Pelicans in Montenegro and Albania


This video from India is called Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus crispus).

From BirdLife:

Cross-border cooperation with CEPF for Lake Skadar and its pelicans

By Shaun Hurrell, Tue, 01/07/2014 – 11:28

Nestled between Montenegro and Albania, Lake Skadar has always captured its visitors – both human and bird – with its wild beauty and rich nature. Known as Skadar Lake to Montenegrins, Shkodra to Albanians, and Scutari to others, this iconic wetland in the Balkans is one of the largest bird reserves in Europe and harbours one of the largest birds in the world – Dalmatian Pelican.

Like the lake itself is shared by Montenegro and Albania, the pelicans, other biodiversity and the health of the habitat is a shared responsibility not only of both countries, but the international community. CEPF*-funded projects at Lake Skadar are proving that effective collaboration by local and international civil society organisations can be the best way to make positive results for conservation. The most successful breeding season for the Dalmatian Pelican has just happened at this transboundary site as a consequence!

Dalmatian Pelican are a traditional symbol of Lake Skadar and more recently there has been a rich tradition of conservation effort and investment into sustainable management at the lake. CEPF experienced this first-hand when two calls for Mediterranean project proposals in 2012 were met with huge interest in Lake Skadar from 15 non-governmental organisations (NGOs). To proceed most effectively without ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth’, CEPF decided to organise and fund a workshop where all 15 NGOs plus 10 governmental and managing authorities met to settle on conservation priorities for the lake.

Learning from best-practice at Lake Prespa in Greece where the workshop was held, two project proposals emerged directly from the event that together aligned 10 organisations into collaborations for conserving Lake Skadar. CEPF is more than just a funding provider, it works to bring together and engage civil society for the long-term benefit of biodiversity.

Project 1: A new management system for Lake Skadar, 3 NGOs

A major priority for Lake Skadar is to have a sustainable management system that realistically includes the needs of the local Montenegrin and Albanian communities. Regardless of what side of the border they live, these people live on the lake shore and depend upon it for their livelihoods. So a key element in the project is to bring the concept of sustainable management of natural resources to them, increasing their sense of ownership and shared responsibility for the lake for generations to come.

That means education and engagement. It is not good for everyone if people fish during the spawning season or shoot and disturb endangered bird species. And it means synchronised trans-border management between authorities from both countries. Unfortunately the management system of protected areas on the Albanian side is currently undergoing significant structural changes, but grantees are busy preparing a set of modifications to cope with them.

The cooperation of two local NGOs with one international is proving to be an effective model of project implementation, which brings globally-effective examples of good practice to the locally-specific environment. Project coordinator International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) brings international expertise on protected area management, whilst Green Home of Montenegro and the Institute for Nature Conservation in Albania (INCA) provide local engagement.

Project 2: Conservation of Pelicans, a Key Biodiversity Species of Skadar Lake, 7 organisations

Lake Skadar harbours a small breeding population of Vulnerable Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, which has been struggling here since the 1970s due to many problems, mainly flooding and disturbance. In 2013, led by French NGO Noé Conservation, this large-grant CEPF project shows the power of even more collaborative partnerships.

The project aims to protect the colony and improve breeding success, with patrols by National Park guards, and floating nest platforms to reduce the impact of water level changes. Being an icon for the Lake Skadar, pelican-friendly tourism (Pelican Villages) will also promote the natural heritage of the entire lake, supported also by environmental education campaigns. The project also brings new practices in monitoring and research, and supports local institutions towards the main goal of a rich and stable pelican population.

A critical ecosystem worth conserving!A critical ecosystem worth conserving!

As well as coordinators Noé Conservation, international partners Tour du Valat and EuroNatur provide expert support on scientific practices, which have ensured the recovery of pelican populations and wetland sites in other parts of the Balkan region. This knowledge is combined with lengthy experience gathered by local partners from both sides of the lake – CZIP (BirdLife in Montenegro) and APAWA (the Association for Protection of Aquatic Wildlife in Albania). Natural History Museum of Montenegro (traditionally most intensively involved in pelican study at the lake) and National Park of Skadar Lake (the main managing authority of the lake) combine with the Society for the Protection of Prespa and Pelicans Species Specialist Group (on a consultative basis). Altogether, these complementary actors share knowledge and experience, bringing strong cooperation to ensure the best protection of this critical ecosystem from both sides of the border.

And it is working! This year four nesting rafts were immediately accepted by the pelicans, and used for nesting. Now, from the population estimated at 70 individuals, 48 young pelicans have been counted! This is the biggest number of surviving chicks in over 37 years of counting on Lake Skadar. Both adult and young pelicans are squeezing onto the rafts or freely swimming around – a true nature spectacle and a promise of better days for the Dalmatian Pelican on Lake Skadar.

*BirdLife International – including its Middle East office and the BirdLife Partners DOPPS/BirdLife Slovenia and LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, BirdLife in France) – is providing the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot (CEPF Med). Find out more at http://www.birdlife.org/cepf-med.

*The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Conservation International (CI), the European Union, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. More information on CEPF can be found at www.cepf.net.

Indian politicians condone rape


This video from India says about itself:

‘Nobody commits rape deliberately’, says Chhattisgarh Home Minister

7 June 2014

After the brutal rape and murder of two cousins in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun sparked a nationwide outrage, Chhattisgarh Home Minister Ramsevak Paikra has landed himself into controversy by saying that rape happens “by mistake”.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Indian minister makes rape apologist comments

Sunday 8th June 2014

ANOTHER minister from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP party attempted to excuse rape at the weekend.

Just days ago, Madhya Pradesh state BJP Home Minister Babulal Gaur said rapes were “sometimes right, sometimes wrong.”

And late on Saturday, Chhattisgarh state Home Minister Ramsevak Paikra, who is responsible for law and order, said that rapes did not happen on purpose.

“Such incidents do not happen deliberately. These kind of incidents happen accidentally,” Mr Paikra told reporters.

Mr Paikra, who had been asked for his thoughts on the gang-rape and lynching of two girls in a neighbouring state, later claimed that he had been misquoted.

However, his original remarks were broadcast on television.

Women’s groups slammed the comments, saying they were evidence that politicians were unable to stem sexual violence because they lacked respect for India’s women and were ignorant of the issues.

See also here.

Rape summit in London sparks charge of ‘hypocrisy’. [British] Government under attack for hosting Global Summit to End Sexual Violence event while women asylum seekers suffer: here.

Vulture-killing drug kills eagles as well


This video says about itself:

Vanishing Vultures

31 May 2011

The Indian sub-continent had the highest density of vultures in the world – 85 million in total. However, over the past few years 99% have disappeared – mostly due to the use of the veterinary drug Diclofenac.

The loss of such an important scavenger has had devastating effects – putrefying decomposing carcasses are thought to be the cause of anthrax and rabies outbreaks. The extinction of this species would have global health consequences.

From BirdLife:

New study shows vulture-killing drug kills eagles too

By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 28/05/2014 – 11:45

The results of tests carried out on two Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis found dead in Rajasthan, India, have shown some worrying results.

Both birds had diclofenac residue in their tissues and exhibited the same clinical signs of kidney failure as seen in vultures.

Scientists now fear that all species in this genus, known as Aquila (which includes Golden A. chrysaetos and Spanish Imperial Eagle A. adalberti), are susceptible to diclofenac. With fourteen species of Aquila Eagle distributed across Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America, this means that diclofenac poisoning should now be considered largely a global problem.

Dr Toby Galligan, RSPB conservation scientist and one of the authors of the paper published in BirdLife’s journal Bird Conservation International, said: “In light of recent developments in Europe, our findings take on an even more worrying meaning. All Aquila eagles, like the Spanish Imperial Eagle, are opportunistic scavengers and therefore could be at risk of diclofenac poisoning. As we have seen in South Asia, wherever free-ranging livestock is treated with diclofenac, population declines in vultures and eagles can occur. The European Commission needs to recognise this problem and impose a continent-wide ban on veterinary diclofenac before it can impact on our birds.”

Worryingly, it was announced in March that the drug had been authorised for manufacture and use in Italy and Spain and had been distributed to other European countries. Since then, a coalition of organisations including the Vulture Conservation Foundation, the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and BirdLife have been campaigning for this decision to be reversed.

Ivan Ramirez, Head of European Conservation at BirdLife stated, “The findings strengthen the case for banning veterinary diclofenac across Europe and for the enforcement of bans in South Asia to stop the illegal misuse of human diclofenac to treat livestock.”

Find out more about our campaign to ban diclofenac in Europe

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Save Indian lions


This video says about itself:

21 May 2014

Lions400 is the Zoological Society of London‘s campaign to secure the future of the majestic Asian lion, which clings to survival in only one isolated Indian forest.

These lions are on the brink, and we can’t let them disappear.

Find out more here.

From Wildlife Extra:

New campaign offers hope for Asian lion

Asian lions may be clinging to survival, with less than 500 left in the wild, but there is hope, say[s] The Zoological Society of London (ZSL). They have launched a campaign called Lions 400 to try and secure the future of the species, whose range is now limited one isolated Indian forest. Here the lions are easy prey for poachers, and just one forest fire or disease epidemic could wipe this ancient species out for ever.

Confined to such a small area, the lions are also at risk of wandering into neighbouring areas where the hazards include being killed by trains, vehicles or frightened villagers.

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New frog species discovery in India


This video from India says about itself:

Breeding Behaviour Part I

27 March 2014

Male and female Kumbara frogs do courtship behaviour by standing on their hind limbs and touching each other. In the clip above, after the initial courtship the female touches the twigs, where it is likely to oviposit later on. The male keeps calling ‘tok tok’ as the female is very close by. After this inspection, female positions herself for the axillary amplexus.

This video from India says about itself:

Breeding Behaviour Part II

15 May 2014

After the axillary amplexus, male and female position themselves upright. Later, female initiates the clockwise rotation with male and she makes a head stand and releases all the eggs. Just a fraction of a second prior to oviposition, male gets separated from amplexus, but sits close to the female that is ovipositing.

And this video says:

Breeding Behaviour Part III

15 May 2014

The male comes back to the oviposition site and starts applying mud to the egg clutch. This can go on for 30-40 times as long as all the eggs are covered. Once done, male starts calling again from the nearby area.

From National Geographic:

New Frog Mates Doing Handstands, Does “Pottery”

Posted by James Owen in Weird & Wild on May 16, 2014

A new species of frog with some bizarre mating rituals has been discovered in India, a new study says.

Found in swampy forests of the Western Ghats (map), the Kumbara night frog (Nyctibatrachus kumbara) mates while doing a handstand and then daubs its eggs with mud to protect them—the world’s only known frog species known to do so. (See: “Weird Purple Frog Seduces Females From Underground.”)

Hence the new frog’s name: Kumbara means “potter” in the language of the Uttara Kannada region of western India where the species lives, according to the research, published May 16 in the journal Zootaxa.

When the male and female meet, they stand on their hind legs and touch the potential egg-laying site—usually a twig, plant, or rock that overhangs a stream, said study co-author Kotambylu Vasudeva Gururaja, an amphibian researcher at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

Then, during mating, the female performs a handstand with the male still on her back and starts laying her eggs, said Gururaja, whose team has observed and filmed the nocturnal frog, which was first glimpsed in 2006.

Mating Acrobatics

The male, having fertilized the spawn, leaps off, but the female remains in the handstand egg-laying position for up to 20 minutes.

The study team suspects the pair start out standing on their hind legs in order to indicate where they want to lay the eggs, “but that needs to be checked out,” Gururaja said. (Also see: “Pictures: Mouth-Birthing Frog to Be Resurrected?“)

This ritual may also be a way for the female to check whether the male literally measures up.

“We hypothesized that the female might be checking the length of the male, since he will release sperms just a fraction of second prior to [egg laying],” he said. “If he is too small, sperms may not reach the eggs that are being attached against gravity.”

That may be why females don’t always go on to mate with smaller male suitors, Gururaja noted.

Amphibian Pottery

After the female lays up to seven eggs, the male takes over—revealing a previously unreported method of parental care by frogs. (Watch a video of a male Darwin’s frog spitting out its young.)

“They fill their two hands with mud, stand on their hind legs, then apply the mud,” Gururaja said. “They use their fingers in a similar way to us.”

This plastering job may take 25 minutes, and can involve 40 to 50 trips to the streambed and back, according to Gururaja.

The eggs themselves are secured tightly to the twig, he added, and are difficult for even a human to remove.

The study team suspects the frogs position their spawn above the stream and then conceal it to protect against aquatic predators like freshwater crabs, which “will eat anything, including frogs,” Gururaja said.

The mud casing may also play a role in helping to prevent the eggs from drying out. After a week or so, the tadpoles emerge and drop down into the stream.

Frog-Rich Region

The Kumbara night frog is just the latest in a string of recent frog discoveries from the Western Ghats, a range that extends up and down India for 990 miles (1,600 kilometers). (Related: “14 New ‘Dancing Frogs’ Discovered in India.”)

In 2011, Sathyabhama Das Biju, head of the Systematics Lab at the University of Delhi, described 12 new species of night frogs, including one that makes a meowing sound.

Nyctibatrachus as a genus has amazing diversity in breeding behavior,” Biju, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said in an email.

He agreed the males’ mud-plastering is “unique,” adding that some frogs cover their eggs with mud to camouflage them and prevent them from drying out.

But the new frog’s egg-plastering technique, in combination with its other unusual breeding antics, “is an exciting find.”

“I believe more species will be described from this genus in the coming years,” Biju said.

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Fourteen dancing frog species discovered in India


This video says about itself:

8 May 2014

Scientists have discovered 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs in the jungle mountains of southern India – just in time, as scientists fear they may soon become extinct.

From Associated Press:

Dancing frog species discovered in Indian jungle mountains

14 species of acrobatic amphibians found in Western Ghats, a region expected to be hit by changing rainfall patterns

Thursday 8 May 2014 10.18 BST

Scientists have discovered 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs in the jungle mountains of southern India.

Indian biologists say they found the tiny acrobatic amphibians, which earned their name with the unusual kicks they use to attract mates, declining dramatically in number during the 12 years in which they chronicled the species through morphological descriptions and molecular DNA markers. They breed after the yearly monsoon in fast-rushing streams, but their habitat appears to be becoming increasingly dry.

“It’s like a Hollywood movie, both joyful and sad. On the one hand, we have brought these beautiful frogs into public knowledge. But about 80% are outside protected areas, and in some places, it was as if nature itself was crying,” said the project’s lead scientist, University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju.

Biju said that, as researchers tracked frog populations, forest soils lost moisture and perennial streams ran inexplicably dry. He acknowledged his team’s observations about forest conditions were only anecdotal; the scientists did not have time or resources to collect data demonstrating the declining habitat trends they believed they were witnessing.

The study listing the new species published Thursday in the Ceylon Journal of Science brings the number of known Indian dancing frog species to 24. They’re found exclusively in the Western Ghats, a lush mountain range that stretches 1,600 kilometers (990 miles) from the western state of Maharashtra down to the country’s southern tip.

See also here.

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