A Conflict Tale from Valparai, Tamil Nadu

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On 26th August, 2017, we were roaming around Valparai looking for wildlife, we came across an incidence of Human-Elephant conflict. We could sense some commotion near the sheds of some estate workers, and saw people running here and there. Upon checking, we heard that a female elephant had entered the premises of one of the workers and was polishing off a plantain tree.

There appeared to be two groups of people at the scene – one, consisting mostly of youth, … Read More

Kashmir Grey Langur, Dachigam National Park, Jammu & Kashmir

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On a recent trip to Dachigam National Park, I encountered a large troupe of these langurs (~50) crossing the main road. I was intrigued with the morphology of the monkey and was keen to understand more. This note is a summary of some of the research studies on the animal.

Kashmir (or Dark-eyed Himalayan) Grey Langur (Semnopithecus ajax) is a species of leaf-eating monkey formerly considered as a subspecies of S. entellus. However, recent studies have confirmed its status … Read More

Feral Dog Hunting Bar-headed Goose, Magadi, Karnataka

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In December 2018, I had been to Magadi Kere Conservation Reserve (declared in 2015), popularly known as Magadi Bird Sanctuary in Gadag District of North Karnataka. Several migratory birds make this lake their home during winter. Of these winter visitors is one of the world’s highest flying birds, the Bar-headed Goose, migrating from Mongolia. Over the years, bird lovers have reported many ringed birds here, contributing to the data about their migration. The Karnataka Forest Department has also taken measures … Read More

Conserving Shared Spaces for People and Predators

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Conservation of carnivores and their habitats is a complex challenge. Many of India’s carnivore species continue to share space with humans, and this necessitates understanding human-carnivore interactions to minimize conflict and foster co-existence. A recent study by researchers from the Centre for Wildlife Studies, University of Florida, Wildlife Conservation Society-India and USA, and Duke University examined interactions between humans and carnivores (dhole, Indian wolf, Indian fox, golden jackal and striped hyena) in the Kanha-Pench corridor in central India.

The study … Read More

Carnivores as Co-owners of our Lands

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Among the range of attributes that represent India is the little-known, seldom-acknowledged diversity of carnivore species it harbors. The country has 23% of the world’s terrestrial carnivore species. While popular discourse typically links large carnivores to forested reserves or large inviolate spaces, many of India’s carnivore species have historically shared spaces and adapted to using human modified landscapes. A recent study by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society-India, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Foundation for Ecological Research And Learning, University of … Read More

Illegal Trapping of Birds in Uttara Kannada, Karnataka

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In November 2018, while walking across some fields in my village, Gundbala, in Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka, I was happy to see a lot of bird activity around my village. However, something caught my eye from afar, and when I ventured near I saw that there was a thin net spread across some shrubs/short trees along the dividing fence between adjoining paddy fields. It was thin and looked like a giant spider web, but really strong, with a female Plum-headed … Read More

Illegal feeding of migratory birds at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh

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During my recent visit to the famous Sukhna lake in Chandigarh, it was shocking to see visitors blatantly feeding snacks to migratory birds. Ducks like Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Common Coot (Fulica atra) were fed with biscuits, chips and popcorn, and hence kept flocking close to the lake shore. This is a growing problem in India where citizens indulge in the feeding of avian fauna like gulls, treepies and several other species due to lack of awareness and sensitization. … Read More

Capture of Coimbatore’s Crop-eating, Peaceful Elephant, Chinna Thambi

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Chinna Thambi, a 25-year old tusker from the Anaikatti region in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, was relocated to Anamalai Tiger Reserve on 26th January, 2018. This was done following repeated complaints by a section of farmers from the region that the elephant was raiding crops and breaking into houses for food. These agricultural lands are adjacent to Thadagam Reserve Forest and Anaikatti South Reserve Forest of Coimbatore Forest Division. Perhaps because this particular bull had never attacked anyone, the indigenous community … Read More

Let’s get to know the Fishing Cat in February!

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The Beautiful Baghrol – A Fascinating Feline

What is the state animal of West Bengal? Many of you may guess, Royal Bengal Tiger, because of the ‘Bengal’ in the name. Or you may remember Bengalis’ love for all things piscine, and say it is the fish! But you would be wrong again, for it is neither the tiger, nor the fish, but an animal associated with both – the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), locally known as Baghrol or MacchbaghaRead More

Studying Patterns of Human Injuries and Deaths Due to Leopards, Lions and Tigers in Three Countries

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Human-large cat (like lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars) interactions often have an aura around them. Although there are many positive components, conflict between these felines and people dominate popular media and research. Conflict with large cats most often manifest in the form of livestock attacks, retaliatory killing and conflict between different invested stakeholder groups. One extreme and most feared form of conflict is injuries and deaths of people by these cats. Although attacks on people by large cats are rare, the … Read More

Endangered Sloth Bear Rescued from a 40-ft Deep Well, Tumakuru, Karnataka

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In a two-hour long risky and dangerous operation carried out by Wildlife SOS, a male sloth bear that had accidentally fallen into a forty feet deep well was rescued. It was released back into the wild after medical treatment and observation. The Wildlife SOS team at the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Center (BBRC) received a call from the forest officials about a sloth bear that had fallen into a deep well in Tumkur, a few hours’ drive from Bangalore. The well … Read More

Friends in Wrong Places: Assessing the Impacts of Domestic Dogs on Wildlife in India

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In human-populated landscapes, domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are the most abundant terrestrial carnivore, with a global population close to a billion. In India, total dog population is estimated to be about 60 million. Dogs interact with wildlife at multiple levels and despite their controversial effects, global ubiquity and significant ecological roles they remain poorly understood. Although there has been growing evidence of threats posed by free-ranging dogs, very few attempts have been made to understand the impact of free-roaming … Read More

Stolen from Wild Dogs

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In April 2012, I did a two-day, solo-bike drive from Roing to Anini in a thunderstorm in the extreme Northeastern part of Arunachal Pradesh. The rains stopped on the second morning, and while I was on the last stretch to Anini, I came across a fresh kill of a Himalayan Serow made by wild dogs. However, before the wild dogs could feed on the kill they were driven away by the local villagers, and the kill was taken to the … Read More

A Community-based ‘Goat Bank’ for Fishing Cats in West Bengal

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A community-owned and managed seed goat bank – this was what a local NGO, Sarada Prasad Tirtha Janakalyan Samity, started last year to decrease loss of goats due to fishing cat depredation.

Go-Bagha is one of the local names for the fishing cat. Go is rooted in Goru meaning Cow. According to a local myth, if a cow gives birth to a still-born calf, then the calf will be re-born as Go-Bagha.

Black Bengal goats (small country goats) weighing around … Read More

Indian Wolf, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

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The Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), is an endangered species in Schedule I of Indian wildlife according to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. It is also in appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Despite the highest level of protection accorded to the wolves in India, hunting remains rampant and is a major cause of concern. Killing of adult wolves and pups by local sheepherders is common … Read More

Addressing the Elephant in South Bengal

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Harvest season has ceased to be a time of festivities for the rice-growing farming communities living in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts of South Bengal. Due to their geographical location adjoining the dense forests of Jharkhand and Odisha, these districts attract herds of elephants that migrate during this season to raid crops after nightfall. These incidents threaten both life and livelihood. According to S. Kulandaivel, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Urban Recreation Forestry Division and a former Divisional Forest Officer, … Read More

Sharing Space with Big Cats and Elephants — Lessons from Tea Gardens of North Bengal

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This article originally appeared in the Last Wilderness on 7th July 2016.

The morning siren at a tea estate factory ushers in a new day in the life of a tea garden worker in the duars region of northern West Bengal. The term ‘duar’ means gateway since this landscape is the foothills or the gateway to the ‘Himalayas’. Historically, the region comprised of prime moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests in a Bombax (Silk Cotton) and Shorea (Sal) dominated forests. In … Read More

Feral Dogs attack a Tibetan Wild Ass

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While on a birding tour to Ladakh in July 2016, I was heading further east from Pangong Tso, crossing the Chushul plains. I stopped to get the permits checked at the Loma ITBP check-post. While waiting there, a Kiyang entering the river grabbed my attention. I waited and watched as I had never seen them doing that. To my surprise, it started swimming to go across. Meanwhile, it had also caught the attention of a pack of dogs, which had … Read More

Domestic Cats — Threat to Island Biodiversity

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Historically, the domestic cat has accompanied human beings to all the different islands he’s colonised. And history is proof that this cute animal has decimated local biodiversity in all its innocence.

We were photographing birds at a saline water body at Sippyghat in South Andaman, near Port Blair. Created by the tsunami, this water body is a great place to watch many birds, including the Andaman Teal (an endemic duck of the islands), Lesser Whistling Duck, Common Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, … 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

When Humans are Curious to Know the Spotted Cat

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Nashik district’s Niphad taluk is situated on the fertile banks of the Godavari River. Agriculture is the main occupation here, with sugarcane the major cash crop, grown along with food crops such as wheat, grapes, jowar and other vegetables. Livestock-rearing also contributes a major part to the local economy. In this productive landscape, where human density is fairly high, jackals, hyenas, jungle cats, civets, and leopards also co-exist, as there is water, prey, and shelter.

Some communities like Warali, Mahadeo … Read More

Tragic Loss of a Tusker, Kaziranga

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On September 4th 2015, a bull elephant that was part of a larger herd was electrocuted when it walked into a live, low-hanging power cable at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The herd was trying to reach higher ground in order to escape from floods that had inundated over 80% of the park.

Wildlife photographer Sandesh Kadur, who was in Kaziranga at the time, recounted details of the accident. Years of waterlogging had eroded the base of the electric … Read More

Perceiving Animal: A Human Question

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How would we treat beings differently if we granted them ‘selves’? I live life with the experience that I possess a self and navigate interactions with other humans with the assumption that they too have ‘selves’. Is it possible that there are communities and cultures in this world that relate to the non-human beings around them with the belief that these beings have ‘selves’, and can this make communities more willing to negotiate rather than dictate space with them?

As … Read More

Engagement with Media Change the Way Human-wildlife Interactions are Reported

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Mass media plays an important role in shaping public perception of human-wildlife interactions. In India, sensational and horrific imagery is often used to portray encounters between the two, even though most of them are neutral.

Media reports on human-leopard interactions are usually focussed on either attacks on people by leopards, or leopards being killed by people. The area in and around Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, India, is a leopard hotspot, and witnessed many leopard attacks on people in … Read More

A Dogged Problem

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Free-ranging dogs are unfavourable to wildlife, they are reservoirs of many diseases.

The word carnivore often conjures up images of large, dangerous predators such as lions and tigers. Few, however, realize that they spend most of their lives in the presence of the world’s most common carnivore — the domestic dog. Man’s so-called best friend is indeed the most numerous and widespread of the world’s carnivores.

In much of the developed world, dogs are generally confined to certain areas, but … Read More