Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 11 Issue VIII

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 11 Issue VIII

ISSN 2394 – 6946

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IndiaWilds Newsletter PDF-August-2019 (7.6 MB, 117 downloads)

Exotic Fish Challenge to India’s Biodiversity:

IndiaWilds Newsletter PDF-August-2019

IndiaWilds Newsletter PDF-August-2019

In this era of Climate Crisis, where extreme weather events have increasingly become common place, India’s biodiversity is being threatened from some seemingly innocuous actions by individuals which have hitherto gone unregulated by the Government as well as from actions of Government in trying to come out with superficial reactions which have far reaching consequences.

In 2018 Kerala had faced massive floods and landslides due to thoughtless constructions in the wetlands and river flood plains as well as changing the lay of the land in ecologically fragile areas. In 2019 the floods have repeated. The focus during and after the floods is to contain risk to human life as well as damage to property. However some of the ecological impacts are slowly unfolding in front of our eyes.

Many people have commercial fishponds where they cultivate exotic fish. During the Kerala floods, the alien fish from the fishponds were swept away into the rivers and lakes of Kerala. The alien fishes alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) and arapaima (Arapaima gigas) are extremely harmful to the fresh water fishes and biodiversity of Kerala.

These two fishes can grow into huge sizes. The alligator gar can grow upto 10 feet long. Arapaima can grow more than 16 feet long. They will eat up and decimate the native fish species. In each ecosystem, there is a complex linkage between various species with multiple dependencies and interdependencies between species. Each species acts like a pillar in the ecosystem. So when one species is depleted or exterminated, then the balance in the ecosystem is shaken up. Our current science hasn’t been able to study and document all these complex inter-relationships between species. By these unintentional introductions of large alien carnivorous fish, we are going to lose out on our rich biodiversity and we won’t know what we lost.

Fisherman with aligator gar photo- Smrithy Raj

Fisherman with aligator gar photo- Smrithy Raj

The fishermen community which depends on fishing for livelihood will realise that their overall catch is falling. They will not know that these alien fishes are the cause. When one community becomes impoverished they will have to either look for other livelihood options and this often causes social strife. No country can progress when livelihoods are lost and there is social unrest. It is another matter that people often fail to pinpoint the cause of such unrest.

The entry of these alien fish is bound to impact the biodiversity negatively. How quickly these alien fish will impact will depend upon how many of them have escaped from the fish ponds into the wild. Unfortunately, this will never be known. So these fish may be happily multiplying in the various lakes and rivers before they become too numerous and simply decimate all other fish species.

This is not the first instance of fish species becoming invasive. A few decades ago when malaria was a big killer disease and the Government with the help of World Bank was fighting to contain this vector borne disease, many ideas were tried out. One of those was to introduce tiny fish called Gambusia affinis and guppy (Poecilia reticulata) so that these fishes eat up the mosquito larve in the drains and small ponds where mosquitos breed. (National Action Plan on Invasives, IndiaWilds Newsletter Vo. 3 Issue 10, March 2010, )

I have seen people releasing their aquarium fish into the drains and ponds before going on a long vacation as the aquarium and fish would be left unattended for a long time. Some of these fish manage to survive in the ponds and waterways. We won’t come to know the impact of such actions unless there are sufficient numbers of scientists working on these aspects on long-term funded projects.

In order to increase fish production fisheries departments have encouraged cultivation of various imported fish species. Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) was introduced in India in 1952. This species due to their prolific breeding and adaptability to wide range of conditions spread in all our rivers and posed a massive problem to mahseer and other native fish species in our rivers. Seven years later in 1959 a ban introduced on tilapia farming by the Fisheries Research Committee of India. In the ‘70s, Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) was introduced in India and its population has gone up in the various rivers. In 2005, River Yamuna harboured only negligible quantity of Nile tilapia, but in two years’ time, its proportion has increased to about 3.5% of total fish species in the river. Presently in the Ganges River system, proportion of tilapia is about 7% of the total fish species. (Guidelines for responsible farming of Tilapia in India, NFDB, Nov 2015, )

Like tilapia, african catfish (Clarias gariepinus) too have gone wild. These carnivorous fish cause massive problems to the native species. A ban was imposed by the Government of India in 2013, however, even today people clandestinesly cultivate it. There have been some effort to contain these populations of these species in some of the locations. (Hindu, July 02,2017; ) Unless existing catfish are caught and selectively culled, they will continue to pose challenges. A few years ago, Sultanpur National Park authorities dried up the water bodies so that all the African catfish can be eliminated. At that time there was a hue and cry from a few uninformed conservationists and laymen who felt we shouldn’t be killing some species. Lack of scientific knowledge and misplaced concern for life is also harming India’s fight for containing these invasive species.

Exotic Arapaima fish on sale onlineExotic Arapaima fish on sale online

Exotic Arapaima fish on sale online

Many of these alien fish are still being imported into India. However, the customs department doesn’t have the requisite knowledge and information about these. So they blindly allow the import. It is not known if the customs officials in some regions are hand-in-glove with the importers. Unless a major effort is undertaken by the Government to ban all such import of invasive species, repeated circulars issued as well as well meaning NGOs and experts get involved with the customs department in tackling this problem, the illegal alien species imports will continue.

This is going to be a big question mark, because the Government despite its tall claims hasn’t put in the much-needed effort to safeguard India’s biodiversity. To compound the problems, the big NGOs and experts are yet to raise their voice consistently and effectively to educate the Central Government to come out with a National Mission on Invasives.

On the ground, the illegal fishponds cultivating alien fish need to be identified and action taken against them. Unfortunately, the police most of the times have other priorities. To make matters worse many of these fish pond owners are either politicians or are hand-in-glove with the politician-police nexus. So it would be a difficult task to break this nexus and ensure that India’s biodiversity is protected. Raising awareness among the local police, forest department and fisheries department is another big challenge. The situation is grim. However, we have to make a start somewhere. Perhaps the only people whose fight for their rights is benefitting biodiversity in this country is the fishermen community. In the past they have fought against the modification to the CRZ rules which allowed development of beachfronts. So if sufficient awareness can be raised among the fishermen communities in all the states, then perhaps a start can be made to fight against the menace of invasive fish species.


Small Wonderland: A world of Insects & Spiders:

By – Amar Nayak

In this beautiful blue planet we are not the only intelligent species. There are many other intelligent species living on this Planet Earth. In fact they surround us and they manage to live with us. There are lots of tiny creatures living with us in our bedroom though we often fail to notice their presence. Many naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts too forget to count them in their wildlife notebooks! Photographers focus on clicking photographs of large mammals and birds. But wildlife photography means not only photography of huge, rare or vulnerable animals but also documenting the entire natural world. Remember the times when we as kids used to run around our backyard chasing butterflies? So as adults with a camera in hand, why not chase those colourful bugs and bees in our backyard?

Small Wonderland: A world of Insects & Spiders




Conservation News:

Three Elephants mowed down in NH-20 in Odisha:

Two elephants were killed by a speeding truck in Odisha. In the Ghatagaon forest range in Keonjhar district in Odisha, a herd of about 10 elephants were crossing a road late in the night near Balijodi. Initial reports suggested that a speeding truck hit three elephants out of which two died and the third is critically injured. One of the dead elephants is a calf and the injured elephant is a female.

Elephants killed in Keonjhar by speeding vehicles highlight lapse in mitigation measures

The speeding truck after hitting the elephants over turned. The driver have fled the spot after this incident. The local villagers informed the forest department officials about this sad incident. People blamed the heavy trucks of mining companies which are relentlessly plying in the night for causing major problems for the elephants. It becomes very difficult for a medium sized herd to safely cross the road when trucks are speeding on the road. The momentum of the heavy trucks inflict fatal injuries to the elephants. However the forest department absolved the truck driver as well as the mining company by saying that most probably the truck overturned by hitting the elephant carcass later. The forest department apportioned the blame on a bus driver and have arrested him.

The Keonjhar DFO has reportedly blamed the elephants for not using an underpass which is 1 kilometer from the accident spot. Instead of blaming the elephants, one needs to understand that the underpass created as a mitigation measure is completely wrong and inadequate.

In some of these roads there are some signs indicating that it is elephant zone. However, these signs are not mostly visible, especially in the night. Despite seeing the signs people do drive fast when they see good roads to save time. So it is very important that on established elephant corridors, there has to be well designed mitigation measures like elevated highways for certain sections. Elephant is a big animal and needs space. Well designed spacious underpass works if the elevation is right. On a flat road, creating an underpass at one spot doesn’t work. Elephants will use any one part of the corridor to cross the road. This incident clearly shows that there is a need for a big elevated road in that stretch.

Odisha has become killing fields for elephants. Every few months elephants are dying either by speeding trucks or trains or due to electrocution. We have strong laws. However, our laws are never enforced. So our wildlife suffers. Unless there is concerted effort from the State Government, Union Government as well as other stakeholders, elephants will continue to die violent deaths in Odisha.


Government waives off lease rent for Wind power projects:

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change has decided to relax the mandatory charging of lease rent of Rs. 30,000/- per MW for wind power projects.

In a review meeting Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar took a conscious decision to relax the condition of charging the lease rent of Rs. 30,000/- per MW for wind power projects. Shri Javadekar said that it is expected that this step will boost the investment in wind power projects and will help in providing wind power at cheaper rate.

The Union Environment minister said “The government envisages to meet maximum energy requirement by tapping renewal energy resources and, to achieve the target of clean energy in a time bound manner, various policies and regulations are being constantly updated.”

The present procedures to establish wind power project over forest land requires payment of mandatory charges for compensatory afforestation and Net Present value (NPV). In addition to mandatory charges, the wind power companies had to pay additional lease rent of 30,000 per MW. This additional cost is not mandatory for other renewal energy projects such as solar power and hydel electric projects. Additional cost for generation of clean energy through wind power, in turn escalate the per unit cost of power at consumer level.

Unfortunately, equating wind power projects which require vast area and are often in forest land shouldn’t be compared with Solar power projects. Though branded as clean energy, there is a huge environmental downside to the wind power projects. The areas where these massive windmills are present, one can find lot of bird mortalities. It is true throughout the world. Researchers in Kutch and Karnataka have proven that there are huge number of bird mortalities due to wind mill.

The other difference is that solar can come up in any land which gets sunshine and India is blessed with abundant sunshine. However, windmills have to come up in areas where the wind is abundant and the blades rotate by the wind so that power can be generated. Most of these come up in non-human habitations ie. in forest lands and in other ecologically fragile lands.

The cost of Solar is getting cheaper by the day. There has been new developments in solar technology like thin solar films which can be pasted even in windows. So providing concessions to Wind mill sector which has a huge environmental cost is not a good move at all from this Government. 


BASIC countries ministerial meet held in Sao Paulo  

In the run-up to the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC) Conference of Parties (COP-25) meet to be held later in the year from 2nd to 13th December, the BASIC countries held its 28th Ministerial meeting on Climate Change from 14th to 16th August in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

India which was represented by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar said that BASIC countries jointly putting views is an important aspect of UN negotiations. “Brazil, South Africa, India and China put together has one-third of world’s geographical area and nearly 40% of the world’s population and when we speak in one voice shows our determination. The BASIC Group could play an important part in making  Paris agreement accepted by all the countries in its true letter and spirit” , stressed Shri Javadekar.

Shri Javadekar further added that BASIC will be united and by the joint statement issued today has highlighted all the issues which are relevant today and hence the world must take note of what BASIC is saying.

BASIC countries Ministerial meet in August in Sao Paulo

The text of the joint statement follows :-

Joint Statement issued at the conclusion of the 28th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change, São Paulo, Brazil, 16 August 2019

  1. The 28th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change was held in Brasília and São Paulo, Brazil, on 14 and 16 August 2019. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Ricardo Salles, Minister of the Environment of Brazil and attended by H.E. Mr. XIE Zhenhua, Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, H.E. Ms. Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries of the Republic of South Africa, and H.E. Mr. Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change of the Republic of India.
  2. The BASIC Ministers expressed their concern for climate change and its adverse effects and reaffirmed their commitment to the successful implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its Kyoto Protocol and its Paris Agreement, based on the recognition of the needs and special circumstances of developing countries and in accordance with the principles of Equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), in the light of different national circumstances. Ministers stated the importance of responsible, comprehensive,urgent and ambitious actions against climate change, including in the urban environment.
  3. The Ministers stressed their support for the UNFCCC and its instruments, which remain the preeminent international forum for negotiating and addressing matters related to climate change. The BASIC countries reiterated their support for multilateralism, having made constructive engagements and significant contributions towards a series of milestones under the UNFCCC. They highlighted their determination to continue to work together with other Parties to further the process under the UNFCCC, which is irreversible.
  4. Ministers underlined that BASIC countries are implementing ambitious climate action both in the pre-2020 period and in their proposed NDCs, having achieved substantial progress, notwithstanding the multiple challenges they face in terms of social and economic development and poverty eradication. They are committed to sharing best practices and supporting each other through south-south cooperation as they further develop their domestic climate policies and actions. They underscored that global climate action must promote climate justice by recognition of the fundamental right of all people in accessing economic growth and sustainable development.
  5. Ministers took note of the synthesis report on pre-2020 implementation and ambition published by the UNFCCC Secretariat in September 2018. The Ministers highlighted the significant gaps in pre-2020 climate efforts not only in mitigation, but also in adaptation and support to developing countries. They underlined that time is of the essence for any meaningful pre-2020 action and that the implementation gaps should not present a burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period.They also urged developed countries to undertake ambitious actions to reduce emissions and fulfill their finance commitments, including in the pre-2020 period, in light of their historical responsibilities.
  6. The 185 ratifications, to date, of the Paris Agreement were welcomed by BASIC Ministers. They called on all remaining Parties to UNFCCC to join the Paris Agreement as soon as possible. Ministers also welcomed the 130 ratifications, to date, of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol and recalled that only 14 acceptance instruments are outstanding for the amendment to enter into force. They urged Parties that have not yet done so to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible, to ensure its prompt entry into force, given the valuable contribution it could make to global climate action leading up to 2020.
  7. Ministers appreciated the role of the Polish Presidency, commending its contribution to the UNFCCC process, particularly the decisions adopted in Katowice, during COP 24, CMP 14 and CMA 1, including the bulk of the Paris Agreement Work Programme. They pledged the group’s full support to the incoming Chilean Presidency of COP 25 and emphasized the importance of moving forward and reaching concrete results in Santiago, which is a crucial opportunity for closing the action and ambition gaps before 2020.
  8. Ministers reiterated their commitment to work together with all Parties in an open, transparent, inclusive and Party-driven manner to achieve a balanced and comprehensive outcome on all remaining items of the Paris Agreement Work Programme.
  9. Ministers emphasized that the UNSG´s Climate Action Summit, to be held in September of this year, should be fully respectful of the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC, its Kyoto Protocol and its Paris Agreement, as well as existing aims, targets and mandates. They look forward for the Summit to send a strong political signal for global low-carbon, climate resilient and sustainable development and produce positive outcomes for pre-2020 ambition and implementation support for developing countries. The Ministers applauded the UN Secretary General’s efforts to build political momentum for enhancing climate action and support.
  10. Ministers took note of the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on global warming of 1.5 °C and the Special Report on Climate Change and Land, which highlights the high vulnerability of developing countries to climate change effects, high resultant costs of adaptation and unprecedented transitions required in the development process.
  11. Ministers urged developed countries to provide adequate and predictable means of implementation to developing countries to enable them to achieve their climate goals. In this respect, developed countries are called upon to enhance support to developing countries for actions related to project or programme development and implementation, including on adaptation, mitigation and transparency. This must be done through adequate provision of finance, technology transfer, and capacity building to facilitate the effective implementation of the Convention, its Kyoto Protocol and its Paris Agreement.
  12. Ministers reaffirmed that adaptation is a key imperative for developing countries and requires an urgent global response. They emphasized the importance of the provision of enhanced as well as predictable support for adaptation from developed countries to developing countries, recognizing the adaptation efforts of developing country Parties.
  13. Ministers stressed that the enhanced transparency framework established by the Paris Agreement should facilitate exchange of information, best practices, as well as address the needs faced by developing countries, ensuring the required flexibility. Ministers underlined the significant challenges of developing countries on transparency-related capacities and urged developed countries to provide new, additional, adequate and timely finance support in this regard.
  14. Ministers noted with concern the trend of developing countries being denied their right to support in different fora, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). They stressed in this regard that climate finance should not be a vehicle for increasing the indebtedness of developing countries.
  15. The BASIC Ministers urged developed countries to fulfill their climate finance commitments of mobilizing USD 100 billion annually by 2020 for developing countries in a transparent manner and on a grant basis. This support should be new and additional, and over and above their 0.7% of GNP commitment with respect to Official Development Assistance (ODA). They noted with concern the insufficiency and inadequacy of the support provided by developed countries to date.
  16. They stressed that the 2020 deliberations on the new collective quantified goal on finance should be based on the lessons drawn from experience relating to meeting the USD 100 billion pledge, informed by the needs of developing countries and adequate to meet the ambition. In this regard, they stressed the importance of establishing a structured deliberation within the UNFCCC, in order to conclude this work.
  17. Ministers restated that a new collective quantified goal on financeby developed countries, with a significant publicly funded component, is one of the crucial signals that the regime under the UNFCCC must give to investors, both public and private, in order to match the urgency of climate change. Securing scaled-up, adequate and proper means and resources for developing countries isindispensable to enable them to meet their commitments and implement the Paris Agreement.
  18. Ministers expressed the expectation that the first replenishment of the Green Climate Fund by the end of 2019 will double the initial resource mobilization pledge, ensuring that financial contributions by developed countries match the ambition, needs and priorities of developing countries.
  19. The BASIC group underscored the importance of concluding the discussions on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, one of the remaining issues from the Katowice package of decisions, which will assist those participating in implementing the Agreement in a cost effective manner. The Ministers recalled that decisions on other subjects should not pre-empt discussions under Article 6 and expressed their expectation of reaching a satisfactory outcome on this matter in December, at the Santiago COP.  They underlined that Parties should address the Article 6 issues in a balanced and inclusive manner, including the issue of transition of projects under the Clean Development Mechanism. They highlighted that Parties have a strong foundation for future work on Article 6 and that it is important to conclude work in accordance with the mandates set out in the Paris Agreement and the accompanying decision.
  20. Ministers noted the work of International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Civil Aviation (ICAO) on reduction of carbon emissions and underscored that work being undertaken by IMO and ICAO must complement the UNFCCC, its Kyoto Protocol and its Paris Agreement and conform to their key principles, in particular Equity and CBDR-RC.
  21. Ministers highlighted the importance of mechanisms on loss and damage under the UNFCCC and urged developed country Parties to provide funding for loss and damage arising from climate change in developing countries.
  22. BASIC Ministers reiterated their unequivocal commitment to support the State of Palestine, as the Chair of the Group of 77 and China, with a view to strengthening the unity of the Group of 77 and China and advancing the common interests of developing countries.
  23. Ministers welcomed the offer of China to host the 29th BASIC Ministerial Meeting.


Equipment Discussions:

Blackmagic Launches 6K Pocket Cinema Camera with EF mount

Blackmagic Design has launched another version of their Pocket cinema camera when they announced the launch and immediate availability of the 6K Pocket Cinema Camera. This 6K cinema camera is in EF mount and has a S-35 sized sensor.

Blackmagic Launches 6K Pocket Cinema Camera with EF mount


Elinchrom ELM8 continuous LED Light 

Elinchrom has announced the ELM8 continuous LED light which is manufactured by Light & Motion

Elinchrom ELM continuous LED Light


RODE announces Lavalier GO collar microphone  

RODE announces Lavalier GO microphone for wireless GO system


Natural History

COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M. Krishnan: ‘Monkeying in the deep‘ shared By Saktipada Panigrahi


Wildlife Photography

Rhino in Manas by Samrat Sarkar

Tiger mating by Sandipan Ghosh

Chousingha by Shyamala Kumar

Egyptian Vulture by Sabyasachi Patra

Redbilled blue magpie by Murugan Anatharaman

Saw-scaled Viper by Abhishek Jamalabad

Spitting spider with mantis catch by Prajwal Ullal

Tiger in water by Sabyasachi Patra


This is the 128th issue of IndiaWilds. The cover page photo of a frog peeping from behind a tree gives an impression as if it is playing hide and seek with us. Nature with its web of multiple inter-relationships between various species is complex and yet to be deciphered by our scientists. On the other hand Nature is also simple and beautiful. Nature can arouse joy, happiness and has the ability to relax us at any moment. If people can start getting exposed to such scenes where small moments of joy can create lasting impressions, more and more people will start raising their voice to save our wilderness areas. In this increasingly urban world where majority of people stay in highrises and the only thing visible to them is high walls. No wonder scientists find that the level of stress is way higher in urban environment. It is time that people as well as Government understand this simple fact and not only ask kids as well as adults to spend more time in nature but also relook at the lopsided development where jobs are only created in big metros. We need to decongest our big cities so that people can stay in more rural world close to nature. With the internet becoming all pervasive, it would be easier to decongest our urban world. We need to start small steps towards the bigger goal.

The lead article in this issue talks about the problems of invasive species, especially the invasive fish species that get released to our waterbodies from fish ponds and aquariums. There is a need to control the illegal import of invasive fish species from abroad. Invasive species have a massive impact on the biodiversity and economy.  Hopefully the Government can create a National Mission on controlling Invasive Species. That will be a big move for protecting the incredible bio-diversity that India has.


I look forward to your inputs and support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in our beautiful country and raising awareness about it. For other interesting articles and images check –

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Sabyasachi Patra

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IndiaWilds Newsletter PDF-August-2019 (7.6 MB, 117 downloads)
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