New York, May 12 (IANS) Driven to extinction in the US 50 years ago, now is the time to talk about reintroducing jaguars there, a group of scientists say.
In a study published on Tuesday in the journal Conservation Science and Practice, the authors provide a prospective framework for this effort and describe "righting a wrong" done to "America's Great Cat" in the Southwest more than 50 years ago.
The big cats lived for hundreds of years in the central mountains of Arizona and New Mexico but were driven to local extinction by the mid-20th century, in part because of killing by government hunters.
Authors of the study include a diverse set of scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Center for Landscape Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife, Wildlands Network, Pace University, Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro, Life Net Nature, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
In March, a separate study suggested that an area in central Arizona and New Mexico spanning two million acres (82,000 sq km) can provide potentially suitable habitat for 90 to 150 jaguars.
This area, roughly the size of South Carolina, was not considered in the 2018 US Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Plan for the jaguar. That plan considered only habitat south of Interstate Highway 10 (an artificial boundary considering historic jaguar records north of that) and therefore concluded there was habitat for only six jaguars in the U.S.
However, habitat destruction, transportation infrastructure, natural constrictions in the landscape, and the border wall mean that natural reestablishment of female jaguars from source populations in Mexico to this recovery region is unlikely over the next 100 years.
The authors of Tuesday's study conclude that reintroduction of jaguars should be examined as a viable alternative. The authors believe that restoring jaguars can be a net benefit to people, including culture and local economies, and nature and would represent the return of an original part of the US fauna.
The study focuses on five dimensions of the reintroduction project: conservation rationale, history, ecological context, human context and practical considerations.
"The jaguar lived in these mountains long before Americans did," said Eric Sanderson, WCS Senior Conservation Ecologist and lead author of the study. "If done collaboratively, reintroduction could enhance the economy of this region and the ecology of this incredible part of jaguar range."
The study notes some key aspects of the reintroduction effort to be discussed with relevant officials and the public in central Arizona and New Mexico, noting that the region is a habitat unique in all of the jaguar's range, representing a special and valuable part of jaguar's ecological diversity.
The Central Arizona and New Mexico Recovery Area (CANRA) is vast, covered with suitable vegetation, and well populated with potential prey. Given its elevation and latitude, it may provide an important climate refuge for the species in the future, though further research is required.
The study says the majority of the land is managed for the public good, mainly (68 per cent) by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service, with several large designated wilderness areas.
Only 381,000 people live in this area, primarily in towns and cities. The most important economic activities there are government expenditures, accommodation and food services, outdoor recreation, healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade.
The mountains of central Arizona and New Mexico are part of the ancestral and reservation lands for a number of Native American Nations. Currently two tribal nations, the White Mountain Apache and the San Carlos Apache, manage nearly 12 per cent of the CANRA's land area, including wildlife and ecological systems.
It says reintroduction would replace a historic member of the species assemblage of the region. US government agents and private citizens hunted and poisoned the jaguar for most of the 20th century. As a result of persecution here and elsewhere, jaguars were listed under the US Endangered Species Act.
"This represents a turning point for this iconic wild cat, identifying a path forward for restoration of the jaguar to its historic range in the United States," said Sharon Wilcox Ph.D., Texas Representative for Defenders of Wildlife. "It should serve as the starting point for a renewed conversation among stakeholders."
"The Southwest's native wildlife evolved with jaguars," said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. "They have a storied and vital place in our canyons and forests, so we should plan an intelligent and humane reintroduction program."
Amid surge in Covid-19 cases, the Haryana government on Friday announced closure of all colleges, coaching and training institutes, IITs and libraries till May 31.
Also, all anganwadi centres and creches being run by the Women and Child Development Department will be closed during this period.
Any person found violating the order will liable to be punished.
Even as the government school teachers have been assigned various jobs to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi government is now giving "double trauma" to its teachers by sending them show cause notices for not reporting to work despite testing positive for coronavirus.
The Delhi government has deployed the school teachers at several places including makeshift hospitals, data recording of vaccines and oxygen, crematorium grounds to keep a tab and maintain data on a daily basis on the number of people infected with Covid-19 and people losing their battle against the virus infection.
About 90 teachers were asked by South East SDM BL Meena on April 20 to report for work at his office.
The April 20 order which has been seen by IANS said that all the teachers should report to their concerned SDM office on April 22 and the SDM office will assign them duties as per demand.
"Now therefore in exercise if powers conferred upon district authority under various provisions of disaster management act, 2005, read with the Delhi Epidemic diseases Covid 19 regulations, 2020 district authority, District (South East) hereby requisition the 90 officials or officers," Meena's letter read.
"The officers are hereby directed to report for duties on April 22 at 11 a.m in this office without waiting any formal relieving from their department, non-compliance will be viewed seriously and shall attract action under the provisions of Acts/Regulations," it further said.
The letter stated that 'this issues with the prior approval of District Magistrate (South East) chairperson of DDMA (South East)'.
However, some of the teachers who were posted by the SDM at various places, tested positive for Covid-19 prior to issuance of the order on April 20.
Sabina (name changed), who is a teacher at the Delhi government school in South East Delhi, is among the eight to nine teachers who have received the show cause notice from the SDM.
Speaking to IANS, she said that her family members had tested positive for Covid. And she also tested positive for Covid-19 a few days later.
"Soon after testing positive for Covid-19, I informed my head of school (HOS), the District Magistrate and the SDM on their email IDs with the Covid-19 report as attachment.
"However, I didn't get any reply from the SDM or DM office," she said, adding that on the contrary she received a show cause notice issued on April 27 to give a written reply within three days or action will be taken.
The show cause notice issued by SDM South East, which has been viewed by IANS read, "And whereas, it has come to notice that you have not reported for duty."
"It has been viewed seriously and accordingly, it is hereby directed to show cause as to why action should not be taken against you for dereliction of duties.
"A written reply in the matter should reach the undersigned within three days from issuance of this notice failing which it shall be presumed that he/she has nothing to say in the matter and necessary action shall be taken against him/her including discontinuation of service/disciplinary action or action under DDMA Act, 2005," the show cause notice by Meena read.
IANS has viewed more than 10 such notices across Delhi which have been issued to several teachers.
The school teachers said that after the government decided to close schools, the teachers were deployed for other work by the district authority. And even after submitting their report they are being traumatised by the SDM office with such show cause notices.
With the indefinite postponement of Class 12 board examinations in several states due to the pandemic conditions, students preparing to go abroad for further studies are in a quandary.
"Postponing the board examinations further will have a rippling effect on our careers because delayed examination will lead to delayed results. This will adversely affect the students' plans to prepare for competitive tests and secure admissions for Undergraduate (UG) degree programs in overseas colleges and universities, where the exams and classes might not get postponed because their classes and exams are being conducted via online platform," said Raj Kishore Dutta, whose son is seeking admission in computer science course in the US.
The academic calendar in America, Canada New Zealand and the UK begins in September. If the board exams are held and if the results are declared in time, it would allow students to apply to most foreign universities.
However, the time usually afforded for the application process would obviously be curtailed.
None of these countries have postponed the admission process yet.
Vanshika Singh who is planning to do a bakery and confectionary course in Switzerland and has got admission in Lucerne, is worried about whether she will be able to make it in time for the course.
"I have to clear my board examinations and then I do not know whether flights will open up by the time I have to go. My entire future depends on the pandemic because European countries are very strict about pandemic rules," she said.
Her cousin, Arpit Singh, is facing a similar predicament. He is scheduled to travel to Germany in August for a masters' degree in automobile engineering.
Though he is not worried about examinations, it is the travel restrictions that have left him scratching his head.
"I have managed an admission with great difficulty and cannot let it go," he said.
Dr. Sunita Gandhi, educationist, visionary, and founder of Global Dream Programme, Global Classroom Private Limited (GCPL) & Global Education & Training Institute (GETI), however, said, "Hard times have required hard decisions. Decisive and timely action was most urgently needed."
"It is a good step taken by the government as there are no easy choices and for Class 12, the window of 15 days' notice provides mental relief. Considering the situation, however, we all have to accept and bear it. This is disappointing for those children, teachers and schools who have worked really hard towards their goals," she said.
Nishi Krishna, a career counsellor, said, "Students have already suffered a year in 2020. The government should come up with an alternative way of conducting exams or marking procedures so that the students' academic year does not go waste-especially for those planning to go abroad for studies."
Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Wednesday tested positive for coronavirus. At present, he is in home quarantine and following the Covid protocols.
After testing positive, Nishank appealed to all those people who had come in contact with him in the last few days to get themselves tested.
The Minister said, "I want to inform all people that I had undergone a Covid test whose report came out positive. I am taking medication and treatment as per the advice of my doctors. I request all those who came in contact with me recently to get themselves tested."
Nishank said the Education Ministry is functioning as usual with the necessary Covid precautions. The Minister is handling the affairs of the ministry through various digital mediums.
After postponing the CBSE board examinations, the Union Education Ministry has decided to postpone the Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE) in India and abroad. Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has asked the National Testing Agency (NTA) not to conduct the JEE Mains examination in view of the rising Covid cases. The JEE Mains examination was scheduled to be held on April 27, 28 and 30 this year.
According to the Education Ministry, the students will be informed about the next date of examinations 15 days in advance.
On the entrance test, Nishank said, "JEE (Main) 2021 April session date will be announced later. It will be announced at least 15 days before the exam and all students will be informed about it."
The Union Education Minister said, "In view of the Covid surge, I have advised the NTA to postpone the examination for the JEE (Main) April 2021 session. I would like to reiterate that the safety of our students and their academic career is my major concern right now."
The results of the JEE Main Exam Season 2, which was held in March this year, have been declared. The entrance exams were also conducted for the first time in foreign cities like Kuala Lumpur and Lagos. These exams were conducted in 12 foreign cities and 334 Indian cities in collaboration with the Government of India.
In this examinations held by the NTA, 13 students topped the exam by scoring 100 per cent marks. The JEE Main examination was conducted by the NTA from March 16 to 18, 2021. A total of more than 6.19 lakh candidates had registered for BE and B.Tech degree course through this examination.
The Gujarat government on Thursday decided to postpone the Board examinations for Classes 10 and 12 and also announced mass promotion for all the rest of the classes in view of the Covid resurgence.
The state education department said it will review the situation at a later date and decide accordingly.
Following the CBSE decision, the Gujarat government postponed the examination for the Classes 10 and 12, which had earlier been scheduled from May 10 to 25.
The government will review the situation on May 1 and then come out with an updated schedule. The students appearing in Classes 10 and 12 examinations will be provided adequate time of at least 15 days prior to the exam schedule whenever it is announced, said the officials.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has postponed the state Board examinations for Classes 10 and 12.
All Classes from 1 to 12 will also remain closed till May 15.
The government spokesman said that fresh dates for the examinations would be announced sometime in May.
Earlier, the board examinations were scheduled to begin from May 8.
This is the second time that the Board exams have been deferred. The exams were earlier scheduled to be held from April 24 but the dates were pushed ahead because of the Panchayat elections. The next date was May 8 which has now been put off.
With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing unabated across Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday announced promotion of students of classes 5, 8 and 10 to the next class.
He said that those students would be promoted without taking any examination, while the decision on Class 12 Punjab State Education Board (PSEB) exams, which have already been postponed, will be taken later, based on the emerging situation.
The Chief Minister took these decisions during a virtual Covid review meeting with top officials and medical experts.
Singh said while the state had closed all educational institutions till April 30, bringing down the positivity in the 11-20 age group, relief was needed to be provided to school children going for exams.
For the class 5 students, since exams for four out of five subjects have already been conducted, results may be declared by the PSEB on the basis of the marks obtained by the students in respect to the four subjects, barring the fifth subject.
Results for classes 8 and 10 may be declared on the basis of pre-board examinations or the internal assessment of the respective schools, the Chief Minister directed the Education Department.
Singh, who had written to the written to Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' in this regard, also expressed satisfaction at the Centre's decision to postpone the Class 12 CBSE exams and cancellation of Class 10 CBSE exams in view of the pandemic.
Medical Education Minister O.P. Soni, Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla, Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, DGP Dinkar Gupta were among those who attended the meeting.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams for Class 10 have been cancelled and the exams for Class 12 postponed in view of the exponential spike in Covid-19 cases across the country, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank announced on Wednesday.
The decision was taken in a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here amid demand from students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders to cancel it.
The CBSE Board exams were scheduled to be held from May 4 to June 7 and the results were to be announced by July 15.
"The Board Exams for Class Xth to be held from 4th May to June 14th, 2021 are hereby cancelled. The results of Class Xth Board will be prepared on the basis of an objective criterion to be developed by the Board," Nishank tweeted.
"Any candidate who is not satisfied with the marks allocated to him or her on this basis, will be given an opportunity to sit in an exam as and when the conditions are conducive to hold the exams," the Minister said.
Nishank further said that the Class 12 exams will be held later and the situation reviewed on June 1 by the CBSE, and the details will be shared subsequently. "A notice of at least 15 days will be given before the start of the examinations."
The Minister mentioned that the decision was taken after Prime Minister Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the examinations to be held at various levels in view of the developing Corona situation.
The chorus for cancellation of upcoming board exams for class 10 and 12 grew louder on Tuesday in the wake of the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases.
The Uttar Pradesh government has converted 15,000 primary and upper primary schools into English medium, with a view to modernise the education system.
The move is aimed at honing English speaking skills of children studying in the government schools, right from the beginning, so that they can compete with missionary and convent school students.
Nearly 1.83 crore children are studying in more than 1.5 lakh primary and upper primary schools in the state.
In Lucknow alone, around 60 primary and upper primary schools have been converted into English medium schools.
In every block, two or three schools have been developed much like the private schools.
Director, basic education department, Sarvendra Vikram Singh said the hard work and dedication of teachers to equip students of these primary and upper primary schools with English speaking skills has already started paying dividends as they are competing with children of the private schools today.
According to him these schools boast of smart class, beautiful classrooms and 'most importantly, the school children now speak English.'
The Uttar Pradesh government provides free books, uniforms, bags, shoes and socks as well as sweaters in winter for students.
The state government of the day has also renovated 1.39 lakh schools under 'Operation Kayakalp' to offer better academic facilities to the students.
Two to three schools in every block of the state have been developed on the lines of English medium schools.
According to Vandana Srivastava, teacher in-charge of Primary School, Hirapur, Barabanki, her school features among the top schools of the block. The school has also been awarded by the government for its achievements, she added.