Plight of the national parks

Despite the avalanches and the snowfall in Kashmir, it\'s spring in large parts of Haryana and Delhi. The ficus trees are fruiting, ready to burst open.

By: EARTH WATCH | BHARATI CHATURVEDI
| Updated on: Mar 04 2005, 20:02 IST

Despite the avalanches and the snowfall in Kashmir, it's spring in large parts of Haryana and Delhi. The ficus trees are fruiting, ready to burst open.

These days, the large green barbet is almost partying from morning to dusk, as it feeds itself with abandon. This is something that one should cherish these days. After all, with the kind of scant attention the Government is offering to wildlife, there will be very little left soon.

Take the shameful condition of Rajasthan's most prized wildlife haunts: Keoladeo National Park, Ranthambore and Sariska. The first has no water, and the state government believes it is addressing the problem by understanding the issue through a process that will take three months to come to a decision. By that time, this Ramsar Site, protected by the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, of which India is a signatory, will already have suffered deep and even irreversible losses. It's hard to believe that this was till recently the only home to the Siberian Crane.

One hardly needs to repeat how both Ranthambore and Sariska are only a pale shadow of their former selves, as tigers who earlier lived there have all but disappeared. Since there was no regular monitoring of tigers, even this bad news has caught everyone by surprise. In sum, a pathetic way for India to look after one of its greatest natural resources. Try liver, pickled in mercury Have I become totally pessimistic while writing about incredible Rajasthan? Perhaps I have, because now I am about to mention another piece of sad news.

Researchers from Toronto have now come up with a landmark study that shows that mercury levels in the eco-system have not gone down in the last 40 years. If any thing, data seems to suggest it's increased. They were shocked while studying the livers of some marine mammals, where mercury can be expected to accumulate. Dolphins in the British Isles showed a six-fold increase in mercury in their livers from 1989 to 1998. Similarly, there was no decrease in mercury levels in seals in the Canadian Arctic since 1972.

As everyone knows, mercury impacts the nervous system and can also cause organ failure. If it's there in the insides of animals, humans can't be safe. Remember, tuna eaters are already being warned against eating too much of their favourite fish because of its mercury content.

(If you feel for Planet Earth, write to earthwatch1@rediff mail.com)

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First Published Date: 04 Mar, 19:46 IST
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