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National

Ramsar recognition for 10 more Indian wetlands

Six wetlands from Tamil Nadu and one each from Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have been added to the list of Ramsar sites in the country, increasing the tally to 64. These are the  Koothankulam Bird Sanctuary, Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve, Vembannur Wetland Complex, Vellode Bird Sanctuary, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Udhayamarthandapuram Bird Sanctuary, all in Tamil Nadu, Nanda Lake in Goa, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in Karnataka, Sirpur Wetland in Madhya Pradesh, and Satkosia Gorge in Odisha. India’s Ramsar wetlands now comprie around 10 per cent of the total wetland area in the country. While no other South Asian country has as many sites, smaller nations like the United Kingdom and Mexico have 175 and 145 Ramsar sites each. Being designated a Ramsar site ensures that these wetlands are conserved and protected from encroachment in the name of development.

Read more: 10 more Indian wetlands sites get Ramsar tag, number rises to 64 | The Hindu

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A flock of Greater Flamingos in the Pallikaranai Marsh Wetland, close to a resiential and industrial area in the city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Photograph by Timothy A. Gonsalves via Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Untreated sewage continues to be discharged into River Ganga

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has called out the National Mission for Clean Ganga for its inability to take stringent measures against non-compliance. Even after decades of monitoring, nearly 50 per cent of untreated sewage and industrial effluents continue to discharge into the river or its tributaries/drains. The forum said a paradigm shift in execution and monitoring is necessary. It also suggested that execution by State authorities was too slow and lacked ownership. The NGT is seeking an action taken report from the National Ganga Council before October 14, which is the next date of hearing.

Read more: Nearly 50% of untreated sewage still being discharged in Ganga: NGT | The Hindu

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"Even after decades of monitoring, nearly 50 per cent of untreated sewage and industrial effluents continue to discharge into the river or its tributaries/drains." File photograph of River Ganga near the city of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, by Neil Palmer (IWMI) via Flickr under the CC BY-NC 2.0 license

Researchers discover three rare ant species in the Western Ghats

A group of entomology researchers from Kerala have discovered three new species of ants from the forests of the Western Ghats. Led by Dr Kalesh Sadasivan and Manoj Kripakaran, the team of researchers from Travancore History Society’s (TNHS) Ant Research Group (TARG) believe that the three new species, which belong to the genera Proceratium are forms of the original species found in Gondwana. This is the first time ants of the Proceratium and Zasphinctus genera have been reported in India. The former was found in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Idukki and the latter in Agasthyamalai’s Ponmudi Hills.

Read more: Kerala researchers discover three unique ant species in Western Ghats | The News Minute

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International

The Migratory Monarch butterfly is now endangered!

Renowned for the incredible annual journey it undertakes across the Americas, the Migratory Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) has sadly been declared Endangered under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A subspecies of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), they are threatened by habitat destruction and climate change. Their breeding grounds throughout the United States and Canada have shrunk by 22 to 72 per cent in the last decade. Climate change is a fast-growing threat, with severe weather significantly impacting populations.

Read more: Migratory Monarch butterfly now Endangered: IUCN Red List | IUCN

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 The Migratory Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) is a subspecies of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Photograph by Jean Beaufort via Public Domain Pictures.

US drafts speed law to protect endangered whales against vessel strikes

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the newly designed rules to prevent ships from colliding with North Atlantic Right whales. Vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are the biggest threat to these endangered whales, with fewer than 340 individuals left in the wild today. The new rules would expand seasonal slow zones off the east coast and require more vessels to comply by expanding the size classes that must slow down.

Read more: US drafts new speed limits on shipping to help save endangered whales | The Guardian

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" Vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are the biggest threat to these endangered whales, with fewer than 340 individuals left in the wild today." File photograph of a North Atlantic Right whale that a team of state and federal biologists assisted in disentangling off Daytona Beach, Florida. Photograph courtesy of NOAA News Archive 123110 via Flickr under the CC BY-NC 2.0 license

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Edit: The Ramsar wetlands story has been updated after 10 more wetlands were recognised as Ramsar sites.