Baghjan OIL Spill, Inferno Ravages Wildlife and Communities in Assam

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On May 27 2020, an oil rig operated by the public sector unit Oil India Limited (OIL) in Baghjan, Assam broke out into a fire, and a consequent raging inferno on 9th June, 2020 after leaking oil and gas uncontrolled, for 12 days. The disaster has caused irreversible damage to the region’s fragile ecology and wildlife, and acutely impacted the livelihoods of communities that rely on the wetlands and forests.

Drone image of oil well no. 5 at Baghjan

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Oil India Well Blowout Threatens Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and local wildlife

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An oil well blowout – yet to be brought under control 6 days after it started – has been leaking toxic natural gas into its surroundings in Upper Assam, including the fragile Dibru-Saikhowa National Park close by. 

At least 2,000 people have been evacuated even as state-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) struggles to control the massive eruption or blowout from one of its producing wells in Baghjan oilfield in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district. Natural gas continued to gush out from … Read More

Collared Owlet — a Terror for Small Birds

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In February 2020, I was on a birding trip to Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam with my wife. On the evening of 24th, I was waiting silently for over two hours to get a glimpse of the rare and elusive Black-tailed Crake while dusk was setting in.

Suddenly, I realized that several birds were mobbing and calling frantically at something. And there it was, one of the smallest and cutest birds of prey, the Collared Owlet. It had just killed … Read More

Palm Civet Poached In Morigaon, Assam

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A palm civet (either common or masked, id unclear) was killed by villagers near my residence at Dharamtul this morning, inspite of my repeated requests to leave the animal alone. It was spotted on a tree in the neighborhood, and I left the spot after telling them that it will go away after dark. After about two hours I heard a commotion and rushed there but found that it had already been killed. The white ring on the tail confuses … Read More

Conservation Status of Dholes (Asiatic Wild Dogs) in Northeast India

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Dholes or Asiatic wild dogs (Cuon alpinis) are among the least-studied large carnivores in the world. The IUCN Red List assessment (2015) categorizes the dhole as an Endangered species. With fewer than 2,500 mature individuals remaining in the wild – across 11 countries in South and Southeast Asia – the dhole may be facing a crisis far more severe than the tiger or elephant. India has the highest dhole population in the world, in three key landscapes: the Western Ghats, … Read More

Particolored Flying Squirrel in Assam

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Around 10:30 p.m near Badsaitila Reserve Forest, Dosdewa Khasi Village, Assam, I heard an animal moving on a tree. I was later able to identify it from the photo I took, to be the Particoloured Flying Squirrel (Hylopetes alboniger).

This is a species that is found in most of the South East Asian countries. It forages at night and uses tree hollows for nesting, as well as for roosting during the day. Sometimes, it has been seen being active … Read More

Swamp Francolin, Kaziranga

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I thought of sharing an image I made of Swamp Francolins from the western zone of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve in Assam. The image was made in the afternoon safari during late December 2015. I was excited about spotting a rare species like this — we actually saw a family of six but I managed to capture only three in this frame.

As the name implies, this is a bird of swamps and damp areas, but it is … Read More

Tragic Loss of a Tusker, Kaziranga

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On September 4th 2015, a bull elephant that was part of a larger herd was electrocuted when it walked into a live, low-hanging power cable at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The herd was trying to reach higher ground in order to escape from floods that had inundated over 80% of the park.

Wildlife photographer Sandesh Kadur, who was in Kaziranga at the time, recounted details of the accident. Years of waterlogging had eroded the base of the electric … Read More

Human-Wildlife Interaction during Brahmaputra Flood

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Floods in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam are an annual occurrence, and have both positive and negative consequences for humans, property and wildlife. Kaziranga National Park is often heavily impacted by such floods, with animals usually fleeing to the adjoining Karbi Anglong hills, south of the Park.  While National Highway 37, which lies between the park and the hills, becomes a temporary shelter for flood-affected people at several locations, wild animals too climb on to it to escape the waters … Read More

Saving the Elusive Pygmy Hog

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Thanks to a content sharing agreement with Livemint, we are able to bring some interesting conservation articles authored by Ananda Banerjee.

Success in conservation is usually measured by the effectiveness of steps to boost the numbers of big, charismatic species. In India, the stars are the Bengal tiger, followed by the Asiatic lion, the leopard, the elephant and the rhinoceros.

Assam, for instance, is celebrating an increase in the population of the endangered, greater one-horned rhinoceros by 250. Earlier this … Read More

Losing their Home — Greater Adjutants in Assam

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The Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius), an endangered scavenger stork, is globally threatened, with an estimated population of 800-1200 mature individuals, out of which 650-800 are in Assam (Choudhury, 2000). Half of the Assamese population is found in and around Guwahati City (Choudhury, 2008) near the Boragaon Garbage dump, Deepor Beel, Guwahati. Deepor Beel, a permanent freshwater lake in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, is a Ramsar site, which was originally over 40 sq km. Currently it is … Read More

Mammals in the Jeypore-Dehing forests, Assam

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The Jeypore-Dehing Landscape is located in eastern or Upper Assam. It comprises three large blocks of forest (Jeypore, Upper Dehing West Block and Upper Dehing East Block) and several forest fragments. The reserve forests lie within a mosaic of oil and coal mining grants, tea plantations, agriculture and settlements. The forest type is lowland Assam Valley Tropical Wet Evergreen forest (Dipterocarpus-Mesua) and together stretch over roughly 600 sq km. The landscape is part of the Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve and 111 … Read More

Rewilding the Rare Pygmy Hog in Assam

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Thanks to a content sharing agreement with Livemint, we are able to bring some interesting conservation articles authored by Ananda Banerjee.

On 24 May, six little pigs trotted out of their wooden box enclosures to freedom, into the wild grasslands of Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary in north Assam. Those tiny pig steps could turn into a giant leap for conservationists.

Because these were no ordinary pigs but Pygmy Hogs, the smallest and rarest wild pig or hog on the planet. The … Read More

Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

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This is an image of the railway line cutting through the Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, taken in Feb 2012. One needs to understand the behaviour of Hoolock Gibbons and the habitat to understand the destruction caused by the railway line.

Hoolock Gibbons are the only apes found in India (apart from a billion humans of course!). They have long forelimbs and shorter hind limbs which are very conducive for these animals to move around the forest by swinging along the … Read More

Swamp Prinia — A Disappearing Grassland Rarity

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The Swamp Prinia (Prinia cinerascens) is an extremely rare bird to see and photograph in the wild. This Near Threatened bird was frequently seen in undisturbed grassland habitat with Saccharum spontaneum grasses (Kohua in Assamese) near the Maguri-Motapung wetland. The location was the south bank of Dibru river just outside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Tiger Reserve. Tragically, the entire grassland patch was cleared by villagers for agriculture by burning it in 2010. Later, due to awareness created amongst … Read More