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

Moths of Churicad Estate, Kodagu

Like butterflies, moths depend on specific host plants to develop, help in plant pollination, and are an important source of food for birds. They come in many colors, shapes and sizes, designed over millions of years by mechanisms of evolution. However, unlike butterflies, in India, they remain poorly documented and studied.

During the pre-monsoon months of 2021, as a hobby, I documented the moth diversity at Churicad Estate- a small coffee plantation in southern Coorg. Located in the biodiverse central … Read More

Forging Linkages Across Regions for the Wide-ranging Asian Elephant

Connectivity across habitats and animal populations is critical to conservation. Connectivity is forged by animal movements – or dispersal – across large heterogeneous landscapes. Connectivity boosts the ability of animals to persist over time, and enhances both immunity and adaptability of animal populations, and helps prevent local extinctions. When local extinctions do occur, connectivity allows animals to recolonise previously occupied but currently empty or depauperate habitats.

Today, habitats are sometimes severely fragmented, and human presence has drastically restricted animal movement. … 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

Mind the Gap: Connectivity Conservation for Dholes in India

The increase in human-driven impacts on the natural world continues to threaten the survival of several species of wildlife. Many endangered species that currently survive in small populations across isolated habitats are particularly vulnerable. It is important to not only conserve these small populations but also enable movement of individuals between them. Facilitating ‘connectivity’ of populations and habitats is therefore a key conservation issue. The Asiatic wild dog (dhole) is one of many endangered species that can benefit from connectivity … Read More

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

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