A Species Recovery Plan for Jerdon’s Courser

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Jerdon’s Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) is a nocturnal cursorial bird found only in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the world’s rarest bird species and is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The species was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1986 near Reddipalli village, Cuddapah District of Andhra Pradesh, India. The site where it was rediscovered was designated as the Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife … Read More

Sarus Cranes in Intensely Cultivated Floodplains

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Sarus Cranes (Grus antigone) in north India and other locations occur in landscapes with very high human populations and intensive agriculture. Their successful breeding is dependent on remnant wetland patches. Traditional agricultural practices help them to persist on the otherwise disturbed lands. Alongside the struggle to maintain wetlands amid a burgeoning human population, the changes in rainfall patterns, likely driven by global climate change, are new challenges that cranes here face. … Read More

A New Breeding Location of Indian Skimmer in Son Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh

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The Son Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary in Sidhi District of Madhya Pradesh, which was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1981 by the State government to protect and preserve the faunal diversity of the river, specifically the critically endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), and the vulnerable Marsh Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), is also a breeding ground for the Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis), a hitherto unrecorded site. Birdlife International and IUCN have declared the skimmer as “Vulnerable” (see Birdlife factsheet on the … Read More

Indian Skimmer Nesting in Odisha

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It is one of the least studied species in the subcontinent with inadequate observations on its breeding behaviour and biology. Birdlife International and IUCN have declared it as “Vulnerable” (see Birdlife factsheet on the species) based on its fast depleting numbers which is assumed to be between 6000-7000 individuals only. Its known nesting site so far is the Chambal sanctuary where conservation strategies have been adopted. The Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) however needs much more attention than what it has … Read More

Dead Indian Vulture at Ramanagara, Karnataka

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Ramnagara (or Ramadevarabetta) Vulture Sanctuary, with an area of 346.14 hectares, was declared as a Vulture Sanctuary on January 31, 2012. It has received attention from Bangalore’s ‘wildlifers’ and consequently, there have been a few interesting articles published about this area in the media. However, the story I am about to relate is not a pretty one and exposes the potential deficiencies in vulture conservation strategy.

While birding at Ramanagara on 14th June 2015, Vishnupriya and I scanned the cliffs … Read More

The Threatened Tragopans

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Tragopan is a genus of bird in the family Phasianidae. Four species of tragopans are found in India, while the fifth, Cabot’s Tragopan (Tragopan caboti), is a south-east Asian bird. All tragopans are under great threat from hunting and the fragmentation of their habitats.

This photo-feature covers all the four tragopans in India with a short background on each.… Read More

White-rumped Vulture Release, Ahmedabad

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Jivdaya Charitable Trust is an NGO dedicated to treating stray animals and birds free of charge. Set up in Ahmedabad in 2007, the Trust has come a long way and is now equipped with the latest treatment facilities, from gas anesthesia machines, latest orthopedic instruments, an X-ray unit, a ventilator, a multipara monitor with a pulse oximeter and also 2 state-of-the-art operation theatres. The Trust also has three fully equipped ambulance vans that treat animals on the spot. The Trust … Read More

Photographers Ruining Hesaraghatta – A Wake-up Call

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A rapid assessment study of the grasslands of Hesaraghatta, outside Bangalore, shows that unregulated and excessive vehicular movement of bird photographers is creating permanent vehicle tracks, causing significant disturbance to the feeding and foraging activities of birds, imposing severe stress on the local birdlife, as well as damaging the ecosystem for some rare butterflies. 

Conservation India condemns such unethical and insensitive photography and urges wildlife photographers to strictly adhere to the cardinal rule of nature photography — “The welfare of Read More

FDA Maharashtra Issues Order on Diclofenac Malpractices in Veterinary : A Step forward

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Recent pilot surveys by our team indicated a significant lack of awareness as well as rampant malpractice among stakeholders with respect to the veterinary use of (banned) diclofenac in Pune district, Maharashtra. Typical issues reported were :

  • Lack of knowledge on the ban on veterinary use of diclofenac.
  • Unrestricted over the counter sale of diclofenac for veterinary use.
  • Easy access to human formulations of diclofenac for veterinary use.

These issues were raised with senior forest officers. In response to the … 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

Unregulated Tourism at Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Nannaj

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There are a lot of tourism-related pressures on the critically endangered Great Indian Bustards in Nannaj, Solapur district, Maharashtra where the population is on the decline. The  population estimate for the Nannaj region is just 10-11 birds. Estimated population of the bustards in Maharashtra is around 35-40 birds. The Pune-based NGO GIB Foundation has proposed some specific recommendations for reducing tourism-related pressures for the bustards, especially during the monsoon — when bustards gather in their traditional breeding grounds — when … Read More

A Satyr Tragopan From Neora Valley, North Bengal

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The male Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra) is easily one of the most beautiful birds in India and also one of the rarest. The Satyr Tragopan is found in the Eastern Himalayas, besides Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. It is best seen in Neora Valley National Park in North Bengal. Male Satyr’s are 68cm and are a bright crimson red with white spots. Females are smaller and less conspicuous.

Tragopans are often called “horned pheasants” because they display horn-like projections … Read More

Effective or Not? Has the Ban on Diclofenac to Save India’s Vultures Worked?

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The results of a study published in 2011, five years after the ban in 2006, says yes, there has been a perceptible change in the use of diclofenac for veterinary use. But there is much more work to be done for the ban to be a success and for the country to see a rise in vulture populations.

The Indian subcontinent lost 95 per cent of its vultures in just 15 years. Of the eight species of vultures found in … Read More

Long-billed Vulture Chick, Ramanagara, Karnataka

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The welcome sight of a Long-billed Vulture chick on the crags of Ramanagara signal some hope for the augmentation of the very low population of this bird in the south of India. As of now, the number of Vultures at this location seem to have dwindled from thirteen, a year or two earlier, to only nine or ten. The painkiller chemical, Diclofenac, which is still not banned for human use, has decimated the population of Long-billed Vultures across the Indian … Read More

Lesser Florican Sighted In Bangalore After A Century!

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Out on a cold gloomy morning with the intent of photographing birds, Mr. Raghavendra Bhat sat in his car in the outskirts of Bangalore, waiting for the sun to warm up the day. As the day brightened-up in about 20 minutes, he observed a medium sized bird cross the kuchha road in front and walk into the grass. At first, he thought it to be a juvenile junglefowl, but on seeing the structure of the head, he thought it could … Read More

National Level Plan Drawn To Protect Endangered Bustard And Floricans

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A draft plan for national recovery of the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) and the endangered Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indica) has been submitted by a special task force to the MoEF. The ‘Draft Guidelines for Species Recovery Programmes’– is hosted on the MoEF website. Comments/suggestions are invited from civil society owithin a week of issue of this notification, the website says.

“There is an immediate need for an executable plan both at the … Read More

Agriculture That Benefits Wildlife

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The tallest flying bird in the world – the Sarus crane – thrives in the intensely cultivated floodplains of Uttar Pradesh. Can the birds withstand the pressures of a country on the fast track to development?

The fertile Gangetic floodplain has supported dense human population for centuries—much of the land is cultivated, having been converted almost entirely to small-holder farmer systems at least 300 years ago. Despite these pressures, the world’s largest known breeding populations of sarus cranes and black-necked … Read More

Lesser Florican and Humans — Conflict or Co-existence?

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An endangered male Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indicus) displays in the Sonkhaliya grasslands in Ajmer, Rajasthan. Most of Sonkhaliya have been converted into agricultural fields and the remaining into shrub land of the invasive Prosopis juliflora. Surprisingly, in a recent survey more than 150 male floricans were seen in the Sonkhaliya area of about 100 square kilometers. This author (G.S. Bhardwaj — a scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India) who conducted the survey in NW India observed … Read More

All Crane Species Under Threat of Extinction Says Waterbird Expert

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Dutch scientist Dr. Joost Van der Ven, pioneer of the annual International Waterbird Census, has said that all 15 crane species of the world are under the threat of extinction. Five species live in India and hence India has an important role to play. The Sarus Crane population is a cause for concern. The western population of the Siberian Crane, that used to winter in India (last bird was seen in 2002) and Iran, was hunted to extinction along their … Read More

Diclofenac Ban Helps Vulture Populations

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The diclofenac ban of 2006 by the Govt. of India has helped arrest the decline in the population of vultures. This was the conclusion of a study by scientists representing the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. The study was presented to a gathering of scientists at the International Conference on Indian Ornithology, held at the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), … Read More

Rare Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant Rescued In Manipur And Handed Over To Zoo

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Residents of Pumlen, a part of Loktak lake in Bishnupur district, Manipur have caught a male nongin (Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant). A local MLA has paid Rs 1000 for the bird and handed it over to the Manipur zoological gardens. The nongin is the state bird of Manipur, and its discovery for the first time in the valley has brought cheers from wildlife officials. The forest department has so far collected 14 nongins by encouraging locals not to kill the birds. … Read More

SC Notification for The Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Maharashtra

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Finally, the Supreme Court (SC) has cleared the long-pending denotification of Great Indian Bustard (GIB) Sanctuary at Nannaj in Solapur district. From 8,496 sq km earlier, the sanctuary will now be restricted to 1,222 sq km.

The matter was pending in the court since 2006. In October, 2008, the SC had directed the committee for rationalization of boundaries to recommend the area of the GIB sanctuary. Accordingly, a committee headed by VB Sawarkar, ex-director of Wildlife Institute of India (WII), … Read More

Greater Adjutant in Guwahati Garbage Dump, Assam

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Endangered Greater Adjutant Storks Leptoptilos dubius patiently await their turn at a landfill near Guwahati, Assam. They await their turn patiently at the garbage table – every time a fresh truckload of garbage enters the landfill people rush to it first, and once they are done with their pickings the storks move in filling their gullets with rotten meat. I still wonder how this species living so calmly in an urban environment could be so endangered.

The Greater Adjutant Stork … Read More

Yellow-eyed Pigeon Resurfaces in Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary for Third Year

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The rare Yellow-eyed Pigeon, at the turn of the 19th century, used to migrate to India in swarming flocks during winter. However, habitat destruction and unrestrained hunting had driven them out of their wintering grounds in India. But now, the highly vulnerable species is making a comeback and favors the Tal Chhapar wildlife sanctuary in Churu district, Rajasthan. In 2009, the pigeons had flown into Tal Chhapar in small groups and repeated the act again in 2010. This year, the … Read More

Sarus Crane Nesting Sites Decline In Uttar Pradesh

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There has been a large decline in the number of nesting sites observed in Etawah district in Uttar Pradesh. Wildlife activists and forest officials are trying to ascertain the reasons. It appears to be a hidden conflict between farmers and the birds. Analysis shows that 64 percent of the land owned by farmers happened to be in wetlands. Only 36 percent was outside of wetlands. Shortage of agricultural land, inappropriate land management practices and poverty are said to be reasons … Read More