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Photo by Vivek Vegda

as pristine as dew . . .

chlorophyll Managing Editor Nimit Kumar Co-editor Dr. Gipson Edappazham Chief Designer Rohit Valecha Assistant Designers Sophie Bhumi Mehta Chlorophyll is a non-commercial, open access (CC-BY-SA), science eZine (e-magazine) quarterly published by Mahiru Foundation. However, all the rights for images and any other content stay with the authors/creators, except mentioned otherwise. The opinions expressed in this publication are of the authors and may not necessarily be same of Mahiru Foundation and/ or Chlorophyll team. None of these are liable for any unintentional errors. Regd. office: Mahiru Foundation 702/B, Chanakya Apt. Junagadh-362001 (Gujarat) INDIA. Email: Web: To subscribe updates from Mahiru Foundation (incl. Chlorophyll), visit: or use this QR-code

Cover photo: The Thrill of the Sea by Dr. Vera Trainer

editors take The inception of Mahiru Foundation happened in conditions driven by passion of science. Since beginning, we – the team Mahiru – were sure about the things that we wanted to do and things that we never wanted to. Providing platform for activities to spark a love for science has been one of the top-most priorities. Adopting almost non-existent or less popular ways has become style and ‘Chlorophyll’ is the recent most example. Chlorophyll is a quarterly, open access eZine (electronic magazine). It aims to be a space where science is celebrated simpler than in a science journal but it wishes to be more enthralling in how science is being dealt in common media. The first issue of Chlorophyll is rather a highlight and promise of more to come. As of now we have lined up thematic (featured or otherwise) articles, semi-formal research communications and articles that spectrum from mammals to microbiology. Upcoming topics are as diverse too, including sustainable lifestyle, pedagogy etc. Chlorophyll dreams to serve an interesting foodfor-thought for budding generation, with special focus to students – who, when sensitized enough, can prove to be best researchers of their times. Likewise, it is envisaged be a place for early and often, mid-career researchers who can directly connect to the society and bring them real-world fairy-tales of science. A lot of helping hands as we start this ride. Friendscum-supporters like Vertika, Gipson, Vandan and Vivek, from literally extreme corners of a huge country like India kept us going in right direction. The amazing creative team has made it possible to put our thoughtprocesses together in an elegant way. I take this opportunity to dedicate maiden issue of Chlorophyll to Dr. Shubha Sathyendranath and Prof. Trevor Platt (PML, UK) and to Dr. B. Meenakumari (ICAR, India) for being constant inspiration.

January, 2014.

inside Science - By the people and For the people


Gir Lions: A Conservation Chronicle


The Green Snapshot: Keoladeo National Park – Bird Paradise


Disease Potential of Some Rural Lakes Of Kano State (Nigeria)


Marine Harmful Algal Blooms often pose considerable threat. Read how roping in coastal communities helps monitoring onset of such events. by Vera Trainer

Once on verge of extinction, the bounce back of Asiatic Lion population is wonderful saga of conservation biology. Read in what ways inclusion of locals enhanced conservationist’s efforts. by Kausik Banerjee

In this issue, we take a virtual tour to Keoladeo National Park, formerly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. by Arun Raghuraman

This study shows that some of the lifeline ponds of northern Nigeria harbor pathogens and parasites in abundance enough to make one who uses the water, very ill. by Muhammad Ginsau and Umar Ahmad


Phytoplankton of North – Western Bay of Bengal

An insight about marine phytoplankton found in Bay of Bengal, near the coastline of Odisha state (India). by SanjibaKumar Baliarsingh



Grassland – An Important Ecosystem in India

Grasslands are often dry topic to talk or read about. Well, after reading this article, you may not look at them again in same way! by Vivek Vegda

Women’s corner: Menstruation myths

Menstruation is often the least talked topic, even among the women. Here is an attempt that will make men too, to question about worthiness of its taboo. by Sophie


Creepy Crawly of the Issue


Column Announcements

Crab Spider – The Ambush Hunter

Green and Sustainable living by Nitin Kumar Learning Without Walls by Sejal Patel-Chevli


By the people and For the people

Dr. Vera Trainer from NOAA (USA) talks about how marine algae can pose a threat to our recreation or fishery, beyond common-men’s imagination. This happens when the algal cells – toxic in nature - blooms out of control in conditions yet to be fully understood. She tells us her experiences on how coastal communities can be involved to monitor these blooms under government led citizen science programs. Let us witness success story of averting potential danger with participation of people. Keywords: Harmful Algal Bloom, ORHAB, NOAA, Phytoplankton, Toxin, Citizen Science

Students ready to learn toxin testing methods in Shellfish samples

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Living by the ocean can reduce stress and improve human health.The sea provides relaxation through activities such as beach combing, swimming, and fishing. The livelihood of many coastal dwellers depends on the rich bounties of the sea, including fish, shellfish, and seaweed. A frequently unrecognized benefit of living by the sea is the important lessons thatitcan teach us. Enjoyment of the sea can quickly metamorphose into an interest in studying the ocean’s mysteries. Science by the people and for the people is a powerful way to ask today’s most pressing environmental questions in an integrated approach that provides educational opportunities for coastal dwellers. People who live by the sea provide “eyes on the coast” by learning how to collectand analyze routine samples to alert scientists to changes in the marine ecosystem. By

sharing their observations, these citizen scientists open the door to research that might otherwise not have been possible. As an example, through the use of simple tools such as a bucket, a thermometer, a salinometer (a tool to measure salt content of seawater), and a microscope, amateur scientists can alert experts to dangerous levels of microscopic organisms that cause harmful algal blooms, which can make seafood unsafe to eat These microscopic organisms, also known as microalgae or phytoplankton (meaning “plant drifter” in Greek) provide over 50% of the Earth’s oxygen. Fewer than 1% of these phytoplankton can produce toxins, which can be concentrated in shellfish and then consumed by humans, causing illness and even death. Some scientists believe that changes in climate have brought new harmful algal species to coastlines around the world, at

Learning phytoplankton identification in Guatemala — 02 —

Indonesia scientists performing toxin testing times making it difficult for health officials to keep our fish and shellfish free from all toxins, including the new threats to human health. This is where citizen scientists can help. For the past two decades, programs have been established to train coastal community members in Washington State, including shellfish and fish farmers, environmental learning centers, Native Tribes, private citizens, and even children to monitor for harmful algae and their toxins. By collaborating with experts and health authorities, these monitoring programs have provided an essential link to providing an early warning of harmful algal bloom events to managers, researchers, and the general public. Sampling of seawater on the Washington State Pacific coast in a partnershipcalled Olympic Region Harmful Algal Bloom monitoring, or ORHAB, has been integrated with weekly observations of phytoplankton

collected from the inland waterways of Puget Sound in a program called SoundToxins. Together these programs use microscopy to monitor quantities of harmful algal species throughout Washington State’s waters. The important elements of these collaborationsthat ensure theircontinued success include: 1. annual training, 2. participant feedback, 3. adatabase for entering real-time data,and 4. a 24/7 online system for support and reports of harmful species. This model of using citizen science to facilitate more effective management of the sea’s resources has guided training classes in Alaska, the Republic of the Philippines, Guatemala, Indonesia, and India with the overarching goalof bringing collaborative approaches to the study of coastal oceans. These countries are now using microscopy by scientists or volunteers to provide an early warning of

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Citizen scientists sampling seawater in Ketchikan, Alaska

Teaching the scientists of tomorrow — 04 —

changes in their coastal ocean. When harmful algal species are present, toxin testing of seawater or seafood is initiated at remote coastal regions to supplement the standard regulatory testing that is performed in laboratories, often located in larger cities. By using this “tiered” monitoring approach to seafood safety, human health is more effectively protected. Finally, the education of the next generation of young scientists is essential to sustain citizen scientist programs in the future. The first time a child looks into a microscope and observes the fascinating shapes and sizes of phytoplankton, both the student and the teacher are thrilled! Children must be taught to understand the importance of this microscopic world, and the importance of preserving the diversity of the oceans that

can only be achieved through conservation and respect for the world’s resources. By educating these young minds, children will gain the capacity to balance human life as an integrated part of the Earth’s ecosystem In summary, science by the people and for the people is a powerful way to conduct important research and monitoring in a time of diminishing resources. Volunteers and interested scientific colleagues can be recruited to help answer important scientific questions and to assist with monitoring the world’s coastlines. Citizen scientists are a valuable key to our understanding of the future of the ocean world.

Native Tribal students on the Pacific coast of Washington State

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For more information about harmful algal blooms and phytoplankton monitoring, please visit:

Author Biosketch:

Dr. Vera Trainer is the Supervisory Oceanographer for the Marine Biotoxin program at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle WA. Current research activities include refinement of analytical methods for both marine toxin and toxigenic species detection, assessment of environmental conditions that influence toxic bloom development and under standing shellfish susceptibility to toxins in their environment. She directs the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) Harmful Algal Bloom International project focusing on bringing sustainable methods to developing Nations for assessing seafood safety. Trainer is the lead investigator of the Puget Sound Monitoring Program for harmful algal blooms and Vibrio (SoundToxins). Dr. Trainer received her B.S. in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and both her M.S. in Biological Oceanography, and Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Miami, with postgraduate studies in the Pharmacology Department at the University of Washington.

ORHAB partners analyze a shellfish sample at the Quinault Indian Nation lab on the Washington State Pacific coast

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Gir Lions a conservation chronicle

Kausik tells us an incredible story of conservation by involvement of masses. Apart from very few species (rhinoceros and crocodiles to name), it is probably the Gir lions for which India’s conservation ethics, will and governance could be remembered for generations to come. The triumph of lion conservation in India cannot be copyrighted. It relied a deal on sociopolitical landscapes, as much as, if not more than the biological landscapes Keywords: Asiatic lion, Gir forest, Economics of Carnivore Conservation The root of environmental conservation in India probably goes back to the Sanatan philosophy of life which emphasizes harmonious living with nature’s creation (Atharvaveda 11.2.24; Shrimad Bhagvad Gita: 5.19). However, the heterogeneity of cultures along with the pressure of ever growing livestock and human population and the substantial resource demands of the modern sectors have become major impediments in conserving India’s rich heritage of biodiversity and cultural tradition of prudent ecological

resource usage. Fire-based sacrificial rituals and extensive agricultural settlements catalyzed destruction of forests and suppression of local tribal communities during the agrarian colonization of the Gangetic Plains between 10,000 to 7,000 years back. Later, India’s preindependence colonial exploitative forest policies and subsequently post-independence exclusionary forest management often gave rise to polarized conservation debates about the ownership and governance of Indian forests. Situations have further worsened in

Asiatic Lion (R), in compare to its African (L) counterpart. source:

the past three decades. Recent rapid economic and technological changes have improved the lives of millions but there is now tremendous political pressure to improve lives of all people. Development efforts such as large scale expansion of infrastructure, basic amenities such as electricity and water, urbanization, mining, dams, tourism are resulting in unplanned land use change and exploitation of natural resources at an unprecedented rate. With progressive intensification of land use, sedenterization, diversification of livelihoods and land fragmentation through privatization of land tenure driven by dynamic sociopolitical, demographic and economic pressures; Protected Areas (PA) in India are becoming more and more analogous to small islands in a vast sea of ecologically unsustainable land-uses of varying degrees. All these escalated humanwildlife conflicts often resulting into local extirpations or significant range shrinkage of many large mammals while undermining the future survivals of many more. Despite a long history of society’s concern for wild tigers, India’s tigers have declined from about 40,000 to less than 2,000 within less than a century. The latest nails in the coffin, the Sariska and Panna fiascos reflected a paralysis of the Indian conservation machinery as well as critically questioned our age-long conservation governance and bureaucracy. Today when India is struggling hard to save many of her natural resources including the national pride tiger, when many of her rivers and mountains and pristine forests are at stake to the ever growing greed of “naturemafias”, when different conservation lobbies (often with different vested interests and carried away by emotions rather than robust ecological understanding) are pondering about the reintroduction of only large carnivore India lost in last 50 years; the strong, slow but steady conservation success chronicle of India’s lions in Mahatma Gandhi’s homestate of Gujarat could be a lesson to follow

for many. Apart from very few species (rhinoceros and crocodiles to name), it is probably the Gir lions for which India’s conservation ethics, will and governance could be remembered for generations to come.

No other wild mammal on the Indian subcontinent….. has had such a man-caused impact upon its daily life, food habits and behavior as the lion. Few animals have hovered so long between survival and extinction — M. K. Ranjitsinh Recent research investigation revealed that extant global lion populations derived in Pleistocene in eastern and southern Africa expanded during the late Pleistocene into central and northern Africa and Asia. The Asiatic lion, which differs from its African counterpart by mane characteristics, belly fold and other osteo-histological features, once roamed the Asian sub-continent from Palestine to Palamau. Arrival of lions in India, however, is dubious. Lion was not as common as tiger five millennia years ago in the Harappan culture, but there are also records of two-headed lion figures during the mature phase of the civilization. After about 1,500 BC the tiger seems to have lost its supremacy in India and lion took over and made its position in the Indian art-culture-sculptureliterature. Soon, lions caught human psyche as insignia of “a mood of isolation and majesty”, chakravartin or the supreme ruler, power, strength and royalty, a heraldic crest of overlordship, became royal symbols (simhasanathrone of the king; simhadwar- main gate) and later national emblems of many countries (including India). Maiden glimpse of lions in Indian history dated back to the Indus valley civilization (~ circa 3,000 BC) with the discovery of artifacts and subsequently from the Rigveda as Simha to the royal symbol on gold coins during the reign of Chandra Gupta II (375-415 AD). The lion symbolism reached its zenith with the

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the mainland India by rising water causing the first genetic bottleneck that isolated the ancestral founders of the present Asiatic lion population compelling them to inbreed for several generations (O’Brien 2003). By the time the peninsular water receded, much of the mainland populations were extirpated due to habitat loss and hunting. The second bottleneck, less severe but better known, happened at the onset of the nineteenth century when lions got restricted only to the Gir forests and their number declined to around 50 individuals due to hunting and habitat loss. The Kathiawar peninsula was an agrarian-pastoral region even during the Sultanates and Mughals. The exploitation of lions by changing land-use pattern must have come to equilibrium by the early Christian era after the first great phase of colonization was over, but saw unprecedented climax especially under British Raj during the Second Great War. Irreversible loss of potential habitats caused by agricultural and industrial expansion and indiscriminant game (prey as well as lions) hunting accelerated the inexorable extermination of this big cat across its entire range and by late nineteenth century they were wiped out barring occasional sightings (till

image source:

animal’s close association with the Buddhism and during the era of Ashoka (304-232 BC) when Buddhism got the recognition of the state religion. Lion, majestic in a Persepolitan style appeared on the capitals of Ashokan pillars (at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh) proclaiming the ruler’s universal all-encompassing vision of dharma which subsequently became the national emblem for the contemporary India. Lion’s association with the Hinduism was depicted in the lion headed Narasimha incarnation of the Lord Vishnu which is more an iconography than being popularly worshipped. Till date experts argue if the state of West Bengal has ever had lions (as only one Pleistocene deposit of lion fossil has been unearthed from Bankura, western part of the state), nevertheless, the main goddess of the state (Goddess Durga) is being worshipped with her chosen mount (vahana)—a lion; a fact strongly elucidating the tremendous societal influence lions have on human élan vital. However, it took only 3,000 years of human domination on the environment to destroy much of the Asia’s lions’ range. Reconstruction of geological history suggested that about twenty five hundred years back, the Kathiawar peninsula was separated from

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middle part of twentieth century) throughout their range except in the Gir forests and its surroundings in the Saurashtra peninsula of India.

The Latin name Panthera leo persica simply means the lion of Persia. In India, it is commonly referred to as the Indian lion. In Gujarat, it is usually the Gir lion. There is more to the name than semantics: the nomenclature indicates a sense of ownership and belonging. The lion is unaware of it, but who owns them may have a lot to do with their eventual fate. ― Mahesh Rangarajan Understanding the conservation significance of the species, the Junagadh Nawab (amongst one of the 222 princely states of Saurashtra under whose magistracy the Gir forests lied) fired the first salvo for the protection of near extinct lions which was subsequently carried on by his successors till independence. Perspectives were fast changing in the Dominion and Republic of India. Independence was proved to be disastrous and chaotic for Junagadh state. The Nawab went to Pakistan. Gujarat was born as a new state in 1962. Gir was declared as wildlife sanctuary (1965) by the state run forest department. Owing to such turmoil lion number was rapidly declining. It was almost the same time when lions faced second major crisis as its status quo as the National Animal of India was stripped off. The protection regime started by the Nawabs was echoed by the state run Forest Department subsequently. By 1975 central part of Gir (core-buffer concept) was freed from pastoral Maldharis to declare as a National Park. Gujarat continued with its concerted efforts of saving the last lions of India with stringent protection establishment, habitat manipulation and long history of research, training, infrastructure and capacity building and all these efforts and pains and forfeits for years were well reflected in a slow but steady population growth of lions (about

2% annually) during subsequent years with the present figure little above than four hundred. Agrarian expansion could have easily led to irreconcilable conflict with the lions and grazers but there was a sharp change in the perception of the animal from a pest to a game species to be nurtured for princely hunts to a conservation icon in the modern times with a legacy of lion-human interaction based on endurance. Lions were wiped out across India as vermin preying on livestock despite its traditional linkage with local and national cultures and idioms. The big cat has long been associated with royalty but only in Gir did it get a charm of royal protection. When globe was discussing and arguing about alternatives of our ‘formal’ conservation governance, sustainable development and participatory approach in natural resources management (Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD] 1992 at Rio de Janeiro); Gir reached its “lion carrying capacity” and lions started moving out of the Gir forests posing a different management challenge. Simultaneously, lions in India again came into limelight as there sparked a debate between the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh on translocation of few individuals to the latter as an insurance against the risk of extinction due to single site confinement of the species. Politics of ownership overshadowed socio-ecological considerations. But Gir lions did not stop! They had their own strides and without any government or non-government interventions, started pawing their lost historical ranges slowly. Currently lions occupy about 10,000 km2 (spread over 21 tehsils) of humandominated Saurashtra landscape comprising of Gir, Girnar forests, coastal forests near Somnath and agro-pastoral landscape. The formal Protected Areas like the Gir are always under focused management but absence of such attention outside the domain of the Gir compounded by the greed of

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poachers or ire of cultivators whose property were happened to be damaged result into loss of landscape linkages and critical biodiversity beyond recall. Forest Department echoed it promptly. Soon, a “Greater Gir” landscape with the promise of holding maximum lions in their potential habitats was acknowledged and brought about with newer faces of conservation legal status- community conserved areas, eco-sensitive zone et cetera. A consolidated long term conservation proposal for the species has been designed for more momentous management of Asiatic lions in their current expanse. Captive breeding programs, quick capture and management of ill fated and menacing animals and gene bank were made more efficient strongholds. It was felt that exclusionary “fortress conservation” approach based solely on nature conservation and unequivocal objectives of reducing human consumptive use of natural resources would not be able to ensure the future survival of lions explicitly when a chunk of the lion population was in close concurrence of humans. Rather resident communities should be allowed to

rope in. With this context stakeholders from different strata of the society were identified to actively embroil them in the process of lion conservation. Existing institutional mechanisms, capacity and infrastructural frameworks were strengthened further. A multifaceted, inter-departmental and interdisciplinary action plan has been chalked out and its implementation got started immediately after a couple of poaching incidents in 2007.

Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land……That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. ― Aldo Leopold But, unfortunately the traditional landuse pattern in the Gir landscape is rapidly submitting to intensive farming, industry and urban sprawls and current environmental legislations have very little control over it. Presently, Gir lion is surviving in humandominated landscapes of Saurashtra. These

Lion distribution map has two components; A & B. A was excerpted from Antunes A, Troyer JL, Roelke ME, Pecon-Slattery J, Packer C, et al. (2008) The Evolutionary Dynamics of the Lion Panthera leo Revealed by Host and Viral Population Genomics. PLoS Genet 4(11): e1000251. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000251. — 11 —

landscapes are characterized either by rugged terrain with sparse agriculture or forested patches or vast tract of agricultural farmlands interspersed with villages, towns and drainage networks and/or gando baval (Prosopis juliflora) thickets---crucial for movement and respite of lions residing outside Gir. Whenever a species survives in such a framework, its future viability remains always threatened provided we lose the habitat linkages with the source population(s). I believe that scientifically designed innovative land-use policy for the region so as to ensure movement connectivity of different lion populations with the mother population of Gir is crucial for long-term lion conservation. Conservation ethics sincerely embellished with age-old deep-rooted societal beliefs couched with religious sentiments and livelihood securities of the local people have always offered natural environment protection from harm at human hands. Gir has become a single site for a critically endangered species,

with a recorded history of over a century of continued co-existence. During my seven years’ doctoral study from the Wildlife Institute of India on Gir lions, I always wondered what are the factors governed such legendary lion-human tolerance in the Gir landscape. While investigated, I found that despite lions’ occurrence in humandominated landscape, their utilization of productive livestock is minimal. There are several charitable cattle camps (gaushalas and panjrapoles) for unproductive feral livestock in the landscape where few cattle die naturally every day. A significant part of lion population outside Gir procure their food from scavenging these carcasses; while others predate on nilgai and wild pig, plentiful in scrub-forests and agricultural lands and are often agricultural pests. I conclude that it is the economics of livelihood securities (agricultural damage control and predating on less priced livestock) that primarily shapes the tolerance threshold of local communities for lions and contributed significantly for centuries behind

A typical “Ness” (cluster of tribsmen huts) in Gir (Gujarat) — 12 —

such coexistence. However, this fulcrum is very delicate; indefinite increase either in lion population or human population might topple the balance anytime probably as has happened with other big cats elsewhere in India. The triumph of lion conservation in India cannot be copyrighted. It relied a deal on sociopolitical landscapes, as much as, if not more than the biological landscapes. Strong protection regime for lions, multifaceted conservation approaches by different conservation agencies and economic incentives provided to the local communities (tourism, government compensation for livestock predation) are unquestionably the key elements behind the Gir lions’ resurrection. But one should not negate the tremendous cheerful support of the local communities particularly for lions. I firmly believe that reverence of local people towards life forms and especially lions, the pride of ownership, their age-long tolerance and deeply embedded conservation ethics and practices are all the recipes needed for Gir lions to reach at this stage. However with globalization, situation is rapidly changing in all over India and such transformation is more alarming in an economic progressive state like Gujarat. Western utilitarian values are fast replacing local communities custodian role of nature and natural resources; often creating ‘lion hostile’ environ in the landscape. Retaliatory outbursts against lions hitherto unknown in Saurashtra is happening; although very less frequently. Offenders are arrested and legitimately confiscated but that would not unravel the escalating antagonism in public psyche. It is the social values owing to which lions are still surviving in this landscape but their occupancy in the newer habitats are always alarming as the people over these areas

and especially the upbringing generations do not have any memorable experience of living with lions. Their naïveté cause such retaliations. The future of this felid might be at stake--with the increase in intensive farming in the region, ever growing demand for pastures, rapid urbanization and industrialization coupled with other parallel impending human induced projects like rail, speeding highways etc. the fostering mentality is bound to be turned into more and more avaricious. If we, humans, reciprocate, it would cripple the conservation enterprises letting all these long years of our sacrifice for the cause of Gir lion would go into vain. Today lions are occurring at low density outside the Gir but we cannot predict the future. It would therefore be imperative to maintain outer lion populations at socially, economically and ecologically acceptable density, establish other free ranging populations and uphold the carrying capacity of the Gir as it still holds the best promise for lion conservation. Finally it is only our people who have saved our air, water, soil, forests, peacocks, rhinos, monkeys, crocodiles, bustards and probably the Tigers! The cause of instigation was sometime economical or religious or even aesthetic. We ought to understand the critical issue of economics of lion conservation and need to make sure that the paybacks whether economic, ecological, religious, scientific and/ or aesthetic from such long term preservation should percolate down evenly to every stratum of the society. A single slip in our stride would take us a point beyond redemption. It is high time to imbibe into our upcoming generation the harmonious conservation ethics to such an extent that help them to carry over the noble job that their forefathers did!!

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Useful Links:

Author Biosketch: Dr. Kausik Banerjee has been connected to Asiatic Lions and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun since almost a decade. He developed his fascination towards these magnificent mammals since his master’s, which made him to get his doctorate studying this same species. His love especially towards these big cats – and vice-a-versa – is well-known among locals of lion habitat i.e. Gir. As evident from his email id, he is enthusiastically available to talk more on lions at: — 14 —


The Green Snapshot Keoladeo National Park – Bird Paradise


For Arun, each visit of Keoladeo over the years has been a unique experience. This time, he summarizes the changes that he witnessed which place has undergone, richness of species, the terrain, the colors. In case this was enough to make you pack your bags, he guides you how to reach there and also, once been there – what to do and what not to! Keywords: Bharatpur, Bird-watching, Ghana bird sanctuary, Keoladeo, Siberian cranes,

Jackals on the road

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My first visit to Keoladeo was filled with mammals since the park was dry; Jackals and wild boar crossed our paths regularly while nilgai and sambhar were seen easily. A dusky eagle owl had nested close to the road and a Eurasian eagle owl dared to take a peek at us. Black shouldered kites were aplenty while the caracal hunting rodents in the late evening was a pleasant surprise. The second trip, a couple of years later was one where I had my first sightings of a number of birds, most memorable of which were the large tailed and grey nightjars. With much more water in the park compared to earlier, we found painted storks fishing and a purple herons catching frog. We found a pair of Sarus cranes in nearby fields and saw them dance, multiple monitor lizards and a python lay basking in the winter sun. Despite a section of the park being closed due to a tiger having moved in

from Ranthambore, there was much to see. Earlier this year I went down to Keoladeo early November instead of my annual pilgrimage every December. The migratory birds were fewer, but surprisingly we spotted over eleven snakes in two days including cobras, pythons, rat snakes, keel-backs and water snakes Once considered an impregnable city and capital of the Jat kingdom, Bharatpur’s claim to fame has been the Keoladeo National Park, locally also called as Ghana. At a distance of about 180 km from Delhi, 55 km west of Agra and 35 km from Mathura, this little city in Rajasthan is quite easily accessible through rail and buses from any of these places. However personal vehicles maybe the most convenient transportation for the time strapped traveler considering most buses, despite their high frequency are overloaded local buses. While

Sarus Cranes Calling — 16 —

Beauty of Keoladeo Collage by Arun

there are other sights like the Lohagarh fort, museums and temples, the main attraction is the Keoladeo National Park that brings in over a 100,000 visitors annually, around 45,000 of which are foreign nationals. Considered by many as the one of the best bird watching sites of Asia, Keoladeo also draws a huge crowd of bird watchers and ornithologists. Spread over an area of 29 square kilometers, Keoladeo has areas of dry grasslands, woodlands, and woodland swamps, but wetlands cover up to a third of the park. The park is home 366 bird species, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, 7 amphibian species,7 turtle species, and a variety of other invertebrates. It had been the private duck shooting preserve of the Maharaja of Bharatpur since mid-19th century. Governor General having shot 4273

birds in a single hunt. with one of the hunts led by the then Governor General having shot 4273 birds in a single hunt. During the last few decades though, active efforts have been taken to safeguard the reserve with the park being declared a bird sanctuary in 1976 and a world heritage site in 1985. While the residents are present throughout the year in large numbers, the greatest attractions are the migratory birds, which come down during the winters. It is an important wintering site for various waterfowl and has a healthy variety of raptors and land birds. It had been the wintering ground for the critically endangered Siberian cranes, the last pair of which was seen in 2002.While there have been a few issues in the past with the welfare of the park, specifically with the release of water, grazing of cattle and feral cattle competing with the

Common Kingfisher

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Darter Fishing

wildlife for forage, the authorities have in the recent years attempted to actively resolve them.

the entire day inside. Most lodges and homestays provide these packed lunches on request.

Commute within the park can be done on foot, bicycles (available to rent at the main gate) or through hired rickshaw pullers who are excellent at spotting and identifying birds. There are also guides who would be able to find the more difficult to spot species in and around the park especially since there are areas inside the park where rickshaw pullers are not allowed or not willing to go. Motor vehicles are allowed till the first barrier. A number of lodges, home-stays and hotels exist close to the main gate and one hotel run by the ITDC is found inside the park. There are a couple of canteens within the park but these stock bare essentials in terms of biscuits, wafers, soft drinks and water some of which runs out in times of heavy crowds. It is recommended to carry your own food and water inside the park especially if the intension is to spend

For those willing to walk a bit, there are multiple paths off the main road where rickshaws may not be able to go. It is quite peaceful especially if there is no work being done on the boundaries. With lesser disturbance, there is also a greater chance to spot birds and reptiles. A temple within the boundaries also houses a water tank full of turtles and a chance to spot thrushes and flycatchers among its bushes. Wildlife aside it is also a popular picnic spot for the casual traveler, many of who stop by on their way from nearby major cities for a break. Of course the only real requirement there is the time and patience to see what you want, whether it is the winter sun shining through the green trees or the painted stork catching a dumfounded catfish, Keoladeo has enough surprises for any nature lover.

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Useful Links:

Getting There:

• By Air: Agra ( 55 km), Delhi (184 km), and Jaipur(176 km) • By Rail: Bharatpur junction (5 km) • Nearby cities: Delhi (184 km), Mathura (39 km), Alwar (117 km) • Best Time: Nov to March • Entry fees: Rs. 50 (Indian), Rs. 10 (student), Rs. 200 (foreigner) • DCF: Dr. Khayati Mathur (Ph: +91 (5644) 222777, Mobile: 9214069452) • Nearby attractions: Lohagarh Fort, Government Museum, Deeg • Accommodation: - Hotel Saras -RTDC Hotel Saras, Fatehpur Sikri Road,Bharatpur – 321001, Mobile: +91 94145 83445 | Tel: +91-05644-223790 - Swaraj Resorts, Opp Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, NH-11, Tel : +91 9251033673


• Do carry your own food and water if you intend to spend the day inside the park • Do carry a pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens if you have one • Do make your bookings before you reach, it can get very crowded on peak season weekends • Do enjoy the birding

• Do not litter • Smoking is not allowed within the park and please refrain from it • Do not disturb the wildlife • Do not venture off the paths on foot


About Biosketch: Arun Raghuraman is a software engineer who is passionate about natural heritage of India and grabs every opportunity to quench his wanderlust. Often his partner will be his trusted camera with which he will treasure magnificent moments among wildlife. Upon finding him an interesting personality you may know more of him via his blogger profile - at — 21 —

Disease Potential of some rural lakes of Kano State (Nigeria)

Muhammad Ginsau and Umar Ahmad wondered how safe are the pond-waters in their area – Kano state, Nigeria. These ponds serve as lifeline for many here who use it as prime source of freshwater. Surprisingly, they found presence of pathogens and parasites in the samples. Read more to find out what they found and, how. Key Words: Pond, Pathogen, Parasite, Vector, Disease Potential, Microscopic study, Community health

Map showing Kano state (Nigeria) and sampling region. Ponds are primary source of drinking water in rural areas around the world. In semi-arid areas of Sudan-savanna zone, like Kano state of Nigeria, this is even more prominent during dry spells of the year with few running streams around. People (including children) have to travel far to fetch water from these in jerry cans/pots, loading them on donkeys or carts.

They use this water for daily chores ranging from direct drinking or cooking to cleaning animals. A study by World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998 told us that only 61% people in developing countries have proper access to potable water, that too mainly in urban areas. The same study also estimated that up to 80% of health issues in the developing countries

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are related to water and sanitation. Billions lack ensured safe supply of drinking water and every year millions of children in developing countries die from diarrhea. The ponds – easily accessible to common men - may be harboring disease-causing organisms such as pathogenic bacteria and parasites. Some common examples of pathogens are Escherichia coli which causes diarrhea, crustacean such as Cyclops transmits Dracunculus medinensis. Bare skin contact with Schistosome cercaria and Leechs itself is among risks. Moreover, these ponds provide breeding site for many vectors such as mosquitoes, houseflies, tsetse flies, fleas etc. It is therefore essential to study - and if required, to monitor - ponds for their microbial and parasitic disease potentials. Over the six months period, sixteen ponds in some rural areas of Kano State (see map) were sampled. The study area comprised towns and villages in Wudil, Garko, Albasu, Sumaila, and Takai administrative boundaries. The ponds are located at Albasu, Busaye, Darki, Durbundai, Huguma, Hungu, Italiya, Kachako, Kadanya, Katsale, Kwanar Sumaila, Lamire, Panda, Takai, Utai and Zunbuwa – all along or close to Wudil–Bauchi road. Part of this road from Wudil to Takai was in focus. The area falls approximately between 11o 30’-11o 55’ N and 8o 45-9o 25’ E. Annual rainfall (mostly during May-September) ranges 850-870mm, while temperature stays between 26-33oC. Relative humidity in the region is always low and has been reported to range between 40-51.3%. We collected monthly samples during November, 2008 to April, 2009 with the help of plankton net. We followed standard procedures for sample collection, microscopy and other pathogen tests. Water was available

in all ponds for the period of November to January. Lamire and Utai ponds showed depletion of water in February, whereas water was available only in Durbundai and Kwanar Sumaila ponds for the months of March and April. We found that Escherichia coli, Shigellae, cercaria of Schistosome, cysts of Entamoeba histolytica, Cyclops, leech and larvae of anopheles mosquito were present in these ponds. All of these cause various diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, schistosomiasis, dracunculiasis and amoebic dysentery to name a few. Month of November seen almost all major pathogens or parasites present abundantly, whereas none of those were found in samples March onwards. Larvae of anopheles mosquito were abundantly present in all the ponds till January with abundance in month of November. E. coli lasted same but were present in half of the ponds with exception of abundance in Panda pond. Cyclops and Leech were only present in few ponds with exception of high abundance in Kwanar Sumaila and Busaye ponds, respectively. However, Cyclops were not found January onwards while Leech were abundant till February. Among all, Katsale pond was found to be harboring least of these organisms in concern. This study calls for a further detailed experiments which include more physicochemical and environmental parameters. We especially recommend further identification of Shigella species. These results tell us how important monitoring our freshwater sources could be and detailed studies will give us knowledge on how to do it.

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References: Ahmed, U.A and Ahmed, M.M. (2011). Morphological Identification of Malaria Vectors within Anopheles species in parts of Kano State, Nigeria. Bayero Journal of Pure and Applied Science . 4 (2): 160 – 162. American Public Health Association (APHA) (2005). Standard methods for examination of water and wastewater, 21st edition, eds. Eaton, A.D. Clescer, L.S., Rice, E.N. and Greenberge, A.E. Port City Press, Baltimore, USA. World Health Organization (1998). World Health Report – Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. Vol. III surveillance and control of community supplies, 2nd edition. Useful links:

Author Biosketch:

Muhammad Auwal Ginsau (L) is Lecturer at Department of Laboratory Science Technology, School of Science and Technology, Jigawa State Polytechnic, Dutse. Ahmed Umar Adamu (R) works as a Lecturer at Jigawa State College of Remedial and Advance Studies, Kafin Hausa. If you found their study interesting, you can reach them at

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Phytoplankton of North-Western Bay of Bengal

SATCORE project-team at Berhampur University, Odisha has been exploring the marine plants (phytoplankton) in the coastal area under the influence of Rushikulya River-Estuary. Their principal interest is to understand the association of ecological parameters with the distribution of phytoplankton community structure. In this article Sanjiba tells us why we need to study such organisms in sea water. Keywords: Bay of Bengal, Bloom, Microscopy, Phytoplankton, Primary Production Phytoplankton (Greek: Phyto=Plant + Plankton=free floating) are unicellular microscopic algae generally found in the upperlit waters of the ocean. Like plants on land, they make food for other life in the ocean and in this process support about 40-50% of the total primary production of our planet. It is important to understand how phytoplankton species, their numbers and biomass change as the result of coastal water processes such as river runoff, pollution, effluent discharge etc. The availability of sunlight and nutrients are the key parameters affecting phytoplankton distribution in a particular area. Further, the phytoplankton serves as an important ecological indicator depicting health of the ecosystem. Hence understanding the variability and distribution of phytoplankton has been considered as one of the key objective of SATellite Coastal and Oceanographic REsearch (SATCORE) programme initiated by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad. The team found few species of these tiny plants which were seen for the very first time in these seas and the same has been reported to a reputed journal. Although the species encountered in this area are not toxic, however the bloom can have an adverse effect on the ecology. The bloom can result in a large

consumption of oxygen, making it difficult for other species to live in. As this branch of science is in its budding stage in India, the database is still expanding and hence, we can anticipate far more exciting results in near future. Major groups under which plankton fall are Diatom, Dinoflagellate and Cyanobacteria. Let us see how they look through the lens of a microscope!


Example of a Diatom - Thalassionema nitzschioides (Grunow-Mereschkowsky, 1902)

Main features: • Cosmopolitan except in polar regions. • Its presence indicates conditions of high

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productivity. • They grow within the Salinity range from 12–33 ppt. • They are neritic and pelagic in their habitat. • Commonly found in nutrient rich upwelling regions.



Example of a Cyanobacteria - Trichodesmium erythraeum (Ehrenberg, 1830)

Main features:

Example of a Dinoflagellate - Dinophysis caudate (Saville-Kent, 1881)

Main features: • Greek: Dino=giant (like in Dinosaur) Flag ellate=having flagella/tail • It is a bloom-forming species associated with massive fish kills. • It is commonly found world-wide in sub tropical and tropical neritic waters. • They are mixotrophic (Eat by both means: Photosynthesis and Predation).

• It is known as “sea-sawdust” and accumulations of large blooms can lead to discoloration of the water and “red tides”. • Estimated to contribute over 40% of all nitrogen fixation that occurs in the ocean. • Trichodesmium blooms can have a toxic effect on invertebrates and humans. • Trichodesmium blooms are a good source of newly fixed carbon and nitrogen, they serve as a food source only for a selected group of copepods because others organisms are deterred by a toxin produced by the blooms

Useful Links:

Author Biosketch: S.K. Baliarsingh is a scientist at INCOIS, Hyderabad and part of SATCORE project. His expertise lays in plankton species diversity and their remote sensing signature. You can know more about his work by contacting him at:

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Grassland An Important Ecosystem in India

Grasses. The word may not sound like a glamorous environmental issue, but is it so? In this article, Vivek introduces us to grasslands with a point of view that many of us had never before. Evolution of grasslands, their types (yes, they are not all same!) and tons of reasons why we should care about them. Key Words: Biome, Grasslands, Prairie, Savannah, Semi-arid ecosystem

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The grasses are considered to be the most evolved species of plants. They are remarkable as they have short life cycle yet a long life i.e. take a short time from germination to reach maturity. Unlike trees, when cut, they sprout back almost instantaneously. They are capable of supporting or converting into incredibly huge amounts of biomass. They also support a rich and diverse variety of fauna. They are efficient in absorbing rain water and play vital role in water retention and hydrology of an area. About one fifth of earth’s (land) surface is covered by grasslands – a biome found on every continent except the Antarctica. As per available fossil records, grasses evolved on earth nearly 130 million years ago. Their diversification began about 20 million years ago during the Miocene period.

Whyte (1957) has classified Indian grasslands into eight types but Champion and Seth (1968) recognized only three broad categories. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) conducted grassland surveys between 1954 and 1962 and classified the grass cover of India into five major types is as follows (Dibadghao and Shankarnarayan, 1973):

The term Grassland is used to refer ecosystem in which the landscape’s dominant plant component is grasses. Two main types of grasslands ecosystems are: Savannah and Prairies. At many places the grassland landscape may be dotted with scrub or tree element giving the appearance of Savannah. Natural grassland occurs in situation which is too arid for development of closed forest but at same time, not as adverse as happens in deserts.

2) Dichanthium-Cenchrus-Lasiurus Type: These are spread over an area of about 436,000 Sq. km, including northern parts of Delhi, Aravalli ranges, some parts of Punjab, almost whole Rajasthan, Gujarat, and southern Uttar Pradesh. The elevation of this region is between 150 to 300 m. There are 11 perennial grass species and 43 annual grass species. The “Thar Desert” is represented an extremely important for the survival of certain bird species.

Grasslands are found in both temperate and tropical regions of the world but the ecosystems are slightly varying. Many grazing animals, herbivores and insectivores are found in this ecosystem. It occupies 70% of the world’s agricultural land making it the world’s most important crop. In India, the total area under grassland is about 3.9 % or 12 million hectares. About 15% types of the grass in the world are presented in India. It is estimated that the Indian grassland harbour about 1256 species belonging to 245 genera.

3) Phragmites-Saccharum-Imperata Type: These types of grasslands cover about 2,800,000 Sq. Km in the Gangetic Plains, the Brahmaputra Valley and the plains of Punjab and Haryana. The elevation of this region ranges between 300 to 500 m. with approximately 10 perennial grasses and 26 annual grasses. These wet grasslands harbour many globally threatened wildlife species.

1) Sehima-Dichanthium Type: These are spread over the Central Indian Plateau. The states like Madhya Pradesh, Southern part of Uttar Pradesh, Western part of Gujarat, Northern part of Maharashtra), Chota-Nagpur plateau and Aravalli ranges are the main parts to consider covering an area of about 17, 40, 000 Sq. Km. This region has an elevation between 300 and 1200 m. with around 24 species of perennial grasses and 89 species of annual grasses.

4) Themeda-Arundinella Type: The grasslands cover about 230,000 Sq.

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km and include the states of Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The elevations range between 350 and 1200 m. There are 37 major perennial grass species and 32 annual grass species. This diversity of grass is utilized by local community for food, fodder and other medicinal purposes too. 5) Temperate and Alpine cover: These are spread across altitudes higher than 2100 m. and include the temperate and cold desert areas of Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and the north-eastern states of India. There are 47 perennial grasses, 5 annual grasses. These high altitude grasslands harbour wildlife not generally found in other parts of the country which are unique to the region. Another unique type of grassland type is the Shola grassland of the Western Ghats. This type is generally over looked or clumped with other grassland type. However, Shola grasslands are unique as they are confined to the high altitude (>1700 m) in the Western Ghats and interspersed with tropical forests (generally found in the mountain folds and valleys). Shola grasslands are maintained by fire and frost and appear to be climax vegetation as an ancient and geographic relict species of ungulate (Niligir Tahr) is found in the Shola grasslands and nowhere else in the world. India has more than 500 million livestock. More than 50 percent of the fodder for this livestock comes from grasslands. Many natural grasslands (e.g. wet grasslands of terai, shola grasslands of the Western Ghats, dry grasslands of Deccan) have been converted to plantations, sometimes even in Protected Areas. Some of the most threatened species of wildlife are found in the grasslands.

Some of the rarest species of wildlife are found in the grasslands. Many of them are totally dependent on them. The Bengal Florican, One-horned Rhinoceros, Pygmy Hog, Hispid Hare, Wild Buffalo, Hog Deer, Swamp Deer in terai grassland, the Great Indian Bustard in dry, short grasslands, the Lesser Florican in monsoonal grasslands of western India and the Nilgiri Tahr in the Shola grasslands of the Western Ghats are some examples. According to reports of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), less than 1% of the grasslands come under the Protected Area Network. Briefly, grasslands with forest and other natural vegetative cover greatly help in the water regime and hydrological cycle. Therefore, it is imperative to recognize the ecological, hydrological, economic and sociological role of grasslands as a source of survival for millions of livestock and rural people, as protector of soil and water, of rare wildlife species and biodiversity conservation in general. The grasslands are the most neglected, abused and least protected ecosystems in India. They remain unprotected unless they are notified as Protected Areas under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 or notified as Protected or Reserve Forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927.Management of extensive grasslands must consider the public good as well as production; policies are needed to remunerate pastoralists who manage grasslands and folk knowledge for safeguard and to provide bio-perspectives and services to improve livelihood. The greater use can be made of forages under tree crops and agro-forestry systems. The potential of grassland plants in semi-arid areas is neglected, and hence, needs more attention than ever before.

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Useful links :

Author Biosketch:

Dr. Vivek Vegda is a botanist. His romance with grasses and grasslands scaled up during his doctoral work, which continued to extend to other life forms including birds, reptiles and insects who lived in such ecosystem. The same made him an avid wanderer and addicted photographer. Being a lecturer in college, he inherit the love to share his knowledge with anyone who interests in grasses – and beyond. You may contact him at:

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Column Intro: If you are a man and started reading this: Thanks and Congrats! Physical and emotional fitness of women is important for any caring and healthy society. Yet, in many cultures around the world, this is either ignored or hushed. Talking about health and hygiene should not be treated that way, rather. This column brings up otherwise suppressed or surpassed (bet you read again!) aspects of women’s well-being.

Women’s Corner Menstruation Myths

A healthy woman spends almost a quarter of her fertile life in menstruation. Yet, so many restrictions on menstruating woman are often being placed – for example living separately from other family members - resultantly denying them many basic rights. In this review article Sophie explores such taboos and myths. Keywords: Hygiene, Myth, Menstruation, Rituals, Taboo When I was 9, I asked ‘what is the use of sanitary pads?’ after watching a commercial about it. (I also asked what that blue solution all about is!). ‘You will get to know when you grow’, was the answer from my mother and it was forbidden thereafter from asking ‘such’ questions in front of any male family members. After few years passed by… “You can’t come to temple with us” “keep your clothes aside” “why you haven’t washed your hair, it’s 5th day” “you should not touch this, or you can’t sleep on this bed” “Don’t go near Tulsi(Indian Basil) plant” “don’t touch pickle” The only stupid question is the one that is not asked, and I asked every time “why so or why should I? Though people generally found my questions stupid; occasionally whosoever were

comfortable (at least around me) candidly shared their experiences. The overall negative attitude towards this side of womanhood intrigued me to read about this a lot and now finally to write. As if ‘The Sex Taboo’ wasn’t enough, talking about menstruation has also become one. Many girls will agree that they are used to hide sanitary pads. In joint families, to dispose a used pad feels like you are at war. (And believe me it requires special skills to hide it while coming out from bathroom). Menstruation is an indicator of a healthy reproductive cycle of woman. However, it is more of our culture and society than anatomy or physiology, which gave rise to many unreasonable customs that are being followed by girls during ‘those’ 5 days. Few of these have already gone superstitions by now! Let’s have a quick look. 1) That blood is dirty and you are not clean Menstruation blood contains the dead cells of

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inner lining (called endometrium) from uterus, which were grown for the womb to get ready for the conception. As it sheds, blood comes from uterus lining clearing it. Your body is not discarding any ‘bad blood’, ‘impurity’ or any ‘unclean’ things out of your body. Remember, it’s key process for your motherhood, and it’s precious.

5) You won’t get pregnant during your period Although it is very rare, but with short ovulation cycle and a bit longer periods, you never know that another egg is waiting for that sperm to come and fertilize it. A sperm can live up to 72 hours in your body, so use a condom every time without fail if you are not planning to get pregnant.

2) You can’t exercise and you must rest for 5 days The presence of uterus defines us, isn’t it? Consult your doctor and ask which exercise is not harmful to you uterus. Just avoid those heavy exercises, but you can still go for mild stretching and yoga. Get proper sleep and rest too. There is no reason that you cannot go to school, work-place or exercise. Balance of both will lighten up your mood and reduce your pain. In fact, it is known that such activities help fighting depression and anxiety for many women.

6) Menstruation Cycles are of 28 days Who said that only those associated with film industry have got date problems? It’s really ‘okay’ not to have 28 days’ cycle. A cycle can be anywhere between 22-35 days and menstruation can last from three to seven day. This can vary from one to another. Let just your body tell you about your cycle, not other whisperers around! Irregular periods may occur due to many reasons such as stress, polycystic ovarian syndrome, recent change in contraceptive, hormonal imbalances, dietary changes etc. Just consult the doctor if you are not regular even after 2-3 years of your first menstruation.

3) Virgins can’t use tampons Tampons have nothing to do with virginity. Using tampons does not prove anything about virginity, as a woman’s body can readily accept a tampon as soon as one menstruates. So YES, one can use it if comfortable with tampons no matter at what age. Just need to read instructions carefully or taking help of another adult if it is for first time. 4) No sex during periods It is true that some women may feel uncomfortable being intimate during “that time of the month”. But then, this is totally a personal choice to indulge or not. And there is no reason you can’t have sex if you want to and, if your partner is comfortable. Rather, during orgasm, body releases endorphin that helps in relieving the pain that cramps give you. Not only that, the contractions felt by uterus during orgasms might help as well in shedding your endometrium lining faster, helping to shorten your periods by a day or two.

7) It is normal to have cramps Though it is ‘usual’ to have mild cramps but getting severe cramps and having painful period is not at all normal. Uterus tries to expel thick blood out with rhythmic contractions and that is why you may feel mild to moderate cramps. Having painful cramps throughout period is not a normal thing. Talk to your doctor immediately rather than taking those painkillers every time. 8) Heavy blood flow is normal Generally, women lose 20 to 80 milliliters (1 tablespoon/3 teaspoons is approx 15 ml) blood with each period on an average. Heavy blood flow – termed as Menorrhagia – can occur due to various reasons such as hypothyroidism, ectopic pregnancy, fibroids, endometriosis, polyps etc. Many women, especially while approaching menopause, ignore such excessive bleeding. In such

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conditions, one should immediately consult a gynecologist. 9) No need to change a pad after every six hours One should keep changing the pad every six hours. Dried blood is not safe. Do not wait it to overflow (as they show in commercials). Doing so, you will only harbor microbes like staphylococcus aureus bacteria which starts flourishing after six hours in dried blood. Change the pad especially when you go to sleep. 10) PMS is all in your mind True that now there is comparatively more buzz about pre-menstrual syndrome. However, you can still find people believing it is all only psychological and some would even go a step further by start comparing symptoms between women. Truth is scientists know that PMS has relation with hormonal changes as a part of the body clock. It is real and severity varies individually. Not only that, for the same woman intensity may vary from cycle to cycle. Common symptoms could be one or many of these: food cravings, acne, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, faints, tenderness of breasts, headache, backache, altered sex drive, swelling of fingers/feet/ankles, depression and mood swings. Have a good diet, go for exercise, reduce alcohol consumption/smoking and try some self-relaxation techniques. 11) Washing hair on 5th Day Or 3rd day or any funny number, for that matter. No matter what the day is, cleaning self and maintaining hygiene is as important as doing any other important chores eg doing prayers etc. There is no scientific reason that justifies a fixed day to wash hair. So regardless to number of the day, do whenever you feel it is due for cleaning. 12) Don’t touch pickle, water etc etc Same goes for Tulsi [Indian Basil] – a sacred plant in India. In some families women

are not allowed to go even near to plant. Reason? The plant will die or the flowers will be contaminated/withered or plant will be defiled and can’t be offered to God etc. Same goes for pickle (that it will get contaminated). Only if women don’t get such superpower during periods! As once an elderly explained, pickle jars were huge in old times. Women used to fetch water from distant wells. So on the name of such beliefs, woman were given opportunity to take rest from daily chores. One might think why not tell directly the reason (of rest) and make such stories. Ask yourself, in a male-dominant society, will men agree if it’s not about something sacred/godly? This is where inclusive approach to men is essential for dealing with what is touted as women’s problems. Stay tuned for more!

Useful Links: articles/article/sarahurquhartcolumn1.htm/ syndrome Culture_and_menstruation taboo Author Biosketch: Sophie is a paramedical student but has too many interests varying from painting to archeology. She is a voracious reader, freethinker and nature lover. She doesn’t believe in any “-ism”. She loves to explore about different cultures prompting her to travel different places.

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Creepy Crawly of the Issue

Crab Spider: The Ambush Hunter If you ever wondered what great ability special military forces have in charging a surprise attack and tackle the evil minds, here is the real surprise for you. There are Spiders who blends with their surrounding and grabs the unwary insects with an element of surprise, they of course does it for their bread and butter. The Crab Spider is a group of spiders which do not spin the web to trap prey. Though all of them produce silk, they rely on camouflage and ambush for food. Usually it gets settled on flowers, where it camouflages nicely. Some of the members in this group have remarkable ability to change color slowly over a period of time, usually between the shades of white to yellow, allowing it to camouflage beautifully with the flower on which they game their hunt. There it waits for an insect, or any other creature which often visits these flowers for nectar – butterflies and honey bees are their prime victim. It takes position at a vantage location on the flower, front legs held open

in upright position to launch an attack and capture the visitor insect. These spiders have small fangs in compare to other spiders, but their venom acts quickly to paralyze the prey. As the name suggests, this spider somewhat resembles a crab. Its first two pairs of legs are remarkably larger than the back ones and when disturbed, it widens front legs and moves sideways just like a crab. The crab spider can be found on flowers and on shrubs in gardens, woodlands, grassland and scrubby habitats. Camouflage is its main defense as well. While hunting or otherwise, it too is on the menu of some species of birds and reptiles. The camouflage helps here as well, since its color matches with the ‘hunting ground’. Most of the time it gets lucky and goes unnoticed which reduces the chances of its predation. Photo: Crab spider is waiting for its next meal delivery on Parijat Flower (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, also known as Night-flowering Jasmine). Useful Links:

Photo courtesy: Vandan Jhaveri

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Column Announcements Green and Sustainable living Belonging to a farmer family, Nitin has witnessed highly sustainable, traditional organic farming pattern in his early childhood. Agriculture then was mostly rain-fed and only few used fertilizers or pesticides. After 1970, hybrid varieties of cotton seeds and other crops were made available to farmers along with government aided Agrochemicals in the name of Green revolution. People were attracted to cash crops and started intensive monoculture practices. Initial successes put sustainability, which traditional farming offered since centuries, on back burner. Irresponsible handling of agrochemicals created irreversible loop and now farmers find themselves unable to escape from intensive farming. Untapped population growth, ill-planned urbanization, consumerism-led capitalism and often, self-centric corporate worsen the situation. Instead of focusing on basic needs, we are developing consumer market for secondary and tertiary demands of people. In the race of modernization, we forget all important ‘R’s – Reduce, Repair, Recycle, Reuse, Renewable & so on… Keywords: 3R, Carbon footprint, Environmentally responsible, Lifestyle, Sustainability Elder generations were more eco-friendly. Simple example, had bed sheet got very old and in bad condition, it was repaired by artistic patch work, If it is beyond repair, it was used for making a pillow cover or grocery handbag. Waste piece of cloths, may it be damaged pillow cover or cloth bags again served as rug. Less demanding lifestyle has less energy needs and thus, smaller energy or carbon footprint. All the agriculture residues were recycled traditionally. Everything was repairable, recyclable or reusable and in the end, biodegradable. Modern practices are getting more energy intensive, consuming more natural resources and creating more pollution. Now most products are neither repairable nor reusable. Just single use and

simply throw it, dump it. Even simple ball-point pens are non-reusable. If we get conscious to these practices, we can save plenty of natural resources i.e. reducing out carbon footprint. There is no nay-nay to modernization, but sustainability does matter. The idea of natural living is to achieve a near-zero carbon footprint using sustainable practices – a rather more advanced way of living. Is it possible to live with a near-zero carbon footprint while having a good lifestyle? The answer is always yes. Traditional lifestyles around the globe were and highly sustainable. This column will try to talk about the next question: How?

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Author Biosketch:

Nitin Kumar is proud to be an urbanite who is still connected to his village. He has written few articles and bird notes for birdenthusiasts’ Gujarati magazine - Vihang, He has also written many short notes on many random but inter-relevant topics on social media including multiple blogs – again, in Gujarati. His professional career keeps him in close touch to the agrochemical industry, while his spectrum of passion spreads from birdwatching to reviving forgotten tribal recipes to river-bank cleanups – and everything in between. Even though his limited exposure to write in English and that too, a regular column, he is excited to take it to the next level for being able to reach to a wider audience.

Learning Without Walls Keywords: Children, Homeschooling/Unschooling, Learning, Parenting Column Intro: Sejal regularly reads her kids, herself and their lives via introspection. The last six years of kids’ learning without going to school, have brought forth many new things that fascinate her more than her previous role of a successful network engineer. At Chlorophyll, she is here to share us these experiences and how she views the world when it comes to parenting and learning. This column focuses on how society deals with the learning process and often, confuses it with formal education. She believes that opportunity of learning is present everywhere, even in matters which may seem unlikely at first glance. Let us take the journey with a real-world mom sharing her take about life, children and the process of learning– of course for parents too, as much as for children. Begins April, 2014 onwards.

Author Biosketch: Sejal Patel-Chevli believes in simplicity. She enjoys unstructured journeys & learning with her adventurous husband and sporty kids. Sejal lives with her family and dreams of exploring this country thoroughly in this lifetime. Know more of her from her articles on or visit her blogger profile at profile/02514223550075813383.

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Call For Submissions Submissions Open! • With the release of Chlorophyll Issue-1; submissions are now open for Issue-2, marked to be published on 1st April, 2014. • Theme of the second issue is - Conservation. This issue is all about articles/stories related to conservation and various aspects related to conservation efforts. • The deadline for submission is 15th February, 2014. However, it is advisable that we hear from you sooner as possible, so that we can put you in touch with reviewer-cum-mentor, who will guide you through an elegant writeup. • Send them to: Few glimpses of the magazine: Chlorophyll is an open access, non-commercial quarterly electronic-magazine. • The geographic extent of contributors and readership is global. • Contributions can be of regular columns, cartoons, cover stories, infographics, featured articles and guest columns. The magazine will have a theme of every issue but not necessarily all of the above sections will adhere to the same. Photographers are more than welcome. Guideline for Authors: • Send writeup as .doc/.docx files and hi-resolution images in popular formats such .jpg/.jpeg/.png/.bmp etc • Document formatting: A4 page size with 1” margins all sides; 12 pt. size Times New Roman fonts, 1.5 line spacing and justified text. • Photographs, figures and tables with captions are to be placed at the end of the text writeup and must not be embedded within the text part. a) A submission requires these mandatorily: • Your Full Name, Email & introduction in few lines • Affiliation (Professional &/or Honorary - also specify which features in your article) • Your Close-up Photograph (as email attachment). • Summary of article (Abstract) in 4-5 lines • Important Keywords (can be used in Google/Wiki search) • Your article • Web/blog links related to your article b) Optional Information: • Your Pen Name / Featured Name, if any other than first name in above • Your social networking links / internet addresses (website/Facebook/Google+/Twitter/Pinterest/Flickr/ LinkedIn/Instagram/anything we missed here) • 1 or 2 imp quotes (lines) from/related to your write up HELP US passing this to as many people as you can, who might interest in this. or If you know someone with popular achievements in topics that this magazine covers and will be willing to be our featured article contributor, you may bring them to our notice by email. Want to stay updated about when Chlorophyll releases? Put us an email with text (copy-paste) as subject and in mail body : Notify me next Chlorophyll or subscribe to Mahiru Foundation updates here:

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Photo courtesy: Vandan Jhaveri

Chlorophyll : Volume-1 Issue-1