Over 27-28th April 2019, Amrita had a pop-up of her new venture, Black Orchid, at Artists & Fleas (A&F) in Williamsburg and got the chance to see if Brooklyn loved making clothes from scraps as much as her. What ensued was a two day long conversation of what it means to be part of slow fashion and where it could take us. Sarika brought with her the final piece of this conversation, about how what we buy affects both people and nature in far off places, by sharing her work and selling tribal jewelry.
Creating things is fun and we seldom value the process enough in our daily lives. What better way to discuss our work, being mindful consumers and sustainability of our resources than to directly meet people at markets. Amrita and Sarika got a chance to do exactly that at the melting-pot that is A&F on Saturday with the Smorgasburg in full flow. Tourists from many different countries who came through the pop-ups got a glimpse of the work we do in our lab, conservation in central India, and #whatascientistlookslike when they are also a maker / crafter / doing outreach! Apart from tourists, they had interest from other makers (on their own journey in being conscious consumers), friends and family.
If Saturday was Williamsburg at its most stereotypical touristy best, Sunday was all about long conversations with a smaller truly local crowd. Amrita’s presence at A&F’s Williamsburg flagship allowed her to talk and connect with other people who are taking their own steps into the world of slow fashion, ethical manufacturing and environmentally conscious consumption. As conservation scientists, we can and must be a part of addressing consumption culture – the pop-up at A&F was a truly great opportunity for two NCCI members and DeFries lab mates to immerse themselves in it!
Black Orchid is Amrita’s new venture of using fabric scrap to make one-of-a-kind clothes (borne out of watching her mom make beautiful things in her childhood and cultural influences from conservation fieldwork). Everything is made just once and therefore you do 3 things when you pick something up from Black Orchid. 1. You get involved in slow fashion (yes- pretty much like slow food), which forwards the conversation about how much consumption is too much consumption, and considers quality and the impact it has on well-being versus instant-gratification with low quality goods. 2. You save good cloth from going into landfill. 3. You own a piece of everyday clothing that is yours, and yours alone.
Amrita invited Sarika to join up with her outreach activities and together, perhaps as the first foray of the Network for Conserving Central India, they took the ongoing conversation about tiger conservation in Central India to Brooklyn. We invited people to talk to us with giveaways (tiny tigers) and the sale of necklaces designed and created by people of the Baiga tribe, living around Kanha Tiger Reserve. Sarika’s U.S.-based non-profit, Wild Tiger, has partnered with The Last Wilderness Foundation to sell these necklaces in the U.S. The necklaces created an opportunity to talk about the dependence of both tigers and people on forests, and the creative conservation approaches we need to support the continued coexistence of each.
When not exploring the urban jungles of New York City, Sarika and Amrita are researchers working in the intersection of conservation and development in India as part of the Network for Conserving Central India.
The Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) recently launched a website and released a report titled "A Policy Framework for Connectivity Conservation and Smart Green Linear Infrastructure in the Central Indian and Eastern Ghats Tiger Landscape." According to Milind Pariwakam, a wildlife biologist at WCT, while several reports, studies, and guidelines aim to address the issue of mitigating the negative impacts of such linear infrastructure on natural landscapes and conserving the connectivity that they offer to small populations of endangered species of wildlife, there is a lack of timely information on whether a particular project is likely to affect corridor/s.
Pariwakam further states that this report primarily seeks to address this specific lacuna by leveraging on earlier work by other entities and presents a way forward for better planning of linear infrastructure without compromising on the connectivity needs of wildlife. The same framework with improvements can be adopted by the statutory agencies for the other three important tiger landscapes in India, namely, the Western Ghats, Shivalik-Gangetic Landscape and the North East Indian Landscape by incorporating information on the corridors and proposed projects in the respective landscapes. Work is in progress on the other three reports.
MSc student, University of Delhi
Kanha Tiger Reserve, a popular tiger tourism destination, is a mixed forest characterised by
patches of sal, bamboo and beautiful vast grasslands. These different habitats support a large
population of ungulates - a diverse group of hoofed mammals. Ungulates like chital, chinkara, wild buffalo and many others form a major part of tiger diet. In fact, survival of large carnivores such as tigers depends directly on the prey base or the ungulate density. Understanding specific requirements of different ungulates is hence crucial for maintaining a healthy and diverse ungulate population and in turn high tiger numbers.
In a recent study, researchers from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Madhya Pradesh
Forest Department, Mandla, documented the effect of human use, season and habitat on
ungulate density in Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Researchers walked on 200
pre-determined paths covering 1200 sq km for estimating densities of six species of ungulates
which were barasingha, barking deer, chital, gaur, sambar and wild pig for each management
area and habitat type. Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) contains two management areas, first is
the core area which contains no human settlement and second is the buffer zone which is a
multiple use area with human settlements and is often comparatively more disturbed. The
study considered 4 different habitat types in KTR which were grassland, pure sal forest,
miscellaneous forest and bamboo mixed forest.
The study finds that the ungulate biomass in the core area is much higher, almost 4.8 times, in the core area compared to the buffer zone. Among all ungulates studied, chital was the most abundant with higher density in the core area compared to the buffer zone. A consistent result was obtained for both gaur and sambar. Barking deer and wild pig densities showed no marked difference in the two management areas. Nilgai was the only ungulate with higher densities in the buffer zone compared to the core area whereas barasingha and chousingha had no records from the buffer zone in this study. Absence of these two rare and endangered species from the buffer zone which has moderate to heavy human disturbance and their restricted presence in the core area highlights the need to maintain intact core areas which provide critical habitats for threatened species. To put simply, ungulates don’t like humans except maybe nilgai.
Senior Research Associate, Columbia University, New York, USA
Post updated on 4/25/2018
Are you interested in science, art, and sloth bear? Then you must check out this wonderful pictorial handbook published by The Corbett Foundation, and authored by NCCI members Aniruddha Dhamorikar, Kedar Gore, and Harendra Singh Bargali. The handbook is one of the outcomes from a project titled "Dynamics of Human–Sloth Bear Conflict in the Kanha-Pench Corridor, Madhya Pradesh, India" funded by the DeFries-Bajpai Foundation.
This handbook utilizes beautiful easy-to-understand illustrations to explain DOs and DON'Ts in case of an encounter with Sloth Bears (Melursus ursinus), locally called bhaloo or reech. Sloth Bear is legally protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 along with the tiger and the leopard. However, they are threatened because of merciless killing and habitat destruction. The content of this handbook is based on the findings from a study on human-sloth bear conflicts in Balaghat, Seoni, and Mandla districts of Madhya Pradesh.
This handbook has been endorsed by Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, and is being made freely available among the local communities. A Hindi version of this handbook was also prepared for a wider outreach in the Kanha-Pench Corridor as well as other conflict-affected areas of Central India. It was officially released on April 23, 2018 at Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh) celebrating 50 years of the park.
Dhamorikar, A. H., Mehta, P., Bargali, H., Gore, K. (2017). Characteristics of human - sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) encounters and the resulting human casualties in the Kanha-Pench corridor, Madhya Pradesh, India. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0176612.
PhD student, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India
‘Sunday ho ya Monday… Roz khao ande!!’ says the tagline of National Egg Co-ordination Committee. Loosely translated it means ‘doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, have an egg every day!’ It was also made into a television commercial which became hugely popular in the 1990s in India. It is difficult to say how much that advertisement contributed to the demand, but egg production has been increasing steadily over the last 4 decades at around 6-8% every year. Not just eggs, the demand for chicken meat has also been increasing. This has transformed the once unorganized backyard poultry farming into a commercial production system.
One of the major challenges facing the poultry industry is controlling disease outbreaks. The birds are routinely pumped with antibiotics and vaccines. However, vaccines do not always ensure that the diseases are kept at bay. One such disease that can affect the birds despite regular vaccination against it is the Newcastle disease. It is named after the populous city in North Eastern England where it was first identified. It is a fatal disease caused by a virus that goes by the same name, the Newcastle disease virus. This disease is reported from across the globe and is caused by 18 known variants, numbered from I to XVIII, of the Newcastle disease virus (NDV). Some variants are highly virulent, causing severe, often fatal infection and some cause mild symptoms.
Five Newcastle disease outbreaks were reported from Nagpur region of central India between 2006 and 2012. Researchers from Nagpur Veterinary College and Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati carried out a study to investigate the outbreaks, examine the variant of Newcastle disease virus that was responsible for them and virulence (ability to cause severe infection) of the virus.
The researchers collected tissue samples from brain, lungs, liver and other organs of chickens that had died in each of the outbreaks. Additionally, they took blood from both ailing and dead chickens.
In order to examine the virulence, the researchers injected the virus obtained from the samples collected into the brain of healthy one day old chicks. These chicks were observed for 8 days and they were given a score based on the severity of disease symptoms. Higher the score, higher is the virulence. The average time to death of the chicks was also used as an indicator of virulence. If the virus is highly virulent, it causes severe infection leading to death within a few days. Researchers found that the virus variant responsible for the disease outbreaks in Nagpur region was highly virulent.
Furthermore, the researchers also identified the variant, among I to XVIII, of the virus that was responsible for the outbreaks. For this the researchers extracted the genetic material of the virus obtained from the samples collected. They compared the genetic data generated from the Nagpur samples with the known variants of NDV reported from around the world. Researchers identified the Nagpur variant as XIIIb.
Why is knowing the variant important? Similarity or ‘match’ between the virus variant and the vaccine is one of the main factors that determines the effectiveness of a vaccine to prevent disease.
Project Spotlight highlights our members' work in Central India.
|Network for Conserving Central India||