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‘Maveli’ frog to be the official frog of Kerala??

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Abhiramy R

Researchers at the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) have decided to honour a little-known frog from Kerala’s Western Ghats by naming it Maveli (short for Mahābalī) and petitioning the government to recognise it as the state frog. If approved, Kerala would be the first state in India to have an official frog or amphibian.

Commonly known as the purple or pig-nosed frog, this robust, dark purple species is elusive and spends most of its time under the soil. “We decided to name it Maveli since much like the Asura King, it comes out of the soil once a year. It comes out during monsoons, typically to mate and moves to fresh streams to lay eggs,” Sandeep D, an EDGE fellow and PhD student at KFRI who has sent the proposal to make Maveli the state frog.

Known in academic circles by the scientific name Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, the purple frog was discovered in 2003 by SD Biju, from the Tropical Botanic Garden, and Franky Bossuyt, from the Free University of Brussels.

As per the IUCN’s Red List, the purple frog is placed in the fourth highest category of threatened species. It is also ranked third in the list of threatened amphibians under the EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) list. This is out of 8,007 amphibians in the world.

“The purple frog is considered an important species globally and it is endemic to Kerala. Making it a state frog can help boost its conservation,” Sandeep added. Conserving the frog has other benefits: It could also lead to protecting the aquatic ecosystem of the Western Ghats, including tiny species living in the springs and pools.

“Since this frog only breeds in the seasonal springs, it becomes an umbrella species. If we have to conserve the frog, we have to conserve the whole aquatic ecosystem of the springs,” Sandeep adds. A proposal has been sent to members of the State Wildlife Advisory Board and a decision is expected to be taken in June.

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UIDAI warns people not to use public computer for downloading Aadhaar

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The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) recently warned people of using a public computer for downloading Aadhaar.

‘Aadhaar Essentials Download your Aadhaar only from official UIDAI portal: eaadhaar.uidai.gov.in. If you used a public computer to download, don’t forget to delete the downloaded file after you have taken a print out,’ UIDAI tweeted.

The UIDAI had also tweeted about how it discourages Plastic or PVC Aadhaar copies. It said, ‘Your Aadhaar letter or Aadhaar downloaded from uidai.gov.in or mAadhaar profile is enough for any Aadhaar related service.’

The UIDAI in its press release stated: UIDAI has asked people to keep away from such elements/shops/vendors. Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI said, ‘So-called Aadhaar Smart card is totally unnecessary and a waste as during such printing its QR code often becomes dysfunctional. The Aadhaar card or the downloaded Aadhaar card printed on ordinary paper or mAadhaar is perfectly valid for all kind of uses.’

Apart from letting people know about how to download the Aadhaar card, it also talked about how one can apply for updating address online through UIDAI portal.

One of these facilities enables the user to apply for a change in the address fed into the Aadhaar database. The user can update the address online by submitting valid documents or an address validation letter (for those without documents), according to the UIDAI’s website – uidai.gov.in.

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Climate Change is not the only thing affecting Mount Everest

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A dedicated clean-up team sent to Mount Everest has collected three tonnes of garbage in its first two weeks, officials said Wednesday, in an ambitious plan to clean the world’s highest rubbish dump. Decades of commercial mountaineering have left the pristine mountain polluted as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.

Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak. As this year’s spring climbing season kicked off last month, the Nepal government sent a 14-member team with a target to bring back 10,000 kilograms (10 tonnes) of trash from Everest within a month and a half.

The team has collected and bundled the three tonnes of rubbish, including empty cans, bottles, plastic and discarded climbing gear from the base camp and surrounding areas bustling with climbers preparing and acclimatising to summit Everest.

“The clean-up campaign team has just started and members have ascended to higher camps to collect more garbage,” said Dandu Raj Ghimire, chief of Nepal’s tourism department. An army helicopter transported a third of the collected trash to Kathmandu for recycling. The remaining biodegradable trash was taken to the neighbouring Okhaldhunga district for proper disposal.

Eight members are now cleaning Camp 2 at 6,400 metres and teams of three will take turns to go up to Camp 4 at 7,950 metres, where they will spend 15 days litter-picking on the snowy slopes. “The clean-up campaign will be continued in the coming seasons as well to make the world’s tallest mountain clean. It is our responsibility to keep our mountains clean,” Ghimire said.

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UN appreciates Indian Meteorological Department for accurate detection of the Cyclone Fani

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The UN agency for disaster reduction has commended the Indian Meteorological Department’s “almost pinpoint accuracy” of early warnings that helped authorities conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan and minimise the loss of life as extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani made landfall near the coastal city of Puri.

The powerful cyclone, strongest to hit India in 20 years, made landfall at around 8 AM in India’s eastern state of Odisha, killing at least eight people. Large areas in the seaside pilgrim town of Puri and other places were submerged as heavy rains battered the entire coastal belt of the state affecting about 11 lakh people.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has classified Fani as an “extremely severe cyclonic storm”. UN agencies are monitoring Fani’s movements closely and taking measures to protect families living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, which is on alert.

The Cyclone lashed the coast with maximum wind speeds of up to 175 kilometres per hour, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding, with 28 million people living along the route of the massive storm. “India’s zero casualty approach to managing extreme weather events is a major contribution to the implementation of the #SendaiFramework and the reduction of loss of life from such events,” Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, and head of the Geneva-based UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said.

Mizutori was referring to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda. It is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognises that the state has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including the local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.

Highlighting the zero-casualty cyclone preparedness policy of the Indian government, a spokesperson for UNISDR, Denis McClean said: “the almost pinpoint accuracy of the early warnings from the Indian Meteorological Department had enabled the authorities to conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan, which had involved moving more than one million people into storm shelters”.

UNISDR also tweeted about the advisory distributed by India’s National Disaster Management Authority and local authorities days before Fani made landfall in an effort to minimise loss of life and injury.

Local authorities are accommodating evacuees in over 4,000 shelters, including 880 specially designed to withstand cyclones. “Schools were shut, airports closed and transport suspended, and although damage to infrastructure was expected to be severe, there were no reports of any deaths,” McClean said.

According to preliminary reports, eight people have been killed due to the cyclone, which has the potential to cause widespread loss of life. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson told reporters that the UN humanitarian agencies in India have met ahead of the storm’s arrival to take stock of preparedness measures.

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