New Delhi, Jul 29 (AP/UNB) — India's tiger population has grown to nearly 3,000, making the country one of the safest habitats for the endangered animals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the tiger count for 2018 on Monday said it's a "historic achievement" for India as the big cat's population had dwindled to 1,400 about 14-15 years ago.
India estimates its tiger population every four years. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the tiger population was 2,226 in the last count, in 2014.
The tiger is India's national animal and it is categorized as endangered under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The human conflict with tigers has gradually increased since the 1970s, when India started a tiger conservation program that carved out sanctuaries in national parks and made it a crime to kill them.
"With around 3,000 tigers, India has emerged as of one of the biggest and safest habitats for them in the world," Modi said and praised all the stakeholders involved in the country's tiger conservation exercise.
"Nine years ago, it was decided in St. Petersburg (Russia) that the target of doubling the tiger population would be 2022. We in India completed this target four years in advance," he said.
He also said that the number of protected areas in the country has risen to 860 last year from 692 in 2014. Similarly, the number of community reserves has gone up to 100 from 43 in 2014.
Belinda Wright, founder of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, based in New Delhi, said India should be very proud of its conservation achievement as the latest study was a much larger and more thorough estimation of the tiger population than done before.
"But we still have a long way to go to secure a long-term future for wild tigers," she cautioned, adding that human-tiger conflict was one of the biggest conservation challenges because India has so many people.
The conflict between wildlife, confined to ever-shrinking forests and grasslands, and India's human population is deadly. Government data show about one person is killed every day by tigers or elephants.
Wright said the government should not relax any protection measure and should avoid "huge linear intrusions, including highways, railways, electric power line and canals through protected areas as this leads to increased human-tiger conflict."
India's elephants and tigers are some of the most hunted animals in the country, sought for their ivory tusks or bones that are sold on the black market for use in unproven, traditional Chinese medicine. Elephants are also threatened by moving trains.
Ozark, Jul 27 (AP/UNB) — An amateur photographer has snapped some startling gone-in-a-gulp images of a venomous snake devouring an unlucky bug at Ozark National Forest in Arkansas.
Charlton McDaniel of Fort Smith says he was "fascinated and captivated" to see a copperhead eat a newly emerged cicada at dusk on July 17.
The 42-year-old McDaniel told The Associated Press that he was in the forest for some moonlight kayaking when he noticed a molting cicada.
McDaniel says the snake showed up, and he twice scared off the reptile. McDaniel says he went to his vehicle and when he returned the snake grabbed the insect.
McDaniel says the copperhead became aware of his presence, finished swallowing the cicada and slithered off.
Dhaka, Jul 25 (AP/UNB)- For some people, backyards aren’t just backyards anymore.
“We’re seeing everything from Zen retreats for al fresco yoga to whimsical children’s spaces that go way beyond the typical swing set,” says Jennifer Bringle, editor in chief of Casual Living magazine.
More and more, she says, homeowners are putting the same kind of personal stamp on their outdoor areas as they do to the inside of the house, where one trend has been to turn ordinary rooms into gyms, theaters, studios, wine cellars, libraries and more.
While there are many do-it-yourselfers happy to dig, hammer and build on their own out in the yard, a lucky few have the resources to turn to interior designers for a customized look.
One family in Tampa, Florida, commissioned local designer Ryan Hughes, known for creative outdoor designs, to come up with something playful to fill around 2,000 square feet of backyard.
First, he created a kids’ section: One of the little girl’s favorite books was “Alice in Wonderland,” so Hughes created a reflecting pool like the one Alice looks into, built with the safety features of a standard wading pool. A pergola holds a swinging bed with red curtains. The imaginative garden vibe also includes an oversize checkerboard for games, a curvy bench encircling a crape myrtle tree, and colorful, oversize mushroom sculptures and spiral topiaries. Hughes added LED-lit arches and life-size Lucite lamps, as well as accessory lighting shaped like lily pads and hearts.
For the rest of the backyard, where the adults congregate, Hughes took a different tack: “The homeowners envisioned an exciting outdoor space similar to what they’d experienced during visits to a famous resort,” he said. There’s a 200-foot-long, 6-foot-wide lazy river lined with pebble-finish glass tile and travertine edging. It winds around a sunken fire pit and multiple lounge areas, and under a wooden walking bridge. There are water curtains to splash in along the way.
Other outdoor options these days include the women’s version of the man cave: the “she shed.” The architectural style of a newly built shed might mimic that of the main house. But as with the man cave, the space is meant as a refuge from the household.
“It’s the space where the woman who nurtures everyone goes to nurture herself,” says New York designer Elaine Griffin, an early proponent of these specialized hideaways.
Erika Kotite, in her book “She Sheds: A Room of Your Own” (Cool Springs Press, 2017), included a Seattle modernist artist’s studio, a Balinese teahouse, and a writer’s cabin created from an old tool shed.
“One of the neatest things is that women tell me they finally had a home for ‘X’ — their photographs, a collection,” etc., Kotite says. Some like to create a space quite different in style from the main home, and more playful.
No matter whether your shed is 8 square feet or 20, pay attention to the foundation, she says, and having adequate light. While big-box DIY centers offer some great build-your-own shed kits, “some of (them) may not have the largest windows, so you have to customize,” Kotite says. And while building your own shed might seem daunting, stores like Lowe’s offer how-to videos online.
Griffin notes a trend toward refurbishing existing storage sheds or garages, instead of building new.
“Electrified, customized and dressed to the nines, they’re easier on the budget and clock than building from scratch,” she says.
If you’re close enough to a power source, a bar fridge and lighting is a nice addition. Otherwise, consider coolers, solar lamps and perhaps a fire pit or small camp stove.
Meditation lovers can create a Zen zone in even a small outdoor space. Wind chimes, a small tabletop fountain and some pots of fragrant blooms can make even an apartment balcony a mini retreat.
If you’ve got a bit more room, a wooden platform with pergola, sliding screens or tenting creates a cool, relaxing spot for yoga or contemplation. Set up a comfy bench, hammock or chair far from the noise of the household.
Chicago, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) — Chicago police say three thieves smashed a display window of a high-end department store and stole three mannequins dressed from head to feet in designer clothes.
Police say the theft occurred around 4:15 a.m. Wednesday at the Neiman Marcus store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
They say three people wearing hoodies pulled up to the store, smashed the window, threw the three mannequins wearing expensive clothes including shoes and bags into the back of an SUV and fled. At least two arms from the mannequins fell off during the theft and were left lying on the ground amid broken glass.
The value of the clothing and other details haven’t been released. Police say no one has been arrested.
Kathmandu, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) — In the forests of Nepal's capital Kathmandu near the revered Hindu temple of Pahsupatinath, some 300 monkeys eagerly await their pieces of roti, or flat bread.
For the past four years, Saraswati Dangol has been bringing the bread every day to feed the monkeys. She buys some 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of flour and spends hours cooking the roti, traveling to the forest temple and feeding them.
Thousands of monkeys live around the temple and about 300 of them come for Dongol's roti.
As soon as they see her with her white sack, they gather around her, some patiently waiting for their turn while others less patiently snatching the bread from her hands.
"It used to be that the monkeys were able to feed on the fruits from the trees but now the forests are thin and hardly any fruit," she said.
"They are going hungry and some of them even go to nearby houses to steal food," she said, adding that the monkeys are injured by people whose homes they try to enter.
Lately the monkeys from Pashupati have been wandering farther away from the temple and forest area in search of food.
Many of Dangol's regulars are elderly, or mother or baby monkeys that are unable to fight for their share of food in the wild.
Dangol rarely misses a day at the temple, but when she does, she struggles not to worry about the monkeys.
"When I miss a single day, I feel like I have not fed my kids and I become depressed," she said.
The temple is revered by Hindus and draws pilgrims come from all over the world.
The monkeys are a key feature of the temple area. Visitors sometimes feed them, but the monkeys more often help themselves to the fruit and sweets left as temple offerings for the Hindu god Shiva.