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Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) updates…

Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) updates…

The 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) is being held (2nd to 6th July 2023) in Coimbatore at Kumaraguru Institutions. The event hosted by Indian Regional Association for Landscape Ecology (IRALE) and Kumaraguru Institutions (KI) with the support of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Indian Institution of Science, Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal, OSAI Conservation NGO, and Government Arts & Science College, Ooty. After traveling around the world, it is the second time and after two decades in India that ATBC is holding its global meeting. Under the broad theme of “Balancing Science, Conservation, and Society”, ATBC 2023 will look at issues on terrestrial, Marine, and Coastal landscapes focusing on forested, Agricultural, and social systems, Climate change, and One health approach. The 59th annual meeting will be a congregation of professionals, students, researchers, educators, and conservationists featuring diverse programs such as Symposia, Workshops, Poster presentations, Cultural performances, a Technology pavilion, Mission LiFE pavilion, and City tours. Approximately 200+ international delegates from 12 countries and 300+ Indian delegates with large pool of young professionals and students will take part in the meeting.

Mr Ranganath, N K, Director, Cognizant Foundation. in his speech said that corporations often feel they have a role to play in environmental protection but don’t know where to start and how to do it.
He added there is a huge trust gap between environmentalists and corporate executives. He feels that this is due to the lack of transparency in the policies of the institutions and the hesitation of whether their money is being spent properly.

As far as wildlife is concerned, they expect the project to yield visible results in a short period of time. However, they said that they should realize that the projects related to environmental protection are not effective in such a short period of time. He said that while on the one hand this is the case, on the other hand, companies will notice the decline of various resources and it will be very frustrating to push them to restore them themselves.

Mr. I Anwardeen, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Tamil Nadu Forest Department: (excerpts from his speech) ” The strength of the forest department hasn’t grown considerably in Tamil Nadu over the years. He cautioned the corporates and the public towards the privatisation of conservation actions that the society is trying to pursue in terms of the charismatic species. Corporates should not invest their time and money on the conservation priorities guided by the glamour of charismatic species”

“The solution from science is not keeping pace with the level of challenges emerging every day, and the intensity of the issues concerning conservation sector. Science is one area where Corporates can make investment. They can raise school of ecology and school of biology to promote conservation activities.”

“It takes too much time to bring in change in the policy level for conservation activities. Positive lobbying by the corporates can help in reducing the time in Policy level changes.”

Mr. Sanjayan Kumar, Conservator of Forest, Kerala Forest Department: (excerpts from his speech)

“Man-animal conflicts are growing but there is lack of rapid response equipment and vehicle. Corporate support in this area will be vital in effectively handling the crisis. Habitat restoration is again a biggest issue for instance, the infestation of invasive plant species which will affect the wildlife. Corporates can contribute towards addressing the issue.”

“Areas beyond protected areas where the forest department doesn’t have a big role to play where society needs to play a major role in saving water streams or growing green cover. Sensitisation to adults and the school children on a large scale is essential to bring about a change and fast-tracking conservation activities.”

Mr. R S Krishnaswamy, apex member, Siruthuli: (excerpts from his speech) ” He is one of the siruthuli apex member. Siruthuli has been contributing towards water conservation. Corporate of Coimbatore contribute to Siruthuli. This non-government organizations have adopted a number of water bodies like lakes and ponds in and around the city of Coimbatore and has successfully restored them to their once lost beauty. They are also working in building a number of micro forests to ensure green cover in the city. They build around 800 rainwaters harvesting and maintaining them. These are the main contributions from the corporate companies and this a best example for corporate conservation.

Mr. M M Venkatachalam, Chairman, Parry Agro Industries said: ” Most conservation efforts are long term. Some organizations are making a good effort in conserving but the issue faced by them is at a larger scale. Corporate generates funds for the conservation of environment but building the collaborative spirit is missing right now among the corporates. ”

Dr. Ambika Aiyadurai. Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences. IIT Gandhinagar, spoke on topic: Keywords in India’s Wildlife Conservation: ‘Local’ communities & Social Justice (excerpts from her speech)

People residing in the conservation sites often feel that needs of the wildlife are prioritised over people’s needs. Whether the lives of wild animals are more precious than human lives, is a significant question put forth in front of the conservationists today.

Speaking on how the subject of wildlife sciences is taught in India, she said social dimension of the wildlife conservation was missing in India and reluctance to engage in social science concerning wildlife conservation. This raise question on social justice.

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She spoke on the pedagogy of wildlife conservation as an academic subject and how it is taught in India academic institutions with respect to social sciences and how it is related to social justice. She said local communities and social justice are the words that didn’t fit in the India’s wildlife conservations story for long. These words were largely ignored and disregarded but it is increasingly becoming crucial in shaping India’s wildlife conservation.

Wildlife conservation has succeeded in multiple fronts and it has also been at the cost of human rights of those living in and around the conservation sites mainly the most marginalised. Students trained in biology are not keen to study subjects of social sciences and humanities as social science is seen as an inferior discipline compared to natural sciences.

The friction between social sciences and natural sciences is very recent in the history. Only in the last two centuries, we have started to see philosophy and sciences as two distinct forms of knowledge. Many institutes do not hire social science people in wildlife conservation department. But it could be meaningful relations between disciplines and we could inform each other in a more meaningful way.

What is the impact of inclusion of social sciences in wildlife biology. The field of wildlife sciences are largely dominated by ecological concepts that are devoid of social components.

Dr. Nathan Muchhala, Evolutionary Ecologist, University of Missouri–St. Louis spoke on the topic: Specialized Pollination and Angiosperm Diversification in the Neotropics

The session started with the discussion of symmetry of the flower. The symmetry of the flower plays an important role in pollination. Zygomorphy (bilaterally symmetrical) evolves with other traits to attract pollinators. It increases probability of pollen transfer by controlling pollinator body position. The experiment was conducted using nectar feeding bats (Glassophaga soricina) and artificial flowers (zygomorphic or actinomorphic) either angled or flat. The artificial flowers had the anther taken from a plant species that is relative of tobacco. The bats were allowed to visit 1 male and the 3 female flowers. Video tape was used to determine the visit angle and double-sided tape from females was collected for checking the pollen deposition. Using the data collected, it was concluded that the angled orientation helps control body position and maximizes pollen transfer. Zygomorphy allows persistence despite its low abundance. It can be concluded that Zygomorphy increases diversity as it increases speciation by reproductive isolation. The session also discussed the morphology of the tongue of bats. The researchers were able to discover a new species Anoura fistulata- The Tube-lipped nectar bat which had a longer tongue expansion than any other nectar bats. This new specie has the same diet breadth as the other Anoura. However, it prefers deeper flowers due to its long tongue. They have found evidence for coevolution between the tongue of the bat and the flower depth.

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