Seminar on Effect of Climate Change on Herpetofauna and Book Release of Mizoram Rul Chanchin

Date   : 10th March, 2017 (Friday), 10:30 A.M – 3:00 P.M. 

Venue    : Conference Room, Directorate of Information and Public Relations, Govt. of Mizoram 

Organised by

State Climate Change Cell, MISTIC and Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Network (BIOCONE), Mizoram

 

BACKGROUND 

            To pursue the work plan and objectives of the State Climate Change Cell (SCCC) project under the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) catalyzed and supported by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, The Mizoram SCCC under the Mizoram Science, Technology and Innovation Council (MISTIC) felt the need to organize a seminar which could build up capacities and knowledge on certain aspect of Climate Change related issues in Mizoram, and at the same time that will also be a tool for creating awareness. Thus, in collaboration with Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Network (BIOCONE), an NGO in Mizoram, a one day Seminar on "Effect of Climate Change on Herpetofauna" along with "Mizoram Rul Chanchin" book release function was organized on 10th March 2017. Faculties from University and Colleges within Aizawl, Officers from certain line departments, representatives from science NGOs, and Zoram Rul Chanchin Facebook group members were invited to attend the seminar and book release function.

            The BIOCONE is an NGO which deals with various conservation projects within the state, the organization has various prominent persons in the field of science, such as professors and scientists from universities and Institutions, nature enthusiast persons who are also representatives of different line departments as well. The BIOCONE has several personnel who has expertise in different field of Biology, especially in the field of Herpetofauna some of whom are Nationally as well as Internationally well known. The Book "Mizoram Rul Chanchin" is a checklist of Snakes in Mizoram which contain images and brief description of each species,  it also has chapters on morphology and ecology of snakes in general, superstitions and beliefs, general explanation of venom types and bite treatment, conservation of snakes, etc. Even though the book is a collaborative work of both the State Climate Change Cell and the BIOCONE, the knowledge and experiences of personnel from BIOCONE are utilized as resource persons in the seminar.

            The seminar on "Effect of Climate Change on Herpetofauna" along with the book "Mizoram Rul Chanchin" release function was organized with the following objectives:-

1.   To utilise the knowldege of prominent wildlife biologist in the field of herpetofauna in relation to climate change, and dissemination of the same to General Public, NGOs, institutions, and concerned government department to build their capacity and knowledge. 

2.   To discuss the knowledge gap among all the stakeholders and find a way to fill up these gaps. 

3.   To create linkage with scientific institutions and organization and discuss what initiatives can be done through these linkages. 

            Total 76 participants attended the programme. This includes BIOCONE members, Faculties from Mizoram University and other colleges, Officials from several Government Departments, Representatives from different Science NGOs, Zoram Rul Chanchin facebook group members and Staff from MISTIC.

 

INAUGURAL FUNCTION

            The programme started with a welcome remarks by Chairman, Dr. R.K. Lallianthanga, Chief Scientific Officer and Member Secretary, Mizoram Science, Technology and Innovation Council. He said that we need to think about how are we going to go forward from our current status in terms of Climate Change related issues. He also invited all the participants who have deep knowledge in their own respective fields, to comment, share their ideas and give valuable suggestions. This was followed by a keynote address given by Dr. Vanlalhruaia Pachuau, President, BIOCONE. He mentioned on the initiatives taken by both MISTIC and BIOCONE for the success of the "Mizoram Rul Chanchin" book completion. He also briefly highlight about the nature of the book and stresses that it is the product of local biologists here in Mizoram and that none of the information and pictures are the work of others which are obtained from internet and other sources. He hope that the attitude and perception about snakes among the Mizo community can change in a better way through this book. He also gave an opening remarks of the technical session which will follow the inaugural session.

            Dr. C. Vanlalramsanga, Secretary, Planning (Science and Technology), Govt. of Mizoram, who is the Guest of Honour also gave a speech, in which he welcomed all the participants and highlight the importance of the programme and wishes that everyone will benefit in one way or another. The author of the book "Mizoram Rul Chanchin" then gave a video preview of the book on how it came into light and how it evolved till the completion by showing two video clips. Dr. C. Lalhmingliana, Padma Shree Awardee and Adviser, BIOCONE then give a short speech in which he highlight the importance of the programme and gave his good wishes to everyone to benefit from the programme.

            Lastly, the Chief Guest of the function, Pu Lalsawta, Hon'ble Minister, Planning (Science and Technology), Govt. of Mizoram release the book in front of the participants and gave a speech in which he thank the authors for completing the book, he also said that the perception of Mizo community towards snakes are detrimental to our ecological balance and that how the system is being altered which is likely exacerbated by climate change, he also said that a small number of people gathered in this programme might not be enough to spread the message across the region, so, through this book, the important message can be spread to each and every corner of the state. He completed his speech and the inaugural function by acknowledging the work of MISTIC and BIOCONE and gave a wishes for their step ahead.


(Center)Chief Guest: Pu Lalsawta, Hon'ble Minister, Planning (Science & Technology), Govt. of Mizoram releasing the book "Mizoram Rul Chanchin"
Participants of Seminar on Effect of Climate Change on Herpetofauna


TECHNICAL SESSION     

(Chairman: Dr. Lalnunsiama Colney, Senior Scientific Officer, Directorate of Science and Technology, Govt. of Mizoram)

             The Session started with a presentation by Dr. James Lalnunzira Hrahsel, Project Scientist, State Climate Change Cell, MISTIC on a topic "An Overview on Climate Change". In this presentation, he explains the meaning of climate change and highlighted the functioning of climate systems which include the change in this system caused by Natural and Anthropogenic factors. He then shows excerpts of the IPCC AR5 report of climate change and its effect of the world; changes from historical scenario to modern day. He further explains the fundamentals of green house effect, history and current global concentrations of green house gases in our atmosphere. He then talk about the advancement of Climate Change topic in the world, the concept of climate modeling and shows the predicted future scenario of the world's climate including melting of ice cap and glaciers, sea level rise, etc., resulting from different climate models. He also shows the different probable scenarios of the world due to temperature rises. He concluded his presentation by highlighting suggestion and recommendation on what we can do in our day to day activity and lifestyle so that we can contribute in mitigating the increase of green house concentrations in our atmosphere.


Dr. James Lalnunzira Hrahsel, Project Scientists, SCCC gave a talk on "Overview of Climate Change"
Dr. Samuel Lalronunga, Research Scholar, Mizoram University giving a talk on a topic "Effect of Climate Change on Reptilian Diversity - Potential Impact in Mizoram"


           The next scheduled resource person could not attend the seminar. Therefore, the next presentation was by Dr. Samuel Lalronunga, Independent Researcher and Biologist, BIOCONE, on a topic "Effect of Climate Change on Herpetofauna - Probable Impact in Mizoram". In his presentation, he explains the meaning of reptiles and their hierarchical distribution in the classification of animal kingdom. He show the historical and current geographical range of distribution in the world and listed the number of species recorded till date in Mizoram. Then he elaborated the potential impact of climate change on reptiles in the world as well as case studies in Mizoram on Species Migration, Temperature Dependent Sex Determination, Effect on Phenology, Physiological Effect and Influx of Exotic Species.

             The following comments, questions emerged from the discussions after these presentations:- 

1.   Shri Vanneihthanga Vanchhawng, Prominent and most celebrated Journalist in Mizoram and Executive Member of BIOCONE says about the importance of Snakes, he highlighted that 5% of the rice production in India are loss due to Rodents and that if these rodents population increase due to decrease in snake population, the consequence would be very worse. He even gave a real life situation as an example that in one village in Mizoram called Tlangpui, there are two neighbors who are both farmers, one used to kill all the snakes in his land while the other did not, so during harvesting season, most of the crops were eaten where snakes were killed but minute damage was there where snake were not killed. 

2.   Dr. Vanlalhruaia Pachuau, President, BIOCONE in his comment says that reptiles have a very high metabolism rate in warm temperatures whereas in cold temperatures, metabolism rate is low. He said that he has seen in many cases that tortoise and turtles eats bamboo shoots during summer but not during winter. He also said that their hibernation period during winter shortened every year due to change in climate and their aestivation period also increase as well. 

3.   Shri H. Chinliansiama, BIOCONE raised a question that whether rice/paddy cultivation which emit Methane, a Green House Gas, should be considered evil or not. Dr. James Lalnunzira Hrahsel, Project Scientist, SCCC, MISTIC in his reply said that those are minute considering the burning of fossil fuels, progressive infrastructure development, population explosion and our anti-ecosytem lifestyle are the most contributors to climate change and should be considered the most. 

4.   Shri Lalrinkima, Faculty, College of Veterinary Sciences, Mizoram in his comments talks about vector borne diseases and climate change. He said that Scrub Typhus was seen in Assam and West Bengal 50 years ago but disappeared since then till it was seen again recently. In Mizoram, it was not seen till recently, thus studies are much needed to look at the whether there is a relationship between climate change and vector borne diseases. 

5.   Dr. C. Lalhmingliana, Adviser, BIOCONE also gave a his opinion that Scrub Typhus is likely to be due to Forest Degradation. He said that it is first seen in Mizoram just after the mass bamboo flowering in 2007, according to the records in Durtlang Hospital, Aizawl, Mizoram. He also said that before, we used to get bitten by the ticks but does not get the disease, which are the major carrier scrub typhus now. He further said that there has been many new cases in Mizoram which are not known before such as the West Nile Virus, these could be due to climate change, scientific study and public awareness is very much needed. 

            The Technical Session Chairman gave a round up summary of the session and a concluding remarks. The seminar ended with a vote of thanks to the participants and organizers by Shri Samuel Lalmalsawma, Senior Scientific Officer, MISTIC.