Wildlife & Biodiversity

Global Eco Watch: Major ecological happenings of the week (February 24 – March 1, 2020)

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

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Sunday 01 March 2020
A pine marten. Photo: Queen's University, Belfast, UK
A pine marten. Photo: Queen's University, Belfast, UK A pine marten. Photo: Queen's University, Belfast, UK

Pine marten helping British Isles’ native red squirrel recover: Study

The pine marten, a predator native to the United Kingdom and Ireland is helping the native red squirrel of both countries recover, a new study by Queen’s University, Belfast, has said.

The researchers wanted to show the significance of native predators in helping naturally restore ecosystems.

The red squirrel had been replaced in much of its former range by the invasive grey squirrel in the UK and Ireland in the 19th and 20th centuries. The pine marten is a predator of both squirrels.

The researchers exposed red and grey squirrels to pine marten scent at 20 feeding sites across Northern Ireland and set up cameras to capture their responses.

While the native red squirrels, which have long been exposed to predation by pine marten were found to be visiting the sites less and increased their vigilance, the grey squirrels did not.

The researchers said that this is supported by the findings that grey squirrel occur higher in the diet of pine martens than red squirrels and that these squirrels are declining wherever the pine marten occurs.

The ongoing predator recovery in Europe could have immense potential to restore and regulate ecosystems our fractured ecosystems, the researchers said.

The Chinese government has proposed to permanently ban the hunting, trading and transportation of wild animals and disallow their captive breeding and consumption, according to CGTN, a state-run broadcast network.

Beijing proposes to permanently ban harvesting of wild animals

The Chinese government has proposed to permanently ban the hunting, trading and transportation of wild animals and disallow their captive breeding and consumption, according to CGTN, a state-run broadcast network.

The proposal is yet to be passed by the Chinese Parliament.

This had been a long-pending demand of researchers since they had linked coronaviruses, including the one that caused COVID-19, to China’s wildlife trade. These viruses usually get transmitted from animals to humans.

Even as more research is being conducted to confirm the source of the current outbreak, most studies have linked it to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan city, the outbreak’s epicentre.

Three out of four past pandemics had been linked to the wildlife trade and had originated in China. The world's most populous country has long been notorious for its wildlife trade.

Many conservationists have welcomed this proposal of the Chinese government. However, there are apprehensions about whether it will work.

“Banning or even reducing the sale of wild game may not be straightforward and it is challenging to change behaviours that are influenced by Chinese culture and traditions,” a paper authored by Peter Daszak and others of EcoHealth Alliance published on February 5, 2020, said.

“In addition to a strong belief in the purported curative power of wildlife and their by-products, the consumption of rare and expensive wildlife has become a social statement of wealth boosted by economic growth,” it added.

Wife of Kaziranga director accused of violating wildlife rules

Locals living in the vicinity of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) have accused the park’s director, P Sivakumar, of using his position to violate provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Sivakumar’s wife, Sathyapriya, organised a night safari inside the core zone of the park on February 22, 2020 and used high-beam flashlights on a tiger to record a video inside the park, alleged a police complaint filed at the Kohora police outpost under the Bokakhat police station on February 25.

Sathyapriya went in a jeep on the night safari in the Agoratoli range of KNPTR with forest officials in search of tigers, with powerful search lights in tow.

“She has also posted a video on her social media where they were flashing high power search lights at a Bengal tiger and making a video of it. The animal is visible in the video that was uploaded at 5 pm,” the complaint stated. “Besides, there are ample other evidences of Sivakumar posing for photographs with endangered species falling under Schedule I of Wild Life (Protection) Act,” it added.

Sathyapriya deleted her Facebook account after the video and photos went viral.

The complaint was filed by members of Bokakhat-based farmers’ rights organisation, Jeepal Krishak Sramik Sangha (JKSS), whose members include Soneshwar Narah, Pranab Doley, Probin Pegu and Satyajit Doley.

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