Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Bangladesh

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The first specimen of the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) was collected in mid-19th century from Bangladesh. The country also holds the record for the highest single count of the bird anywhere in the world — 202 birds in 1989 from Moulevir Char (Bakewell & Howes 1989)!

That was history.

The bird has since undergone a drastic decline in its population. According to Birdlife International, this charismatic species is listed as Critically Endangered because of its extremely small population … 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

Pelican Poaching, Chennai

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This image is one of a series of pictures I took on 1st January 2013 while watching birds at Chennai’s Kelambakkam lake. This brackish backwater lake is home to a lot of migrant and resident bird species throughout the year.

This is also a haven for poachers who regularly target this place for large number of local and migratory birds during winter for the excessive demand for meat on weekends. In this instance, it didn’t seem like organised poaching but … Read More

Hunter’s Bag, Zuneheboto, Nagaland

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Staring idly out of the window as we made our way along the winding, dust-covered roads of Nagaland’s picturesque green hills, we were suddenly snapped out of our reverie by the sight of two young boys dangling a collection of squirrels and birds including a slender, black and white badger-like creature. We could buy the whole bunch for just Rs. 800 we were told, and the boys proudly posed for a picture with their wares. The badger and birds were … Read More

Miscreants Caught Trying to Poison Vultures

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On a recent visit to Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary along with my friends Hrishikesh and Preetham, we came across a group of miscreants who were caught red-handed while trying to poison vultures at the sanctuary. Five of them were caught by the local Iruliga tribe while they were trying to poison vultures using chicken meat. An insecticide called PHORATE was applied to the chicken meat and dispersed near the vultures nests. The motive behind hunting these vulture was not clear. However, … Read More

Rescued Great Barbet, Doyang, Nagaland

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This fledgling Great Barbet (Megalaima virens) was rescued from a hunter by an educator who works with the Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT) in Doyang, Nagaland. It was just a chick when it was rescued and is currently being nursed to adulthood so it can be released in the wild. In Nagaland, such incidents of rescue are very rare.

The merciless, uncontrolled, rampant, widespread and all-year round hunting in Nagaland of almost all life-forms will, in … Read More

Yellow-legged Buttonquail hunting in Bangalore

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Due to high demand for their meat, wild quails are hunted ruthlessly even though there are licensed quail farms where they are bred in captivity for the table.

This Yellow-legged buttonquail (Turnix tanki) was rescued from hunters by a group of people near HSR layout in Bangalore. The hunters had already killed five. We tried to convince them and create awareness not to kill these birds, but they were ignorant and lacked any concern. Avinash and I had … Read More

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation in Bangladesh

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Considering its grim current global status, a group of young ornithologists in Bangladesh took up the challenge to save the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper in 2009, when they began the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project (BSCP).

Their surveys confirmed that Bangladesh is an extremely important wintering ground for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, and identified Sonadia Island (near Cox’s Bazar) as the key wintering site and Domar Char as a stopover (passage) site in the country. In Sonadia Island, they found evidence … Read More

Barn Owl Hunter, Maharashtra

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On 7th March, in rural Maharashtra, I came across a few young men coming out of the forests near Vajreshwar adjacent to the newly declared Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. We were a little off the road towards a tiny hamlet called Lendipara.

It was shocking to see they had come out with a dead barn owl which they had freshly hunted with a catapult. The young boy was more than happy to pose with his sick ‘trophy’, and when asked … Read More

Dead Bonelli’s Eagle

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I came across this ghastly sight in Wai, in Satara district, Maharashtra, where I had gone birdwatching. Someone had tied this dead Bonelli’s Eagle to a tree. There was a deep wound on the body near the wing. My enquiries with the people nearby did not reveal who was responsible. I reported it to the forest department. The sight deeply saddened me.

Bonelli’s Eagle populations have declined drastically throughout their range. In addition to persecution by hunters and pigeon fanciers, … Read More

Brutal hunting of birds, Baisha Bil, West Bengal

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On the morning of 5th September 2013, Sourav Mondal and I went to Baisha Bil (wetland) on a birding outing. There were hundreds of Baya Weavers, Zitting Cisticolas, and other birds in the wetland. We were shocked to see two people trapping many of these birds (mainly Baya Weavers) using nets. We heard from the local people that other birds, such as the Open-billed Stork, Little Egret, Pond Heron, and Lesser whistling Duck, are also trapped and killed in this … Read More

Amur Falcon Shooting Incident, Nagaland

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On the 6th of May 2013, Rajneesh Suvarna, Jitendra Bhatia, Suja Rangaswamy and myself were on the way back from Pungro in Eastern Nagaland to Kohima. We had been in Nagaland for 6 days and had noticed that guns were common and hunting accepted as a way of life. The few local Nagas we met were surprised that we had come all the way to watch birds, and indeed were skeptical that we would have seen any. Our birding experience … Read More

Pelican Poaching in Kanva Dam, Channapatna, Karnataka

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Kishan SB, Deepak Jois, Amith Kumar, Aravind S and I had gone to Kanva Dam, (which is behind Kengal temple on the Mysore-Bangalore highway near Channapatna) on the afternoon of 18th Feb 2013. There was a lot of water in the dam. We could see Painted Storks, River Terns, Whiskered Terns, Spot-billed Ducks, Black-winged stilts and Black-tailed Godwits in the water.

There were a flock of five Grey or Spot-billed Pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis). As we were watching them … Read More

Poisoning Egrets for a Village Booze Party

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I recently witnessed a grotesque ritual in my village, Rettanai, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu. We grow paddy at our farm there, and the flooded fields form a nice breeding ground for frogs and crabs which attract egrets. One evening, three young men came to our farm and asked permission to cross our farm to go to the neighboring field. They were carrying an assorted collection of stuff in their hands, and out of curiosity I asked them what they intended … Read More

Bird Poachers Caught Red-handed at Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai

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I took this image of two poachers trapping waders (mainly little stints) flying low over Kelambakkam lake near Chennai and getting trapped in mesh nets. I was birding along the lake accompanied by Vaithiyanathan, also a birdwatcher and photographer. Both of us are members of the Photographic Society of Madras (PSM).

When we reached the lake, I saw two people crouched on one of the small islands in the backwaters. I took a test shot with my camera to check … Read More

Followup Action on the Hunting Incident Near the Himayat Sagar Reservoir

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People often feel helpless in the face of conservation issues, as even if they possess the know-how and try to take action, they are likely to face dead ends and official stonewalling. Sometimes a louder, or just a second voice is needed. Sharing conservation issues on Conservation India and other such portals helps achieve this. Diya Banerjee, a wildlifer and animal activist based out of Hyderabad, happened to read this post about Hunting near the Himayat Sagar Reservoir on CI. … Read More

Hunting Downstream of Himayat Sagar Reservoir Near Hyderabad

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On the morning of 8th July, 2012, a little after 9 AM, I visited a place downstream of the Himayat Sagar Reservoir, about 20 kms away from Hyderabad. On my way I heard the sound of a gun shot, followed by panic stricken cries of Spot-billed Ducks, Peafowl and other birds. Upon reaching the spot, I saw two men, one of whom was perched on a bare tree with a rifle, while the other was resting on the opposite bank.  … Read More

Birdwatchers Help Nab Waterfowl Poachers in Siruthavur Lake Near Chennai

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Two and half of hours of drama unfolded at the Siruthavur lake this morning (3rd June 2012). Five of us from the Madras Naturalists Society (MNS) had come to watch and photograph birds in Siruthavur lake, 40 km from Chennai in Tiruvallur district. The lake was full of birds when we arrived around 7 AM. Just as we reached the lakeshore we heard gunshots. We saw grey herons fall followed by egrets. The shots lasted for half an hour or … Read More

Large-scale Waterfowl Slaughter in Puducherry

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Every day, hundreds of waterfowl (both resident and migratory) and other animals notified in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, meet with a fatal end in Puducherry (Pondicherry, Union Territory). A large number of gypsies or narikoravas, hunt these birds and sell the meat right under the nose of the Forest Department. Birds are caught at the nearby Oussudu Lake (which is notified as a bird sanctuary) and openly sold for their meat at roadside stalls on Koodapakkam … Read More

Dearth of Studies on Hunting in India

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Hunting remains one of the major conservation threats across the world, particularly in tropical countries. Nandini Velho, Krithi K. Karanth and William F. Laurance analyze hunting studies from India. These are the highlights of their study from their paper published in the journal, Biological Conservation.

  • The authors did a meta-analysis of 143 published studies on hunting in India.
  • 114 mammal species are hunted across India and large bodied species are the most vulnerable.
  • A majority (76%) of studies
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The Pakke Hornbill Nest Adoption Program

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There is a quiet change taking place in Arunachal Pradesh. Not big, but quite important. Pakke Tiger Reserve lies in South Western Arunachal Pradesh and is home to several Nyishi tribal villages. Late one morning in December 2011, a group of nine tribal headmen representing their villages, the dynamic Nyishi District Forest Officer (DFO) Tana Tapi, and researchers from the Nature Conservation Foundation’s (NCF) had gathered in a community hall. They were kicking off an innovative program – the Hornbill … Read More

Dead Rufous-necked Hornbill in Mehao wildlife sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh

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Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) has been classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by IUCN. Populations of this species have already been exterminated from east Nepal and large parts of Vietnam. One of the primary causes of its population decline is hunting. Logging large trees — like this — for timber and agriculture is another major threat. This individual was shot by a group of young educated men which included a teacher and administrative staff from Roing inside the Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary … Read More