On November 15th 2015, my brother and I were driving back from Valparai in Tamil Nadu after a productive wildlife trip in the Anaimalais. On slowing down near one of the hairpin bends, we spotted a Crested Hawk-eagle with a Slender Loris in its talons. We spent about 15 to 20 minutes observing and photographing the scene, as the eagle dismembered the loris and fed on it, not at all bothered by our presence. The slender loris (Loris tardigradus) is … Read More
Chinna Thambi, a 25-year old tusker from the Anaikatti region in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, was relocated to Anamalai Tiger Reserve on 26th January, 2018. This was done following repeated complaints by a section of farmers from the region that the elephant was raiding crops and breaking into houses for food. These agricultural lands are adjacent to Thadagam Reserve Forest and Anaikatti South Reserve Forest of Coimbatore Forest Division. Perhaps because this particular bull had never attacked anyone, the indigenous community … Read More
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
I saw this sight of House Crows (Corvus splendens) feeding koel chicks in their nest opposite our home in Mylapore, Chennai, on the 5th of August, 2018. I waited until the next morning to be able to make an image right from the terrace (with no disturbance to the birds).
I heard the chicks calling whenever the foster parents came, and found that there were four nestlings, two slightly older (bigger) than the other two. I soon realised that all … Read More
Grey-tailed Tattlers (Tringa brevipes) breed in Siberia and use the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for migration. They are more commonly seen in the north of Australia, where they winter in good numbers.
Late September and early October are productive periods for shorebird lovers. This is the onset of winter migration and surprises are usually encountered. Pulicat lake covering the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is one such place in South India where there is always a possibility of seeing … Read More
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
Birders and nature lovers were in for a treat this season.
A rare pelagic bird was sighted near the Pulicat coast in the last week of April, 2018. This is the first time the bird was sighted near Chennai. There are only two previous records from Tamil Nadu.
Lesser Noddy (Anous tenuirostris) is a bird that is closely related to terns. Pelagic birds spend most of the time in the sea and visit the shores only when they breed.
Pulicat … Read More
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.
Over fifty years … Read More
This ingenious snare was set just outside a scrub forest in Kanchipuram district. The small patch of scrub forest supports axis deer, monitor lizard, wild pig, peafowl, partridge and black-naped hare. The snares in this area are primarily set for trapping black-naped hare and birds.
While on a casual stroll on 19th June 2013, I came across this set-up and informed the staff of the near-by forest office. Numerous snares such as this are silently concealed in and around our … Read More
While driving to work on 13th July 2016, I witnessed rapid changes to the remaining wetlands patches along the Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai. Studies show that due to rapid city expansion, Chennai’s wetlands have shrunk to alarming proportions.
At a national scale, one-third of the India’s wetlands are already wiped out or severely degraded because of encroachment. Wetlands that were once home to numerous species of flora and fauna have been replaced by concrete jungles virtually in the blink … Read More
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
The brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) is restricted to evergreen forests, plantations and even human habitations in the Southern Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. Not much is known about this species compared to other mongooses. Camera trap surveys suggest that they are less diurnal and more crepuscular than other species of mongooses.
During a recent visit to Valparai we came across a brown mongoose in a small stream amidst tea plantations. Valparai is possibly the best place to observe … Read More
Urgent! Time is short, so please act immediately – your appeal to the Central Government can help safeguard the Western Ghats. Use the form below to write to the minister.
I support the Government’s decision to declare 56,825 square kilometres of the Western Ghats as Eco Sensitive Area (see contents of the letter below the form).
This campaign is now closed. We received support from more than 3500 concerned citizens. We are now sending a consolidated letter to the ministry, … Read More
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
The 3rd Tamil Birders Meet is going to be on 12th and 13th November 2016 at PSN College of Engineering and Technology, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.
Please fill out this form and register for this meet: https://goo.gl/forms/bS1qRDpkCBQoGw4a2
If you have any specific queries kindly write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details of the previous meets can be accessed here: http://www.birdcount.in/tamilbirds/tamil-birders-meet/… Read More
Although over four million people worldwide are dependent on wild-caught fish as a source of protein, marine fish are not at the top of the conservation radar. Although fish are among the most important components of marine ecosystems after plankton, they are most seriously threatened by human activities in the sea. In recognition of this fact, fisheries across the world are being managed based on estimates of sustainable harvest rates for each population of fish. However this requires intensive data … Read More
The Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) is an endangered ungulate found on remote mountain slopes in the southern Western Ghats. Found in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, their current range has been greatly reduced to a mere 400 kilometers. These animals are found among the rocky cliffs of montane grasslands, and it is estimated that around 3000 individuals are distributed evenly between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Eravikulam National Park and the grassy slopes of the Anamalai hills are the only … Read More
Understanding human-elephant interactions is critical for conservation of elephants outside Protected Areas. One of the intriguing questions is how can a person weighing 50kg and a 5000kg animal coexist with no barrier between them?
Conflict incidents frequently lead to use of reactive measures such as chasing elephants, capture and translocation, or retaliatory persecution, but these often fail to resolve conflicts on a sustained basis, empower communities to implement solutions, or help conservation of elephants. Long-term research on behavioural and ecological … Read More
As though to justify a road-side sign warning vehicles to go slow, an Indian gaur crosses the road in front of a motorcyclist. This image was taken late in the evening on the outskirts of Valparai, Tamil Nadu.
Valparai has vast tracts of tea estates that are surrounded by forests. As the day comes to an end, gaur move from the forest patches to graze on the grass growing within tea estates. This is the time at which they are … Read More
Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/Centre for Herpetology (MCBT/CFH) is organising a 2 day 1 night workshop for people who are interested in learning more about lizards in particular as we have a variety of them including our recent additions, the largest lizards in the world. This is part 3 of MCBT/CFH’s 4 part “What’s that Reptile?” series and the last part is “What’s in that Shell?”, which will deal exclusively with Chelonians.
For more information on any of these workshops, please … Read More
On our recent birding trip (Feb 13th 2016, The Great Backyard Bird Count) along the buffer zone of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Sethumadai, we chanced upon a lucky sighting of the rarely seen Sri Lanka Frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger), a bird that is high on the wish list of many birders and photographers.
Closely related to Nightjars, this nocturnal bird was feeding on the ground and flew across our vehicle and sat perched on a tree root overgrown over … Read More
One cannot imagine the adrenalin rush that explodes through your body when you lock eyes with a Black Panther. It has been a long-held dream of mine to sight and photograph one of these gorgeous melanistic cats. We were driving through the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve at the base of the Nilgiris in South India earlier this year, with our eyes peeled in the hope of chancing upon one of the park’s elusive felines — Tiger or Leopard.
Dusk was approaching … Read More
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
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