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Water is a thing to worry about

According to UN Water, by 2025, two-thirds of the world population would be under stressed water conditions. Global human population growth and the rate of natural resource extraction are adversely impacting on the earth system. The rate of resource extraction is not sustainable, and well-documented climate change already exacerbates this problem (Giegengack 2010). Water is an essential resource, which is most of the time undervalued. Most economic models do not value the essential services provided by freshwater ecosystems, often leading to unsustainable use of water resources and ecosystem degradation (WWAP 2015). Water is one of the most valuable natural resources, widely taken as granted, being wasted at an alarming rate. Whereas, nearly one billion (one-seventh of world population) do not have access to it. Besides, around 2.7 billion people in the world find water scarce for at least one month of the year (WWF 2015). Agriculture and economic development largely dependent on the adequate supply of freshwater. Different regions in Africa, Middle East, South Asia, South-east Asia, some states in the US and South American countries are facing noteworthy water-related challenges. Not only human being needs water, but also all other living organisms and non-living things highly depend on water. The growing scarcity of water resources stressing our valuable ecosystems.

Water brings all good things to life. “A shortage of water resources could spell increased conflicts in the future. Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon” – Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. Many believe water crisis is real and becoming as the greatest challenge for the human world. Furthermore, global power might change the water-related politics in the coming years. The world is becoming much thirstier. To meet the needs of a rapidly growing population around the world, higher demand in the market accelerating production, draining water resources more quickly than ever.

According to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, climate change has negatively affected major crops (wheat, rice, and maize) for many regions and in the global aggregate and without adequate adaptation measures to climate change the negative impact the production.

A large number of water bodies are transboundary – these rivers, lakes or groundwater systems are sometimes shared among multiple countries, and cooperation over this issue to ensure fair share is often troublesome and lengthy. The Ganges delta is one of the concrete examples, which cover a large part of South Asia. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan share 20 transboundary rivers along the conflicting border areas (World Bank). China, India, and Bangladesh repeatedly failing to reach an agreement. In South Asia, India is the biggest state and having water controversies with all its neighbors.

The global community has the solution. “Ultimately, water will be limiting in all respects unless we learn to do a lot more with a lot less, learn to reuse, and more and more, and to manage our way to a sustainable water future” – Jay Famiglietti. To produce 1 kg of wheat, rice and beef producers need 1000L, 1400L and 13000L of water respectively (D.Zimmer, and D.Renault 2003). Huge saving of water through integrated water management practice is possible. Modern science and technologies are increasing the efficiency of industries including agriculture and homestead use of water. As the most intelligent species on the earth, it is our responsibility to conserve, preserve and protect water resources for future generations and the animal world. The latest Sustainable Development Goals also an emphasis on access to freshwater and its conservation. According to UN Water, 3 out of 4 jobs worldwide are water-dependent. There is a range of controversies involved in the world’s water conflicts. However, there are opportunities to build our earth a better place for the future generation, ensuring adequate access to fresh and safe water. Common global concerns like disputes about the building and operation of large dams, environmental sustainability, climate change adaptation, water markets, water governance, distribution and sharing water resources are bringing different parties on the same platform and creating an opportunity for the future. Public participation, the role of national and international NGOs, a standard approach and changing human mindset can help improve the water management. Human use of water does not only reduce the amount of water available for industrial and agricultural development but has a profound effect on the aquatic ecosystem and its associated living organisms.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and investing in poor rural people, with a particular focus on smallholders in developing countries. Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) promotes sustainable water use in agriculture and improves access to information for millions of crop growers (Tropical Agriculture Association 2014).

Watershed management and information technology are a critical challenge for water scare regions like Africa and Asia. Experiences show that the successful watershed management requires the adoption of latest technologies according to local needs, advanced information database, and regional cooperation. Accordingly, investments are also necessary to build the capacity of local government and local communities. Improvements in the agriculture system and value addition to the local communities are imperative for greater impact of sustainable water management.

Can you imagine a future without beer? To produce one-liter of beer, 300 liters of water being used. 70% of world’s fresh water is used for agriculture (UN Water). Understanding the value of water in everyday life and being considerate before wasting water at an individual level is important. Public education at all levels can help reduce water waste. At the same time, policy and regulation should be in place to encourage residents about their water consumption. Changes in human behavior are the key towards a more sustainable future.DSC_1343.JPG

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Nyctea scandiaca (Snowy Owl) – Le Raysville, Bradford Country, Pennsylvania

DSC_4224.jpgThe beauty of the bird rendered me speechless. I was totally blown away watching my first Snowy Owl sitting about 35 yards away from me. He was like the physical avatar of the real ray of sunshine.  A Snowy Owl was recently spotted by a birdwatcher on a countryside farm. Kevin Raymond, dedicated wildlife watcher, first discovered this diurnal owl while he was driving on a back road and was looking for another owl species. Kevin first brought this owl to a Facebook group name ‘PA Birders,’ which eventually attracted many local bird watchers and banders. According to the expert, who banded Bradford’s Snowy owl, this is a first-year male. A study shows that time required to grow from 10% to 90% of asymptotic weight in males is 36 days. The body weight of a male Snowy can get up to 3 lbs in less than two months. Female Snowy chick grows little slower than male. The owl of Arctic who lives in severe cold climate develops their plumage in such so that they can regulate their body temperature. Their adaptation techniques are fascinating. To control body temperature, a snowy owl can change the thickness of their plumage. The ambient temperature decrease (or Lower Temperature of Survival) and bird’s metabolism are directly correlated.

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He has carefully selected the location. It is reasonably comprehensible that availability of preying species, the openness of the land, quietness, and temperature are few of the primary criteria for this Snowy to select Le Raysville as a temporary home. Although owl species are naturally nocturnal, Snowy is exceptional. They are seen hunting any time of the day or night. Nomadic Snowy is an infrequent visitor in Bradford County, particularly in a rural landscape. The land he temporarily inhabited also supports healthy lemming population, which was his primary nourishment source. Kevin has spotted him preying on voles. Small wood patches surround this abandoned piece of private land. Fortunately, according to local countryman, no red fox or wolf inhabit near the land. Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles were seen foraging in the sky but weren’t interested in attacking the owl. However, a couple of American Crow did pursuit the owl, perhaps too aware him about their presence. The usual territory of a Snowy Owl in the Arctic would be ten sqm, whereas, Bradford’s owl was observed to be within a couple sqm or less. He refused to take flight as I kept begging for few more shots. Such a nerd, he was sitting right beside the silt bag for four hours with little movement, except rotating his half-opened eyes scanning surroundings area. Adjacent areas are moderately wildlife friendly. A flock of white-tailed deer was browsing within 100 yards from the owl.

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Although Snowy population seems stable, human irrationality towards common but magnificent species is injurious. There is ample evidence that changing the climate and continually increasing temperature affecting snowy and other animals. Snowy owls are exclusively native to the North America and Eurasia (Holarctic Bird).

Categories: Natureholic, North American Bird, Owl, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Glimmering Day at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

Snow Geese lit the Middle Creek. The natural connection they developed over time instituted a school of an incredible ecosystem.

The sky of Lancaster and Lebanon counties, Pennsylvania gets covered by Snow Geese every morning and evening since the mid-February 2017 and will continue until the end of March depending on the temperature rise and food availability. This human-made wildlife conservation site supporting diverse species year around, providing critical shelter to migratory birds since 1972. Not only human beings but also birds like shelducks are concerned about their security and future of existence. Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area provides absolute security and adequate ecosystem services for their well-being in general. Surrounding farmlands are a critical source of food besides the lake itself. Some observers might be dismayed observing waterfowl from a decent distance. All through the lake banks, there is fence keeping human away from migratory ducks and swans and other animals, which apparently protecting animal during their stopover at the creek. An onlooker can easily understand that how freely and confidently those birds are moving around. Snow Geese and Tundra Swans are an innately social animal; they love to stay together in a group. Rarely, an isolated swan is found in nature. During a flight, they fly in a ‘V’ formation in a group also called skein. As it was twilight on the horizon, small skeins were returning to the lake from nearby farmlands. Among big birds, Snow Geese and Tundra Swans are perhaps less aggressive than Canada Geese. During my visit, I haven’t seen a single fight among them but did witness two separate territorial battles of Canada Geese. This year is quite extraordinary because of two reasons – early arrival of Snow Geese and their astonishing number. Scattered gaggles of Snow Geese are present all over the lake surface. It is so difficult to photograph them under bright sunlight. Thousands of geese temporarily make middle creek their home to regain energy before heading to the north as temperature start rising in the East Coast of the USA.

Tundra Swan: character-wise they are so gracious than others. Hundreds of them were floating on the lake surface in small and medium gaggles. They do follow order at all doings and certainly enjoy togetherness. Few giggles were even accompanied by American Black Ducks, American Coot, and Great Blue Heron.

Geese Fight: Right before the dusk, witnessing a 15 seconds battle of 2 male geese wing to wing made my day. The male Canada Geese was hanging with a female geese mortified me by losing a duo with an intruder geese. The other geese stopped whatever they were doing to watch and honk. The second one, carnival barker, ultimately won the fight and took the girl away.

Other species I observed includes Common Merganser, Mallard, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Song Sparrow, Sparrow sp, ring-necked ducks, Northern Flicker, chickadees and few others.

Categories: Avifauna, Natureholic, Uncategorized, Wildlife of North America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Puerto Rican Avifauna

Puerto_Rican_Avifauna

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