• India, with the world’s largest wild tiger population, topped in the trafficking of tigers and tiger body parts over 19 years since 2000, a new TRAFFIC analysis from Geneva has revealed. The report titled ‘Skin and Bones Unresolved: An Analysis of Tiger Seizures from 2000-2018’ was the fourth in a series on tiger trade by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network headquartered in the United Kingdom. Apart from tiger skin and bones, live tigers are also traded illegally in a number of cases. India is the country with the highest number of seizure incidents (463, or 40% of all seizures) as well as tigers seized (625). In terms of various body parts seized, India had the highest share among countries for tiger skins (38%), bones (28%) and claws and teeth (42%). The top three countries with the highest number of seizure incidents were India (463 or 40.5% of total seizures) and China (126 or 11.0%), closely followed by Indonesia (119 or 10.5%).
• The study was launched to coincide with discussions around the trade in tigers and other big cat species at the 18th meeting of governments that are parties to the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. Currently, there are around 3,900 tigers left in the wild, the bulk of them in India.
INDIA LARGEST SO2 EMITTER IN WORLD: GREENPEACE
• India is the world’s largest emitter of anthropogenic sulphur dioxide, which is produced from coal burning, and greatly contributes to air pollution, a study claimed on August 19. According to an analysis of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) data released by environmental NGO Greenpeace on August 19, India has more than 15% of all anthropogenic sulphur dioxide (SO2) hotspots in the world detected by the OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) satellite.
• The major SO2 emission hotspots in India are Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh, Neyveli and Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Talcher and Jharsuguda in Odisha, Korba in Chhattisgarh, Kutch in Gujarat, Ramagundam in Telangana and Chandrapur and Koradi in Maharashtra. The vast majority of plants in India lack flue-gas desulfurization technology to reduce their air pollution, according to the analysis. The NASA data also highlights other hotspots across the globe, with the Norilsk smelter complex in Russia being the largest SO2 emission hotspot in the world, followed by Kriel in Mpumalanga province in South Africa and Zagroz in Iran. However, as per country-wise world rankings, India was found at the top position in emitting SO2 as it has the maximum hotspots.
• The report said SO2 emissions are a significant contributor to air pollution. The largest source of SO2 in the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels in power plants and other industrial facilities. In December 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had introduced for the first time SO2 emission limits for coal power plants with an initial deadline to retrofit technology to control SO2 emissions from power generation by December 2017. At the request of the Ministry of Power and power plant operators, this was later extended till December 2019 for power plants in Delhi-NCR and till 2022 for some other power plants across the country through a Supreme Court order, the NGO said.
• The BASIC countries held its 28thMinisterial meeting on Climate Change from 14th to 16th August in Sao Paulo, Brazil. BASIC countries represent one-third of world’s geographical area and nearly 40% of the world’s population. It is a bloc of four large newly industrialized countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – formed by an agreement on 28 November 2009.
• The BASIC countries reiterated their commitment to work together with all parties in an open, transparent, inclusive and Party-driven manner to achieve a balanced and comprehensive outcome on all remaining items of the Paris Agreement Work Programme. The Ministerial meeting was held in the run-up to the UNFCC Conference of Parties (COP-25) meet to be held later in the year from 2nd to 13th December.
DISCOVERY, WWF TIE UP TO PRESERVE SUNDARBANS
• To help save the world’s only mangrove tiger habitat, Discovery India and WWF India have partnered with the Forest Directorate, the government of West Bengal and local communities in the Sundarbans.
• With a vision to create climate-smart villages in the Sundarbans, WWF India and Discovery India are working with government agencies, civil society partners and scientific institutions to build the capacity of village panchayats and local communities to incorporate climate resilience into development planning, thereby helping secure livelihoods, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
• The project will use technology to solve several of the issues faced in the region. This includes building datasets on impacts of climate change on estuarine ecosystem. Through this project, in partnership with the West Bengal Forest Directorate and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research(IISER) Kolkata, two Sundarbans ecological observatories will be set up, each featuring data loggers, monitoring buoys and an onsite laboratory. The project at Sundarbans is part of a global movement, Project CAT (Conserving Acres for Tigers), aimed at building healthy habitats for Tigers by conserving six million acres of protected land across four countries.
• This partnership between WWF India and Discovery India is significant as it brings together different institutions for the benefit of communities and wildlife of Sundarbans. This includes the setting up of ecological observatories, reducing human-wildlife conflict and providing scientific inputs for proper management
ODISHA TO CONSERVE TWO OF ITS LARGEST LAKES
• The Odisha Wetland Authority has approved implementation of an integrated management plan for Chilika, country’s largest brackish water lagoon, and Ansupa, State’s largest freshwater lake, at an estimated investment of ₹180 crore.
• Chilika is spread over 1,100 sq km. Lakhs of tourists visit the lake to watch endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and migratory birds during winter. Ansupa spread over almost 2 sq km is also the wintering ground for 32 species of migratory birds. Ansupa is famous for its sweet water fish, especially labeo bata locally known as pohala. The lake was sustaining from the freshwater supply during the rainy season from the Mahanadi river. With reduced inflow over the years, the lake’s hydrology has undergone serious and visible changes. The water spread area has reduced and fishery resource is almost non-existent.”
• World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-lndia), in collaboration with Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), is holding a month-long to celebrate Delhi Dragonfly festival in the city and its neighbouring regions. The festival is the second such event dedicated to dragonflies and damselflies and aims to carry out a census and raise awareness about its importance. Dragonfly day is celebrated on August 18. Dragonfly act as important bio-indicators of the ecological health of an area. They feed on mosquitoes and other insects that are vectors to lifethreatening diseases like Malaria and Dengue. Not only do they scavenge the skies in adulthood, but eat a large number of mosquito larvae. The first of this census was carried out in 2018, which revealed a total of 51 different species of these insects in New Delhi and NCR.
MICROPLASTICS IN ARCTIC
• Minute microplastic particles have been detected in the Arctic and the Alps, carried by the wind and later washed out in the snow, according to a study that called for urgent research to assess the health risks of inhalation. Every year, several million tonnes of plastic litter course through rivers and out to the oceans, where they are gradually broken down into smaller fragments through the motion of waves and the ultraviolet light of the sun. The new study, conducted by scientists at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute and Switzerland’s Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, found that microplastic particles can be transported tremendous distances through the atmosphere. These particles, defined as shreds less than five millimeters in length, are later washed out of the air by precipitation, particularly snow. It’s readily apparent that the majority of the microplastic in the snow comes from the air
The recent fire is just one of thousands currently decimating the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest and a bulwark against climate change. Wildfires have surged 83% so far this year when compared to the same period in 2018, according to Brazil’s space research agency INPE. The government agency has registered 72,843 fires, the highest number since records began in 2013.
AMAZON FIRE – REASONS
Fires start in the underbrush that has been drying over the dry season. Smoke envelopes still lush patches of fronds and palm trees, as the understory smolders before the upper tiers of vegetation catch fire. Environmentalists also say farmers set the forest alight to clear land for cattle grazing. The smoke from the resulting fires hangs at the horizon like a fog.
ICELAND COMMEMORATES FIRST GLACIER LOST TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Iceland honours the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, as scientists warn that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate. A bronze plaque will be unveiled in a ceremony to mark Okjokull — which translates to “Ok glacier” — in the west of Iceland.
In 2014, the decision was made that it was no longer a living glacier, it was only dead ice, it was not moving. To have the status of a glacier, the mass of ice and snow must be thick enough to move by its own weight. For that to happen the mass must be approximately 40 to 50 metres (130 to 165 feet) thick. According to a study published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)in April, nearly half of the world’s heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate. Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park, which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in early July, is home to, and named after, the largest ice cap in Europe.