Precious Wayanad in Peril

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Wayanad is home to Edakkal Caves, a group of ancient, natural caves, with stone age carvings believed to be around 8000 years old. Located amidst the precious Western Ghats, the huge rocky hills near Edakkal now face the threat of several illegal quarries that blast the hills off to feed the market for sand and gravel. Uncontrolled tourism is also adding to the environmental degradation. Tourists who come from every part of the country litter plastic bags and beer bottles, … Read More

Linear Intrusions, Electricity and Elephants

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This was photographed by my colleague N. Suresh on the way to Mysore from Munnar in a place called “shooting spot” near Munnar where a lot of movie shootings happen. He took this interesting image and shared it with me to post on Conservation India.

The image, while it looks “green”, has hardly anything wild about it — cleared mountain slopes, exotic plantation all around and transmission lines right through it. The image conveys the serious treats to these elephants … Read More

Stopping ‘Eco-Resorts’ In Their Tracks

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May 30, 2012: Based on a complaint filed by wildlife conservation NGOs, the Deputy Commissioner of Chikmagalur district in Karnataka cancelled the permission given to Satori Eco Adventure Resorts Pvt Ltd. for constructing resorts on Chandradrona hill in the Western Ghats. This cancellation is a significant milestone in the persistent battle by local conservation groups, WildCAT C and Bhadra Wildlife Conservation Trust, to halt commercial resorts in this tiger corridor connecting Bhadra Tiger reserve with adjoining forests.

Importance of the Read More

Melanistic and Common Leopard Pair

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On August 15, 2010, we were in the Nilgiris, in search of a leopard that had killed a porcupine the previous day. It was raining heavily in the morning, but stopped around 3 PM. As the rain stopped, we noticed something black on top of a hill and we cautiously approached it. We climbed about 500 feet of the hill, but the animal had vanished by the time we reached the top. We waited for sometime and a common leopard … Read More

Lion-tailed Macaque with Ice Cream, Anamalai Hills

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We came across some Lion-tailed Macaques (LTMs) at Pudhuthottam estate near Valparai. While some of the LTMs were feeding on fruits and shoots, this one was feeding on Ice Cream irresponsibly discarded by tourists. This species is in constant conflict, with some of the males even entering the main town of Valparai. Ice Cream should be the last thing this endangered species needs.

The Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus) is an endangered and endemic macaque found only in the … Read More

Book Review — Pictorial Guide to Frogs and Toads of Western Ghats by Gururaja K.V.

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This field guide to the amphibians of the Western Ghats is not just a tool for researchers.

Did you know that most toads tend to have poisonous glands while most frogs don’t? Frogs also feel slimier when held, while toads are rough. Also, there are several very bright, even beautiful, frogs and toads.

“I find them all beautiful,” says Gururaja K.V., who has been researching amphibians since 1998 and has recently put together a guide titled Pictorial Guide to Frogs … Read More

Nilgiri Marten, Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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Only a handful of biologists and naturalists have had the good fortune of having sighted one of the most elusive and fascinating species of small carnivores of the Western Ghats — the Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii). The Nilgiri Marten is a small carnivorous mammal endemic to moist and wet evergreen forests of the Western Ghats—occurring at altitudes ranging from about 150 – 2200 m. It is similar to the more commonly seen and more widely distributed Yellow-throated Marten … Read More

A Lion-tailed Macaque By The Roadside, Anamalai Hills

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How do you feel when you see this photo? Don’t you think that this is one of the ugliest and saddest sights to witness? The lion-tailed macaque Macaca silenus is an endangered and endemic macaque found only in the tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats. Instead of living freely in the canopy of the rainforest, here is a male by a roadside, looking for food.

This individual has been forced into looking for food in passing vehicles. The habitat of … Read More

Developmental Activities Have ‘Seriously Impacted’ Districts Of Ratnagiri And Sindhudurg, Says Expert Panel

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The entire districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg in southern Maharashtra have been “seriously impacted, both environmentally and socially, by a number of mining, power projects and polluting industries”, says a report submitted by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP). The impacts mentioned include pollution (noise, air and ground water), depletion of fisheries, deforestation, siltation of water bodies and “loss of unique biodiversity elements”, among many others. The report claims that there are also numerous illegal activities in these areas … Read More

Discovery Of India’s First Ever Tigidia Trapdoor Spiders From Western Ghats

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Three species of trapdoor spiders belonging to the Genus Tigidia have been discovered in the Western Ghats. The type specimens are from the Nilgiri and Coimbatore districts in Tamil Nadu and Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka. This is the first time that Tigidia spiders have been recorded in India.

Tigidia rutilofronis, T. nilgiriensis and T. sahyadri are the three species discovered by a team of five student scientists including Manju Siliwal, Neha Gupta, Rajesh V. Sanap, Zeeshan A. Mirza and … Read More

Western Ghats Expert Panel Terms Entire Area Sensitive

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Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF), Government of India, in its report, has classified the 142 taluks (in 44 districts in six states) in the Western Ghats boundary into Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ) 1, 2 and 3. It recommended that “no new dams based on large-scale storage be permitted in Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1. Since both the Athirappilly of Kerala and Gundia of Karnataka hydel project sites fall in Ecologically Sensitive … Read More

New Species Of Bronzeback Tree Snake Discovered In Western Ghats

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A new species of snake has been discovered in the Western Ghats. The snake was first spotted by nature enthusiasts in Amboli village in Maharashtra in 2001. The snake is predominantly bronze coloured, arboreal and when aggressive, expand their skin to reveal a blue coloured skin between the scales.

In 2003, Varad Giri, a deputy director and curator of the herpetological collection with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) saw a similar snake during his visit to Goa and took … Read More

Indian Wild Dog (Dhole) in Tea Gardens, Anamalai Hills, Tamil Nadu

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A pack of dhole on the prowl in a tea plantation near Valparai, Tamil Nadu.

The Western Ghats hill range in India contains spectacular landscapes and an incredible array of wild species, many found nowhere else in the world. One among the world’s 34 most biologically diverse “hotspots”, the region has representation of a wide variety of natural ecosystems from grasslands and dry forests to rainforests, rivers, and streams, threatened by a multitude of human activities such as industrialisation, agriculture, … Read More

Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary Expanded

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The Tamil Nadu forest department has issued a notification expanding the area under the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary from the current 52,434 hectares to 1.41 lakh hectares, by adding seven reserve forests to the sanctuary. According to the last wildlife census, the sanctuary is home to one fourth of the elephant population in the state. It is also a unique habitat where tigers, elephants and blackbucks co-exist. Hyenas and vultures exist in the larger numbers here than anywhere else in the … Read More

12 New Frog Species Discovered in India

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A team of scientists who have spent years combing tropical mountain forests have found 12 new frog species as well as rediscovered 3 that were thought to be extinct. SD Biju of Delhi University, who headed the team has said that frogs are extremely important indicators of the climate change and pollutants in the environment. Globally, as many as 32% of amphibian species are facing extinction due to habitat loss as well as pollution. Many of the new frogs found, … Read More

Unilever’s Mercury Fever — Dumping Toxic Mercury in a Biodiversity Hotspot

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Corpwatch examines Unilever’s response when caught dumping toxic mercury waste from a thermometer factory in Southern India earlier this year. The Anglo-Dutch company recently closed the factory. Community members, however, allege that the multinational has downplayed the dangers of mercury and misled the public in an attempt to cover up the truth. Indian journalist Nityanand Jayaraman reports for CorpWatch.

In March 2001, residents of Kodaikanal, a pretty hill retreat in Southern India, caught the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever red-handed when they … Read More

Study Identifies North East Forests and Western Ghats as Vulnerable to Climate Change

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A forest impact study by a four-member team from the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Bengaluru has identified that due to climate change, there is going to be a 45 percent change in forest vegetation in the North East and the Western Ghats, by 2100. The study, along with a related crop impact study, was published in the latest issue of the Indian Science Journal, Current Science. In addition to climate change, low biodiversity, low tree density and fragmentation also contribute … Read More

Steady Decline in Tiger’s Habitat Goes Against Tiger Estimation Report Conclusions

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Tiger habitat in the country has been steadily declining in India. Between 2006 to 2010 the country has lost 20,000 sq km of tiger habitat bringing the area down to 72,800 sq km. Close to 30% of the population is outside tiger reserves and there is no real strategy to deal with the situation. The fragmented habitats and shrinking corridors between protected areas mean that young tigers have no room to disperse and create new territories. There are some bright … Read More

Relocation of Human Settlements in Wayanad Awaits Government Action

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Even though around 10,000 people inside Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary want to relocate outside government inaction is delaying their move out. The central government has sanctioned Rs. 80 crores to move out a third of the population inside Wayanad, but of that only Rs 4.5 crores have been released. According to a report from the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) there are 110 settlements having 2613 families in the sanctuary. Wild animal attacks are frequent as are retaliatory killings. The Central … Read More

Final Notification Comes Into Effect in Sigur Elephant Corridor in the Nilgiris

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The final public notification has been issued regarding the proposed elephant corridor in the Sigur plateau of the Nilgiris District. Resort owners and private land owners have to vacate and hand over their land to the Collector immediately. Private land owners will be given adequate compensation and those living on government poramboke lands will be given alternative dwelling sites as per the Forest Dwellers Act, 2006. The proposed corridor falls within Sholur, Masinagudy, Hullathy and Kadanad villages.

The public notice … Read More

World Heritage Committee Defers UNESCO World Heritage Tag for Western Ghats

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The World Heritage Committee (WHC) has deferred its decision to accord a World Heritage Site tag to the proposed 39 serial sites in the Western Ghats. This is the second time the Western Ghats has not been accorded the tag. The Union Environment Ministry is expected to try once more after Prof. Madhav Gadgil, who is heading the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel, submits his report on the 39 sites. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), acting as … Read More

Regular Crop Raider Tusker Radio-collared in Wayanad, Kerala

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A 40-year old tusker, which is said to be a regular crop raider in the Sulthan Bathery area of Wayanad, has been radio collared. The radio collar will help monitor the animals movements and help warn villagers about its movements. Trackers had spotted the animal in the Arakunchi forest and though it tried to evade the trackers, the forest officials kept up the chase and eventually tranquilized the elephant. An expert team then took biometrical measurements of the elephant before … Read More

Mining in the hills

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Quarrying for stone and granite (mostly illegal) is a typical sight in many hilly areas and cause disastrous and irreversible changes to natural habitats. Those engaged in illegal mining are typically businessmen who operate with the tacit support of certain corrupt elements in local village offices, the police and the mining and geology department. They hire migrant labourers and use unlawfully procured explosives to blast rock formations in ecologically sensitive areas without government permission. The racketeers use politically influential goondas … Read More

Camera trap in Sirumugai Reserve Forest near Coimbatore records Tigers

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A camera trap in Sirumugai Reserve Forest has recorded the movement of a Tiger. This is the third sighting of a tiger in the Sirumugai Range. A census conducted in March found several pug marks. The forest department plans to assess whether the tiger is a migrant one or native to the Coimbatore Forests. The Sirumugai range is contiguous with the lower reaches of the Western Ghats, Mudumalai Tiger reserve, Sathyamangalam Forests and Silent Valley in Kerala.… Read More

25 Ecologically Sensitive Areas Identified in Kerala

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The Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel (WGEEP) has identified 25 ecologically sensitive areas in the state of Kerala. The panel was constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and its report is due on June 5th. There are indications that Sholayar, Athirapally, Nelliyampathy, Attapadi, Vythiri, Malakkapara, Ranni and Konni are on the list. Certain areas close to the forest in Munnar will also be declared ecologically sensitive. The WGEEP’s proposals have to be cleared by the local panchayats. … Read More