Save the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) from Extinction!

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Powerlines in GIB habitat should go underground. 

The critically endangered Great Indian Bustard has disappeared from over 90% of its former range due to habitat loss, hunting, disturbance and lack of protection in many ‘lekking’ and nesting sites (see 2013 CI campaign). Now, overhead power transmission lines that crisscross its habitat are sounding the death knell of this low-flying, ground-dwelling species (see attached map). According to a study by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), as many as … 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

Missing the Grass for Trees — Planting Trees Where They Don’t Belong

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It may not be an overstatement to say that grasses underpin much of human existence. From sustaining wildlife that fed early hunter-gatherers to eventually becoming food itself, grasses have contributed to the development and flourishing of human civilisations. From present day cereal crops, to even elegant furniture, grasses serve multiple uses in human societies, from the functional to the aesthetic. Yet, when it comes to judgement, the larger urban public and a range of government bodies tend to view grasses … Read More

The Buck Stops Here

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A lone blackbuck walks through real estate development bordering the Vallanadu Blackbuck sanctuary, Tuticorin District, Tamilnadu. About 70 blackbuck are present in the sanctuary and are frequently seen outside its boundary in search of grass.

Vallanadu Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area created for the protection of Blackbuck. Located on an isolated hillock in Vallanadu Village of Srivaikundam Taluk, it is the southernmost place in India where a natural population of Blackbuck exists (courtesy Wikipedia). … Read More

Native Grasslands Matter for Denning Indian Foxes

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Habitats of many species are rapidly getting fragmented and human-modified today; therefore assessing how species respond to such changes in native habitats is an important precursor for any conservation strategy. The tropical short grasslands in India are heavily human-modified landscapes, but are still home to a diverse array of species, including the widely distributed Indian fox (Vulpes benghalensis). Even though commonly seen, Indian fox populations appear to be declining in most parts of its range, and this decline … Read More

Day of the Jackal, Chennai

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While on our usual birding trip, we headed towards this grassland on the outskirts of Chennai looking for migrant species. This is actually a fresh water lake and beautiful grassland side by side, with the monsoon bringing in a copious inflow from sources near the lake. The lake is one of the important wetlands around Chennai, and serves as foraging and breeding grounds for several resident and migratory birds. As we started to scan, we suddenly saw movement, and noticed … Read More

Destruction of Grasslands, Pune

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This is a scene from a hill in Baner, Pune city, Maharashtra. The photo shows a globally threatened bird, the migrant Eurasian Roller (Coracias garrulus) taking off in front of some heavy earthmoving equipment that are destroying its grassland habitat.

Like in the rest of India, grasslands all over Pune district that are not under the control of the forest department are fast disappearing. These grasslands host some threatened fauna. Unfortunately, development will take over and there won’t be habitat … Read More

Courtship of Red-necked Falcons, Tal Chhapar

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The Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera) is a widespread resident in India and adjacent regions as well as sub-Saharan Africa.

Once mating of this bird commences, the female suspends or minimises hunting and the male hunts and provides her with food, mainly birds. Here, a male brings a kill to the female. The female then starts de-feathering the dove. It is ironic that in doing so, the female doesn’t let the male come close to the prey. We see … Read More

Commercial activity in Shola grasslands

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Shola grasslands are high-altitude grasslands, evergreen, with very good water retention capacity. The Western Ghats is a biodiversity hotspot, supporting many endemic and threatened species, a region where many streams and rivers originate. The mountains are known for the wide variety of flora, including many medicinal herbs. The roads are laced with many tiny wild flowers of different hues.

One look at the landscape is enough to take your breath away. It is alright to soak in the beauty. It … Read More

National Green Tribunal (NGT) orders status quo in Challakere grasslands — ESG Press Release

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National Green Tribunal order Status Quo on activities of DRDO, BARC, ISRO, IISc, et. al., in Challakere, Chitradurga

In an unprecedented decision, the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal (South Zone), Chennai, ordered today status quo on all project activities proposed in the Amrit Mahal Kaval grassland ecosystems of Challakere Taluk, Chitradurga, Karnataka with immediate effect. The directions were issued on the interim prayers filed in Applications by the undersigned which complained that Defence Research Development Organisation, Indian Institute of Science, Indian … Read More

Kannada Film Industry Continues to Destroy Hesaraghatta Grasslands

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I have been working towards preserving the grasslands in Hesaraghatta near Bangalore with my colleagues at the Arkavathy River Rejuvenation group. The govt. of Karnataka proposed to build a film city here and a public interest litigation (PIL) opposing that has been filed in the High Court of Karnataka. Consequently, the Karnataka High Court ordered all parties to maintain status quo until further notice.

The land is under the supervision of Kanteerava Studios which lets it out for shooting movies. … Read More

Hesaraghatta PIL — Karnataka High Court Orders Parties to Maintain Status Quo Until Further Notice

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In September 2012, a group of concerned citizens led by photographer Mahesh Bhat, who lives near the Hesaraghatta grasslands in Bangalore had initiated an online campaign to save 300 acres from getting converted into a film city. Earlier, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) had planted several thousand saplings in almost half of the grassland (See ‘Killing a Grassland‘). The misguided seemingly good-intentioned approach was stopped thanks to an outcry from conservationists in the city but not before considerable … Read More

Dog Menace, Hesaraghatta

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In the first week of September, I visited the Hesaraghatta grasslands in Bangalore with a couple of friends. I have already posted on CI about the habitat destruction in the grasslands (see gallery post in CI here) here.

As soon as I entered, I was witness to a disturbing sight. There were a couple of dogs, of which one was chasing this black-naped hare. It would have almost caught the hare, which was fortunate to live another day.… Read More

Buzzard and Earth Mover, Hesaraghatta

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This image was made a few months back during the winter in Hesaraghatta, a lake on the outskirts of Bangalore city. The habitat is basically a grassland and semi shrub vegetation. During winter a large variety of birds such as kestrel, harriers (marsh, pied, montagu’s and pallid), common stonechat, steppe eagle, greater spotted eagle, zitting cisticola etc., migrate to this small area. Many months ago, the local development body had proposed to build a theme park this area – a … Read More

Eating away their grasslands

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This image was taken in the short grasslands of Solapur in 2010, showing a ‘city’ construction project taking place near the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary. This picture depicts the unfortunate fate of a majority of dry, arid habitats in the country. Short grasslands in India are fast getting modified due to the expansion of agriculture and industry. Even though crop raiding species such as the Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) may seem to benefit slightly from agricultural expansion, such conversion … 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

Killing a Grassland, Hesaraghatta, Bangalore

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There is an urgent conservation issue related to the Hesaraghatta grasslands in NW Bangalore. Of all places in Bangalore, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) selects possibly the last remaining grassland to go on a tree-planting overdrive. Using bulldozers, close to 30,000 pits have been dug and most of them planted. The media coverage was helpful and possibly aided in putting a halt to the digging but almost 200 acres of prime grassland is dug and gone — unless the saplings … Read More

A Reprieve for the Wolves of Maidenahalli

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The Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), a subspecies of the Eurasian wolf (Canis lupus), found in the Himalayan ranges, is a lanky animal with short fur, about the size of a German Shepherd Dog. An estimated 2000-3000 of these animals now survive in India, mainly in the states of Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. They are wide ranging, pack hunting predators requiring large home ranges. As agriculture expanded … Read More