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Wild animals don’t want trouble from humans: Biologist George Schaller

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Sairopa (Kullu), Feb 18 Animals in the wild mostly avoid any encounters with humans – and when they do attack people, it is usually in self-defence, says legendary field biologist George Schaller.

And it would be wrong to declare tigers and leopards that attack humans as “man-eaters”, Schaller, who believes he’s still young at 83, told IANS in an interview.

Thus, there is a need for training the communities settled on the periphery of wildlife parks and sanctuaries because the wild animals — be it the tiger or the leopard or the elephant — don’t want trouble from the humans, said Schaller, who attended a two-day nature conservation biology workshop at Great Himalayan National Park’s camp office here in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.

“And if a tiger is a man-eater, then its killing is certain,” he added.

German-born Schaller, who devoted six decades to conservation of wildcats and their ecosystems, is currently the Vice President of Panthera, an organisation founded in 2006 for conserving the animals.

Schaller, who is wild at heart, said in India — a storehouse of biodiversity — development is a big issue.

“India is saying it’s doing a lot for the preservation of wildlife. But it is really disturbing that 200 sq km of forest area of the Panna tiger reserve (in Madhya Pradesh) which is being diverted for non-forest purposes. After the 1990s, the country’s image in preserving forests is going down,” said the biologist-cum-author, who travelled to Central Africa to study the mountain gorilla when he was 25.

It is greed and corruption that threaten nature more.

The problem, in fact, across the globe is that oil, mining and timber companies are prepared to pay anything to operate in sensitive areas. Sadly, governments and officials succumb to their pressures.

“I know people (supposed conservationists) who prefer to sit in their offices (rather than go into the field). Conservation has not to do only with animals. It also has to do with economics and politics.”

Schaller, who has studied wildlife in several reserve forests and national parks in India, said the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand is the most vulnerable to poaching for international trade owing to its proximity to the Nepal border, a major trade link to the Chinese traditional medicine market.

Estimates say India supports the highest population of tigers in the wild, accounting for 2,226 of the estimated 3,890 worldwide.

Schaller, who has worked for nearly two decades on studying endemic wildlife in the Tibetan Plateau, said the snow leopard also needs protection from pastoral communities.

“The Spiti Valley (in Himachal Pradesh) and the Hemis National Park (in Jammu and Kashmir) support a good population of the snow leopard,” said Schaller, who spent most of his time in the field in Asia, Africa and South America.

“They are beautiful and majestic animals that rarely attack humans. They attack only when the villagers attack them with sticks. I have spent nights in their habitat and they passed my sleeping bag.”

“Man-animal conflicts are more a social issue. For the conservation of the wildlife, you need cooperation of the local communities,” he said.

Apart from the Spiti Valley, the state’s Pin Valley National Park, which Schaller trekked in three-four years ago, the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, the Great Himalayan National Park and the Pangi and Bharmour areas of Chamba district have a sizable population of the snow leopard.

Even neighbouring Uttarakhand has a good population of the elusive and highly-endangered species.

According to Schaller, for conserving the snow leopard there is need to maintain a sizable population of its prey species like the Asiatic ibex — a wild goat — and the Himalayan blue sheep.

Schaller’s photograph of a snow leopard, taken in Pakistan in 1970, is the first recorded image of the wild cat.

The founding fathers of wildlife conservation advocated the need to link eco-tourism with the local communities.

Take the case of tracking the critically-endangered mountain gorilla — the world’s largest ape — in the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda in eastern Africa.

“This is the best managed park in the world, in terms of both earning foreign exchange and wildlife management. Part of the income fetched from the visitors is used for the welfare of the communities who reside along the park, who are also making an effort to conserve the forests.

“If we fail to create awareness on wildlife, then we will fail to preserve for our future generations,” he added.

IANS

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Health

6 herbs to include in your daily diet for a healthier, happier you

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herbs neem Haridra

New Delhi, April 23: Focusing on health in the hectic and stressful lives that we lead today is becoming difficult. Incorporating relevant herbs in your daily diet is the first step towards a healthier you.

Ayurveda texts and modern research say that herbs contain compounds that have beneficial health properties that can help prevent many lifestyle disorders and rejuvenate our bodies.

Dr Shruthi M. Hegde, Ayurveda Expert, The Himalaya Drug Company, suggests incorporating the following herbs in your daily diet to practice preventive wellness and take a concrete step towards maintaining good health.

Tulsi: Popularly known as “The Queen of Herbs”, it yields beneficial results for respiratory wellness. It has compounds which are known to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and expectorant properties. Tulsi helps modulate healthy immune response and supports early recovery from respiratory conditions. Use it to get relief from a cough and cold, especially during seasonal changes, when your body is particularly prone to such respiratory ailments.

Ashvagandha: This herb contains rejuvenating properties, and being an adaptogen, helps cope with stress, reduces harmful effects of long-term stress on the body, and promotes healthy sleep. This makes it particularly useful in our stressful lives, where good work-life balance is often difficult to maintain.

Triphala: It’s difficult to always consume healthy and hygienically prepared food in our hectic lifestyle, making digestive issues a common problem. Triphala helps promote overall digestive wellness in a number of ways. It acts as an effective colon cleanser, regularises normal bowel movements, and aids healthy digestion.

Neem: This helps fight acne by inhibiting the bacteria that causes acne growth. The herb helps promote skin wellness, which becomes even more important during summer, when the skin is more prone to acne breakouts and inflammation. It helps rejuvenate your skin, and prevents the recurrence of acne and blemishes.

Haridra: This herb contains beneficial inflammation-relieving properties. It boosts cell health through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping improve overall health. This makes it a potent tool in your preventive wellness toolkit, helping you overcome a number of health problems before they even have a chance to make an appearance

Guduchi: This herb supports the immune system and helps fight against infections by increasing the effectiveness of disease-fighting white blood cells. Including this herb in your daily diet will help increase your body’s resistance to stress and illness.

Make a commitment to getting healthier and staying fit by including these health-boosting herbs in your daily diet. Regular usage of these herbs in addition to other activities such as exercising and consuming a balanced diet will lead to a healthier, happier you.

IANS

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Health

Treat sunburn, improve gastro immune system with yogurt

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yogurt dahi

New Delhi, April 21: Yogurt, the versatile dairy product, is filled with nutrition and is equally useful for skin and hair. Treat sunburns, acne and improve your immunity with yogurt, say experts.

Himanshu Chadha, Founder, APS Cosmetoofood, and Nmami Agarwal, Nutritionist and Dietician, have listed the goodness of yogurt:

* Treat sunburn: Spread yogurt on the affected area, leave it for 20-25 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. Yogurt is rich in zinc and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains probiotics that will help restore your skin’s natural barrier.

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* Treat acne with yogurt as it contains natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Rub a dab of the creamy yogurt onto acne-prone areas. Rinse it off after 30 minutes. A regular beauty regime with a yogurt facial mask will help keep skin cleansed, which will also reduce irritating breakouts.

* Yogurt is a great ingredient for a hair conditioner. It has moisturising properties which helps repair dry and damaged hair.

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Take a cup of yogurt and whip it. Apply it on your scalp, hair and hair ends by massaging it well. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let it rest for 20 minutes, then wash your hair with a mild shampoo.

* Using yogurt, which is full of nutrients that are good for your hair, can help stop hair fall. Due to the presence of vitamin B5 and D, yogurt helps nourish the hair follicles.

A mixture of pepper and curd used daily for washing the hair helps in reducing hair fall. Curd and Amla powder can be mixed together to make a paste that can be applied on the scalp and hair to reduce hair loss.

* Since it is a well-known probiotic food, it helps to flourish the healthy bacteria in your gut which can improve the gastro immune system. Along with this, it aids in digestion by reducing the side effects of the irritant stomach such as diarrhoea, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome.

* Strengthen your bones by adding yogurt to your everyday diet. It will add that daily dose of calcium which your body requires for stronger bones as well as for regulating the bone mineral density.

By having a diet in a combination with calcium and vitamin D, it can work as a treatment for osteoporosis.

* Yogurt works perfectly for women. It is often advised for women to consume freshly prepared yogurt in their diet considering they are powerful for fighting against the yeast infections such as Candida which can be a causing trouble to a lot of women.

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The bacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus found in yogurt, kills the yeast infections and improves health in the longer run.

* Consuming probiotic yogurt helps reduce inflammation and improve the overall body immune response to counter with several viral or gut related infections and illness.

Along with this, yogurt also helps in increasing the absorption of trace minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

IANS

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Health

Switch to stevia for a sweet, healthy lifestyle

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stevia leaf
Stevia leaves have almost no calories and does not increase blood glucose.

New Delhi, April 20: In the midst of today’s hectic lifestyle, let’s spare a thought for one of the biggest threats to our health and general well-being: Excess of processed high calories and sugar. It is said that “prevention is better than cure”. Does this mean we should stop consuming food and drinks which have sugar? Maybe not.

What if someone told you that you can maintain the sweetness in your life without adding any calories? And this, from a natural source with the same sweet flavour that your taste buds love? And, yes, with no harmful side-effects? Sounds too good to be true, but nature has gifted us “stevia” — a plant which has sweetness in its leaves — a sweetness that surpasses that of sugar, sugarcane juice, honey or coconut sugar.

Given that stevia can replace unwanted sweetener calories, it can be the one tool for cutting calories from the Indian diet without affecting blood sugar or insulin levels. Plus, it is safe for people with diabetes and is also tooth friendly.

Here are some of its advantages:

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Stevia does not increase blood glucose: Numerous studies have been conducted on the use of stevia and its effects on consumption. The stevia plant’s leaves contain naturally sweet molecules called steviol glycosides, which can be up to 400 times sweeter than sugar, but studies have shown that stevia has no effect on blood glucose levels. Thus, one can consume it without fear of affecting the blood sugar level.

Stevia leaves have almost no calories: It’s a gift of nature that has been used in various parts of the world. The leaves have been used by Guarani Indians in Paraguay for several hundreds of years to sweeten their “matte” (tea). In the 1970s, the Japanese picked it up as a natural sweetening option. Today, it is the No. 1 sugar substitute in Japan and the fastest-growing sweetener in most markets in the developed world like France and the US.

Global safety recognition: Stevia sweeteners are permitted for use in foods and beverages in countries around the globe. Over 200 global studies have illustrated stevia’s safety for the entire family. Studies have also shown that it is safe for pregnant women. Stevia is safe for people with diabetes as it does not contain any calories or carbohydrates and therefore does not affect blood glucose or insulin levels. It has zero glycemic index.

Stevia v/s artificial sweeteners: Realisation of the harm caused to health from consuming excess calories from sugar was the reason that ignited the search for substitutes, or artificial sweeteners. Saccharin, aspartame sucralose and the like became popular substitutes and then went out of favour owing to concerns from public about their origin and perceived lack of safety.

What evidently seals the deal in stevia’s case as a sugar substitute is the fact that it is zero-calorie, zero-fat and 100 per cent natural.

Imagine your rassogulla or gulab jamun without an overload of sugar, serving your child tomato ketchup without thinking of the extra sugar and calories, enjoying a serving of ice cream, cool carbonated drink without any sugar at all. The latest varieties of star leaf stevia can make the greatest taste possible without any harm or guilt.

IANS

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