Amrit Mahal Kavals are semi-arid grasslands in Karnataka that were set aside several centuries ago, during the Vijayanagara empire, and protected as grazing grounds for a sturdy local breed of cattle known as Amrit Mahal, which was once highly prized as a military draught animal. The protection of these grasslands was continued by subsequent rulers, including Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultan, and the Maharajas of Mysore, as well as the British during their colonial reign in India. Although these grasslands … Read More
Hessarghatta Grasslands Must Be Saved!
OUR APPEAL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF KARNATAKA
We urge the government to take a visionary decision to protect the natural grassland habitat of Hessarghatta for posterity by notifying it as a Conservation Reserve. This will not only ensure the safeguarding of Karnataka’s precious natural heritage but will also protect the water catchments of Arkavathy, which provides water security to the people and farmers in the area. Such a decision would be in consonance with India’s Constitutional mandate under Article 48-A,… Read More
India’s Savanna Grasslands: The Unsung Tale
Close your eyes and think of the wilderness. What do you see? Chances are that you visualized a forest or a wooded area. While that is not incorrect, it does not present a complete picture. We live on an immensely diverse planet, with a range of environmental regimes or biomes. Biomes are distinct areas of the planet that support certain types of plants and animals based on the temperature, soil type, light and water available. Forest biomes cover a third … Read More
Wolves Chased by Dogs, Pune Grasslands
Grasslands are always neglected and, more often than not, deemed to be ‘wastelands’. In reality, grasslands are a treasure trove of biodiversity. And it is in these spaces that one of India’s endangered species thrives – the Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes). The wolf has adapted to living in close proximity to humans, as it gets an advantage of being able to prey on livestock or domestic fowl.
But with this benefit comes a bane, in the form of … Read More
A Free Meal — Conflict between Wolves and Feral Dogs
My passion is to highlight the plight of grasslands, and to work towards the conservation of these vast, neglected spaces.
On one of the occasions when my friends and I were in the grasslands near Pune, we were observing a few wolves from a distance. They had killed a Chinkara. However, stray dogs from the nearby settlement showed up in no time, running towards the pack of wolves. I have observed that these wolves are quite shy of human presence … Read More
Wild Canids and Hyenas: Flagships for Increasing India’s Conservation Potential?
India has a wide diversity of carnivores that represent multiple unique ecosystems like forests, grasslands, scrublands, open / barren lands, deserts, ravines and the trans-Himalayan plains. A recent study by researchers from Wildlife Conservation Society–India, University of Florida (USA), Ashoka Trust for Ecology and the Environment, Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Centre for Biological Sciences and James Cook University (Australia) proposes that protecting wild dogs or dholes, jackals, wolves, foxes and hyenas, and their habitats, can offer incredible potential to expand … Read More
Hesaraghatta Grasslands in Danger, Again!
HESARAGHATTA RESOURCE CENTRE
The Hesaraghatta lakebed area and grasslands in the surrounding catchment area in the north-west of Bangalore are an important reservoir of biodiversity. In addition to supporting wildlife, these grasslands also provide valuable ecosystem services that is critical to the residents of Bangalore. It is a an important water catchment area and protection of this area is also to the proposed rejuvenation of the Arkavathy river basin, which can provide vital water security to Bangalore.
Hesaraghatta … Read More
Save the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) from Extinction!
Powerlines in GIB habitat should go underground.
The critically endangered Great Indian Bustard has disappeared from over 90% of its former range due to habitat loss, hunting, disturbance and lack of protection in many ‘lekking’ and nesting sites (see 2013 CI campaign). Now, overhead power transmission lines that crisscross its habitat are sounding the death knell of this low-flying, ground-dwelling species (see attached map). According to a study by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), as many as … Read More
Swamp Francolin, Kaziranga
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
Missing the Grass for Trees — Planting Trees Where They Don’t Belong
It may not be an overstatement to say that grasses underpin much of human existence. From sustaining wildlife that fed early hunter-gatherers to eventually becoming food itself, grasses have contributed to the development and flourishing of human civilisations. From present day cereal crops, to even elegant furniture, grasses serve multiple uses in human societies, from the functional to the aesthetic. Yet, when it comes to judgement, the larger urban public and a range of government bodies tend to view grasses … Read More
The Buck Stops Here
A lone blackbuck walks through real estate development bordering the Vallanadu Blackbuck sanctuary, Tuticorin District, Tamilnadu. About 70 blackbuck are present in the sanctuary and are frequently seen outside its boundary in search of grass.
Vallanadu Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area created for the protection of Blackbuck. Located on an isolated hillock in Vallanadu Village of Srivaikundam Taluk, it is the southernmost place in India where a natural population of Blackbuck exists (courtesy Wikipedia). … Read More
Native Grasslands Matter for Denning Indian Foxes
Habitats of many species are rapidly getting fragmented and human-modified today; therefore assessing how species respond to such changes in native habitats is an important precursor for any conservation strategy. The tropical short grasslands in India are heavily human-modified landscapes, but are still home to a diverse array of species, including the widely distributed Indian fox (Vulpes benghalensis). Even though commonly seen, Indian fox populations appear to be declining in most parts of its range, and this decline … Read More
Day of the Jackal, Chennai
While on our usual birding trip, we headed towards this grassland on the outskirts of Chennai looking for migrant species. This is actually a fresh water lake and beautiful grassland side by side, with the monsoon bringing in a copious inflow from sources near the lake. The lake is one of the important wetlands around Chennai, and serves as foraging and breeding grounds for several resident and migratory birds. As we started to scan, we suddenly saw movement, and noticed … Read More
Destruction of Grasslands, Pune
This is a scene from a hill in Baner, Pune city, Maharashtra. The photo shows a globally threatened bird, the migrant Eurasian Roller (Coracias garrulus) taking off in front of some heavy earthmoving equipment that are destroying its grassland habitat.
Like in the rest of India, grasslands all over Pune district that are not under the control of the forest department are fast disappearing. These grasslands host some threatened fauna. Unfortunately, development will take over and there won’t be habitat … Read More
Courtship of Red-necked Falcons, Tal Chhapar
The Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera) is a widespread resident in India and adjacent regions as well as sub-Saharan Africa.
Once mating of this bird commences, the female suspends or minimises hunting and the male hunts and provides her with food, mainly birds. Here, a male brings a kill to the female. The female then starts de-feathering the dove. It is ironic that in doing so, the female doesn’t let the male come close to the prey. We see … Read More
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