India’s Conservation Challenges

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Wildlife conservation at crossroads

An interview with Dr. K. Ullas Karanth

Dr Ullas Karanth, a Senior Scientist with the international NGO, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), is a world-renowned wildlife biologist.  In a wide-ranging interview with wildlife and conservation filmmaker, Shekar Dattatri, he outlines the basic problems that beset wildlife conservation in India’s human dominated landscape, and shares his views on preserving these last wild places.

(This is an updated version of an interview that was first published under the title Read More

Supreme Court Calls for New Standards for Endangered Species Conservation

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A slightly different version of this article appeared in the Hindu dated May 7, 2013.

The recent Supreme Court judgment on lions (Centre for Environmental Law WWF-1 v. Union of India and others, Supreme Court, 2013) has called for completely new standards for endangered species conservation to be set in the country. It has asked for lions to be re-introduced to Madhya Pradesh (Intervention Application 100, Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India through Faiyaz Khudsar in writ petition 337, 1995). It … 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

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

Purple Frog, Anamalai Hills

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The Purple Frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) is a rare and recent addition to the frog world. With its closest relatives in the Seychelles, the purple frog is thought to have evolved separately for millennia. Its discovery also adds to the evidence that Madagascar and the Seychelles separated from the Indian landmass sometime well after the breakup of Gondwana had started. Described to science as late as 2003, the species is now known to be quite widely distributed in the Western Ghats. … Read More

Irrawaddy Dolphin, Chilika Lake

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This rare photograph captures an Irrawaddy dolphin calf as it leaps out of the water. Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) are quite shy, and all that can be seen of them most of the time is a dorsal fin or a tail fluke. They are believed to give birth to a single calf every two to three years, after a gestation of 14 months. A newborn is said to be 1 m long, weighing about 10 kg. As per … Read More

Man-eaters — When Caring Less May Actually Help

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Conservationists should be concerned about saving the species, rather than every individual tiger.

The shooting of a man-eating tiger, as it happened recently in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu — barely two weeks after two other tigers preyed on four people in neighbouring Karnataka — invariably polarises public opinion. Locals, whose lives are at risk, want maneaters shot. Animal lovers, on the other hand, demand their “safe capture.” Caught in the middle, officials have to confront increasingly angry mobs, while authorities … Read More

In search of the Pale-capped Pigeon, Odisha

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The Pale-capped Pigeon (Columba punicea), a large dark purplish-maroon bird with a contrasting pale crown, has a wide but fragmented range in South and South-East Asia from Odisha (Orissa), Assam and north-east India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam to south China (where it has not been recorded for many years). Generally a primary or secondary evergreen forest dwelling frugivore of plains and foothills, it has been recorded as high as 1,600m and in habitats such as mangrove forest in Thailand and … Read More

Report: TigerLink — May 2014

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The Ranthambhore Foundation publishes TigerLink, a news letter that serves as a valuable resource library and is a strong pressure lobby to counter misguided development policies of the government. It is distributed widely, especially among policy makers, decision makers, experts and NGO’s concern with tiger conservation across the globe. It also serves as an information base for media professionals and those seeking concise information on tiger conservation issues.… Read More

Report: TigerLink — Jan 2015

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The Ranthambhore Foundation publishes TigerLink, a news letter that serves as a valuable resource library and is a strong pressure lobby to counter misguided development policies of the government. It is distributed widely, especially among policy makers, decision makers, experts and NGO’s concern with tiger conservation across the globe. It also serves as an information base for media professionals and those seeking concise information on tiger conservation issues.… Read More

Leaf Deer, Nagaland

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Leaf Deer, Leaf Muntjac or Putao muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis) is not very well known in India. In a biodiversity survey in Thanamir (base of Mt. Saramati, 3840 m), Eastern Nagaland (May 2011), post-graduate students of M.Sc wildlife biology and conservation, WCS-India & NCBS, Bangalore discovered the presence of skulls of this deer. Subsequent genetic testing on skin samples corroborated the finding. This finding is very significant as it will enhance the deer’s geographical range by 1.5 times. 

The … 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

Gharials On The Chambal

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The Chambal river (here on the MP-UP border) is under severe pressure from human activity like sand mining and agriculture. The National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, is a 5,400 sq. kms. protected area for critically endangered Gharial Crocodiles, the Red-crowned roof turtle, the endangered Gangetic Dolphin and vulnerable bird species like Indian skimmer, Sarus Crane, Pallas’s Fish Eagle and Indian Courser.… 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

White-rumped Vulture Release, Ahmedabad

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Jivdaya Charitable Trust is an NGO dedicated to treating stray animals and birds free of charge. Set up in Ahmedabad in 2007, the Trust has come a long way and is now equipped with the latest treatment facilities, from gas anesthesia machines, latest orthopedic instruments, an X-ray unit, a ventilator, a multipara monitor with a pulse oximeter and also 2 state-of-the-art operation theatres. The Trust also has three fully equipped ambulance vans that treat animals on the spot. The Trust … Read More