Rhinos In Kaziranga To Have Special Guards

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The Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have been deployed at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam to protect endangered rhinos from poachers.Famous for its one-horned rhinoceros, the park has become an easy target for the poachers, who navigate the Brahmaputra River surrounding the park to enter Kaziranga and kill the rhinos for their horns.Forest guards have welcomed the move for they say the BSF personnel have the advantage of being equipped with sophisticated weapons.

” Forest Department does not have sophisticated weapons so they cannot perform such strong duty and it becomes difficult at times to manage. Secondly, there are about 3-4 people in a camp here and our 0.15 and other rifles are not enough. So I believe with the deployment of BSF it would really be beneficial for us,” said Ranjit Baruaj, a forest official, Kaziranga Park.Poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which many believe contain aphrodisiac qualities, besides being used as medicines for curing fever, stomach ailments and other diseases. Rhino horn is also much fancied by buyers from the Middle East who turn them into handles of ornamental daggers.

The park is a sanctuary for more than half of the world’s one-horned rhinoceros population.


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Pooch Power: Small Dogs Originated In Middle East

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Small domesticated dogs probably originated in the Middle East more than 12,000 years ago as the descendants of grey wolves, according to a gene study published on Wednesday.University of California at Los Angeles researchers Melissa Gray and Robert Wayne led a team that searched for variations of a gene called IGF1 which is a characteristic of small dogs.

“(The variant) probably arose early in their history,” said Gray, whose paper is published online by BMC Biology, an open-access journal.”Our results show that the version of the IGF1 gene found in small dogs is closely related to that found in Middle Eastern wolves and is consistent with an ancient origin.”The work concurs with archaeological work in the Middle East that has unearthed the remains of small domestic dogs dating to 12,000 years ago. Digs in Europe have uncovered older remains, to as much as 31,000 years ago, but these are of larger dogs.

Canine selection may have been carried out by villagers in the Fertile Crescent of modern-day Iraq and other cradles of agriculture.”Small size could have been more desirable in more densely-packed agrarian societies where dogs may have lived partly indoors or in confined outdoor spaces,” says the study.


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New Spider Species Is Largest Of Its Type in Middle East

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A new and previously unknown species of spider has been discovered in the dune of the Sands of Samar in the southern Arava region of Israel by a team of scientists from the Department of Biology in the University of Haifa-Oranim. Unfortunately, however, its habitat is endangered. “The discovery of this new spider illustrates our obligation to preserve the dune,” says Dr. Shanas, who headed the team of scientists.

The Sands of Samar are the last remaining sand dune in Israeli territory in the southern Arava region. In the past, the sands stretched across some 7 square kilometers, but due to the rezoning of areas for agriculture and sand quarries, the sands have been reduced to fewer than 3 square kilometers.

During a course of studies that Dr. Shanas’s research team has carried out in the region, they discovered this new spider, a member of the Cerbalus genus. Since it has been found in the Arava, it has been given the name Cerbalus aravensis.
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