The Warli and their Waghoba

Big cats have found cultural representation across their natural ranges. These representations are manifested in the form of art, kinship relations, taboos and even worship. This can be seen with regard to the Were-jaguars that are an intrinsic part of various Mesoamerican cultures as well as the cat deities famously worshiped by Egyptians. Closer to home, the Warlis, an indigenous community in Maharashtra, also worship a big cat deity; Waghoba. The Warli have a long history of sharing space … Read More

How Communities are Evolving to Deal with Human-Elephant Conflict in Northern Chhattisgarh

The Northern Chhattisgarh landscape is located at the intersection of the Eastern Baghelkhand plateau and the Chhattisgarh plains. The region is drained by the Mahanadi and Son rivers. Geologically, it is composed of lower Gondwana and the eastern extension of the Deccan Peninsula. It is surrounded by the Chhota Nagpur and Hazaribaug plateaus, which are rich in coal deposits. Over this buried ‘black gold’ stand the tropical dry deciduous and mixed forests inhabited by a wide variety of wildlife, including … Read More

Can stewardship on agricultural lands reconcile conservation and livelihood needs in India?

For nearly five decades, Protected Areas (PAs) have been the cornerstones of India’s conservation success, contributing to the recovery and maintenance of endangered and threatened species. India’s PA network is, however, limited in its capacity due to challenges of spatial coverage, fragmentation, isolation, pressures from surrounding areas as well as its vulnerability to the demands of economic development. Concurrently, marginal farmers living on the periphery of PAs bear the losses associated with crop-raiding and livestock depredation by wild animals, while … Read More

The Offence of Illegal Possession under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

Wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest transnational crime after arms, drugs, and human trafficking as per United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. When it comes to South Asia, India is considered as the source country for the wild species and its body parts. The World WISE database shows 1000 to 62,000 seizures reported by India from 2004 to 2015. The Wildlife (Protection Act), 1972 is the primary legislation that protects the species listed under Schedule I to IV of … Read More

Forest Birds Decline in Response to Land Use Change in the Western Himalaya

The Western Himalaya is a biologically diverse region, harboring rich flora and fauna, including numerous regional endemics. At a time of expanding threats from infrastructure development, over-exploitation and vegetation changes, it is necessary to study human impacts at micro and landscape scales. Currently, there are very few systematic studies that attempt to understand how native Himalayan fauna respond to human-caused habitat changes.

My colleagues and I have been studying birds in the banj oak-dominated (Quercus leucotrichophora) forests in … Read More

PK Sen: A Large-hearted Gentleman

A personal tribute by Prerna Singh Bindra

It was early 1998. I was a rookie reporter passionate about wildlife when I first met with PK Sen, a 1967 batch Bihar cadre Indian Forest Service officer, who was then the Director of Project Tiger. He was in Mumbai for a function that I gate-crashed begging for an interview. PK—as he was affectionally known—had a packed schedule and a plane to catch. “Dukhi mat ho. Don’t be dejected,” he admonished,” … Read More

Human-leopard Interactions in Rajasthan

Understanding the ecology of large carnivores and their interactions with people across large areas such as landscapes, regions, or entire states, is extremely important yet logistically infeasible. Newspaper reports that regularly document information about wild animals (like bears, leopards, and elephants) that frequently interact with people can be useful sources of information to undertake research on human-wildlife interactions. In a new study, scientists from the Forest Research Institute (Dehradun), Wildlife Conservation Society–India (Bangalore) and the University of Florida (USA) used … Read More

Precious Amrit Mahal Kavals are not Wastelands

Amrit Mahal Kavals are semi-arid grasslands in Karnataka that were set aside several centuries ago, during the Vijayanagara empire, and protected as grazing grounds for a sturdy local breed of cattle known as Amrit Mahal, which was once highly prized as a military draught animal. The protection of these grasslands was continued by subsequent rulers, including Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultan, and the Maharajas of Mysore, as well as the British during their colonial reign in India. Although these grasslands … Read More

Counting Dholes: A First For India

India hosts a wide diversity of carnivores in a relatively small fraction of the global land area. Unfortunately, a lot of these carnivores are at risk of extinction with barely any information on their populations, nor methods available to monitor them. The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (cuon alpinus) ranks among the most threatened carnivores in the world. Till date, monitoring their populations has proven to be a challenge because dholes do not have visible distinguishing features such as stripes … Read More

Pelicans in Peril – Nematode Infestation Alert!

On the morning of December 20, 2020, when international birders Mike Prince and Chris Bowden visited Sonnapura Lake near Chikkaballapur Town, about 23 km from Bengaluru, they were not prepared for what they found along the water’s edge — two dead Spot-billed Pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis). Subsequent visits to the lake resulted in the matter being brought to the attention of the Karnataka Forest Department, which promptly despatched the dead birds to the Bannerghatta Zoo on the outskirts Read More