Connecting the Tigers — Mapping Habitat Connectivity for Tigers in Central India

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It turns out that – when it comes to protecting India’s tigers – size matters, just not in the way most people might think. Large protected areas are clearly important for such a wide-ranging, territorial species. But in what may be a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, new research also shows that small protected areas often play a disproportionate role in ensuring the long-term survival of tigers in Central India.

Over the last several years, India has been working to improve tiger … Read More

Bleeding the Chambal Dry

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Reckless water hoarding, diversion, sand mining and fishing are killing a pristine river that once used to recast its vast ravines every flood. Jay Mazoomdaar on the curse of the Chambal.

This article originally appeared in Tehelka, 8 March, 2013.

In a culture where rivers are worshipped, the Chambal, by all means mightier than the Yamuna, would be slighted as a tributary of the latter. Unsurprisingly, no great cities or shrines came up on its banks. This traditional isolation fostered … Read More

Endangered Lesser Floricans give MP a miss

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Western Madhya Pradesh is witnessing a bad year with respect to the arrival of the endangered Lesser Floricans (Sypheotides indicus) in the area.

There are primarily three areas where the floricans used to arrive for the breeding season in western M.P. These are Sailana sanctuary in Ratlam District, Petlawad in Jhabua District and Sardarpur sanctuary in Dhar District. No birds have arrived in M.P. this year until the 31st of July. in earlier years they used to arrive … Read More

The Enigma of the Forest Owlet

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The Forest Owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti) is a curious bird, both by name and nature. It has captured the imagination of many within and outside the country and for the right reasons.

The forest owlet has an interesting past associated with it. Let us travel back in time to the 19th century. It was in 1872 when an Irish officer, Mr. Francis Robert Blewitt (F. R. Blewitt) saw this different looking owl near Phooljhar in eastern Madhya Pradesh (now in Chhattisgarh). … Read More

Understanding Sloth Bears — An Interview With Dr. K. Yoganand

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CI: Tell us about your research on sloth bears

I conducted intensive field research on sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) between 1996 and 2000 in Panna National Park (Madhya Pradesh), a partly degraded, dry deciduous forest habitat in Madhya Pradesh, central India. I captured and fitted radio-collars on several sloth bears and followed them to observe their behaviour and learn more about their secretive lives, such as, when did they sleep, what did they eat, how far did they … Read More

First Records of Preorbital Gland Opening in Rare Wild Barasingha, Kanha TR, Madhya Pradesh

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The opening of the preorbital gland in deer serves as a visual communication and has been linked to a wide variety of behavioural situations. As we reported recently, all previous long-term studies on preorbital gland opening were carried out on only one species, whereas case reports on six other rarely studied species have shown associations with different behaviours, thus greatly increasing our overall understanding of the real function of this gland in animal visual communication.

Here, we report for the … Read More

Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS), Dec 2016

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The Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS) was organized in Pench Tiger Reserve (MP) from 14th to 17th December, 2016. It was the second of a bi-annual symposia aimed at bringing together researchers, conservationists and managers working in the Central Indian Highlands to share their perspectives and findings, and develop networks for collaborative future work in the region. It was organized by WWF-India, Satpuda Foundation and the Network for Conserving Central India – a network of researchers, NGOs and managers dedicated … Read More

Indian Grey Hornbill Nesting Adaptability, Indore

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In the middle of the city of Indore, an Indian grey hornbill pair has made its nest in a hole (cavity) on the 2nd floor of a multi storied building. Till now it is known that hornbills make nests in cavities of large trees, but this peculiar nesting behaviour has amazed the birder fraternity.

I was informed by a fellow birder that a hornbill was being seen near a building very frequently in the mornings and evenings. I immediately figured … Read More

Tiger vs. Cow: Risk Models Help Beat the Odds

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A tiger and a cow meet in a jungle. The scenario is tragically predictable: tiger kills cow, cow’s owner kills tiger. Yet in India, where repeated conflict can amount to sizeable livelihood losses and tiger declines, predicting where the scenario plays out is far from easy. However, a simple statistical method applied to mapping human-carnivore conflict could up the odds by helping people anticipate high-risk hotspots.

Our study, published in Ecology and Evolution, explored a technique that could be … 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

Dundhwa Seha, Panna Tiger Reserve

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On 22nd September 2015, The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (and Chairman of the State’s Wildlife Board) cleared the Ken-Betwa River Linking project despite strong protests from some members of the Board. Now the proposal needs approval by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL).

Here’s a snapshot of what the project will entail: A 224 km long canal will siphon off 660 million cubic meters of water from the Ken to the Betwa; a 77 meter high dam will be … Read More

Compensation for Coexistence — Lessons from Kanha

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Although attacks by tigers and leopards on livestock cause devastating losses to owners around Kanha Tiger Reserve in Central India, villagers now rarely retaliate. A prompt compensation scheme by Reserve authorities may be the secret to saving cattle-killing big cats in the wild.

(The author has adapted this article from its original publication form, which appeared in Frontline)

Sweat running from every pore, Vishal exhaled with relief at the sight of his dead buffalo. For two days he … Read More

Gharials On The Chambal

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The Chambal river (here on the MP-UP border) is under severe pressure from human activity like sand mining and agriculture. The National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, is a 5,400 sq. kms. protected area for critically endangered Gharial Crocodiles, the Red-crowned roof turtle, the endangered Gangetic Dolphin and vulnerable bird species like Indian skimmer, Sarus Crane, Pallas’s Fish Eagle and Indian Courser.… Read More

Tiger – Gaur Face-off, Bandhavgarh

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I was on a evening drive in the Magdhi zone of Bandhavgarh national park when I came across this big male tiger. He was walking along the fence that was erected to contain gaur when they were reintroduced to Bandhavgarh from Kanha. Suddenly the tiger froze. I couldn’t figure out why. He had certainly detected something,  but I couldn’t see it. After about ten minutes he walked back on the road and suddenly I saw him face to face with … Read More

Modeling Conflict Hotspots and Compensation Access in Central India

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Human-wildlife conflicts are among the most pressing conservation challenges today. Krithi K. Karanth, Arjun M. Gopalaswamy, Ruth DeFries and Natasha Ballal survey 735 households in a 5000 sq km area around Kanha National Park to model and map conflict hotspots and compensation access reported by people. These are highlights of their study from a paper published in the journal PloS One.

  • Surveys and interviews with 735 local residents from 347 villages surrounding Kanha.
  • Crop loss was reported by 73% of
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NHAI Violations Come Up In Standing Committee Meeting Of National Board for Wildlife

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The violations by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) were brought up by members of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) in its 24th standing committee meeting held on 13th December, 2011.

NHAI’s non-compliance with conditions while constructing a four-lane expressway through the Lumding Reserve Forest in Assam that will cut through a crucial Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong migratory corridor for tigers, elephants, gibbons and gaur was brought up by Prerna Bindra, member of NBWL and co-ordinator of Panthera, an NGO … Read More

Hand-reared and Reintroduced Panna Tigress T4 Gives Birth to Cubs

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A tigress raised in captivity (T4) and transolcated and released in Panna, has given birth to cubs. She had been rescued at the age of three from the Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. The reintroduction was carried out by the Madhya Pradesh forest department with scientific inputs and monitoring by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). WII scientist Dr K Ramesh, who leads the post-release monitoring programme for tiger reintroduction, has called it a landmark development but also cautioned … Read More

NHAI Violates Forest Conservation Act With Work On NH7 Near Mansingh-Deo Wildlife Sanctuary

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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is performing road widening work on NH7 near Mansingh-Deo Wildlife Sanctuary, as part of a 117.058 km project from Deolapar on the Madhya Pradesh — Maharashtra border. While most of the work is complete, it is yet to get clearance in the 39 km patch from the Deolapar side. Yet, after completing the work near Tekadi and Mansar, NHAI has started road and canal work near Chorbahuli. This, wildlife experts say, is in … Read More

Central India Loses Four Tigers

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Central India has lost four tigers in the past two and half weeks. The male tiger, 14-year old B2 who was a legend in Bandhavgarh national park, died yesterday after a territorial fight with another tiger. B2 was rescued on the 20th after being found with multiple injuries on his bodies and legs, but died on the way to Shahdol. A four to five year old male was trapped and killed in a wire snare just 500 feet from the … Read More

Resource Crunch Affecting Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

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Bandhavgarh tiger reserve is facing a shortage of resources and a crunch in funds is affecting the resettlement of 12 villages situated within the reserve. There is a need for a minimum of 240 staff, including forest guards, range officers and foresters to maintain the reserve, says CK Patil, the field director of the tiger reserve. The park is spread across 716 sq km and according to the last census there are 59 tigers inside, the highest density of tigers … Read More

Confidential Report Obtained Through RTI Reveals Poacher-Official Nexus in Panna

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A report by Field Director R.S. Murthy, Panna Tiger Reserve to the Chief Wildlife Warden, H.S. Pabla outlines a strong poacher-official nexus leading all the way to the dreaded poacher Sansarchand, as the reason for the decline of tigers in Panna. The report claims that all six tigers poached in 2005 had the collusion of the forest staff. The officials also colluded with local hunting tribes like the Pardhis and the Bahelias, as well as with national and international mafia … Read More

Cheetahs from Namibia to be Introduced into Palpur-Kuno Sanctuary

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The Palpur-Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh will see Cheetahs reintroduced by December of this year or early January of the next. The Cheetahs are to be introduced from Namibia. Conservationists from Namibia and India have visited the 344.86 sq km sanctuary and have worked out a strategy for the reintroduction. Shahgarh in Rajasthan is another site shortlisted for the reintroduction. However, locals there have opposed the relocation. Palpur-Kuno was also shortlisted for translocation of lions from Gir sanctuary. However, Gujarat … Read More

Environment Ministry Asks Chattisgarh to Propose Tiger Reserve Status for Guru Ghasidas National Park

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The Union Environment Ministry has asked Chattisgarh to submit a proposal to the National Tiger Conservation Authority asking for Guru Ghasidas National Park to be declared a Tiger Reserve. The national park lies in between Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh and Jharkhand’s Palamau tiger reserves. It is also contiguous with Madhya Pradesh’s Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has said that this would make for the largest landscape for tiger conservation in this part of Central India. Wildlife Institute of … Read More

Panna Tiger Death Investigations Point to Laxity

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The government’s investigation into tiger deaths in Panna point to general laxity. Though the forest department has handed over the details of over a dozen cases to the home department asking for a CBI probe, only three have been considered worthy of an investigation. One of the cases has a trail that leads to the relatives of a BJP MLA. A jeep with armed passengers trying to enter Panna had been intercepted by the forest department in 2007. The jeep … Read More

Molecular Ecology Article Calls Cheetah Reintroduction Project Genetically Flawed

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An article in the esteemed journal Molecular Ecology has stated that African Cheetahs are genetically very different from their Asiatic Counterpart and hence has started a debate on the government’s ambitious Rs. 300 crore Cheetah reintroduction project. The article states that “Asiatic Cheetahs are unambiguously separated from African subspecies” with divergence estimates placing the split at “32,000 to 67,000 years ago”. The Asiatic subspecies is severely threatened with only 70-110 individuals existing in Iran. However, the African subspecies is present … Read More