DEHRADUN: Scanty snowfall and lack of food availability due to climate change has cut short the hibernation period of bears drastically — from an average four to five months to barely two now, experts have found.
They also warned that changes in hibernation patterns have had repercussions on the animal’s behaviour, turning it more aggressive and leading to increased bear attacks.
“We are now recording bear attacks even in months of December and January when the animals are known to hibernate,” said J S Suhag, chief wildlife warden of Uttarakhand forest department. This year, four people have lost their lives in 64 incidents of man-bear conflict in the state. In 2019, four people died in 76 bear attacks, most of them in higher reaches of the Himalayas. In 2018, two people were killed in 54 such attacks.
S Sathyakumar, senior scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, who has been studying man-animal conflict in high altitudes of Uttarakhand under a UNDP project, said climate change has affected hibernation period of the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus).
“They are now hibernating for shorter durations due to scanty snowfall. Earlier, they would hardly be seen from mid-December to mid-March. But this year, we spotted a bear with its cub wandering around in Darma valley of Pithoragarh in January. This is very unusual,” he said.
Lalit Kumar Sharma, head of department, wildlife and Geographic Information System (GIS) division, at the headquarters of Zoological Survey of India in Kolkata, who was part of a five-year study (2008-2012) on bears in Jammu and Kashmir, told TOI that the average hibernation period of Asiatic black bears was now down to 54 days instead of three to five winter months. “We found that one radio-collared bear hibernated for just 32 days,” he said.
Shorter hibernation has also been observed among Himalayan brown bears (Ursus arctos), said Sharma, whose team recorded sightings of the animal in January in Himachal Pradesh.
Experts said the bears were hibernating for short periods due to less snowfall. “Snowfall in the Himalayas is now spread out over more months, but it is scanty. At the same time, climate change has affected food availability. For instance, berries that flowered in May are flowering early, leaving bears with less food sources towards the winter which is why they are venturing near human habitats, searching for food,” Sathyakumar said.
The changes in hibernation patterns and lack of food resources are also turning bears aggressive, said Sathyakumar. “It is also likely to affect their offspring if the mother bear does not have adequate fat stores in the body,” he said.
Sharma also agreed that the reproductive cycle of the species may be affected. “Bears mate during spring and give birth to offspring during hibernation. Short hibernation periods could impact this cycle.”
Bears are among several species that have been affected as Himalayan biodiversity changes due to climate change, said Subrat Sharma, head of GB Pant National institute of Himalayan Environment, Ladakh. Sharma added that snowfall across the Himalayan region has reduced over the past few years and warmer and dry winters have disrupted hibernation patterns of animals, including bears.
Pakistan targets LoC, IB in ceasefire violation
JAMMU: Pakistan on Saturday violated ceasefire at multiple locations by firing unprovoked along the International Border (IB) in Samba sector and the Line of Control (LoC) in Degwar sector of Poonch district in Jammu & Kashmir.
Official sources said Pakistan violated ceasefire along the International Border at Rajpura area of Ghagwal in Samba district around 2am by firing at the border outposts (BOPs) of Border Security Force (BSF). BSF troops retaliated promptly and effectively to the enemy fire. No loss of life or injury was reported in the exchange of firing. Sources said that BSF had started some development work of forward locations along the international border, and Pakistani firing was aimed at hindering it.
Later in the evening, Pakistani troops violated ceasefire along the LoC in Degwar sector of Poonch district. Jammu-based defence spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said, “Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and mortar shelling along the LoC in Degwar sector at about 6.30pm. The Indian Army retaliated befittingly.”
On Friday, Pakistan had violated ceasefire by resorting to unprovoked firing and shelling along the LoC in three sectors of Poonch district. Before this, it had violated ceasefire in the Mankote sector on October 16 and in two sectors along the LoC in Poonch district on October 14. Prior to this, it had violated ceasefire for three consecutive days — on October 9, 10 and 11 — in Rajouri and Poonch districts.
Farooq Abdullah to head seven-party Peoples Alliance, Mehbooba Mufti nominated VP
SRINAGAR: The Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, the seven-party amalgam of mainstream Kashmir parties demanding the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, appointed on Saturday National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah as its president, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti as vice-president, and decided the flag of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir would be the flag of the alliance.
The decisions came at a meeting of alliance constituents, some of whom are arch-rivals, at Mufti’s Gupkar Road residence here. “It’s not an anti-national alliance, it is an anti-BJP alliance… BJP wants to divide the country, our aim is to ensure that the rights of the people of J&K and Ladakh are restored,” Dr Abdullah said.
Congress appeared to distance itself from the PAGD with J&K PCC president GA Mir staying away from two meetings of the conglomerate — on October 15 when the alliance was forged, and on Saturday. Sources close to the regional Congress unit said this was because of what they described as a “twist” in the objective of the basic demand for the restoration of special status to J&K, a reference to recent statements from Mehbooba Mufti to the effect that she would raise the tricolour only when the J&K flag, too, was allowed to fly. The source said Congress had raised the issue of the nullification of Article 370 in Parliament but the PDP Rajya Sabha members had not spoken a word on it in the Upper House.
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, meanwhile, was quoted by ANI as asking, “Why is the so-called secular lobby silent at this anti-national remark (Mehbooba’s remarks of Friday)? … In one country there cannot be ‘do nishaan, do pradhan’. We condemn this.” He added that J&K was “India’s inseparable part” and “Article 370 abrogation was a constitutional process (sic)”.
However, CPM leader Yousuf Tarigami rejected the notion of Congress distancing itself, saying,“Congress party is very (much) a constituent of the PAGD.”
PAGD’s constituents are National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Peoples Conference, Awami National Conference, CPM, CPI and J&K Peoples Movement.
Veteran CPM leader M Y Tarigami was elected convener while Lok Sabha member from South Kashmir Hasnain Masoodi was made coordinator of the conglomerate. People’s Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone would be the spokesman for the amalgam.
Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone said the PAGD would come up with a document, at the next meeting in Jammu in two weeks, on the “lies being spread against the people of Jammu and Kashmir”. “The white paper will compare the reality and false propaganda on the ground,” Lone said.
Both Congress and BJP condemned Mehbooba’s statements of Friday. While Congress advised Mehbooba to desist from such statements, BJP demanded her arrest and party activists burnt effigies of Mufti for “insulting the national flag”
“Our relationship with the flag of this country is not independent of this flag (Jammu and Kashmir’s flag). When this flag comes in our hand, we will raise that flag too,” Mehbooba had said on Friday.
JKPCC chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma, however, added that Congress is for the restoration of J&K’s special status and that J&K should revert to being a single state that includes Ladakh. “We are not with any such irresponsible statement which would hurt the sentiments of Indians,” Ravinder Sharma said.
Rajnath reviews LAC situation in eastern sector at Army’s Trishakti Corps in Sukna
NEW DELHI: Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday reviewed the combat preparedness of the Indian Army at the Sukna-based headquarters of its 33 Corps which is responsible for guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the Sikkim sector, officials said.
The defence minister arrived at the key military base, popularly known as ‘Trishakti’ Corps, in Darjeeling district in late afternoon as part of his two-day visit to West Bengal and Sikkim to review the military preparedness in view of the border row with China in eastern Ladakh as well as to celebrate Dussehra with soldiers.
Singh is accompanied by Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane.
The Army has significantly bolstered deployment of troops and weaponry along the nearly 3,500 km-long LAC including in the Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sectors.
The officials said top commanders of the 33 Corps gave detailed briefing to the defence minister and Gen Naravane on the situation along the LAC in Sikkim sector as well as about deployment of troops and weapons.
In an interaction with a group of Army personnel, the defence minister conveyed his wishes to them on the occasion of Vijayadashami and hailed their dedication in securing the nation’s borders.
“Due to brave soldiers like you, the borders of this country are protected. The whole country is proud of you,” he said.
The defence minister also talked about the rich history of the Trishakti Corps.
“The Trishakti Corps has a great golden history. Especially in 1962, 1967, 1971 and 1975, this Corps demonstrated examples of valour. It has been excellent,” he said.
“I extend my best wishes to all of you and your family for the festival of Vijayadashami,” the defence minister’s office tweeted quoting him as saying.
Officials said Singh will perform ‘Shastra puja'(worship of weapons) at Sherathang area in Sikkim on Sunday morning on the occasion of Dussehra.
The defence minister had performed ‘Shastra Puja’ in the French port city of Bordeaux during Dussehra last year as he was on a bilateral visit to the country then.
Singh has been performing ‘Shastra Puja’ during Dussehra for the last several years including during his tenure as the Union Home Minister in the previous NDA government.
Almost all formations of the Indian Army along the LAC are on a very high-level of alert in view of the border row with China in eastern Ladakh.
India and China are locked in an over five-month-long bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh that has significantly strained their ties.
Both sides held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the row. However, no breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff.
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