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    In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) classified the rare Fishing Cat as endangered. They mostly in the vicinity of wetlands, along rivers, in swamps, and mangrove forests.

    But as many as 15 Fishing Cats were recorded in the pilot project conducted at the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh in 2014-16.

    The sanctuary is a rare eco-region with vast tracts of pristine mangrove forests. It has the potential to become the world’s first reserve of the Fishing Cat.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Environment / November 09th, 2017

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    Archaeologist Kadiyala Venkateswara Rao at the labyrinth in Kolimeru village, East Godavari district.

    Archaeologist Kadiyala Venkateswara Rao at the labyrinth in Kolimeru village, East Godavari district.

    It throws light on ancient cult practices, says freelance archaeologist

    A prehistoric painting of a mystic labyrinth has been discovered at a cave on top of a hill near Kolimeru village near Tuni in East Godavari district. The labyrinth, dating back to the Neolithic period, consists of seven circles in red ochre on white pigment painted on a rectangular rock in front of the cave facing the Sun.

    “The discovery of the labyrinth throws light not only on the ancient religious practices of prehistoric civilisations, but also on their knowledge about astronomical signs. Ancient civilisations had worshipped Sun and were able to predict seasons and even natural calamities,’’ freelance archaeologist and former deputy director, Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, Kadiyala Venkateswara Rao told The Hindu on Friday.

    Mr. Rao had earlier unearthed a unique Menhir at Karempudi in Guntur district that threw light on the existence of prehistoric civilisations in Guntur district.

    The word labyrinth is an ancient Greek word with Minoan cultural influence and means extremely complicated and therefore difficult to understand.

    The hills, known locally as ‘Bangaruloya,’ and the rock shelter ‘Pandavulavari Gani,’ have mystic folklore. Locals believe that Pandavas lived in this rock shelter during “aranyavasa,’’ and also thought mystic drawings could indicate that huge gold and precious things were hidden in the caves.

    Line drawings

    Mr. Rao, now aged 75 years, located the rock shelter after an arduous trek. The natural rock found at the entrance of the shelter has sacred Neolithic labyrinth motifs painted in red ochre on a white pigment. He also found line drawings of a bull and a deer on either side of the labryinth, though the colour has faded away. It is believed that the rock shelter might be a worshipping place of Neolithic hunter-gatherers.

    “Ancient literature has thrown light on the ways in which priests studied the equinoxes, solstices and movements of Sun and Moon hoping to gain mastery over the elements. Cult priests might have also performed rituals and other ancestral worshipping practices in front of the labyrinth symbol,’’ Mr. Rao added.

    Mr. Rao also discovered a prehistoric cup mark which are also found on other prehistoric sites such as dolmen and menhirs, sacred ritual symbols.

    It is interesting to note that similar labyrinths have been found in Europe and other countries and are common in aboriginal art and usually associated with creative energy. In India, labyrinths have been found at Halibedu in Hoyasleshwara Swamy Temple in Karnataka, and in Goa and Rajastan, where they are worshipped as Manas Chakra, a religious emblem.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Vijayawada / by P. Samuel Jonathan / Guntur – October 21st, 2017

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    Picturesque spot: Kaigal waterfalls was the youngsters’ choice destination in Chittoor district. | Photo Credit: By Arrangement

    Picturesque spot: Kaigal waterfalls was the youngsters’ choice destination in Chittoor district. | Photo Credit: By Arrangement

    Siva temples abuzz with special rituals in connection with Karthika Pournami

    All roads led to Shiva temples across Prakasam district as devotees thronged them to offer special prayers to mark Karthika Pournami on Saturday.

    Over a lakh pilgrims visited Bhairavakona, a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India, to witness the grand spectacle of the moon’s reflection on the forehead of the mother goddess Trimukha Durga.

    But the natural satellite played hide and seek in view of the inclement weather and kept the devotees on tenterhooks.

    Tripurantakam, the eastern gateway to Srisailam, was agog with religious activity as devotees lined up to seek the blessings of Lord Tripurantakeswara.

    A heavy rush of pilgrims was witnessed also at the picturesque beaches in the district, including Kothapatnam, Voderavu and Ramayapatnam as the devotees performed ‘samudra snanam’. Devotees in groups made Shivalingams with beach sand and offered prayers to Lord Siva.

    Kaigal Falls

    In Chittoor district, devotees thronged the famous Talakona and Kailasa Kona temples and the Kaigal Falls while the temples at Nagari, Puttur, Mogili, Madanapalle and other pilgrim places wore a festive look, with predawn rituals.

    Many people trekked the Battinayya Konda near Srikalahasti and peformed special puja to Lord Battinayya and lit Karthika Deepam at the hilltop.

    Similarly, the sacred deepam was lit at Anantarayalu Konda and Kartheeka Konda in Pakala mandal. Annabishekam was performed in many temples.

    Siva deeksha

    A large number of devotees took a holy dip in Pathalaganga on Karthika Pournami and had darshan of Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy and Sri Bhramaramba Devi at Srisailam in Kurnool district. Devotees performed Lakshavathula nomu and did Karthika Masa Deeparadhana at Nagulakatta. Many devotees took Siva deeksha and Karthika Vanabhojanam was organised at the Siva Deeksha camps on the way to Pathalaganga.

    Special puja was performed at the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at Ahobilam.

    Suprabhatha Seva was performed early in the morning and abhishekam for processional idols of Sri Prahlada Varadaswamy, Sridevi and Bhudevi in the temple mantapam. Maha mangala harathi was given and the presiding deities were taken round on a palanquin.

    A large number of devotees took a holy dip in Panchabugga Koneru in the Sri Omkareswara temple in the Nallamala forest area in Bandi Atmakur mandal in the district.

    Historic temple

    The historic Mallemkondeswara Swamy temple at Brahmanapalli in Gopavaram mandal in Kadapa district would be developed as a tourist centre, Minister for Endowments Pydikondala Manikyala Rao said after worshipping at the temple.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Andhra Pradesh / by Andhra Pradesh Bureau / Ongole-Chitoor-Kurnool / November 04th, 2017

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    Pheasant-tailed Jacana flying at Kondakarla Ava, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country, near Anakapalle in Visakhapatnam district.K.R. DEEPAK

    Pheasant-tailed Jacana flying at Kondakarla Ava, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country, near Anakapalle in Visakhapatnam district.K.R. DEEPAK

    Bird Count India conducts workshop in Vizag

    In a first of its kind initiative to be conducted in the region, birdwatchers of the city are getting together to collect and document bird species spotted in Visakhapatnam and other parts of Andhra Pradesh through the digital platform of eBird India.

    While Visakhapatnam and its neighbouring regions have several critical zones supporting resident and migratory bird population, so far not much has been done towards documentation of these avian species in a systematic manner. With an effort to bring the birders of the region together and initiate the digital documentation of bird species, a workshop was conducted by Bird Count India (BCI) in association with Vizag Birdwatcher’s Society at Visakha Public Library on Saturday.

    eBird is a global, internet-based platform for gathering observations of birds, and for birders to maintain records of their sightings. Housed in Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology, the India chapter of eBird is managed by Bird Count India. The platform encourages birders to maintain complete bird lists and upload them on eBird, conducts periodic bird events and projects, offers support and resources to birding groups conducting their own projects and put together useful information on bird monitoring.

    Speaking to The Hindu , Ramit Singal of Bird Count India, which manages eBird India, said: “So far, we have got seven million observations by around 9,000 birdwatchers from across India since 2014. However, there hasn’t been much information put up from Visakhapatnam. The idea is to provide a common platform to the birders of the region to upload bird data on the eBird.org.” The portal has an in-built filtering system and over 100 reviewers are based in cities across India who monitor the content uploaded. Vikram Penmetsa of Vizag Birdwatcher’s Society said that there were about 25 active birders in the region who have been documenting bird species, but eBird.org will help to bring together the data on bird distribution.

    Apart from its major events like the Great Backyard Birdcount, which is held in February every year, Bird Count India has recently initiated a project for two big bird atlases, one in Mysore which was completed recently and another in Kerala which is a five-year initiative to be completed by 2020. “We recently completed a comprehensive bird survey for Kanha National Park and are in the process of getting a comprehensive checklist of birds from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh regions,” Mr Singal said.

    Unique event

    One of BCI’s unique events is the Campus Bird Count which was started in 2015 with 50 college campuses in the India. Today, the event has more than 200 campuses participating every year. “There are over 400 bird species recorded from college campuses during this yearly event. We will be announcing the dates of the next Campus Bird Count in December and would be an ideal platform to document many bird species spotted in and around the educational campuses of Visakhapatnam,” Mr Singal added.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by Nivedita Ganguly / Visakhapatnam – October 22nd, 2017

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    Visakhapatnam :

    The city’s first non-private tropical botanical garden has been developed in Andhra University at the botany department block under the watchful eyes of professors J Venkateswarulu, BS Rao and MOP Iyengar.

    Way back in 1946, the trio initiated plant growth in the department and specifically scourged the tropical region of north-coastal AP for rare specimens such as Red Sanders. Even today, the garden can be seen in all its full splendour, especially in the courtyard area and is still very well preserved.
    However, AU which was once a green haven is now being converted into a haven for ornamental plants which do not even belong to the sub-continent.

    The old botanical garden though tiny has retained its charm with more than 40 species of tropical plants and trees.

    “The botanical garden in AU is probably the first non-private botanical garden in the city. A lot of people do not realise that till then, Vizag had a whole lot of private garden residences full of exotic tropical plants. However, there was none which could have truly belonged to the public,” professor P Venkateswarulu  said.

    After cyclone Hudhud in October 2014, a lot of replanting work was done mainly because much of the old trees such as Red-Sanders and Sweet Tamarind took a heavy beating and had to be replanted again. Regarding the damage done, sources in the department said, “The damage was huge all across the district. However, the botanical garden is back on track.”

    Way back in 1946, professors J Venkateswarulu, BS Rao and MOP Iyengar initiated plant growth in the botany department and specifically scourged the tropical region of north-coastal AP for rare specimens such as Red Sanders. Even today, the garden can be seen in all its full splendour, especially in the courtyard area and is still very well preserved

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Visakhapatnam News / by Venkatesh Bayyal / TNN / February 26th, 2017

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    A Appa Rao won the Disney Conservation Hero Award for his contribution in restoration of Krishna mangroves.

    A Appa Rao won the Disney Conservation Hero Award for his contribution in restoration of Krishna mangroves.

    Andhra University alumnus Allaparthi Appa Rao of Repalle village in Guntur district won the Disney Conservation Hero-2016 award for his contribution in the restoration of Krishna mangroves.

    The mangrove cover including the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary is a safe haven for Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) and smooth-coated otter.

    The California-based Wildlife Conservation Network has documented the efforts of Mr. Appa Rao in restoration of the mangroves and nominated him for the Disney Conservation Hero -2016 award.

    The Disney Conservation Fund has announced 15 Disney Conservation Heroes globally, including Mr. Appa Rao, for 2016.

    “We are impressed by your use of innovation mangrove restoration techniques to reforest mangroves and dedication to educate people in local villages about the importance of Fishing Cats and their mangrove habitat,” wrote Claire Martin of the Disney Conservation Fund in his communication to Mr. Appa Rao.

    The Fund honours conservationists who have gone above and beyond demonstrating passion, courage, and tenacity in tackling some of the biggest challenges in protecting the planet’s resources.

    “I believe that the global recognition of being Disney Conservation Hero will help in conservation of the mangrove cover in Krishna and Guntur districts as Fishing Cat, smooth-coated otter and other wildlife species are thriving in the mangrove cover,” Mr. Appa Rao told The Hindu .

    Mr. Rao was instrumental in documenting the presence of Fishing Cat in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary. As coordinator of the village-level Ecology Development Committees active in Krishna and Guntur districts under the Wildlife Wing of the Forest Department, Mr. Rao has been working with local communities in restoration of the mangrove cover since 2003.

    “I cherish to spend my days in the mangroves forest. It always fascinates me with diverse life of wildlife. Documentation of smooth-coated otter in the mangroves and study on Fishing Cat became key aspects of my routine life in the mangroves,”added Mr. Appa Rao.

    He manages a treasure trove of archives on the wildlife present in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary and the rest of the mangrove cover.

    The California-based Wildlife Conservation Network has documented the efforts of Appa Rao in restoration of the mangroves.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by T. Appala Naidu / Machilipatname – November 09th, 2016

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    Women mangrove plant seed collectors engaged in work at Sorlagondi Reserve Forest in Krishna district.— Photo: T. Appala Naidu

    Women mangrove plant seed collectors engaged in work at Sorlagondi Reserve Forest in Krishna district.— Photo: T. Appala Naidu

    They have played a pivotal role in conservation of seven mangrove species

    Venturing into one of the rarest eco-regions of the world — the Sorlagondi mangrove forest— has become a regular chore for a group of ten women for two months every year.

    A visit to the dense forest in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary between October and November will offer a peep into their activity of collecting seed of mangrove plant species. The lesser known is fact that they became unsung heroes in conserving the seven mangrove plant species, including Avicennia marina and Avicennia officinalis. Like every other woman member of her group, Kokkiligadda Muriamma, 38, reaches the sanctuary before sunrise and begins her six-hour daily task of collecting seeds.

    The women belonging to Sorlagondi venture into the forest on barefoot. Holding a bamboo basket in their hands or a gunny bag on their shoulders, these women collect at least a few thousands of seeds and nuts of the mangrove plant species.

    Nursery-mode treatment

    “The survival rate of a seed that falls from the tree is very low. Hence, we peel the nut and raise it in the local soil for a week. The nursery-mode treatment to the seed is a success,” Ms. Muriamma told The Hindu. Usually, half of the seed germinates, much to the delight of the seed collectors.

    “We have been hired by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation to supply seeds and raise them in the reserve forest. We are being paid Rs. 170 each per day,” said another seed collector K. Seeta Kumari. “We are happy to be part of raising the forest. The two-month activity is all about how we spend our leisure time,” said Naga Laxmi Naidu, a seed collector. Recently, the women shared their experiences during a field study by experts who are working on the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by T. Appala Naidu / Sorlagondi (Krishna) – October 14th, 2016

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    Scientist suggests agave and cactus plantation in barren lands.

    If you think the wildly grown plants have no role to play, think again. Plants like agave, cactus (opuntia) and sitaphal, having high drought resistance and rich in nutrients, have a purpose that is yet to be fully uncovered and unleashed.

    Agave is one such plant that is ‘wildly’ abused in India, in spite of its multiple benefits to nature as well as society. Its tough fibre is used to make ropes in Central America, while its cellulose is a key ingredient in Brazil’s paper industry. These apart, hecogenin, a steroid is extracted from its juice.

    Similar is the case of cactus, a regenerative plant known for its ‘carefree’ growth, which is confined to field fences. Categorised as a ‘Crassulacean Acid Metabolism’ (CAM) plant, the stomata open in nights to absorb carbon dioxide and closes in the day to facilitate photosynthesis.

    “It has been proved beyond doubt that natural calamities happen due to CO2 concentration and atmospheric vapour. CAM plants grown on a massive scale are the simplest solution to act as a carbon sink,” says Anumakonda Jagadeesh, Director, Nayudamma Centre for Development Alternatives, Nellore.

    In an informal chat with The Hindu , he explained how the Government can saturate barren lands with these plants to maintain equilibrium and as well kick-start the rural economy. According to him, the CAM family members yield fruits having nutritional values similar to apples and pomegranates.

    A cup of prickly pears contains 1.09 gm of protein, compared to a medium-sized apple’s 0.47 gm. “Israel is a major exporter of juice that fetches Rs.1,000 per litre”, he added.

    While the State is grappling with the menace of water hyacinth,

    Dr. Jagadeesh suggests a cheap and easy remedy. “The combination of water hyacinth and animal dung is the best source of biogas”, he pointed out.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / A.D. Rangarajan / Tirupati – August 08th, 2016

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    Hyderabad :

    Efforts are being made by the state government to increase the population of ‘Ongole bull,’ the pride of Prakasam district, which is on the verge of extinction. The state government tied up with University of Pennsylvania to achieve this objective.

    As part of the Milk Mission project of the University of Pennsylvania, the university will make efforts to increase the population of ‘Ongole bull’ and ‘Punganuru cow’ through artificial insemination (IVF) procedures, special chief secretary (Animal Husbandry department) Manmohan Singh has said.

    “The breed of Ongole bull is on the verge of extinction, hence the government had joined hands with Pennsylvania University,” he added.

    The Punganuru cattle, a popular dwarf cow breed, which are being reared mainly in government livestock farms, are also on the verge of extinction, with some 60 odd animals remaining. The University of Pennsylvania team will also work towards increasing the population of this rare breed of cow.

    The government, which had recently entered into an agreement with the Milk Mission project of the University of Pennsylvania, on Tuesday formed a six-member experts’ panel headed by Andhra Pradesh Livestock Development Agency (APLDA) CEO Dr PD Kondala Rao.

    The panel will work in coordination with the Pennsylvania University for implementing the project in the state.

    According to officials of the animal husbandry department, the university will help the state in enhancing milk production and cattle population in the state. As per the agreement, the university experts will impart training to farmers to enhance milk production, livestock population and transfer technology to increase cattle population.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Andhra Pradesh / by Express News Service / July 06th, 2016

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    The Singapore-based consortium, which submitted its Swiss challenge proposal for the construction of Amaravati Seed Capital in an extent of over 1,600 acres, will be given an equity share of 58 per cent in the project.

    Earlier, it was proposed to share the revenue equally between the consortium and the Amaravati Development Corporation, which was called Capital City Development and Management Corporation, a special purpose vehicle floated by the government. According to the latest discussions, the share of the ADC now will be 42 per cent, mostly in the form of land.

    The revenue from the project will be shared in the ratio of 58:42 between the consortium, comprising Asendas, Singbridge, and Sembcorp Development Ltd., and the Singapore government with 74.5 per cent share in the consortium and the ADC respectively.

    Final decision today?

    “Chief Secretary, who is the Chairman of Infrastructure Authority, called for a meeting with Secretaries of five to six departments to consider all aspects on Wednesday. A final decision on accepting the Swiss challenge proposal is possible tomorrow,” sources said.

    Once the proposal submitted by the consortium, which had been fine tuned after several rounds of discussions to meet the norms, is cleared, it will enter into an agreement with the ADC. The proposal will be submitted to the Cabinet for its approval. Once the proposal is approved, it will be put in the public domain and invite better proposal from any competitor. If a competitor submits a better proposal, the consortium will have to match it to bag the project.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by M.L.Melly Maitreyi / Hyderaba – June 22nd, 2016

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