Conserving India’s Threatened Myristica Swamps

A review paper focuses on the importance of the threatened Myristica freshwater swamps, their ecology, and prior research on them. It focuses on the need for conservation initiatives to save the last few Myristica swamps in India.

Myristica swamps are freshwater swamps predominated by members of the Myristicaceae family. These forests are characterized by trees with large protruding roots jutting out of waterlogged soil which remains inundated throughout the year. They have evolved over millions of years and are comprised … Read More

What Can Media Reports Tell Us about Illegal Wildlife Trade? A Case Study from India

Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is a major threat to numerous wildlife species and ecosystems across the world, with established global links to organised criminal activities and an annual value encompassing billions of dollars. Media reports function as an untapped reservoir of publicly available records that can be utilised to understand the nature and scale of this trade.

A report, “Media-Reported Wildlife Poaching and Illegal Trade in India 2020,” was published by the Wildlife Conservation Society-India. It provides a comprehensive overview … Read More

Walking for Tiger Conservation: An Occupancy Survey of the Satpura-Melghat Tiger Corridor

What is a corridor?

In the sphere of conservation biology, a wildlife corridor is a strip of habitat that connects two wildlife source populations and serves as a movement path for wild animals in search of resources such as food, habitat and mates. In a larger landscape, consisting of many source populations, one can have a network of corridors, connecting pairs of source populations so that they are connected directly or indirectly. Together these populations constitute a metapopulation.

For several … Read More

Hydroelectric Dams in the Himalayas – A Risk Not Worth Taking

On July 11th, 2020, Mint, an Indian business newspaper, carried a centrepiece titled, “The Big Himalayan Earthquake Is Coming”. This story quoted several scientific studies that warned of the risks posed to cities, towns, and hundreds of villages in the Himalayan region from a future earthquake that has been predicted with a high degree of certainty.  The seismological research supporting the key premise of this article is impeccable, has been subject to examination, validation, and peer-review, and therefore … Read More

Conserving Vultures in India – Making India Safe for Vultures Once Again?

The dramatic decline of vultures remains one of the poignant stories of wildlife conservation in India. The primary reason was a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory veterinary drug (NSAID), diclofenac. Being a pervasive drug, diclofenac would remain in cattle even after their death and be indirectly consumed by vultures, which then suffer fatal consequences. Consumption of diclofenac caused gout and kidney failure in three species of Gyps vultures; White-rumped (Gyps bengalensis), Long-billed (Gyps indicus), and Slender-billed (Gyps tenuirostrisRead More

Book Review – Conservation Kaleidoscope: People, Protected Areas and Wildlife in Contemporary India

Published by: Kalpavriksh, Duleep Matthai Conservation Trust and authors UPFRONT; 432 pages; Price: Kindle Edition ₹325.00, Paperback ₹580.00

What is the future of conservation in modern India? What are its biggest challenges? Can India achieve the goal of rapid economic growth while leaving its wilderness intact? These are questions that every conservation biologist or practitioner grapples with today. Although these questions may seem simple, their answers are layered—like an onion—as Pankaj Sekhsaria points out in the Editor’s note of Conservation Read More

Old Dog, New Tricks: Methods to Count Dhole Numbers

The fundamental metric that we need for assessing and monitoring the status of threatened or endangered species is the population size, i.e., we are typically interested in finding out how many individuals of a species currently exist. Unfortunately, estimating these numbers is a daunting task because most endangered animals– especially those that live in dense tropical forests– are rare, secretive and elusive. For animals that have individual markings (like the stripes of a tiger, spots of a cheetah, rosettes of … Read More

Book Review — Waders of the Indian Subcontinent by Harkirat Singh Sangha

WADERS OF THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT
By Harkirat Singh Sangha
Published in association with World Wide Fund for Nature
Hardback, 520 pages

This book review originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of Sanctuary Asia magazine.

The pandemic has been a terrible time for all of us, with many major books, including some of my own being either cancelled or postponed.

Therefore, when the courier arrived one bleak morning, my joy knew no bounds, for it contained a huge tome on … Read More

Are Himalayan Black Bears in the North Bengal Foothills a Product of a Bigger Ecological Disaster?

Since November 2021, Himalayan Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus laniger) have been spotted in the foothills of north Bengal, perplexing Forest Department personnel, wildlife biologists, and local inhabitants alike. The species is usually only found at altitudes between 1200-4300m above sea level in tropical, subtropical, and temperate broadleaved and conifer forests of the Himalayas. Ursus thibetanus laniger is easily identified by a cream-coloured, crescent-shaped patch on the chest, earning its other common name, ‘Moon Bear’. It is one of the four … Read More

Climate Resilience in the Sunderbans

Cyclones Amphan and Yaas, which occurred in May 2020 and May 2021 respectively, severely impacted the Sundarbans. Local people who survived the immediate aftermath of these catastrophic weather events found themselves robbed of their self-sufficiency and livelihood as paddy fields and fish ponds were contaminated by extra-high salinity levels from the storm surges. Farmers believed that growing crops on their lands would be near impossible for at least 2-3 years. Life in the Sunderbans is tenuous at the best of … Read More