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

Rare Yellow-throated Laughingthrush at Doyang, Nagaland

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The Yellow-throated Laughingthrush is a secretive species with a very limited distribution in India, mainly along the India-Myanmar border. It has been only reported from a handful places in Nagaland and Manipur in the recent past. The species is most reported from Pungro region in East Nagaland after it was originally described in May 2011.

This species was recently recorded at the Doyang reservoir in Nagaland. After spending the whole day watching the spectacular Amur Falcon congregations at Doyang … 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

The Importance of Woodlands in Tropical Agricultural Landscapes

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Agricultural expansion continues to be a major cause of forest loss and degradation in the tropics. It often results in negative impacts on the resident floral and faunal communities inhabiting the forests. These communities have so far best been safeguarded by preventing forest loss and degradation through the establishment of Protected Areas (PAs)—legal conservation frameworks such as National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Community Reserves. However, the social and political realities of today make the further establishment and expansion of PAs … Read More

Polling for Pakke — Please help Pakke Tiger Reserve pick its best images!

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Every year the Pakke Tiger Reserve Forest Department holds a prize distribution ceremony for the best camera trap images and also gives prizes to the most sincere staff in the reserve. For this we team up with Conservation India to hold this public voting contest as a unique form of outreach to help motivate our staff on the ground. This year as well our team has compiled notable camera trap photographs where staff patrolled the forests and never left their … Read More

Himalayan Forest Thrush — New Bird Species discovered in India and China

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A new species of bird has been described from northeastern India and adjacent parts of China by a team of scientists from Sweden, India, China, the US, and Russia.

The bird has been named Himalayan Forest Thrush (Zoothera salimalii). The scientific name honours the great Indian ornithologist Dr Sálim Ali (1896–1987), in recognition of his huge contributions to the development of Indian ornithology and wildlife conservation. This is the first Indian bird named after Dr. Salim Ali.

Dr. Per … Read More

Growing Oil Palm Threat to India’s Biodiversity

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Oil palm is one of the fastest growing agricultural crops in the world. Oil palm is a highly productive crop, and palm oil is not only cheap but also extremely versatile, and is put to diverse uses as biofuel, lubricant, cooking oil, and as an additive in the food and cosmetic industries. The amazingly rapid expansion of this crop, however, comes at an immense ecological cost – despite the availability of large tracts of unproductive land available for oil palm … Read More

The Amur Falcon Goes to School!

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Through music and dance, children in Nagaland are championing the cause of the little raptor.

On his way to school this October, 13-year-old Seiminlen saw a ngeikang. He told the school’s eco-club that the first Amur falcon of the season had been spotted. The children gathered outside their school to watch, trying to count the birds, listening to their high-pitched calls. They perhaps didn’t know it, but these children have been at the forefront of bird conservation in the remote, … Read More

Oil Palm Should not be Expanded in Arunachal Pradesh

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Arunachal Pradesh has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Ruchi Soya Industries to plant 25,000 hectares of oil palm in four districts – East Kameng, Papumpare, Lower Subansiri and West Siang. This brings the total area earmarked for oil palm in the state to 45,000 hectares (or 450 sq. km.). Oil palm is a highly productive crop – more than any other oil crop in the world – yielding up to 6 tons of palm oil per hectare of … Read More

Red Serow, Hmuifang, Mizoram

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Serow are medium-sized goat-antelopes of the genus Capricornis. The taxonomy of serows is not completely resolved; descriptions, range maps, and assessments of conservation status in the literature vary because sources differ on nomenclature and specific/subspecific status of the various taxa. There are six recognized species of Capricornis, of which two occur in India. The Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar) is found over most of the the entire Himalayan range and the Red Serow (C. rubidus) is confined 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

Flying Squirrels of Arunachal Pradesh

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There are about 46 species of Flying Squirrels found in the world and they are grouped under one tribe, i.e. the Petauristini tribe. Asia has the distinction of being home to most of the species. Flying Squirrels don’t actually fly, but glide from one tree to the other. They basically use their patagium, a membrane stretching from the wrist (forelegs) to the ankle (hind legs), to glide. Once airborne, these squirrels use their arms, legs, and tail to effectively navigate … Read More

Chinese Pangolin, Tamenglong Market, Manipur

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We are passionate conservationists from Tamenglong, Manipur. We would like to report the rampant trapping, hunting and sale of wildlife in Tamenglong and its neighbouring villages. We have seen monkeys, pythons, Chinese pangolins (Manis pentadactyla — featured here) , great barbets, civets, leopard cats, Asian forest tortoises and many other species of wildlife for sale in these markets. Many of these species are on the endangered list.

The concerned authorities are turning a blind eye towards this very critical … Read More

Polling for Pakke — Vote for the Best Camera Trap Image

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As we have been doing in the past, this year we will be giving three prizes to our frontline staff for the best camera trap images. We fondly remember Late Koro Tayem, a forest guard who was killed by an elephant who won the first ever prize for his growling camera trap photograph.

Please vote for your best photograph.… Read More

Pakke: From Darkness into Light

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Tana Tapi is in a tough spot. He has the enormous task of protecting 862 sq. km of mostly inaccessible, and difficult eastern Himalayan wilderness. His job is made more difficult by the fact that some of the people that log and hunt inside these forests belong to the same community as him, the Nyishi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. This general area bordering Assam is also one of India’s deforestation hotspots where logging networks are fuelled by larger market forces … Read More

Mammals in the Jeypore-Dehing forests, Assam

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The Jeypore-Dehing Landscape is located in eastern or Upper Assam. It comprises three large blocks of forest (Jeypore, Upper Dehing West Block and Upper Dehing East Block) and several forest fragments. The reserve forests lie within a mosaic of oil and coal mining grants, tea plantations, agriculture and settlements. The forest type is lowland Assam Valley Tropical Wet Evergreen forest (Dipterocarpus-Mesua) and together stretch over roughly 600 sq km. The landscape is part of the Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve and 111 … Read More

Oil Palm vs. Rainforests

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Palm oil production has caused deforestation of huge swaths of biodiversity-rich rainforests in many equatorial countries. India should not repeat this mistake in the fragile and vulnerable northeast states. Here is cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty’s take on it.

The comic first appeared in Sunday Mid-day dated 27/11/2016.

oil-palm-vs-rainforests-vertical-web

Oil Palm vs. Rainforests

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White-cheeked macaque — A New Primate Species for India

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The White-cheeked Macaque (Macaca leucogenys) is a newly discovered species (in May 2015) of macaque from the Modog​ (Mêdog County), in Southeastern Tibet in China (Li et al; 2015). The species was distinguished from all potential sympatric macaques (species in the same geographic area) viz. Macaca mulatta, Macaca thibetana, Macaca assamensis and Macaca munzala by several characteristics including pelage ​(coat of a mammal), ​relatively uniform dorsal hair pattern, hairy ventral pelage, hairless short tail, prominent pale … Read More

Dispersing tiger shot dead by villagers in Nagaland but there may be hope yet for conservation

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Nagaland threw up a surprise for wildlife conservationists, particularly those involved with tigers in the country. A dispersing tiger, which landed in Medziphema, a small village near Dimapur on the main highway to Kohima, was tragically shot dead by panicked villagers on February 29, 2016. Tigers have not been officially recorded from the area in over a decade.

The incident unfolded after the tiger killed two pigs and a cow the previous night forcing the villagers to launch a … Read More

Long-billed Plover and Dog, Sangti Valley, Arunachal Pradesh

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On 4th May, 2016 we were birding at Sangti Valley near Dirang, West Arunachal, mainly with the intent of seeing Long-billed Plovers (a rare bird in the subcontinent). This is one of the few locations in India where this bird can be seen. Upon reaching there we found a couple of birds in the fields along the bank of the river and not on the riverbed, where they are usually seen. More surprisingly, it seemed that they were being chased … Read More

Blue Pitta, Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram

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Of the 30 species belonging to the family Pittidae, six are found in India. Of these six, the Blue Pitta is amongst the rarest, never having been photographed alive from India.

Although it’s expected distribution spans across all northeastern states except Sikkim, the bird is rarely sighted. In our recent publication in Indian BIRDS, ‘Records of Blue Pitta (Pitta cyanea) in Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram, and a review of its status in north-eastern India’ by Singh and Macdonald, we report … Read More

New Species to Science? Well, Who Cares?

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Last week, I was travelling in Arunachal Pradesh with a few friends. On our way to Udayak Pass (in the Lohith Valley), we stopped to photograph some birds when a bike sped by us. On the bike was freshly killed bushmeat  – a macaque. The hunter’s house was just around the corner and we managed to get there just as he was hauling the macaque off the bike. A close look confirmed our worst fears – this was a White-cheeked … Read More

Help Pakke Pick its Best Images and Keep up Koro Tayem’s Legacy

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In 2013, Koro Tayem, a forest guard in Pakke Tiger Reserve for more than a decade, was the first awardee for the best camera trap photograph competition. Now in its fourth year, ‘Tayem babu’ is no longer with us. On Christmas day in 2014, he was in Pakke doing his duty, and on his way back he was killed by a wild elephant. He is remembered fondly, and in 2013 we carried out a photo-feature of photographs which included his … Read More

New Breed of Hunters in the Northeast

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When one is traveling in the Northeastern part of our country, a common sight is that of boys and men with catapult and guns on the way to their next hunt. Hunting in the Northeast is largely influenced by cultural practices, rituals and (perceived) medicinal values. It has also become an activity just to kill time. However, the situation is changing; steadily, though slowly, thanks to access to education, employment, and intervention by NGOs at many places. There has been … Read More

Tracking the Incredible Journey of the Amur Falcon

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Of the 69 species of raptors known from India, Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) was one of the least talked about species till recently. Primarily recorded from northeast India, with a few scattered sight records in peninsular India, the species is generally considered rare. All that changed following a report by Conservation India in October 2012 of the massive large scale harvest of these falcons in Nagaland. Researchers estimated that between 120,000 and 140,000 individuals were being trapped and killed for … Read More