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BBC NEWS | South Asia | Bearded Vultures ‘seen in India’

Bearded Vultures ‘seen in India’

Bearded vulture

Lammergeiers are not endangered, but rare in India

About 200 Bearded Vultures have been spotted in a remote part of India’s Himachal Pradesh state, reports say.

State chief conservator of forests Vinay Tandon said the reported sighting was being checked by wildlife officials and would be “hugely significant”.

Lammergeiers have been seen on India’s border with China, but not in such a large group or at so high an altitude.

There has been growing concern in India over the fast dwindling population of vultures in recent years.

Experts estimate there are only a few hundred vultures left in India.

‘Pleased’

Mr Tandon said four out of the five major vulture species in India are critically endangered.

We are especially pleased… in recent years the vulture population of India has been disappearing so rapidly
Vinay Tandon,
Himachal Pradesh state

“We had reports on Monday that what appears to be a very large colony of Bearded Vultures – or Lammergeiers – were spotted close to the border with China in what is known as the trans-Himalayan region,” he told the BBC.

“As yet we are not able to confirm that the birds belong to this species. A team from the state’s wildlife department will be making its way to the area as soon as possible.

“We are especially pleased to hear of such a large colony when in recent years the vulture population of India has been disappearing so rapidly.”

Mr Tandon said that the vultures had been spotted in Lahaul-Spiti, one of the remotest districts of Himachal Pradesh.

Lammergeiers are long-winged vultures known for their unusual habit of dropping bones on to rocks to smash them open and get at the marrow.

Their world population is estimated at between 2,000-10,000 individuals.

Cattle link

South Asia’s vulture population has been virtually wiped out in recent years.

Slender billed vulture

India’s vulture population is in serious decline

Experts believe vultures have been badly affected by the use of the painkiller diclofenac in cattle.

Vultures feeding on the cattle lose their ability to reproduce.

While Bearded Vultures are not thought to have been so badly affected by the drug, their numbers have nevertheless significantly dwindled in India.

In August conservationists announced that the endangered Slender Billed vulture had twice been successfully bred in the states of Haryana and West Bengal.

Conservationists say that despite the recent sightings, urgent action is still needed to save vultures from extinction in the wild.

“With extinction in the wild likely in the next 10 years, we do not have a moment to waste. The more vultures that we can bring into captivity means a better chance of survival for these rapidly declining species,” Birdlife International spokesman Chris Bowden said.

Informed Comment: Ram: “Israel and the Iranian Threat”

Ram: “Israel and the Iranian Threat”

Haggai Ram writes in a guest editorial for IC:

Before, during and after the recent UN General Assembly meeting, the Israeli government, much like Sisyphus, who was condemned to repeat forever a meaningless task, once again stepped up its campaign against Iran’s nuclear program. The immediate objective is patently clear: to push the United Nations Security Council to expand sanctions against Iran and perhaps also to lay down the justification for a future Israeli preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The tactic used is not new either. It consists of a well known, well orchestrated endeavor to conjure up a radioactively reified picture of Iran as a Nazi Germany-like power obsessively bent on making good on its alleged pledge to have the Jewish state “wiped off the map.” Thus, on a recent trip to Russia Israeli President Shimon Peres described the prospects of an Iranian nuclear bomb in ominous terms as “a flying concentration camp”; and Netanyahu, while on a trip to Germany, warned Iran that Israel will not allow “those who wish to perpetrate mass deaths, those who call for the destruction of the Jewish people or the Jewish state, to go unchallenged.”

In assessing the Jewish state’s unrelenting recourse to drawing analogies between Iran and Nazi Germany, one should not dismiss the genuine feelings of vulnerability among Israelis stemming from the trauma of the Jewish Holocaust during World War II. This explains, in part, why despite Israel’s overwhelming military superiority and its own nuclear arsenal, Israeli Jews today are deeply concerned about the likelihood of an impending “second” Holocaust. However misplaced and exaggerated, the reality of such feelings, their importance, must be recognized.

Persistently voicing venomous anti-Israel rhetoric and allegedly pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities, the Iranian government, no doubt, has not been helpful in reducing these misplaced anxieties. To these we should add the reverberations of the electoral earthquake that has shaken the Islamic republic to its core since last June. Indeed, the fraudulent presidential elections and their aftermath have demonstrated to the Israelis the brutal force which that government is prepared to unleash — even against its own people — in order to ensure its survival.

Yet one should also not ignore the dubious dividends that the Israeli government now expects to reap from producing such tenuous analogies. It is no secret that the Obama administration has been exploring ways to bringing about the resumption of the long-stalled Middle East talks. To that end, it has mounted pressure on Israel to agree to a partial freeze on the construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land. By playing up the purported genocidal threat issuing from Iran, the Netanyahu government thus hopes to avoid making any concessions that are likely to bring about a meaningful breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. “The message is: Iran is an existential threat to Israel; settlements are not,” as an Israeli official recently told The Guardian.

In my recent book, Iranophobia (2009), I have demonstrated how the Jewish state has time and again (ab)used the specter of the “Iranian threat” in order to cover up, and divert attention away from, both domestic oversights and the continuing apartheid regime in the Palestinian territories. Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s incumbent Foreign Minister, is a case in point. When asked in the wake of the devastation that the Israeli military had sown in Gaza last year, “What you think is the first most strategic threat to Israel,” Lieberman responded: “Iran, Iran, Iran… As long as there’s no solution to the Iranian problem we will deal with neither the settlements nor the settlers… Only after we will have taken care of … Iran it will become possible to talk about… the problem in Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights.”

These fanciful expressions concerning the existential threat posed to Israel by Iran are misleading for two reasons: First, because when compared to the extraordinary misery and depredation which the Iranian government has exacted on its own people, the actual threat which it poses to the Jewish state pales into insignificance; and second, because such expressions have thus far enabled the Jewish state to exacerbate, rather than help to alleviate, the Palestinian problem. It is this yet-to-be resolved problem — and not Iran — that presents the Jewish state with the most serious challenge to its survival.

Haggai Ram teaches the history of the Middle East at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. His most recent book is Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession (Stanford University Press, 2009).

Meshkatian is alive in our hearts and minds: Shajarian

Meshkatian is alive in our hearts and minds: Shajarian
Photos from funeral of Meshkatian by ISNA

TEHRAN, Sept. 26 (Mehr News Agency) — Meshkatian is alive in our hearts and minds, Iranian vocalist Mohammadreza Shajarian proclaimed in his message of condolence over the demise of Iranian santur virtuoso Parviz Meshkatian.

Following is an excerpt from his message:

“Parviz is a unique musician of Iran. His talent for composing tasnif, his poetic delicacy and his commitment to the nation’s desires will make him immortal in the Persian arts.

I do not believe in the death of such an artist. Parviz Meshkatian is alive in our hearts and minds.”

Shajarian, who is on his European tour these days, sent his message from Amsterdam on Wednesday.

Meshkatian died of heart failure at his home in Tehran on September 21. He was 54 years old.

His funeral ceremony took place on Thursday in front of Tehran’s Vahdat Hall.

He was buried in his hometown of Neishabur, beside the Attar Tomb on Saturday after a ceremony held at Neyshabur’s Simorgh Cultural Center.

The 25th Fajr International Music Festival will be named after Parviz Meshkatian, Deputy Culture Minister for Artistic Affairs Mohammad-Hossein Imani-Khoshkhu mentioned during the funeral ceremony at the Vahdat Hall.

Born in Neyshabur in 1955, he began his musical training at the age of six with his father Hassan Meshkatian, who was a professional tar and santur player.

After some years, he became one of Iran’s most prominent musicians.

In 1977, Meshkatian founded the Aref Ensemble with Hossein Alizadeh and Mohammadreza Lotfi. The group performed many concerts in Iran, Europe, and the Americas.

He also performed with some of Iran’s greatest vocalists including Mohammadreza Shajarian, Shahram Nazeri, and Iraj Bastami.