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Dangerously endangered

By Armeen Kabir

'The world's forests and jungles, with their own natural beauty and genuine inhabitants are losing their sanctity because the human race is not leaving any place in this world unexplored. In the process, the beauty of nature is being exposed to many such audiences who only intend to destroy the charm and divine beauty of nature. One of the most important ways are by poaching animals, some of which are quite rare, and day by day, are becoming extinct.

This is causing the destruction of the eco-system on which all life on earth are dependent. The exploitation of the world's forests and jungles by humans is actually the reason for the decline in the number of animals. When wildlife is in danger, well, so are we humans.

As human population keeps increasing, they need more space to live. Moreover, humans are also killing the animals for their daily meals. They are also making money by killing and selling animals, many of which are quite rare.

There are hundreds of endangered as well as extinct animals. A recent survey says the world's biggest woodpecker species are feared EXTINCT. Birdlife International researchers declared that the stunning Imperial Woodpecker, Campephilus Imperialis, may now be extinct after no evidence were found at the expedition to the last area reporting sightings of the bird. It was probably one of the most impressive woodpeckers with black-and-white appearance at a length of 60cm. The bird was formerly found throughout the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains of northwestern Mexico.
The Polar Bear could be driven to extinction by the end of the century if the pace of Global Warming doesn't slow down. Scientists say Arctic Sea is melting at a rate of up to 9 per cent per decade. Polar Bears are a species whose entire life history is dependent on having ice sea. They are the world's largest land predator, feeding mainly on seals. They use the sea ice as a floating platform to catch prey and they travel across it on their way to dens. Polar Bears are currently found in Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland and Norway. In the absence of sea ice, the whole basis of Polar Bear ecology ceases to exist. The bear faces a gloomy future unless it is able to change its habits.

Some valuable endangered animals
BLACK RHINOCEROS - very precious because their horns are highly valued as an aphrodisiac. They reside among grasslands and open forests in Africa; only a small number of scattered populations remain. Surviving number is approximately 2,600.
WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLA - lives in tropical lowland forest in Central West Africa. Surviving number fewer than 100,000.
LEOPARD - a variety of habitats in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Surviving number is unknown.

RING TAILED LEMUR - inhabits in the deciduous and gallery forests and dry scrubs in south Madagascar. The surviving number is unknown.

RED PANDA - they habit mountain forests in Nepal to northern Burma and into central China. Surviving number is 2,500.
EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE - they live in the open plains, wooded steppes, semi-desert and foothills in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Surviving number is estimated at 2,000 pairs.

However, there are some initiatives being taken to preserve the animals.

There are quite a number of international and national level organizations which are trying their best to protect wildlife from all possible sorts of danger as much as they are. Some of the well-known organizations are World Conservation Union (IUCN), Centre for Wildlife Conservation (PPS), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna And Flora (CITES), PANTAU, a network for the monitoring of wildlife trading etc.

Illegal Trade in rare animals is conducted clandestinely and
even in the open, at bird's markets, roadside kiosks, pet shops and even by sidewalk vendors. Animals trading flourishes due to the trend of keeping rare animals as pets. The rarer an animal, the more attractive it is to keep, thus, increasing the sale value of the animal. Many people, unfortunately, are still not aware about rare animals and the laws protecting them.
In fact, rare animals are protected under Law No.5/1990 on conservation of biological diversity and its ecosystem. Article 21 of the law clearly stipulates that it is prohibited to capture, kill, keep, raise, transport and trade protected animals. Violators of the law face a penalty of five years in prison or fine. PANTAU recommended the Indonesian government to take firm, concrete legal measures against those who trade and raise protected animals. The public was also encouraged to play an active role, by not keeping, buying or let alone selling rare animals.

An investigation by PANTAU, between October 2001 and march 2002, shows that Java is the centre of protected animal trade. The monitoring operation conducted by 17 institutions under PANTAU encountered 263 protected animals being traded in 14 major cities across Indonesia.

Its not that animals are killed or traded only because of business. The human appetite for exotic animals, does not stop at their digestive system. Their curiosity and hunger for status symbols have spawned and nurtured the animal across the world -the buying and selling of strange and wonderful animals for pets or stuffing and mounting them to be adorned by humans. The insatiable appetite of men. Nothing else on earth so capable of such cruelty and destruction than man's appetite for control and power, in this case over their gender. And for that, they are more than willing to pay.

Based on its research in 2001, ProFauna believes that more than 1,500 primates are killed every year at slaughterhouses in Bandar Lampung, Lampung Province of Indonesia. This meat sells at an average of Rp 10,000 (about US$ 1.13) per kilogram. Not only primate meat but sea turtle meat and honey bear bile and gallbladders have also been known to make their way onto the market, either as food or traditional medicines. Traditional medicines containing derivatives of endangered species - such as the tiger, rhinoceros, bear and musk deer - have been practiced for more than 5,000 years and although natural and synthetic alternatives are available, traditional beliefs concerning the benefits of these medicines sustains the illegal trade and threatens the existence of these highly endangered species.

In Bangladesh, rapid loss of biodiversity is threatening the existence of five categories of fauna. The endangered fauna are 41 species of birds, 58 reptiles, eight amphibious and 54 fish and 40 mammals. Tiger population in the Sunderbans is also declining due to poaching.

Today, hundreds of species have become endangered. Some have already become extinct. For others, situation is critical. And that's not a threat to wildlife only. Its a threat to us all. Because we are all a part of nature; not apart from it. When wildlife is in danger, so are we humans. Every time a species is lost the natural web is weakened. Unless we understand wildlife and take action to protect it, the life of many more species will come to an end.

all about the Royal College of Music

By Sheean Haider Ahmed

ABRSM stands for "the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music" London. It was formed in 1889 by the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music and now is linked with the

Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The ABRSM, whose patron is the Queen of England and whose president is The Prince of Wales, was formed to encourage and improve the standard of music education and made this possible by an authoritative and internationally recognized system of exams and assessment. The closing date of entry of the first exam was February 7,1890 and 1141 candidates applied in two grades, senior and junior. In the 1991 exams, over 500,000 candidates entered and now the Board conducts examinations for over 35 subjects of which the written exam consists of Theory of Music and the practical exams, of Piano, Organ, Recorder, etc. The levels of examinations range from the Preparatory Test through Grades 1-8 and on to the diploma level with the DipABRSM, LRSM, and FRSM, each available in Directing, Performing and Teaching. These are held in over 85 countries around the world, including Bangladesh.

The Grades of Examination: There are eight Grades of examination, which are numbered in order of difficulty from 1 to 8. There is also a preparatory test, which is designed to prepare candidate for the Grade 1 examination. The tests lasts 10 minutes and the result is in the form of a positive assessment without any marks being awarded. A performance assessment is also available for adult candidates of 21 years and over and for children below this age with special needs. The candidates can perform pieces of their own and an assessment is given, like that of the preparatory test. Entry forms to these exams can be obtained from the local representative.

The Piano & Theory Exams: For piano there are two exams: the theory and the practical. The theory examinations are held in public centers arranged by the Board's Representatives and is invigilated by the representative and an appointed invigilator. The contents of the theory exam depend upon the grade (1-8) the candidate is in, the higher the grade the longer the exam; grades 1 to 3 are allowed 1.5 hours, grades 4 to 5 are allowed 2 hours and grades 6 to 8 are allowed 3 hours. In the practical exam, which is conducted by an examiner from London, the candidate is required to choose pieces from a set syllabus by the board well in advance, and has to prepare them. During the exams the candidates are required to play the selected pieces by seeing the book and also play scales and arpeggios, ones named by the examiner, by heart. The practical exam also has an aural part where you are required to hum some tunes and answer questions regarding a piece, which is played by the examiner. There is also a sight-reading part where the candidate is given, more or less, a minute to study an unseen piece and then is required to play it as correctly as can be.

The Marks: The total mark allotted for the theory exam is 100, and 66 is required to achieve a Pass. Candidates gaining 80-89 marks are awarded a Merit and 90 marks or more result in a Distinction. For the practical exams, out of a possible 150 marks 100 are required to pass, 120 to pass with a Merit, and 130 for Distinction. Certificates will be awarded to successful candidates, and will specify the subject and the Grade in which they have been examined.

The Dhaka Center and its Representative: The Dhaka Center of ABRSM exists since 1994 and the founder representative is Ms Shantha P Gunasekera, who is a very skilled and experienced performer and instructor. She started playing piano when she was only 6 years old, and later, completed all the exams in the Trinity College of Music London and also completed a Diploma in Music of Association of teachers of Western Music, Speech and Dramatic Art in Sri Lanka. In 1976 she was awarded a scholarship and went to St Petersburg in Russia where she did her masters, post-masters and PhD studies in music. In 1984 she came to Dhaka and, during the early years, was a concert pianist, and performed several times at the Goethe Institut and BTV. She teaches students of all ages and prepares them for all the various grades of exams of the ABRSM on piano, singing, recorder and theory, which requires a lot of patience and dedication.

Being a student in Grade 6 Piano and Theory of ABRSM myself, I have found it to be very thorough and proper and it should be looked into by anyone who wants a proper musical education.

Lost in the ocean

By Mayeesha Jamil

Every year, after the end of the term, we are taken to a tour to one of the best places on Earth. This time we were on a research trip about marine animals. I woke up at 6 in the morning and went straight to the airport. There I met Sabi, Tina and Aaron. I also saw Draco and his gang-probably fabricating a prank on one of the geek people. I was just trying to read their minds when all of a sudden Tina interrupted me. She told me to stop staring at Tabitha-one of the Draco gang member-and get moving cause Mrs Rosalind told her that we are going on board the Emirates plane in about 10 minutes.

Our destination was the city of Cali in Colombia. From there we were to go to the mouth of river Nava and hire 8 boats. There were 37 students of our section. 7 big boats had the capacity to hold 5 students each. So 2 had to be housed on a smaller boat.

I had the bad luck of getting stuck with my worst enemy, Draco. We were all alone on the small worn boat with an old tired boats man. We started our journey after I prayed for survival. Who could have survived with Draco sucking their brains? We began at 1 in the afternoon and after 6 hours of ear throbbing journey we still didn't reach Galapagos Islands. It was dreadful and although I didn't want to admit it-yes!
We were lost. Lost in who knows where? It made it even awful with Draco jerking around. And the old boats man continuously dozing off-how could he while Draco kept yanking all the while? All seemed to be confusing.

Enough! I had enough of Draco gibberishing around. In antagonism I shouted at him. He was so knocked for six that he almost fell into the water. My shriek even made the old boats man vigilant. After recovering from his astounded state, Draco asked me why I yelled at him. I simply said that we were lost. I expected him to drown in a wail of anguish but instead he started laughing.

Both curious and annoyed I asked him why he was laughing. I figured that he was gone into a shocked state and was laughing in madness. But then he out of the blue stiffened as if he saw a ghost. The quietness was conked out by the ringing of a cell phone. I could feel my face burning with ire, Draco had a cell phone and all this time he was being hysterical instead of calling help! I was so annoyed by his irresponsibility that all my words were blurted out without making sense. I tried to calm my shattered nerves and then asked him to give me an account for his stupidity.

He said that we were never lost at all. He had noticed that the
boats man was dozing off now and then and was rowing the boat front and back in a huge circle. Thus ended our sea research with us ending up on exploring the mouth of Cali, which seemed more interesting than rotting on the Galapagos Islands.

After that we never wanted to go on a marine research nor were we taken to one-obviously after the considerable panic we caused on the teachers. At the rear Draco and me were the best of pals and I also got to share the fun he and his gang had on picking on innocent people and teachers.








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