Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 15 May, 2021

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“Red Eared Slider Turtles” Threaten Native Indian turtles across Northeast

What is the News?

Red Eared Slider Turtles are threatening to invade the natural water bodies across the Northeast region in India.

About Red-eared slider:

  • The red-eared slider is a semi-aquatic turtle belonging to the family Emydidae.
  • Origin: They are native to the Southern United States and northern Mexico. But they are found in other countries as well because they are famous as pets.
    • People keep the Red-Eared slider turtle as pets. They release them in natural water bodies after they outgrow an aquarium, tank, or pool at home.
  • Invasive Species: These turtles are considered one of the world’s worst invasive species. This is because they grow fast and virtually leave nothing for the native species to eat.
    • Invasive Species is an organism that causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment where it is not native.
  • Name: They get their name from the small, red stripe around its ears or where its ears would be and from its ability to slide quickly off rocks and logs into the water.
  • Description: The females of the species are usually larger than the males. They typically live between 20 and 30 years, although some individuals have lived for more than 40 years.
  • Significance: Red-eared sliders are poikilotherms. This means that they are unable to regulate their body temperatures independently. Hence, they are completely dependent on the temperature of their environment.
    • For this reason, they need to sunbathe frequently to warm themselves and maintain their body temperatures.

Red-eared Slider Turtle in India:

  • A team of herpetologists from the NGO ‘Help Earth’ found red­ eared sliders in the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary and the Ugratara temple pond in Assam.
    • The turtle was also collected from an unnamed stream, connected to the Tlawng River, on a farm near Mizoram capital Aizawl.
  • Concerns: As Red Eared Sliders are considered invasive, they are threatening to invade the natural water bodies across the Northeast region.
    • The North East Region is home to 21 of the 29 vulnerable native Indian species of freshwater turtles and tortoises.

Source: The Hindu


Odisha’s “Bonda tribe” and other PVTG members infected with Covid-19

What is the News?

As many as 21 tribals across eight different Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in Odisha have tested positive for Covid-19. Among them, two persons are from the Bonda tribe.

 About Bonda Tribe:

  • Bonda tribes are one of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) found in Odisha.
  • Origin: Bonda tribes are members of a group of Austro-Asiatic tribes.They are believed to be part of the first wave of migration out of Africa about 60,000 years ago. They are the first forest settlers in India.
  • Culture: The Bondas have retained their identity and culture despite external interventions over the years.
  • Occupation: They are primarily forest dwellers. They perform hunting and foraging for food in the wild.
  • Matriarchal society: The women prefer to marry men who are younger by at least 5-10 years. This is done because the men can earn for them when they grow old.
  • Dressing style: Women are semi-clad and wear various types of rings and necklaces around their bodies. The men on the other hand carry lethal bows and arrows.
  • Language: They continue to speak in their language, Remo. It comes under the Austro-Asiatic language belonging to the Mundari group.

Tribes in Odisha:

  • Odisha has among the largest and most diverse tribal populations in the country.
  • According to the 2011 Census, Odisha’s share of the country’s total tribal population was 9%.
  • Tribals constitute 22.85% of the State’s population. In terms of the numbers of its tribal population, Odisha occupies the third position in India.
  • Of the 62 tribal groups residing in Odisha, 13 are recognised as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • Several PVTGs from Odisha are Bonda, Birhor, Chuktia Bhunjia, Didayi, Dongaria Kandha, Hill Kharia, Juang, Kutia Kondh, Lanjia Saora, Lodha, Mankirdia, Paudi Bhuyan and Saora.

Source: The Hindu


186 Elephants killed by Trains in Over 10 Years: MoEFCC Data

What is the News?

Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has published data. It highlights the number of elephants killed by trains on railway tracks.

Key Highlights from the Published data:

  • A total of 186 elephants were killed after being hit by trains across India between 2009-10 and 2020-21.
  • Assam accounts for the highest number of elephant casualties on railway tracks. It was followed by West Bengal, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh.
  •  In the year 2012-13, 27 elephants were killed in 10 States. It is the highest number of elephants killed in a year due to trains.

Measures taken to avoid elephant casualties on railway lines:

 Permanent Coordination Committee to prevent elephant deaths by trains:

  • A Permanent Coordination Committee has been constituted between the Ministry of Railways(Railway Board) and the MoEFCC for preventing elephant deaths in train accidents.
  • Composition: The committee comprises officers from the Indian Railways and State Forest Departments.
  • Steps Taken: The committee has taken steps such as:
    • clearing of vegetation along railway tracks to enable clear view for loco pilots;
    • signage boards at suitable points to alert loco pilots about elephant presence;
    • moderating slopes of elevated sections of railway tracks; underpass/overpass for safe passage of elephants;
    • regulation of train speed from sunset to sunrise on vulnerable stretches; and
    • regular patrolling of vulnerable stretches of railway tracks by the frontline staff of the Forest Department and wildlife watchers.

Funds released under Project Elephant:

  • The MoEFCC has released 212.49 crores between 2011-12 and 2020-21 to elephant range States under Project Elephant to:
    • To protect habitats and corridors of elephants
    • To address issues of man-elephant conflict and
    • To protect captive elephants.
  • Kerala stood at the top in getting funds during the above period. On the other hand, Punjab received the lowest of the funds.

Source: The Hindu


“Beema Bamboo”: A clone of “Bambusa balcooa” can mitigate climate change

What is the News?

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University(TNAU) has designed an ‘oxygen park’ within its premises at Coimbatore with Beema Bamboo.

About Beema Bamboo:

  • Beema or Bheema Bamboo is a superior clone selected from Bambusa balcooa. It is a higher biomass yielding bamboo species.
    • A clone is an animal or plant that has been produced artificially. For example, It may be produced in a laboratory, from the cells of another animal or plant. A clone is exactly the same as the original animal or plant.
  • Developed by: It has been developed by N Bharathi of Growmore Biotech Ltd, the agri-technology company based at Hosur, Tamil Nadu.
  • The method used: Beema Bamboo has been developed by the conventional breeding method. It is not a product of genetically modified organisms.

Key Features of Beema Bamboo:

  • The Fastest Growing: Beema Bamboo is considered to be one of the fastest-growing plants. It grows one-and-a-half feet per day under tropical conditions.
  • Mitigate CO2 emissions: Beema Bamboo is said to be the best ‘carbon sink’ to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. Hence, it can be an excellent choice for making the earth greener and mitigating climate change.
  • Permanent Green Cover: Beema Bamboo is sterile. This means it does not produce any seed and does not die for several hundred years. Also, it keeps growing without death. As a result, it is able to establish a permanent green cover.
  • Does not Require Replanting for Decades: It is produced through tissue culture. So,  the culms (hollow stem of a grass or cereal plant, especially that bearing the flower) grow almost solid and adapt to different soil and climatic conditions.
    • Hence, after every harvest cycle, it re-grows and does not require replanting for decades.
  • Diverse Applications of Beema Bamboo: The Beema bamboo’s calorific value is equal to that of coal. Hence, cement industries can buy this bamboo species for their boilers. Further, Bamboo fibre can also be used by the textile industry for making fabric and garments.

About Bambusa balcooa bamboo:

  • Bambusa balcooa is also known as Female Bamboo is a tropical clumping bamboo. It is native to Northeastern India. It is also spread in the regions of Indo-China.
  • Uses:
    • This bamboo species is often used as a food source in scaffolding, for paper pulp or wood chips.
    • The length and strength of Bambusa balcooa make it a useful material for the construction industry.
    • Furthermore, it is a drought-resistant species with low rainfall requirements. It can reach yields upwards of 100 metric tons per hectare.

Source: Down To Earth


“Tianwen-1 Mission” – China lands Zhurong Rover on Mars

What is the News? 

China successfully lands Zhurong Rover from the Tianwen-1 mission on Mars. Specifically, it has landed on the Utopia Planitia, a large plain in the Northern Hemisphere of Mars.

Note: The Zhurong rover has been named after an ancient Chinese god of fire, which will explore the Mars surface near the landing site.

Significance:

  • With the successful landing, China became the third nation to achieve a successful soft landing on Mars after the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • Further, with the successful deployment of the rover on Mars, China becomes the only second country after the US to send a rover to the surface of Mars.
  • China has also become the 1st country to carry out an orbiting, landing, and roving operation during its first mission to Mars.

 About Tianwen-1 Mission:

  • Tianwen-1 is an interplanetary mission by the China National Space Administration(CNSA).
  • Aim: It aims to send a robotic spacecraft to Mars consisting of an orbiter, deployable camera, lander, and the Zhurong rover.
  • Launched Year: The mission was successfully launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in July 2020 on a Long March 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle.
  • Objectives of the mission: The scientific objectives of the mission are to study the:
    • Geology of Mars
    • Current and past presence of water
    • Internal structure of the planet
    • Identification of minerals and rock types on the surface as well as
    • Characterisation of the space environment and atmosphere of Mars.

Source: Indian Express


China launches more classified “Yaogan satellites” into orbit

What is the News?

China has successfully launched the eighth group of three Yaogan-30 satellites into orbit on a Long March 2C rocket.

The eighth group of three Yaogan-30 satellites will join the seven previous groups in the orbit that had been launched earlier.

About Yaogan Satellites:

  • Yaogan is a series of Chinese reconnaissance satellites launched in the early 21st century.
    • A reconnaissance satellite or intelligence satellite is an Earth observation satellite or a communications satellite. It is deployed for military or intelligence applications.
  • Purpose: The satellites will be used for electromagnetic environment surveys and other related technology tests.
  • First Launched in: The first Yaogan 1 satellite was launched in the year 2006.
  • Concerns: Western analysts suspect that these Yaogan satellites are equipped with synthetic aperture radar(SAR) for military reconnaissance purposes.
    • SAR refers to a technique for producing high-resolution images. The radar can penetrate clouds and darkness and produce precise images. This means that it can collect data day and night in any weather.

Source: SPACE.COM


US “CDC guidelines” for fully vaccinated people

What is the News?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) said that fully vaccinated persons will no longer need their masks indoors and outdoors.

About the CDC Guidelines:

  • US’s CDC guidelines said that a fully vaccinated person can take off his/her masks.
  • The new guidelines are only for people who are fully vaccinated. This includes condition like,
    • Two weeks have passed since the second shot of the two-dose vaccines.
    • Or if a person received a single dose of the Janssen vaccine.
  • The guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control(CDC) are just guidelines. State and local rules still apply.

Places where the persons need to wear masks:

  • The guidelines say fully vaccinated people must still wear a mask. Especially in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, and public transportation.

Are these CDC guidelines based on science? The decision was taken based on the following reasons:

  • Current State of Pandemic in the US: The number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States have declined significantly in recent weeks.
  • Effective Vaccination: The US’s followed an effective vaccination policy. Further, some people are immune because of the previous coronavirus infection. So, the pandemic is gradually coming under control.
  • Study on vaccinated people: A study conducted at a major medical center in Israel found that out of 5,500 fully vaccinated workers, just eight people developed any COVID-19 symptoms.

Source: Indian Express


 

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