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Desert Locusts incursion in India

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Locusts Swarm

Mains level : Pests Management



News

  • Recently Agriculture Minister has informed in Parliament that since May 21, there has been an incursion of desert locusts in Rajasthan and Gujarat from areas bordering Pakistan.
  • Neither the desert locust control teams nor any state agriculture functionaries have reported any damage to the crops.

Locusts

  • Locusts are certain species of short-horned grasshoppers that have a swarming phase.
  • Swarming refers to a collective behaviour in which locusts aggregate together just like flocks of birds.
  • These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming grouped.
  • They form bands of wingless nymphs which later become swarms of winged adults.
  • Both the bands and the swarms move around and rapidly strip fields and cause damage to crops.
  • The adults are powerful fliers; they can travel great distances, consuming most of the green vegetation wherever the swarm settles.

Havoc created by locusts

  • Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery—famine and starvation.
  • They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in sustenance farming regions of Africa.
  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is notorious. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface.
  • Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s humans.

Control measures in India

  • India has a Locust Control and Research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), established in 1939.
  • It was amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The LWO’s responsibility is monitoring and control of the locust situation in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and partly in Punjab and Haryana.
  • The LWO publishes a fortnightly bulletin on the locust situation.
  • The latest bulletin on the PPQS website, for the second fortnight of June, said control operations had covered 5,551 hectares by June 30.

With inputs from: National Geographic

Tamil Yeoman declared Tamil Nadu’s state butterfly

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tamil yeoman

Mains level : Not Much



News

  • Tamil Yeoman (Cirrochroa thais) butterfly species endemic to Western Ghats has been declared the state butterfly of Tamil Nadu.

About Tamil Yeoman

  • Uniformly orange in colour with a dark brown outer ring, Tamil Yeoman is among the 32 butterfly species found in the Western Ghats.
  • This butterfly species moves in groups in large numbers, but only in a few places.
  • Also known as Tamil Maravan, which means warrior, these butterflies are found mainly in the hilly areas.
  • An expert team was involved in identifying butterfly species to be declared state butterfly.
  • The team had shortlisted two butterfly species – Tamil yeoman and Tamil Lacewing.
  • The Tamil Yeoman was selected. Both butterfly species are unique in their own ways.
  • The Tamil Lacewing butterfly is very rare and difficult to sight which may have been a reason for the government to prefer Tamil Yeoman.

Why it’s special?

  • For the first time Tamil Nadu has declared its state butterfly and only fifth in the country to do so.
  • Maharashtra was the first to declare Blue Mormon as its state butterfly, followed by Uttarakhand (Common peacock), Karnataka (Southern bird wings) and Kerala (Malabar banded peacock).
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Great Indian Bustard

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Great Indian Bustards

Mains level : Species Recovery Programme



News

May go extinct very soon

  • The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is one of the few species that the Government of India has included in its ‘recovery programme for critically endangered species’.
  • With less than 200 GIBs remaining in the world, most of them found in Rajasthan’s ‘Desert National Park’.
  • We are on the brink of forever losing a majestic bird species, which was once a strong contender to be declared as India’s National Bird.

Various threats to GIBs

I. General threats to GIB

  • Habitat loss & fragmentation, change of land use pattern, desertification, ill-thought plantation of exotic & invasive species in grassland ecosystems are some of the generic causes.
  • Neglect of state institutions due to classification of ‘grasslands’ as ‘wastelands’, conversion of grasslands to agriculture lands due to increasing irrigation potential and decline of nature/GIB-friendly agrarian practices, are all commonly and correctly blamed for the steady decline in India’s GIB population.

II. Role of Noise Pollution

  • Noise pollution affects the mating and courtship practices of the GIB.
  • The male GIB inflates his ‘gular’ pouch (near the neck) which almost touches the ground, in order to produce a large booming sound which reverberates across the grassland.
  • The male GIB does this to attract GIB females and to inform them of his exact location in the vast expanse of the grassland.
  • Thus, the sound of the male GIB should be loud enough to transcend the walls of the sanctuary and be audible to female GIBs in the fields nearby.
  • The noise generated by human activities, whether be it by vehicles, tractors, music during processions, firecrackers, may interfere with the GIB’s mating call and drown it out.

III. Other threats

  • The rate of reproduction amongst GIBs is very low; the female GIB lays only one egg per year.
  • This solitary egg is under threat from natural predators of the grasslands such as jackals, hyenas or foxes or invasive species such as crows or feral dogs.
  • In such a scenario, every opportunity the GIBs lose to mate pushes the species closer to extinction.

Way Forward

  • The best course of action to guarantee the GIB’s revival, is to remove impediments in its natural breeding cycle, including noise barriers.
  • Along with all other measures to revive GIB numbers, the aspect of regulating noise pollution levels needs to be incorporated.
  • This may include techno-fixes such as retro-fitting vehicles/tractors in the area with advanced ‘super-quiet’ silencers.
  • We can co-ordinate with the people and their local leaders to ensure that any procession or ceremony during the pre-monsoon & monsoon period would not make use of high noise making equipment.
  • Unless the villagers’ basic developmental aspirations are linked & simultaneously fulfilled hand-in-hand with GIB conservation, it would be incorrect to expect their full-fledged support to this cause.

Complement this newscard with:

Great Indian Bustard may be extinct soon

Wildlife Conservation Efforts