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
White-browed Crake — New Species for the Indian Subcontinent
‘Maguri-Motapung Beel’- an Important Bird Area (IBA) situated in the district of Tinsukia, Assam is a haven for both resident and migratory bird species. Every year birdwatchers from across the globe come to witness its rich avian diversity.
On 5th February 2016, we went birding at the ‘beel’ with the prime target of photographing the Critically Endangered (CR) Baer’s Pochard, which is a winter visitor to Assam Valley and lower parts of South Assam hills. At 1612hrs (after sighting the … Read More
Numaligarh — On a Wrong Course?
Reports of a golf course coming up in the township of the Numaligarh Refinery Limited near Kaziranga National Park in Assam created ripples and troubled many; some also regarded it as one of the ‘regular’ depressing news on the wildlife conservation front. Why – one wonders though – does a Miniratna Public Sector Unit need an arena for a sport usually associated with the elite, that too within a ‘No Development Zone’. Golf courses are ‘infamous’ for their water guzzling … Read More
Another Amur Falcon Migratory Season Begins
The first Amur Falcons have started arriving in the Northeast, and in Nagaland. The local communities in various parts of the state have been eagerly awaiting the birds in the last couple of years — to welcome them as honoured guests, and to provide them with safe passage.
For the last two years, the Amur Falcon conservation efforts in Pangti and Sungro villages in Wokha district of Nagaland have passed off successfully in a remarkable conservation turnaround. In 2013 and … Read More
Procreation in Action
The one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) was once distributed throughout the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Today, the species is restricted to pockets in the Indo-Nepal Terai, North Bengal and, of course, in the protected grasslands of Assam. Listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN, poaching and habitat loss continue to be the greatest threats to its survival. The Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhino population. The … Read More
Rare Black-breasted Parrotbill Spotted In Manas
The Black-breasted Parrotbill (Paradoxornis flavirostris) is one of India’s rarest, enigmatic and least-known birds. Till recently Debeshwari, in the Eastern Zone in Kaziranga, and Dibru-Saikhowa close to Tinsukia in N Assam were the only two places where the bird was found. However it seems that for the last few years the birds seem to have become extremely scare in these areas.
On 17th March 2011, birders Soma Jha and Sushmita Jha sighted this bird in Manas National Park … Read More
Tiger Watching, Kaziranga
This image was photographed in Kaziranga’s central range on March 31st, 2013.
The tiger was in the grass close to the watchtower, and tourists, including my groups, had congregated in the tower to wait and watch. As the tiger began walking back towards the road there was a crazy rush back down to the track – some groups got into their jeeps and drove up to the tiger, others ran along the track from the tower.
From the watchtower my … Read More
Rare Bird — Gold-crested Myna
Of all the Indian mynas, the Gold-crested Myna (Ampeliceps coronatus) is probably the most mysterious. Very rarely has this bird been sighted within Indian limits. Very little is known to the general public of its whereabouts, though it is regularly found in other countries like Thailand and Myanmar.
The definitive encyclopedia on Indian birds, Ali and Ripley’s Handbook, records two sightings from South Assam Hills (Cachar) and Manipur, and describes the bird to be “uncommon” and “little … Read More
Greater Adjutant, Guwahati, Assam
I photographed this at the Guwahati Garbage Dump, Assam.
The Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) is a member of the stork family, Ciconiidae. Its genus includes the lesser adjutant of Asia and the marabou stork of Africa. Once found widely across southern Asia, mainly in India but extending east to Borneo, the greater adjutant is now restricted to a much smaller range with only two small breeding populations; one in India with the largest colony in Assam and the … Read More
Rhino and Cattle, Pobitora, Assam
This image was captured in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam in November 2014. This small sanctuary, just 30 km east of Guwahati, houses the highest density of wild rhinos in the world. It is hemmed in on all sides by villages. It also has a sizeable population of Asiatic Water Buffalos, Wild Boar, Jackals and a huge variety of resident and migratory birds. Though declared a sanctuary in 1987 it has an extremely porous border, with cattle, wood cutters and herdsmen … Read More
The Endangered Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle
The Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle (Chitra indica) of the family Trionychidae, is an extremely large, highly aquatic species. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and placed in Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. It is widely but patchily distributed throughout the riverine ecosystems of the Indian subcontinent. The Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle does not appear to exist at high densities anywhere in its range. Its specialized dietary and habitat requirements make it … Read More
Western Hoolock Gibbon, Bherjan, Assam
Tucked in a corner of Upper Assam in Bherjan survives a small population of about 35 Western Hoolock Gibbons (Hoolock hoolock). Their lowland evergreen forests have been wiped out and these apes are marooned in an island of tamul or areca nut trees (Areca catechu) and some high canopy trees hemmed in by villages. Fortunately, the villagers are tolerant of these primates and have started protecting these endangered apes and efforts are underway to restore the corridors for their … Read More
Gangetic Dolphin killed by Villagers, Assam
Lekha Borah sends this picture of a Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica) killed by local villagers in Assam. A fish seller was found selling dolphin meat at a roadside market in Lezai-Kalakhowa, 15 km from Dibrugarh.
Gangetic dolphin, a fresh water dolphin found in the Ganges and the Brahmpautra rivers of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh is the national aquatic animal of India. It is classified as an endangered species and included in the Schedule I species list … Read More
The Endangered White-winged (Wood) Duck, Nameri, Assam
Seven endangered White-winged (Wood) Ducks (Cairina scutulata) swim in a small forest pool deep inside Nameri Tiger Reserve in Assam. Seven forms a substantial percentage of perhaps not more than 1000 individuals left in the world! Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve and Nameri Tiger Reserve, both in Assam, form the strongholds of this bird in India.
This forest duck is listed as Endangered because it has a very small and fragmented population which is undergoing a very rapid and continuing … Read More
Rare Butterfly Rediscovery — The Snowy Angle
The Snowy Angle (Darpa pteria) is a rare butterfly. The nominate race is known to occur in Philippines while the race dealbata has a wide distribution extending from Assam, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Malay Peninsula, Tioman, and all the way to Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Palawan. This butterfly was known in India only from one very old record, also from Assam (Evans 1949; Swinhoe 1912-1913).
Recently, Vidya Venkatesh and Karthikeyan S. saw this butterfly on April 26, 2011 in … Read More