Flying Squirrels of Arunachal Pradesh

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There are about 46 species of Flying Squirrels found in the world and they are grouped under one tribe, i.e. the Petauristini tribe. Asia has the distinction of being home to most of the species. Flying Squirrels don’t actually fly, but glide from one tree to the other. They basically use their patagium, a membrane stretching from the wrist (forelegs) to the ankle (hind legs), to glide. Once airborne, these squirrels use their arms, legs, and tail to effectively navigate … Read More

Stolen from Wild Dogs

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In April 2012, I did a two-day, solo-bike drive from Roing to Anini in a thunderstorm in the extreme Northeastern part of Arunachal Pradesh. The rains stopped on the second morning, and while I was on the last stretch to Anini, I came across a fresh kill of a Himalayan Serow made by wild dogs. However, before the wild dogs could feed on the kill they were driven away by the local villagers, and the kill was taken to the … Read More

Polling for Pakke — Please help Pakke Tiger Reserve pick its best images!

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Every year the Pakke Tiger Reserve Forest Department holds a prize distribution ceremony for the best camera trap images and also gives prizes to the most sincere staff in the reserve. For this we team up with Conservation India to hold this public voting contest as a unique form of outreach to help motivate our staff on the ground. This year as well our team has compiled notable camera trap photographs where staff patrolled the forests and never left their … Read More

Himalayan Forest Thrush — New Bird Species discovered in India and China

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A new species of bird has been described from northeastern India and adjacent parts of China by a team of scientists from Sweden, India, China, the US, and Russia.

The bird has been named Himalayan Forest Thrush (Zoothera salimalii). The scientific name honours the great Indian ornithologist Dr Sálim Ali (1896–1987), in recognition of his huge contributions to the development of Indian ornithology and wildlife conservation. This is the first Indian bird named after Dr. Salim Ali.

Dr. Per … Read More

Yellow-throated Marten in Garbage, Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh

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I visited Arunachal Pradesh recently for birding, and was enthralled by its beauty. The dense green mountains looked as if they were playing hide and seek with the moving clouds. The place was alive with the continuous chirping of birds. It was like being in paradise. We traveled from Nameri to Dirang and stopped at several places for birding. What really disturbed me was the pile of garbage that we saw in most places. Of the many places that I … Read More

Oil Palm Should not be Expanded in Arunachal Pradesh

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Arunachal Pradesh has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Ruchi Soya Industries to plant 25,000 hectares of oil palm in four districts – East Kameng, Papumpare, Lower Subansiri and West Siang. This brings the total area earmarked for oil palm in the state to 45,000 hectares (or 450 sq. km.). Oil palm is a highly productive crop – more than any other oil crop in the world – yielding up to 6 tons of palm oil per hectare of … Read More

Polling for Pakke — Vote for the Best Camera Trap Image

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As we have been doing in the past, this year we will be giving three prizes to our frontline staff for the best camera trap images. We fondly remember Late Koro Tayem, a forest guard who was killed by an elephant who won the first ever prize for his growling camera trap photograph.

Please vote for your best photograph.… Read More

Pakke: From Darkness into Light

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Tana Tapi is in a tough spot. He has the enormous task of protecting 862 sq. km of mostly inaccessible, and difficult eastern Himalayan wilderness. His job is made more difficult by the fact that some of the people that log and hunt inside these forests belong to the same community as him, the Nyishi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. This general area bordering Assam is also one of India’s deforestation hotspots where logging networks are fuelled by larger market forces … Read More

Oil Palm vs. Rainforests

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Palm oil production has caused deforestation of huge swaths of biodiversity-rich rainforests in many equatorial countries. India should not repeat this mistake in the fragile and vulnerable northeast states. Here is cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty’s take on it.

The comic first appeared in Sunday Mid-day dated 27/11/2016.

oil-palm-vs-rainforests-vertical-web

Oil Palm vs. Rainforests

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White-cheeked macaque — A New Primate Species for India

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The White-cheeked Macaque (Macaca leucogenys) is a newly discovered species (in May 2015) of macaque from the Modog​ (Mêdog County), in Southeastern Tibet in China (Li et al; 2015). The species was distinguished from all potential sympatric macaques (species in the same geographic area) viz. Macaca mulatta, Macaca thibetana, Macaca assamensis and Macaca munzala by several characteristics including pelage ​(coat of a mammal), ​relatively uniform dorsal hair pattern, hairy ventral pelage, hairless short tail, prominent pale … Read More

Rare Bird: Green Cochoa at Namdapha

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This is one bird high on the list of birders exploring the Oriental region. On our trip to Namdapha in Jan 2015, in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh, we got this rare bird near Ranijheel camp on the 4th day of our trek.

These birds inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. Though very widely distributed in the Eastern Himalayas and parts of SE Asia, this species is described as rare or rarely seen. As … Read More

Long-billed Plover and Dog, Sangti Valley, Arunachal Pradesh

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On 4th May, 2016 we were birding at Sangti Valley near Dirang, West Arunachal, mainly with the intent of seeing Long-billed Plovers (a rare bird in the subcontinent). This is one of the few locations in India where this bird can be seen. Upon reaching there we found a couple of birds in the fields along the bank of the river and not on the riverbed, where they are usually seen. More surprisingly, it seemed that they were being chased … Read More

New Species to Science? Well, Who Cares?

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Last week, I was travelling in Arunachal Pradesh with a few friends. On our way to Udayak Pass (in the Lohith Valley), we stopped to photograph some birds when a bike sped by us. On the bike was freshly killed bushmeat  – a macaque. The hunter’s house was just around the corner and we managed to get there just as he was hauling the macaque off the bike. A close look confirmed our worst fears – this was a White-cheeked … Read More

Help Pakke Pick its Best Images and Keep up Koro Tayem’s Legacy

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In 2013, Koro Tayem, a forest guard in Pakke Tiger Reserve for more than a decade, was the first awardee for the best camera trap photograph competition. Now in its fourth year, ‘Tayem babu’ is no longer with us. On Christmas day in 2014, he was in Pakke doing his duty, and on his way back he was killed by a wild elephant. He is remembered fondly, and in 2013 we carried out a photo-feature of photographs which included his … Read More

Pakke Paga — Protecting the Hornbills of Arunachal Pradesh

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In 2003, Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) started a long-term study of hornbill nests in the Pakke Tiger Reserve, western Arunachal Pradesh. Hornbills nest in existing holes in trees and are dependent on specific large trees for this. These birds have a long breeding cycle and intensive parental care which lasts 3 to 4 months depending on the species. After eight years of studying hornbill nests in the Tiger Reserve, we realised the need to extend this work outside the Protected … Read More

New Breed of Hunters in the Northeast

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When one is traveling in the Northeastern part of our country, a common sight is that of boys and men with catapult and guns on the way to their next hunt. Hunting in the Northeast is largely influenced by cultural practices, rituals and (perceived) medicinal values. It has also become an activity just to kill time. However, the situation is changing; steadily, though slowly, thanks to access to education, employment, and intervention by NGOs at many places. There has been … Read More

Rare Bird — Gold-crested Myna

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Of all the Indian mynas, the Gold-crested Myna (Ampeliceps coronatus) is probably the most mysterious. Very rarely has this bird been sighted within Indian limits. Very little is known to the general public of its whereabouts, though it is regularly found in other countries like Thailand and Myanmar.

The definitive encyclopedia on Indian birds, Ali and Ripley’s Handbook, records two sightings from South Assam Hills (Cachar) and Manipur, and describes the bird to be “uncommon” and “little … Read More

Resurrection of a Montane Snake from Northeast India

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Amphiesma clerki was described as a species new to science by Frank Wall in 1925, based on a single snake collected by a Mr. Clerk from Sinlumkaba in Kachin State, Myanmar the previous year. 18 years later, Malcom Smith in his Fauna of British India, Volume III, identified that specimen as a different species, Amphiesma parallelum without any comment. This rendered Amphiesma clerki invalid, and was presumably due to the superficial similarity between both species as well as lack of … Read More

First record of the Chinese Thrush from the Indian Subcontinent

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Extract from the article in Indian BIRDS 9 (5&6): 155–157

During a visit to Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, India, on 17 November 2013, a bird was seen and photographed while walking along a trail at c. 500 m in tropical evergreen forest between Haldibari and Hornbill camp. The photographs show that the bird was a thrush Turdus/Zoothera, with a greyish-brown crown, back and tail. The face is fairly pale with two dark vertical stripes, the first extending down from … Read More

Illegal Tree-felling in Primary Lowland Rainforest at Miao RF, Namdapha Tiger Reserve

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In May, 2011, while birding, Bikram Grewal, Bano Haralu and I noticed Illegal tree-felling in primary lowland rainforest at Miao reserve forest (RF) near Namdapha Tiger Reserve. There is serious loss of lowland evergreen forest in Miao RF and other neighbouring RFs as well as inside Namdapha tiger reserve due to encroachments. A private elephant was dragging giant logs down the steep hillside and and deposited logs at a make-shift timber mill.… Read More

Camera-trapping Mammals in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary

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Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh contains within itself a wide elevation range (500 to 3200 m ASL), diverse habitats and species which make it one of the most important areas of the Kameng Protected Area Complex. This complex covers over 3500 sq km; two states, and five protected areas. The spectacular bird diversity of Eaglenest has been the keystone in ensuring Eaglenest’s protection by the resident Bugun and Shertukpen community. About 525 bird species are … Read More

Camera-trapping Mammals in Pakke Tiger Reserve

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Photographs by Forest Department staff of Pakke Tiger Reserve.

Intensive camera trapping by state forest departments (as per Phase-IV of NTCA) to monitor tiger populations, is now being done on a yearly basis in tiger reserves across India. This was done for the first time in Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh. Here are some stunning images of fabulous mammals captured during this season’s monitoring exercise. This effort has been mainly undertaken by the forest department staff of Pakke … Read More

Yellow-bellied Weasel, Mishmi Hills, Arunachal Pradesh

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We found this huge rodent lying on the road, dying. We stopped to check what it was. We assumed that a biker who was going ahead had knocked it down, but weren’t sure. As we were discussing this, we saw a tiny animal pop out from a nullah, which was covered by dense vegetation next to the road. It immediately disappeared into the shrubs.

We initially mistook it to be a young Yellow-throated Marten. But then, out it popped again … Read More