Birds, Forests and Development in Himalayan Oak Forests: A Study in Progress

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The Himalayas are a biologically diverse region within India owing to their elevational range and geographic location. Apart from essential ecosystem services that they provide to the Gangetic Plains, Himalayan forests protect a large number of endemic species and support extensive tourism activities.

During the last few decades, however, Himalayan forests have become degraded and fragmented due to various economic pressures. It is necessary to understand how human-created disturbance is impacting Himalayan fauna, given the recent spurt in road-widening, construction, … Read More

Living with Leopards: Making Sense of it for the Media

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“Leopard changes spots, strikes fear” blazed the headline of a leading daily in Dehradun. This, even as we were travelling to the interiors of Uttarakhand, to Tehri and Pauri, to conduct media workshops for sensitizing the “fourth estate”.

The Uttarakhand Forest Department, with support from WCS-India, and Titli Trust, Dehradun, has initiated pilot programs in Tehri and Pauri in Uttarakhand, to mitigate the leopard conflict; one of the most serious human-wildlife conflicts in this pristine hill state. The pilots include … Read More

Village Dog Feeding on Barking Deer, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand

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It is no surprise that Mussoorie is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Uttarakhand, yet it harbours a wide range of wildlife. In my recent visit to Mussoorie on April 2015, I was quite excited to see many of Himalayan winged wonders amidst the buzzing Mall Road and the overcrowded streets. On one of our walks to reach Cloud’s End Forest Resort through a small village called Hathipaon we stumbled upon a healthy village dog feeding on a … Read More

Leopards in Crisis — Learnings for Uttarakhand

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Not a month goes by without newspaper reports about the attack by a leopard or a tiger on humans in Uttarakhand, followed by days of reporting of the hunt for the cat, and invariably, ending with the capture or death of the unfortunate animal. In December 2016, the Uttarakhand High Court passed an order that leopards and tigers that have been declared man-eaters should not be killed, but should, instead, be tranquilized and translocated to another forest. While the order … Read More

Large Trees are Critical for Conserving Woodpecker Abundance and Diversity in Sub-Himalayan Forests

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Study: Habitat determinants of woodpecker abundance and species richness in sub-Himalayan dipterocarp forests of northwest India.

Authors: Raman Kumar, Ghazala Shahabuddin & Ajith Kumar Journal: Acta Ornithologica 49: 243-256. Published 2014.

Summary

Birds are highly sensitive to changes in habitat caused by human activity. Habitat change may be manifested in the structural elements of habitat (such as density and size of both live and dead trees), or its composition (i.e. tree species profile), which may translate into alteration in quality … Read More

Declaring Wildlife as Vermin — Legalising Hunting?

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Uttarakhand, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh have had – in recent months – notifications issued by the Central Government stating that select species of wildlife have been declared as vermin in specified areas. In other words for a specified period, in these areas, the wild pig in Uttarakhand, wild pig and Nilgai in Bihar and Rhesus Macaque in Himachal Pradesh are shifted to schedule five of the Wildlife Protection Act. Besides, Maharashtra and Telangana have had culling orders issued by the … Read More

India’s Newest Bird Conservation Reserve Opens In Uttarakhand

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A version of this article appeared as “Bird Paradise” in the April 2015 edition of National Geographic Traveller magazine.

The Himalayan Quail was last reported in 1876 in the vicinity of Nainital, and there are many zealous ornithologists who nurse the hope that the quail may still lurk somewhere in these environs; like the forest owlet, believed to be extinct, but rediscovered in 1997 after 113 years in Melghat Tiger Reserve.

Hope got another chance, with the forests in Nainital … Read More

Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Kedarnath, Uttarakhand

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The Yellow-rumped Honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus) is a sparrow-sized bird found in the Himalayas of India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal and is a resident breeder. It is rare and is easily overlooked due to its inconspicuous behaviour and colouration. This particular individual is a female, and was found near a village at 2100m in the Kedarnath Wildlife division, Uttarakhand. She was perched on a leafless tree and hawking insects. Five individuals, three males and two females were seen at 1900m on … Read More

Eurasian Woodcock, Kedarnath, Uttarakhand

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The Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is a large migratory wader found throughout Eurasia. It breeds in the high latitudes of Europe and Asia and between 2000m and 3600m in the Himalayas. Although there are many winter records of these birds from all over peninsular India, especially the western ghats, there are few records of this species over wintering in its breeding range. While doing a bird survey in the Kedarnath Wildlife Division in January 2014, I flushed this bird while … Read More

Photographers Disturbing Elephants, Corbett

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A bunch of photographers in safari vehicles were getting very close to a herd of elephants that were bathing in the Ramganga in Dhikala, Corbett Tiger Reserve. There were calves in the herd and the elephants were visibly agitated at the proximity of the jeeps.

The poor elephants huddled together in a row, waiting for the vehicles to move so they could cross. Probably wanting dramatic close-ups, the jeeps gave no room for the elephants to cross. The nervous elephants … Read More

Important convictions in wildlife cases in Uttarakhand

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In the last four days there have been two important convictions in wildlife cases in Uttarakhand – both cases were WPSI assisted seizures – and one important arrest.

The first case involved the seizure of a tiger skin and a full tiger skeleton, one otter skin, a turtle carapace and a steel trap on 30 January 2009 in Fatehpur Range of Ramnagar Forest Division, which adjoins Corbett Tiger Reserve in the nothern state of Uttarakhand. The tiger was killed by … Read More

Human-Elephant Conflict, Corbett Tiger Reserve

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The Sunderkhal village falls in the crucial Kosi river corridor linking Corbett Tiger Reserve to the Ramnagar Forest Division. This landscape constitutes prime tiger and elephant habitat. A population estimation exercise done jointly by the state forest department and WWF-India revealed no less than 13 individual tigers — including breeding tigresses. The All India Tiger Estimate 2010 indicated a density of 14 tigers / 100 sq km in Ramanagar forest division.

Here is a stray tusker being driven away by … Read More

Meeting of the State Board for Wildlife, Uttarakhand, March 2013

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A meeting of the State Board for Wildlife, Uttarakhand, was held in Dehradun under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Shri.Vijay Bahuguna on 16th March 2013.

Some of the discussions and decisions are summarized below:

  1. Voluntary relocation got a major boost at this meeting of the State Board, with the CM agreeing to fast track the relocation of Gujjars from Kalagarh Tiger Reserve and Rajaji on a priority basis. The CM was appraised of the plight of the Gujjars, who
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Python Seriously Injured by Villagers, Haripura, Uttarakhand

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The Indian Rock Python (Python molurus) is placed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), thus giving it the highest legal protection status our country. Usually, however, this is of no help to the poor creature.

We came upon this injured python in Haripura wetland, Uttarakhand on 12 April 2012. When we asked around, we were told by some children that the python had been hit with a heavy stone by some local villagers when they … Read More

Bean Goose: First Record from Uttarakhand, India

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The Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) is a migratory bird breeding in the high Arctic regions. It has its wintering ground in temperate and sub-tropical regions such as China, Japan, Europe, and so on. A solitary Bean Goose has recently been sighted in a wetland near Corbett Tiger Reserve by a group of bird-watchers and naturalists from The Corbett Foundation led by Ms. Anushree Bhattacharjee. This was the first recorded sighting of this species from the State of Uttarakhand. … Read More

Road kill of Indian Jackal on NH-121, Corbett landscape, Uttarakhand

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The carcass of an Indian Jackal that was killed in a road accident on NH 121 that runs through Corbett Tiger Reserve, and on to New Delhi. This picture was taken near Peerumadara, on the stretch of the highway between Ramnagar and Kashipur. The animal was found on 10th of December 2011 at approximately 7:30 hours. The animal might even have been a pregnant female.

This highway poses a serious risk for all wildlife as it passes near Corbett Tiger … Read More

Three Tiger Cubs Die in Uttarakhand in Two Days

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Three tiger cubs have died in different parts of Uttarakhand in the last two days. The death toll for this year stands at 17, whereas only 7 cubs died last year. Bodies of a male and female cub were found on Tuesday in the Kilpura range of the terai east forest division. Another female cub was found dead in the Dhela range of Corbett Tiger Reserve on Wednesday night. Forest department officials believe that the cubs may have been separated … Read More

106 Leopards And 19 Tigers Dead In Uttarakhand This Year

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As many as 106 leopards and 19 tigers have died in Uttarakhand till Dec 10 of this year. 57 leopards were killed by poachers, 19 died of old age or sickness, 7 were killed in accidents, 6 were killed by the forest department after being declared man-eaters, 6 died in territorial fights, 6 died during rescue operations, 3 were killed by other animals and carcasses of 2 cubs were found. Releasing these figures, the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) … Read More

Corbett Records Highest Tiger Deaths on its 75th anniversary

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Corbett reserve and surrounding areas in Uttarakhand have recorded the highest tiger mortality rate this year. TRAFFIC India, a wildlife trade monitoring agency, has recorded 19 deaths in Corbett this year. Park management maintains that most of the deaths were natural. Observers are concerned that the high tourist numbers in Corbett are affecting tiger’s migratory habits and bringing them more into conflict with surrounding villages. According to the head of TRAFFIC India, the biggest threat faced by Corbett’s tigers is … Read More

Uttarakhand Has High Incidence of Leopard Poaching

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Uttarakhand is turning into a killing field for Leopards. There were 136 registered cases of leopard poaching so far in 2011, out of which 51 have been reported from Uttarakhand. In two separate incidents in the last 10 days, the Uttarakhand police have seized three leopard skins. A leopard skin was seized and two persons arrested by the Uttarakhand Special Task Force (STF) in Dehradun on Thursday. Two leopard skins and other animal parts were seized by the SOG, Uttarakhand … Read More

Infamous Poacher Narayan Chand Gets Five Years Imprisonment

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Narayan Chand, younger brother of notorious poacher Sansar Chand, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment in a leopard poaching case dating back to 2005. Narayan Chand is infamous as the poacher who was responsible for the poaching which eradicated the tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve. Following his arrest in 2009, Narayan Chand confessed to having been involved in the purchase of pelts and body parts of 10 tigers from the Ramnagar area of Corbett Reserve. He also confessed to … Read More

Irate villagers burn alive captured leopard near Corbett Tiger Reserve

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300-400 irate villagers in Dhamdhar village in Kalagarh Forest Division, Corbett Tiger Reserve doused a captured leopard with petrol and burnt it to alive. Apparently, there were 35 wildlife officials and 4 policemen, but they were overpowered by the mob and could not prevent the act. The leopard was alleged to be responsible for three deaths, but according to Chief Wildlife Conservator of Uttarakhand, S. K. Chandola, the leopard had strayed from Corbett National Park and attacked three people causing … Read More

Arrest of six wildlife poachers operating in Corbett and Rajaji National Parks

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Six poachers operating out of Uttarakhand and active in Corbett and Rajaji National Parks have been arrested by a joint operation between Police and the Uttarakhand Forest department. Leopard pelts, big cat bones, ivory and firearms have been seized. The arrests include habitual offenders and one among them admitted to supplying a tiger skin and bones of three tigers to a man in Dharchula last year. Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) points out that a poaching nexus of Gujjars … Read More

Tiger killed in territorial fight in Corbett National Park

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A male tiger which had been killed by a younger male tiger in a territorial fight, was discovered in the Dhara beat of the Kalagarh range by forest department staff on patrol. The national park staff decided to investigate the site on hearing tiger roars and smelling a carcass. They came upon a scene where the victorious male was lying with its paws on the body of the dead tiger. The eyes had been gouged and the skin of the … Read More