Illegal Sand Mining, Shimsha River, Karnataka

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This photographer made this image of illegal sand mining activities going on the Shimsha river bed near Kokkare Bellur (see location below). This could destroy the sanctuary for the Spot-billed Pelicans and Painted Storks which depend on the fish from this river.

This image of sand mining in the Cauvery river captures the norm rather than the exception: across the length of the river, and its tributaries (like Shimsha), sand is being gouged out at a pace that is hundreds … 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

Poaching in Rajarhat, Kolkata

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Rajarhat wetlands (a neighbourhood of Kolkata, in North 24 Parganas district) have become a poachers paradise with numerous trap nets being placed in strategic locations across water bodies, marshes and paddy fields. These nets are quite big (about 10-15 feet in length and about 4-5 feet in width) and strung across bamboo poles. The nets are made of strings so thin that they are not clearly visible from a distance unless viewed carefully. Birds fly into the nets and get … Read More

Hunters Celebrate World Environment Day in West Bengal

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Every year hunters congregate in different parts of East Medinipur in West Bengal for attending melas to mark the celebrations surrounding the worship of goddess Kali. These coincide with the new moon, or amavasya, which fell on June 5 this year, World Environment Day.

The perpetrators, over 5000 tribal hunters, were organised packs of men out for a day of pure destruction and drunken revelry. They had converged on railway stations such as Uluberia, Deulti, Panskura and Kirai, located … Read More

Bird Poaching in Bangalore’s Wetlands

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Bird poaching was one of the pressures that birds in the city faced in the 90’s. It was thought to have died down since then. So much so that, during the planning of the Bangalore Mid Winter Water Bird survey 2015-2016, the coordinators and those assisting in planning the survey had considered dropping some of the parameters such as bird netting, bird shooting, poaching, trapping, etc. However, we were in for a rude shock when we visited a few survey … Read More

New Species to Science? Well, Who Cares?

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Last week, I was travelling in Arunachal Pradesh with a few friends. On our way to Udayak Pass (in the Lohith Valley), we stopped to photograph some birds when a bike sped by us. On the bike was freshly killed bushmeat  – a macaque. The hunter’s house was just around the corner and we managed to get there just as he was hauling the macaque off the bike. A close look confirmed our worst fears – this was a White-cheeked … Read More

White-cheeked macaque — A New Primate Species for India

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The White-cheeked Macaque (Macaca leucogenys) is a newly discovered species (in May 2015) of macaque from the Modog​ (Mêdog County), in Southeastern Tibet in China (Li et al; 2015). The species was distinguished from all potential sympatric macaques (species in the same geographic area) viz. Macaca mulatta, Macaca thibetana, Macaca assamensis and Macaca munzala by several characteristics including pelage ​(coat of a mammal), ​relatively uniform dorsal hair pattern, hairy ventral pelage, hairless short tail, prominent pale … Read More

Ingenious Snare, Kanchipuram

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This ingenious snare was set just outside a scrub forest in Kanchipuram district. The small patch of scrub forest supports axis deer, monitor lizard, wild pig, peafowl, partridge and black-naped hare. The snares in this area are primarily set for trapping black-naped hare and birds.

While on a casual stroll on 19th June 2013, I came across this set-up and informed the staff of the near-by forest office. Numerous snares such as this are silently concealed in and around our … Read More

Vasant Vihar Parakeets

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She was like any other hawker, selling—persuasively, aggressively—extolling the qualities of her wares. Only she wasn’t ‘just another hawker’. Her wares were illegal; she was hawking parakeets, the trapping and trade of which is prohibited under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

I spotted the woman in Vasant Vihar (near Priya Cinema), Delhi, on my way to visit a very sick friend, and almost turned a blind eye. You know how it is, when the task at hand is overwhelming or … Read More

New Breed of Hunters in the Northeast

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When one is traveling in the Northeastern part of our country, a common sight is that of boys and men with catapult and guns on the way to their next hunt. Hunting in the Northeast is largely influenced by cultural practices, rituals and (perceived) medicinal values. It has also become an activity just to kill time. However, the situation is changing; steadily, though slowly, thanks to access to education, employment, and intervention by NGOs at many places. There has been … Read More

Local Hunting and Conservation of Large Mammals

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Hunting wildlife for the pot and for commercial sale is far more widespread than most people realize, and is leading to an ‘empty forest’ syndrome in many parts of the country.  M.D. Madhusudan and K. Ullas Karanth conducted a fascinating study on local hunting around two wildlife reserves in Karnataka. These are the results of their study, excerpted from their original scientific paper published in Ambio in 2002.

  • Mammals that weigh over one kilo are the most prone to hunting
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The Six Percent Solution — a New Recipe for Saving Wild Tigers

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21 leading conservation biologists from across the world have proposed that since it might be far too expensive and far too difficult to save all wild tigers, we should focus a major part of our efforts and expenditure on 42 selected sites that show the greatest promise. Here’s CI’s distilled version of the original paper titled Bringing the tiger back from the brink – The six percent solution.

Current approaches to tiger conservation have not succeeded in slowing the decline … Read More

Tiger Killed By Wire Snare, Wayanad, Kerala

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On 21st December, 2011, an adult tiger was found dead at a place called Chekkadi in Tirunelli Village, just two kilometres from the boundary of Wayanad Sanctuary in Kerala. The tiger was caught in a strong wire snare skillfully laid between two trees just beyond a thick hedge.  A case has been registered and investigations are underway. Conservation India carried a note on the ‘Legal Aspects of Tiger Mortality’ along with a picture sourced from local sources. This picture was … Read More

India’s Conservation Challenges

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Wildlife conservation at crossroads

An interview with Dr. K. Ullas Karanth

Dr Ullas Karanth, a Senior Scientist with the international NGO, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), is a world-renowned wildlife biologist.  In a wide-ranging interview with wildlife and conservation filmmaker, Shekar Dattatri, he outlines the basic problems that beset wildlife conservation in India’s human dominated landscape, and shares his views on preserving these last wild places.

(This is an updated version of an interview that was first published under the title Read More

Villager Cooking Langur, Wunstubong, E Nagaland

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As part of a state-wide biodiversity survey in May-June 2011, Shashank Dalvi and Anup BP (post-graduate students of M.Sc wildlife biology and conservation, WCS-India & NCBS) encountered this scene in Wunstubong, E Nagaland. Led by a child who was seen holding a langur (likely Capped) tail, the students saw a woman cook the entire langur for dinner. Nagaland has lost almost all of its wildlife in similar fashion thanks to large-scale traditional hunting practices coupled with poor enforcement of wildlife … Read More

Hunting of Blyth’s Flying Fox in Andaman Islands

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On 26th December 2013, while birding in Mayabunder (North-Middle Andaman), my field assistants and I passed a Ranchi household where we saw the skinned remains of a male Blyth’s flying fox tied to the fence to be decomposed by ants. On further enquiry the man of the house brought a female flying fox that he had shot the previous night. A bullet had punctured the bat’s wing and there was another wound near her elbow rendering her incapable of flight.… Read More

Pelican Poaching, Chennai

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This image is one of a series of pictures I took on 1st January 2013 while watching birds at Chennai’s Kelambakkam lake. This brackish backwater lake is home to a lot of migrant and resident bird species throughout the year.

This is also a haven for poachers who regularly target this place for large number of local and migratory birds during winter for the excessive demand for meat on weekends. In this instance, it didn’t seem like organised poaching but … Read More

Bullfrogs in a Bucket

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This image highlights the serious problem of Indian Bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) poaching during the monsoon. We came across a paddy farmer near Jog falls, Mavingundi, Karnataka, who had collected nearly 30 bullfrogs and kept them in a bucket waiting to hand them over to a guy from Goa who was supposed to come and collect the frogs for the Goan Bar/Restaurant market. They are sold as ‘Jumping chicken’ there. We immediately rescued and released them plus reported the poacher to … Read More

Religious Festivals Inside Protected Areas

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CI recently received this very pertinent question (in our ‘Ask CI’ section) from Suraj Kumaar of Coimbatore: “I would like to know what kind of rights for worship are provided to tribals and forest dwellers (villagers) inside PAs? We have been recording the temple festivals inside Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary over the last two years and the situation is one of absolute mayhem. Between 70,000 to 1,50,000 visitors, over 700 buses, trucks visit two temples deep inside the sanctuary. One temple, Read More

Pangolin and Monitor Lizard Poachers caught in Bhadra Tiger Reserve

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I was shooting for the documentary “The UNSUNG” at Lakkavalli, when this case was cracked by the Bhadra staff. During their daily patrols, on 12th June 2014, four field staff of Lakkavalli Range (Bhadra Tiger Reserve), came across a few suspicious objects near a stream. This prompted them to intensify their search in that area, which led them to a poachers’ den site. They contacted their office and other Anti Poaching Camp staff using their wireless kit to … Read More

Hunter’s Bag, Zuneheboto, Nagaland

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Staring idly out of the window as we made our way along the winding, dust-covered roads of Nagaland’s picturesque green hills, we were suddenly snapped out of our reverie by the sight of two young boys dangling a collection of squirrels and birds including a slender, black and white badger-like creature. We could buy the whole bunch for just Rs. 800 we were told, and the boys proudly posed for a picture with their wares. The badger and birds were … Read More

China’s Illegal Ivory Trade Escalating Out of Control – Save the Elephants

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Save the Elephants Press Release

The illegal ivory trade is exploding in China, overwhelming efforts to enforce the law, according to the results of the first detailed research on the markets of Beijing and Shanghai since 2002, published today by Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation.

Skyrocketing demand for ivory in China – the wholesale price of raw elephant tusks has tripled in just four years since 2010 – have sparked a booming trade in smuggled ivory that is … Read More

Miscreants Caught Trying to Poison Vultures

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On a recent visit to Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary along with my friends Hrishikesh and Preetham, we came across a group of miscreants who were caught red-handed while trying to poison vultures at the sanctuary. Five of them were caught by the local Iruliga tribe while they were trying to poison vultures using chicken meat. An insecticide called PHORATE was applied to the chicken meat and dispersed near the vultures nests. The motive behind hunting these vulture was not clear. However, … Read More

The Endangered Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle

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The Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle (Chitra indica) of the family Trionychidae, is an extremely large, highly aquatic species. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and placed in Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. It is widely but patchily distributed throughout the riverine ecosystems of the Indian subcontinent. The Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle does not appear to exist at high densities anywhere in its range. Its specialized dietary and habitat requirements make it … Read More