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Monday, June 7, 2010

Edition 24: Variety

Can Leopards Survive In India?
Archana Jyoti/PTI
Like tigers, endangered leopards too are battling for survival with as many as 160 already dead so far since this January in the country against 290 last year.
The trend is not recent phenomenon. In the last 12 years since 1994, India has lost atleast 3,189 leopards, according to an estimate by an NGO, Wildlife Protection of India (WPSI).
A member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion and jaguar, the leopard count is estimated to be between 7,000 to 10,000 in the country.
In India, the leopard is protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
"Also, as it is easy to trap leopards, the wildlife smugglers find them as perfect replacement for tigers to feed the illicit global demand for big cat skins along with the bones for use in traditional medicine in countries like China," says WPSI head Belinda Wright.
eopard coats and trimmings are also used for traditional dances and festivals, and are sold quite openly in Tibet. The frequent seizures have established this link.
In March, two leopard skins were seized in Hapur in west Uttar Pradesh by the state's Special Task Force. Two traders were arrested who confessed of their plans to sell them out of the country.
In yet another raid conducted by Tamil Nadu Forest Department in Hosur during the year, two leopard skins were recovered and three persons, including one who reportedly confessed to poaching the animals, were apprehended.
The gun used to kill the leopards was recovered too.
"This shows that the poachers are active in killing the animal and selling them through wildlife trade," a senior official from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) said.
The Central Bureau of Investigations' wildlife crime cell has estimated that for every tiger skin, there are at least seven leopard skins in the haul. In 2004, a seizure in Tibet of 31 tiger skins yielded 581 leopard skins.
Apart from shrinking forests, adaptive migration nature of the predatory felines is bringing them towards human habitats resulting in severe man-animal conflict.
For instance, a total of 74 straying leopards were caged from the revenue area surrounding Gir in Gujarat in 2007.
However, many are not lucky enough to survive, given that the conflict has assumed alarming proportion so much so that angry villagers bay for their blood.

A Letter To Juliet…Answered!
Dany Mitzman/DW
A new American film called "Letters to Juliet" focuses on the curious tradition of writing letters to Shakespeare's tragic heroine and an even more curious Veronese tradition of responding to them. But the movie is more than just a romantic invention, as a trip to Verona can reveal.

In the film, protagonist Sophie follows a woman collecting letters stuck to the wall of Juliet's house and discovers that the woman is part of a group of secretaries who reply to them. Juliet's secretaries actually exist, even if their headquarters in a little known suburban area of town is less picturesque than in the Hollywood version.

The thousands of letters they receive each year deal with love and often ask for advice or a blessing. In turn, the secretaries do their best to offer support or counsel without making the authors wait too long for a reply.

"I started [at the club] about 20 years ago by translating some German letters," said Giovanna Tamassia, one of the secretaries. "It's really a very beautiful thing when you open a letter, and you can read about feelings all around the world. So, I continued to come to the club. I think it's a really romantic and beautiful thing, this idea of writing to Juliet."
These days, all but two members of the Club di Giulietta are women, but that wasn't always the case. The first secretary from the 1930s was Ettore Solimani, who worked as the caretaker at Juliet's tomb in the monastery of San Francesco al Corso. (The story of Romeo and Juliet may be just a legend, but the monastery is considered a possible location for the tragic final scene.) It was Solimani's idea to respond to the letters addressed to Juliet.

"The older letters from the 30s and 40s reflect the time in which they were written. They're very formal, and most of them are about problems within a marriage," said Ceil Friedman, an author whose book on the Veronese letter-writing tradition inspired the film. Today, the club of secretaries is made up of 10 members who work on a completely voluntary basis. The letters they receive are sometimes left directly at Juliet's tomb or home but typically come by post - addressed to the Juliet Club, Juliet's house at number 23, Via Cappello or sometimes simply to "Juliet, Verona."

Cyclone Laila Was Pak Creation…!
Ever wondered how cyclone 'Laila' that has wreaked havoc in coastal Andhra Pradesh got such a lyrical name? Pakistan may have the answer.

The name 'Laila' which means dark-haired beauty or night in Persian was suggested by Pakistan to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) which is tasked by the World Meteorological Organisation to track and name cyclones in the northern Indian Ocean, an IMD official said.

The convention of naming cyclones was started by meteorologists for easy identification and analysis of storm systems and are now named as per the procedure laid down by the World Meteorological Organisation.

Cyclones formed over the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea began to be named in 2004, he said.

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