Your Right To Info
Dr Sonika Kushwaha, Dr Akhilesh Kumar and Aman Singh
International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD), 2nd September: IVAD is celebrated on the first Saturday of every September. It was first celebrated in 2009 and this was the 15th year of this much-needed day. Birds of Prey Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in South Africa and the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England took the initiative to dedicate this day to the conservation and awareness of vultures. About 90 organizations from all over the world are participating this year. The world is bestowed with 22 species of vultures and India is blessed to have 9 species of these master scavengers. Vultures have a number of morphological features that keep them decontaminated such as bald head and neck, together with featherless toes and tarsi. The important behavior includes urohydrosis in New World vultures (urinating on their own legs). Urine has high chemical properties that are capable of killing the bacteria or parasites on their feet. Vultures are known to take baths after every meal to wash off the disease-causing microorganisms in the carcass. They also sunbaked to exterminate the bacteria and other microorganisms on their body. Vultures are obligate scavengers and cannot be replaced by any other scavenging species.
International Day for Preservation of Ozone Layer, 16th September: In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared 16th September as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, to commemorate the date of signing Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987.The 2023 theme "Montreal Protocol: Healing the Ozone Layer and Combating Climate Change". It is of utmost importance to forbid ozone-depleting substances to prevent skin cancers and other problems to sensitive body parts, particularly the eyes. This will also preserve our ecosystems and reduce the pace of climate change making a way to slowly recover the ozone layer.
International Red Panda Day, 16th September: It is celebrated on the Third Saturday of September. The day was launched by the Red Panda Network located in Eugene, USA in 2010. Red panda inhabit the Eastern Himalayas in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma), and China. They are crepuscular (most active in the early morning and late afternoon), arboreal (spending most of the day resting in trees), and solitary except for the pairing in the breeding period. Red Panda are carnivore that has adapted to eating almost exclusively bamboo. They are listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red Data List. The estimated number of Red Panda’s is less than 10,000 and about 2,500 are remaining in the wild. The major threats include habitat fragmentation due to fast urban development including roads, hydro-projects, electric transmission lines, mining, agricultural expansion, and anthropogenic forest fires. Red pandas fulfill the significant responsibility of conserving the Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forest. The red panda is a charismatic and ambassador species that conveys the message about the importance of the protection of the Eastern Himalayas.
World Rhino Day, 22nd September: It was first announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. However, it became an international event in 2011 due to the efforts of two determined women Lisa Jane Campbell and Rhishja. Rhinoceros are Critically Endangered and this day aims to spread awareness to protect them. Poaching and habitat loss is the major cause of their declining population. There are five species of Rhino all over the world. These are White Rhino, Greater one-horned rhino, Black Rhino, Javan Rhino, and Sumatran Rhino. The total worldwide rhino population is estimated to be fewer than 27,000. According to the biannual survey in 2022, the Asian Rhino Specialist Group (AsRSG) announced that the greater number of one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), found only in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, has increased to 4,014 individuals. The population is growing largely due to the efforts of the governments of India and Nepal to maintain the habitat for rhinos, while also preventing poaching.
World Gorilla Day, 24th September: The inaugural year for World Gorilla Day was 2017 by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. All gorilla species and subspecies are either endangered or critically endangered, and face dire pressures including habitat loss, climate change, disease, and poaching. But recent years have also seen the positive results of conservation as an upswing in the population of the mountain and Grauer’s gorilla. They live in nine African countries. Gorillas are the largest of living primates that are herbivorous and terrestrial i.e., ground-dwelling. They exhibit a unique behavior of nest construction. The nest is constructed daily on the ground before dusk by the individuals. They use it for sleeping. The major threats to the gorilla population include habitat destruction and poaching for the bush meat trade. Gorillas are closely related to humans, both belonging to the family Hominidae, and are susceptible to infectious diseases through humans. Gorillas can also be infected with COVID-19. There are various important programmes for Gorilla conservation such as the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) between Fauna & Flora International, WWF, Conservation International, and protected area authorities another one is Gorilla Agreement enforced in 2008 that provides governments, IGOs, NGOs, scientists, local people and the international community on the whole with a legally-binding framework to uphold and restore gorilla populations and conserve their natural habitats.
World Rivers Day, 24th September: World Rivers Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of September. Initiated by internationally renowned river advocate, Mark Angelo, the first World Rivers Day in 2005 was a great success with celebrations across dozens of countries. Since then, the event has continued to grow. World Rivers Day is an imperative occasion to celebrate the world’s waterways. It highlights the numerous values of all the life-giving rivers and endeavors to increase public awareness. Rivers are the mothers of all civilizations and nearly all life forms are surviving due to them. In spite of the significance, freshwater ecosystems are in the most danger in the world with a steep decline in freshwater diversity. The need of the hour is to become the voices of our rivers and raise our voices to protect them and save them from vanishing. Sand mining, pollution and the encroachment of river banks for agriculture are emerging threats to rivers in every country so active involvement of people is needed to keep them alive.
(The writers are leading conservationists)