Wildlife and weather in India, film


This video from India says about itself:

Wildlife Documentary – When The Peacocks Sing: A Prequel to the Monsoons | Pocket Films

18 October 2014

This beautifully shot documentary captures the magical transformation of the dry state of Rajasthan into a lush, beautiful region when the monsoon sets in.

The organisers of the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, write about this film:

In the semi-arid state of Rajasthan in North West India, the receding summer gives way to the pre-monsoons (a brief period with intermittent rains) making it one of the best spectacles of transformation. Set amidst dry landscapes and ancient monuments, the film showcases how the heat affects the inhabitants of the region – both human and wild animals, and behaviour patterns of each species in this period of scarcity.

Then the Monsoons finally descend, transforming everything around it – playing their part in the cyclic rotation of seasons that has been going on since time immemorial.

Thirsty Indian leopard gets head stuck in pot


This video says about itself:

30 September 2015

A thirsty leopard found itself in a tight spot after he went foraging for water in an Indian mining dump.

The wild animal was found with its head stuck in a metal pot in the Indian village of Sardul Kheda in Rajasthan in the country’s north-west.

The agitated leopard wandered around as it struggled to get rid of the vessel, with onlookers recording and photographing the scene.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Forest officials eventually tranquilised the animal and sawed the pot off.

It was then taken to an enclosure a safe distance from the village.

District forest officer Kapil Chandrawal said: “It has been brought to a safe place.

“We have also called veterinarians to assess its health, which is in good condition. We have also tranquilised the animal.”

Mr Chandrawal said the leopard was around three and a half years old.

Disruption to wild habitats have led to increasing numbers of wild animals straying into inhabited areas in search of food.

According to the BBC, a recent wildlife estimate puts the leopard population of India at between 12,000 and 14,000.

Saudi diplomat accused of raping Nepalese women


This video says about itself:

India Calls In Saudi Ambassador Over Rape Case

10 September 2015

India called in the Saudi Arabia ambassador to seek his cooperation with an investigation into allegations one of his diplomats repeatedly raped two Nepalese women.

While the Saudi royal air force kills Indian sailors, a Saudi royal diplomat in India is accused of crimes as well.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Nepalese maids accuse Saudi diplomat of rape

Thursday 10th September 2015

TWO Nepalese maids have accused a Saudi diplomat of rape and torture while they were working in his home outside the Indian capital New Delhi, Indian police said yesterday.

The women have filed complaints with police alleging that the unnamed diplomat kept them locked in his apartment where they were repeatedly abused, said assistant commissioner Rajesh Kumar.

A police team rescued the women late on Monday after a third recently hired maid alerted a local NGO.

“We have registered a case of rape, sodomy and illegal confinement based on their complaint,” said Mr Kumar.

“They have also said that even guests at the house raped them.

“That is why we have added gang rape to the list of charges.”

Police said they were trying to determine whether the Saudi official had diplomatic immunity before proceeding with their investigation.

One of the women said they had been held for about four months.

Saudi royal air force butchers Indian sailors


This video from the USA says about itself:

Is U.S. Abandoning Americans in Yemen? U.S. Citizen Recounts Harrowing Trip to Escape Saudi Attacks

9 April 2015

A coalition of civil rights organizations is calling on the Obama administration to evacuate U.S. citizens from war-torn Yemen as violence there claims more and more lives. In mid-February, the U.S. government closed its embassies in Yemen and evacuated its personnel. Last month, Yemen’s airports all but shut down amidst heavy fighting, making it nearly impossible to leave the Gulf state.

But critics say the Obama administration has effectively told American citizens to fend for themselves. The U.S. State Department‘s website states: “There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time. We encourage all U.S. citizens to shelter in a secure location until they are able to depart safely.”

The U.S. refusal to evacuate its citizens comes despite its support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The United States has vowed to ramp up weapons deliveries to members of the Saudi-led coalition, and agreed to perform aerial refueling of bombers. Meanwhile, governments of several countries including Russia, India, and even Somalia have sent ships to rescue their citizens. We are joined by Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni American who has just managed to escape Yemen after being stranded there since December 2014.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Coalition kills 20 Indians on boat

YEMEN: Two boats carrying 20 Indian crew members were bombarded by aircraft while sailing between Somalia and Yemen, India’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

A day earlier the Yemeni coastguard had reported that the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Shi’ite rebels had bombed more than five boats off the coast.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said that 13 crew members were alive and seven missing.

US & Saudi Arabia War Crimes Keep Killing Yemenis: here.

Saving Asian vultures from extinction


This video says about itself:

Yula Kapetanakos: Asian Vulture Study

19 July 2012

Despite their grisly lifestyle, vultures play an important role in nature and are even important for protecting human health—but in southeast Asia several species are facing extinction from exposure to a drug used to treat livestock. Cornell graduate student Yula Kapetanakos tells us about her doctoral research on White-rumped Vultures in Cambodia.

She extracts genetic samples from dropped feathers and uses them to determine how many vultures remain and how closely related they are. Since the birds naturally shed these feathers, her work doesn’t affect the birds at all; and since she is able to accurately identify individuals through their genetic fingerprints, her counts have revealed population levels that exceed those estimated with previous techniques—good news for an imperiled species.

From BirdLife:

Major breakthrough in fight to save Asian vultures from extinction

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 28/08/2015 – 09:32

A major step for the future of vultures in Asia has been announced by the Indian Ministry of Health. A ban of multi-dose vials of human formulations of diclofenac, which is responsible for the death of tens of millions of Asia’s vultures, has come into force with immediate effect.

The painkiller was banned from veterinary use in India in 2006 because of its lethal effects on vultures that feed on the carcasses of treated cattle and buffaloes, but human formulations of the drug have been illegally used to treat animals since then. The ban sees diclofenac production now restricted to human formulations in a single 3ml dose.

Chris Bowden, RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and SAVE vulture programme manager said, “Despite diclofenac being illegal for veterinary use since 2006, human formulations have been made readily available in large vials by irresponsible drug companies, making it cheap and easy to use illegally to treat cattle and buffalo. This ban means that the large vials can no longer be manufactured and sold, making it more difficult to use illegally for animals and thereby removing it from the primary source of food for Asia’s vultures.  This is a huge step closer to bringing vultures back from the brink of extinction.”

Veterinary diclofenac caused an unprecedented decline in the three species South Asia’s Gyps vulture populations – White-rumped, the long-billed and the slender-billed vulture. Oriental white-backed vultures declined by more than 99.9% between 1992 and 2007, with the loss of tens of millions of individuals.

After years of campaigning by conservationists, the governments of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan banned veterinary formulations of diclofenac between 2006 and 2010. Recently, experts have recorded a slowing of Gyps vulture declines as a result of the bans. However, human formulations of diclofenac are still widely available and illegally used to treat livestock, the carcasses of which are the main food source for vultures in South Asia.

The RSPB is a member of SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction), which is a consortium of international organisations created to oversee and co-ordinate conservation, campaigning and fundraising activities to help the plight of South Asia’s vultures.  Since it was created, SAVE has requested pharmaceutical companies to cease production of the large vials of human formulations of diclofenac, which, at 30ml, are ten times the size of the dose required to treat a human (i.e., 3ml).  Only three companies voluntarily ceased manufacture ahead of this regulation, while more than 70 in India ignored the requests. Health professionals do not think that the banning of large vials poses any significant threat for the legitimate use of diclofenac in treating humans.

Vibhu Prakash, a scientist from the Bombay Natural History Society (BirdLife in India) said, “Probably the most important step in vulture conservation since diclofenac’s ban for veterinary use in 2006, this latest announcement shows how much progress has been made. But there is still a job to do to make sure that safe alternative drugs are used.  Unfortunately, many alternatives, like ketoprofen, are not vulture-safe and more remain untested. In fact, there is only one vulture-safe alternative – meloxicam.”

Meloxicam is becoming more widely used now that the cost to manufacture it has been reduced by lifting its patent in South Asia.  However, other drugs known to be toxic or with unknown effects remain legal and are still being used.

Closer to home, an Italian company was, incredibly, given the green light to produce diclofenac for the Italian and Spanish veterinary markets, eight years after India’s first ban on the drug. Vultures inhabit both countries and feed on livestock carcasses, some of which will be treated with diclofenac. Vulture conservationists fear that this will cause declines in Europe’s vultures similar to that seen in South Asia. However, these fears have not been taken seriously by the European Medicines Agency who did not advise a European Union-wide ban on diclofenac.

Toby Galligan, RSPB Vulture Research scientist, said: “Again the government of India has made a strong decision to protect its vultures. Something that Europe has failed to do. It is truly shameful.”

SAVE is working to stop veterinary use of diclofenac by advocating vulture conservation to governments and raising awareness of alternative drugs that are just as effective in treating cattle to veterinarians and livestock owners.  While these issues are being tackled in situ, SAVE has established captive breeding populations of vultures at centres in India, Nepal and Pakistan. The birds will be released to supplement surviving wild populations, but only when it is safe to do so.

See also here.