About Asiatic Lion, Asiatic Lion Conservation Project

Headline : Vet institute, ambulances mooted in lion conservation plan

Details :

The News

  • In a bid to step up conservation and protection efforts of critically endangered ‘Asiatic Lions, the Centre and the Gujarat government have announced a 3-year dedicated ‘Asiatic Lion Conservation Project’.

Background

About Asiatic Lions

  • Asiatic Lions are critically endangered species, listed in the Schedule 1 of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Appendix I of CITES and endangered on IUCN Red List.
  • Asiatic lions were once distributed in dry deciduous forests and scrublands from West Bengal in east to Rewa, MP in the west.
  • Currently, the last surviving population of the Asiatic lions is confined to Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the only habitat of the Asiatic lion.
  • According to 2015 census, there are currently 523 Asiatic lion in India compared to about 50 in 1980s.

Need for the conservation project

  • In the recent years, there is a rise in number of deaths of Asian Lions due to various unnatural causes.
  • According to estimates, the numbers of deaths of Asiatic Lions are 104 and 80 in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
  • The main reason for death of Asiatic lions:
    • Construction of open wells in their habitat
    • Electrocution
    • A viral disease known as Canine Distemper Disease. (a majority of deaths in 2018 are reported to be due to CDD)
  • Further, Asiatic Lions are long-neglected with low allocation in conservation plans; Rs. 95000/ lion as compared to 15 Lakh/ individual in case of tigers.

About Asiatic Lion Conservation Project

  • Asiatic Lion Conservation Project will be a 3-year centrally sponsored scheme funded from CSS-Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with centre-state contribution ratio of 60:40.
  • It focuses both on protection and conservation of the lion species.
  • It is mainly based on ‘species conservation over a large landscape” approach. Accordingly, Zone Plans and Theme Plans are developed.
  • Zone Plans include expansion of habitat and developing a Greater Gir region including Girnar, Pania and Mitiyala.
    • The Greater Gir region is then divided into Core Zone, the Sanctuary Zone, the buffer Zone for different levels of conservation.
  • Theme Plans include habitat improvement, protection, wildlife health service, addressing to man-wild animal conflict issues, research and monitoring, awareness generation, and ecotourism.

Main features of the project

  • Habitat improvement,
  • Bringing together multi-sectoral agencies for disease control.
  • Stepping up veterinary care by construction of veterinary hospitals
  • back-up stocks of vaccines that may be required
  • Increasing the number of lion ambulances.
  • ICT-driven monitoring and surveillance systems including
    • GPS Based Tracking
    • Automated Sensor Grid with magnetic sensors, movement sensors, infra-red heat sensors
    • Night vision capability enhancement
    • GIS based real time monitoring and reporting
  • A wildlife crime cell to step up protection
  • Creating a task force for the Greater Gir region
  • Establishment of additional water points

Section : Environment & Ecology

What impact will the thundershowers, hailstorm have on rabi crop?

Headline : What impact will the thundershowers, hailstorm have on rabi crop?

Details :

The topic

  • Recently, there was heavy rainfall and hailstorms in the many areas of northern India.
  • This articles assesses the impact of heavy rainfall and hailstorms on rabi crops.

Background

  • In early February, the National Capital Region, Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh and northern Madhya Pradesh witnessed heavy rainfall and hailstorms.
  • According to the Meteorological department, the source of the thundershowers was a fresh Western Disturbance. Further fresh Western Disturbance are also expected.
  • This will affect the Rabi crops in these regions.

About Rabi crops

  • ”Rabi” is an Arabic word for “spring”.
  • Harvesting of the winter crops happens in the springtime, thus these crops are called as Rabi crops.
  • The Rabi season usually starts in November and lasts up to March or April.
  • Rabi crops are mainly cultivated using irrigation as monsoon rains are already over by November.
  • Moreover, the unseasonal showers in winter seasons can ruin the crops.
  • Wheat, barley, mustard and green peas are some of the major Rabi crops of India and different crops require different climatic conditions. For example:
    • Wheat
      • It requires cool temperatures during its growing season in the range of about 14°c to 18°c.
      • Rainfall of about 50 cms to 90 cms is most ideal.
      • However, during harvesting season in the spring, wheat requires bright sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures.
    • Mustard
      • It requires a subtropical climate to grow which is a dry and cool climate.
      • The temperature range to grow mustard is between 10°c to 25°c.
    • Therefore, the heavy rainfall and hailstorms differently impact various Rabi crops based on various stages of crop production.

Assessment of impact of rainfall and hailstorms on different Rabi crops this season

Negative impact

  • Heavy rains during this period have negative impact on the mustard, chana (chickpea) and potato crops that are about to mature or in early-harvesting stage.
  • Mustards
    • This crop that is usually planted during the first half of October, and in early February would be in the pod-filling stage (the beginning of the last stage ripening), where the flowers and seeds have already taken shape and size.
    • The kernels would have been accumulating starch, fat and protein matter.
    • Hence, rains during this time can impact the yields negatively.
    • Moreover, if the rain continues, the environment will become helpful for fungal diseases such as sclerotinia stem rot and alternaria blight.
    • Such diseases could result in the premature ripening of the crop or the pods producing dry, shrinking or discoloured seeds.
    • The rains are more likely to damage early-sown crops, sown in the last week of September, which would have been ready for harvesting.
  • Other crops:
    • Many other Rabi crops are harvested during February-March like Chana, Masur (lentil), Potato, Jeera (cumin-seed) and Dhania (coriander).
    • These might already be in its final stages of grain-filling or ripening stages.
    • The risk of rainfall and hailstorm is more for such crops.
  • In the worst scenario, experts are predicting the repeat of conditions as was in March 2015, when the winter rainfall and hailstorm affected the total area of 182 lakh hectares in North, West and central India.

Positive impact

  • The positive impact of winter rainfall can be predicted for Wheat, as this crop is sown by mid-November and currently would be in the late-tillering stage, when it produces multiple side stems.
  • Only the wheat crops sown early in the end of October may get negatively affected.
  • In fact, rains will have following benefits for the timely or late-sown wheat crops-
  • It will provide additional round of irrigation to the crops.
  • It will reduce the temperatures and prolong the winter, which is good for yields.

Section : Economics

Char Dham highway project

Headline : Supreme Court clears 900km Char Dham highway project

Details :

In News

  • The Supreme Court has cleared the Chardham highway project, by modifying an NGT order.
  • It has also ordered to constitute a fresh committee to look into environmental concerns related to the project.
  • It ordered the Ministry of Environment and Forests to form the high-powered committee (HPC).

Background

  • After the project got approval, petitions were filed at the National Green Tribunal (NGT), seeking a stay on the Char Dham project. They said the project violated the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2006.
  • In September, 2018, the NGT gave its conditional approval to the project in view of larger public interest.
  • Some non-profit group had filed a petition against the NGT order in the Supreme Court saying the project would cause an irreversible damage to regional ecology.

News Summary

Supreme Court’s decision

  • Supreme Court has only modified the September NGT order by constituting a fresh high-powered committee (HPC).
  • In addition to this, the court added representatives from Physical Research Laboratory under the government’s Department of Space, Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, MoEF (from Dehradun regional office) and Defence Ministry to the HPC.
  • The top court asked the committee to submit its recommendations within four months.
  • The HPC shall hold quarterly meetings thereafter to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measures after each review meeting.

Committee’s mandate

  • The committee shall consider the cumulative and independent impact of the Chardham project on the entire Himalayan valleys.
  • It will give directions to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
  • The committee will consider whether revision of the full Chardham project should take place with a view to minimize the adverse impact on the environment and social life.
  • It will identify the sites where quarrying has started and recommend measures required to stabilise the area and for safe disposal of muck.
  • It will also assess the environmental degradation – loss of forest lands, trees, green cover, water resources etc. – on the wildlife and will direct mitigation measures.
  • The HPC will also suggest the areas in which afforestation should be taken and the kind of saplings to be planted.

About: Char Dham Highway Project

  • The Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna, or the Chardham highway project, is an initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) in the Himalayas.
  • The Prime Minister had launched the construction of the Char Dham Mahamarg in December, 2016, as a tribute to those who died in the 2013 Kedarnath disaster. 
  • The project will develop around 900 km of national highways in Uttarakhand at an approximate cost of Rs 12,000 crore.
  • It involves widening the existing, geometrically deficient highway that connects the four abodes.
  • Apart from widening, it plans to improve the stretches to two-lane carriageway with paved shoulders, protect landslide hazard zones, construct bypasses, long bridges, tunnels and elevated corridors to ensure safety for the users.

Advantages

  • The project will make travel to Char Dham safer and more convenient. Connectivity & tourism will get a strong boost through the project.
  • Proper slope stabilisation will ensure protection against landslides.
  • The project is also important from a strategic point of view as it is close to the China border.
  • In the eventuality of any aggression, improved roads will facilitate movement of heavy weapons, equipments and artillery guns.

Concerns

  • It is an extremely fragile region. The area forms the Main Central Thrust of the Lesser Himalayan region. This is where the Indian tectonic plate goes under the Eurasian Tectonic Plate.
  • The phenomenon makes the region susceptible to earthquakes and landslides.
  • The Geological Survey of India corroborates this in its report prepared after the Kedarnath disaster.
  • It states that road construction in mountains reactivates landslides as it disturbs the toe of the natural slope of the hill.

About: Char Dham

  • Char Dham refers to the 4 pilgrimage centres – Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – in the Himalayas, in the state of Uttarakhand.

Badrinath

  • Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand.
  • The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River.
  • The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham sites.
  • The temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams, the holy shrines for Vaishnavites, dedicated to Vishnu (who is worshipped as Badrinath).
  • It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region.

Kedarnath

  • Kedarnath Temple is a Hindu temple (shrine) dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva.
  • It is located in the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river, in Uttarakhand.
  • Kedarnath is seen as a homogenous form of Lord Shiva, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region.
  • Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open to the general public only between the months of April (Akshaya Tritriya) and November (Kartik Purnima, the autumn full moon).

Gangotri

  • Gangotri is a town and a Nagar Panchayat (municipality) in Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • It is a Hindu pilgrim town on the banks of the river Bhagirathi and origin of River Ganges. It is on the Greater Himalayan Range, at a height of 3,100 metres.
  • According to popular Hindu legend, it was here that Goddess Ganga descended when Lord Shiva released the mighty river from the locks of his hair.
  • The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda.
  • The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is 19 kms from Gangotri. The temple is closed from Diwali every year and is reopened in May.

Yamunotri

  • Yamunotri Temple is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,291 metres in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand.
  • River Yamuna originates at Yamunotri.
  • The temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and has a black marble idol of the goddess.

Section : Environment & Ecology

IPCC Report: Climate Change and Land

Headline : Food supply is at dire risk: UN

Details :

In News

  • IPCC has released a new report on Climate Change and Land. It is the second in the series of three special reports that the IPCC is preparing during the current Sixth Assessment Report cycle.
  • This is the first IPCC report in which a majority of the authors (53%) are from developing countries.

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News Summary

  • The IPCC has released the summary of its report “Climate Change and Land: An IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems” to the policymakers.
  • It is an assessment of how land systems are contributing to global warming, and are in turn being impacted by the resultant climate change.
  • The report looks at the role of land-based activities such as agriculture, forestry, cattle-rearing and urbanisation in causing global warming, and also the manner in which they are impacted by climate change.

Report Findings

Land – a critical resource

  • Land provides the principal basis for human livelihoods and well-being including the supply of food, freshwater and multiple other ecosystem services, as well as biodiversity.
  • Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface (high confidence). Land also plays an important role in the climate system.
  • Land is both a source and a sink of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and plays a key role in the exchange of energy, water and aerosols between the land surface and atmosphere.

Impact

  • The report says the global food production system could account for 16 to 27 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • If outside the “farm gate” activities such as transportation, energy and food processing industries are included, emissions from global activities that put the food on our table could account for as high as 37 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
  • If emissions associated with pre- and post-production activities in the global food system are included, the emissions are estimated to be 21 to 37 per cent of total net anthropogenic (man-made) GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.

Desertification and land degradation

  • When land is degraded, it becomes less productive, restricting what can be grown and reducing the soil’s ability to absorb carbon.
  • This exacerbates climate change, while climate change in turn exacerbates land degradation in many different ways.
  • In a future with more intensive rainfall the risk of soil erosion on croplands increases.
  • Sustainable land management is a way to protect communities from the detrimental impacts of this soil erosion and landslides. However there are limits to what can be done, so in other cases degradation might be irreversible

Food security

  • The report highlights that climate change is affecting all four pillars of food security: availability (yield and production), access (prices and ability to obtain food), utilization (nutrition and cooking), and stability (disruptions to availability).
  • Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines – especially in the tropics – increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions,”
  • The effects are different in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean

 

Measures needed for improvement:

  • Food wastage: The report records that about one third of food produced is lost or wasted. Measures such as reduction in food wastage can avoid a part of these emissions without jeopardising food security.
  • Risk management: Risk management can enhance communities’ resilience to extreme events, which has an impact on food systems. This can be the result of dietary changes or ensuring a variety of crops to prevent further land degradation and increase resilience to extreme or varying weather.
  • Reducing inequities: Reducing inequalities, improving incomes, and ensuring equitable access to food so that some regions (where land cannot provide adequate food) are not disadvantaged, are other ways to adapt to the negative effects of climate change.
  • Sustainability: An overall focus on sustainability coupled with early action offers the best chances to tackle climate change. This would entail sustainable agricultural practices, low population growth and improved nutrition.
  • Bioenergy management: Bioenergy needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation. Desirable outcomes will depend on locally appropriate policies and governance systems.

 

Steps beyond land management

  • The report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but is not the only solution.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2ºC, if not 1.5o
  • Policies that are outside the land and energy domains, such as on transport and environment, can also make a critical difference to tackling climate change. Acting early is more cost-effective as it avoids losses.

 

About: IPCC

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change.
  • It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988.
  • In the same year, the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by the WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC. It has 195 member states.
  • It intends to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Reports

  • IPCC assessments provide governments, at all levels, with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. They are a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change.
  • IPCC reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

Headline : Mobile scheme to quit tobacco has over 2 million users in India

Details :

In News:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released its 7th report on global tobacco epidemic.
  • The report analyses national efforts to implement the most effective measures from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

 

About: Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

  • The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is a treaty adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2003.
  • This World Health Organization (WHO) treaty came into force in 2005.
  • The FCTC, is a supranational agreement that seeks “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke“.
  • To achieve this, it seeks to enact a set of universal standards stating the dangers of tobacco and limiting its use in all forms worldwide
  • Demand reduction provisions: The core demand reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are:
    • Price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco
    • Non-price measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, including regulation of the contents of tobacco products, packaging and labelling of tobacco products, Education, communication, training and public awareness etc.
  • Supply reduction provisions: The core supply reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are:
    • Illicit trade in tobacco products;
    • Sales to and by minors; and,
    • Provision of support for economically viable alternative activities.

 

About: “MPOWER” interventions:

  • To help countries implement the WHO FCTC, WHO introduced MPOWER, a package of technical measures and resources, each of which corresponds to at least one provision of the WHO FCTC.
  • MPOWER builds the capacity of countries to implement certain provisions of the WHO FCTC.
  • The MPOWER report was launched in 2007 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in-line with the WHO FCTC to:
    • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
    • Protect people from tobacco smoke
    • Offer help to quit tobacco use
    • Warn people about the dangers of tobacco
    • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
    • Raise taxes on tobacco
  • “MPOWER” interventions, have been shown to save lives and reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditure.

 

About: Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

  • llicit trade poses a serious threat to public health because it increases access to often cheaper tobacco products, thus fueling the tobacco epidemic and undermining tobacco control policies.
  • It also causes substantial losses in government revenues, and at the same time contributes to the funding of international criminal activities.
  • In response to the growing illicit trade in tobacco products, often across borders, The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was adopted in 2012.
  • It is the first protocol to the WHO FCTC, and builds upon and complements Article 15 of the WHO FCTC, which addresses means of countering illicit trade in tobacco products, a key aspect of a comprehensive tobacco control policy.
  • The Protocol has the objective of eliminating all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products through a package of measures to be taken by countries acting in cooperation with each other.

 

News Summary:

  • About 1.1 billion people are currently smokers, out of which about half of those who use tobacco will die as a result.
  • In 2017, a Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) found that 38.5 per cent of adult smokers and 33.2 per cent adult users of smokeless forms of tobacco had attempted to quit.
  • The WHO’s 7th report on global tobacco epidemic “Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies” was recently released, special reference about India’s efforts in helping smokers quit.

Findings

At the world level:

  • Remarkable progress has been made in global tobacco control since MPOWER was introduced.
  • Progress is being made, with 2.4 billion people living in countries now providing comprehensive cessation services (2 billion more than in 2007). However, only 23 countries provide cessation services at best-practice level.
    • Tobacco cessation services include national toll-free quit lines, “mCessation” services to reach larger populations via mobile phones, counselling by primary health care providers and cost-covered nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Nearly two thirds of countries (121 of 194) – comprising 63% of the world’s population – have now introduced at least one MPOWER
  • However, the report reveals that lives are still at risk from tobacco, with billions of people living in countries that have not yet fully implemented even one of six effective measures to control tobacco recommended by the organisation.
  • About 2.7 billion people still have no protection from the illness, disability and death caused by tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, or from associated economic, environmental and social harms.

Findings on India

  • India is the second largest consumer of tobacco products, with more than 200 million users of smokeless tobacco and 276 million consumers of tobacco overall.
  • India advanced to best-practice level with their tobacco use cessation services.
  • The GATS survey conducted in India in 2009–10 revealed that 47% of current smokers and 46% of current users of smokeless tobacco planned to quit tobacco use eventually.
  • Considering the high interest in quitting among tobacco users, the Government of India launched a countrywide tobacco cessation programme and national toll-free quitline in May 2016.
  • India is among countries with the highest level of achievement in reducing tobacco use among the youth, and also in motivating users to quit.

 

India’s efforts in helping smokers quit.

  • The National Tobacco Control Programme
  • The mCessation programme being implemented by the Indian government with support from the WHO and International Telecommunication Union’s Be He@lthy, Be mobile

 

About: National Tobacco Control Programme

Government of India launched the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in the year 2007-08.

Aim:

  • create awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption,
  • reduce the production and supply of tobacco products,
  • ensure effective implementation of the provisions under “The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003” (COTPA)
  • help the people quit tobacco use, and
  • facilitate implementation of strategies for prevention and control of tobacco advocated by WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control .

Objectives :

  • To bring about greater awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and Tobacco Control Laws.
  • To facilitate effective implementation of the Tobacco Control Laws.
  • The objective of this programme is to control tobacco consumption and minimize the deaths caused by it.

 

Be He@lthy, Be Mobile initiative

  • It harnesses the power and reach of mobile phones to address the non-communicable disease (NCD) risk factors by educating people to make healthier lifestyle choices to help prevent and manage NCDs via their phones.
  • The initiative uses mobile phone technology to deliver disease prevention and management information directly to mobile phone users, and strengthens health systems by providing training to health workers.

 

About m-Cessation Programme

  • As a part of Digital India initiative, mCessation programme was launched using text messages in 2016.
  • It uses two-way messaging between the individual seeking to quit tobacco use and programme specialists providing them dynamic support.
  • The programme allows people who want to quit tobacco use to register by giving a missed call to a dedicated national number.
  • The programme’s progress is monitored in real-time through an online dashboard that details the number of registrations.
  • The programme has shown strong outcomes in terms of health and outreach, and provides a huge opportunity to help several million tobacco users who want to quit.
  • mTobaccoCessation version-2 has also been launched recently, which can deliver content through SMS or interactive voice response in 12 languages.

Note: MCessation could be included in PHC (Primary Health Care)-level advice to enable maximum reach.

Section : Social Issues

Everything about Tiger, Tiger Census,Project Tiger, Tiger and Ecosystem

Headline : Tiger no. up 33% in 4 years, India has 75% of global population

Details :

In News

  • The 4th Tiger census report, Status of Tigers Co-predators & Prey in India, 2018, has been recently released by PM Modi.
  • According to the report, India has recorded its highest ever rise, at 33%, in the numbers of tigers i.e. from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018.
  • Also, a report on the management of various reserves has also been released based on an evaluation of India’s 50 tiger sanctuaries

 

Why Tigers are important for ecosystem?

  • Tiger is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed.
  • The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.

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About Tiger Census:

  • The tiger estimation exercise includes habitat assessment and prey estimation.

Significance:

  • More than 80% of the world’s wild tigers are in India, and thus it is crucial to keep track of their numbers.
  • The numbers reflect the success or failure of conservation efforts.
  • Census is an especially important indicator in a fast-growing economy like India where the pressures of development often run counter to the demands of conservation.

Note: The Global Tiger Forum, an international collaboration of tiger-bearing countries, has set a goal of doubling the count of wild tigers by 2022.

 

Tiger Landscapes in India: India has five tiger landscapes where Tiger is found:

  • Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains,
  • Central Indian Landscape and Eastern Ghats,
  • Western Ghats,
    North-East Hills and Brahmaputra Plains
  • Sundarbans

 

About Tiger Census of India:

  • In India, tiger census is carried out every four years since 2006.
  • It is being conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), in collaboration with the State Forest Departments, Conservation NGOs and coordinated by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Presence of Tiger in world:

  • India is now home to 75% of the global tiger population.
  • The world-wide population of wild tigers stands at around 3,950 with Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh and Bhutan being other key countries contributing to the remaining 25% count.

 

How do Tigers are counted?

  • Pug Mark Method:
    • In this method, the pug mark i.e. the foot print of the tiger is important.
    • It is considered that each pug mark is unique in itself and by analyzing various foot prints in the areas of tigers, the number of tigers in that area can be counted
  • Camera Trap:
    • In this, cameras are installed in the tiger areas having night vision facility (the ability of the camera to record at night) as well.
    • By recording various tigers in the camera, the number of tigers can be estimated.
  • Poop/scat Method:
    • In this method the number of tigers is counted by poop/scat (droppings of the tiger).
    • The poop is analyzed by DNA sampling and then we can arrive at a more accurate count.
  • Radio Collar Method:
    • In this method, Tigers are captured and are fitted with a radio collar. In this way the tigers can be counted. (This method fails when the concerned tiger enters the salty water)

 

Tiger Census 2018:

  • An area of 3,81,400 square kilometres (sq km) of forest was surveyed.

Phases of Census:The census was carried out in Four phases.

Phase 1

  • Recorded carnivore tracks and signs, data sampling of prey species, vegetation and human disturbance.

Phase 2:

  • Phase 2 consists of remote sensing data by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which partners the NTCA in this assessment every four years in collaboration with state forest departments.

Phase 3:

  • The information was plotted on the forest map prepared with remote-sensing and GIS application.
  • Sample areas were divided in 2-sq-km parcels, and trap cameras were laid in these grids.

Phase 4:

  • Data were extrapolated to areas where cameras could not be deployed.

 

Report Summary:

  • Increase in number of Tigers:
    • India’s tiger population has jumped to an estimated 2,967, a rise by 33% over 2,226 reported in 2014.
    • This is also an incredible 210% rise from 1,411 recorded in 2006

  • Shrink in Tiger occupied areas: Overall, areas occupied by tigers shrunk by 17,881 sq km (2014-18).
  • Reason for shrink in areas:
    • not finding evidence of tiger presence in sampled forests (20 per cent actual loss)
    • not sampling forests that had tiger presence in 2014 (eight per cent).
  • Decline in area occupied by Tigers in three out of India’s five tiger landscapes:
    • The Shivalik
    • Western Ghats
    • North East Hills
  • However, other two landscapes i.e. Central India and the Sundarbans landscapes registered an increase.

Increase in Tiger Population:

  • The maximum increase has been in Madhya Pradesh, a massive 218 individuals (71%) from 308 in 2014 to 526.
  • In Maharashtra, the number has gone up from 190 to 312 (64%), and in Karnataka, from 406 to 524 (118, or 29%).
  • Uttarakhand has gained over 100 tigers (340 to 442; 30%)

State that have not performed well:

  • In Chhattisgarh there has been fall in number from 46 in 2014 to 19 tigers.
  • Reason cited for fall in numbers: law and order problem as large parts of the state are hit by the Maoist insurgency.

Report on the management of various reserves

Best managed tiger reserves in the country:

  • Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary.
  • Madhya Pradesh’s Pench sanctuary

Highest numbers of Tigers:

  • Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers

Maximum Improvement:

  • Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement” since 2014

Worst performers:

  • The Dampa in Mizoram
  • Rajaji reserves in Uttarakhand

Note:

  • No tiger has been found in the Buxa Tiger Reserve (TR) in West Bengal, Palamu TR in Jharkhand and Dampa TR in Mizoram.
  • Also, greater conservation efforts are needed in the “critically vulnerable” Northeast hills and Odisha.

Reasons for increase in number of Tigers:

  • Increased vigilance:
    • Organised poaching rackets have been all but crushed and there has been no organised poaching by traditional gangs in Central Indian landscapes since 2013.
  • Conservation efforts:
    • Increase in number of Tiger Reserves from 28 in 2006, to 50 in 2018, extending protection to larger numbers of tigers over the years.
    • The increased protection has encouraged the tiger to breed and thus led to increase in population.
  • Rehabilitation of villages:
  • The rehabilitation of villages outside core areas in many parts of the country has led to the availability of more inviolate space for tigers.
  • More accurate estimation:
    • Estimation exercises have become increasingly more accurate over the years, it is possible that many tigers that eluded enumerators in earlier exercises were counted this time.
  • Discrepancy in methodology:
    • In 2014, tigers aged 1.5 years or older were counted. The current report has the cut-off age as 1 year.

Milestone initiatives taken by the Government of India through the National Tiger Conservation Authority for conservation and protection of tiger:

  • Legal Steps:
    • Amendment of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 in 2006 to provide enabling provisions for constituting the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
    • Enhancement of punishment for offence in relation to the core area of a tiger reserve or where the offence relate to hunting in the tiger reserves or altering the boundaries of tiger reserves, etc.
  • Administrative Steps:
    • Constitution of a multidisciplinary Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau (Wildlife Crime Control Bureau) with effect from the 6th June, 2007 to effectively control illegal trade in wildlife.
    • Strengthening of antipoaching activities, including special strategy for monsoon patrolling, by providing funding support to tiger reserve States.
  • Financial Steps:
    • Financial and technical help is provided to the State Governments under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, such as “Project Tiger” and “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats” for enhancing the capacity and infrastructure of the State Governments for providing effective protection to wild animals.
  • International Cooperation:
    • Bilateral understanding with neighboring countries on controlling trans-boundary illegal trade in wildlife and conservation.
  • Others:
    • Creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF): The Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) has been made operational in states with 60% central assistance under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger.
    • Online Tiger Mortality database: In collaboration with TRAFFIC-INDIA, an online tiger mortality data base has been launched, and Generic Guidelines for preparation of reserve specific Security Plan has been evolved.

 

About Project Tiger:

  • For conserving national animal, Tiger, Government of India launched the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973.
  • From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states.
  • Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.
  • The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
    • The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple use area.
  • Aim: To foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.

About National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body of the Ministry, with an overarching supervisory / coordination role, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Objectives:

  • Providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives become legal.
  • Fostering accountability of Center-State in management of Tiger Reserves, by providing a basis for MoU with States within our federal structure.
  • Providing for an oversight by Parliament.
  • Addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves.

About Wildlife Institute of India

  • The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change,established in May 1982.
  • It carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Eco-development, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change.
  • WII has a research facility which includes Forensics, Remote Sensing and GIS, Laboratory, Herbarium, and an Electronic Library.
  • The institute is based in Dehradun, India.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Prelims 2019: About Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, About Indian Fox/ Bengal fox, About Chenchu Tribe

News Summary

  • Chenchus believe that beginning the day by seeing the face of the fox is a fortune and thus they have domesticated foxes.
  • However, the conservation of fox falls under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972, according to which hunting or domesticating it is an offence and attracts punishment.

 

About Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

  • The act provides protection to plants as well as animal species.
  • It extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir which has its own wildlife act.
  • It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
    • Schedule I and part II of Schedule II : provide absolute protection – offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
    • Schedule III and Schedule IV : Species under these schedules are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
    • Schedule V : includes the animals which may be hunted.
    • Schedule VI: includes endemic plants which are prohibited from cultivation and planting.

 

About Indian Fox/ Bengal fox

  • Its distribution is in entire India right from the Himalayas till the southernmost point of India- Cape Comorin.
  • The Indian Fox prefers to keep to the open countryside rather than the forest areas.
  • It is found in areas next to the villages preferably in the cultivated fields and the bunds bordering the water channels.
  • IUCN Status of Indian Fox: Least Concern
  • Habitat and Ecology: Grassland and Scrubland
  • Population trend: Decreasing
  • Major threats:
    • Habitat loss
    • Hunting & trapping
    • Viral/prion-induced diseases

Note: Other Species of Fox found is India is the Red Fox (found in the Himalayan ranges and in the North-Western fringes of the dry desert zone). It’s  IUCN status is also Least concern,

 

About Chenchu Tribe

  • The Chenchus are an aboriginal tribe, mainly inhabiting the Nallamala forest range spread across four to five districts in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states.
  • They are a conservative tribal group and have not made many changes in their lifestyle or tried to adapt to modernity.
  • Occupation:
    • The Chenchus still go for hunting rather than farming.
    • They sell the meat for the livelihood.
    • The Chenchus collect jungle products like roots, fruits, tubers, beedi leaf, mohua flower, honey, gum, tamarind and green leaves and make a meagre income of it by selling these to traders and government co-operatives.
  • Origin: The Origin of Chenchu is connected to Lord Malikarjuna of the Srisailim temple.
  • Language: They speak in Chenchu language with Telugu Accent.
  • Religion/God: Largely they follow hinduism (97.63%). Chenchus mainly believe in Bhagaban taru who lives in the sky and look after the Chenchus in all their doings. They also worship Lord Shiva, Hanuman, Goddess of Fire for their safety and prosperity.
  • Social Living Pattern:
    • Penta is the name given by Chenchus to their villages.
    • One penta consists of a few huts that are grouped together based on the kinship pattern.
    • The village elder is named as ‘Peddamanishi’ and is generally responsible for maintaining order and harmony within the family as well as in the village as a whole.

 

 

 

 

Section : Social Issues

Everything about Vultures: Ecological Importance, Declining Population, Threats, IUCN status, Types of Vultures and It’s conservation

Headline : Poisoned cattle carcass kills 37 vultures

Details :

The news

  • Around 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district.

 

Background

  • Vultures are scavenger birds which feed on the carcasses of large animals.
  • Vultures in the country have reduced from 40 million (in 1990) to less than 60 thousand (2012).
  • Till mid of 1980s, Vultures were found in large number in India and often classified as nuisance as they were involved in many birdstrikes. However, today it is rare to sight a vulture.
  • Vultures are the natural cleaners of the environment:
    • By disposing the dead bodies they check the spread of infectious diseases.
    • In absence of vultures, the population of animals like rodents and stray dogs tend to increase leading to the spread of rabies.
  • Hence, the fast disappearing population of vultures is a serious problem in India and there is need to protect the vultures from threats to its survival.

 

News summary

  • Around 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass.
  • Also, an equal number of vultures were rescued by the forest officials and a wildlife rescue team from the Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC), which are in a critical condition.
  • It was a case of poisoning the carcass of a cow by the villagers aimed at killing feral dogs but the vultures died.
  • Most of the 37 vultures that died are Himalayan griffon and a few are oriental white-backed and slender-billed vultures.

 

 

About Vulture species in India

  • Vultures can soar to a height of 7,000 feet and can easily cover distance of more than 100 km in one go.
  • Vultures belong to various species, nine of which are found in India.
  • Of these nine species, four are listed as Critically Endangered, and one as endangered in IUCN red list of endangered species.
  • Species of Vultures found in India and their Conservation Status
    • Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus)- Critically Endangered
    • Indian White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis)- Critically Endangered
    • Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogypscalvus)- Critically Endangered
    • Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)- Critically Endangered
    • Egyptian Vulture (Neophronpercnopterus)- Endangered
    • Cincerous Vulture (Aegypiusmonachus)- Near Threatened
    • Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus)- Least Concern
    • Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)-Least Concern
    • Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayansis)- Least Concern

 

 

Threats to Vulture survival

  • Diclofenac: According to Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), veterinary use of diclofenac is the main threat to the Vultures in India. The widespread use of diclofenac as pain reliever in cattle is the cause of Vulture’s mortality in India.
  • Habitat destruction Developmental activities like establishment of power projects, irrigation projects, industrial units, construction of highways etc. have ruined the habitats of Vultures resulting into decline in their population.
  • Pesticide pollution: The chlorinated hydrocarbon D.D.T (Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane) used as pesticide enters the body of Vultures through food chain where it affects the activity of estrogen hormone, as a result of which the egg shell is weakened consequently the premature hatching of egg takes place causing the death of the embryo.
  • Slow breeding rate: Vultures lay a single egg in a breeding season. Hence their slow breeding rate is also a threat to their survival.
  • Use of poisoned carcasses: Poison used by human beings to kill cattle-marauding carnivores is also a threat to Vultures in India, as consumption of such poisoned carcasses by Vulture leads to their death.
  • Lack of legal protection: Out of nine species of Vultures found in India only one that is the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus) is protected by law and hence lack of legal protection is also a threat to their survival.

 

 

Conservation of Vultures

  • Replacing diclofenac: There is need to evolve an effective substitute of diclofenac, and the present available substitute meloxicam needs to be subsidized.
  • Captive-breeding programme: This with aim to reintroduce Vultures into the wild need to be launched on large scale, particularly for Critically Endangered and Endangered species of Vultures.
  • Legal protection: All efforts should be made to protect and conserve the Near Threatened and Least Concern species of Vultures in India and all the species of Vultures should be legally protected.
  • In situ conservation: There is need to set up Vulture feeding stations through provision of poison-free food, clean water, bone chips and perches within an open-roofed wire-mesh enclosure for safety and freedom of Vultures.
  • Habitat restoration:Degraded habitats of Vultures need to be restored.
  • Protection:Full protection must be given to nests of the Vultures in their breeding habitat.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Prelims Program: National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA)

Headline : Prelims Program: National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA)

Details :

 Climate change: Problems faced in India

  • Climate Change, caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, has emerged as the most prominent global environmental problem.
  • Most of the countries including India are facing the problems of rising temperature, melting of glaciers, rising of sea-level leading to inundation of the coastal areas, changes in precipitation patterns leading to increased risk of recurrent droughts and devastating floods, threats to biodiversity, an expansion of pest and a number of potential challenges for public health (IPCC, 2007).
  • This is likely to threaten the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in India. Several areas have been recognized as being predominantly risk prone to the impacts of climate change.
  • Among these are the most productive coastal areas, Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) and the frequently drought and flood prone regions of the country. To ensure the food security of the country, the resilience of Indian agriculture to climatic variability and climate change needs to be enhanced.

 

About National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) 

  • The Government, through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), initiated a network project on ‘National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture’ (NICRA).

 

Goals of NICRA:

  • To enhance resilience of Indian agriculture through Strategic Research on adaptation and mitigation (covering crops, livestock, fisheries and natural resource management)
  • Technology Demonstration
  • Capacity Building
  • Sponsored/Competitive Grant Projects

 

Aim of NICRA

  • To make Indian agriculture resilient to climate change through development and application of adaptation and mitigation technologies.

 

Objectives

  • Phenotyping, physiological evaluation and genetic improvement of irrigated crops (rice, wheat, chickpea) for heat and drought stresses.
  • Monitoring of GHG emissions through flux towers/field measurement in irrigated rice-wheat production system in the IGP (New Delhi) and rice-rice system in south-east peninsula (Aduthurai).
  • Adaptation and mitigation through improved crop management, enhanced water productivity and nutrient use efficiency; and carbon and nutrient budgeting in rice-wheat system.
  • Strengthening real-time data capture on crop health through Satellite Data Reception System and integrate the output to agro-advisories.
  • Integrated crop modelling for wheat and rice for impact assessment and indentifying adaptation strategies at regional level for near and long-term downscaled scenario.
  • Technology demonstration on farmers fields and capacity building

 

Statistics:

  • Realizing that the climate change is likely to have major impacts on agriculture, the Government through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has assessed the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture under different scenarios using crop simulation models.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has conducted climate change impact analysis on crop yields through various centres in different parts of the country using crop simulation models (INFO-CROP and HAD CM3) for 2020, 2050 and 2080.
  • The results indicate variability in temperature and rainfall pattern with significant impacts on crop yields.
  • These studies projected reduction in yields of irrigated rice by about 4% in 2020, 7% in 2050 and 10% in 2080.
  • Rainfed rice yields are likely to be reduced by 6% in 2020, but in 2050 and 2080 they are projected to decrease only marginally (<2.5%).
  • Climate change is projected to reduce timely-sown irrigated wheat production by about 6% in 2020.
  • In case of late sown wheat, however, the projected reductions are to the extent of 18, 23 and 25 percent in 2020, 2050 and 2080 respectively.
  • Yields of irrigated kharif maize may decrease by about 18% in 2020 and 2050 and about 23% in 2080 due to climate change.
  • Rainfed sorghum yields are projected to decline marginally (2.5%) in 2020 scenario and by about 8% in 2050.
Section : Miscellaneous

Everything about Global Energy and CO2 Status Report of International Energy Agency

Headline : India’s carbon dioxide emissions up 5%

Details :

Topic in News

Global Energy and CO2 Status Report of International Energy Agency

News Summary

  • According to Global Energy and CO2 Status Report released by IEA, the global energy demand increased by 2.3% in 2018.
  • As a result the energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7% to 33 gigatonnes in 2018.

In focus: Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, 2019

Global energy trends

Demand

  • Global energy consumption increased by 2.3%.
  • China, the United States, and India together accounted for nearly 70% of the rise in energy demand.
  • India saw primary energy demand increase 4% accounting for 11% of global growth.
  • Growth in India was led by coal (for power generation) and oil (for transport), the first and second biggest contributors to energy demand growth, respectively.

Sector-wise energy demand

  • Power generation accounts for largest share of energy demand (about 50%), followed by transportation.
  • About 1/5th of the global energy demand came from higher demand for heating and cooling systems due to climate change.

Contribution

  • Fossils met nearly 70% of the growth in energy.
  • Natural gas contributed for 45% of the energy growth. (due to strong demand in US and China)
  • Solar contributed to 31% of the energy growth.
  • Coal-fired power plants contributed 35% of the energy demand
  • Oil demand grew 1.3% worldwide.
  • Nuclear also grew by 3.3% in 2018 with new additions in China and the restart of four reactors in Japan.

Emissions

  • The global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7% to 33 Gigatonnes (Gt) in 2018.
  • China, India, and the United States accounted for 85% of the net increase in emissions
  • Emissions declined for Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom

Contribution

  • Power sector accounted for nearly two-thirds of emissions growth.
  • CO2 emission from coal combustion was responsible for over 0.3°C of the 1°C increase in global temperatures over pre-industrial levels.
  • Thus coal is the single largest source of global temperature increase.

Country-wise emissions

  • India saw the largest rise in CO2 emissions with 4.8% over last year.
  • CO2 emissions in China grew by 2.5%
  • US saw an emissions rise of 3.1%.
  • Europe and Japan actually saw a dip in emissions.
  • India contributes to 7% to the global carbon dioxide burden.
  • USA is the largest emitter responsible for 14% of global emissions

Note: The important data from the report is collated for use in mains examination wherever appropriate.

Section : Environment & Ecology