Conservation is Not Enough, We Need to Restore

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This was the constant undertone at the 8th Global Ecological Restoration Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) held recently at Cape Town, South Africa. Almost a third of the world’s natural resources are degraded today, many severely, and India is no exception. This includes our forest and non-forest landscapes, oceans, rivers, coasts, wetlands, and many other unique ecosystems. Biodiversity as well as ecosystem service delivery capability stand more seriously impaired than ever before. Importantly, many of nature’s systems … Read More

SC Directs Centre for Alternatives to NH-212 in Bandipur Tiger Reserve

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The recent Supreme Court order on the issue of night traffic ban in the Bandipur National Park comes as a victory for tiger conservation as it has directed central authorities to come out with specific measures to shut down NH-212 permanently for traffic. The Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFF&CC) has been directed to file an affidavit on this within September 6.

The court has asked MoEF&CC to find out how NH-275 and SH-90 can be converted … Read More

Wild Seve — Empowering People and Fostering Tolerance for Wildlife

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India’s Bandipur and Nagarahole National Parks are home to the highest densities of tigers, leopards and elephants globally. People living adjacent to these parks frequently experience crop and property damage, livestock predation and occasionally are injured or killed. As a result, the traditional tolerance that rural communities of India have for wildlife can get eroded due to continued financial losses they incur.

Wild Seve is a novel conservation initiative developed by WCS Scientist Dr. Krithi Karanth in collaboration with the … Read More

Dholes in the Western Ghats

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Large carnivores across the world face several threats even as they continue to decline in numbers. Understanding where these species occur, how they use their habitats and what factors influence these patterns are important for their conservation. The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a unique endangered predator. It is the only social, wild canid that almost exclusively inhabits forest areas in Asia. Historically treated as ‘vermin’, dholes were bounty-hunted across the India until they were protected under … Read More

The Elusive Leopard Cats of India

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Small felids, like jungle cats, leopard cats, fishing cats and marbled cats (among others) constitute more than 60% of all cat species in the world. But most of these small cats remain understudied because they are generally secretive, elusive and difficult to observe and monitor. In this aspect, the leopard cat presents a fascinating case study.

Leopard cats are among the world’s most widely occurring small cat species. There have been substantial studies of their ecology in Southeast Asia. In … Read More

Understanding the Distribution and Occurrence of India’s Smallest Bovid: The Chousingha

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Endemic to the Indian sub-continent, the four-horned antelope (FHA) or Chousingha is listed as Vulnerable (C2a (i)) in the IUCN Red list. In 2008, there were an estimated 10,000 adults in the wild in Nepal and India. Being a low-density species, FHA are particularly sensitive to changing habitat conditions and anthropogenic pressures. In India, the species is protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

At present, there is little scientific information available on the four-horned antelope, and the … Read More

Chital Chewing Plastic Bag, Bandipur

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While I love to shoot great action and beauty pictures of wildlife, I could not resist shooting this unfortunate scene in Bandipur recently. In my opinion, Bandipur is amongst the most abused national parks in India. It tolerates all sorts of issues caused by picnickers – starting from litter and yelling tourists, all the way to human-animal conflict. Tourists often enjoy a great picnic beside the National Highway that cuts through the park, after which they throw plastic and paper … Read More

Intruding the personal space of elephants, Bandipur

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We were driving back to Bangalore on 10th March 2013. That weekend saw an extraordinary rush to Bandipur, Mudumalai and Ooty. There were a lot of places on the Bandipur – Mudumalai (NH 67) highway where people were stopping to see wildlife. After we crossed the Kakkanhalla checkpost, we saw a car (Xylo) stop; two people casually got out, walked towards this pair of elephants and started taking pictures. I shot a video anticipating a charge, but the truck scared … Read More

Counting Squirrels in Indian Forests

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Although the ecology of squirrels has been extensively studied, most past work is characterized by the failure to account for detection and heavy reliance on indices rather than directly measuring abundance. This has involved acoustic and visual surveys, sign surveys (tracks, middens and dreys) and capture-recapture sampling (trapping rates) methods are adopted to estimate squirrel abundance. Such field studies assume the detection probability of the species to be equal in all sites, leading to incorrect estimates of true abundance.

Authors … Read More

Camera Trapping Reveals Exciting Secrets of Tiger Dispersal

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On 1-5-2011, Forest officials of the Shimoga Wildlife Division, had safely captured a male tiger that strayed into Gama village near Shikaripur. A decision was made by the Forest Department, based on consultation with WCS senior scientist and NTCA member Dr. Ullas Karanth, to release the tiger in Bhadra Tiger Reserve, rather than hold it in perpetual captivity. This decision was based on the fact that the tiger was estimated to be of dispersal age (about 3 years), healthy and … Read More

Elephants near Human Settlements

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This was photographed in the backwaters of the Kabini River in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. Across the river, just outside the reserve (Gendathur side of Bandipur Tiger Reserve), there are a lot of human settlements. Elephant Proof Trenches (EPT) protecting this area do little to stop the herds. Elephants easily swim across from the Nagarahole side to graze on grass on the Bandipur side, bringing them into frequent conflicts with humans. Cattle grazing occurs near the human settlements in the morning, … Read More

Why Captive or Man-Eating Big Cats Should not be Released into the Wild

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Preamble

They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. That’s certainly true of releasing captive or man-eating big cats into the wild, ostensibly to ‘conserve’ them. In 2015, a wild tiger from Chikmagalur that killed a local woman, and showed no fear of humans, was captured by the Forest Department.  Unfortunately, while initial press reports indicated that it would be transferred to the Bannerghatta zoo, this dangerous animal was instead released into the Bhimgad forest against the Read More

Wild dogs attacking Gaur calf, Bandipur

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We came across a pack of 18 dholes or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus) at Bandipur National Park. The pack was getting ready to attack an elephant herd with two calves. After a few attempts, the dholes moved on. A few minutes later, we heard the call of a gaur and moved forward. In an open area, we saw the dholes attacking a gaur calf while the mother tried to protect it.

As the cries of the calf and the … Read More

Developing Simple and Innovative Techniques to Monitor Elephants

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Authors V. R. Goswami, M.V. Lauretta, M. D. Madhusudan and K. U. Karanth have developed an automated process to identify individual adult male elephants effectively. These are the highlights of their study published in the journal, Animal Conservation in 2011.

There are an estimated 40,000 wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) spread across 13 countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in South Asia and Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam). According … Read More

What do Carnivores Eat?

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As umbrella species, the tiger and its co-predators, the leopard and dhole play a fundamental role in shaping prey communities in the forest. Understanding the food habits and dietary seperation of these three large carnivores is vital for conservation of prey species and overall ecosystem functioning.

Authors Anish P. Andheria, K. Ullas Karanth and N. Samba Kumar conducted a study of diets of three sympatric large carnivores, the tiger (Panthera tigris), the leopard (Panthera pardus) and … Read More