Wildlife & Biodiversity

Global Eco Watch: Ice Age woolly rhino unearthed in Siberia

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

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 02 January 2021

A perfectly preserved woolly rhinoceros was found by scientists in Yakutia, in Russia’s far north, according to a report on the science website, Phys.org.

The animal was discovered on the bank of the Tirekhtyakh river in the Abyisk district in Yakutia. Most of its intestines were intact. It had perfectly preserved soft tissue, hair and a lump of fat. Its horn was found near it.

A television station in Yakutia quoted a scientist as saying that the animal was probably three to four years of age when it died due to drowning.

Scientists have dated the carcass to be anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000 years old. The exact time would be confirmed only when it is sent for carbon dating once snowbound roads in the area open next month.

The carcass was revealed due to melting permafrost. A number of other Ice Age animals including mammoths, a foal and cave lion cubs have been found across the region as permafrost melts due to rising temperatures.

Sloth bear dies after getting trapped in a snare in Chittoor


A sloth bear died in a forest in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district after getting caught in a snare set by poachers, according to a report in The Hindu.

The incident happened in a forest near the Komativani Kunta tank near Mosallamdugu village of Palamaner mandal, the paper reported. Residents of the area located the bear that was crying out in pain. They informed forest officials. But help was slow to arrive.

The bear died before forest or veterinary officials could reach the spot. It was cremated after a post mortem. 

The sloth bear, which is native to South Asia, is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Crops grown in Bengaluru have high heavy metal content: Study


Crops grown in and around Bengaluru, using water from some of the city’s lakes, were found to have high levels of toxic heavy metals, according to a study.

The study was published in the journal Current Science in December 2020, according to a report on Phys.org.

The study analysed crops such as coriander, spinach, radish and amaranth grown on soil using the water of the Margondanahalli, Yele Mallappa Shetty, Hoskote, Varthur, Byramangala and Jigani lakes of Bengaluru. They were found to have heavy levels of chromium, nickel, cadmium and lead.

The study noted that the water of the lakes was contaminated with sewage and industrial effluents from a number of factories and units operating in and around the city.

High concentration of such heavy metals could have catastrophic consequences on human health, medical experts quoted in the study said. The only solution was to treat the wastewater flowing into the lakes at its source, the authors of the study said.

Tribal ministry panels draft fresh guidelines for community forest, habitat rights


Gram Sabhas will have more power in the management of community forest rights (CFR) and habitat rights, according to new guidelines drafted by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in December 2020.

An increased representation of various user groups such as graziers, minor forest produce collectors, women and other groups dependent on forests including hamlets also find mention in the two drafts.

The drafts were prepared by the two committees formed by MoTA in February 2020. Down to Earth has accessed the drafts. They have been submitted to MoTA for review.

The guidelines for CFR are aimed at creating community forests resource management committee as an executive arm of the Gram Sabha in managing CFR areas.

India bore maximum brunt of extreme weather events in 2020: Report


Floods and Cyclone Amphan in India accounted for maximum loss of lives globally due to climate change-triggered events in 2020.

The cyclone, which ravaged the Sunderbans on the southern fringe of West Bengal and the hinterland including Kolkata in May 2020, led to “the biggest displacement” in world in 2020 caused by a natural calamity.

These were the findings of an international report Counting the cost 2020: A year of climate breakdown released December 27, 2020. It was released by Christian aid, a relief and humanitarian agency based in London.

Number of ‘bad air’ days rising in Rajasthan: CSE analysis


Rajasthan has lost the clean air gains made during the novel coronavirus disease lockdown and monsoon periods due to the reopening of the economy and hostile winter weather, an analysis by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said December 28, 2020.

Even though the overall average level of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 for 2020 (up till 20 Dec) was lower than the previous year due to the summer lockdown, PM2.5 levels in winter rose beyond the standard in Jaipur and the rest of Rajasthan, a CSE statement said.

Carcass of whale shark found in Odisha


The carcass of a whale shark washed ashore December 31, 2020 three kilometres from the coast near the Baradia river mouth in Odisha’s Balasore district, local fishing workers informed forest officials.   

“The shark was perhaps hit by some ship or fishing vessel deep sea and the body was washed ashore,” Sukumar Dash, Chandipur forest range officer, said.

The 12-feet-long whale shark had scars and evidence of previous entanglements — common for the species because of their feeding habits Dash added. An autopsy is due.

Whale sharks are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and are an ‘endangered’ species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature

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