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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Shola grasslands are high-altitude grasslands, evergreen, with very good water retention capacity. The Western Ghats is a biodiversity hotspot, supporting many endemic and threatened species, a region where many streams and rivers originate. The mountains are known for the wide variety of flora, including many medicinal herbs. The roads are laced with many tiny wild flowers of different hues.
One look at the landscape is enough to take your breath away. It is alright to soak in the beauty. It … Read More
National Green Tribunal order Status Quo on activities of DRDO, BARC, ISRO, IISc, et. al., in Challakere, Chitradurga
In an unprecedented decision, the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal (South Zone), Chennai, ordered today status quo on all project activities proposed in the Amrit Mahal Kaval grassland ecosystems of Challakere Taluk, Chitradurga, Karnataka with immediate effect. The directions were issued on the interim prayers filed in Applications by the undersigned which complained that Defence Research Development Organisation, Indian Institute of Science, Indian … Read More
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