Ecology and Environment News 2012

Myristica swamps, a vanishing wetland ecosystem
Myristica swamps, a vanishing ecosystem, is now largely confined to 53 patches in the Kulathupuzha and Anchal forest ranges and the Shendurney wildlife sanctuary in Kerala. The Myristica swamps are tropical fresh water swamp forests with an abundance of Myristica trees, the most primitive of the flowering plants on earth. The evergreen, water-tolerant trees have dense stilt roots helping them stay erect in the thick, black, wet alluvial soil. The swamps are typically found in valleys, making them prone to inundation during monsoon rains. The trees form a fairly dense forest with a closed canopy. Studies have shown that the swamps, which would have occupied large swathes of the thickly- wooded Western Ghats in the past, are now restricted to less than 200 hectares in the country.

The swamps in Kerala provide habitat for a rich diversity of invertebrate and vertebrate species, including amphibians, reptiles and mammals. It is estimated that the wetlands contain 23 per cent of butterflies, 11 per cent of spiders, 8.4 per cent of fishes, more than 50 per cent of amphibians, more than 20 per cent of reptiles, 26.6 per cent of birds and 6.6 per cent of mammals in the whole of Kerala. Of the animals recorded from the swamps, 16.3 per cent are endemic to the Western Ghats and 24.2 per cent of the vertebrates are Red Listed.

Konkan was home to evergreen forests 44000 years ago
A study by the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) scientists in Pune, published recently in the journal, Quaternary International, describes the discovery of plant fossils of the ancient Myristica swamps from the Konkan coast.  The fossils, estimated to be 44,000 years old, throw light on the evergreen vegetation along the Konkan coast. The study infers that Konkan lost its wet evergreen forest cover due to the changes in the monsoon pattern.

Pied Crested Cuckoo - "The harbinger of monsoon"
Pied Crested Cuckoo is a migrant species bird appears in many parts of the country, pronouncing the imminent arrival of monsoon. The cuckoo is a mynah-sized black and white bird with a long tail. Its upper half is black, including the crest and white below. It has a white round patch in the middle of the wings and tip of the tail. By the time the monsoon reaches Kerala — in June first week — Pied Cuckoos are everywhere in India, except perhaps the extreme west and north-west.

Wanted Alive
"Wanted Alive” is a new  new public service advertisement campaign by by TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network is a joint programme of WWF and International Union for the Conservation of Nature, reminds people that these felines are "Wanted Alive” in their natural habitat. It features the four Asian big cats — the Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard — all of them threatened by illegal trade in their body parts.

source : compiled from hindu - environment section