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Current Affairs 10 June 2022

CONTENTS:

  1. Rhino reintroduction a hit in Assam Reserve
  2. Rajasthan reels under relentless heatwave
  3. 70 elephants died in Karnataka in 2021


Rhino Reintroduction a Hit in Assam Reserve


Context: The onehorned rhinos of western Assam’s Manas National Park, bordering Bhutan, are expected to have high life expectancy and significant growth in population, the 14th Assam rhino estimation census has revealed.

Relevance: GS-III, Environment

Dimensions of the Article

  1. Key Points
  2. About Indian Rhino
  3. Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 programme
  4. Other efforts to conserve rhinoceros in India

Key points:

  • Manas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tiger reserve, had about 100 resident rhinos prior to 1990, but a prolonged ethnopolitical conflict thereafter took a heavy toll with extremist groups known to have traded the horns of the herbivores for weapons.
  • The current rhino population in the park was estimated at 40

About Indian Rhino

  • The Indian rhinoceros also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros and great Indian rhinoceros is a rhinoceros native to the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and Schedule I animal in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • It once ranged across the entire northern part of the Indian Subcontinent, along the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra River basins, from Pakistan to the Indian-Myanmar border.
  • Poaching for rhinoceros horn became the single most important reason for the decline of the Indian rhino.

Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 programme

  • The WHO-India launched Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 programme to protect and increase the population of the one-horned rhinoceros.
  • It is an ambitious effort to attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.

IVR 2020 is a partnership among:

  • Government of Assam,
  • International Rhino Foundation,
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF),
  • Bodoland Territorial Council, and
  • U.S. Fish & World Wildlife foundation.

Procedure followed

  • The horns of rhinos will be trimmed (in a way that any damage is not done to their internal organs and the trimmed horns will grow back to their original shape within a few months) before their translocation to protect them from the poachers, who hunt them just to take away their horns.
  • Manas National Park was the first to receive translocated rhinos.
  • One of the biggest challenges turned out to be the difficulty in obtaining etorphine — a major component of the tranquilizing drug used to sedate large wild animals like rhinos and elephants.
  • In partnership with local NGO’s and the State Agriculture Department, the livelihood options of the communities living on the fringes of the park are being developed by undertaking agriculture support programs.

Other efforts to conserve rhinoceros in India

National Conservation Strategy for the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros

  • It was launched in 2019 to conserve the greater one-horned rhinoceros.
  • It is a first of its kind for the species in India which aims to work for the conservation of the species under five objectives which include strengthening protection, expanding the distribution range, research and monitoring, and adequate and sustained funding.
  • Its goal is to repopulate Rhinoceros population in those areas also which used to hold the Rhinoceros earlier by augmenting the existing conservation efforts and strengthening them through scientific and administrative measures.

New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019

  • India and four rhino range nations have signed a declaration ‘The New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019’ for the conservation and protection of the species.
  • India will collaborate with Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia to increase the population of three species of Asian rhinos, including the Greater one-horned rhinoceros found in the Indian sub-continent.
  • The declaration was signed to conserve and review the population of the Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran rhinos every four years to reassess the need for joint actions to secure their future.


Rajasthan Reels Under Relentless Heatwave


 

Context: The early onset of the heatwave in the desert State this March — the hottest in 122 years since the India Meteorological Department started maintaining records —has threatened wildlife, taken a toll on the quality of crops, caused the water level in dams to plummet and affected rural employment, as per the latest reports.

Relevance: GS  III- Environment (Climate change)

Dimensions of the Article

  1. Key Points
  2. About Heat Wave
  3. Criteria for Heat Waves
  4. Health Impacts
  5. Effects on Crop productivity

Key points:

  • The early onset of the heatwave in the desert State this March — the hottest in 122 years since the India Meteorological Department started maintaining records.
  • This has threatened wildlife, taken a toll on the quality of crops, caused the water level in dams to plummet and affected rural employment
  • In midMay, the temperature exceeded 45 degrees Celsius in all 33 districts of Rajasthan and the southwest monsoon is expected to be delayed owing to lesser intensity in its northward advancement.
  • This year, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh experienced the heatwave for the highest number of days in the country, as per the study says.
  • Factors such as depletion of water for irrigation, evaporation of surface water and evapotranspiration from the green cover have exerted stress on sustainable water resources.

About Heat Wave

  • A heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western and South Central parts of India.
  • Heat waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent globally due to climate change.

Criteria for Heat Waves

  • The heat wave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
  • If the normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C, then an increase of 5°C to 6°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition.
  • Further, an increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  • If the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C, then an increase of 4°C to 5°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition. Further, an increase of 6°C or more is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  • Additionally, if the actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, a heat wave is declared.

Health Impacts

  • The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
  • It also causes heat cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
  • The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.

Effects on Crop productivity:

  • The temperature extremes have affected pollination, one of the most sensitive stages in the life cycle of a plant.
  • The temperature effects are intensified by a deficit in water and a reduction in the soil-water interaction or water holding capacity.
  • Heat stress has affected the quality of wheat produced as a rabi crop, leaving an impact on its sale as well.
  • The wheat grains harvested during the early onset of the heatwave have shrivelled. They have become thinner than their standard size and the impact is visible in 40% of the wheat produced. This has affected about 3.5 lakh farmers growing wheat in the State of Rajasthan.
  • Crops such as mustard, barley and chickpea have also been affected by the extremely high temperature in several districts.
  • Dams at risk of running dry: As a result of the heatwave, most dams in the State have low storage of water as they need good rainfall in their catchment areas this year to replenish their reservoirs to provide water for drinking and irrigation.


70 Elephants Died in Karnataka in 2021


Context:

Karnataka, which harbours around 6,000 elephants in the wild as per the 2017 census, has lost 70 of them due to various reasons in 2021.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Points
  2. Current Elephant Population in India
  3. Asian Elephants
  4. African Elephants
  5. Threats
  6. Human-Elephant Conflicts
  7. What is Project Elephant?

Key points:

  • Out of 70 deaths, 15 were attributed to unnatural causes, including 10 due to electrocution.
  • While the deaths due to natural causes are not reckoned to be worrying given the elephant population range in the State, the deaths due to electrocution alone underlines the prevailing human-elephant conflict in the State.

Current Elephant Population in India:

  • India has roughly 27,000 Asian Elephants, making it the world’s largest population of the species.
  • According to the Elephant Census (2017), Karnataka has the most elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (5,719). (3,054).

Asian Elephants:

  • The Asian elephant is divided into three subspecies: Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan.
  • The Indian subspecies has the largest territory and is home to the majority of the continent’s remaining elephants.
  • The eldest and largest female elephant in the herd is in charge (known as the matriarch). The matriarch’s daughters and their children make up this herd.
  • Elephants have the longest known gestation period of any mammal, extending up to 680 days (22 months).

Protection Status:

  • IUCN Red List: Endangered.
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
  • CITES: Appendix I

African Elephants:

The Savanna (or bush) elephant and the Forest elephant are two subspecies of African elephants.

Protection Status:

IUCN Red List Status:

  • African Savanna Elephant: Endangered.
  • African Forest Elephant: Critically Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix II

Threats:

  • Escalation of poaching.
  • Habitat loss.
  • Human-elephant conflict.
  • Mistreatment in captivity.
  • Abuse due to elephant tourism.
  • Rampant mining, Corridor destruction.

Human-Elephant Conflicts

  • Elephant-human conflict is a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • When elephants and humans interact, there is conflict from crop raiding, injuries and deaths to humans caused by elephants, and elephants being killed by humans for reasons other than ivory and habitat degradation.
  • Such encounters foster resentment against the elephants amongst the human population and this can result in elephants being viewed as a nuisance and killed.
  • In addition to the direct conflicts between humans and elephants, elephants also suffer indirect costs like degradation of habitat and loss of food plants.

What is Project Elephant?

  • Project Elephant is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched in February 1992.
  • Through the Project Elephant scheme, the government helps in the protection and management of elephants to the states having wild elephants in a free-ranging population.
  • It ensures the protection of elephant corridors and elephant habitat for the survival of the elephant population in the wild.
  • This elephant conservation strategy is mainly implemented in 16 of 28 states or union territories in the country which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • The union government provides technical and financial help to these states to carry out and achieve the goals of project elephant. Not just that, assistance for the purpose of the census, training of field officials is also provided to ensure the mitigation and prevention of man-elephant conflict.


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