Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins off Mumbai Coast

To be able to observe dolphins from one’s balcony or from shore is a possibility for most of us in Mumbai. There must have been a time when Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins (Sousa plumbea) roamed this coastal stretch in large numbers. Today they are scattered in small pockets, one of which is the bay off Raj Bhavan, Malabar Hill. Other locations in Bombay, where these dolphins are seen is Worli, off Chowpatty in South Mumbai, Marine Drive, Sassoon Docks, and … Read More

Whale and Dolphin Surprises in Goa

A group of us ventured out to sea off the coast of Goa on a fishing trawler for a full-day survey of pelagic birds. These birds spend most of their lives out at sea, living a solitary life, and visit certain islands only during breeding season. We started our explorations in Goan waters in 2017, but our last two trips, on 14th and 21st October, 2018 were exciting and memorable for a completely different reason.

We usually start off by … Read More

Carnivores as Co-owners of our Lands

Among the range of attributes that represent India is the little-known, seldom-acknowledged diversity of carnivore species it harbors. The country has 23% of the world’s terrestrial carnivore species. While popular discourse typically links large carnivores to forested reserves or large inviolate spaces, many of India’s carnivore species have historically shared spaces and adapted to using human modified landscapes. A recent study by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society-India, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Foundation for Ecological Research And Learning, University of … Read More

A Landmark Event: UN Declares “Decade of Ecosystem Restoration”

In the first week of March the UN declared 2021-30 as the decade of ecosystem restoration. The resolution pioneered by El Salvador was supported by calls from the international community to put ecological restoration at the forefront of national agendas. The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) has called this an important step toward focusing the world’s attention on the imperative of restoring degraded ecosystems. The UN declaration is expected to bring political commitment, scientific research and financial muscle to scale … Read More

The Recent Supreme Court Order on Forest Rights Act (FRA) Does Not Affect Genuine Claimants

PRESS RELEASE FROM PETITIONERS IN THE FOREST RIGHTS CASE

On February 13th 2019, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Arun Mishra issued an extremely important order in Writ Petition 109 of 2008 to ensure protection of forests, which have been severely affected due to ineligible/bogus claimants under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). Such claimants continue to occupy a huge area of forestland, including within National Parks and Sanctuaries, even though their claims have been rejected after … Read More

Capture of Coimbatore’s Crop-eating, Peaceful Elephant, Chinna Thambi

Chinna Thambi, a 25-year old tusker from the Anaikatti region in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, was relocated to Anamalai Tiger Reserve on 26th January, 2018. This was done following repeated complaints by a section of farmers from the region that the elephant was raiding crops and breaking into houses for food. These agricultural lands are adjacent to Thadagam Reserve Forest and Anaikatti South Reserve Forest of Coimbatore Forest Division. Perhaps because this particular bull had never attacked anyone, the indigenous community … Read More

Conserving the Dhole in Karnataka’s Western Ghats

The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is pack-living apex predator found in south and southeast Asia, currently threatened with endangerment. Dholes are generally restricted to protected forest habitats, but also occur in reserve forests and production agroforests (like tea and coffee plantations). The recent IUCN Red List assessment suggests that there may be 1000–2000 adult, mature dholes left in the wild. Despite its precarious status, the dhole remains one of the least studied large carnivores in the world. … Read More

Treading a Conservation Path — Community Reserves in Zunheboto, Nagaland

Unsteadily, we inch our way along the narrow trail on the edge of the mountain, peering cautiously over the edge in search of the elusive spot-breasted parrotbill (Paradoxornis guttaticollis). The parrotbills were spotted along this grassy hillside in Nagaland’s Zunheboto district just a couple of weeks ago by Angulie Meyase, Nagaland’s leading bird guide. So throwing caution to the wind we thread down this treacherous, twisting necklace. An unending expanse of clouds beneath us gives us the illusion we … Read More

A Bullet to the Lungs: Mumbai Set to Lose More Forest to High-Speed Railway Line

Will development once again take precedence over conserving India’s natural wealth?

India’s forests are quietly disappearing to accelerated infrastructure development. During the past three decades, approximately 15,000 sq km of forests have been diverted for development projects. Among them, 5000 sq km for mining, 1,600 sq km for defence projects and 1400 sq km for hydroelectric projects (http://data.gov.in). As of 2019, government data shows that 15,19,167.19 hectares of forest land have been diverted for non-forest use cumulatively across … Read More

Let’s get to know the Fishing Cat in February!

The Beautiful Baghrol – A Fascinating Feline

What is the state animal of West Bengal? Many of you may guess, Royal Bengal Tiger, because of the ‘Bengal’ in the name. Or you may remember Bengalis’ love for all things piscine, and say it is the fish! But you would be wrong again, for it is neither the tiger, nor the fish, but an animal associated with both – the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), locally known as Baghrol or MacchbaghaRead More