Published: Monday 30 June 1997

The Kerala forest department will soon be setting up a biodiversity research centre and a eco-habitat cerntre, said the state forests minister P R Kurup. According to Kurup, the Rs 5-crore project, expected to be completed in five years, would come up in Karmur district. The centre would help coordinate the govrnment's efforts at identifying rare forest wealth endemic to Kerala. Such centres would also come up in Malappuram district, the Malabar region and southern Wynad.

The recent seizure of eight panther skins in Debra Dun worth around Rs 50 lakh has revealed the presence of an international mafia operating in the Garhwal region of Uttar Pradesh. The state police said that mafia was supplying animal skins to counter-parts in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia. The animals are killed either by poisoning water sources or by trapping them. Shockingly, most of this illicit business is said to be around the Rajaji National Park.

The Council For Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) recently took strong exception to the US ambassador Frank Wisner's threat to stop collaboration with Indian scientists if India failed to amend its patent laws. The CSIR said that India sees its science and technology as an integral part of a global activity and extends its "arms of cooperation in science and technology across the world".

India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nepal, which is an important conduit for smuggling tiger parts to China. Another MoU is expected to be signed with Russia focussing on the protection of endangered migratory bird species. India would take up the issue of smuggling tiger parts and medicinal plants to Myanmar in the next Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species meeting.

The newly-formed Bhubaneshwar chapter of the Wildlife Society of India in Orissa has urged the authorities to declare the historical Udaygiri and Khandagiri hills as a "no horn zone" for the sake of a large number of monkeys living in the area. The chapter has also decided to initiate measures to ensure the protection of elephants in the nearby Chandaka wildlife sanctuary.

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