Carnivores as Co-owners of our Lands

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Among the range of attributes that represent India is the little-known, seldom-acknowledged diversity of carnivore species it harbors. The country has 23% of the world’s terrestrial carnivore species. While popular discourse typically links large carnivores to forested reserves or large inviolate spaces, many of India’s carnivore species have historically shared spaces and adapted to using human modified landscapes. A recent study by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society-India, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Foundation for Ecological Research And Learning, University of … 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

Wild Seve – Empowering People and Fostering Tolerance for Wildlife

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India’s Bandipur and Nagarahole National Parks are home to the highest densities of tigers, leopards and elephants globally. People living adjacent to these parks frequently experience crop and property damage, livestock predation and occasionally are injured or killed. As a result, the traditional tolerance that rural communities of India have for wildlife can get eroded due to continued financial losses they incur.

Wild Seve is a novel conservation initiative developed by WCS Scientist Dr. Krithi Karanth in collaboration with the … Read More

When Humans are Curious to Know the Spotted Cat

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Nashik district’s Niphad taluk is situated on the fertile banks of the Godavari River. Agriculture is the main occupation here, with sugarcane the major cash crop, grown along with food crops such as wheat, grapes, jowar and other vegetables. Livestock-rearing also contributes a major part to the local economy. In this productive landscape, where human density is fairly high, jackals, hyenas, jungle cats, civets, and leopards also co-exist, as there is water, prey, and shelter.

Some communities like Warali, Mahadeo … Read More

Want To Save Tigers? Better Have Your Numbers Straight.

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  • New Book Provides Proven Methods for Monitoring Tiger and Prey Populations
  • The earth is currently home to less than 4000 wild tigers

(NEW YORK- December 12, 2017) A new book co-edited by tiger biologist Dr. Ullas Karanth of (WCS) Wildlife Conservation Society and Dr. James Nichols, an Emeritus statistical ecologist from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), provides an authoritative text on monitoring tigers, their prey, and many other similarly endangered species.

The volume is co-authored by 32 authors, from … Read More

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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The Elusive Leopard Cats of India

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Small felids, like jungle cats, leopard cats, fishing cats and marbled cats (among others) constitute more than 60% of all cat species in the world. But most of these small cats remain understudied because they are generally secretive, elusive and difficult to observe and monitor. In this aspect, the leopard cat presents a fascinating case study.

Leopard cats are among the world’s most widely occurring small cat species. There have been substantial studies of their ecology in Southeast Asia. In … Read More

Large Carnivores in Human Dominated Landscapes

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The conservation of large carnivores like wolves, bears, tigers and lions is always a challenging task in our modern and crowded world. Humans have modified and fragmented habitats and often experience a diversity of conflicts with large predatory neighbours. There is currently a major debate going on among conservationists about how to best go about achieving large carnivore conservation. Alternatives range from a focus on fencing carnivores into protected areas to allowing them to reoccupy shared landscapes where they must … 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

Mapping Sloth Bear Distribution in India and in Western Ghats of Karnataka

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Endemic to the Indian subcontinent, the Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) inhabits tropical and sub-tropical habitats across India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Being the most common among the four species of bears in India, it is widely distributed from the foothills of the Himalayas to the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. With sloth bear populations in the Himalayan foothills and northeast India becoming isolated, the Western Ghats and central Indian landscapes now possibly harbor the largest populations.

Despite their … Read More

Spotted in the News: Understanding Leopards Through Media Reports

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Print media plays a crucial role in disseminating knowledge and in influencing public opinion. Further, media publications could also provide powerful information about wild animals like leopards and elephants, which frequently interact with people. A study by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society India Program relied on information from ​newspaper media reports to understand leopard ecology, leopard-human interactions, and management practices that deal with problem leopards outside protected areas of Karnataka.

The study used reports of leopards from 11 widely … Read More

Tribal Family Prefers Voluntary Relocation Over Forest Rights

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On January 17, 2014, Padmaiah Malekudiya, whose family had been living on about 2 acres of encroached forestland in Bijjale enclosure, Mala Village of Karkala Taluk, Kudremukh, chose to renounce the rights he had acquired under the Forests Rights Act, 2006 in favor of a fresh start and a better life outside, thanks to fair and just compensation from the government.

Through a landmark order dated 9th January 2014, the Deputy Commissioner of Udupi, M. T. Reju, provided a compensation … Read More

Kaoosi Rustum Sethna — The Last Authentic Planter-Naturalist

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My friend of thirty years, Kaoosi Rustum Sethna (88), passed away recently. He was a friend to many, ranging from the legendary Salim Ali, to animal-welfare activist Maneka Gandhi, and guardian of Bhadra, DV Girish. Kaoosi grew up in Pune, dodging high school to learn falconry! He later became a professional jockey, finally settling down as a coffee planter in Chikmagalur, Karnataka. Kaoosi replicated, with brilliant authenticity, the life-style of a 19th century colonial planter-naturalist.

As a plantation manger in … Read More

DV Girish wins RBS ‘Protect the Tiger’ Award

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Veteran conservationist, D.V. Girish has been conferred the ‘Protect the Tiger’ award by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), a subsidiary of the RBS Group, for his life-long commitment towards protecting Karnataka’s Bhadra Tiger Reserve and its surrounding landscape in the Western Ghats.

A resident of Chikmagalur, Girish has been a staunch wildlife conservationist for over two decades. His most significant contribution to conservation was the catalytic role he played in facilitating the government sponsored voluntary relocation of more than … Read More

India to Establish a National Database of Camera-trapped Tigers

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This piece originally appeared in the journal Oryx: Volume 47- April 2013.

Following the adoption of refined protocols for intensive annual monitoring of source populations of tiger (see Oryx, 46(4), 480), India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is now following through by establishing a country-wide database of wild tigers captured in cameratrap surveys conducted by multiple research and governmental institutions at increasing intensity across the country. The objective of this project is to assign Unique Tiger Identification (UTID) numbers to … Read More

Replenishing Water Tanks in Wildlife Reserves: How Scientific?

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A recent decision by the Karnataka Forest Department to replenish drying waterholes in Bandipur and Nagarahole Tiger Reserves with water brought in from outside using water tankers, has been opposed by several experienced conservationists, who have worked in these areas for several decades. Sometime ago, CI carried a letter to the PCCF (WL), Karnataka, from K.M. Chinappa, former Range Forest Officer, Nagarahole, and President, Wildlife First, and Praveen Bhargav, Trustee, Wildlife First. Here we present the views of Dr. K. Read More

Manual Review — ‘Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats’ (edited by Simon Hedges)

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Monitoring Elephants the right way: A Synopsis of the Manual titled ‘Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats’.

Elephants are social, group living mammals revered by people across diverse cultures in the world. Once widely distributed across a range of ecological conditions, currently distribution and abundance of elephants have both dwindled drastically throughout its range due to habitat loss, fragmentation and poaching. India holds the largest population of Asian elephants surviving today.

In spite of its conservation significance, elephant populations across … Read More