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A Number of vital Facts on Dragonflies

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If you do a survey of 100 people almost all of them will say that they find flying insects annoying or revolting. Mosquitoes bite you and leave scratchy red welts on your skin while wasps and bees sting. Flies are outright revolting. However, this isn’t the case with dragonflies.

There’s something magical about them. Below are some facts about this winged insect.

A few basic facts

Dragonflies happen to be a few of the foremost winged insects to grow, about 300 million years back. The dragonflies that exist today are characterized by a wingspan of between two and five inches. However, there is evidence of fossil dragonflies having a wingspan as much as feet.

While a few grown-up dragonflies have a lifespan of a few weeks others have a lifespan of as much as a year.

Grownup dragonflies eat insects and they make an excellent controller of the population of mosquitoes. One grownup can consume between 30 and hundreds of mosquitoes in a day.

As to the great size of dragonflies, several scientists attribute it to the high oxygen levels of the Paleozoic times. Coming to the species of Dragonflies over 5,000 are documented. All of them are part of the Odonata order. The reason for this name is the serrated teeth of the Dragonfly.

How do they reproduce?

The larvae, which could last for as much as two years, are aquatic and consume almost anything. Among them are mosquitoes, fish, tadpoles, larvae of other insects, and even one another.

After this period, the dragonfly sneaks out from the water. After that, the exoskeleton splits open and discharges the abdomen, which was crammed. Next, the four wings emerge, and they become dry and get harder over some hours or even days.

They are skillful flyers and have an incredible vision

They are skillful fliers and are able to fly directly up and down, float as a helicopter does and also mate while airborne. Flying is essential for them as they catch their prey when they fly. They capture their insect victim by grasping it using their feet. Their efficiency in hunting is proved. In a study, the preys were let loose in an enclosure. The dragonflies were successful in catching between 90 and 95 % of them.

Their flight is so distinctive that it has motivated engineers whose ambition is to create robots that cannas the dragonflies do.

The head of almost all the dragonflies head is the eye. This explains the incredible vision of this insect that covers nearly all angles barring right at their back.

Dragonflies amounting to hundreds of diverse species tend to assemble in groups, for feeding or relocation. There is very little information about this practice. However, efforts are underway for understanding this behavior better.

Scientists have attached minute transmitters to the wings of migratory dragonflies using superglue and eyelash adhesive for pursuing them. They discovered that New Jersey’s green darners traveled at intervals of three days and covered an average distance of 7.5 miles in a day. Globe skinner is a species of dragonflies that holds the record for the lengthiest migration of all insects.

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It’s Heartbreaking! A Pregnant Elephant Dies in Kerala after a Pineapple Filled with Crackers Exploded in its Mouth

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Pregnant Elephant Died
Image Credit : Timesnownews

News room. Written by : Anne Kamwila, Staff Member, Nature Talkies.

A young, pregnant elephant in Silent Valley Forest (Kerala) fell victim to heinous human cruelty after being fed a pineapple stuffed with crackers. The stuff exploded in her mouth as she munched the fruit. According to a senior forest officer, the elephant’s jaw broke, and she was unable to eat. The officer firmly believed that someone fed the elephant crackers with intend to eliminate her.

The pineapple of death

According to Mr. Surendrakumar, the young elephant died at Malappuram district’s Velliyar River on May 27th, 2020. The post-mortem proved beyond any reasonable doubt, that, indeed, the pachyderm was pregnant. The wild elephant had meandered into the village in search of greener pastures.

Most locals use pineapples with country-made crackers to protect their farms against wild boars. Unfortunately, the young elephant ate one of these deadly fruits. It exploded in her mouth, resulting in the inevitable tragedy.

The powerful cracker explosion caused severe injuries in the elephant’s mouth – a damaged tongue, broken jaw, and other severe injuries. The poor animal walked around in the village for several days in excruciating pain and searing hunger. She couldn’t eat anything and eventually walked back to the wild.

Her injuries were discovered on May 25th, two days before the sad news emerged – her death. The last photos of the poor animal place her along the banks of Velliyar River. There are also photos that show her standing in the river with her trunk and mouth in the water. This probably gave some kind of relief from the searing pain caused by the cracker explosion.

The forest official used two captive elephants – Neelakanthan and Surendran, to help lead the injured elephant out of the water. Various attempts by the officials to rescue the pregnant elephant failed, and at 4 pm on May 27th, the young elephant succumbed to her injuries while standing in water.

More information: Save Animals that are on the Threshold of Becoming Extinct

So far, no arrests made

No one has been arrested a week after the unfortunate death of the young elephant. Her death and the trauma she endured has caused outrage, with hundreds of thousands calling for legal action against the perpetrators.

One of the senior officers issued an arrest order and assured the world that the culprit would be nabbed and punished for ‘hunting’ the young elephant. The forest officials and police have launched a probe to arrest the man believed to have offered the elephant that ‘pineapple of death.’

The entire issue came to light after one of the forest officials narrated the cruelty and the horrific death of the pregnant elephant on social media.

Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister, said that strict action would be taken against the people responsible for the heinous acts that led to the death of the young, pregnant elephant. “The forest officials are probing the case, and the culprits will be definitely be brought to book.” He concluded.

According to the post mortem, it’s possible that the elephant ate the cracker-stuffed pineapple at the end of April or the early days of May.  “We don’t know the exact day when the incident occurred. But given the severe starvation and shrinking of the elephant, it’s estimated that the incident occurred 20 days ago,” one of the officers told NDTV.

This is not the first time an elephant has died in Kerala. A report of another elephant that died in the same state, under similar circumstances has surfaced. The young elephant is said to have died in April in the same region. It’s evident that the authorities should take the right measures to protect these wild animals from merciless hunters.

News formation source: The Hindu : NDTV , Times Now News

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Celebrate Biodiversity: Top Reasons to Commemorate the World Environment Day

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Celebrate Biodiversity
Image credit : Pixabay (Siala)

What is biodiversity? And what does World Environment Day have to do with the need to celebrate biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the “foundation of ecosystem services to which human wellbeing is intimately linked.”

Humankind is part of the dynamic, complex, and varied multi-layered ecosystem. Each layer in the bio network has a singular role to fulfill. And all the layers work in harmony with one another. Consequently, if a layer gets removed, both sides of this layer collapse.

And, because people are at the top of the ecological model or pyramid, we have the biggest impact on all the layers underneath us. Therefore, we have the biggest responsibility to ensure that the ecosystems below us function optimally and remain in ecological balance or harmony. We maybe don’t see it, but when the natural order goes out of sync, we suffer as well as the other parts of the natural world.

A modern example is an increase in the number and intensity of tropical storms, cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes, caused by global warming. Succinctly stated, as the earth’s temperature heats up, the warmer oceans facilitate the development of severe storms with higher winds speeds that are capable of causing major damage as they reach areas where people live. As an aside, these weather systems are similar in that they are severe weather events that cause untold destruction when they move over urban settlement areas. Their fundamental difference is where they form.

For example, a hurricane forms over the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific oceans. A typhoon forms over the Northwest Pacific. And, cyclones occur in the Indian and South Pacific oceans.

According to weather.com, on 20 May 2020, ”the tropical cyclone Amphan made landfall with major storm surges, high winds, and flooding rainfall in India and Bangladesh.” Its original peak intensity was a category 5 storm, but it weakened to a category 2 as it moved over West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh.

Reasons to Celebrate Biodiversity

We have established the quintessential nature of the natural order and the need for biodiversity within the natural world, let’s now move onto reasons why we should celebrate our biodiversity.

We must remember

The most straightforward reason to commemorate the world’s biodiversity is that if we remind ourselves of the importance to take care of the environment. This sounds like a trite statement. However, as described above, it is imperative to secure a living environment for future generations.

The key to preventing pandemics

The website, Activesustainability.com notes that over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihood, while another 1.6 billion people rely on the world’s forests for their living. And, there is evidence to suggest that the “loss of biodiversity could increase the number of cases of zoonoses” like Ebola, COVID-19, and SARS and MERS. In fact, 70% of new communicable diseases have originated from viruses like zoonoses.

Since more than one animal species are often involved in the spread of infection, the loss of “biodiversity and extinction of many of those species increases the chances of the pathogens reaching human beings.”

In other words, if we protect the natural kingdom and natural order of species, the risk of infectious diseases from zoonoses will reduce substantially.

Final thoughts

In summary, it is vital to celebrate our biodiversity and commemorate world environment day on 5 June 2020 as it reminds us how critical it is to take care of the world’s ecosystems so that they remain in harmony and balance. Otherwise, the world’s flora and fauna, including humankind, will not survive.

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King Stringy And Other Tallest Trees Inhabiting The Planet Earth

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King Stringy
Image credit : Wikipedia

Are you one of those nature lovers who love to get lost in deep woods? Does the very thought of wandering in forests, the smallness of being around giant trees like King Stringy whose sheltering canopy, age-old bark, and earthly scent evoke a deep sense of fulfillment within you? If yes, then check our list of the most towering trees that you have to visit at least once in your life.

The mightiest trees of the earth to make us realize how small we are:

For centuries, mankind has witnessed a strange divinity in trees. In several cultures, people worship trees. The key reason behind this is that they are a major life source for us. But, the fact that they are also extremely beautiful adds to our fascination regarding trees. Isn’t it amazing that some of them grow as tall as a 20-story or a 30-story building? No, there is no exaggeration in the above statement. There are such giant trees in the world whose greatness will leave you mesmerized.

Here is a list of the tallest trees for tree lovers like you:

Hyperion in Redwood National Park

The world’s tallest tree is a redwood, namely Hyperion, situate in Redwood National Park of California. The height of Hyperion is 380 feet, thus appropriately named.

This tree is 600 years old and its exact location is kept as a secret to reduce threats of vandalism.

King Stringy in Tasmania

Lovingly named King Stringy, this is a stringy-bark tree standing at an awe-inspiring height of 282 feet. It is the tallest member of the Eucalyptus oblique family.

It has derived this unique name because of its stringy and flaky bark that peels off easily. Nevertheless, the bark and the wood of King Stringy are extremely sturdy and the flowers are loved haven by bees. Having survived several natural threats, the pretty kingly tree is one of the toughest trees.

Nehemiah Loggorale Meena in Tasmania

Believe us when you say that Neeminah Loggorale Meena is as tall as its long name. Standing with pride in the deep forests of Tasmania, this blue gem tree is one of a kind.

The meaning of Neeminah Loggorale Meena is ‘mother and daughter’ in the Aboriginal language. It stands completely isolated in an area and is 298 feet tall. The Tasmanian Forestry Law clearly states that any tree exceeding the height of 278 feet cannot be cut down, ensuring the safety of such huge trees.

Alpine Ash in Tasmania

The Florentine Valley of Tasmania is famous for its untouched, ancient forests. There are rows of tall Eucalyptus delegatensis trees. The tallest one in the group has reached 288 feet from the ground.

Deforestation is a serious threat to the Florentine Valley, but the conservation groups are trying their best to preserve forests.

White Knight, Evercreech Forest Reserve

Though the White Knight has not saved any damsel in distress, its height alone is heroic. Standing at an inspiring height of 299 feet, it is one of the pride of Tasmanian forests. Dendrophiles from all around the globe visit the White Knight.

So, one trip to Tasmania will give you the opportunity of looking at some of the largest trees with your own eyes.

Raven’s Tower in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

If you visit the Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, you can spot the Raven’s Tower. The height of this tree is 317 and the park was established with the intention of protecting the lofty trees of the area.

Centurion in Arve Valley

You’ll find the second tallest tree of the world on the small island of Tasmania in Australia. This giant tree, Centurion is 330 feet tall and has got its name from Roman centurions.

There was a devastating bushfire in southern Tasmania in February 2019, and Centurion has been luckily saved. 

Giant  Sequoia in Sequoia National Forest

The Giant Sequoias are the world’s biggest trees. Once you step into a sequoia forest, you’ll never feel like leaving the place. 

The name of the tallest Giant Sequoia tree is General Sherman tree. Situated in the Sequoia National Park in California’s Tulare County, it has a height of 275 feet.

Conclusion:

Other than King Stringy, Hyperion and Centurion, there are some other tallest trees such as Menara, Doerner Fir, and Yellow Meranti.

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