Particolored Flying Squirrel in Assam

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Around 10:30 p.m near Badsaitila Reserve Forest, Dosdewa Khasi Village, Assam, I heard an animal moving on a tree. I was later able to identify it from the photo I took, to be the Particoloured Flying Squirrel (Hylopetes alboniger).

This is a species that is found in most of the South East Asian countries. It forages at night and uses tree hollows for nesting, as well as for roosting during the day. Sometimes, it has been seen being active … Read More

Swamp Francolin, Kaziranga

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I thought of sharing an image I made of Swamp Francolins from the western zone of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve in Assam. The image was made in the afternoon safari during late December 2015. I was excited about spotting a rare species like this — we actually saw a family of six but I managed to capture only three in this frame.

As the name implies, this is a bird of swamps and damp areas, but it is … Read More

Tragic Loss of a Tusker, Kaziranga

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On September 4th 2015, a bull elephant that was part of a larger herd was electrocuted when it walked into a live, low-hanging power cable at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The herd was trying to reach higher ground in order to escape from floods that had inundated over 80% of the park.

Wildlife photographer Sandesh Kadur, who was in Kaziranga at the time, recounted details of the accident. Years of waterlogging had eroded the base of the electric … Read More

Human-Wildlife Interaction during Brahmaputra Flood

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Floods in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam are an annual occurrence, and have both positive and negative consequences for humans, property and wildlife. Kaziranga National Park is often heavily impacted by such floods, with animals usually fleeing to the adjoining Karbi Anglong hills, south of the Park.  While National Highway 37, which lies between the park and the hills, becomes a temporary shelter for flood-affected people at several locations, wild animals too climb on to it to escape the waters … Read More

Saving the Elusive Pygmy Hog

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Thanks to a content sharing agreement with Livemint, we are able to bring some interesting conservation articles authored by Ananda Banerjee.

Success in conservation is usually measured by the effectiveness of steps to boost the numbers of big, charismatic species. In India, the stars are the Bengal tiger, followed by the Asiatic lion, the leopard, the elephant and the rhinoceros.

Assam, for instance, is celebrating an increase in the population of the endangered, greater one-horned rhinoceros by 250. Earlier this … Read More

Losing their Home — Greater Adjutants in Assam

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The Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius), an endangered scavenger stork, is globally threatened, with an estimated population of 800-1200 mature individuals, out of which 650-800 are in Assam (Choudhury, 2000). Half of the Assamese population is found in and around Guwahati City (Choudhury, 2008) near the Boragaon Garbage dump, Deepor Beel, Guwahati. Deepor Beel, a permanent freshwater lake in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, is a Ramsar site, which was originally over 40 sq km. Currently it is … Read More

Mammals in the Jeypore-Dehing forests, Assam

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The Jeypore-Dehing Landscape is located in eastern or Upper Assam. It comprises three large blocks of forest (Jeypore, Upper Dehing West Block and Upper Dehing East Block) and several forest fragments. The reserve forests lie within a mosaic of oil and coal mining grants, tea plantations, agriculture and settlements. The forest type is lowland Assam Valley Tropical Wet Evergreen forest (Dipterocarpus-Mesua) and together stretch over roughly 600 sq km. The landscape is part of the Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve and 111 … Read More

Rewilding the Rare Pygmy Hog in Assam

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Thanks to a content sharing agreement with Livemint, we are able to bring some interesting conservation articles authored by Ananda Banerjee.

On 24 May, six little pigs trotted out of their wooden box enclosures to freedom, into the wild grasslands of Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary in north Assam. Those tiny pig steps could turn into a giant leap for conservationists.

Because these were no ordinary pigs but Pygmy Hogs, the smallest and rarest wild pig or hog on the planet. The … Read More

Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

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This is an image of the railway line cutting through the Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, taken in Feb 2012. One needs to understand the behaviour of Hoolock Gibbons and the habitat to understand the destruction caused by the railway line.

Hoolock Gibbons are the only apes found in India (apart from a billion humans of course!). They have long forelimbs and shorter hind limbs which are very conducive for these animals to move around the forest by swinging along the … Read More

Swamp Prinia — A Disappearing Grassland Rarity

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The Swamp Prinia (Prinia cinerascens) is an extremely rare bird to see and photograph in the wild. This Near Threatened bird was frequently seen in undisturbed grassland habitat with Saccharum spontaneum grasses (Kohua in Assamese) near the Maguri-Motapung wetland. The location was the south bank of Dibru river just outside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Tiger Reserve. Tragically, the entire grassland patch was cleared by villagers for agriculture by burning it in 2010. Later, due to awareness created amongst … Read More

White-browed Crake — New Species for the Indian Subcontinent

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‘Maguri-Motapung Beel’- an Important Bird Area (IBA) situated in the district of Tinsukia, Assam is a haven for both resident and migratory bird species. Every year birdwatchers from across the globe come to witness its rich avian diversity.

On 5th February 2016, we went birding at the ‘beel’ with the prime target of photographing the Critically Endangered (CR) Baer’s Pochard, which is a winter visitor to Assam Valley and lower parts of South Assam hills. At 1612hrs (after sighting the … Read More

Numaligarh — On a Wrong Course?

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Reports of a golf course coming up in the township of the Numaligarh Refinery Limited near Kaziranga National Park in Assam created ripples and troubled many; some also regarded it as one of the ‘regular’ depressing news on the wildlife conservation front. Why – one wonders though – does a Miniratna Public Sector Unit need an arena for a sport usually associated with the elite, that too within a ‘No Development Zone’. Golf courses are ‘infamous’ for their water guzzling … Read More

Another Amur Falcon Migratory Season Begins

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The first Amur Falcons have started arriving in the Northeast, and in Nagaland. The local communities in various parts of the state have been eagerly awaiting the birds in the last couple of years — to welcome them as honoured guests, and to provide them with safe passage.

For the last two years, the Amur Falcon conservation efforts in Pangti and Sungro villages in Wokha district of Nagaland have passed off successfully in a remarkable conservation turnaround. In 2013 and … Read More

Procreation in Action

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The one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) was once distributed throughout the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Today, the species is restricted to pockets in the Indo-Nepal Terai, North Bengal and, of course, in the protected grasslands of Assam. Listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN, poaching and habitat loss continue to be the greatest threats to its survival. The Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhino population. The … Read More

Rare Black-breasted Parrotbill Spotted In Manas

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The Black-breasted Parrotbill (Paradoxornis flavirostris) is one of India’s rarest, enigmatic and least-known birds. Till recently Debeshwari, in the Eastern Zone in Kaziranga, and Dibru-Saikhowa close to Tinsukia in N Assam were the only two places where the bird was found. However it seems that for the last few years the birds seem to have become extremely scare in these areas.

On 17th March 2011, birders Soma Jha and Sushmita Jha sighted this bird in Manas National Park … Read More

Tiger Watching, Kaziranga

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This image was photographed in Kaziranga’s central range on March 31st, 2013.

The tiger was in the grass close to the watchtower, and tourists, including my groups, had congregated in the tower to wait and watch. As the tiger began walking back towards the road there was a crazy rush back down to the track – some groups got into their jeeps and drove up to the tiger, others ran along the track from the tower.

From the watchtower my … 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

Greater Adjutant, Guwahati, Assam

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I photographed this at the Guwahati Garbage Dump, Assam.

The Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) is a member of the stork family, Ciconiidae. Its genus includes the lesser adjutant of Asia and the marabou stork of Africa. Once found widely across southern Asia, mainly in India but extending east to Borneo, the greater adjutant is now restricted to a much smaller range with only two small breeding populations; one in India with the largest colony in Assam and the … Read More

Rhino and Cattle, Pobitora, Assam

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This image was captured in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam in November 2014. This small sanctuary, just 30 km east of Guwahati, houses the highest density of wild rhinos in the world. It is hemmed in on all sides by villages. It also has a sizeable population of Asiatic Water Buffalos, Wild Boar, Jackals and a huge variety of resident and migratory birds. Though declared a sanctuary in 1987 it has an extremely porous border, with cattle, wood cutters and herdsmen … Read More

The Endangered Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle

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The Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle (Chitra indica) of the family Trionychidae, is an extremely large, highly aquatic species. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and placed in Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. It is widely but patchily distributed throughout the riverine ecosystems of the Indian subcontinent. The Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle does not appear to exist at high densities anywhere in its range. Its specialized dietary and habitat requirements make it … Read More

Western Hoolock Gibbon, Bherjan, Assam

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Tucked in a corner of Upper Assam in Bherjan survives a small population of about 35 Western Hoolock Gibbons (Hoolock hoolock). Their lowland evergreen forests have been wiped out and these apes are marooned in an island of tamul or areca nut trees (Areca catechu) and some high canopy trees hemmed in by villages. Fortunately, the villagers are tolerant of these primates and have started protecting these endangered apes and efforts are underway to restore the corridors for their … Read More

Gangetic Dolphin killed by Villagers, Assam

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Lekha Borah sends this picture of a Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica) killed by local villagers in Assam. A fish seller was found selling dolphin meat at a roadside market in Lezai-Kalakhowa, 15 km from Dibrugarh.

Gangetic dolphin, a fresh water dolphin found in the Ganges and the Brahmpautra rivers of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh is the national aquatic animal of India. It is classified as an endangered species and included in the Schedule I species list … Read More

The Endangered White-winged (Wood) Duck, Nameri, Assam

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Seven endangered White-winged (Wood) Ducks (Cairina scutulata) swim in a small forest pool deep inside Nameri Tiger Reserve in Assam. Seven forms a substantial percentage of perhaps not more than 1000 individuals left in the world! Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve and Nameri Tiger Reserve, both in Assam, form the strongholds of this bird in India.

This forest duck is listed as Endangered because it has a very small and fragmented population which is undergoing a very rapid and continuing … Read More

Rare Butterfly Rediscovery — The Snowy Angle

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The Snowy Angle (Darpa pteria) is a rare butterfly. The nominate race is known to occur in Philippines while the race dealbata has a wide distribution extending from Assam, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Malay Peninsula, Tioman, and all the way to Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Palawan. This butterfly was known in India only from one very old record, also from Assam (Evans 1949; Swinhoe 1912-1913).

Recently, Vidya Venkatesh and Karthikeyan S. saw this butterfly on April 26, 2011 in … Read More

Between Flood Waters and a Poacher’s Gun

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We were in Kaziranga to document the July 2012 floods. Rhinos escaping the rising waters of the Brahmaputra, seek shelter in the Karbi Hills to the South. This is where poachers lie in wait.

We saw this poached rhino in a pool of blood, with its horn cut off. The forest department estimates that during floods, about 100 rhinos try to escape to fringe areas like Haldibari, Kanchanjuri, and Panbari. The department attempts to round up and drive back rhinos … Read More