Researcher captures first ever pictures of Himalayan marmot in Arunachal

International Desk,
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What do you know about Marmots? For many, they are yet another animal whose ‘cuteness’ has taken over the internet. For researchers, it is an animal whose habitat is spread across the world in one way or the other. But few, if any, know that these furry creatures are found in India too. This is why the work of research scholar Hiranmoy Chetia, born and brought up in Arunachal Pradesh, assumes so much significance.

Chetia has collected the first photographic evidence of the Himalayan Marmot (Marmota himalayana) in the state.

Himalayan Marmots are rare ground squirrel species previously sighted in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. Although there were reports of sightings in Arunachal Pradesh, there were no images.

Chetia, a PhD scholar under Dr Murali C Krishna at Noida’s Amity University, has been studying this species for the past four years. His study has been published in The Journal of Threatened Taxa.

From a makeshift tent at Zithang in Tawang district, he waited patiently for the squirrels to appear so he could take the first-ever pictures of the Marmota himalayana in Arunachal Pradesh. The Marmota himalayana is one of the largest among the marmots, about the size of a house cat. It has dense, woolly fur, which is rufous grey on the back and rufous yellowish on ears, belly and limbs.

“My research aims to understand the diversity, distribution, and threats to the squirrels in this region. To do this, I travel to different locations and document the diversity and distribution of squirrel species. I also investigate the relationship between squirrels and various communities or tribes in the state, especially how some squirrel species are used by them,” Chetia told EastMojo.

The mammalian family of Sciuridae includes squirrel species adapted to different habitats. Based on their adaptations, they are classified as tree squirrels, gliding squirrels, and ground squirrels. The particular tribe Marmotini, which includes the burrow-dwelling ground species, has 13 genera comprising 95 species.

One of Chetia’s interest areas was the Himalayan marmot, which had been reported from the higher elevations of western Arunachal Pradesh but was never documented. So, in September 2022, he visited Tawang and then proceeded to Mago, a small village under the Thingbu tehsil of the Tawang district.

The species Marmota himalayana has a large range that extends over a vast area in the mountains of southern Asia, including the Kuenlun, Arkatag, Altyn Tagh, and Nan Shan mountain ranges, the Tibetan Plateau, Sikkim, and Bhutan. In India, the species occurs in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.

The present study was carried out in high-altitude grasslands near Mago village of Thingbu Tehsil of Tawang district Arunachal Pradesh. Mago is situated at around 3,600 m elevation and the grasslands are at around 4,000 m elevation, where the marmots occur. This particular observation was carried out at Zithang.

“I travelled to Mago via Jang. The road to Mago was incomplete at that time, so I had to ride my bike to Jhanda Point and then trek for about an hour to reach the village. I rested there for a day and then trekked for another three hours to Zithang, the base camp for the Gorichen peak. I stayed in a makeshift tent at Zithang and waited for the marmots to emerge from their burrows. After half an hour, I was rewarded with the sight of these elusive animals,” Chetia, recounting the journey, tells EastMojo.

Throughout the year, there is no absolute frost-free period and undulating mountains surround the whole area. The river that flows in the region is locally known as Yechum. The grasslands are used as grazing lands by the yak-herders of the Brokpa community (Brokpa are a sect of the Monpa people, who rear livestock such as yak, dzo and sheep, and live a nomadic lifestyle).

Once there, visual observations were made using binoculars and recorded using a camera. Chetia observed that the marmots did not like to venture out in gloomy weather, but spent most of their time foraging, grooming, and playing when the weather was clear.

“We have documented the Himalayan Marmots foraging on grass, coming out from the burrows, taking a mouthful of grass, and again going back to the burrows. This is also indicative of their preparedness in view of the harsh winters,” he says.

The Himalayan Marmot is locally known as the ‘Gomchen Chikpa’ (Gomchen meaning hermit) in the Dirang Monpa language. When asked about why it is called so, they said that since they are not seen during the winters (because they hibernate), they are thought to be meditating in the burrows, like a hermit. As the inhabitants of the region predominantly follow Tibetan Buddhism, they usually do not hunt.

But there are reports of using marmots in the preparation of ethnomedicines.

The fat of the animal is used as a pain reliever. The fat is melted and rubbed in the area of pain. The skin of the animal is also used as a pain-relieving belt and wrapped around the area of pain to get relief from pain. The high-altitude grasslands are used as grazing places for livestock by the Brokpa people.

While discussing squirrels, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels are commonly thought of. “But this new addition of ground squirrels from the state lifted the status of Arunachal Pradesh as one of the few states of India where all three adaptations of squirrel species are found,” Chetia says.

Though the Himalayan Marmot is listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the species faces threats from habitat loss, hunting, predation from feral dogs, and climate change.

The researchers suggest that more studies are needed to assess the population status and distribution of this species in India, especially in Arunachal Pradesh where it has been overlooked so far.

The researchers expressed their gratitude to Divisional Forest Officer Tawang Sange Tsering, Range Officer Tage Haniya, and Supriyo Roy, the Divisional Forest Officer, Tawang, for their support during the study.

“In order to organise and control large numbers of livestock and to protect them from potential predators, herding dogs are used. During our visit to the grasslands, we have reported instances of dogs predating on marmots,” he said.


Where the sun does not set at night!

Feature Desk,, Dhaka
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We all know that 24 hours day and night. After the tiredness of the whole day, we sleep at night, waiting for a new dawn. But think once, where the sun does not set, how will the new dawn come? Or where there is no night, when the people will sleep to remove the tiredness of the day? Do you think there is a place? Not unreal, there are places on earth where the sun never sets. After a long sleep where people do not see the dawn.

In today's discussion, we will know some places in the world, where the sun does not set even at night!

Norway: Norway is called the land of the shining sun. The country's geographical location makes it different from other countries in the world. From May until the end of July, the sun does not set in the Norwegian sky. As a result, Norwegian people do not see the night for two and a half months! Another specialty of the country is that the sun can be seen on the horizon even at night from the port of Hammerfest, Norway, as it is located in the Arctic region.

Nunavut, Canada: The Canadian territory of Nunavut is located 2 degrees above the Arctic Circle. The sun does not set here for about two months of the year. Not only that, the sun cannot be seen for 30 consecutive days in this place during winter. That is, the people here live under the shadow of the sun for two months on the one hand, in the same way they have to live in a long night for a month.

Iceland: Iceland is famous for its absence of snakes and mosquitoes. After Great Britain, Iceland is the largest island in Europe. The sun can be seen in this island even at night in June.

Barrow, Alaska: The sun is visible in the night sky from late May to late July (summer) in this area of Alaska. There is the reverse side of the coin! Not only does the sun never set, there are continuous nights here from early November to early December. That's why this place is also known as 'Polar Nights'.

Finland: Finland is called the land of thousand lakes and islands. The sun does not set for 73 consecutive days during summer in this European country. Similarly, the sun does not appear here for 32 consecutive days in winter. Because of this strange natural disparity, most people in that country believe that people sleep more in winter and less in summer.

Sweden: We all know that 365 days make up a year. But Sweden's year ends in one day! Because half of the year is day here, the other half is night. Even pulled again! So taking the day and night as the sun, it can be said that the year in Sweden is spent in one day! And people here spend half of the year in the dark and the other half in the light.


The United States informed Canada about Nijjar's murder

International Desk,, Dhaka
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Diplomatic relations between India and Canada are on the verge of ending over the death of Indian pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Both countries have expelled each other's diplomats.

In this situation, the New York Times report claimed that the United States had provided information to Canada about the killing of Nijjar. Through that information, Canada found India's link in Nijjar's murder.

The New York Times report, quoting an official from the 'Five Eyes Partners', an alliance of intelligence agencies from the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, claimed that US intelligence provided information to Canada immediately after the assassination. However, at that time the US was not aware of the possibility of India's involvement in the killings.

Meanwhile, Trudeau claimed on Saturday that Canada had sent information to New Delhi about the killing of Nijjar a few weeks ago. However, India said that Canada could not provide India with any evidence against the information.

On the other hand, Canadian intelligence claimed that Nijjar was a cleric. In response, New Delhi said Nijjar was not a religious guru, but a murderer.

According to India, Nijjar became the head of the Gurdwara by scaring his brother Raghbir.

Hindustan Times reported that pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead inside the Gurdwara on June 18. Hardeep was shot more than 20 times.

According to reports, Nijjar lived in the Punjabi-dominated Sari region of British Columbia, Canada. Hardeep was behind the Khalistani protests in front of the Indian High Commission in Vancouver, Canada in the past few years.


Russia has allowed Bangladesh to trade in Russian currency

News Desk,, Dhaka
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The Russian government has allowed the country's banks and financial institutions to transact in Russian currency.

This information was reported on the official Facebook page of the Russian Embassy in Bangladesh on Saturday (September 23).

According to the information given on the Facebook page, Russia has allowed 30 other countries to trade in ruble currency except Bangladesh. The countries are - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Algeria and Bahrain.

Also included are Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Qatar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Oman and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Vietnam are also allowed to trade in ruble. However, Argentina, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico and Moldova have been excluded from the list.

Recently, before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that the discussions on commercial transactions in the country's single currency have been going on for quite some time.


The Trudeau-Nijjar Saga: Canada’s Compromise or Oversight?

International Desk,
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The Sinister Shadow of Nijjar

At 46, Nijjar wasn’t just a member of the local Sikh community; he was a terror mastermind with deep roots in Khalistani extremism. A fugitive from India, Nijjar had been prominently linked to multiple terrorist organizations. As the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), his hands were stained with the plotting of the Hindu priest’s assassination. He also associated himself with the Sikhs For Justice, another notorious extremist group, orchestrating anti-India activities. His social media pages? A veritable library of sedition, hatred, and attempts to ignite communal discord.

Nijjar’s terror lineage is not just a smattering of isolated events; it’s a chronology of grave acts of violence that have left an indelible mark. The 2007 bomb blast at Shingar cinema in Ludhiana? Orchestrated by him. The cold-blooded assassination of Rashtriya Singh Sangat’s President, Rulda Singh, in 2009? His doing. A conspiracy to eliminate Hindu priest Kamaldeep Sharma in Jalandhar, the explosion at the Satya Narayan temple in Patiala in 2010, and the plotting of the assassination of spiritual leader Piara Singh Bhaniara – all bore the unmistakable touch of Nijjar’s terror designs. Even as recently as 2015-16, he directed Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal to target Shiv Sena leaders.

And the global community took note: on 01 July 2020, a red corner notice was issued against him, designating him as an ‘Individual terrorist’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). This was not merely a rogue individual but a calculated menace with a track record to match.

Canada’s Troublesome Liaison

For years, Nijjar had spun a web of lies to evade Canadian immigration authorities. Portraying himself as a victim of police torture, he used fabricated letters and even staged a sham marriage to stake his claim to residency in Canada. Although his stories were often rejected, he still managed to operate under the Canadian radar, even identifying himself as a citizen.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s acknowledgment of Nijjar as a Canadian citizen in his recent statements, therefore, stands as an unsettling testament to Canada’s potential complicity in sheltering extremists. While Canada has a proud tradition of supporting human rights and providing refuge to those in need, harbouring individuals with clear extremist ideologies is a different ball game.

Embracing such individuals doesn’t just imperil Canada’s national security. It sends out a stark message to the global community: that Canada might be becoming a safe haven for those with extremist views. In trying to appease a select few, Trudeau risks compromising Canada’s standing on the global stage. The lack of support from G7 allies, evident by their refusal to issue joint statements against India, underscores this sentiment.

Safeguarding Canada’s National Integrity

It is an age-old principle that harbouring a snake can endanger the one providing shelter. With Nijjar’s extensive violent background and the current geopolitical scenario, Trudeau’s allegations against India without substantial evidence run the risk of painting Canada in a precarious light.

Canada, known for its majestic landscapes, multicultural ethos, and global diplomacy, should remain a beacon of hope, not a refuge for extremism. It’s high time the Canadian leadership differentiates between genuine asylum seekers and those with sinister motives. After all, the safety and reputation of a nation should never be traded for political appeasement.