Mapping the Last Grasslands of the Palani Hills, Tamil Nadu

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Grasslands in Twilight, Shola in Ascendance.

The Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu are in the midst of significant ecological change. It’s not the kind of process that is easily observed and most people, including those managing forest resources, have been taken by surprise by just how fast the montane (high altitude) landscape of the hills has changed. These are the conclusions of regular observation and photo documentation by the author as well as, a peer- reviewed scientific study using satellite … Read More

To Chop, or Not to Chop? The Issue of Exotic Invasive Trees in the Western Ghats

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The Tamil Nadu Forest department is required to respond to a petition filed in the Madurai High court that asked the Forest Department to act to solve a problem. This problem has been in the making for over 50 years and has no simple solution. I define the problem, its complexities, and some interventions that could help guide a response to the court order in the short-term, and possibly address the problem in the long-term.

The problem

Over fifty years … Read More

Shaheen Falcon with Rose-ringed Parakeet Kill, Nilgiris

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The Shaheen Falcon (Falco peregrinus peregrinator) also known as the Indian Peregrine Falcon is a subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest member of the animal kingdom. The Shaheen is non-migratory and predominantly feeds on small and sometimes, medium-sized birds. It is famous for its characteristic style of hunting, called the ‘stoop’ – the bird does a high speed dive from a great height and strikes its prey at a high speed. It is known to reach speeds … Read More

Riparian Forests for Healthy Rivers

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With the new government have come new promises. With a new name of Ministry for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, can the rivers hope for a cleaner future?

India is home to 16% of the world’s total population, but has only 4% of the water resources sustaining the economy in terms of agriculture, power and biological productivity 1 . As a large part of the population is directly dependent upon rivers, it is all the more important to … Read More

Nilgiri Martens, Mukurthi, Nilgiris

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On the 18th of October, 2011, we were camping in a trekking shed, on the way to Mukurthi peak in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. The trek involved walking about 3 km through wattle and grassland to reach a stream, followed by another uphill trek. Two of us reached the last hill around 11 AM, and as it was hot, we decided to turn back. The disappointment at not completing the trek turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As … Read More

Mudumalai Masinagudi Road Teeming With Vehicles

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This road teems not just with crossing wild animals, but also vehicle traffic. In an attempt to catch a glimpse of the wild, vehicles often stop, blocking the road for other vehicles. Sometimes people go to the extent of annoying animals, like elephants, to get pictures and videos of “mock charges”, attacks and so on. I have personally observed an elephant calf get separated from its mother, unable to cross the road. The mother had to charge and drive vehicles … Read More

Melanistic and Common Leopard Pair

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On August 15, 2010, we were in the Nilgiris, in search of a leopard that had killed a porcupine the previous day. It was raining heavily in the morning, but stopped around 3 PM. As the rain stopped, we noticed something black on top of a hill and we cautiously approached it. We climbed about 500 feet of the hill, but the animal had vanished by the time we reached the top. We waited for sometime and a common leopard … Read More

Leopard in a Tea Estate, Nilgiris

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This leopard was photographed in a tea estate, near Kothagiri in the Nilgiris. I have also seen this leopard atop a rock, watching people below plucking tea leaves. So far there have been no reports of a conflict. Thus, at the moment, the leopard lives in harmony with the people in the area.

Editor’s note:  Leopards in India are often found in human-dominated landscapes. Here is another image of a leopard outside a protected area. For insights into … Read More

Final Notification Comes Into Effect in Sigur Elephant Corridor in the Nilgiris

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The final public notification has been issued regarding the proposed elephant corridor in the Sigur plateau of the Nilgiris District. Resort owners and private land owners have to vacate and hand over their land to the Collector immediately. Private land owners will be given adequate compensation and those living on government poramboke lands will be given alternative dwelling sites as per the Forest Dwellers Act, 2006. The proposed corridor falls within Sholur, Masinagudy, Hullathy and Kadanad villages.

The public notice … Read More

Regular Crop Raider Tusker Radio-collared in Wayanad, Kerala

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A 40-year old tusker, which is said to be a regular crop raider in the Sulthan Bathery area of Wayanad, has been radio collared. The radio collar will help monitor the animals movements and help warn villagers about its movements. Trackers had spotted the animal in the Arakunchi forest and though it tried to evade the trackers, the forest officials kept up the chase and eventually tranquilized the elephant. An expert team then took biometrical measurements of the elephant before … Read More

Camera trap in Sirumugai Reserve Forest near Coimbatore records Tigers

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A camera trap in Sirumugai Reserve Forest has recorded the movement of a Tiger. This is the third sighting of a tiger in the Sirumugai Range. A census conducted in March found several pug marks. The forest department plans to assess whether the tiger is a migrant one or native to the Coimbatore Forests. The Sirumugai range is contiguous with the lower reaches of the Western Ghats, Mudumalai Tiger reserve, Sathyamangalam Forests and Silent Valley in Kerala.… Read More

Battle Looms Over Land For Sigur Elephant Corridor in the Nilgiris

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The people of Sholur Panchayat (near Mudumalai Tiger Reserve) are furious over a recent High Court order that gave permission to the forest department to acquire their land for an Elephant Corridor. The region is home to tribals such as Kurumbas and Irulas living in Bokkapuram, Moyar, Vazhaithottam and Mavanallah who would be dislocated by the ruling. The ruling came in response to a petition filed by advocate ‘Elephant’ G. Rajendran. Activists on both sides of the picture are making … Read More

Madras HC Gives Go Ahead To Tamil Nadu Government To Notify Elephant Corridor

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The Madras High Court has declared that the Tamil Government is fully empowered to notify The Elephant Corridor in Nilgiris District. The government is also empowered by the Centre’s Project Elephant. The court order concludes that no fault can be found with the government’s action to declare the corridor, as it has acted towards Article 51-A (g) of the constitution. The GO on the topic dated August 31, 2010 had been questioned by various parties as erroneous and that it … Read More