that guide conservation and attempt to identify reasons for prevailing disappointment.

Copyright © 2010 S. B. Ale and H. F. Howe.
SomB. Ale1, 2 and Henry F. Howe1, 3
1Department of Biological Sciences (m/c 066), University of Illinois at Chicago, 845 W. Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
2Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, 200 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Avenue,
St. Paul, Minnesota, MN 55108, USA
3Department of Zoology, Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA