Tales from Nature- 9

Saturday, Oct 09, 2021 20:15 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Oct 09, 2021 14:43 [IST]

Tales from Nature- 9

SAIKAT K BASU

Marine plastic pollution nuisance
Plastics constitute an important place in our modern life across the globe. If we take a look around us we will find at least 10 different items made of plastics inside our home. It has transformed into a part and parcel of our life; however, little do we realize how plastics products are entering our oceans and destroying our marine ecosystems. Due to poor management of solid waste products as well as loopholes in our recycling system; the bulk of waste plastic products are finding their way into our seas and oceans. Dumping of plastic waste directly into the marine environment has also turned disastrous. Several marine birds, mammals, turtles, fishes as well as invertebrates have been found to consume microplastics directly or indirectly from their surrounding environment. This is killing them in large numbers through the process of bioaccumulation, as well as deposition of plastic waste on surface water blocking sunlight damaging production of phytoplanktons and zooplanktons. This in turn has serious consequences on the marine food chains and webs with disastrous short and long term impacts on our highly sensitive marine ecosystem.
Ecological restoration of the Sundarban mangrove ecosystem
The Sundarban mangrove ecosystem represents the largest mangal ecosystem. It has been built on the Indo-Gangetic deltaic plains of the Indian subcontinent at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal. Around 1/3 rd of the Sundarbans is in India; and the remaining 2/3 rd is in Bangladesh. This unique ecosystem is home to a rich diversity of many endangered plant and animal species and is designated as an UNESCO World Heritage site. The forest is home to 81 species of mangrove plants and animals like the Bengal tiger, salt water crocodiles, monitor lizards, several  birds, fishes and amphibians. Unfortunately the ecosystem is subjected to both natural and human impacts. Large scale destruction of the mangrove forest, intensified human settlements putting pressures high above the carrying capacity of the local ecosystem, over exploitation of forest resources, poaching, trafficking, tourism pressure, change in weather pattern due to Climate Change are factors deteriorating the forest ecosystem. It needs ecosystem restoration to protect the highly vulnerable mangroves; the core factor for the maintenance is to focus on better health.
Need for the conservation of medicinal plants
Medicinal plants are an important natural resource essential for the production of tribal, traditional as well modern medicines. Medicinal plants are a rich source several biologically important active phytochemicals like sapogenins, alkaloids, flavonoids, alkaloids, plant proteins and fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, essential amino acids and various essential oils. These are essential chemical resources and are highly sought after by both national and international  pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and functional food industries. But only a very few medicinally important plants are commercially grown. A vast majority is usually harvested from forests and national parks by collectors and are illegally procured by the relevant industries. This is causing a rapid erosion in the medicinal plant populations around the globe. Medicinal plants therefore are in need for urgent conservation and require immediate attention.
Elephant conservation
Man-animal conflicts are reported from around the world; but the epic battle between man and elephants is particularly an Indian story. The rapid loss of habitat and increasing loss of suitable foraging sites within the degraded forests has been pushing the pachyderms for mass migration from one state to another. The consequences have been unfortunate deaths of the gentle giants by coming in contact with live electric wires, unfortunate road and railway accidents, poaching, drowning in big reservoirs or direct clashes with farming communities as they destroy crop fields in their migration routes. The conflicts have also costed lives of unfortunate human victims who got entangled in thus epic man-animal conflict. It is therefore necessary to improve the quality of habitats of wild elephants, restrict them from moving into human settlements, secure elephant migration corridors and protect them from poachers.
Vultures on the verge of extinction
Each species living on our planet has its own role to play; that delicately balances the homeostasis of the global ecosystems. Vultures as an avian species have not been given the due respect they deserve for their important ecological roles. They convert dead and decomposing animal bodies into their food; thereby removing detritus from the environment keeping it clean and hygienic. Unfortunately all the vulture species across South Asia are showing rapid decline and severe collapse of their populations. Factors contributing towards the sad demise of vultures has been habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, poaching and trapping, intentional poisoning by mixing poison inside dead animals and as a result of bioaccumulation of toxic synthetic drug diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug given to cattle and livestock. Captive breeding and release of vultures has been initiated in different states and districts; however, their dwindling numbers in the wild threaten all four species of vultures with extinction.


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi