Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Meghalaya Recruitment 2021

img ]

The candidate that is interested and fulfills all the eligibility criteria is required to submit their complete application form in PDF format along with copies of educational qualifications, experience (with the subject line: Engagement of Project Associate under “Meghalaya Biosphere Reserve Proposal” Project) to “registrarpr@wii.gov.in” not later than 17:00 hrs on 21st July 2021.

The shortlisted candidates will be notified (through email and website notification) for an online personal interview by 26th July 2021. The online interview will be held on 28th July 2021 from 10:00 hrs onwards.

Short Advertisement Details: Click Here

Disclaimer: Provided by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Meghalaya

After Approving Nicobar Sanctuary Denotification, WII Says No Expertise

img ]

The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. Photo: WII/Facebook

Mumbai: Six months after the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) justified denotifying a significant nesting site for giant leatherback turtles near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands based on an expert’s opinion, the expert’s institute – a premier wildlife research body – has said it has no expertise on these reptiles in this area.

The Indian government created the Galathea Bay wildlife sanctuary in 1997, and recently, in February this year, listed it in India’s National Marine Turtle Action Plan as an important nesting site for giant leatherback turtles, a vulnerable species. But a month earlier, the Union environment ministry had already denotified all 11.44 sq. km of it to facilitate NITI Aayog’s proposal for a mega transshipment port in the area at an estimated cost of Rs 35,000 crore.

A standing committee of the NBWL approved the denotification in January 2021. The minutes of the committee’s meeting included the following statement by Dhananjai Mohan, director of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII):

“If the Government would like to de-notify the Galathea Bay WLS, then it is strongly urged that the concerned authorities develop and implement a mitigation plan to facilitate leatherback and other turtles to continuously nest for which the connectivity between the Galathea River and the Bay should be ensured. The mitigation plan needs to be developed through a detailed study so that marine turtles continue to nest on the beaches near the Galathea Bay during both construction as well as operational phases of the International Shipment Project.”

Lack of expertise

However, the WII itself has said that it has no expertise on or experience with leatherback turtles research in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In a June 7 response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by legal researchers in Bengaluru, the institute said it has never by itself or in collaboration with other institutions conducted “any study exclusively on leatherback turtles of ANI”.

The only turtles-related study that the RTI response refers to is a 30-page report entitled ‘An assessment of the environmental sensitiveness of sea turtle nesting beaches of the Great Nicobar Island’. But this report is based on a survey undertaken after the director recorded his opinion at the standing committee meeting in January.

Curiously, B.C. Choudhury, a former scientist with the WII, said the WII has in fact undertaken research involving leatherback turtles at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands – including one under his supervision a decade ago. “This was a collaborative project with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad,” Choudhury, who is the South Asia regional vice-chair for the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Marine Turtle Specialist Group, said. “I also collaborated on another project with the Indian Institute of Science and the Dakshin Foundation for the first satellite-tagging study on leatherback turtles here.”

“I am not sure why WII has taken the stand that it has not studied the leatherback in the islands.”

Ecological rationale

Another senior turtles-researcher aware of the issue said on condition of anonymity that “the WII director’s statement never made ecological sense”.

According to him, “The logic for connectivity between the Galathea River and the bay where it enters the sea and where the turtles nest was not clear. It is also not clear what mitigation plan is being proposed or how it will be implemented.”

Choudhury agreed, adding that director Mohan’s statement – that “connectivity between the river and the bay needs to be maintained” – is akin to the WII giving its professional and scientific okay for the port development project.

A Gurugram-based company called Aecom India Pvt. Ltd. had prepared a pre-feasibility report for NITI Aayog, entitled ‘Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island at Andaman and Nicobar Islands’. This report proposed two breakwaters 2.53 km and 1.37 km long to “provide round-the-year wave tranquillity,” for the port’s benefit. If these breakwaters are built, they will reduce the width of Galathea Bay’s opening from 3 km today to just 300 metres. This reduction would render it virtually impossible for the turtles to access their nesting sites – the beaches.

“Galathea isn’t a very wide bay, and with breakwaters constructed on both sides narrowing the entry into the bay and the adjacent beaches, I doubt leatherbacks will continue nesting there,” Muralidharan Manoharakrishnan, a turtle biologist with the Dakshin Foundation, said. “Unfortunately, I can’t think of any example – where once developmental activities were given clearance over a critical habitat and care was taken to ensure that the habitat survived afterwards – to use as precedent.”

An email to WII’s Mohan requesting his comment on his institute’s RTI reply hadn’t elicited a response at the time of publishing this article.

No compelling grounds

Lawyer and legal researcher Sreeja Chakraborty’s team had filed the RTI application with the WII. She said the sanctuary’s “denotification is illegal as per sections 18 and 26A of the Wildlife Act and Article 48A of the Constitution.”

Chakraborty added that the stand committee meeting’s minutes “indicate” that the islands’ administration was acting under the Centre’s orders, and had failed to “apply its mind and ask … as to why the intent to notify a sanctuary in 1997 should be overturned now in 2021.

“What are the compelling grounds? Where are the documents and the research to back this decision?”

Pankaj Sekhsaria has been researching issues of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for over two decades. His most recent book, Waiting for Turtles, is an illustrated storybook for children on turtle-nesting in the Andamans. It is out this month in English and Hindi by Karadi Tales.

Know and grow your mangroves: A primer for the residents of Chennai

img ]

Well ahead of International Mangrove Day, a look at the richness of the intertidal patches that support these wonder plants

Chennai residents need to wrap their head around avicennia marina’s pneumatophores (imagine upturned roots sticking out of a watery soil) as also rhizophora’s roots (think of the Banyan’s aerial root system; or more aptly, wildly hanging dreadlocks). These are the two species that predominate the mangrove patches in the intertidal areas on Chennai’s coast. On patches where they are founded, these mangroves should increase. On patches where they could thrive but are not found, they should be made to put down those gnarled and quirky roots.

What mangroves can do for the safety of coastal residents is widely appreciated, thanks to sufficiently-amplified accounts of how mangrove forests stood up to 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, on sections of the Tamil Nadu coast. In contrast, their ability to enhance coastal biodiversity and improve the livelihoods of coast-dependent populations is not as widely understood, let alone utilised.

Any time is always propitious to mull over these facts and match cogitation with effective action. However, given the significance attached to special days of observance, this season (United Nations observes July 26 as International Day for Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystem) is even more suitable for this exercise.

Here are two subject matter experts, each from a different sphere of operations but united by shared conservation goals, deconstructing the mangrove ecosystem, in the context of the Chennai coast.

M Masilamani Selvam is associate professor of biotechnology of Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, and author of the Tamil book on mangrove forests, Alayathi Kadugal. Masilamani has trained under a luminary on mangroves, being a student of the legendary K Kathiresan at Annamalai University.

M Yuvan is a naturalist and author of A Naturslist’s Journal and is in the forefront of an ongoing study on Tamil Nadu’s coastal biodiversity being undertaken by Madras Naturalists’ Society.

“Mangroves are found in the Kelambakkam and Kovalam backwaters. I notice some positive signs in the Kelambakkam backwaters, on the connecting road between Kelambakkam and Kovalam. Initially, it was pretty dry and there was a lot of grazing. Now, it is flourishing, with patches of dense mangrove growth, particularly in the last two to three years,” observes Masilamani.

Yuvan weighs in about how the mangrove ecosystem in this region meets livelihood needs, as is evident from the “handpicking” on the Kelambakkam section of Muttukadu.

“With baskets, handpickers can be seen in the mangrove patches looking for prawns , giant mud crabs (scylla serata) and mullets,” Yuvan notes.

“The problem with the Muttukadu backwaters is that a huge amount of domestic waste is coming inside. So, many life forms are vanishing. The Wildlife Institute of India (an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India) has described it as an Important Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Area (ICMBA) for various reasons — there are birds, mangroves and sand dunes,” states Yuvan while underlining the need to protect the ecosystem. Another intertidal patch marked by noticeable mangrove growth lies well within city limits — Adyar Estuary. Masilamani draws attention to how a part of the mangrove forest in this estuarine habitat is the result of a planting exercise.

Though it is unclear how big a part this is, it does broadcast the fact that people can and should have a hand in mangrove regeneration.

For anyone who may be curious enough to want to clap eyes on this urban mangrove forest, there is an unhindered view of it available from the broken bridge side. A shock of mangroves is found along the border of the Theosophical Society premises. There is avicennia marina and rhizophora to gaze at.

While pointing out that the Tamil Nadu side of the Pulicat lake has lost its mangroves to prosopis juliflora, Yuvan notes: “In Senjanimedu and Ennore creek, mangroves are still found — largely avicennia marina and a little bit of rhizophora.”

A closer look

“While avicennia marina and rhizophora are both intertidal plants, the latter is found more towards the waters than the land. When you travel further into an intertidal area by boat, you would get to see rhizophora. Even during low tide, you would find rhizophora in the water only, but in contrast, avicenia marina will be seen exposed,” says Masilamani. “Behind these two, a commonly seen mangrove plant is excoecaria agallocha. There is a tendency among some botanists to categorise it as a land plant, but it is a mangrove, fair and square. It would largely be found in sandy shores, mostly in the brackish water area.”

The benefits

Even if they occupy a small patch of intertidal area, a clutch of mangroves comes with the facets of a complex ecosystem. “The main benefit of having mangroves is the fishery resource they automatically create. Prawns are directly related to mangrove ecosystems. They are drawn to the mangrove environment for the highly complex web-like structure it provides for the young ones to hide away. Mangroves serve as a nursery for young fish and shrimps. The leaf litter would be there all the time, degrading and decomposing and therefore promoting the fauna of the subsoil. It is an environment that supports small worms and insects, on which the small fish and shrimps feed,” explains Masilamani. “Mangroves draw crabs, which graze the leaves and the leftovers go down and degrade, providing food for the molluscs. Dependent organisms develop automatically. Where there is biodiversity, the ecosystem will flourish.”

Here is the crux of it, in Masilamani’s words:

“On the Chennai coast, the focus should be on planting mangroves wherever it is possible to do so, as we are cyclone-prone. With mangrove plantation, 50 percent of the damage can be reduced. When they grow very high, mangroves can serve as effective wind breakers.”