Wild Seve – Empowering People and Fostering Tolerance for Wildlife

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India’s Bandipur and Nagarahole National Parks are home to the highest densities of tigers, leopards and elephants globally. People living adjacent to these parks frequently experience crop and property damage, livestock predation and occasionally are injured or killed. As a result, the traditional tolerance that rural communities of India have for wildlife can get eroded due to continued financial losses they incur.

Wild Seve is a novel conservation initiative developed by WCS Scientist Dr. Krithi Karanth in collaboration with the … Read More

Dholes in the Western Ghats

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Large carnivores across the world face several threats even as they continue to decline in numbers. Understanding where these species occur, how they use their habitats and what factors influence these patterns are important for their conservation. The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a unique endangered predator. It is the only social, wild canid that almost exclusively inhabits forest areas in Asia. Historically treated as ‘vermin’, dholes were bounty-hunted across the India until they were protected under … Read More

The Elusive Leopard Cats of India

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Small felids, like jungle cats, leopard cats, fishing cats and marbled cats (among others) constitute more than 60% of all cat species in the world. But most of these small cats remain understudied because they are generally secretive, elusive and difficult to observe and monitor. In this aspect, the leopard cat presents a fascinating case study.

Leopard cats are among the world’s most widely occurring small cat species. There have been substantial studies of their ecology in Southeast Asia. In … Read More

Understanding the Distribution and Occurrence of India’s Smallest Bovid: The Chousingha

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Endemic to the Indian sub-continent, the four-horned antelope (FHA) or Chousingha is listed as Vulnerable (C2a (i)) in the IUCN Red list. In 2008, there were an estimated 10,000 adults in the wild in Nepal and India. Being a low-density species, FHA are particularly sensitive to changing habitat conditions and anthropogenic pressures. In India, the species is protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

At present, there is little scientific information available on the four-horned antelope, and the … Read More

Chital Chewing Plastic Bag, Bandipur

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While I love to shoot great action and beauty pictures of wildlife, I could not resist shooting this unfortunate scene in Bandipur recently. In my opinion, Bandipur is amongst the most abused national parks in India. It tolerates all sorts of issues caused by picnickers – starting from litter and yelling tourists, all the way to human-animal conflict. Tourists often enjoy a great picnic beside the National Highway that cuts through the park, after which they throw plastic and paper … Read More

Intruding the personal space of elephants, Bandipur

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We were driving back to Bangalore on 10th March 2013. That weekend saw an extraordinary rush to Bandipur, Mudumalai and Ooty. There were a lot of places on the Bandipur – Mudumalai (NH 67) highway where people were stopping to see wildlife. After we crossed the Kakkanhalla checkpost, we saw a car (Xylo) stop; two people casually got out, walked towards this pair of elephants and started taking pictures. I shot a video anticipating a charge, but the truck scared … Read More

Counting Squirrels in Indian Forests

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Although the ecology of squirrels has been extensively studied, most past work is characterized by the failure to account for detection and heavy reliance on indices rather than directly measuring abundance. This has involved acoustic and visual surveys, sign surveys (tracks, middens and dreys) and capture-recapture sampling (trapping rates) methods are adopted to estimate squirrel abundance. Such field studies assume the detection probability of the species to be equal in all sites, leading to incorrect estimates of true abundance.

Authors … Read More

Camera Trapping Reveals Exciting Secrets of Tiger Dispersal

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On 1-5-2011, Forest officials of the Shimoga Wildlife Division, had safely captured a male tiger that strayed into Gama village near Shikaripur. A decision was made by the Forest Department, based on consultation with WCS senior scientist and NTCA member Dr. Ullas Karanth, to release the tiger in Bhadra Tiger Reserve, rather than hold it in perpetual captivity. This decision was based on the fact that the tiger was estimated to be of dispersal age (about 3 years), healthy and … Read More

Elephants near Human Settlements

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This was photographed in the backwaters of the Kabini River in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. Across the river, just outside the reserve (Gendathur side of Bandipur Tiger Reserve), there are a lot of human settlements. Elephant Proof Trenches (EPT) protecting this area do little to stop the herds. Elephants easily swim across from the Nagarahole side to graze on grass on the Bandipur side, bringing them into frequent conflicts with humans. Cattle grazing occurs near the human settlements in the morning, … Read More

Why Captive or Man-Eating Big Cats Should not be Released into the Wild

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Preamble

They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. That’s certainly true of releasing captive or man-eating big cats into the wild, ostensibly to ‘conserve’ them. In 2015, a wild tiger from Chikmagalur that killed a local woman, and showed no fear of humans, was captured by the Forest Department.  Unfortunately, while initial press reports indicated that it would be transferred to the Bannerghatta zoo, this dangerous animal was instead released into the Bhimgad forest against the Read More

Wild dogs attacking Gaur calf, Bandipur

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We came across a pack of 18 dholes or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus) at Bandipur National Park. The pack was getting ready to attack an elephant herd with two calves. After a few attempts, the dholes moved on. A few minutes later, we heard the call of a gaur and moved forward. In an open area, we saw the dholes attacking a gaur calf while the mother tried to protect it.

As the cries of the calf and the … Read More

Developing Simple and Innovative Techniques to Monitor Elephants

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Authors V. R. Goswami, M.V. Lauretta, M. D. Madhusudan and K. U. Karanth have developed an automated process to identify individual adult male elephants effectively. These are the highlights of their study published in the journal, Animal Conservation in 2011.

There are an estimated 40,000 wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) spread across 13 countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in South Asia and Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam). According … Read More

What do Carnivores Eat?

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As umbrella species, the tiger and its co-predators, the leopard and dhole play a fundamental role in shaping prey communities in the forest. Understanding the food habits and dietary seperation of these three large carnivores is vital for conservation of prey species and overall ecosystem functioning.

Authors Anish P. Andheria, K. Ullas Karanth and N. Samba Kumar conducted a study of diets of three sympatric large carnivores, the tiger (Panthera tigris), the leopard (Panthera pardus) and … Read More

Plastic menace at Bandipur National Park

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On 9th Nov 2013, on our way to Ooty through Bandipur National Park, we witnessed this scene of a chital with its face inside a plastic bag. A couple of months before, we had seen forest staff of Bandipur National Park clearing plastic from the same road. On the whole, they have been doing a commendable job. But tourists need to be educated about littering and there should be regular patrolling on the main road to penalise offenders. It is … Read More

The Tree Whisperer!

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The leopard is one of the key predators of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. It is elusive, graceful and an expert at climbing trees. It has fantastic camouflage, making it difficult even for a trained eye to spot this spotted cat. Over the years, I have seen many a leopard by following pugmarks or alarm calls, and every sighting has been a learning experience.

Including watching this male, which is rather bold and doesn’t seem to mind the safari vehicles. This individual … Read More

Q: My question is about the roads which are shut during the night time in Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks in Karnataka, why can’t we shut these roads completely? I know there was a great struggle to even shut these roads during night time. But with the will and constant fight against the evil powers, your case study has shown how it can be handled. Alternate roads can be developed far away from forest range easily if Government has the willingness to do so. I have left my comment below your case study as well, please advice whether my words make sense or not.

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Answer from Praveen Bhargav, Managing Trustee, Wildlife First:

Your comment on developing alternative alignments to roads that cut through Wildlife Reserves is valid. A lot of effort has been put in by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) to address this issue. There have been many interventions by Courts as well. So, we are moving forward but we cannot completely close down roads/highways since that would antagonise society, which will lead to the loss of public support for conservation. … Read More

Stripe-necked Mongoose with Plastic Bottle, Bandipur

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On a rainy morning safari in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, we came across a Stripe-necked Mongoose very close to the safari track. Unmindful of our presence, it was moving around busily looking for a quick morsel. It came across this plastic water bottle lying in the grass. And it took to it as a kid takes to a new toy. The mongoose cuddled with the bottle and rolled around for a few minutes.

What explains this behaviour? Probably, as our naturalist … Read More

Macaque fielding at slip, Bandipur!

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The highlight of a rather rainy trip to Bandipur in April 2012 came from a rather unexpected source. With Bandipur’s famed carnivores declining to give us an audience, the little bonnet macaques decided to put on a show for us on our last safari!

We were on our way out post the afternoon safari and right at the exit, in a large open meadow, we stopped to check out some bonnet macaques. Especially since one of them had a little … Read More

Tiger and a plastic bottle, Bandipur

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I saw this young tigress in Bandipur with a plastic bottle near its feet.

In spite of a nighttime traffic closure (see CI casestudy), the Ooty-Mysore highway (NH 67) through Bandipur Tiger Reserve causes serious disturbances to wildlife. Tourists and passersby are always stopping by the road to look at wild animals or disturbing them like feeding monkeys, getting close to already agitated elephants, honking and, not the least, speeding.

Hoever, what disturbed me most was this plastic … Read More

Replenishing Water Tanks in Wildlife Reserves: How Scientific?

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A recent decision by the Karnataka Forest Department to replenish drying waterholes in Bandipur and Nagarahole Tiger Reserves with water brought in from outside using water tankers, has been opposed by several experienced conservationists, who have worked in these areas for several decades. Sometime ago, CI carried a letter to the PCCF (WL), Karnataka, from K.M. Chinappa, former Range Forest Officer, Nagarahole, and President, Wildlife First, and Praveen Bhargav, Trustee, Wildlife First. Here we present the views of Dr. K. Read More

Field Survey of large mammals (transect surveys) and training program on their population monitoring methods — Call for Volunteers by WCS – India

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Field Survey of large mammals and training program on their population monitoring methods 

Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program and its partner Centre for Wildlife Studies are conducting field training camps for monitoring large mammal populations for the field season 2013. These field workshops will be held at several reserves in Karnataka including Dandeli-Anshi, BRT, Bhadra, Bandipura and Nagarahole. Some of the methods taught will include:

  1. Estimation of large herbivore populations
  2. Relative abundance estimation of large carnivores using scat encounter rates
  3. Demo
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Tourists Gone Wild

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This was photographed in November 2010 in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve of Karnataka. It is evident that the mother elephant is completely agitated and trying to protect her calf. In spite of the efforts of the forest department in educating tourists and operators about maintaining a distance of at least 200m from wild animals, many violate these rules and approach animals closely, and provoke them at close range, seeking dangerous thrills. … Read More

Sambar Battle Wild Dogs in Bandipur

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In September 2012, on an evening safari in Bandipur National Park, I witnessed a truly amazing natural history moment, perhaps the finest in all of my wild travels across India. We had planned to check the Kavare Katte, a large water body, before exiting the park. From a distance, we could see that a few sambar standing in the water. As we approached closer, we realized the enormously tense situation that had been playing out. The sambar had entered the … Read More

Local Tribes Inside Bandipur Tiger Reserve

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Human settlements in tiger reserves are a threat to the delicate movement of wildlife and in turn, face the danger of sudden attacks by wild animals. It is the animals that are going to lose eventually. Relocation of local tribes and villages out of the reserves is the only solution for both the tribes and animals, because man and animals have failed to coexist in peace. Human activity of any kind, good, bad or ugly is a nuisance to the … Read More