Wildlife & Biodiversity

Global Eco Watch: Carnivorous frog enters South Australia, could wreak havoc

Down To Earth brings you the top happenings in the world of global ecology

By DTE Staff
Published: Sunday 07 June 2020
A spotted thighed tree frog. Photo: Sandra Gilfillan @gilfillansandr1 / Twitter

A new study has highlighted the possible impact on the environment of South Australia state in the wake of an alien carnivorous species of frog making its way to the area.

The spotted-thighed frog (Litoria cyclorhyncha) has been found to have established a 1,000-plus population in Streaky Bay in South Australia.

Sightings have also been confirmed on the Eyre Peninsula and at the Adelaide airport.

The authors of the study warned that the frog can kill and eat almost any creature belonging to local species and cause enormous damage to local food webs in the process.

As proof, the authors cited the stomach contents of 76 frogs that they examined as part of the research. They were found to belong to 200 different species. Of these, 60 per cent were beetles, spiders and insects. Native geckos, young frogs and mice were also found.

The authors also warned that if the frog was not controlled, it might spread eastwards into the basin of the Darling and Murray rivers, which extends into Victoria and New South Wales states.

They called on the South Australia government to take urgent measures for controlling the spread of the frog.

Mangroves won’t survive till 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions are not controlled

Mangrove trees will not survive sea-level rise by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are not controlled, a new study has said.

The scientists conducting the research used sediment data from the last 10,000 years to estimate the chances of mangrove survival based on rates of sea-level rise.

They found that if sea-level rise exceeded 6 millimetres per year, which is likely to happen if high GHG emissions continue till 2050, mangroves would not survive.

However, if sea-level rise was less than 5 millimetres, which is projected to happen if there are low GHG emissions, the mangroves were likely to survive.

New biodiversity park opens in Uttarakhand to preserve native species of plants

The Uttarakhand Forest Department opened the gates of its new biodiversity park for the public on June 5, 2020, to mark World Environment Day.

A biodiversity hotspot, the hill state is home to rich landscapes, flora, and plants of medicinal importance. But due to rising incidences of climate change, degrading landscapes, habitat fragmentation, and upscaled development activities, many of these exotic plant species are getting lost.

To conserve its rich biodiversity, a biodiversity park has been set up in Haldwani to showcase the unique biodiversity of the Himalayan state. Of the 40 thematic sections that the park boasts of, a collection of wild edible food plants / trees is of great importance.

Food produced from the hills is gaining popularity across the globe. Many of them labelled as super foods, have an established market. But with little effort to conserve the local wild food varieties, it threatens the existence of the local food biodiversity.

The park finds place for some wild edible plant species, fruits, plants of medicinal and commercial importance, having cultural, religious, and historical significance.

Odisha woman survives croc attack in Bhitarkanika

A 33-year-old fisherwoman from a village in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park, survived a crocodile attack on the morning of June 4, 2020, after putting up a courageous fight against the nine-foot-long animal.

Mamata Jana of Hariabanka village in Kendrapara district was collecting prawn seeds in the Ramachandi river along with other village women, when the incident happened.

“Mamata was in waist-deep water when the reptile grabbed her hand. As a result, she sustained injuries on her leg and hands. When we heard her cries, we threw stones at the crocodile and it let go,” Arati Mandal, an eyewitness to the incident, said.

Jana is now undergoing treatment in the primary health centre at Mahakalapada.

“I escaped the reptile’s grip by jabbing its eyes,” she said in a feeble voice, while undergoing treatment in the hospital. Doctors attending to her say Jana is out of danger and is responding well to treatment.

Environment ministry issues advisory to import live exotic animals

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on June 1, 2020, issued an advisory to streamline and formalise the process of importing live exotic animals.

The advisory has defined them as those that are mentioned under the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but not under the schedules of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

Many exotic species of birds, reptiles and amphibians are imported into India for commercial purposes.

“This is the first time we have given the issue proper thought,” Soumitra Dasgupta, inspector general of the MoEF&CC’s wildlife division told Down to Earth.

“These imports were happening though the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), but they were beyond the purview of the forest departments and the chief wildlife wardens weren't aware about them. Now, with this advisory, they’ll be kept in the loop,” he added.

The advisory has provisions for import and disclosure of exotic animals and their progeny already in India.

A person trying to import a live exotic animal will have to submit an application for grant of a licence to the DGFT, under the provisions of the advisory.

The importer will also have to attach a No Objection Certificate (NOC) of the chief wildlife warden of the state concerned along with the application.

For those people who have already imported exotic animals, a declaration will have to be made within six months, which wouldn't require submissions on the provenance of the animal. However, if the declaration is made after six months, documents will have to be submitted.

“The major reason to do this is to regulate the trade because the issue of zoonotic diseases is also linked to wildlife. With this advisory, we will know how many such exotic animals are there in the country,” Dasgupta said.

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