Wildlife & Biodiversity

Global Eco Watch: Major ecological happenings of the week (July 8 – July 14)

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

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Sunday 14 July 2019
A Red Fox. Photo: Getty Images
A Red Fox. Photo: Getty Images A Red Fox. Photo: Getty Images

Half of Norway’s red foxes ingest rat poison

Researchers have found that substances used in rat poison in half of the red foxes they studied, according to a media report.

Hunters collected faecal samples from healthy foxes shot during the country’s hunting season. They then handed over the samples, 163 in number, to scientists at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

On testing, rat poison was found in over half of the 163 fecal samples.

The rat poison causes internal bleeding among rodents. In foxes, females may have difficulty getting pregnant, can abort more easily or have fewer pups in each litter.

Norway had banned the use of rat poison by private individuals in 2014. However, the research shows that it is still very much in use.

Centre initiates project to save Great Indian Bustard

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on July 12 told the Lok Sabha that it had initiated a Rs 33.85 crore project to conserve and protect the 130 Great Indian Bustards left in India, according to a media report.

The project, titled ‘Habitat Improvement and Conservation Breeding of Great Indian Bustard – An Integrated Approach’, aims at building up a captive population of the Great Indian Bustard and to release the chicks in the wild for increasing the population.

The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra are involved in the programme.

According to government figures, Maharashtra got Rs 4.79 crore and Rajasthan Rs 3.12 crore between 2015 and 2019 for the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard.

Mediterranean’s sharks disappearing

A new study has found that shark populations in the Mediterranean Sea are disappearing and fast, according to a media report.

According to the study, more than half of shark and ray species in the Mediterranean are under threat, and almost a third of them have been fished to the brink of extinction.

The study blamed overfishing and plastic pollution as the main threats. Libya and Tunisia’s fish industries catch about 4,200 tonnes of sharks a year—three times that of the next biggest Mediterranean fisher, Italy, according to the report.

While some shark species are caught as food, most are caught as bycatch.

While some species are targeted for food, many of the sharks fished in the Mediterranean are bycatch caught up in nets set for other fish.

US Scientists discover gene to optimise plants’ ability to store carbon

A new study done by American scientists in California has discovered a gene that determines how deep a plant’s roots go and thus store carbon in a more stable manner, according to a media report.

Plants capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it below the ground in their roots. The deeper the root system, the more stable the storage.

In a new study published in the journal Cell on July 11, 2019, scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California wrote that they had discovered a gene that could help this process.

The gene, called EXOCYST70A3, determined how deep the thale cress plant’s roots grew in soil. By altering it, the scientists found they could prompt the thale cress plant’s root system to grow more deeply.

This gene is found in all plants and could thus change the way plants capture and store carbon.

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