Animal Kingdom

Coexistence with kindness and mutual respect is the motto of Friendicoes

For thousands of years, humans have been sharing food, shelter, and their precious time with animals. Throughout history, dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, camels, horses and ponies have been our companions. For peaceful coexistence in the future, we need to bear kindness and respect in our actions towards animals.

Friendicoes is an NGO located in New Delhi that practices and promotes compassion led action for animals. In 1970, some children formed a small group and opened up a shelter home for abandoned and ill animals, the space for shelter was provided by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

A small two-room apartment was set up and it helped in housing some ill animals. As time progressed, more people began to associate with the rescue and treatment of animals and Friendicoes SECA was established in 1979. Presently, they are engaged in various animal shelter and rescue operations.

They have a shelter as well as hospitals for animals. Sick stray animals and lost or abandoned pets are found here. Sometimes birds and monkeys in distress also go to the refuge of Friendicoes.

As a unique organization, Friendicoes cares for the animals and helps in finding new housing and owners for the rescued and sick animals. Friendicoes advocates for the respect that animals deserve and endeavours to create a society where animals and humans co-exist peacefully.

Saving Pitbull

Pitbull is a sub-species in dogs, which is apparently ‘trending’ amongst pet enthusiasts in various cities. Friendicoes’ record indicates that the ‘trending’ sub-species are often abandoned within three years of their adoption. To tackle this, Friendicoes started an initiative that aims to raise awareness around adoption for those who like to adopt pets but later do not take appropriate care of their pets.

Friendicoes also cures injured and otherwise abandoned Pitbulls and prepare them for their new life. The NGO saved 11 Pitbulls in 2017 -2018 and most of them were able to lead new and healthy lives.

What can you do for House Sparrows?

House sparrow is the state bird of Delhi. It is a domestic bird that has made its presence felt in every village and city across the country. Over the past 25 years, the population of sparrows has declined sharply, and it has become an endangered bird today. By ensur¬ing nests for them, we can progress towards their rehabilitation. We can help them by building comfortable nests in just six steps.

What you will require –
1. Bamboo sticks
2. Cloth
3. Thread or rope
4. Bangle
5. Dry grass
6. Scissor

Step 1. Make 5 rings from bamboo sticks.

Step 2. Make a circular structure by joining bamboo rings as shown in the figure.

Step 3. Attach the bangle as the bird’s entry and exit point and tighten it with a thread and hold the bamboo stick at the bottom.

Step 4. Cover the entire structure with cloth and make a small hole in the bangle area for the entrance.

Step 5. Spread the grass evenly around it and wrap the grass around it with a rope or thread. Create an efficient entry point.

Step 6. Place grains on the bamboo stick to attract birds.


Slowly Vanishing Olive Ridley Turtle

One of the endangered marine species, the Olive Ridley Turtle is facing many challenges today. The Olive Ridley Turtles arrive at India’s eastern coastal shores of Odisha and Tamil Nadu from South America during their nesting and breeding season every year. The increased pollution in seas and oceans, and ingestion of plastic has led to the death of numerous Olive Ridley Turtles. Olive Ridley Turtles play a major part in maintaining the marine ecosystem. They help to keep the seagrasses healthy and have a key role in balancing the food chain inside the ocean.

To conserve and protect Olive Ridley Turtles, the fishermen community, government organisations and non-governmental organisations worked together and their continuous efforts paid off! Organisations like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) also contributed to the protection of the Olive Ridley Turtles.
DRDO has a missile launching site in the Abdul Kalam Island at Gahirmatha coast. To protect baby turtles from going in the opposite direction, defence personnel have dimmed the bright light coming from the missile site. Forest guards have also been appointed at the coast to prevent predators like dogs, birds, and other animals from eating the baby turtles. The mortality rate of baby turtles is quite high and only 1 out of 1000 survives.

Breeding and Nesting Process
The Olive Ridley Turtles come to the shores every year in November and Decem¬ber to begin their breeding process and build nests for laying eggs. For this, they make a 2-feet spherical pit in the sand and the female turtle lays approximately 100 eggs in this nest. The hatchlings approximately take 45 days to come out on the shore from their nest.

The hatchlings have to face numerous challenges on the ocean coasts. After com¬ing out of the nest, hatchlings are attracted towards the ocean light. Sometimes, instead of going towards the ocean, baby turtles start moving in the opposite di¬rection, towards the land. This ultimately leads to their death due to many factors.

Hunting the haunted Ghost Net

‘Ghost Net’ is a popular term used for the trash and abandoned nets that were once used for fishing. These nets are dangerous for marine organisms who tend to get attracted to these nets, get trapped in them, and kill themselves. Endangered species are at an added degree of risk with such mortality-enhancing factors.

Considering the risk that these nets pose to marine wildlife,
Tree Foundation and the HCL Foundation started an initiative to reduce ghost nets from the ocean. The initiative began in July and traditional fisherfolks are financially compensated for removing ghost nets from the oceans and the coasts. For removing one kilogram of ghost net, the fisherfolks get five rupees. The initia¬tive has benefitted the fishermen community and has also become an additional source of income for some fishermen. The success of this initiative lies in the fact that there has been an increase in the population of Olive Ridley Turtles, and now approximately 8,000 of them return to the sea every year.
The Tree Foundation collaborated with the governments of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Indian Coast Guard. The NGO has started many awareness initiatives by conducting training for fishermen on conserving ocean resources.

The growing conflict between wild animals and humans

Forests are vanishing slowly and some forests are being converted only for anthropogenic uses. As a result, wild animals like elephants, tigers, and leopards, and humans are often in conflict with each other.

These clashes can be harmful to both animals and humans. In 2020, Maharashtra alone witnessed 88 human deaths due to animal-human conflict. According to the five-year data provided by the Ministry of Environment, human clashes with elephants induced 2,361 humans and 500 elephants deaths throughout the country between 2014 to 2019. Due to this ever-increasing conflict between wild animals and humans, the count of leopard deaths has also increased from 110 in 2019 to 172 in 2020.

NCF’s efforts to minimize Human-Animal Conflict

National Conservation Foundation (NCF) was founded in 1996 as a public charitable trust. NCF aims to preserve India’s rich wildlife heritage and biodiversity while also working towards the development of local communities. Rising human-animal conflicts in the Western Ghats has caused several inconveniences to local communities and farmers.

In MM Hills and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary of Western Ghats, local farmers often encounter wild animals like tigers, elephants, and wild boars. They attack the crops and the livestock of the farmers. Such human-wildlife interactions often occur during the night. Being far away from the electricity grid, villages and farms here do not receive an adequate supply of electricity. Therefore, they are unable to stop encroachments of wild animals at night. NCF intervened by installing solar-powered lights in the homes of the locals so they could be more aware of their cattle and farms at night.

Further, they have also provided solar fencing around the farms to farmers of KK Hills. The KK Hills and Cauvery Sanctuary is home to many elephants of the Western Ghats. The installation of the solar fencing helped locals in avoiding unwanted human-elephant interactions that can turn fatal.

Bird Singing Competitions - an emerging threat to conservation

A recent paper published on human-bird relationship in the journal ‘Global Ecology and Conservation’ suggests that there has been a rise in the demands of songbirds across the world. The bird singing contests which are held all over the world are judged by the humans for their plumages, songs, and movement while the birds are kept inside decorated cages. The champion bird brings glory and a considerable prize, money in most cases to the owner.

The rise in these trends is proving a threat to the wild bird population, which are traded across the world for their singing ability. This threat is especially in Southeast Asia in Singapore and Thailand. The paper also suggests that presently, bird singing contests take place in at least 22 countries using at least 36 species of birds.

The Tale of Great Indian Bustard

The Great Indian Bustard is a large, spectacular bird found in the grasslands of India and parts of Pakistan. In 2008, the bustard population worldwide was estimated to be at around 300, however, presently the number of mature individuals is said to be placed between 60 to 250.

It is a critically endangered bird and has suffered due to human activities, mainly mining and hunting.
It is commonly claimed that the bustard was once a contender for the title of the National Bird of India. After losing its spot for the title, the Great Indian Bustard has been facing constant threats due to poaching, habitat loss and unavailability of food.

How RIST is Protecting GIB

The Rural India Support Trust (RIST) was established in 2009 as a grant-making organization. Their project of Conservation of Great Indian Bustard began in 2020. RIST collaborated with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to understand and assist in saving bustards in Rajasthan. The initiative is currently engaged in Desert National Park, Jaisalmer and Pokhran, which are two major spots for the GIB.
They value community participation and with the goal of saving the bustard from extinction, they have trained various local individuals and communities. The project is also assisted by various government authorities and other NGOs to prepare the local stakeholders in capacity-building exercises.

Reducing Grasslands: A Major Concern

Great Indian Bustards essentially belong to the grassland ecosystem and there has been serious neglect of grasslands all across the country. This grassland species is practically extinct from 95% of its range now. Grasslands are crucial to vegetation and various endangered animal and bird species. Grasslands have an important function in the livelihood of both humans and animals. While humans use grasslands as grazing fields for domestic cattle, animals and birds use them as shelter and to be safe from predators.
Bustards make their nests on the ground in the open in such an ecosystem. Since it’s a large bird, it lays only an egg during one breeding season. The mother performs all parental roles, if the egg is destroyed by predators or is infertile only then does the mother Bustard lay another egg. The declining density of grasslands and lack of legal framework has contributed to driving the species to critically endangered status.

The Great Hornbill

Hornbills are large birds, which is spectacular and is known for their awe-inspiring beak. The most prominent feature of the hornbill is the bright yellow and black casque on top of its massive bill. The casque appears U-shaped when viewed from the front, and the top is concave, with two ridges along the sides that form points in the front. They are essential in preserving the forest ecosystems, as they help in seed dispersal of forest plants.

In India, nine Hornbill species are found, namely Indian Grey Hornbill (endemic to India), the Malabar Grey Hornbill (endemic to the Western Ghats), Malabar Pied Hornbill (endemic to India and Sri Lanka) and the endangered Great Hornbill which is widely distributed.
Hornbills are monogamous, females lay their eggs into tree cavities and rest there for two to three months until the eggs are hatched. In the meantime, food is collected and supplied by the male hornbill. Large trees and dense forests are central to their breeding and biological requirements and therefore, they have become especially vulnerable to threats from deforestation and hunting. Out of the 62 species of Hornbills found worldwide, 26 are globally threatened. However, the indigenous communities in Arunachal Pradesh have come up with new strategies to conserve the endangered Great Hornbill.
From Tribal Identitity to Conservation: Nyishi Community now a savior
The Nyishi tribal community have lived in the forests of Arunachal Pradesh for centuries. They live in the dense forests that share the border with the Pakke Tiger Reserve and have had a history of hunting exotic birds in large numbers, including the Great Hornbill.
The Great Hornbill is a magnificent bird that is easily identified by its large and bright yellow beak. It gets its name from the presence of a horn-like projection on top of its beaks known as a casque.
The casque has cultural relevance for the Nyishi community who use it as a headgear. It is mandatory for Nyishi men as a symbol of their tribal identity and manhood, therefore historically Great Hornbills have been hunted in massive numbers. Once hunters, the Nyishi community now participates in the protection and conservation of the beautiful hornbill species initiated by local NGOs and Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF).