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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crows in Indian tradition and culture

Crows form an important link in the natural ecosystem of an area. These are confident, brave, offensive and careful birds visibly blamed as cunning, egoistic, quarrelsome, selfish and most adaptable birds. These are regarded as over cleaver birds. A story about dialogue between a crow-father and his crow –son very popular in Indian society goes like this –

Once, while teaching lessons of life to his son, a crow-father said, ‘My son, now that you are grown up, you have to go into the world where you may have to fly alone in the atmosphere dominated by the most dangerous animal of the world – man. So while sitting anywhere due to some important work beware of men moving around. Mind it that if a person bends down and tries to expand his hand to the ground, you must fly away at once. Do you know why?”

“Why father?” the son-crow asked.

“Because, in that case you must take it for sure that he will pick up a piece of stone to throw on you”- explained the father crow.

“But father … if the man is already carrying the piece of stone with him…?” - said the son-crow.

“Well my son, you have passed the examination with distinction, and now you are wiser than me” said the father – crow satisfactorily.

The Hindu scriptures mention crows as descendants of evil spirits and demons. There these birds have been regarded as descendants of Kakasur – a demon in the body of a crow. Still, manywhere else, these birds have traditionally been regarded as messengers and informers since long. Indian ladies of rural settings have been treating them as friends and informers of their husbands working at far off places in some cities.

The migration of men from rural to urban areas of India during the initial phase of the industrial revolution left rural ladies alone at homes that had to rear children and handle household affairs on their own. Being mostly illiterate, they had to depend on the post men and some school going boys and girls of the village for reading, writing and posting messages for their husbands. If a crow sitting at the top of a house cawed repeatedly, it was regarded as a sure signal of arrival of some guests or an important and long awaited member of the family.

In Hindi poetry and in many folk songs, a lady of some rural areas has been mentioned promising gold plating of the beak of a crow who could deliver a   message to her husband. Thus days of sadness used to pass gradually and the crow remained unrewarded. Now, in my opinion, crows might had been cunning but rather less than the ladies who often forgot to reward them after the crows literally completed their assignments. In the modern industrialized world where most of rural ladies have accompanied their husbands to cities leaving their villages;  and fields have been intoxicated by agrochemicals due to the Green Revolution, most of the crows have migrated to urban areas where dumps of garbage and food-leftovers are abundant to be found.

Key Words: crow, ecosystem, cunning, cleaver, evil spirit, scriptures, messenger, rural, urban, poetry, tradition, India, unrewarded, ladies, industrial revolution, postmen, informer, messenger, green revolution, intoxicated, migration

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Crows : Birds of good mathematical, engineering and research skills

Crows are bad, destructive, cunning, proud, fearless, cheaters, killers and what not. Besides all the negative thoughts against them, crows have acquired some good adjectives too for them. Yes, crows are regarded as good and wise researchers, craft makers, mathematicians, wise and skilled engineers etc.

Some of the traits of crows are being reflected through following images -

Image: 1

Image: 2

Image: 3

Image: 4

Image: 5

Defying Lamarkism

This was why goats could not evolve into Giraffes








Can a human mother do so ?

Friday, June 25, 2010

A new crop of Parthenium starts growing up with the first shower of rain in Jharkhand

Parthenium starts growing as soon as the first shower of rain falls on the earth. Parthenium weed's botanical name is Parthenium Hystrophorous. It is a herbaceous plant, and a native of Tropical America. It is an annual herb and has a deep taproot and erect stem, which becomes woody with age. Parthenium weed leaves are deeply lobed. It is pale green in colour and has soft hair. Parthenium weed flower is creamy white in color. The weed has a large number of stems. It has small (1-2mm long) black seeds with white scales. They are not visible to the naked eye. The word Parthenium is derived from the Latin word 'parthenice', suggesting medicinal uses. The origin of this obnoxious weed is traced to the Caribbean but its adverse effects are felt largely in African, Australian and Asian countri. The weed was first sighted in Pune in 1956. It had travelled from the USA with wheat seeds and gradually spread to every corner of the country.  Parthenium entered India with imported foodgrains in the mid-1950s.One of the world’s seven most devastating and hazardous weeds, parthenium invaded 14.25 million hectares of farm land during 2001-07, compared to 2 million hectares in 1991-2000. Parthenium has invaded 35 million hectares across the country including crop land, wasteland and forest areas. Initially, the deadly weed occupied largely non-crop areas like wasteland, open forests and roadsides. Now it has now spread to cropping land at an alarming rate.”


Parthenium sp. with its wild associates


High Court orders JSPCB to file an affidavit


The Jharkhand High Court has asked the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board to file an affidavit in response to a Public Interest Litigation by Gokul Chand - the reports from local media say. After hearing of the case the Chief Justice Mr. Sushil Harkauli and Justice Mr. D.N.Patel asked the bord to declare about the steps taken so far and the extent of the man power employed to check sound pollution in Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand, India. The court has also asked whether the Board conducts monitoring of sound pollution on regular basis.

The condition of pollution in Ranchi has reached to the alarming level. Out of all the pollution the condition of air pollution too, especially in urban areas has gone far beyond the acceptable limit. Traffic jams, use of pressure horns and other horns of strange and high pitched sound by bikers and four wheelers, sound pollution during celebrations and poojas etc. cause sound pollution of dangerously high levels but the administration, as per reports has never taken any step for control nor any regulatory directives has ever been announced or circulated so far.

It is reported that the state Pollution Control Board has now started conducting tests on sound pollution and it is also reported that the monitoring of sound pollution is to be conducted by the board on a monthly basis. A sound pollution monitoring programme was conducted by the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board on 26 May 2010 and the record so obtained are tabled below –

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ways of Helping and Protecting Animals

Here are some ways through which we can help animals-

Use reusable shopping bags instead of plastic

I bet you’ve seen those reusable grocery bags, and thought, hmm, should I buy one? From plain and simple ones to super-stylish bags, you have many options available. Some stores, including Target and Whole Foods, give discounts for bringing your own bag. But the best part? You’re helping to save the earth. Too many marine turtles, seals, sea lions, and other wildlife get entangled in or swallow plastic bags, which causes choking, drowning, and unnecessary, tragic deaths. Plastic is so ubiquitous it has created massive garbage patch gyres in the oceans. Even if you think yours will end up getting recycled, sometimes they fly out of the garbage (or recycling) trucks, float in the air, into the waterways, and out to the oceans. My advice? Just buy one (or two or three), already. It will cost you a couple bucks, and it may take a few times to remember them from your car to the grocery store – but this simple step feels really good. Before long, you'll start cringing when you see other folks using so many plastic bags!

Adopt a pet from a shelter

If you crave a new addition to your family, and you have the resources to care for the animal now and well into the future, consider adopting a dog, cat, or other animal from a local shelter. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), half of the 6-8 million cats and dogs entering shelters every year get adopted, and the rest end up euthanized. Help turn the tide the other way, so more get adopted into loving homes. And make sure fewer enter shelters in the first place: take care of your pets, and get them spayed or neutered! Check out HSUS' Top 5 Reasons to Adopt.

'Adopt' wildlife online

Wildlife lovers around the world can help to save their favorite species by adopting one online. By paying a small fee, you directly support the animals, their care, and conservation of their habitat. Some groups send you a plush toy, or a certificate, or information about the animal. You can adopt a cute red panda through Red Panda Network, a whale or dolphin with Whale or Dolphin Conservation Society, a wolf (and several other species) through Defenders of Wildlife or you can Friend a Gorilla in Uganda. You can adopt and follow the movements of a radio-tagged sea turtle. Or if you’re a Steve Irwin fan (Crikey! Who isn’t?) you can adopt one of the Australia Zoo’s crocs, koalas, Tasmanian devils or other critters. And Jane Goodall has a fantastic chimp guardian sponsorship program.

Think about water

Fresh, clean water comes right out of your faucet, free and clear, right? Not so fast. Freshwater is a precious resource. A full 98% of our blue planet’s water is locked up in the oceans. Of the remaining 2% of fresh water, 1.6% is locked up in glaciers or polar ice caps (although in our warming world, these are rapidly melting into the sea). That remaining percentage of freshwater – just 0.036 percent in rivers, lakes and creeks – is precious. We require it to drink, to water crops, and for livestock.  But native wildlife also need fresh water to survive and thrive. This includes land animals, most of which must drink, as well as riverine and aquatic animals. When it comes to keeping local rivers and creeks healthy (and the fish, frogs, crayfish and so on that live there), think twice about putting chemical pesticides and fertilizers on your lawn. Try natural options. Pull weeds, for example, or create a native plant xeriscape that requires less water or herbicide in the first place. Also, by using less water, it saves you money, and helps keep water flowing in the creeks and rivers, which ultimately run into estuaries at the edge of the sea – important breeding grounds for many commercially and recreationally important fish, shrimp, oysters, and other species.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Stepping lightly on the earth makes a difference in more ways than one. By turning off lights when not in use, recycling everything you can, replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluoresecents, use reusable shopping bags (see above) and other simple steps to reduce your energy use, you not only save yourself money on your electric bill, you help curb global warming. The planet’s warming temperature is melting glaciers in the Himalayas, threatening rare wildlife such as the red panda, Himalayan black bear, and snow leopard. Warming ocean temperatures cause the bleaching of once pristine coral reefs, and cause the oceans to acidify, threatening to turn the entire marine ecosystem topsy-turvy. And although stemming the massive impact of a warming world is going to require international cooperation and national policy action, every little bit helps.

Stop littering!

Even conservation-minded folks occasionally toss orange or banana peels out their car window, not realizing that even biodegradeable food attracts animals to the roadside, which leads to...roadkill (not to mention being a safety hazard. Think of all the car accidents or incidents from hitting the animals, or swerving to avoid them). And if you think throwing cigarette butts out your window is harmless, think again. Those butts are one of the most common and ubiquitous pieces of trash in the environment now – trillions of them end up as litter every year. The core is made of cellulose acetate, which can take up to ten years to decompose. Think that's not so bad? They also contain tar and all the toxins in the tobacco that the filter is there to keep from going into lungs. And where does it end up? In our waterways, which ultimately poisons the well, so to speak.

Go Vegetarian, even for one day a week

As I’ve blogged about before, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that 18% of global warming gas emissions come from meat production. Tropical rainforest gets cleared in the Amazon to make room for cattle, and rainforests are notoriously challenging to replant or restore. Livestock also consumes five times as much grain as people do, which replaces natural habitat with monoculture cropland. And the conditions of factory farms have drawn much attention lately, As actress Natalie Portman wrote after reading Eating Animals, “Factory farming of animals will be one of the things we look back on as a relic of a less-evolved age.” Sir Paul McCartney challenges everyone to try at least one day a week without meat, Meat-free Monday, it’s called across the pond, and over here we have Meatless Monday. It can help improve your health too!

- Animal News Animal Planet

Hanging against the force of gravity





Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Majestic Yellow China Roses





Monday, June 21, 2010

Stupid crow and the sick rat

Crows deserve all types of bad words  to be applied for them. Observe these images and thing hoe many bad words can you apply for the crow -







Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pollution in our inner environment: Drug Addiction and Alcoholism

Internal parts of human body including all the systems and organs constitute its inner environment. There is some sort of pollution in our inner environment too.Taking in adulterated food, drug addiction, smoking, taking Gutkha and Pan Masala, and drinking alcohol cause serious pollution in our inner environment. Taking in Pan Masala and Gutkha are popular in India only. However, other forms are popular in most of the countries of the world. Tobacco mixed Gutkha and pan masala have become popular in India since last few years but now the popularity of these have increased up to a most dangerous level. Juts go to a pan shop and you are sure to notice numerous types of these substances packed in chains of small sachets. School boys, stunt men and even ladies don’t hesitate in taking these toxic substances in spite of statutory warning on their packets. Smoking tobacco either in the form of Biri or cigarette is going on increasing at a hazardous speed and no one is ready to take care even after warnings through various media. Rising number of liquor shops in every street and mohallah are confirmed indications of increasing alcoholism in Indian societies. Pollution of this type is closer to our life and it can push the addicted people towards pains, worries, deformities, impairments, agonies and finally the miserable death. We try to conserve the components of our environment since we remain worried for our own existence. Thus taking in drugs, alcohol and the like substances to endanger our existence can make no sense.

Image:1 Tobacco Plants

Image:2 Canabis Plants

Drugs and Addiction
Drugs are chemical substances that have powers to change the functioning of our body systems. A doctor prescribes drugs to a patient because he wants to change the functioning of any of his body systems to help him enjoy a good health. Before prescription the doctor has to make sure about the type and amount of a particular drug needed to cure a particular disease. There are people who take drugs without prescription of any doctor just because they are aware of their effects through their own experience. Taking drugs by purchasing them over the counter, which is without the prescription of a qualified doctor is illegal. Still, there are people who take drugs illegally by paying heavy prices and consume them without consulting a doctor. This they do as they enjoy disturbing their body systems, especially their minds for strange experiences. The habit of enjoying strange experiences through the consumption of drugs overpowers them and drops them into the ocean of experiences of pains, decay and death.

The habit of taking drugs is formed due to various reasons. First comes- the heavy fees of doctors and their behaviors towards patients. The astonishingly high rates of fees of most of the doctors and their trends of exploiting the patients through various different ways create a fear in patients against them. We may hear many men and women saying something like this – I think it is better to die than to go to a doctor. Many doctors are Yamaraj themselves. This condition encourages patients to purchase medicines over the counter. And while they repeat this practice, the affiliation they establish with pharmacists works well in helping them purchase drugs from there. Some most serious drugs and narcotics like heroines, marijuana, cannabis etc. are popularized by agents. Such agents remain available in every part of society and even near school gates.

Drugs are habit forming chemicals. Once a man develops habit of taking these substances it goes beyond his will power to leave the same. This is called as addiction. Tobacco and its other forms like cigarette, pan masala, gutkha and drugs cause addiction and it often becomes very difficult for a person to leave the consumption of these substances once he gets an addiction.

Types of drugs
Principally there are four types of drugs. Some drugs like morphine, codeine and heroin are derived from opimium. These are called Narcotics or opiate narcotics. These are drugs stimulating the nervous system of addict.Caffeine, cocoa, cocaine and amphitamines are some of such drugs. These are called stimulants.
Some of the drugs can alter a person’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions. These drugs comprise a wide range of compounds including mescaline, psilocybin, and products of hemp plant like bhang, charas, marijuana and hashis. These drugs are called hallucinogens, sedatives and tranquilizers and drugs that have “switching off” effects on the activity of brain. These produce such types of feelings as calmness, relaxations, or drowsiness.
Addiction and alternatives

A man, who consumes drugs, gradually becomes dependent on them. Such mental and physical dependence on drugs is called as addiction. A drug addict cannot live without his regular dose of that drug. However, alternatives to drugs have been developed and an addict can save his life by accepting these alternatives. He can find family members, teachers, good friends and doctors to gain sympathy and help in solving his problem of addiction. The drug addicted persons can receive counseling and detoxification from a number of welfare societies as well.

Tobacco addiction
Chewing or smoking tobacco also causes addiction. There is nicotine in tobacco which is mainly responsible for addiction. It is highly poisonous substance and may cause cancer, heart diseases, ulcers, and serious dangers to pregnant women.

Alcohol is a chemical substance in liquid state. It is of two types- Ethyle Alcohol, and Methyle Alcohol. Ethyle alcohol is consumed as a drink. The methyl alcohol is highly poisonous. Wines, toddy, Handia, etc. are consumed in the form of fermented beverage having low percentage of alcohol in them. Brandy, rum, whisky, vodka, gin, etc. are distilled beverages that contain alcohol in high percentages. The habit and practices of consuming ethyle alcohol and alcoholic substances is called as alcoholism.

Handia is a country liquor of Jharkhand state of India prepared from rice after adding specific chemicals in it. A man can see tribal ladies selling handia anywhere in the city. Most of the time these women are seen selling handia at prime places for example near the residence of the Chief Minister and other Ministers, open grounds where people go for a morning or evening walk, near government offices etc. Since handia is not forcibly and legally banned in the tribal state people of all age groups consume this country liquor in Jharkhand.

Alcohol causes mental, physical, and physiological impacts on health even if it is taken in any form. It is readily absorbed into blood and is converted into acetaldehyde in liver. Thus liver synthesizes more and more fat and its tissues are gradually replaced by fibrous tissues. This condition of storage of fats in liver cells is called fatty liver syndrome.

Alcohol disturbs the power of judgment, co-ordination, alertness, vision, and behavior. It causes laziness in taking decisions. These are the reasons while drunken drivers are not allowed to drive vehicles.

Key Words: addiction, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gutkha, pan masala, hallucinogens, sedatives, narcotics, stimulants, tranquilizers, alternatives, smoking, nicotine, ethyle  alcohol, methyl alcohol, detoxification, vision, pregnant women, physiological impacts, psychological impact, fatty liver syndrome, cancer, alertness, fibrous tissues, morphine, heroines, opiate, handia, country liquor

Pollution in Our Inner Environment

What is pollution?
Mixing of undesirable substances so as to change the natural quality of something is called as pollution. Our environment is burdened with high intensity of pollution which is tending to change natural conditions of the earth, its atmosphere, water, plants and animals. Changes in natural quality and the original set of all these things are sure to lead to death and destruction if pollution remains unchecked. Today, pollution is affecting not alone to our external environment, it is affecting our inner environment equally or rather more seriously.
Pollutions of various types
Various types of pollutants (pollution causing agents) are intoxicating our internal environment through matter and energy that enter into our bodies. Many types of unwanted chemical substances or minerals enter into our bodies in excess quantities through the water we drink and the food items we eat. The adulterated food and oil and other fatty substances that come to our houses from markets and enter into our bodies cause hazardous impacts on our health. Some of these substances carry different types of microorganisms with them and remain potent enough to cause harmful impacts on the community health as well.
Bio- accumulation and Bio-Magnification
Pollutants present in our resources like food and water join the food-chain of the local ecosystem and enter into our bodies where they get accumulated in our tissues. Their potency gets on increasing gradually as we continue the intake of such substances and in this way these substances cause serious health hazards in the long run. The accumulation of toxic pollutants in our tissues is called as bioaccumulation and increase in their potency in the long run through continuous intake is called as bio-magnification. Accumulation of Murcury in the bodies of people living near Minamata bay in Japan had caused a strange disease called as Minamata.
The Minamata disease and other diseases
The Minamata disease which is sometimes referred to as Chisso-Minamata disease (チッソ水俣病 Chisso-Minamata-byō),is a neurological syndrome which is caused by sever poisoning due to accumulations of mercury in human bodies. Some of the important symptoms of this disease are ataxia, numbness of hands and feet, weakness of muscles, narrowed field of vision and impairment of hearing and speech. Insanity, paralysis, coma and death may follow in extreme cases.
This disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture in Japan in 1956.The disease was caused by bioaccumulation of mercury in persons who ate the fish caught from the Minamata Bay the water of which was contaminated with methyl mercury contained in the effluent of Chisso Corporation’ chemical factory, which joined the water of the bay from 1932 to 1968.
Besides Minamata, there are names of numerous other diseases that are caused due to bioaccumulation and bio-magnification of different chemical substances that remain in soil, water, air and food items. These substances are absorbed by plant roots or plant bodies and are transferred to higher trophic levels to reach to humans through the food chains operating locally. There they get accumulated, biologically magnified and become powerful enough to cause some serious health hazard.
Occupational Problems of health
Humans working in different occupational settings get caught by the pollutants released from the same site. These people often suffer from different types of diseases related to their occupation. Such types of diseases are called as Occupational Diseases.
The knowledge about environmental diseases started gaining momentum, with the recognition of the occupational diseases during Industrial Revolution. Diseases that are caused to a person due to a person’s particular type of occupation are called as occupational diseases. Pneumoconiosis like Asbestosis, silicosis, Byssinosis etc is some examples of occupational diseases. All of these diseases are caused through air pollution in the area where workers work for long hours.
The coal miners are frequently caught by the black lung disease, which is also called as Pneumoconiosis (plural- Pneumoconioses).It is the general term, applied to diseases basically caused due to the deposit of dust and particles of organic and inorganic origin into human lungs. These particles include particles of coal, sand, asbestos, and different types of minerals. Pneumoconiosis if caused due to the deposit of coal dust in the lungs of coal miners, leads to a serious lung disease called as Black Lung disease. The deposit of cotton fibres, Jute fibres, hemp fibres etc. into the lungs of human beings (and even cattle also) cause pneumoconiosis and other diseases including cancer of respiratory tract.
Workers working in the asbestos industry are caught by the serious lung disease called as asbestosis. In this case asbestos particles entering into lungs are engulfed by macrophages found in the lung tissues. These are a group of phagocytic cells acting as the ultimate defence against the inhaled particles or fibres in the work settings. Presence of high number of these cells in the deep sputum indicates the exposure of the individual to high particulate pollution. A Large number of macrophages are killed in their attempt of engulfing particles of silica, coal, cement, and fibres of cotton industries. The contents of macrophages get spread within the bronchiolar cavities. The condition gradually becomes serious and leads to the death of the worker.
Silicosis is caused due to the deposit of silica in the lungs of workers working in silica industries or at the sand blasting sites. Byssinosis is the lung disease caused due to the deposit of cotton dust in the lungs of workers working in textile industries. The total blame for these diseases goes to the air pollution.
Key Words: pollution, pollutants, inner environment, ecosystem, food-chain, minerals, water, soil, air, resources, minamata, Japan, occupational diseases, silicosis, black lung disease, coal, silica, bronchiolar cavities, macrophases, cotton industries, fibres,

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Japan created Noby – a new humanoid robot

Japanese scientists under a broad project of creating robots have already developed M3-Kindy and M3-Neony early this year and back. This time they have created a baby robot named Noby to simulate a real infant to understand learning and growth processes in babies.

The development of Noby has been led by a professor of Tokyo University named Yasuo Kuniyoshi with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Noby means a baby of nine months. It contains 600 sensors in its body. These sensors are connected for sensory activities like feeling of touch, vision and hearing. For vision and hearing Noby has been equipped with cameras and microphones. The robot is hooked up to a powerful computer.




Image-1,2 and 3 Noby the infant robot created by Japan

The project of creating humanoids is headed by a Professor of Robotics Engineering Minoru Asada of Osaka University. It is funded by Japanese Science and Technology Agency which is supported by the Government of Japan.

The earlier creation of the project M3-Kindy is a “Man made Man” which represents the size of a five year old child, and the Kindy – the Kindergarten boy. These robots can walk hand in hand with a person. The project has also created Neony – a robot representing a new borne baby which can mimic a new borne child.
The “nine months old baby” – the Noby is 71cm tall, and 9kg in weight. Its skin has been made of soft urethane. Its body organs have joints similar to those of a baby of 9 months and its entire joints move in a fashion similar to that of the baby. The robot is created through such ways that scientists can modify their software in case of undesired activities by the robot. It is also reported that researchers can load their software in case of undesired activities by the robot to observe changes in its behavior that can be compared with those of real children.

Image 4: Japan created child robot M3 Neony

Images Courtessy JAPANORAMA, DVICE

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Ranchers, conservation groups split on grazing ruling impact" - Center for Biological diversity

A recent federal decision on cattle grazing on federal lands in Eastern Oregon has both ranchers and environmentalists claiming victory.

Federal district Judge Ancer Haggerty, with the U.S. District Court in Pendleton, found that cattle grazing in the Upper John Day River Basin damaged stream-side habitat, likely killing threatened steelhead, conservation groups pointed out. And the judge said the U.S. Forest Service had not done its job in making sure that damage wasn't occurring in the Malheur National Forest.

“This just reaffirms that livestock grazing and stream-side grazing is incompatible with maintaining the integrity of streams and maintaining fish populations,” said Noah Greenwald with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the lawsuit's plaintiffs along with the Bend-based Oregon Natural Desert Association.

But John Day-area ranchers, intervenors in the lawsuit, note that the judge said they should have been involved in developing a grazing plan, and that the court did not call a halt to grazing in the Malheur National Forest.

“This is a win for us in lots of ways, because we still are turning cows out,” said Ken Holliday, a rancher along the John Day River.

Forest Service spokesman Glen Sachet declined to comment on the case, citing the possibility of future appeals.  The Oregon Natural Desert Association started pushing for changes in grazing practices in the John Day basin more than a decade ago, said Brent Fenty, the association's executive director.  The group filed lawsuits centered on habitat protections for steelhead, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“We've seen long-term declines in steelhead populations,” Fenty said. “Steelhead health and productivity has a lot to do with how healthy the habitat is.”

Cattle can trample banks, damaging the plants that grow along streams and rivers, eroding their edges while sediments cloud the water, he said.

According to the June 4 federal district court decision, in 2007 and 2008 grazing caused significant damage to steelhead habitat and likely harmed fish. The Forest Service had a plan, drafted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which set limits on how much damage could occur, and called for the Forest Service to monitor how much of the bank was altered by cows. But the agency did not complete that monitoring, according to the judge's decision.

“He took them particularly to task for that point,” Fenty said of the Forest Service. “You wrote a plan, or NOAA fisheries did, that fulfilled the legal requirements, but you're not enforcing them. ... What we've been looking for throughout this process is improved accountability on the Forest Service to enforce the law, enforce the regulations and ensure that steelhead populations are protected into the future.”

However, Holliday, the cattle rancher, points to the judge's statements regarding how the monitoring went according to plan in 2009, and was in line with the Endangered Species Act.

“We can graze responsibly,” he said. “We showed that last year, and the judge recognized that.”

Ranchers have been trying to help get money to the Forest Service so the agency can continue monitoring and ranchers can continue grazing cattle, said Loren Stout, a rancher in Dayville.

“If the government isn't going to do it, we don't have a chance,” Stout said. “They're going to have to step up.”

The grazing plan was “horrible,” he said, adding that in his allotment, wild horses and elk have caused damage even without cows there. The recent court decision states that ranchers should play a role in developing grazing plans.

What happens next for grazing in the area has not yet been determined — the judge next has to issue a decision on how to fix the problems.  Stout said that other scientific studies need to be considered in a new grazing plan, and there need to be different standards for how much damage can occur. And the Forest Service has to keep monitoring the allotments, he said.

The ranchers don't have protection from lawsuits if the Forest Service doesn't keep up the monitoring, Holliday said, adding that he would like to see standards that look at the land over a period of time — not just a snapshot of one season.

Stream banks “are in better shape than they've ever been in our lifetime,” he said, and the John Day saw a large run of steelhead this year. 

But grazing practices have been changing in response to the lawsuit over the last several years, said Greenwald with the Center for Biological Diversity. Some riparian areas have been fenced off, and fewer cows graze in other allotments.

“It's just a whole different mindset and management regime than what was there before,” he said. “Essentially before, they had free rein.”

And as a result of this lawsuit, the Forest Service will have to monitor the grazing allotments more than before, he said.

The Oregon Natural Desert Association would like to see either a temporary or permanent stop to grazing in some of the allotments where the stream banks have been badly damaged, Fenty said, so that the habitat can either be restored or allowed to recover.

And Greenwald said that it has long been the Center for Biological Diversity's position that areas around creeks, streams and rivers aren't compatible with grazing.

“There's just abundant evidence that livestock degrades stream habitat,” he said. “You can manage so there's less damage, but it'll always damage.”

There have been several lawsuits in the last decade or so to prevent cattle from grazing near waterways on public lands, he said.

“The trend has been to restrict cows from stream sides more and more, and I think that's going to be a continuing trend,” Greenwald said.

Center for Biological diversity

Come back (?) of Malaria in India

I remember a government slogan popular in my early school days that was often seen on the walls of even mud houses of rural Uttar Pradesh where my childhood was growing, many -many years ago. The slogan in Hindi was – “Machchhar rahenge Malaria nahin” and it meant in English – “Mosquitoes will live but not malaria”. Since then, as I am in the middle of my age I remember that both mosquitoes as well as malaria have been well in existence through all these years.

It appears that we somehow manage to boast of success of our programmes but in real sense we do not get success in cracking the nut properly. Certainly, the cases and recurrences have been reduced considerably in most of the health campaigns run by us - the small pox, tuberculosis, leprosy and malaria. Projects for the eradication of some more deadly diseases are still going on. In fact, the biology and biochemistry of vectors and patients reveal that these diseases are hard to be overpowered in the ever-changing environment which is largely controlled by human beings.

Various researches published from time to time indicate a heavy and more dangerous come back of diseases declared earlier as eradicated by   governments. As for malaria, there have been certain obstacles in the way of its eradication and some of these obstacles are – insecticide resistance, changes in the behavior of vectors, drug resistance in the pathogen and lack of adequate resources to fight the disease. These obstacles have been reported to be responsible for the recurrence of malaria in India. It has also been reported that casual approaches at various levels of programme execution and monitoring and lack of serious researches have been two among various other causes of this experience.

The National Malaria Eradication Programme was launched in 1958 when about 75 million cases of malaria and eight lakh deaths due to this disease were recorded. After the launch of the programme deaths due to malaria were reduced to zero while cases of the disease dropped down to just one lakh by 1965-66.

Malaria is transmitted through mosquito-injections of a single celled protozoa often called as Plasmodium falciparum into the body of a healthy person. The P.falciparum is reportedly responsible for much of the severe cases of malaria and deaths from this disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) is of the opinion that infection by P.falciparum is among the leading causes of deaths from a single infectious agent across the world.

Image: 1 Malaria is transmitted through mosquito-injections of a single celled protozoa often called as Plasmodium falciparum into the body of a healthy person.

The Union Government of India’s National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme reports that there were over 1.5 million cases of malaria out of which more than half cases were due to infection by P.falciparum causing deaths up to 1,068 in 2009. Scientists working in the field observed in 2007 that the reported incidence of malaria at the national level on the basis of surveillance carried out in primary health system at best reflected (only) a trend and not the true burden of the disease. Studies conducted through this period showed deficiencies in coverage, collection and testing of blood samples and in the reporting system. The studies indicated that the number of cases of malaria was more than recorded. It was also suspected by researchers and surveyors that deaths due to malaria were likely to be higher than reported.

The WHO estimate in 2008 reported that there had been 10.6 million cases of malaria and 15,000 deaths from this disease during 2006. Now a map based approach to estimate the global burden of P.falciparum malaria is being used by scientists from the “Malaria Atlas Project”. According to the report by scientists concerned with the approach the extent of disease caused by P.falciparum in India has been about 102 million in 2007. The Hindu in its June 17 issue reports that – in India P.falciparum infections are particularly high in forested areas inhabited by ethnic tribes in the Indian states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. There is also malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax which is usually less deadly than P. falciparum. Almost half of he cases of malaria in the country account for P.vivax. Scientists are of the opinion that it is essential to obtain a true picture of the burden of malaria in India as it would enable to set up priorities in planning and resource allocation for its control and gradual eradication.

Image:2 Blood smear of P. falciparum

Image:3  P. vivax