Amboli Toad Roadkill, Amboli Ghat, Maharashtra

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One of the major factors affecting faunal survival is our road network. Road kills are documented widely and affect all taxonomic groups, especially in protected areas. Animals don’t recognise a road as a hazard. Often, the road might have cut through a continuous patch of forest, and animals will have to cross these man-made roads in search of food, mates and other resources, like water.

On a recent trip while driving on the Amboli ghat road, we came across this … Read More

Conserving Otters as if People Mattered

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The first time I saw an otter in the wild – a Smooth Coated Otter in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary – I knew this was the animal I wanted to see much more of. If you have seen an otter – any one of the thirteen species found across the World – you will agree that there is something charming, childlike and engaging about this mammal. Yet what really got me moving along an ottery path about a couple of … Read More

Scutiger Feeding on Western Tree Frog, Bisle, Karnataka

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On a rainy night on 6 July 2015, we encountered an arthropod of the genus Scutigera feeding on a juvenile Western Tree Frog, Polypedates occidentalis. Commonly known as the house centipede, the Scutigera spp we saw was chewing on the eye of the froglet. We made observations for about five minutes and continued on our survey as part of the annual “Bisle frog watch” activity. The froglet seemed to be stunned with venom, as it never moved. This incident was … Read More

Dholes in the Western Ghats

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Large carnivores across the world face several threats even as they continue to decline in numbers. Understanding where these species occur, how they use their habitats and what factors influence these patterns are important for their conservation. The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a unique endangered predator. It is the only social, wild canid that almost exclusively inhabits forest areas in Asia. Historically treated as ‘vermin’, dholes were bounty-hunted across the India until they were protected under … Read More

Otters in a Famous Tourist Destination

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Beaches and sunsets are what come to mind when most people think of Goa. This small state in western India has earned its reputation as one of the most favoured top tourist destinations. But very few know that Goa also has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Much of the eastern rim of Goa falls within the Western Ghats (a global biodiversity hotspot). Goa has an area of 3,702 sq.km with several rivers spread across the state, all of … 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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Urgent — Help Safeguard the Western Ghats!

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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

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

Dead Long-billed Vulture in Windmill Site, Western Ghats

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A large number of windfarms have been constructed across the Western Ghats landscapes. Many of these fall in area rich in biological diversity with many endemic and threatened species. So far they do not require any EIA and hence analysis of impacts on biodiversity is never measured. Although the serious concerns are the actual birdhits, the changes brought about in the entire landscape during construction and working phases are also heavily impacting these sensitive landscapes. This picture was taken in … Read More

Shaheen Falcon with Rose-ringed Parakeet Kill, Nilgiris

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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

New Frog Species Described and Named After Goa State

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In the lowland areas of the Western Ghats of Goa and in the hilly tracts of Belgaum, it’s quite common to hear the tinkling 12 to 14-note ‘trick, trick’ chorus call from mud pools, paddy fields and local water bodies in the late evenings during the monsoon. Many of these are terrestrial frogs calling to attract females. These frogs belong to the amphibian genus Fejervarya of the family Dicroglossidae and are commonly known as either ‘cricket frogs’ or ‘fejervaryan frogs’. … Read More

Q: My question is on the Indian wild dog: is there any research going on regarding behaviour study and selection of prey base?

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Answer from Arjun Srivathsa, Research Associate, Wildlife Conservation Society-India:

It is not very easy to carry out behavioural studies of elusive carnivores (like the dhole) because of several logistical difficulties. A rigorous scientific study of wild dog behaviour is only possible through radio-collaring of individuals (radio telemetry). But their wide-ranging habits, erratic disease/population cycles and the fact that they are pack-living, make telemetry difficult. This has been tried once in India before — in the Central Indian landscape — … Read More

Man-eaters — When Caring Less May Actually Help

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Conservationists should be concerned about saving the species, rather than every individual tiger.

The shooting of a man-eating tiger, as it happened recently in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu — barely two weeks after two other tigers preyed on four people in neighbouring Karnataka — invariably polarises public opinion. Locals, whose lives are at risk, want maneaters shot. Animal lovers, on the other hand, demand their “safe capture.” Caught in the middle, officials have to confront increasingly angry mobs, while authorities … Read More

South Indian Flying Lizard, Chikmagalur

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I photographed this flying lizard in a coffee estate near Chikmagalur, Karnataka, in February, 2013. While returning from field work, I noticed the animal busy feeding. I observed and followed it for sometime, then waited at a vantage point for it to take off.

Flying lizards of the genus Draco are members of the reptilian family Agamidae and are unique in their ability to glide from one tree to another. Draco is a species-rich genus with more than 40 species … 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

New species of gecko from Northern Western Ghats

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A new species of the gekkonid genus Cnemaspis has been described from the lateritic plateau of the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra, western India. The discovery of Cnemaspis girii from the Kaas plateau in Satara district, Maharashtra, highlights the diversity of herpetofauna of this region and adds to the growing knowledge of the diversity of the Western Ghats. The lateritic plateaus of the northern Western Ghats support endemic herpetofauna and are in need of protection owing to their narrow distribution … Read More

A new species of gecko from the lateritic plateaus of Northern Western Ghats

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Researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore and Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Bangalore have described a new species of gecko belonging to the genus Cnemaspis from Kaas plateau in Satara district of Maharashtra. The new species is named after Dr. Varad Giri of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) who has extensively worked to document the herpetofauna of India. The research paper was published on 17th of June in the journal Zootaxa (read summary) … Read More

Chemical Poisoning of Freshwater Fish in Western Ghats

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Kumaradhara River, a major lifeline of Netravathi Basin, hosts an impressive diversity of fish species, including endemics such as Garra Gotyla stenorhynchus, Barilius canarensis and Tor malabaricus. The River has nourished the local communities with fish for centuries, which have traditionally been harvested using gill nets, cast nets, passive fish traps and plant-based fish poisons. However, more toxic and destructive methods of fishing have become a convenient alternative in recent times. Most locals now use low cost, easily … Read More

Lion-Tailed Macaque and Traffic, Someshwara

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This image is from the Agumbe – Someshwara main road in the Malnad region of Karnataka. This is a very busy road as it provides the shortest connection from Shimoga to coastal towns like Manipal, Mangalore and Udupi. Sadly, there are no signboards or speed-breakers to notify wildlife crossing areas.

The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) is an endangered and endemic macaque found only in the tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats. These macaques can benefit from ecologically informed and … Read More

Dholes in Tea Estate near Chembra peak, Kerala

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Chembra is part of the Wayanad hill ranges in the Western Ghats, adjoining the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu and Vellarimala in Kozhikode district in Kerala. Chembra Peak is accessible by foot from Meppady. District Tourism Promotion Council provides guides and trekking equipment on hire charges to tourists. A heart-shaped lake on the way to the top of the peak is a major tourist attraction.

Last month (September 2013), my friends and I were trekking to Chembra peak. We had … Read More

First record of Hodgson’s Bat from Western Ghats

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The Hodgson’s Bat (Myotis formosus) is a strikingly colored bat that roosts in foliage. It is a widespread species ranging from Central to South-east Asia. In India it is reported from 14 localities in North and East India and one locality in Central India. This species superficially resembles the more popular Painted Wolly Bat (Kerivoula picta).

On 12th January 2013 at 11:13 h, we (D.V. Girish, Shashank Dalvi, Vishnupriya Sankararaman and Rohit Chakravarty) visited Mullayangiri peak … Read More

Commercial activity in Shola grasslands

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Shola grasslands are high-altitude grasslands, evergreen, with very good water retention capacity. The Western Ghats is a biodiversity hotspot, supporting many endemic and threatened species, a region where many streams and rivers originate. The mountains are known for the wide variety of flora, including many medicinal herbs. The roads are laced with many tiny wild flowers of different hues.

One look at the landscape is enough to take your breath away. It is alright to soak in the beauty. It … Read More

Large-scaled Forest Lizard, Anamalais

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The Large-scaled Forest Lizard (Calotes grandisquamis) is an agamid lizard endemic to the forests of central and southern Western Ghats of India.

Western Ghats has lost over two-thirds of its original forest cover in the last several decades and only 3,200 square kilometres, or 15% of the intact area, is protected. This loss of habitat is mainly due to conversion of forests for various plantations as well as development. Even though few species struggle to adapt to newly altered environments, … Read More

Huge Impacts, But No assessment? Groups Urge MoEF to Correct its Blunder on Yettinahole Diversion Project

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Yettinahole Diversion Project is being planned in the Western Ghats and Eastern Plains of Karnataka, by the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited (KNNL) purportedly as a drinking water supply scheme to supply 24 TMC water to Kolar and Chikkaballapur Districts. The scheme involves 8 dams in Western Ghat forests, 250 kms long canals, 80 and 50 kms long raising mains, a reservoir that will submerge 1200 hectares of land and 2 villages. A closer look at the Project Report of the … Read More

Gliding Frogs of India

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Gliding frogs of the genus Rhacophorus are a unique and spectacular group in the arboreal frog family Rhacophoridae. These tree dwelling frogs are one of diverse and the oldest group, globally. They began to radiate about 50-60 million years ago (between Paleocene to Oligocene) and are distributed largely in South and S. E. Asia, and Africa. The rapid diversification occurred just about the time in which modern day angiosperm plants diversified (Roelants et al. 2007).

In India, there are … Read More