Environment, Ecology and Biodiversity | December 2020

Environment, Ecology and Biodiversity | December 2020

Current Affairs on Environment and Ecology,  December 2020

29th December 2020

Portulaca laljii: A new species of the wild sun rose discovered in western ghats

Portulaca laljii is a new species of plant found in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. The plant has unique striking features such as a tuberous root, no hair on the leaf axils, and a reddish-pink flower. The fruits are prolate shaped, and the seeds are brown without luster. The plant has been named in honor of the premiere botanist Lalji Singh. IUCN has placed it under the ‘Data Insufficient category’ of the threatened species.

20th December 2020

Telangana zoological park becomes 1st Indian zoo to receive ISO certification – 9001: 2015

The Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad becomes the forest ever Indian zoological park to acquire the ISO 9001:2015 certification owing to its standard working procedure. 9001:2015 is a Quality Management Standards Certification provided by the ASCB, United Kingdom. Telangana Forests Minister A. Indra Karan Reddy collected the certificate. The certification was given after an audit, and when satisfaction was expressed in the standards being followed in the Nehru Zoological Park in the field of sanitation, food processing, animal breeding, animal hospital and care, and hygiene.


Extinct Himalayan Serow spotted in Spiti Valley

The Himalayan Serow, Capricornis sumatraensis thar, which was considered to be extinct until now has been sighted for the very first time in the cold region of the Himalayan Cold Desert in the Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh. The Serow is peculiar in the way that it resembles a cross between a cow, a donkey, and a pig. It is a medium-sized mammal with a large head, and short limbs, mule-like ears, and a  dark coat. Himalayan Serows are herbivores. Their common habitat is the eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not the trans-Himalayan region. The latest sightings are special, as the Serows are not usually found at that altitude. The IUCN Red List marks them Vulnerable, The are in Appendix 1 of CITES, and Schedule1 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

19th December 2020

Indian Gaur 

The Indian Bison also known as the Indian Gaur  was in news recently, because in an unfortunate event of man-animal conflict in Pune, a Gaur recently lost its life. It has brough the issue of human-Gaur conflict to spot light. Gaur’s scientific name is Bos Gaurus. Its IUCN staus is vulnerable, Indian Government has placed it in the Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.Gaurs are one of the largest species of wild cattle. The gaur is the State Animal of Goa and Bihar.

India promotes use of E20 fuel to reduce vehicular emission

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has released a draft notification for the adoption of E20 fuel as an automobile fuel. The Ministry has also invited comments from the public for adoption of the new fuel.  E20 fuel is a blend of 20% of ethanol and gasoline. It shall reduce vehicular emissions decrease emissions of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons. The fuel is also expected to reduce the oil import charges thereby saving foreign exchange and bolstering energy security.

17th December 2020

 Key Takeaways of the 12th GRIHA Summit

The Vice President of India had recently inaugurated the 12th GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) Summit which was organized by the GRIHA Council from Hyderabad. The Theme for 2020 is Rejuvenating Resilient Habitats. In this, It was observed that the implementation of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) has not been uniformly implemented all across India, and decisions were taken to answer the issue. India called for fast-tracking the process of total de-carbonization of the built environment, and that priority should be assigned to roof cooling.

16th December 2020

Himalayan serow

Himalayan serow  has been sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Himalayan serow looks like  a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig. It’s a medium-sized mammal.  Himalayan serow  has a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark hair. It is ategorised as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is listed under the  Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,

Western Disturbances responsible for sudden temperature fall in north India

Recently, an acute fall in the minimum temperature in Delhi was noted from 14.4 degrees Celsius to 4.1 degrees. It was 5 degrees below the expected normal. Additionally, there has been significant snowfall in the Himalayan range. This is attributed to the fact that that these areas are under the grip of the Western Disturbances. A Western Disturbance, is  an extra-tropical storm that  originates in the Mediterranean, is an area of low pressure. It brings sudden showers, snow and fog in the northwest India.

14th December 2020

9th edition of the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS) was recently held

The 9th edition of the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS) is being held in Dehradun this year. It is Organised by Indian Mountain Initiative (IMI). The  SMDS is organized to deliberate on the issues such as migration, climate resilience,  water security, and innovative solutions for the farm sector, and disaster risk reduction in the Indian Himalayas. The theme for 2020 was Emerging Pathways for Building a Resilient Post COVID-19 Mountain Economy, Adaptation, Innovation, and Acceleration.

India is expected to exceed the Paris Agreement Targets

In the Climate Ambition Summit 2020, held on December 12, 2020, PM Narendra Modi has announced that India has exceeded its planned targets for the Paris Agreements.  India had reduced its emissions intensity by 21% since 2005, installed solar capacity has grown to 36 gigawatts in 2020, renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world and is expected to reach 175GW before 2022. India has achieved 21% of its emissions intensity reduction target as a proportion of its GDP in line with its pledge to a 33-35% reduction by 2030.

Myristica Swamp Tree Frog

Myristica Swamp Tree Frog, a rare arboreal species endemic to the Western Ghats, has been recorded for the very first time north of the Shencottah gap in the Vazhachal Reserved Forest in Thrissur district of Kerala. This frog is active only for a few weeks during their breeding season, they then retreat back to the high canopies of the trees and remain elusive until the next breeding season.

A new form of exploration approved in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve 

 Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve can now be explored by boats and the bicycle tracks are also being finalized. A person can now go trekking as well. The new activities that have been approved are beyond the 1,302 sq km Kaziranga’s core area of 482 sq km.

11th December 2020

Indian Muraingrass has been identified in plateaus of Western Ghats of Goa

The tough novel species of Indian Muraingrass (Ischaemum janarthanamii) known for ecological and economic importance like being used as fodder, has been spotted by the scientists in the Western Ghats of Goa. It has been named in honor of Prof. M. K. Janarthanam.  Indian Muraingrass grows on low altitude lateritic plateaus in the outskirts of Bhagwan Mahavir National Park in Goa.

Aerosols in Indo-Gangetic Plain have led to increased rainfall in the Himalayan foothills.

A Study which was a part of the Department of Science & Technology's  National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) under the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) supported by DST's Climate Change Program have discovered that the aerosols which cause the Indo-Gangetic Plain pollution have also led to the increased incidents of high rainfall events in the foothills of the Himalayan region. This increased rate of rainfall may perpetuate the increased occurrences of floods in the region.

10th December 2020

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

 Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, known as ‘Mini Kaziranga’ is in the news due to the imminent threat of cattle competing with rhinos for nutrition, which poses a great threat to the wild animals. Nutritional stress caused by dry reeds and other such “junk food” of the wilderness has claimed the life of a few rhinos already. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has the highest density of one-horned rhinos in the world and the second-highest concentration in Assam after the  Kaziranga National Park.

Vaccination drive for livestock in the Joypur rainforest region

Anthrax which is caused by Bacillus anthracis claimed the life of two female elephants in the Joypur rainforest in Assam. The elephants had ingested the spores of anthrax and remained buried underground for 25-30 years. The authorities are therefore vaccinating the livestock in and around the region. In humans it causes Respiratory infection In humans, Gastrointestinal (GI) infection,  Hide porter’s disease, a cutaneous disease. Anthrax in the past has also been used in biological warfare.

9th December 2020

The height of Mount Everest has increased by  86 cm

The Foreign Ministers of both Nepal and China have jointly issued a statement stating that the elevation of Mount Everest, which is located at the border of the two nations now is measured at 8,848.86 meters above sea level. The new height is  86 cm higher than what was recognized since 1954  Mount Everest is also known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Mount Qomolangma in China.

8th December 2020

Ramnagar Forest Division has built its first eco-bridge for reptiles and smaller mammals.

Ramnagar Forest Division, in Nainital, has built its first eco bridge. These include canopy bridges for arboreal animals, concrete underpasses or overpass tunnels or viaducts for larger animals, and amphibian tunnels or culverts. Eco Bridge enhances the wildlife connectivity which is disrupted and fragmented by the highways or loggings.

Two new Zoos have been  granted recognition by the Central government

The Rajgir Zoo Safari in Nalanda, Bihar, and the Shaheed Ashfaque Ullah Khan Prani Udyan located in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh were granted approval at the 37th body meeting of the Central Zoo Authority.

7th December 2020

Houbara Bustards

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and two other members of the royal family have been issued a special permit by Pakistan to hunt the internationally protected Houbara bustards during the hunting season of 2020-21. The bird lives in arid climates and its two distinct species are recognized by the IUCN which classifies it as vulnerable.

6th December 2020

The 8th cyclone has formed in the North Indian Ocean region.

Cyclone Pawan is the 8th cyclone formed in the North Indian Ocean Region and has been named Cyclone Pawan. This makes it the highest number of cyclones in a single year since 1976 in which 9 cyclones had formed in the region. Bulbul, Kyarr, Hikka, Pabuk, and Fani were the previous cyclones, and six of these were in the ‘severe’ or ‘higher’ category. 

River Sukapaika is on its death bed. 

Sukapaika which is located in Odisha is one of the several distributaries of the River Mahanadi River.  Owing to government apathy, this river, Sukapaika is being choked to death. Sukapaika’s riverbed has suffered massive erosion and the surface of the river is witnessing unusually high growth of hyacinth, a water plant that is infamous for competing and depriving the other flora and fauna existing in the waterbody of nutrients and thereby sabotaging the biodiversity of the river.

5th December 2020

ZSI says that the population of Malayan Giant Squirrel could decline by 90% in India by 2050

According to a  recent study by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI),  the numbers of the Malayan Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor) could decline by 90% in India by 2050. The Ministry of Environment is the concerned ministry. The destruction of the habitat could restrict the population of the squirrel to Sikkim and North Bengal. The squirrel is mostly found in the evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, mostly from plains and hills at elevations of 50 m to 1,500 m above sea level.