Crested Hawk-eagle with Loris Kill, Anaimalais, Tamil Nadu

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On November 15th 2015, my brother and I were driving back from Valparai in Tamil Nadu after a productive wildlife trip in the Anaimalais. On slowing down near one of the hairpin bends, we spotted a Crested Hawk-eagle with a Slender Loris in its talons. We spent about 15 to 20 minutes observing and photographing the scene, as the eagle dismembered the loris and fed on it, not at all bothered by our presence. The slender loris (Loris tardigradus) is … Read More

Lights on for Elephants

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Technology offers solutions for Human-Elephant Conflicts.

The dark hulks ambled in a single file across the stark green landscape of thigh-high tea bushes. Without a pause in their stride, the elephants made their way towards a tiny patch of forest. Save for the tree crickets, there were no other sounds. Had it been daytime, the elephants would have been harassed by people behaving like neurotic monkeys. On such occasions, despite their size, the elephants seemed so vulnerable, with nowhere to … Read More

Brown Mongoose, Valparai

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The brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) is restricted to evergreen forests, plantations and even human habitations in the Southern Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. Not much is known about this species compared to other mongooses.  Camera trap surveys suggest that they are less diurnal and more crepuscular than other species of mongooses.

During a recent visit to Valparai we came across a brown mongoose in a small stream amidst tea plantations. Valparai is possibly the best place to observe … Read More

Tahr Alert in Tamil Nadu

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The Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) is an endangered ungulate found on remote mountain slopes in the southern Western Ghats. Found in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, their current range has been greatly reduced to a mere 400 kilometers. These animals are found among the rocky cliffs of montane grasslands, and it is estimated that around 3000 individuals are distributed evenly between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Eravikulam National Park and the grassy slopes of the Anamalai hills are the only … Read More

Science-based Approach to Promote Human-Elephant Coexistence — Lessons from Valparai

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Understanding human-elephant interactions is critical for conservation of elephants outside Protected Areas. One of the intriguing questions is how can a person weighing 50kg and a 5000kg animal coexist with no barrier between them?

Conflict incidents frequently lead to use of reactive measures such as chasing elephants, capture and translocation, or retaliatory persecution, but these often fail to resolve conflicts on a sustained basis, empower communities to implement solutions, or help conservation of elephants. Long-term research on behavioural and ecological … Read More

New Location Record for Sri Lanka Frogmouth in Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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On our recent birding trip (Feb 13th 2016, The Great Backyard Bird Count) along the buffer zone of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Sethumadai, we chanced upon a lucky sighting of the rarely seen Sri Lanka Frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger), a bird that is high on the wish list of many birders and photographers.

Closely related to Nightjars, this nocturnal bird was feeding on the ground and flew across our vehicle and sat perched on a tree root overgrown over … Read More

Purple Frog, Anamalai Hills

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The Purple Frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) is a rare and recent addition to the frog world. With its closest relatives in the Seychelles, the purple frog is thought to have evolved separately for millennia. Its discovery also adds to the evidence that Madagascar and the Seychelles separated from the Indian landmass sometime well after the breakup of Gondwana had started. Described to science as late as 2003, the species is now known to be quite widely distributed in the Western Ghats. … Read More

Mobile-wildlife conflict

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The increasing trend of mobile photography can be extremely stressful to animals and potentially dangerous for those taking the pictures. Here in the Anamalais, people started approaching this sambar stag with mobile phone cameras while he was waiting to cross the road. The situation is similar with all animals, including elephants. No wonder then that animals attack people! Of course they then get blamed for it. … Read More

Elephants and Dhole, Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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This image was taken on June 3rd, 2014 at Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) in Tamil Nadu. We were driving from Aliyar in the foothills to Valparai and a group of around 50 tourists were cheering and screaming, we got down to see what was going on. An amazing drama was unfolding in front of us — a herd of elephants (7) were chasing away a pack of dhole (around 20) along the banks of the Aliyar reservoir!

As this road … Read More

Living with Elephants, Valparai, Tamil Nadu

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In the human-dominated landscape of the Valparai plateau, abutting the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, this is the peak annual elephant movement period, which lasts till the end of February. Given the mosaic of landscapes the herds have to navigate, they encounter curious onlookers, passing tourists and heavy vehicle movement. The elephants normally choose to move once human activities reduce after sundown.

This herd had a hard time traversing through tea estates interspersed with degraded forest patches because of … Read More

Large-scaled Forest Lizard, Anamalais

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The Large-scaled Forest Lizard (Calotes grandisquamis) is an agamid lizard endemic to the forests of central and southern Western Ghats of India.

Western Ghats has lost over two-thirds of its original forest cover in the last several decades and only 3,200 square kilometres, or 15% of the intact area, is protected. This loss of habitat is mainly due to conversion of forests for various plantations as well as development. Even though few species struggle to adapt to newly altered environments, … Read More

A Jungle-striped squirrel runover by a speeding vehicle

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This image was taken along the Aliyar – Valparai ghat road on 29th March 2013 in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. Speeding two wheelers and cars on these roads pose a serious threat to this lesser known species of the Western Ghats. These squirrels had to cross the road to reach another patch of shola forest amidst tea estates. We saw another Jungle-striped Squirrel nearby. Further up, the same road turns killer to the endangered Lion-tailed macaques which … Read More

Bridging the Gap

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In the Anamalais, highways and the resulting fragmented canopies, are a huge threat to lion-tailed macaques. The highways department has been widening and improving the quality of roads to cater to the growing tourist population. There has been a sharp increase in the number fairly silent cars that speed through such roads. Macaques have also been emboldened by tourists feeding them, and thus hang out by the roadside. All this has led to a growing number of roadkills to this … Read More

Lion-tailed Macaque with Ice Cream, Anamalai Hills

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We came across some Lion-tailed Macaques (LTMs) at Pudhuthottam estate near Valparai. While some of the LTMs were feeding on fruits and shoots, this one was feeding on Ice Cream irresponsibly discarded by tourists. This species is in constant conflict, with some of the males even entering the main town of Valparai. Ice Cream should be the last thing this endangered species needs.

The Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus) is an endangered and endemic macaque found only in the … Read More

A Tiger’s Pain

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On the 28th of April 2012, I was in Valparai in the Anamalais, Tamil Nadu and was surprised to hear a report of a tiger near human habitation. Leopards are common in Valparai, and a tiger, that too close to houses, was extremely rare. The tiger was sitting in the far end of a garden near a house, and appeared exhausted and unable to move. A large crowd had already gathered, and the forest department and police did a commendable … Read More

Nilgiri Marten, Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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Only a handful of biologists and naturalists have had the good fortune of having sighted one of the most elusive and fascinating species of small carnivores of the Western Ghats — the Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii). The Nilgiri Marten is a small carnivorous mammal endemic to moist and wet evergreen forests of the Western Ghats—occurring at altitudes ranging from about 150 – 2200 m. It is similar to the more commonly seen and more widely distributed Yellow-throated Marten … Read More

NCF Recommendation for Elephant Corridors in Valparai Plateau

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The Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) has submitted a recommendation to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, titled, “Elephant Corridors in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve”. The report identifies the unique location of the Valparai Plateau in the Anamalai hills, where the gently undulating terrain is suitable for elephants to move from one forest patch to another. The NCF report identifies the Ryan division belonging to the Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation as a suitable candidate for bringing under the control of Anamalai … Read More

Camera Traps Reveal Four Tigers in Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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The presence of four tigers has been revealed by camera traps setup in three ranges of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. The cameras had been installed after understanding the movement of the animals through front line uniform staff and anti-poaching watchers. The cameras were installed in Ullandy, Valparai, Manambolly and Amaravathy ranges and the sightings were recorded by the ones in Ullandy and Manambolly. Encouraged by the results, camera traps have been relocated in other strategic locations to know the presence … Read More

Film Shooting Near Aliyar Reservoir near Anamalai Tiger Reserve Draws Criticism

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A film is being shot on sets erected near the zero point of the Aliyar Dam. Environmental activists point out that soil has been dug up from the catchment area and that the chemicals used in the set are changing the color of the water. The polluted water endangers the fishes and the music, bright lighting and large number of people disturb the wildlife that come down at dawn and dusk to drink water. The film production unit has obtained … Read More

Camp Elephant gored by Wild Tusker inside Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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A 22-year old female camp elephant was gored by a wild tusker in the Kozhikamudhi camp near Top Slip of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. Around 20 elephants were grazing near the camp area, when a rogue tusker that was in search of a mate attacked and injured the female elephant on its back, sides, neck and abdomen. The mahouts from the camp, rushed to the elephants help on hearing it trumpeting in pain. The elephant was rescued and is being … Read More

Panther caught in snare freed in Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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A panther caught in a snare made out of brake and clutch cables near Sholayar Dam in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, was freed by forest officials. The panther was found hanging with one of its legs caught in the snare which was tied to an immovable object. The animal was tranquilised and freed from the snare. In its attempts to free itself, the panther had suffered leg injuries. The injuries were treated and the panther released into the forest on … Read More

Wildlife Beyond Boundaries

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The elephants stood at the stream’s edge. As the adults drank in measured trunkfuls, calves gambolled in the water. Just above them, on the slope, a large sambar stag emerged silently from the undergrowth. From a cluster of trees above came the scolding call of a giant squirrel, as a troop of Nilgiri langur foraged in the canopy. Just as we were slipping into a reverie, imagining ourselves in pristine wilderness, a woman called loudly to her children playing nearby … Read More

Tiger skin seized in Kolhapur, and Tiger dead in Anamalai TR, Tamil Nadu

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A tiger skin was seized in Kolhapur, Maharashtra on 1 June 2010, in an operation by the Panhala police. Three people were arrested, all residents of Kolhapur in Maharashtra. The skin was allegedly obtained from a contractor and is said to have bullet marks on it. The adult tiger was apparently killed three years ago. A fourth accused was arrested yesterday.

On the same day, 1 June 2010, a ten year old male tiger was found dead in Anamalai Tiger … Read More