Wildlife & Biodiversity

Global Eco Watch: Two giant pandas mate at empty Hong Kong zoo

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

By DTE Staff
Published: Sunday 12 April 2020
A giant panda. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

There is some good news coming out of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown. Two giant pandas, Ying Ying and Le Le have mated after having inhabited the same enclosure in a Hong Kong zoo for more than 10 years, according to a media report.

The administration at Ocean Park Zoo is excited as the chance of pregnancy through natural mating in giant pandas is higher than through artificial insemination.

Both pandas arrived in the zoo in 2007. Attempts to get them to mate were begun in 2010 but had not succeeded thus far.

Giant pandas are notorious for their poor chances of mating and reproducing. Female pandas only ovulate once a year.

In addition, a male panda apparently has only about 36 to 40 hours to inseminate the female while she has an egg that's ready to go.

Asiatic lion census postponed

The much-awaited Asiatic Lion census that was to take place in mid-May has been postponed owing to the national lockdown over novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to a media report. Gujarat’s forest and environment minister Ganpat Vasava has confirmed the news.

The census has primarily been postponed since there has not been enough time to make necessary preparations. Usually, the appointment of volunteers and their training is supposed to be completed 15 days before the census begins. This time, the registration has not even begun.

According to forest department officials, the census will now be held in November or December.

National Board for Wildlife hasn’t met even once since 2014

India's National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) hasn't met in six years. Policy decisions and clearances have, meanwhile, come from a standing committee, to the dismay of experts.

On April 7, 2020, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar tweeted about giving wildlife clearances to projects in 11 states.

“I chaired the meeting of the Standing Committee of NBWL today through VC (Video Conference) and approved wildlife clearance for a number of developmental project proposals submitted by 11 states,” the minister tweeted.

The projects were cleared by the Standing Committee of the NBWL.

“Under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA), the NBWL can constitute a Standing Committee, but the board has to meet at least twice a year. But the board hasn’t met even once since 2014,” Ritwick Dutta, environment lawyer, said.

The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister according to the WLPA. The NBWL has 47 members including the chairperson. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Every new government constitutes a new board, based on the provisions of the WLPA, with the new PM as the chair.

The Standing Committee’s function is to regulate land diversion within Protected Areas and Eco Sensitive Zones, making it a purely project clearance body. The NBWL, on the other hand, has the power to deal with policy-level decisions on wildlife.

Elephants killed 527 humans in Odisha in 6 years: Wildlife group

Wild elephants in Odisha have killed 527 people in the last six years and this year, it may only get worse, statistics by a non-profit have shown.

The 527 people were killed between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2020. The state has already reported eight human deaths just six days into the current year — 2020-21.

In the year through March 31, 204 human-elephant encounters happened in Odisha in which 115 people were killed and 132 were injured. “These figures could well be one of the highest human casualties ever recorded in a particular year in any state in India.  Last year’s figures are very alarming considering the fact that on an average, the year witnessed approximately one human-elephant encounter every two days and a human got killed every three days,” Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of Wildlife Society of Odisha, said.

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