Increased Poaching Under Lockdown, Not the Virus, is the New Threat to Tigers

A note on Covid-19 detected in a tiger in the Bronx Zoo.

Having retired after working for 30 years with Wildlife Conservation Society, which also runs the Bronx Zoo, this report brought back memories of the famed Tiger Mountain exhibit, the tigers like Nadia displayed in it, and more importantly, many of the keepers, veterinarians and curators, my colleagues whose dedication is unmatched in the zoo world.

However, I do believe from the perspective of wild tiger conservation in India, … Read More

Hornbill Nest Adoption Program (HNAP) — A Community-based Conservation Initiative in Arunachal Pradesh

Background

Research on hornbills in Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) began with a 4 year PhD study (1997-2000) on various aspects of hornbill biology (Datta 2001). The research program of the Eastern Himalaya Program of the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) has continued in the Pakke Tiger Reserve since 2003. Long-term monitoring of hornbill nesting showed that nest sites were limiting and that there was competition for nest trees between hornbill species. While three species of hornbills (Great, Wreathed and Oriental Pied … Read More

Uncovering India’s Illegal Jackal Trade

Religious beliefs in superstition, coupled with extensive online advertisements, have helped sustain local and transnational markets in a talisman called the ‘jackal horn’. In a recent study published in Journal of Threatened Taxa, scientists from the Wild Canids–India Project team document that the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (Government of India) has seized 126 skins, 8 tails, more than 370 ‘jackal horns’, 16 skulls and two live jackals between 2013 and 2019. The findings indicate that the illegal wildlife trade … Read More

Is the Enigmatic Caracal in Line to Becoming India’s Second Wild Cat Species Lost?

…..a lithe fawn coloured body spring into the air in a graceful arc.” writes B.P. Srivastava, Conservator of Forests in U.P. in the 1950s and one of the few naturalists till date who have witnessed this natural history moment of such a denizen of a species in action in the wild, while penning down his observation of a Caracal hunting a Partridge. He had later shot the animal for identification and further writes, “The face and body Read More

Bycatch Mortality and Poaching of Ganges River Dolphins in Malda District, West Bengal

On the morning of November 3, 2019, I witnessed the bycatch mortality of a sub-adult Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica), measuring 2.75′ feet and about 22 kg, in a drift gillnet set for catching fish near Jotkasturi, Panchanandpur, Malda, West Bengal. A Wallago attu catfish was also caught in the gillnet. The fishermen who had landed the dolphin said that it might have got accidentally entangled. Usually, in such cases, fishermen fear penalties being imposed, and are not … Read More

Eurasian Otter Found in Chilika Lake, Odisha

The Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) is a Near Threatened otter species. While there is much research globally, little is known of its distribution in India, making a recent record from Chilika lake in Odisha significant.

We, at The Fishing Cat Project, stumbled upon this otter while searching for another wetland carnivore in Chilika – the Fishing Cat. Locals told us about the presence of ‘Uddho’ or otters in Chilika, but even they were not aware of the fact that two … Read More

Wild Canids and Hyenas: Flagships for Increasing India’s Conservation Potential?

India has a wide diversity of carnivores that represent multiple unique ecosystems like forests, grasslands, scrublands, open / barren lands, deserts, ravines and the trans-Himalayan plains. A recent study by researchers from Wildlife Conservation Society–India, University of Florida (USA), Ashoka Trust for Ecology and the Environment, Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Centre for Biological Sciences and James Cook University (Australia) proposes that protecting wild dogs or dholes, jackals, wolves, foxes and hyenas, and their habitats, can offer incredible potential to expand … Read More

Sightings of Adult Gharial in Mirzapur stretch of River Ganga in Uttar Pradesh

A Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) has been sighted on multiple occasions at different locations in the Mirzapur stretch of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. It was first reported by two fishermen (Naresh Sahni and Ravindra Sahni) at Shitladham ghat, Adalpura (Chunar) while they were fishing around 4 pm on 26th February, 2020. According to them, the Gharial was old, and may weigh approximately 200 kgs.

In another sighting, on 29th February 2020 near Shastri Bridge, Mirzapur, it was basking on a … Read More

Park in Peril — Proposed Highway Through Pakke Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh

The future of the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is threatened by a proposal to construct a two-lane Highway through it. The proposed road, from Seijosa, Pakke Kessang district to Bhalukpong, West Kameng district would form part of the 692 km long East-West Industrial Corridor project that seeks to connect towns/villages in the foothill areas of Arunachal Pradesh, from Kanubari in the east to Bhairabkund in the west.

In Phase I of the proposed project, the developers / state … Read More

India’s Protected Area (PA) Network

Here is an explainer piece on Protected Areas in India.

What is a Protected Area (PA)?

PAs in India comprise National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation / Community Reserves and Tiger Reserves. It does not include Reserved Forests.

Protected Area (PA) has been defined in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Section 2(24A) says: “Protected Area” means a National Park, Sanctuary, Conservation / Community Reserve. These are notified under Chapter IV titled “Protected Areas”. 

A Tiger Reserve on the other hand is notified … Read More