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VOLUME

JULY

ISSUE

2012

2

featuring

the Grand Giraffe Christina Bush the Famous Four around us Vivek Sharma the Girl with the Green Handbag Priyanka Sethy Notes from the Field Tom Elliot by

by

by

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photo stories by

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the readers’ expressions

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Congratulations for successfully completing 2 years. Wishing the entire team the very best for the new journey ahead. Ritwick Shukla

Can you please feature more content in the ‘In the news’ section. Each month I love to read the environment centric news. Kuldeep Sharma

Truly like the diversity of the articles that are being featured in your magazine. Keep it going guys. Pritam Kumar

I was recently forwarded the magazine by a friend of mine and I was astonished to see the wonderful work being done by icare and its team. Sheetal Vora

The article on Tiger was very informative and loved the photographs. Kudo’s Christina. Sonali Raman

Wishing the entire team at Expressions the very best for the times ahead. You’re an inspiration to many. Robert Steinsen

Have become a fan of Mr. Amar Nayak’s photography. The dragon fly world just showed us how beautiful species are. Param Singh

What amazes me the most about Expressions is how effectively and efficiently the entire team manages to take out the magazine month after month. Saluting your dedication and commitment for a good cause. Rishabh Saxena

Liked the way you had featured handpicked articles in the special anniversary issue. One has to admit that the quality of the content and diversity of the same is praiseworthy. Congratulations to the entire team. Mahendra Shukla

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from the editors’ desk As the cloud breaks and the raindrop starts dripping, the whole country is in awe to the majesty of charisma, which is casted all over. After a long hot dry summer comes the monsoon. The moment the first raindrops touch earth’s face it chills out of the heat as well as the minds watching it. Every tree and shrub bears the weight of fine drops of water filled with happiness and joy. The smell, the moisture rich winds blowing across the plains and the hills and the pleasing sight of grass tips are so refreshing and a delightful experience to say the least. Sitting at our office in Doodhli and brewing a cup of Darjeeling tea as the rain drops drip down the roof keeping you enchanted by its beauty. It is during the monsoons that the whole countryside goes green with flowers still blooming and lush green forests coming to live. The landscape resonates with the singing and chirping of the birds. The valleys are shrouded in clouds of mist and the rising mist is a spectacular sight as the mist gives way to fresh green meadows and fields. How serene and majestic this sounds? But come to think of it all this may not last forever and it will be you and me only who will be responsible for the same. A few monsoon showers and many of our cities get flooded, precious lives are lost but yet we get up every morning as if nothing happened. The ‘chalta hain’ (meaning: whatever) attitude has to change. It is time we stand up together and demand answers but at the same-time, we need to understand that does not absolve us of our responsibilities. The change that I talk about has to come from within. As we begin a new chapter in Expressions we are greatly indebted to all the people who have supported us all this while and we urge each one of our readers to come forward and initiate the change for a beautiful and sustainable tomorrow. In this issue, we bring to you edifying articles like - Being an Ecological Citizen, Panda Conservation, and The Cover Story: The Grand Giraffe and how interestingly these grand creatures behave. The Famous Four is an insightful read about the major species of snakes found in India. Banning Plastic bags, yes it’s about time. We also have beautifully crafted pictures of the Bandhavgarh Tigers, the wild and beautiful snapshots of the Bamboo Pit Viper amongst many others. Hope you have a great time reading and also with this season of happiness and tears, let’s dissolve our ignorance and let our ecosystems freely flourish like a rainbow.

Best

Yudhishter Puran Singh Founder & Editor

Pooja Bhatt Senior Editor

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BEING AN ECOLOGICAL CITIZEN CHAPTER 3 Third installment of a series dealing with our roles and responsibilities in protecting planet Earth, focusing this time on food production & consumption by Isabelle

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Richaud

PANDA CONSERVATION Today, the Giant Panda’s future is uncertain when their own reproductive activity creates a challenge to its survival. Candice discusses Panda’s Conservation here. by Candice

Bradford

BANNING PLASTIC BAGS

photo story

the wild and the beautiful by Abir Jain

How plastic is affecting our environment and how people’s shopping habits, if not changed now will affect through the same. by Mrs.

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Surbhi Arora

THE GRAND GIRAFFE In our cover story this month, is presented the awe-inspiring Giraffe, truly unmitakable and unique, the one who is admired the world over for its enormous size, mild nature and natural beauty. by Christina

Bush

THE EXPRESSIONS’ YOUTH TEAM Founder & Editor

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Yudhishter Puran Singh

Senior Editor

Pooja Bhatt

PERMISSIONS For permissions to copy or reuse material from EXPRESSIONS, write to expressions@icareindia.co.in or call us at +919634796880

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Creative Editor/Designer

Akshay Madan

Content Editor

Monika Singh

ALL EDITORIAL QUERIES SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES MUST BE DIRECTED TO For subscription queries, The Editor, Expressions, write to expressions@icareindia.co.in 51-A Subhash Road, or call us at +919634796880 Dehradun 248140, Uttarakhand, India


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THE FAMOUS FOUR AROUND US Giving an insight into the four most venomous snakes around us, that cover about 70-80% of the Indian Mainland by Vivek

THE GIRL WITH THE GREEN HANDBAG

Sharma

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A revival of our much like classic article, by a young and enthusaistic writer, gives an insight of how the roads are converted into trash cans by ourselves only, where we dont even care of the cleanliness of the place where we live in. by Priyanka

photo story

bandavgarh snapshots

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by Manish

NOTES FROM THE FIELD 2 weeks volunteering in Greece with ARCHELON (Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece)

Sethy

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by Tom

Elliot

RADIO ACTIVE: INSPIRING CHANGE “Parents should give their children roots and wings. but I’m worried we only gave you wings”. How PCI Media Impact helps communities around the world tell their stories. by Lindsey

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Gadia

Wahlstrom

IN THE NEWS

This emagazine is user interactive. Click on above page numbers to navigate to the respective section. To arrive back on this index page, Click on the bottom left corner of any even numbered page

Copy & Desk Editor

Shubhodeep Pal

Features Editor

Karishma Gulati

News Editor

Harshit Singh

Public Relations

Ritika Passan

Views and opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Expressions., its publisher and/or editors. We at Expressions do our best to verify the information published but do not take any responsibility for the absolute accuracy of the information

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Isabelle Richaud

A 31-year-old citizen of the world, Isabelle Richaud works in Antwerp, Belgium for the European branch of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute, based in New Delhi).

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The agricultural sector has achieved tremendous progress as it has largely kept pace with the sharp increase in demand for food. This progress, however, has been at the expense of increased pressure on the environment. Pollution by pesticides is one of the most serious, growing threat to life on Earth. A substantial part of the pesticides applied on fields, lawns and parks can be washed away by streaming water, which in turn contaminate lakes, rivers and oceans. Another part of the applied pesticides can infiltrate into the soil and contaminate the groundwater. Finally, another part can volatilise in the atmosphere, be transported at various distances, and fall back with the rain. This is how pesticides have become extremely widespread in our environment.

some aquatic microorganisms that play a crucial role in producing, decomposing and recycling nutrients. By affecting microorganisms, pesticides thus disrupt entire ecosystems . The potential long-term consequences of a massive contamination of the environment by pesticides is yet to be fully understood, but this unprecedented pollution could bear terribly perverse consequences on human and wild life. The hormonal effects of these substances may be the most alarming, as they threaten the reproductive capacity of men and animals. Among the different types of food production, meat and dairy production bears the largest burden in the environmental footprint of food production. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Livestock’s Long Shadow, “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global .” In 2009, meat production worldwide was estimated at 281 million tonnes, which is almost four times as much as in 1961 . On

Broad-spectrum pesticides, which are literally lavished on some crops, indiscriminately destroy both pest and beneficial organisms, which have a role in pollination, soil aeration, nutrient recycling or predation of pests. Herbicides prove to be extremely toxic for

Aviva Glaser, 2006. Threatened Waters. Beyond Pesticides http://www.beyondpesticides.org/documents/water.pdf 2, 5 Henning Steinfield et al, 2006. Livestock’s Long Shadow. Environmental Issues and Options. Food and Agriculture Organisation, Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm 3 Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2010. FAOSTAT http://faostat.fao.org 4 Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2006. Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative, Livestock’s Long Shadow Environmental Issues and Options http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm 1

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ood production and consumption are responsible, on average, of 20 to 35 percent of the total GHG emissions of a nation. This reveals the substantial – and often underconsidered – influence of the way we eat on climate change, and suggests how our food consumption choices can be a powerful, effective way to tackle this issue. Beyond climate change and other environmental issues, our food choices can also have tremendous social and ethical repercussions, in particular on the issues of world hunger and animal welfare, and, of course, on our own health.


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average, each person eats twice as much meat as back then – about 40 kilograms per year. Growing population and income, along with changing food preferences, are rapidly increasing demand for livestock products, especially in developing countries. If current tendencies remain unchanged, global production of meat is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1990 to 465 million in 2050, and that of milk to grow from 580 to 1043 million tonnes . Livestock is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land, occupying 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet. 70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is now occupied by cattle pastures. An increasing, large part of the remainder is dedicated to intensive large scale production of soybeans and other feed crops destined for livestock production .

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Industrialised systems feed livestock on diets indeed containing large amounts of cereal grains, in contrast to traditional systems, which use larger amounts of by-products and waste products, and, for ruminants, crop residues and forages until the early 20th century. And yet, the use of grain for meat production is a very inefficient way to produce the food we need. Much of the food animals eat is converted into energy for movement, excreted as manure, or used for the growth of body parts not eaten as meat. On average, as much as 25 kg of feed are necessary to produce 1 kg of edible beef meat. Put differently, only 3 percent of the gross energy contained in the feed and 4 percent of all protein

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eaten by cattle are converted into edible protein and fat . The food industry has also contributed to increase food transport and its associated environmental impacts. An overwhelming part of global food miles are attributable to the transport of food within the country of consumption itself. However, international food transport by air is witnessing a very strong increase, along with its associated impacts in terms of oil consumption and GHG emissions. This increase reflects consumers’ desire for exotic fresh fruit and vegetables. World trade in fruits and vegetables — fresh and processed — doubled in the 1980s and has continued to increase steadily since then . Economic globalisation has made the act of consumption an unexpected means of interaction with diverse parts of the world. A researcher calculated in 1993 that the typical ingredients of a Swedish breakfast (apple, orange juice, bread, cheese, coffee with cream and sugar) travel for a distance equivalent to the circumference of the planet before reaching the consumer’s table .


Some experts underline that the profound changes in diet and lifestyle conditions that began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry occurred too quickly for the human genome to adjust. In conjunction with this discordance between our ancient, genetically determined biology and our increasingly sedentary way of living, many of the so-called diseases of civilisation have emerged . In most Western countries, diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of morbidity and mortality, and include hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. These diseases typically afflict 50–65 percent of the adult population of Western countries, yet they are rare or nonexistent in hunter-gatherers and other less Westernised people . Obesity and overweight are the typical symptoms of the Western lifestyle and diet. 65 percent of adults aged over 20 in the United States are either overweight or obese. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts there will be 2.3 billion overweight adults in the world by 2015 and more than 700 million of them will be obese . Present levels of animal product consumption represent a major threat to human health. Consumption of meat, eggs and milk in modern diets is accused of playing a key role in the upsurge of health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, many types of heart disease, and some cancers. Some scientists suspect that the daily ingestion of pesticides contained in food is an essential cause of the unprecedented increase in cancer incidence. Once very rare among children, cancer now frequently appears at an early age – a sign of our excessive exposure to carcinogenic substances

even at a foetal stage, since these substances, when ingested by pregnant women, cross the placental barrier to contaminate the foetuses and threaten the health of the future children . Consuming organic food considerably helps reduce this exposure and its associated potentially devastating health effects. Organic farming methods provides an effective response to numerous health but also environmental problems linked to the food production and consumption cycle: by eliminating the use of toxic and persistent chemical substances; using less fossil fuels; replenishing and maintaining soil fertility; conserving water in the soil; and protecting and improving biodiversity. Drastic changes in food production practices are necessary to lower the tremendous environmental cost of agriculture. This goes notably through a reduction in the use of pesticides and in the production of meat and dairy products. These changes will only take place if consumers’ demand evolves in those directions. The food industry is extremely sensitive to consumers’ preferences, as testified by the rapid shift in production practices that followed the mad cow scare or the massive rejection of GMOs by European consumers. Change in food production practices is also starting in response to the growing condemnation by consumers of the use of palm oil in the food industry, which contributes to deforestation and land degradation. Let’s send these signals to food producers and industrials, showing that a sustainable world goes through healthy, responsible and ethical food and diets.

Smil, V. 2002. Worldwide transformation of diets, burdens of meat production and opportunities for novel food proteins. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 30:305–311. http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~vsmil/publications_pdf.html 7 M. Ataman Aksoy; John C. Beghin, 2005. Global agricultural trade and developing countries. World Bank, 2005. 8 WorldWatch Institute, 2008. Is Local Food Better?. Sarah DeWeerdt. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6064 9, 10 Cordain, S Boyd Eaton, Anthony Sebastian, Neil Mann, Staffan Lindeberg, Bruce A Watkins, James H O’Keefe and Janette Brand-Miller. 2005. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 81, No. 2, 341354, February 2005 http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/81/2/341 11 http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/en/ 12 Dominique Belpomme, 2004. Ces maladies créées par l’homme 6

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PA N D A CONSERVATION 12

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Candice Bradford from South Africa is Qualified in Nature conservation, Wildlife Management, Game ranging , Environmental Education. She runs an environmental education page with Christina austin Bush. Her aim is to to educate and aspire love and appreciation of our natural world to our youth and she can be contacted at owlshoot@live.co.za

Common Name: Giant panda Scientific Name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca Location: Southwest China (Gansu, Shaanxi, and Sichuan Provinces) to the east of the Tibetan plateau. Population: Less than 1,600 in the wild (2004) The giant panda is the rarest member of the bear family and among the world’s most threatened animals. Today, the giant panda’s future remains uncertain. The panda’s own reproductive activity creates a challenge to its survival. The female ovulates only once a year, creating a naturally slow breeding rate that prevents the population from recovering quickly from reduction. As China’s economy continues rapidly developing, this bamboo-eating member of the bear family faces a number of threats. Its forest habitat, in the mountainous areas of southwest China, is increasingly fragmented by roads and railroads. Habitat loss continues to occur outside of protected areas, while poaching remains an ever-present threat. Each acre of destroyed forest releases stored carbon, contributing more to climate change than the global transportation sector. So while habitat protection is critical for defending threatened species like pandas, it also works to curb global warming and promote human livelihood.

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genetic exchange and thus create larger, more viable populations. If properly managed, this would go a long way to ensuring the species’ long-term survival. Economic benefits derived from the Yangtze Basin include tourism, subsistence fisheries and agriculture, transport, hydropower and water resources. The survival of the panda and the protection of its habitat will ensure that people living in the region continue to reap ecosystem benefits for many generations.

photo: Christina Austin Bush

Great strides have been made in recent years to conserve the giant pandas. By 2005, the Chinese government had established over 50 panda reserves, protecting more than 2.5 million acres - over 45 percent of remaining giant panda habitat – protecting more than 60 percent of the population. In 1984, the giant panda was transferred from Appendix III to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) . Trade in the species or its products are subject to strict regulation by the ratifying parties, and trade for primarily commercial purposes is banned. WHY IS THIS SPECIE IMPORTANT? The panda’s habitat in the Yangtze Basin ecoregion is shared by both pandas and millions of people who use the region’s natural resources. This eco-region is the geographic and economic heart of China. It is also critical for biodiversity conservation. Its diverse habitats contain many rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna, the best known being the giant panda.

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If habitat restoration is successful, many giant panda populations that have been isolated from each other could be physically linked. This would potentially create the conditions for

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artwork by Wildlife Artist Chris Hoy


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banning plastic bags

needofthehour Mrs. Surbhi Arora a UGC NET qualified faculty member, with around fourteen years of experience in industry and academics. She is a graduate in Commerce and Law. Presently she is pursuing PhD from UPES in the area of Oil & Gas Management. She believes that our thoughts lead to actions and actions to results. According to her, hard work and consistency have to be the two pillars supporting one’s achievement.

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notable effect on shopping habits in recent years has been noticed by the debate as to whether the plastic bags should be banned or not. We have become accustomed to being handed all our purchases in a nice shiny plastic bag, but it is only recently that the environmental impact has started to become apparent, and people are beginning to rethink what that they once took for granted. The same properties that have made plastic bags so commercially successful and ubiquitous viz. their low weight and resistance to degradation, have also contributed to their proliferation in the environment.

It all started in England with one woman, Rebecca Hosking in the small Devon town of Modbury. She was moved to tears as she filmed marine life off Hawaii for the BBC2 programme, Natural World. “What really brought it home for me was one day filming a turtle,” she said. Rebecca says she just wanted to do her bit.”It had a plastic bag in its mouth and was slowly dying; there was nothing we could do.”We were also filming albatross who were picking up plastic and feeding it to their chicks and we saw so many suffer a slow and painful death.”I turned the camera off and just broke down crying.”We see pretty grim things all the time, but this was man-

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made and it bugged me and I wanted to do something about it.� When Rebecca, 33, returned home to Modbury, she set out on a mission to turn the town plastic-bag-free and managed to convince

the world are competing for green credentials by promoting the use of reusable bags, in response to public demand. Many alternatives are now available and shops now use strong paper bags or cloth bags which are recyclable. Bags nowadays are being made of sustainable

photo courtsey : Ben Prendergast, Melbourne Zoo caption courtsey : www.bagtax.org.nz

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a dead turtle each and every trader to get on board. She campaigned relentlessly to her local shops to stop giving out plastic bags, for the sake of the environment, until eventually the whole town was declared a plastic bag free zone. This idea got wings, and now many supermarkets across

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materials which are readily available. Many shops are not banning plastic bags altogether and you have to ask and pay for it. These changes in shopping habits are starting to have profound and much needed environmental benefits.


Our society does not value these things. People do not want to think about where things come from or what production methods were used in their production or what impact these methods have on the environment or under what conditions they were made and how people were exploited in the process. We want things now. We do not want to get our hands dirty for them and do not want to think. Thinking might

make us feel responsible, perhaps even guilty so its best avoided. We owe it to the world that we inhabit to think twice about our use of resources and the litter that we produce. Now is the time to build on the frustration with the economic and ecological disasters this irrational system of values is causing— and change the rules and social structures that support it. This is a global issue, and the debate should continue to be addressed, on a global as well as on a local scale. Let us make a small beginning by banning plastic bags from our homes first. This would help in curbing their demand and if something will not be demanded, it becomes uneconomic to produce. Thus, we would have the satisfaction of doing our bit for the environment and for our better future! To start a plastic bag ban movement in your area, there are two websites which can be of use. Both sites have done an excellent job in creating the material. Surfrider Foundation has a site called ‘Rise Above Plastics’ that is loaded with information and statistics about the harmful effects of plastic. Their “Rise Above Plastics Toolkit” is a great resource for anyone interested in improving the environment. The Toolkit also contains specific steps to starting a bag ban. Plastic Pollution Coalition is another great resource for information about plastic pollution. They also publish a guide that answers the question: “How can I do this in my town?”

Get involved in helping the environment. Let us start a plastic bag ban movement in our city!

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India is an overcrowded nation having issues with landfill sites, so any reduction in waste packaging is significant for this reason. Plastic bags are causing untold damage to the land and its habitat and also to the indigenous marine life around the coast of India as it is also surrounded by the sea. The amount of rubbish that is washed up on the shore is unbelievable, it is strewn with litter from tourists, shipping and even sewage that is washed out to sea from sewage outlets. Surveys show that the most prolific type of rubbish found on the beaches at the moment is plastic bags and fragments of plastic bags. Many plastic bags are labeled as being biodegradable, but even these can take years to break down to harmless levels. Many land animals choke themselves to death by eating plastic bags from garbage. Large buildups of plastic bags can clog drainage systems and contribute to flooding, as occurred in Bangladesh in 1988 and 1998 and almost annually in Manila. Littering is often a serious problem in developing countries, where trash collection infrastructure is less developed than in wealthier nations.


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Christina Bush has been featured by National Geographic, Animal Planet, ABC’s Extreme Home Makeovers, The International Anti-Fur Coalition, The Paw Project and many other organizations around the globe. A lifetime supporter of animal protection and education, she works with groups all over the world using her imagery to help save and improve the lives of animals everywhere, both in the wild and in captivity. This is a very rewarding way for her to turn tremendous value into her passion for wildlife, photography and art. Visit her photo-gallery at http://www.christinabush.com

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he awe-inspiring giraffe - truly unmistakable and unique - is admired the world over for its enormous size, mild nature and natural beauty. Early written records described them as “magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and inoffensive

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in character.” Ancient Romans and Greeks thought they were a mix between a camel and a leopard. This is where their scientific name “Camelopardalis” is derived from. With their towering legs and long necks, the grand giraffe is the world’s tallest living land mammal, with some exceeding 19 feet from head to toe and weighing up to 3,000 pounds - according to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. This height is used to good advantage allowing them to browse on buds and leaves in treetops that few other animals can reach. They are able to keep a sharp lookout for predators across the vast expanse of the African savanna. Their legs alone are taller than most humans and their tail is the longest among any land mammal, measuring up to eight feet long including the tuft at the end. The back legs look shorter than the front ones, but they are actually about the same length. These long legs allow the giraffe to run as fast as 35 miles per hour and they cruise quite comfortably at around 10 miles per hour. Roaming the lands of Africa in herds of about half a dozen or so, giraffes live in open habitats that are primarily made up of wooded savannas and grasslands. They do not live in areas dominated by moist tropical rain forests.


cover stor y Giraffes are only found naturally on the continent of Africa and their ranges keep diminishing due to human encroachment, population growth and habitat degradation. Poaching is also a dire problem for the species and many also fall prey to lions and crocodiles, their only real predators besides humans. There are nine remaining sub-species of giraffe living in scattered geographic regions of the continent, each with its own coloring and pattern. They are the Nigerian, Nubian, Baringo (or Rothschild’s), Masai, Reticulated, Thornicroft’s, Kordofan, Angolan and the Southern Giraffe. All the species have a life expectancy of around 25 years in the wild and 35 years in captivity. The distinctive rusty, orange, or blackish coats are broken into patches with whitish outlines which are used for camouflage. All-whitish giraffes exist but are an extremely rare find. Males are called bulls and females are called cows. The females travel in loosely structured herds and the older males are usually solitary,

spending most of their time in search of female herds that contain prospective mates. Both bulls and cows are born with horns on their heads, called ossicones. The horns are formed from ossified cartilage that has transformed into bone and are covered by skin and tufts of hair. The ossicones help to distinguish between males and females, as males usually have much larger bare ones that have been worn away over time during combat with other giraffes. The males many times will spar by swinging their heads viciously at one another. This behavior to establish dominance is called “necking” and it can become quite violent with powerful blows, but is rarely ever fatal. As male giraffes age, calcium deposits form on their skulls and other horn-like bumps begin to develop. They can have up to three of these large bumps, one in the forehead region and two in the rear of the skull, making it appear like they have five horns. The young calves receive a rather rude awakening at birth, falling more than five feet

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to the ground. Infants can stand up and nurse within around half an hour and within ten hours after birth they are running with their mother. They grow about an inch each day and double their height within about 11-12 months. Within that first year, about half of the young giraffes fall prey to hyenas, the great cats, wild dogs, and other predators. Female giraffes form a type of daycare for the group to watch out for the young. One of the females in the herd will stay behind and babysit all of the youngsters while the others go out foraging for food. She protects and defends them using her soup bowl-sized hooves as weapons. The defensive kick of an adult giraffe is enough to seriously injure even the most determined predator and is strong enough to kill a lion.

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Giraffes have the highest blood pressure of any animal in the world, with the heart pumping around 16 gallons of blood each minute. If they run too long or hard they will suffer a heart attack due to the elevated blood pressure. The jugular vein contains a series of one-way valves that prevent the back flow of blood when the giraffe’s head is down to drink water, preventing blackouts. Despite its extreme length, the giraffe’s neck is actually not long enough to reach the ground. This makes it difficult and dangerous for giraffes to drink at a water hole. In order to do so, they must awkwardly spread their front legs or kneel to the ground making them vulnerable to attack. Despite their size they are always on the lookout for predators and only sleep for around half an hour at a time. Members of the herd tend to drink or sleep in shifts, so one animal can keep a look out for lions, leopards or hyenas, which could attack a calf. Throughout the night, a giraffe may deeply sleep for five to 10 minutes lying down, yet they rarely sleep more than 20 minutes per day. Although rarely heard, giraffes can moo, roar, hiss and whistle to communicate with one another. Giraffes are herbivores which consume up to 140 pounds of food each day and drink up to

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cover stor y Giraffes have the highest blood pressure of any animal in the world, with the heart pumping around 16 gallons of blood each minute. If they run too long or hard they will suffer a heart attack due to the elevated blood pressure.

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10 gallons of water. Their favorite delicacy is leaves from the Acacia tree and this is where much of their water consumption is derived from. They also enjoy herbs, vines, climbers, flowers and fruit. Feeding takes up about 75% of their days at certain times of the year. Their dexterous prehensile tongues measure up to 20 inches long and are a purplish-black color with sticky saliva that coats any thorns they might swallow. The tongue has thickened papillae, which acts as a defense mechanism to protect it from the vicious acacia thorns. It is thought that the dark color of the tongue is for sunburn protection while feeding. They have a four chambered stomach and will regurgitate their food for later additional chewing, similar to a cow. Oxpeckers have a symbiotic relationship with giraffes and are often seen riding on their backs while eating ticks and other harmful parasites off their skin. Giraffes have never been observed bathing.

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In 1999 the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) estimated the total number of giraffes in the world to exceed 140,000. According to the recent stats from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the total number has fallen to 80,000. They are not currently listed as endangered, but this considerable decline in the last decade shows that the fate of the giraffe is in serious danger and extinction could be looming for them, as with so many other wildlife species. The IUCN Red List, which details all rare species, classes giraffes as ‘conservation dependent’. This means efforts are needed to ensure the species’ survival. Hunting and habitat loss have already driven some species of giraffe to extinction in a number of countries including Mozambique, Mauritania, Senegal and Mali. For about as long as people have been able to hunt large animals, the giraffe


Article & All Images: Christina Bush Animal Magnetism Wildlife Awareness column Visit at www.christinabush.com/tigers.html

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has been sought out as prey. While several countries have already managed to prevail in the prevention of the hunting of wild rhinos and elephants, poaching has exploded in a different way. Now poachers are after “bush meat�. They hunt and snare the giraffes, then eat them for dinner. This species and other animals are supposed to be protected by international treaties; however, giraffe remain highly prized by many African cultures. The market for good luck bracelets, thread for sewing or stringing beads and fly whisks have led people to kill the giraffe for its tail alone. The future of the giraffe and Africa’s other endangered animals lies in the careful conservation by wildlife managers and other interested parties to ensure the implementation and development of appropriate strategies for saving the species and eliminating poaching their ranges, both in national parks and on private land.


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Priyanka Sethy Writing has always been her greatest passion. Lock her in a room with a pencil and a paper, with the occasional glass of tea, and she’ll be a happy person. Priyanka feels strongly about social issues like the degradation of the environment. She’s 16 and is currently studying in Dehradun and she hopes to pursue a literary career in future.

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window slides open on the blue sedan in front of us, and a long arm extends, with a fist at its end. As if in slow motion, the fingers open and expel a gaudy blue empty packet of chips right there on the road. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I had naively thought that the function of a road was to facilitate commuting, not to absorb trash. The last time I checked, our hardy asphalt friends did not have bright USE ME signs painted all over their surface. Then why, I fail to understand, is there such a distinct substitution of roads for dustbins in our little city? Is it so hard to keep your used packets of chips in your car till you reach home? Is it such a Herculean task to stuff it under the seat till you reach a trashcan? The whole issue is only made worse by the waste disposal methods carried out by the municipal authorities. Most officials working there are far from well-qualified. As opposed to scientific and effective waste-disposal methods, the method most recurrently used to get rid of waste is austerely piling it all in one massive heap and burning it. The fact that this defiles the milieu is not even taken into consideration. Moreover, since the waste is virtually never appropriately segregated, the authorities intermittently end up burning charring plastic along with all the biodegradable stuff. Contemplate on it. The air that we inhale every single day is full of noxious billows which corrupt our system

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and taint our very lungs. Can we allow these malpractices to carry on? No. We must take a stand. And we cannot wait for a leader, or for ember. We must start now, right now. Every moment lost is indeed equivalent to thousands of diseased deaths in the future. The only way to evade what is to come is to initiate. Not one, not two, but all of us together must do it. Our roads in Dehradun are roads no more but massive dumpsters for the various packets and wastes that are so troublesome to carry till a dustbin. Look around you the next time you go out. Almost everywhere you see will be some form of junk or another. No place at all is uninhabited by it. The idea of just rolling down the window and flinging out inconvenient stuff is alluring, no doubt, but at what cost? The litter is unsightly, blocks drains, and fosters flies. In addition to this, it provides a breeding ground for germs and spreads diseases, at the same time degrading the quality of the ground water. The ease with which our fellow pedestrians throw their litter with a flick of the wrist is mirrored in the rank of India on the list of ‘The World’s Dirtiest Countries’ according to the Environmental Performance Index (calculated by Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Yale University and Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University; in collaboration with World Economic Forum

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and Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission): #8 out of 132. Yes, fellow inhabitants, we’re EIGHTH in the world’s dirtiest countries, something to be proud of, eh? We score pretty high up on the list of the world’s dirtiest cities on an online forum as well. Mumbai takes the cake at #7 with a Mercer Health and Sanitation Index Score of 38.2, with New Delhi close behind at #24 with a Mercer Health and Sanitation Index Score of 46.6. The perception of India in the eyes of the world is that of a filthy, littered place. However, our smaller cities do have the potential to change for the better. And it is us, the youth, the voice of change, who have the best opportunity to implement it.

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Several organizations are working to clean up the town. But that alone will be just a drop in an ocean of filth. It is the inherent mindset, the attitude of each and every citizen of the city that must change. Just the other day, me and my friends were returning from a movie, when the man in front of us casually threw his empty coke can over his shoulder. In front of everyone, my friend stooped down, picked it up, and threw it in the trashcan a few steps away. Everyone watched with expressions of incredulity on their faces and it wasn’t long before the offender himself noticed. The ashamed look on his face was enough to convince me that he would think

twice before he littered the next time. Little acts of goodness like that help shape society tremendously. What better way to spread awareness than through the implementation of the deed? And if anybody is wondering whether a truly clean nation is possible, look no further than the island nation of Singapore. Legend has it that you can eat food off the road – but then, that is only if you don’t get fined for putting food on the road first. The police there are notorious for maintaining an exceptional level of hygiene in public spaces. And Singapore’s reputation as a clean, green country has contributed more to its flourishing tourism industry than any other single factor. Isn’t it insulting that this nation, the total size of which is over thousand times less than ours, is gaining more revenue from tourism than India is? Things must change. Fines and laws will change nothing until we change ourselves. The only way we can make a difference is by being the difference that we want to see in society. Each one of us must do it. It is only when we teach ourselves to go that extra mile in search of a trashcan or to wait that extra hour till we reach a place that has one, that we can even attempt to make a dent in this littered place we call home.

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Being a student of Environmental Science in International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, Indore, he is a nature lover, rather an environment freak. He loves to spend time in Forest - Observing, Identifying, Understanding and Photographing Wildlife. He intends to become an environmentalist and may be a Wildlife film-maker, Photographer and Conversationalist.

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Bamboo Pit Viper

Brown Fish Owl Spotted Owllet

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p Hill Jezabel t Common Wanderer Butterfly

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Vivek Sharma

a new generation Snake enthusiastic who is part of indiansnakes.org where the small team is trying to educate layman and all those who wants to know more about snakes. They believe in joining hands for betterment

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o introduce snakes in relation to humans is a big task and is not so easy. They are fascinating, shiny, legless, scaly, creepy, shy, most attractive and mysterious creatures of nature. About 285 species of snakes are found in India. Out of them, most of us know only about 10 snake species. Only a handful of species are distributed in the major part of the country and rest of them are restricted to Western Ghats, Himalayan region and NorthEast etc., which are the parts of the Biological Hotspots of the world.

There are 55 venomous snakes found in India, out of which only the Big Four • • • •

Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja) Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) Russell’s Viper (Daboia russelii) Saw Scaled Viper (Echis carinatus)

are the only ones that cover about 70-80% area of Indian mainland. These Big Four are responsible for maximum human encounters, bites & casualties of human beings. In this article, we’ll reveal possibilities of their encounter with humans and compare them with other venomous snakes found in the same area.

CLOSE LIVING We give them enough space and reasons for them to come and stay in and around our houses. Almost all Elapids (Venomous) & Colubrids (non venomous) like to enter for any reason in our house. They are found in dark & narrow places like in the washroom, store room and even toilet seats! Many a times, they refuse to leave the area. The

main question is why do they enter there? Reasons are countless. First, we give them a dry environment during monsoons, warm floor during winter while cool places during summer. In short in the entire year, we provide them with a comfortable hiding place along with appropriate temperature range in tough weather. Second, they are attracted to their prey especially in the rural areas, where they might stay for a longer time than necessary. These two reasons are responsible for the very old relation of humans with snakes.

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Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja)

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Venomous snakes could be dangerous enough to give us trouble or sometimes may cause death if one is careless. During monsoon there is a rise in snake bite cases as they approach dry environments (human habitation) so, there’s a shortened distance between snakes and humans than any other season. Usually Spectacled Cobra is the most common venomous snake found in a human house and can be really aggressive and will show a lot of attitude. Common Krait could be a nightmare for people of rural areas and is responsible for maximum casualties (death per bite). It gets into bed along with humans to get warmth to regain its stamina. This is the reason why there are maximum casualties from Krait bites. Multiple bite cases are observed in Krait species. Fortunately vipers do not do the same. They like to stay outside the house and hide in rocks and bushes for basking and other routine activities. Farmers face serious threat from two of the big four when they failed to see them when they are perfectly camouflaged with their

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DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS WITH BIG 4

Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) surroundings. Russell’s Viper may be the most bite causing snake in Big 4 in South, Central & Western parts of country, but the number of deaths due to this one are very less. Apart from the Big Four there are few other regionally common species which behave like Big Four: Monocled Cobra (NorthEast), Black Krait (North-East), Banded Krait (Central-Eastern India), Green Pit Viper group (Consisting of 4 similar looking species (NorthEast), Hump-Nosed Pit Viper (South India) are also responsible for medically significant bites. But their record is not as big as the Big Four.

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Russell’s Viper (Daboia russelii) KEEP SAFETY

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We can’t really get rid of snakes but we can try to keep our houses clean and hygienic. We can only try to keep safe distance with a little knowledge of snakes around us as all snakes are not venomous or dangerous. In fact about 20 species in dozen live around us but we barely see 3-4 snakes in the whole year. Imagine the extent of their shyness. We should respect their behavior which is very essential for their survival. We have to know they are not so dangerous like we have been told by the older generation or folklore.

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Never let them hide in your vicinity and to prevent this from happening, don’t let any mound for a long time in the backyard. You can ensure this when you keep all rodents out of the house. In rural areas villagers should not sleep on the floor as this is the reason for maximum Krait bites. To prevent any threat from Vipers, people should use boots and not go barefeet for their fieldwork. Remember precaution is the best defense.


CONSERVATION OF INDIAN SNAKES Snakes are the most misunderstood creatures living around humans. We just need to educate each other by knowing them closely. They are the most common wild animals which have been around for really long. We should respect them and their presence if we want to have a secure & eco-friendly future.

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Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972) has been protecting snakes. All Pythons and Indian Egg Eating Snake are protected under Schedule I, all venomous snakes come under schedule ll and all non-venomous snakes come under Schedule lV. Killing or threatening is serious wildlife crime. A layman can also take part in their conservation and education. We just need to call a local snake rescuer when we see any snake inside our house. Instead of killing them we can manage their live departure from the house.

Saw Scaled Viper (Echis carinatus)

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FROM THE

FIELD 2 weeks volunteering in Greece with ARCHELON (Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece)

Tom Elliott

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Tom Elliott is from Cornwall, UK and is currently on a gap year. Volunteering at Mavrovouni Beach in Lakonikos Bay, Greece to help protect sea turtles was his first experience of marine conservation. In September 2012, Tom will begin a degree in English at Exeter University.

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had been looking forward to joining the Turtle Conservation program at Mavrovouni Beach for many months but the time I spent there volunteering surpassed all of my expectations. It was both an enjoyable and eye-opening experience. During the first weekend in June, volunteers arrived one by one throughout the day from various parts of the globe. The first set of volunteers were from the UK, USA and Holland. Whilst each volunteer had a different accent and a different day to day life outside of the project, it was refreshing to think that we had all been drawn to Greece for the same reason – to do our part to help protect Loggerhead turtles in the breathtaking bay of Lakonikos. The nesting season for Loggerhead turtles in Greece is between May and September. As Archelon volunteers, we would conduct a morning survey every day where we would check for turtle nests. If a nest had appeared during the night (normal nesting times for Loggerhead turtles are over-night) we would build a grid that would protect the eggs until they are ready to hatch. Foxes, dogs and other mammals often dig up unprotected turtle nests whilst human activity can also be very damaging. A single nest on average contains between 100 and 200 eggs. Therefore, it is vital to protect them. As a part of the first team of the year, our first task was to set up a camp as quickly as possible, ensuring that we had a base that hundreds of volunteers would use until September. From fridges to stoves to hammocks, everything was cleaned and a small patch of grass was quickly transformed into a home. There was even a stable deckchair for a particular clumsy volunteer who couldn’t handle the hammocks.

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As a person with little experience in marine

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sea turtle tracks and nest

biology, it was fascinating learning about this extraordinary species. Our training was thorough and by the time I had read the books provided by the project leaders and seen some topical videos and presentations, I was itching to get on the beach and begin the conservation work. The first nest appeared within three days of being at Mavrovouni beach and it was obvious that the other volunteers were as excited as I was about getting involved. The project leaders’ experience and enthusiasm was invaluable and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly we picked up the necessary skills. Before I arrived I would not have been able to find a turtle nest on the beach; never mind locate the eggs, take the relevant measurements for research and then protect them from predators, people and any other


feature volunteers digging for turtle eggs

hazards on the busy beach. I would not have been able to create the grids that are used to protect them and I certainly couldn’t speak as many Greek, Dutch and American words as I now can. Unfortunately we also encountered two dead turtles that were washed up on Mavrovouni beach and the nearby Valtaki beach. Many turtles are drowned in fishing nets or by ingesting fishing hooks, sometimes they are even targeted by local fishermen who regard them as a pest as they cause a lot of damage when they are entangled in nets. Another cause is pollution, especially plastic refuse that ends up in the sea, as turtles feed on jellyfish, its amazing how similar a jellyfish and floating plastic bag look, even to us humans. It was a sad sight to see but it also reinforced why we were there.

One of the best parts of the project was meeting people from all over the world and I am sure that we will stay in touch. As stereotypical as it may sound, the project has shown me that the world is a very small place and no matter where they are from, people are people. I will never forget the time that I spent volunteering in Lakonikos Bay. I met some fantastic people, ate some brilliant Greek food and most importantly, made a small difference by helping to protect a truly fascinating but endangered species, loggerhead turtles. Since 1983, volunteers have travelled from all over the world to protect sea turtles and their habitats on behalf of Archelon, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. information kiosk

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GVI is a non-political, non-religious organisation, which through its alliance with over 150 project partners in over 30 countries, provides opportunities for volunteers to fill a critical void in the fields of environmental research, conservation, education and community development.

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GVI is proud to partner with ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. Archelon was founded in 1983. It aims to protect sea turtles and their habitats in Greece through research, public awareness campaigns, restoring habitats, and through its rescue centre, built in 1994.

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FACTS AND FIGURES

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• Every year over 2,500 nests are protected against human threats, predation and sea inundation. • Nearly 4,000 turtles have been tagged in order to monitor their movements in the sea. Recently satellite transmitters have been used. • Over 13,000 students participate every year in the educational programmes. • Three permanent and 10 seasonal stations are operated by ARCHELON (GVI’s partner) on Zakynthos, Peloponnesus and Crete. • Over 50 injured or sick turtles are treated every year at the Rescue Centre at Glyfada (Athens).

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For more info on turtles and volunteering in the Mediterranean area visit www.archelon.gr www.medasset.gr/cms/index.php

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manishgadia


photo stor y Manish Gadia Manish is a freelance photographer based in Mumbai, Maharasthra whose love for nature is beautifully depicted in this photo story. He can be contacted at manish.gadia@gmail.com www.facebook.com/manishgadiaphotography

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The Sweet Taste of Blood

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The Growl of a Cub

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one story at a time

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Lindsey Wahlstrom PCI-Media Impact

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“Parents should give their children roots and wings. But I’m worried we only gave you wings.” The words of my father have often echoed in my head as I meandered through verdant hills and lazy rivers of sleepy villages in countries far from my own. Over the years, my trips have taken me farther off the beaten track and for the past decade, all winding paths seemed to lead to hidden hamlets inhabited by communities living in harmony with nature. Unlike the diagnosis my father offered for my seeming inability to sit still, the communities I visited were rooted to place, tethered by thousands of years of history. Most had no interest in the “wings” part of his equation. There is a special symbiosis that happens when a community stewards one piece of land for thousands of years. In Meghalaya, India, it takes the shape of living bridges made from the roots of trees that offer a safe passage to their custodians. In the Amazon, this partnership restores the forests plundered for natural resources. Unfortunately, pressures from a quickly increasing global population and even faster growing patterns of consumption constantly threaten this delicate balance. In recent travels, I have witnessed mountains disappear as people search for gold; bubbling brooks turn stagnant and toxic waste from sludge seeping in from nearby oil wells; and deforested hills crumble in landslides after the seasonal rains had been made worse by climate change.

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My addiction to “doing” and “fixing” made me want to roll-up my sleeves and help. Yet, when I asked what I could do, I was invited to pullup a chair and listen instead. The answer that came was always the same: “Tell our stories.” So I began to write at a feverish pace. As I wrote about my experiences and spoke about what I saw, the words felt hollow. They lacked thousands of years of connection to that place to back them up. I needed a new strategy and, in early 2009, I found it. For more than a quarter century, PCI-Media Impact (Media Impact) has helped communities around the world – in 46 countries to be precise – tell their stories. A non-profit organization, Media Impact trains groups around the world to produce Entertaining and educative serial dramas, interactive talkshows and community mobilization campaigns to motivate both individual and collective behavioral change. The entire methodology springs from the belief that we can change the world by crafting new social narratives. The strategy is quite effective (some programs generate up to 400% increases in the listener use of services) and versatile. Media Impact is currently operating in 31 countries, addressing issues that range from climate change in the Caribbean, to sexual and reproductive health in Peru, to gossip in New York City schools.

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For the past three-and-a-half years, I have been honored to be a part of the organization’s important work, first directly supporting the development and implementation of their programs, and later overseeing Media Impact’s external communications. After seeing the catharsis a young man felt after portraying himself in a drama about abuse, and hearing the haunting sobs of relief that escape listeners who call in to say “this happened to me too,” there is no doubt in my mind that

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stories have the ability to change lives and, quite possibly, the world. During my time at Media Impact, I have also been fortunate to learn from many of the leaders in Entertainment-Education how to make communications materials that motivate behavior change. Six of these lessons are detailed below: EVERYONE HAS A STORY TO TELL Oral storytelling has literally shaped human societies for tens of thousands of years. We use stories to teach lessons, pass on values systems and create national identities. Stories are important tools for generating behavior change and for demonstrating the impact of your work. With the right tools, everyone (and I mean everyone) can be a gifted storyteller. It’s in our blood. COMMUNICATION IS A TWO-WAY PROCESS Posters and give-away items like pens and T-shirts are great tools for spreading your message, but if you want to create true change, you need to listen to how the audience responds. Perhaps the best evidence of this is the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube that have truly changed the way we communicate. We, as people, are more tolerant of imperfect messages and unedited videos when we are able to relate

When we ask individuals to stop doing something, chances are we will have a limited impact. No one wants to be inconvenienced.


adopting new practices that will benefit them and their communities. You all know what you are against. The real question is: What are you for?

DEVELOPMENT HAPPENS IN COMMUNITIES… … and communities often know what they need more than we do. When individuals are unable to make decisions about their bodies, or feed their growing families, or guarantee they will have a roof over their head tomorrow, we can talk about conservation until we are blue in the face but will have little impact. However, when local organizations are empowered to address their own issues, they will create opportunities for everyone to contribute to sustainable community development.

IF WE ARE GOING TO MAKE LASTING CHANGE, WE NEED TO FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS The world has enough problems - and more than enough people to point them out. If you want to stand out in your field, propose solutions. Shape your programs so that it is easier for individuals to make the “right choice” be it recycling, planting trees, or growing sustainably-harvested crops. If you are at a loss for ideas, look for the Positive Deviants, individuals or communities who, with no extra resources, have been able to tackle the problem you are attempting to address.

POSITIVE FRAMING MAKES A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE A wise man once told me a story about a time in the 1970s when Mother Teresa informed a young American man that she would not march with him against the Vietnam War. She added that she would, however, lead the way should he choose to walk for peace. When we ask individuals to stop doing something, chances are we will have a limited impact. No one wants to be inconvenienced. We are much more likely to gain traction if we ask individuals to try something new or – better yet – to join us in

DON’T OPERATE IN A VACUUM Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Imagine what would happen if all of those small, thoughtful groups shared their work with one another. Hundreds of small groups scattered throughout the world, when connected, can lead to big global movements. Participate in LISTSERVS. Contribute to lessons-learnt documents. Get involved in building global networks. Spread the wealth of your knowledge.

The world has enough problems - and more than enough people to point them out. If you want to stand out in your field, propose solutions.

Above all, I have learned this:

When all else fails, be inspired, do something positive with your inspiration and tell the story of what you did. You just may inspire someone else.

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to them, and take ownership of, the content. To create a big impact, we need to step away from our desks and into the world. We need to understand and connect with our audience.


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Expressions has a readership of approximately 15,000 people from all walks of life, and is delivered online to public libraries and is also easily accessible to general population who cares for the environment. Expressions is also sent to consulates, govt. organization in India to help provide information to the people who really matter i.e., policy makers. Our research shows that the vast majority of our readers regularly read the advertising pages, and respond well to adverts for products, courses and services. Expressions online e-magazine that enables you to market products and services to a select audience. The quality and consistency of Expressions ensures a longer shelf life, maximizing the number of times each issue is read and your advertisements are viewed. Sponsorship of Expressions magazine gives your organization an excellent opportunity to both reach this desirable audience and be recognized as a supporter of ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, thus helping in building your social image as well.

For Advertising rates, visit us at www.expressions.icareindia.co.in or call +919411114921, or send an email to advertise@icareindia.co.in

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in the news

inthenews ‘Warming could unleash more violent storms’ IANS,

TEL AVIV, July 11, 2012 According to a study, for every one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 per cent increase in lightning activity. Global warming could unleash more violent thunderstorms, flash floods and forest fires in the coming years, according to an Israeli researcher. The Tel Aviv University (TAU) researcher has predicted that for every one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 per cent increase in lightning activity. This could have negative consequences in the form of flash floods, wild fires, or damage to power lines and other infrastructure, says Colin Price, TAU professor and head of geophysics, atmospheric and planetary Sciences. Under an ongoing project on the impact of climate change on lightning and thunder-

storm patterns, he and his colleagues have run computer climate models and studied real life examples of climate change, such as the El Nino cycle in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, to determine how changing weather conditions impact storms, the Journal of Geophysical Research and Atmospheric Research reports. An increase in lightning activity will have particular impact in areas that become warmer and drier as global warming progresses, including the Mediterranean and the southern United States, according to the 2007 United Nations report on climate change, a TAU statement said. When running their state-of-the-art computer models, Price and fellow researchers assess climate conditions in a variety of real environments. First, the models are run with current atmospheric conditions to see how accurately they are able to depict the frequency and severity of thunderstorms and lightning in today’s environment. Then, the researchers input changes to the model atmosphere, including the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (a major cause of global warming) to see how storms are impacted. Price compared their results with vastly differing real world climates, such as dry Africa and the wet Amazon, and regions where climate change occurs naturally, such as Indonesia and Southeast Asia, where El Nino causes the air to become warmer and drier.

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“During El Nino years, which occur in the Pacific Ocean or Basin, Southeast Asia gets warmer and drier. There are fewer thunderstorms, but we found 50 per cent more lightning activity,” says Mr. Price. Typically, he says, we would expect drier conditions to produce less lightning. However, re-

searchers also found that while there were fewer thunderstorms, the ones that did occur were more intense. These findings have been presented at the International Conference on Lightning Protection.

Vulture conservation to boost up from 2014: BNHS PTI

A Himalayan vulture. National Board for Wildlife and Director of Bombay Natural History Society has said that 30 young vultures have already been bred at the facilities and they will be released in 2014-15. File photo PANAJI, July 1, 2012

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The Hindu Vulture conservation movement in the subcontinent is set to get a boost with Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) expecting 30

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young vultures to be released from the breeding facilities and also marking of vulture safe zones at three places in India by 2014. “Extinction of vultures is a cause of concern.


MoEF has set up three vulture breeding facilities at Rani, Guwahati (Assam), Pinjore (Haryana) and Buxa (West Bengal). “The breeding facilities had started some years back but it takes time for the reproduction amongst vultures. The projects are expensive but the real idea is that if vultures totally disappear there should be some at least in captivity which can be released,” said Rehmani, whose BNHS is managing the projects. The MoEF intends to create vulture safe zones spanning across thousands of kilometers where these birds in the captivity would be released. “From 2014 onwards, they would be released. The birds will be having colour banding so that they can be located once air bound,” he said. The zone between Uttarakhand to Nepal, which spans from Corbett to Katriya Ghat, a Tarai belt, covering 30,000 sq kms, will be earmarked as

‘Vulture Safe’ zone.

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Almost 40 per recent of remaining vultures are dying every year,” Dr Asad Rehmani, a senior member of National Board for Wildlife and Director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), said in Panaji. He said the 30 young vultures have already been bred at the facilities and they will be released in 2014-15.

The species of slender-billed vulture and whitebacked vulture are found in this area, which is a marshy grassland. Similarly a belt between Dibrugarh (Assam) to North Lakhimpur (Arunachal Pradesh) will also be conserved as a vulture safe zone where slender-billed and white-backed species of vultures are found, he said. The third zone would be in central India, covering Chhattisgarh, where white-backed and longbilled vultures are found. Rehmani said conservationists are working with the Union Finance Ministry to ensure that diclofenac, a veterinary medicine, which is the cause of increasing extinction of the birds, is effectively banned. Vultures suffer from kidney failure when they eat the carcass of animal that has been administered veterinary diclofenac. He said efforts would be made to ensure that at least use of diclofenac should be banned in the zones announced as vulture safe zones.

England flood risk to rise fourfold by 2035 By Nina Chestney (Reuters) LONDON | Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:07pm IST

(Reuters) - The risk of flooding for many English homes and businesses could increase fourfold by 2035 if more action to deal with the impact of climate change is not taken, government advisers said on Wednesday. As severe floods continue to batter parts of Britain after the wettest June since records began, around one in seven homes and businesses face some kind of flood risk, the climate advisers said.

Around 160,000 properties would be at risk by 2035 if better planning and more investment was made in flood defenses, compared with 610,000 at risk if no action was taken, they said. The cost of protecting more than half a million homes at risk of flooding will double to 1 billion pounds a year by 2035, according to estimates by the UK’s Environment Agency in 2010. The devastating floods of 2007 caused damage to homes and businesses, infrastructure and services, and resulted in lost work and school days,

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which cost the UK economy 3.2 billion pounds. “We must take adaptation more seriously if we are to manage the growing risks of floods and droughts,” said John Krebs, the chairman of the climate change advisory panel. “This can be done by investing more in flood defenses, faster rollout of water meters and giving serious consideration to where and how we build our housing and infrastructure,” he said in a statement. “Without action by households and businesses to prepare for these inevitable weather extremes the country faces rising costs, unnecessary damage and future disruption.”

falling and is 12 percent lower for the current government spending period compared with the previous one, after inflation. However, the UK’s Environment Agency estimates that funding needs to increase by 20 million pounds a year on top of inflation to keep pace with climate change. “We are spending more than 2.17 billion pounds over four years to protect people from flooding and our successful partnership funding model will draw in around an additional 72 million pounds,” said a spokesman from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in response to the report.

Scientists believe extreme weather like heatwaves, floods and droughts are linked to climate change and likely to become more frequent in the future. Flooding will be the biggest climate risk to Britain this century with damage set to cost as much as 12 billion pounds ($18.63 billion) a year by the 2080s if nothing is done to adapt to extreme weather, a government-funded study said in January.

“The money for flood defenses is being spent more effectively than ever before and we now expect to exceed our target to better protect another 145,000 homes by 2015.”

Since the start of May this year, over 3,000 properties have been flooded, 55,000 have received flood warnings and 31,000 were protected by flood defenses, according to the UK’s Environment Agency.

Water scarcity is likely to be made worse by household consumption levels which are among the highest in north-west Europe.

FUNDING The government’s advisers said in a report that property development in flood plains - or areas along streams or rivers that are likely to experience repeated flooding - has increased by 12 percent over the past 10 years compared with a 7 percent rise in other parts of England.

Apart from increased flooding risks, water scarcity is also likely to become more common in parts of the country due to climate change and population growth, the panel said.

Encouraging households to save water could cut total consumption by 700 million litres a day, which is two thirds more than is currently saved under initiatives by water companies, according to the report. The government should take further steps to increase water efficiency through water metering and pricing, it added.

Public and private funding for flood defenses is

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in the news

tests Indonesia By Olivia Rondonuwu and David Fogarty and Niluksi Koswanage (Reuters) PANGKUH, Indonesia | Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:31pm IST (Reuters) - An Indonesian palm oil firm received preliminary approval six years ago for a large plantation in a swampy, forested corner of Borneo island, bringing the promise of jobs and roads to impoverished villages. By the book, that would have marked the start of a lengthy licensing and environmental approvals process before clearing and planting could start. The firm, PT Suryamas Cipta Perkasa (SCP), didn’t wait. It quickly cleared thousands of hectares of forest. That revelation recently set off alarm bells at major international palm oil trading firms Bunge and Cargill, which have made public pledges to source edible oil from plantations developed without cutting down forests illegally.

Bunge will take appropriate steps to ensure that our supply chain reflects our principles.” International conservation group Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) conducted a detailed probe into PT SCP and handed its findings to the Indonesian government. The Britishbased NGO also gave its findings to Reuters. Further examination by Reuters of official documents, interviews and satellite images reveals how the 23,000-hectare (57,500 acre) concession in Central Kalimantan province was developed and cleared apparently in violation of multiple laws.

“PT SCP is suspected to have committed violations to the concession area since three years ago at the very least,” said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, one of Indonesia’s most respected officials and head of the presidential taskforce on forests PT SCP is now under investigation from a presi- and land reform. dential taskforce on forests and land reform as well as local police for clearing and developing The allegations are being investigated by the the concession before getting mandatory envitaskforce and police in Central Kalimantan, a ronmental approvals. The investigation has beprovince in the Indonesian portion of Borneo, come a test of Indonesia’s pledge to clamp down a vast island east of Singapore with an interior on illegal forest clearing and pull plantation and of dense tropical rainforest. If found guilty, PT mining firms into line. SCP directors could be jailed and the concession’s license revoked. Pressure is also building on PT SCP’s parent PT Best Agro International Group, a large unlisted Villagers are also waging a campaign against PT Indonesian palm oil plantation owner, procesSCP for compensation and loss of livelihoods, sor and exporter. saying the firm never properly consulted them about the plantation plan. “The allegation of illegal deforestation is deeply disturbing and should be addressed by PT Best Officials at PT SCP and PT Best deny wrongdoquickly and transparently,” major customer ing and point to conflicting national and local Bunge, a global agribusiness and food company, laws in the area and say fair compensation was said in an email to Reuters. “If proven true, offered.

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PT SCP official Wahyu Bima Dharta said the plantation had brought jobs and development. One local official also defended PT SCP, saying it had helped the economy. “In the past, even the devil didn’t want to enter this area,” Dharta said, referring to the concession. Illegal deforestation is widespread in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, especially in Central Kalimantan, where scores of palm oil and mining concessions overlap with protected forests. British-based NGO Forest Peoples Programme and Sawit Watch of Indonesia say Indonesian laws offer weak protection for community land rights. They point to figures from Indonesia’s National Land Bureau stating there are about 5,500 land conflicts, of which 3,500 relate to palm oil. BILLION-DOLLAR PROMISE President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by saving Indonesia’s dwindling rainforests, a pledge that won the promise of $1 billion from Norway should he succeed. Indonesia has the world’s third-largest area of tropical rainforest. But Yudhoyono faces huge pressure because of soaring global demand for palm oil, used in everything from cookies to lipstick to biofuels, and the government plans to double current output to 40 million metric tons (44.1 million tons) a year. Indonesia is the world’s top palm oil producer and earns $20 billion a year from exporting the edible oil.

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A recent trip to PT SCP’s concession in Pulang Pisau district in Central Kalimantan showed how advanced the plantation is. Criss-crossing the plantation along roads laid out in a grid-pattern, deep canals drain tea-colored water from the black peat soil where forests stood a few years ago. The deep peat stores large

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amounts of carbon, which when drained or burned is released into the air, stoking climate change. Plots marked with tags show some areas planted in March 2008 and already bearing palm fruits for harvest. At the northwest edge of the plantation, a canal marks the boundary with thick forest on one side where several endangered orang-utans were gathered before fleeing at the sight of people. A GPS tracking device confirmed the area was part of PT SCP’s concession area. EIA’s report details eight suspected violations against Indonesian law committed by PT SCP. The report cites the laws and includes copies of official documents supporting its findings. “This is a test case that will show us very clearly if the government is able or willing to enforce the law,” said Tomasz Johnson, a forest campaigner for EIA who investigated the company. Indonesia has abundant laws to protect its forests. But lax enforcement and corruption mean cases go unpunished, NGOs say. ALL IN THE TIMING At the heart of the issue is PT SCP’s development of the plantation without getting approval for its environmental impact assessment report. The firm has also planted in deep peat, data used by the Ministry of Forestry shows. A presidential decree bans planting in peat more than 3 meters deep. Indonesian law states that plantation and mining firms need an approved environmental impact assessment before carrying out any business or activities. Failure to comply can result in up to three years in jail and 3 billion rupiah ($318,000) in fines.


The key to the issue is the timing. Indonesia’s complex permitting process for a plantation can take up to three years, meaning the firm was obliged to wait until receiving its major environmental and business approvals. Satellite imagery analysis by Thomson Reuters subsidiary Lanworth, which specializes in agriculture, forestry and renewable energy, shows the concession area being cleared from 2006, when the firm had only received a preliminary approval that did not give it the right to clear land. It shows that before the clearing of PT SCP’s concession, forest cover was 17,600 hectares in 2004-05, or 75 percent of the total. By late 2011, just over 2,100 ha of forest and other vegetation was left. Large areas of clearing started in September-November 2006 and continued into 2009, the analysis shows. The firm also never received a forest clearance permit from the Ministry of Forestry. Dharta told Reuters this was because of confusion over the application of national and regional laws. “We are actually the victim here. There is uncertainty in the law where this area should go to,” he said.

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PT SCP official Dharta said an environmental impact assessment report had been done but not approved by provincial authorities. A senior company official from PT Best, who declined to be named, told Reuters the firm would try to get the environmental assessment approved in one or two months.

istration and natural resources, said PT SCP had developed “abandoned land” and boosted the economy. Presidential adviser Mangkusubroto told Reuters his team was investigating evidence PT SCP had also extended the plantation beyond its boundaries. Local landowner Haji Asmadi, a thin, energetic man of 60, says villagers were never properly consulted on plans to develop the plantation, a view disputed by PT SCP and PT Best. He is leading a claim for compensation for about 5,600 hectares of land within the concession. Indonesian shipping records obtained by Reuters show that PT Best has been expanding its reach slowly. Last year, Bunge accounted for a third of the more than 50,000 tonnes of palm oil cargoes shipped from PT Best in Belawan port in Sumatra, the main export hub for the commodity. Cargill confirmed a single purchase of palm oil products from PT Best in September 2011 and said it would halt purchases from the firm if any illegality was proven. ($1 = 9,435 rupiah) (Niluksi Koswanage reported from Kuala Lumpur. Writing by David Fogarty; Editing by Ed Davies)

A 2011 Ministry of Forestry decree shows the concession area as a combination of production, protection and conservation forest, meaning it has not been released for development. Local officials and the company say a provincial bylaw removes the obligation for firms to get Ministry of Forestry approval to clear forest for a palm oil plantation, a view the ministry disputes. Usis Sangkai, district head for economic admin-

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Expressions July 2012 Volume 3 Issue 2