Cheetahs From Namibia Will be Very Costly Mistake

On 17 September, India will introduce eight cheetahs from Namibia in the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. For years, this park awaited Asiatic lions from Gir Forest in Gujarat, their last habitat, but Gujarat never parted with them. The consequences were severe for the lions: from 2013 to 2018, 413 Asiatic lions died, many due to adverse conditions. The Centre’s switch to cheetahs for Kuno probably means the lions lose their shot at a new habitat. NewsClick contacted leading wildlife biologist Dr Ravi Chellam, a member of the expert committee of the central government to oversee the translocation of Asiatic lions, to discuss the fresh concerns in light of the introduction of the cheetah. He says India must preserve local endangered species and respect Supreme Court orders that enjoin translocation of Asiatic lions. Excerpts from an email interview by Rashme Sehgal.

You once described the introduction of cheetahs from Namibia to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh as a “vanity project”. Why? The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

— source | Rashme Sehgal | 17 Sep 2022

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90% of Marine Species Face Extinction

A new study details the disastrous consequences that would result for marine life across the world’s oceans if current levels of fossil fuel emissions are maintained, with up to 90% of ocean species facing extinction. the study examining 35,000 species of marine flora and fauna as well as bacteria and protozoans, devising a new analytical tool called the Climate Risk Index for Biodiversity (CRIB). Under the current level of emissions, which the United Nations said in 2019 were on track to raise global temperature by 3-5° Celsius, nearly 90% of marine species would be at high-to-critical risk of being wiped out and 85% of those species’ native habitats would be affected, on average.

— source | Aug 22, 2022

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How Animal Senses Reveal Hidden Realms Around Us

ED YONG: So, this book is about the incredible ways in which other animals sense the world around us. At the core of it is a concept called Umwelt, the idea that each creature has its own sensory bubble, its own particular sets of sights and sounds and textures and smells that it can perceive but that other animals might not be able to. So, my eyesight is very sharp, my fingers are very sensitive, but I can’t detect the magnetic field of the Earth in the way a turtle or a songbird can. I can’t detect ultraviolet light that bees or actually most other sighted animals can. I can’t see — I can’t detect the electric field surrounding other creatures in the way that a shark or a platypus can. Every creature has its own set of — has its own sensory world. It’s only perceiving a thin sliver of the fullness of reality. So, An Immense World is a journey through those other worlds. It’s a way of expanding our understanding of the world around us through the eyes and noses and ears of the other creatures that we share this planet with.

First, that I think that the Unwelt concept is incredibly humbling, right? Like, our senses give us this powerful illusion that we are experiencing all there is to perceive. Our subjective experience of the world feels total. But it isn’t. That’s an illusion. We are only getting a small part of what there is to perceive.

The second thing is I think it shows the even, like, mundane and boring aspects of the world to be full of wonder and magic. You know, when I walk my dog Typo around our neighborhood, by looking at what he’s smelling, I understand that there’s so much in even the most familiar of streets that he can perceive but I can’t. And to the nose of an albatross, the supposedly

— source | Jul 15, 2022

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How Animals See Themselves

Spectacle floods into my eyes whenever I watch a wildlife documentary. A vortex of small fish is gradually picked off by waves of oceanic predators. Snakes chase after marine iguanas. Giraffes clash at sunset.

While the nature shows I grew up with were more like didactic lectures, their modern counterparts — all of which seem to have the word “Planet” in the title — have the bombast of summer blockbusters. Technological advances are partly responsible. Wild creatures are difficult to film, and when footage is fleeting and scarce, narration must provide the intrigue and flair that the visuals lack. But new generations of sophisticated cameras can swoop alongside running cheetahs at ground level, zoom in on bears cavorting on inaccessible mountainsides and capture intimate close-ups of everything from wasps to whales. Shots can now linger. Nature documentaries can be cinematic.

But in the process, they have also shoved the square peg of animal life into the round hole of human narratives. When animals become easier to film, it is no longer enough to simply film them; they must have stories. They must struggle and overcome. They must have quests, conflicts, even character arcs. An elephant family searches for water amid a drought. A lonely sloth swims in search of a mate. A cheeky penguin steals rocks from a rival’s nest.

Nature shows have always prized the dramatic: David Attenborough himself once told me, after filming a series on reptiles and amphibians, frogs “really don’t do very much until

— source | Ed Yong | Jun 20, 2022

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Dams drove an Asian dolphin extinct. They could do the same in the Amazon

For decades it was the only freshwater dolphin species in the world not considered threatened by human activity. The tucuxi of the Amazon held out even as similar species in South America and Asia were dammed in, poisoned, or killed as bycatch; one is considered to have gone extinct.

Now, the tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis) has finally succumbed: in the latest assessment for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, this river dolphin has been declared endangered, with threats arising from entanglement in fishing nets to damming of rivers. Those are the same factors that threaten the pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), with which the tucuxi shares a habitat and which was itself declared endangered in 2018.

The pink river dolphin, famous for its color and a central figure in Amazonian folklore, is more docile and an easier subject for scientists to study. Researchers are now seeking to find out more about each of the two Amazonian dolphin species and understand their peculiarities.

A study published in 2019 estimated an abundance of both species in the Tefé River and Lake Tefé, which lie in the interior of Brazil’s Amazonas state. It found that the tucuxi

— source | Sibélia Zanon | 21 Apr 2021

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Air pollution makes it tough for pollinators to stop and smell the flowers

Common air pollutants such as those found in car exhaust fumes react with floral scents, leading to reduced pollination by insects, according to new research. Researchers used a fumigation facility to control levels of pollution over an open field of mustard plants and observed the effects of these pollutants on pollination by local, free-flying insects. The presence of air pollution resulted in up to 90% fewer flower visits and one-third less pollination than in a smog-free field. The largest decrease in pollination came from bees, flies, moths and butterflies.

— source | Liz Kimbrough | 10 Feb 2022

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