Illegal feeding of migratory birds at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh

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During my recent visit to the famous Sukhna lake in Chandigarh, it was shocking to see visitors blatantly feeding snacks to migratory birds. Ducks like Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Common Coot (Fulica atra) were fed with biscuits, chips and popcorn, and hence kept flocking close to the lake shore. This is a growing problem in India where citizens indulge in the feeding of avian fauna like gulls, treepies and several other species due to lack of awareness and sensitization. … Read More

Let’s get to know the Fishing Cat in February!

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The Beautiful Baghrol – A Fascinating Feline

What is the state animal of West Bengal? Many of you may guess, Royal Bengal Tiger, because of the ‘Bengal’ in the name. Or you may remember Bengalis’ love for all things piscine, and say it is the fish! But you would be wrong again, for it is neither the tiger, nor the fish, but an animal associated with both – the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), locally known as Baghrol or MacchbaghaRead More

Wetlands in Peril, Chennai

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While driving to work on 13th July 2016, I witnessed rapid changes to the remaining wetlands patches along the Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai. Studies show that due to rapid city expansion, Chennai’s wetlands have shrunk to alarming proportions.

At a national scale, one-third of the India’s wetlands are already wiped out or severely degraded because of encroachment. Wetlands that were once home to numerous species of flora and fauna have been replaced by concrete jungles virtually in the blink … Read More

Losing their Home — Greater Adjutants in Assam

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The Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius), an endangered scavenger stork, is globally threatened, with an estimated population of 800-1200 mature individuals, out of which 650-800 are in Assam (Choudhury, 2000). Half of the Assamese population is found in and around Guwahati City (Choudhury, 2008) near the Boragaon Garbage dump, Deepor Beel, Guwahati. Deepor Beel, a permanent freshwater lake in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, is a Ramsar site, which was originally over 40 sq km. Currently it is … Read More

Sarus Cranes in Intensely Cultivated Floodplains

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Sarus Cranes (Grus antigone) in north India and other locations occur in landscapes with very high human populations and intensive agriculture. Their successful breeding is dependent on remnant wetland patches. Traditional agricultural practices help them to persist on the otherwise disturbed lands. Alongside the struggle to maintain wetlands amid a burgeoning human population, the changes in rainfall patterns, likely driven by global climate change, are new challenges that cranes here face. … Read More

Caspian Plover – A Winter Rarity in India

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The mudflats near Panje village near Uran, Navi Mumbai are known to be a favourite stopover destination for many uncommon migratory birds, so we visited the place to try our luck.

Our day began with listening to the calls of Rain Quails and the sighting of a beautiful Jacobin Cuckoo followed by the usual sightings – Prinias, Bulbuls, Munias, and waders like Sandpipers, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Stints and Lapwings. Further on the trail, along the dry mudflats, we observed a few … Read More

Reject the Draft Wetland Rules 2016 that are designed to destroy wetlands

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Urgent! Calling all citizens to reject the Draft Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2016 which pose a serious threat to India’s wetlands. Let us demand the ministry new Rules through a scientific, consultative and participatory process. Act now by signing this petition!

While the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) never implemented the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010, it has now brought out a new and seriously watered down Draft Wetland Rules 2016 (in Hindi, followed by … Read More

Irrawaddy Dolphin, Chilika Lake

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This rare photograph captures an Irrawaddy dolphin calf as it leaps out of the water. Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) are quite shy, and all that can be seen of them most of the time is a dorsal fin or a tail fluke. They are believed to give birth to a single calf every two to three years, after a gestation of 14 months. A newborn is said to be 1 m long, weighing about 10 kg. As per … Read More

White-bellied Sea Eagle on a Fish Trap in Lake Chilika, Odisha

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Fish trapped in nets catch the attention of a White-bellied Sea Eagle in Lake Chilika, Odisha. Sea Eagles and other birds often perch near fish traps in the hopes of finding easy prey. Unfortunately, they risk entanglement in the nets themselves should they take the risk of diving into the traps. Lake Chilika is an extremely productive ecosystem, and fishing, though largely traditional, has become very intensive. So much so, that virtually no part of the lake is free from … Read More

Littering — how it impacts birds

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Please do not litter! Especially where birds and animals live. We learn this in school but do not implement it in real life! Nobody cares about the impact of littering. I came across one distressing incident recently. This Darter (Anhinga rufa), a fish-eater, got a piece of cloth entangled in its beak and remained in this position for more than 2 hours. Luckily the bird was finally able to get rid of the cloth; otherwise it could have resulted … Read More

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation in Bangladesh

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Considering its grim current global status, a group of young ornithologists in Bangladesh took up the challenge to save the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper in 2009, when they began the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project (BSCP).

Their surveys confirmed that Bangladesh is an extremely important wintering ground for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, and identified Sonadia Island (near Cox’s Bazar) as the key wintering site and Domar Char as a stopover (passage) site in the country. In Sonadia Island, they found evidence … Read More

Pulicat Bird Sanctuary in Grave Danger

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Pulicat Bird Sanctuary, spanning northern Tamilnadu and southern Andhra Pradesh is the 2nd largest brackish water ecosystem in India. Hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl throng the lake from October to April, including large numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingos. Efforts are underway through national conservation bodies such as Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural history (SACON) to declare it as a wetland of international importance and obtain for it the status of … Read More

Films on Chilika Lake by Shekar Dattatri

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Asia’s largest brackish water lake and lagoon, Chilika, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa), was considered a dying wetland until the late 1990s. But thanks to scientific restoration by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA), it is once again a vibrant refuge for wildlife and a reliable source of livelihood for local communities.

In 2013, wildlife and conservation filmmaker, Shekar Dattatri, produced two films on the lake for CDA: ‘Chilika – Jewel of Odisha’, a 21-minute documentary … Read More

Pond Heron fatally entangled in fishing net

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We found this Indian Pond Heron or Paddybird (Ardeola grayii) fatally entangled in a plastic fishing net, at Hoskote kere (lake), rural Bangalore, on 28th December, 2013. I did not how to address the problem, and posted the picture on my Facebook page. Miraculously, someone on my timeline took up the issue with officials locally in Hoskote, and the farmers were told to remove the net. My friend went a few days later and confirmed that the net was indeed … Read More

Life between Net and Death in Chilika

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I was on a planned trip to Chilika’s Teen Muhana (Three River Mouths) with friends from Odisha, to watch migratory waterfowl of the great wetland. We started early in the morning from Mangalajodi on a hired boat. It was a lovely winter morning and the sun had gently warmed up the lake, where we witnessed large congregations of waterfowl.

Our first stop was at a very small island no.7 for 10 minutes. As we proceeded again towards Teen Muhana, … Read More

Spot-billed Pelicans on High Tension Cables, Pallikaranai

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The Spot-billed or Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) is a near threatened bird confined to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Here they are seen perched on high voltage cables that run through the centre of the Pallikaranai marshes in Chennai.

These marshes support scores of bird species, such as jacanas, lapwings, warblers, moorhens, coots and dabchicks, in addition to pelicans.

Even though a major portion of the marshland was declared a reserve forest in 2007, most of it has … Read More

Chinese Pond Heron in Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai

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While birding on the morning of Saturday, 30th March 2013, I saw a Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchu), in full breeding plumage at Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A lone bird was observed feeding on a small bund in the backwaters of the lake.

The Chinese Pond Heron looks almost identical to Indian Pond Heron and difficult to identify in non-breeding plumage. The size difference (Chinese is 8cm larger) is difficult to make out in the field. In … Read More

Greater Flamingo with sub-adult chick on its back, Dholpur

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This unusual image of a Greater Flamingo chick on the back of its mother (?) was taken by me on 22 January in Dholpur, Rajasthan, at the Hussain Sagar water body. The waterbody derives its name from Hussain Pur, a nearby village, and is fed by rain water. Even though there is anthropogenic disturbance at this site — buffaloes enter the water and people wash their clothes here everyday — a small group of Greater Flamingos have been at the … Read More

Growing City, Displaced Flamingos

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Kelambakkam is a brackish backwater lagoon situated near Chennai. The backwaters are heaven for waders, gulls, terns, pelicans, painted storks and cormorants. Greater flamingos have been spotted here regularly. During migration season, a lot of waders such as (Eurasian curlew, whimbrel, lesser and greater sand plovers, terns (little/gull billed/Caspian/whiskered), gulls, redshanks, greenshanks, stints, black winged stilts, pied avocets etc., are seen here. Kelambakkam is around 30 kms from Chennai city, and was pretty much undisturbed – until recently. Industrial and … Read More

Changing Landscapes

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Chennai is surrounded by a number of waterbodies. Kelambakkam backwaters, near Kovalam beach is home to a variety of birds that stop over on long migratory journeys. Some are local migrants like Painted Storks. Visitors from abroad include Flamingos, Western Reef Egrets and many species of Terns.

Storks like many birds wade in the shallows of the water bodies for catching fish and crabs, but the landscape around these water bodies is changing. With the city growing fast, an array … Read More

Followup Action on the Hunting Incident Near the Himayat Sagar Reservoir

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People often feel helpless in the face of conservation issues, as even if they possess the know-how and try to take action, they are likely to face dead ends and official stonewalling. Sometimes a louder, or just a second voice is needed. Sharing conservation issues on Conservation India and other such portals helps achieve this. Diya Banerjee, a wildlifer and animal activist based out of Hyderabad, happened to read this post about Hunting near the Himayat Sagar Reservoir on CI. … Read More

Chilika – A Shade Less Pink?

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In the winter of 2011-2012, I had the unique opportunity and privilege of being in Lake Chilika, Odisha, for a total of 40 days. While there were many resident and migrant birds to admire, Greater and Lesser flamingos, which used to be regular and abundant visitors to Nalabana Island inside Lake Chilika, were noticeably few. Population studies (done between 2001 and 2005 by scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society) show that around 5000 Greater Flamingos used to arrive until … Read More

Mugger Entangled in a Fishnet, Ranganthittu

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My friends and I visited the Ranganthittu Sanctuary, near Mysore, Karnataka, on the afternoon on July 6th. We noticed this mugger, lying on a rock in the river when we were taken for a boat ride in the sanctuary. It had a nylon fishing net and twigs stuck into its mouth, and seemed to be feeling uncomfortable. It was struggling to get rid of the net and twigs. When we tried to approach it to have a closer look, the … Read More

Painted Storks — Living with Trucks and JCBs, Pune

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Pune Municipal Corporation has undertaken the work of “restoring” the Pashan Lake in Pune. Lots of digging; new additions to the habitat are being made. I hope the flora & fauna present in and around the lake, benefit after the changes take place. Detailed information of the project is not yet available to me. This image shows the ‘Near Threatened’ Painted Storks with a truck carrying rocks in the background.… Read More

Q: In South Chennai, Pallikarnai Marsh is a beautiful wetland which has been home to over 100 species of birds resident & migratory, many small mammals, amphibians & fish species. Sadly the state government is not doing enough to protect this marsh which is now becomeing a wasteland dumping of the city’s garbage. Everyday this space is shrinking by all the buildings coming around. Whom do we need to approach to stop all this and can any PIL be filed against the State Government by an individual for the state’s negligence in protecting its wetland & the species.

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A: Over the last two decades, several individuals, NGOs and even government departments have tried to save the Pallikaranai marshes from destruction. But the pressure to find land for garbage dumping, housing and office space has meant that large portions of the marsh have been eaten away. What remains is highly polluted with the city’s toxic waste, sewage and garbage. As per a draft notification issued by the Government on April 9, 2007, about 317 hectares of the marsh was … Read More