Environment & Ecology
- Rare discovery of eel on West Bengal coast
- Country’s biggest wildlife rescue centre commissioned
- UN Security Council agrees on Syria plan
- Afghanistan’s WTO membership approved after 11 years of talks
Environment & Ecology
Rare discovery of eel on West Bengal coast
Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have a discovered a new species of eel along the coast of Digha in West Bengal’s Purba Medinipur district.
- The species, new to science, named Gymnothorax mishrai, is 32.4 cm long, brown in colour and the body is without any patterns.
- Distinct from other species described in the group Gymnothorax, this species of moray eel has 134 vertebral bones. Since the number of vertebral bones is less than 150, this particular species is categorised among short, brown, patterned moray eels.
Gymnothorax mishrai (Photo Courtesy: The Hindu)
Eels in India:
- Eels are snake-like fishes with fins and gills, found mostly at bottom of rivers and seas.
- There are 800 species of eels found across the world and India is home to 150-200 of these fish species.
- Though considered a delicacy in many countries like Japan, the consumption of eels in India is limited to the coastal areas.
Two years ago, scientists had discovered another new species of edible marine fish Haplogenys bengalensis, from the same area which indicates the rich marine biodiversity of the coastal region.
[Courtesy: The Hindu]
Country’s biggest wildlife rescue centre commissioned
Maharashtra chief minister has commissioned the country’s biggest wildlife rescue centre, named Gorewada Zoo and Wildlife in Gorewada, Nagpur, Maharashtra.
- The Centre will be a big asset for entire Vidarbha region where man-animal conflict is at its peak.
- The rescue centre is one of the biggest and best in the country spread in 30 hectares.
- It will house sick, injured and rescued animals. There are four wards with a burial ground on the same premises. The idea has been taken from Gir park.
- Cases of tiger attacks on humans and cattle are increasing and problem animals will be brought to the centre.
- The hospital has state-of-art facilities and equipped with x-ray machine, operation theatre etc. Entire office staff, headed by an ACF, will be stationed here.
- Research on endangered species will also be done at the centre.
- There are cages for herbivores as well as for carnivores and will house deer, sambars, nilgais, tigers, panthers, leopards, monkeys etc.
- One enclosure for over 100 birds of mixed species with small water pond has been set up.
- Besides, one enclosure has been set up for housing pythons and two enclosures for cobra, rat snakes and vipers in 0.02 hectare area.
- The rescue centre, to be run by Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), has tie-up with Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries (MAF) and order to post six expert doctors from Nagpur Veterinary College has been issued.
[Courtesy: Times of India]
UN Security Council agrees on Syria plan
UN Security Council members unanimously approved a UN resolution endorsing a peace process for Syria.
- The resolution includes a cease-fire and talks between the Syrian government and the opposition.
- However it makes no mention of the most contentious issue — the future role of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
- The resolution makes clear that the blueprint it endorses will not end the five year old conflict because “terrorist groups,” including the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, are not part of the cease-fire.
But there remain sharp disagreements to be reconciled between the American and Russian positions, and huge uncertainty about what the plan will mean on the ground.
- The resolution envisions the formation of a unity government and calls for an immediate halt to any attacks on civilian targets.
- The resolution demands that all parties to the Syrian conflict “immediately cease any attacks against civilians.”
- A mechanism to monitor, verify, and report on the truce is to be worked out within a month.
- The only groups excluded from the ceasefire are Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.
- The resolution also asks the UN to convene formal talks on a transitional government. The talks between the regime and opposition are targeted for early January.
- The resolution expressed support for a Syrian-led political process that would set up “inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months and schedule a process for drafting a new constitution, with the aim of holding fair elections in 18 months.
Afghanistan’s WTO membership approved after 11 years of talks
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has formally approved Afghanistan’s membership at its 10th ministerial conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
- Afghanistan has become the 164th WTO member and the 36th least developed country (LDC) to join the global trade body after 11 years of negotiations.
- The landlocked Asian country expects to reap the benefits of the WTO membership for its post-conflict reconstruction.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization which regulates international trade.
- The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations in 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.
- The topmost decision-making body of the WTO is the Ministerial Conference, which usually meets every two years. It brings together all members of the WTO, all of which are countries or customs unions. The Ministerial Conference can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.
- The WTO’s current Director-General is Roberto Azevêdo, who leads a staff of over 600 people in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Most of the issues that the WTO focuses on derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay Round (1986–1994).
A trade facilitation agreement known as the Bali Package was reached by all members on 7 December 2013, the first comprehensive agreement in the organization’s history.
Functions of WTO:
- Administering WTO trade agreements
- Forum for trade negotiations
- Handling trade disputes
- Monitoring national trade policies
- Technical assistance and training for developing countries
- Cooperation with other international organizations
[Courtesy: Hindu, Wiki]