Indian Wolf, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

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The Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), is an endangered species in Schedule I of Indian wildlife according to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. It is also in appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Despite the highest level of protection accorded to the wolves in India, hunting remains rampant and is a major cause of concern. Killing of adult wolves and pups by local sheepherders is common … Read More

Addressing the Elephant in South Bengal

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Harvest season has ceased to be a time of festivities for the rice-growing farming communities living in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts of South Bengal. Due to their geographical location adjoining the dense forests of Jharkhand and Odisha, these districts attract herds of elephants that migrate during this season to raid crops after nightfall. These incidents threaten both life and livelihood. According to S. Kulandaivel, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Urban Recreation Forestry Division and a former Divisional Forest Officer, … Read More

Sharing Space with Big Cats and Elephants — Lessons from Tea Gardens of North Bengal

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This article originally appeared in the Last Wilderness on 7th July 2016.

The morning siren at a tea estate factory ushers in a new day in the life of a tea garden worker in the duars region of northern West Bengal. The term ‘duar’ means gateway since this landscape is the foothills or the gateway to the ‘Himalayas’. Historically, the region comprised of prime moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests in a Bombax (Silk Cotton) and Shorea (Sal) dominated forests. In … Read More

Feral Dogs attack a Tibetan Wild Ass

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While on a birding tour to Ladakh in July 2016, I was heading further east from Pangong Tso, crossing the Chushul plains. I stopped to get the permits checked at the Loma ITBP check-post. While waiting there, a Kiyang entering the river grabbed my attention. I waited and watched as I had never seen them doing that. To my surprise, it started swimming to go across. Meanwhile, it had also caught the attention of a pack of dogs, which had … Read More

Friends in Wrong Places: Assessing the Impacts of Domestic Dogs on Wildlife in India

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In human-populated landscapes, domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are the most abundant terrestrial carnivore, with a global population close to a billion. In India, total dog population is estimated to be about 60 million. Dogs interact with wildlife at multiple levels and despite their controversial effects, global ubiquity and significant ecological roles they remain poorly understood. Although there has been growing evidence of threats posed by free-ranging dogs, very few attempts have been made to understand the impact of free-roaming … Read More

Domestic Cats — Threat to Island Biodiversity

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Historically, the domestic cat has accompanied human beings to all the different islands he’s colonised. And history is proof that this cute animal has decimated local biodiversity in all its innocence.

We were photographing birds at a saline water body at Sippyghat in South Andaman, near Port Blair. Created by the tsunami, this water body is a great place to watch many birds, including the Andaman Teal (an endemic duck of the islands), Lesser Whistling Duck, Common Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, … Read More

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

When Humans are Curious to Know the Spotted Cat

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Nashik district’s Niphad taluk is situated on the fertile banks of the Godavari River. Agriculture is the main occupation here, with sugarcane the major cash crop, grown along with food crops such as wheat, grapes, jowar and other vegetables. Livestock-rearing also contributes a major part to the local economy. In this productive landscape, where human density is fairly high, jackals, hyenas, jungle cats, civets, and leopards also co-exist, as there is water, prey, and shelter.

Some communities like Warali, Mahadeo … 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

Perceiving Animal: A Human Question

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How would we treat beings differently if we granted them ‘selves’? I live life with the experience that I possess a self and navigate interactions with other humans with the assumption that they too have ‘selves’. Is it possible that there are communities and cultures in this world that relate to the non-human beings around them with the belief that these beings have ‘selves’, and can this make communities more willing to negotiate rather than dictate space with them?

As … Read More

Engagement with Media Change the Way Human-wildlife Interactions are Reported

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Mass media plays an important role in shaping public perception of human-wildlife interactions. In India, sensational and horrific imagery is often used to portray encounters between the two, even though most of them are neutral.

Media reports on human-leopard interactions are usually focussed on either attacks on people by leopards, or leopards being killed by people. The area in and around Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, India, is a leopard hotspot, and witnessed many leopard attacks on people in … Read More

A Dogged Problem

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Free-ranging dogs are unfavourable to wildlife, they are reservoirs of many diseases.

The word carnivore often conjures up images of large, dangerous predators such as lions and tigers. Few, however, realize that they spend most of their lives in the presence of the world’s most common carnivore — the domestic dog. Man’s so-called best friend is indeed the most numerous and widespread of the world’s carnivores.

In much of the developed world, dogs are generally confined to certain areas, but … Read More

Living with Leopards: Making Sense of it for the Media

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“Leopard changes spots, strikes fear” blazed the headline of a leading daily in Dehradun. This, even as we were travelling to the interiors of Uttarakhand, to Tehri and Pauri, to conduct media workshops for sensitizing the “fourth estate”.

The Uttarakhand Forest Department, with support from WCS-India, and Titli Trust, Dehradun, has initiated pilot programs in Tehri and Pauri in Uttarakhand, to mitigate the leopard conflict; one of the most serious human-wildlife conflicts in this pristine hill state. The pilots include … Read More

High tolerance towards wildlife from people living near Rajasthan reserves

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Communities living around wildlife reserves in Rajasthan show high tolerance to wildlife, a new study reports. This is despite them having experienced losses in crops and livestock due to interaction with wildlife like nilgai, jackal and wild pig, as well as larger carnivores such as leopard and wolves. In the long term, human–wildlife interactions affect people’s livelihoods, attitudes and tolerance towards wildlife and support for wildlife reserves. Therefore, understanding people’s attitudes towards wildlife is critical to informing park management policies … Read More

Yellow-throated Marten in Garbage, Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh

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I visited Arunachal Pradesh recently for birding, and was enthralled by its beauty. The dense green mountains looked as if they were playing hide and seek with the moving clouds. The place was alive with the continuous chirping of birds. It was like being in paradise. We traveled from Nameri to Dirang and stopped at several places for birding. What really disturbed me was the pile of garbage that we saw in most places. Of the many places that I … Read More

A Conflict Tale from Valparai, Tamil Nadu

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On 26th August, 2017, we were roaming around Valparai looking for wildlife, we came across an incidence of Human-Elephant conflict. We could sense some commotion near the sheds of some estate workers, and saw people running here and there. Upon checking, we heard that a female elephant had entered the premises of one of the workers and was polishing off a plantain tree.

There appeared to be two groups of people at the scene – one, consisting mostly of youth, … Read More

Inviolate Spaces Act as Refugia for Conflict Prone Asiatic Elephant

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Authors Varun R. Goswami, Divya Vasudev and Madan K. Oli use population modeling to demonstrate the detrimental effects of mortality resulting from human–wildlife conflict on long-term persistence of the endangered Asian elephant. Below are the highlights of their study, “The importance of conflict-induced mortality for conservation planning in areas of human–elephant co-occurrence” published in Biological Conservation (Volume 176) in 2014.

A long-standing debate in wildlife conservation is whether we need inviolate spaces, or spaces devoid of human presence, for long-term … Read More

Conserving Species in Landscapes Requires Holistic Planning

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Today, a number of endangered species persist in fragmented landscapes. These landscapes house pristine forests (or other habitat), alongside degraded forests, agricultural lands, plantations, settlements and other lands under different forms of human use. These lands can range from the more ‘wildlife-friendly’ coffee plantations, to open lands or human settlements that are relatively less used by wildlife.

Protection of species and habitat within reserves is without doubt a cornerstone of conservation. But when zooming out to landscapes, conservation challenges, as … Read More

A Cat Among the Dogs — Leopard Diet in a Human-dominated Landscape

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Large cats are often icons of wilderness. However, like humans, they too are very adaptable, especially a species like the leopard, which has the largest range of any of the large felids; perhaps a testimony to its high degree of adaptability. Most of us view wildlife through the prism of protected areas; researchers study mainly within parks and sanctuaries and therefore our understanding about these animals when they reside in human use areas is poor.

This study carried out in … Read More

Opportunity to Build Conservation Support: Local People’s Perceptions of Parks in India and Nepal

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Protected areas and parks in South Asia are tasked with protecting biological diversity and supporting local livelihood needs, particularly so in human-dominated landscapes of India and Nepal. Krithi K. Karanth and Sanjay Nepal examine attitudes and perceptions of local residents living around five well known parks in South Asia, namely Annapurna, Chitwan, Ranthambore, Kanha and Nagarahole. These are the highlights of their study from a paper published in the journal Environmental Management.

  • Surveys and interviews with 777 local residents
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Lights on for Elephants

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Technology offers solutions for Human-Elephant Conflicts.

The dark hulks ambled in a single file across the stark green landscape of thigh-high tea bushes. Without a pause in their stride, the elephants made their way towards a tiny patch of forest. Save for the tree crickets, there were no other sounds. Had it been daytime, the elephants would have been harassed by people behaving like neurotic monkeys. On such occasions, despite their size, the elephants seemed so vulnerable, with nowhere to … Read More

Stolen from Wild Dogs

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In April 2012, I did a two-day, solo-bike drive from Roing to Anini in a thunderstorm in the extreme Northeastern part of Arunachal Pradesh. The rains stopped on the second morning, and while I was on the last stretch to Anini, I came across a fresh kill of a Himalayan Serow made by wild dogs. However, before the wild dogs could feed on the kill they were driven away by the local villagers, and the kill was taken to the … 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

Gaur in Town!

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This image of Gaur in Kodaikanal town in the Palani Hills of south India represents a common sight these days. The reasons for their sauntering into urban areas and hanging around needs to be studied in detail, but some, or several, of the following factors may play a role: habitat fragmentation due to the haphazard growth of Kodaikanal town, private estates and plantations (and perhaps the fencing of these?-Ed), rampant tourism and development, invasion of the shola-grassland ecosystem by exotic … Read More

Leopards in Crisis — Learnings for Uttarakhand

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Not a month goes by without newspaper reports about the attack by a leopard or a tiger on humans in Uttarakhand, followed by days of reporting of the hunt for the cat, and invariably, ending with the capture or death of the unfortunate animal. In December 2016, the Uttarakhand High Court passed an order that leopards and tigers that have been declared man-eaters should not be killed, but should, instead, be tranquilized and translocated to another forest. While the order … Read More