IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 8 Issue IX

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 8 Issue IX

 Download the full 48 page Newsletter PDF by clicking the below button –
Newsletter-September-2016 (7.9 MB, 679 downloads)

National Water Ways – Death Knell for Riparian Ecosystems

coverWhen the then Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the Golden Quadrilateral and the East-West, North-South road links, at an estimated investment of Rs. 54,000/- crores in 2001, he was ridiculed for dreaming the unimaginable. It was termed as “Mungeri lal ke haseen sapne” according to a famous TV serial. However, when the road building resulted in the greater integration of the economy, the Government immediately started looking for other grandiose schemes.

The subsequent UPA Government came up with the ecologically disastrous Sethusamudram Project which still is sub-judice. Now the Modi Government is again implementing another grandiose scheme termed as National Water Ways.

The BJP Government has got the National Waterways act passed and it has resulted in 111 rivers being declared as National waterways. The idea is to push traffic, primarily cargo, into the the rivers. Unfortunately, there has been scarce discussion on this topic. Most of the states have virtually no idea about its impact. They have only got an assurance that the Central Government is not going to bypass them and their revenues will not be impacted. There is hardly any environmental assessment done before these declarations.

The minister, Mr. Gadkari, has infact in a brazen Trump-like statement said that the National Waterways will be much more environment friendly than the roads. First, the manner in which our road projects are proceeding, with scant regards to wildlife and ecological impact, they are veritable killing fields. Now the Minister wants to make us believe that two wrongs make it right.

Any sane person in India understands that our rivers are really toxic. The waters of most of our major rivers like Ganga, Kaveri, Yamuna etc are not fit for human consumption as per the Pollution Control Board norms. The poor quality of water has even led to reduction in the bio-diversity in the riverine ecosystem.

Environmentally destructive:

Our existing rivers don’t always contain the adequate amount of water for navigation of large ships. To ensure navigation of large ships the rivers have to be dredged into shipping channels, barrages constructed to maintain level of water etc. Any dredging of channels will lead to heavy sediments and loss of oxygen for aquatic creatures. The riverine ecology will be thoroughly destroyed due to the heavy dredging.

Creation of shipping channels will also ensure that the flow of the river is messed up with and that will again destroy the river ecosystem. Maintaining a particular level of water throughout the year will ensure inundation of marshy lands and will lead to death of many species. Birds that frequent these marshy lands will be impacted due to loss of habitat. The dolphins (Platanista gangetica) , gharials (fish eating crocs, Gavialis gangeticus), turtles, otters and many species of fish, other aquatic creatures will have their habitat fragmented, find the sudden change in their environment too difficult to handle and will perish.



Channelising and constructing more barrages will lead to sections of the river cut off and migration of aquatic species up and downstream will be restrained. For example, it is well known fact that Mahseer fish can now no longer migrate upstream due to the series of dams in Ganga. Similarly dolphins will be restricted to few areas. The mortality of dolphins will increase because of reduced habitat, reduced prey, stress due to higher sounds from passing ships and injuries from propellers of ships. The dolphins have evolved to survive in the turbid waters and are partially blind. They depend on ecolocation, the same principle of RADAR, to sense their prey. Higher levels of sound interferes in their ability to catch their prey. Since they are very sensitive to sound, the level of stress goes up and their mortality increases. Dolphin activist Ric O’ Barry has said that in one incident a captive dolphin died in his arms because it purposefully stopped breathing due to the high stress caused by sound. When he released the dolphin it simply sank into water and died ( ). That was the reason Ric O’ Barry, a dolphin trainer turned into a dolphin activist. The sounds of ships despite using mufflers to reduce the sound would be very stressful to the dolphins. Though Dolphins have been named as the National Aquatic Animal, not much has been done to save them and this National Water Ways project would swiftly push them towards extinction.

Irravady dolphins

Irravady dolphins

We have seen many iconic but brutal images of oil leaks and birds covered in oil. Recently an oil tanker had capsized in one of the rivers in Bangladesh Sundarbans. The oil flow had reached the Indian side as well. Though the Indian Government plans to use LNG instead of oil as fuel for the ships, the cargo to be carried in the ships also include vegetable oils as well as coal. This would cause a disaster when a ship capsizes. It is not a question of if, but when. The World Bank which is funding this project has in the past had turned a blind eye to ecologically destructive road projects and now showing its true colours the World Bank doesn’t give much importance to the environmental concerns for the Water Ways project as well.

Faulty Logic of Logistics Cost:

The Road Transport and Highways minister Mr. Gadkari had justified going for the National Water Ways by saying that the cost of logistics is high and hence transportation using river route should be expedited. Unfortunately, the reason for high cost of road transportation in India is not tackled.

A lot of congestion happens at the ports which increases the cost. 78% of total container cargo is handled by ports in the west coast out of which 70% of the total traffic is handled by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT). 60% of the traffic of the west coast moves to the northern hinterland, which leads to a heavy congestion along the routes. It is important to develop competing facilities. Also, our industries are located based on promise of tax holidays by various State Governments. At times these are far away from the freight corridors. With the implementation of GST, it would also be important to rethink on location of industries along our freight corridors which will save a lot on logistics costs. Our future smart cities should have been based on these concepts rather than trying to adapt the existing cities to smart cities.

There is also lot of congestion in the roads, especially in the inter-state border check posts, which leads to increased costs. At times there is indiscriminate “discretionary” detention of cargo in the inter-state check posts, primarily for corruption as these check posts are a major source of funds for officials as well as corrupt elected representatives. This undermines the utilisation of the truck fleet and increases the turnaround time and increases the overall cost. With India taking steps towards GST implementation in a pan-India basis, the octroi control check posts which cause significant delays are set to be abolished. When that happens, there will be free flow of traffic leading to faster delivery of goods and lower costs. The indiscriminate “discretionary” checks leads to unpredictable delivery timelines and this also leads to higher inventory costs. At present the inventory costs is 25% of the total logistics costs (Status and Leverage of Logistic Parks in India: Nirav Kothary, Jones Lang LaSalle). So most likely with the passage of GST both the transportation costs as well as logistics cost is going to decrease and road transport will become much efficient. Hence it is better to focus on road transport and exploit the entire potential of it, rather than engage in ecologically bad river transport.

There is also lot of traffic congestion in the existing toll booths. With the Government derelicting its duty of maintaining roads and privatising stretches of roads to be built-own-operated by third party for years together, there is heavy congestion on the roads. If the Government mandatorily introduces electronic payment system which is directly synced with mobile phones, then the process of payments and movement through the toll booths can be seamless without any delay. People are loathe to spend money to buy electronic devices just for the sake of toll booth payment. With increasing mobile app based payments, toll payments can be done through mobile apps and increase the speed of traffic flow through the toll booths.

The Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Mr. Gadkari has been quoted as saying that the road transport, which is polluting and causes 5 lakh accidents per annum killing 1.5 lakh people, has been allocated Rs 55,000 crore whereas the environment-friendly shipping got a mere Rs 800 crore allocation in the budget. If the Minister is so highly concerned about his department, then he could have looked at the root causes of the problems and removed those instead of starting a grandiose project which is going to destroy the environment.

Of course, Mr. Gadkari is not known to care for environment. He had earlier ensured that the National Highways Authority of India reduce the mitigation measures (length of overpass) for the NH7 highway passing through Kanha-Pench landscape. (Highway to Oblivion, IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 7 Issue III  )

 National Water Ways: Water for People or Industry?

Water is a scarce resource in our country. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are fighting a bitter battle over Cauvery waters. Karnataka claims that they don’t have enough water for drinking and Bangalore will run dry if they supply Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for agriculture. So they had convened an emergency assembly session and decided to even defy the directive of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. This has created a constitutional crisis. Given such a huge challenge to satisfy the thirst and agricultural needs of 1.3 billion population, is it justifiable to create dams and barrages to ensure faster transportation for industries? The National Water Ways Project is going to exacerbate India’s thirst for fresh water.

Under the present Modi Government, environment and forests is a lower priority and hence is under a Minister of State. It has been seen in the past that the junior minister heading MoEF&CC cannot stand up to the Senior Minister Mr. Gadkari’s environmentally destructive projects. With the Government only focused on industry, the case for the National Aquatic Animal i.e the dolphin and other species is sealed.


Predator and Prey: Leopard hunts deer by Sheshadri Vasan

During the first few minutes of our drive, we sighted a very calm leopard sitting beside the track. It was an open place with just one odd tree in the middle and a junction where three safari tracks meet. The weather was cloudy and we felt lucky to have sighting of a leopard, relaxed in its natural surroundings. The leopard was very calmly looking all around and got up after sometime stretched himself and walked straight to get into the lantana bushes, behind him…

To read more click on the below link:

Predator & Prey: Leopard hunts deer


Conservation News

BRICS Nations form joint working group for Environmental Cooperation

“Technology Transfer and Finance need to be Addressed to Achieve Goals”: Anil Madhav Dave  

The Environment Ministers of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) today agreed on a MoU  (Memorandum of Understanding) and announced setting up of a Joint Working Group to institutionalise mutual cooperation on environment-related issues. This was announced at the end of the BRICS Environment ministers meeting at Goa in India.

The choices made by the BRICS countries have a global significance as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, together account for 41.6% of global population, 29.31 % of total world’s territory and about 22% of world’s total GDP have rich biodiversity and natural capital.

The Environment Ministers of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)

The Environment Ministers of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)

The Ministerial Declaration of BRICS highlights key agreements, which were adopted with mutual consensus in the areas of – abatement and control of air and water pollution, efficient management of liquid and solid waste, climate change and conservation of biodiversity.

India’s MoEF&CC minister Mr. Anil Madhav Dave briefed the media after the second BRICS Environment Ministers meeting in Goa. This meeting was preceded by one-day of official level discussions between these countries.

Shri Dave said that technology transfer and finance are two issues that need to be addressed to achieve goals.  He pointed out that BRICS has a major role to play and is a global idea.  The Minister said that there was some agreement on areas such as air quality, water management and solid waste management in the meeting.   The Environment Minister particularly emphasised that it is essential to preserve water bodies.

The Ministers of BRICS nations called upon the developed countries to honour their commitments relating to means of implementation and facilitate its operationalization, with a clear roadmap for the successful achievement of various global environmental agreements and Sustainable Development Goals.

The BRICS countries resolved to set up a platform for innovations, knowledge sharing and capacity building including a common website, network of technical institutions and undertake joint projects in areas of mutual interest.

The BRICS nations also reaffirmed their commitment to the Principles of Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992 including Equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).

Brazil was led by Ambassador Mr Fernando Coimbra, Head of the Office for International Affairs at the Ministry of Environment.  Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Sergey Donskoy led the Russian delegation, while the Chinese delegation was led by Mr Zhao Yingmin, Vice-Minister of Environment Protection and the South African delegation was led by Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms. Edna Molewa, respectively.


Himachal Pradesh increases incentive to kill monkeys by 66%

The Government of Himachal Pradesh has increased the monetary incentive to kill monkeys by 66 per cent. In a chilling return of British era policies, the Himachal Pradesh Government has declared monkeys as Vermin and any person killing monkeys will be paid Rs. 500/- per monkey.

The Government had first announced the incentive earlier this month and now increased it at the behest of the hunting lobby. The incentive is supposed to cover the cost of ammunition and allied expenses incurred in hunting monkeys.

The Himachal Pradesh Government had earlier sought to declare Monkey as Vermin and the final approval was given by the BJP Government at the Centre. This approval was for a period of six months which ended on the 14th of September. The State Government has requested for a further one year increase in duration of this license to kill monkeys. Interestingly, the BJP Government is often in the news for persecuting people for cow slaughter. However, Hanuman the monkey God having universal following, the monkeys don’t have any respite from slaughter.

This brings us to the dichotomy that India is today. unplanned and unrestrained urbanisation due to greed as well as need for housing an exploding human population, which by some estimates have touched 1.3 billion, the habitat for monkeys have shrunk. With most of our forests overrun by exotic weed infestations, the bio-diversity of our forests have reduced and monkeys don’t find food throughout the year. They have taken to raiding crops and earning the ire of people. As usual, no body is bothered about solving the core problem and the killing spree continues.


Python near Gir dies after swallowing Nilgai and disturbance by people

A large python at Baliavad village on the outskirts of Gir was foud to have swallowed a nilgai calf. The python was about 20 feet long.

Whenever a python swallows its prey, it lies motionless and its internal digestive juices take time to digest the prey. If the python is disturbed during this time, then it tries to regurgitate its prey. While regurgitating the prey the hoofs and horns of animals scratch and tear the python from the inside, killing it. If the python is not disturbed then it remains motionless and slowly digests the prey.

In this case, after getting information from the villagers, the forest department shifted the python. Shifting a heavy python with a much heavier prey would have injured it and it succumbed to its injuries.

Unfortunately, the awareness level of people in the villages is very low. Python is a protected species and any person either alone or in a group, if found causing any distress to such a protected species ought to be punished. However, implementation of laws, especially wildlife laws are weak. So pythons continue to die in many places throughout India when they are found to have swallowed prey.


Mumbai BJP Leader apprehended in Wildlife Trafficking

A leader of the ruling party from Mumbai, Mayuresh Shirke was caught trafficking Star Tortoises. He was caught by the WCCB (Wildlife Crime Control Board) trying to sell 24 star tortoises. The Star tortoises are often trafficked within as well as outside India.

He is said to advertise these tortoises in social media and then deliver in person. He was fined Rs. 25,000/- and released after giving an undertaking that he won’t comit the crime again. Unfortunately, the forest department couldn’t find any information about his supplier and accomplice and have assumed him to be a lone wolf.

The Star tortoises are bought by people believing they will bring in good luck. This species have been at the receiving end of wildlife trade. They are packed into boxes and remain immobile for hours before they are delivered to their destinations. These wildlife trafficking can be stopped if people voluntarily provide information when they come across any such advertisement or find someone selling. Every small step can help save our wildlife if all of us pitch in.


Equipment Discussions

Canon Introduces High end C700 Cinema Camera

Canon has introduced a flagship model to its Cinema Camera series by announcing the EOS C700 in both EF and PL versions. This is primarily targeted to high end feature films, documentaries and TV serials.

Canon Introduces High end C700 Cinema Camera

Canon Introduces High end C700 Cinema Camera

The EOS 700 has a modular design and comes with a Super 35mm sensor. It is the first camera to feature a global shutter. So when you pan fast or if you are shooting high speed situations your shot will not distort.
C700 will have wide dynamic range of 15 stops and records internally to CFast 2.0 cards.

To read the full review download the PDF or click on the link below:


Canon announces EOS M5 Mirrorless camera and Kit lens

Canon has announced a new mirrorless camera called EOS M5. Canon had been ambivalent about the Mirrorless cameras. However, finally Canon seems to be waking up to the demand with a well rounded effort. It would have been awesome if Canon would have introduced 4K Video. Nevertheless following are the specifications:

Canon EOS M5

Canon EOS M5

To read the full review download the PDF or click on the link below:


Panasonic announces development of GH5 Mirrorless Camera

Panasonic today announced that it has developed a new mirrorless camera which it calls DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) camera LUMIX GH5.

The GH5 can record 4K video in 50p/60p in 10 bits and in 4:2:2 colour space.

Panasonic GH5 Mirrorless Camera

Panasonic GH5 Mirrorless Camera

Also, Panasonic says that it can extract 18 Megapixel still image from a burst mode and it calls it 6K Photo. The photo resolution is 6000×3000 pixels. No one calls still photograph resolution in terms of “K”. So this is extremely creative marketing from Panasonic. The GH5 camera would be available sometime in 2017.

To read the full review download the PDF or click on the link below:


Go Pro Hero 5 Black

Go Pro has launched an update to the popular Hero 4 Black by launching the Hero 5 Black camera.

The Hero 5 Black can now be submerged to a depth of 33 feet without any housing. In the Hero 4 Black, housing was mandatory if you wanted to submerge it in water.

The Hero 4 Black lacked a touch screen. So I had paid 75 USD to buy a touch screen. The Hero 5 Black has a touch screen included so you can see your subject.

Go Pro Hero 5 Black


Sony introduces the new 42.4 MP A9II DSLR camera

Sony has launched the A99II DSLR camera with 42.4 Megapixels UHD 4K video capabilities.

Sony MP A9II DSLR camera

Sony MP A9II DSLR camera

Sensor: Exmor R back illuminated CMOS

Megapixel: 42.4 MP (7952 x 5304)

Processor: Bionz X image processor

ISO: From 100-25600 which is expandable to a maximum of ISO 102400

Stills Burst speed: 12 fps. This is indeed huge as the processor has to process 42.4 Megapixels at 12 frames per second.

AF: Hybrid phase detection AF with 79 point AF sensor and 399 point on chip focus system. The autofocus will also work in low lights at -4EV.

To read the full review download the Newsletter PDF : 

Newsletter-September-2016 (7.9 MB, 679 downloads)


Wooden Camera

Wooden Camera has been taken over by Vitec Group.

Wooden Camera is an american manufacturer of camera support equipment. I use many of their camera base plates, dove tails, handles and fixtures with my cinema cameras. It started manufacturing for RED cameras and quickly moved to create an accessory line up for other cameras as well as for DSLRs for filming. Recently it had announced the Z box, a clip on matte box.

Wooden Camera

Wooden Camera

To read the full review download the PDF or click on the below link:


Go Pro Karma Drone

Go Pro has announced its much awaited quadcopter named “Karma”. This is a very unique design and is foldable. The rotors can be folded in as well as the feet. The overall size becomes small and can be packed within a small backpack.  Check the video on the below link:

Gopro Karma Drone

Gopro Karma Drone

To read the full review download the PDF : 

Newsletter-September-2016 (7.9 MB, 679 downloads)


Canon Launches XC15 4K UHD Camcorder

Canon has launched an update to the XC10 camcorder and has named it XC15.

The XC15 retains its compact form factor and now has XLR inputs for audio by using a MA-499 XLR microphone adapter. This XLR adapter can also be used with the C300 Mark II body.

Canon XC15 4K UHD Camcorder

Canon XC15 4K UHD Camcorder

The Canon XC15 camcorder shoots UHD 4K video at upto 29.97 fps. For PAL country like India, we can use 25p.

The XC15 comes with an integrated f2.8-f5.6 /8.9-89mm lens which is equivalent to 27.3 to 273mm in 35mm.

To read the full review download the PDF : 

Newsletter-September-2016 (7.9 MB, 679 downloads)


Book Review

The Great Derangement – Climate Change and the Unthinkable – By Amitav Ghosh

Read the full review on the link below  –

The Great Derangement, Climate Change and the Unthinkable


Natural History

COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M. Krishnan: ‘The Stripe-Necked Mongoose‘ By Saktipada Panigrahi


Wildlife Photography

Leopard by Ulhas Kalyanpur!!

Tiger in Bandipur by Jerin Dinesh

Squirrel by by Dheerendra Singh

Greater Sand Plover by Joydip Mukherjee

Grey sided Laughing Thrush by Samrat Sarkar

Emerald-Dove by Subhash Shrivastava

Monitor-lizard by Vipin Sharma

Green Vine Snake by Prajwal Ullal

Crocodile in Kabini by Shyamala Kumar

Snail by Prajwal Ullal

Painted-Grasshopper by Anil Kumar Verma

Worm by Arun Acharjee

Ashy Woodswallow by Mrudul Godbole


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

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Sabyasachi Patra

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Newsletter-September-2016 (7.9 MB, 679 downloads)
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