Western Ghats Coffee Plantations Sustain High Bird Diversity in India

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In a recent study, scientists have found that the coffee, rubber and areca agroforests in Karnataka support 204 bird species including 13 bird species found exclusively in the Western Ghats, highlighting the supplementary role of agroforests in conserving wildlife.

Highlights:

  1. One of largest scientific assessments of tropical birds in the world, covering an area of 30,000 sq km in Karnataka
  2. Coffee, rubber and areca agroforests found to support 204 bird species, including 13 endemic birds of the Western Ghats
  3. Coffee
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Habitat Fragmentation in the Western Ghats

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Habitat fragmentation is the alteration of habitat, which results in the division of a continuous habitat into smaller, isolated fragments. While natural causes can contribute to habitat fragmentation, humans are the main cause. Human activities such as roads, mining, agricultural land conversion and urbanization contribute greatly to fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation has a greater effect on terrestrial animals as they have to cross human inhabited areas and roads to reach the habitats and resources they depend upon. This leads to road … Read More

Elephant Rescue, Valparai

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It was that time of the year again, when elephants slowly started marking their presence. Like every year, there were incidents of households getting hit here and there, thankfully, nothing major though. What is always interesting to note every year is the consistency they maintain in terms of their movement patterns, and also in the damage sites they choose! Early that morning I decided to take off from my daily routine in front of my Macbook’s hypnotizing screen. I went … Read More

Wildlife in Tea Plantations, Western Ghats

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When was the last time you saw a continuous stretch of forest in India — wilderness as far as your eyes can see? It has indeed become a rarity. There is always a settlement or an agricultural field. Human imprint is everywhere and the notion of a ‘pristine’ wilderness doesn’t exist anymore. Our growing demands have led us to expand widely and rapidly, and now, more than ever, this has brought us in direct contact with wild animals. Wildlife is … Read More

Tusker in Tea, Munnar

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Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the largest land animal in India. Poached for ivory, large tusked males are a rare sight nowadays. Eravikulam National Park in Kerala is surrounded by tea estates. A number of shola patches were destroyed decades ago when the tea estates were established. These estates are used as corridors by elephants when moving to other forest patches, thereby bringing them into conflict with humans.… Read More

Survival

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In July 2012, I was witness to a story of survival in the wild, and how, despite the best attempts of humans, nature has its way. I was in Valparai and we got news that an elephant herd that we were tracking had given birth to a calf. The mother was a young elephant and an older one was observed always staying by her side. A few days later, while I was at Bangalore, I heard the startling news that … 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

Current Science research paper points to Lion-tailed macaque habitat loss

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Lion-tailed macaques in the Highwavy mountains in the Western Ghats are threatened with habitat loss as their movements are obstructed by tea estates. As a result of the interspersed tea estates, these rare primates find themselves isolated to fragments of forests. Besides plantations, vast areas of habitat have been submerged by the creation of three dams. These findings and others are discussed in the paper authored by H. N. Kumara of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History … Read More