Procreation in Action

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Between Flood Waters and a Poacher’s Gun

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We were in Kaziranga to document the July 2012 floods. Rhinos escaping the rising waters of the Brahmaputra, seek shelter in the Karbi Hills to the South. This is where poachers lie in wait.

We saw this poached rhino in a pool of blood, with its horn cut off. The forest department estimates that during floods, about 100 rhinos try to escape to fringe areas like Haldibari, Kanchanjuri, and Panbari. The department attempts to round up and drive back rhinos … Read More

Rhino Falls To Poacher’s Bullets In Kaziranga

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Poachers have shot and killed a rhino that strayed out of Kaziranga. Gunshots were heard by forest officials in the wee hours and an operation was launched. The carcass of the rhino was found at 915 AM with its horn missing. The poachers were encountered by the forest guards, but they managed to escape after shooting at the guards. Atleast 20 rounds were exchanged between the forest guards and the poachers. Forest officials say that security has been beefed up … Read More

Male Rhino Killed in Kaziranga

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A male rhino has been killed in Kaziranga National Park. The bullet riddled body with its horn chopped off was found on a remote sandbar by the Brahmaputra inside the park. The animal appeared to have been killed two or three days ago.

This is the fifth rhino to be killed by poachers in and around the park this year. On August 30th, a female rhino was killed by poachers for its horn. Patrolling has been intensified in the area. … Read More

Assam National Parks Face Funds Crisis

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The Assamese government has failed to release funds required to manage the state’s national parks and sanctuaries. As a result, maintenance activities in all the five national parks – Kaziranga, Manas, Orang, Dibru-Saikhowa and Nameri, have come to a standstill. It has been more than six months since Dispur released these funds. Orang national park — the smallest — which needs about 10 lakhs per month, has seen 26 of the 42 casual workers leave. Officials at Kaziranga had a … Read More