Gaur in Town!

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This image of Gaur in Kodaikanal town in the Palani Hills of south India represents a common sight these days. The reasons for their sauntering into urban areas and hanging around needs to be studied in detail, but some, or several, of the following factors may play a role: habitat fragmentation due to the haphazard growth of Kodaikanal town, private estates and plantations (and perhaps the fencing of these?-Ed), rampant tourism and development, invasion of the shola-grassland ecosystem by exotic … Read More

Leopards in Crisis — Learnings for Uttarakhand

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Not a month goes by without newspaper reports about the attack by a leopard or a tiger on humans in Uttarakhand, followed by days of reporting of the hunt for the cat, and invariably, ending with the capture or death of the unfortunate animal. In December 2016, the Uttarakhand High Court passed an order that leopards and tigers that have been declared man-eaters should not be killed, but should, instead, be tranquilized and translocated to another forest. While the order … Read More

Translocation Tragedies: Are We Really “Rescuing” Snakes?

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As effective conservation actions lead to increasing wildlife populations, they often come into conflict with burgeoning human populations with which they share space. Resolving human-wildlife conflict has thus become an important aspect of conservation science especially in biologically rich and densely populated countries like India. However, most research in this sphere concerns large, charismatic organisms, which are restricted to small regions in a vast country. Human-snake conflict on the other hand is not restricted to pockets of natural habitats and … Read More

The Elephant Conflict Story from the Terai Region, West Bengal

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The conflict between humans and elephants is turning very grave, with many human and elephant casualties (numbers can be as high as 50-100/year both sides), and severe crop damage. The situation worsens with fragmented corridors on their migration routes and continuous denudation of forest patches. The added issue of the 17-km long fencing along the Nepal border cuts off their traditional migration routes, pushing them into small forest patches and adjoining forest lands (Terai).

A few days back I witnessed … Read More

Large Carnivores in Human Dominated Landscapes

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The conservation of large carnivores like wolves, bears, tigers and lions is always a challenging task in our modern and crowded world. Humans have modified and fragmented habitats and often experience a diversity of conflicts with large predatory neighbours. There is currently a major debate going on among conservationists about how to best go about achieving large carnivore conservation. Alternatives range from a focus on fencing carnivores into protected areas to allowing them to reoccupy shared landscapes where they must … Read More

Elephants in Chandaka — Banished From Their Homes

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With inputs from Aditya Panda.

(This article was first published in The Pioneer dated Aug 29, 2012 under the title ‘Banished from their homes’).

In 1967, a wild tigress from the Chandaka forest on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar walked into the Nandankanan Zoo nearby, lured by the calls of a male tiger in one of the moated exhibits, and jumped in to join him, surely unaware that there was no way out. The tigress –– later named ‘Kanan’ –– lived … Read More

Tiger vs. Cow: Risk Models Help Beat the Odds

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A tiger and a cow meet in a jungle. The scenario is tragically predictable: tiger kills cow, cow’s owner kills tiger. Yet in India, where repeated conflict can amount to sizeable livelihood losses and tiger declines, predicting where the scenario plays out is far from easy. However, a simple statistical method applied to mapping human-carnivore conflict could up the odds by helping people anticipate high-risk hotspots.

Our study, published in Ecology and Evolution, explored a technique that could be … Read More

Human — Leopard Conflict; Lessons from Junnar, Maharashtra

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In many parts of India, leopards live in close proximity to human habitations with surprisingly low levels of conflict.  They are capable of living and breeding even in degraded forests, plantations and croplands, and manage to survive on a variety of small wild prey, domestic dogs, livestock and feral animals. Rural folk in many of these areas are often remarkably tolerant to the presence of these wild and potentially dangerous predators; but the threat to human lives even if rare Read More

Living in Mumbai with Leopards

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This 7-minute video ‘Living with Leopards’ showcases ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ (MfSGNP), a project that was initiated by the Maharashtra Forest Department to manage human-leopard encounters in a novel way. This group engages a variety of stakeholders like scientists, apartment dwellers, tribal colonies, police force and journalists, working with them in tandem to alleviate fear among people. This approach has worked well for both humans and leopards and, since 2013, no leopards have been captured and removed from the area.… Read More

Dispersing tiger shot dead by villagers in Nagaland but there may be hope yet for conservation

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Nagaland threw up a surprise for wildlife conservationists, particularly those involved with tigers in the country. A dispersing tiger, which landed in Medziphema, a small village near Dimapur on the main highway to Kohima, was tragically shot dead by panicked villagers on February 29, 2016. Tigers have not been officially recorded from the area in over a decade.

The incident unfolded after the tiger killed two pigs and a cow the previous night forcing the villagers to launch a … Read More

Science-based Approach to Promote Human-Elephant Coexistence — Lessons from Valparai

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Understanding human-elephant interactions is critical for conservation of elephants outside Protected Areas. One of the intriguing questions is how can a person weighing 50kg and a 5000kg animal coexist with no barrier between them?

Conflict incidents frequently lead to use of reactive measures such as chasing elephants, capture and translocation, or retaliatory persecution, but these often fail to resolve conflicts on a sustained basis, empower communities to implement solutions, or help conservation of elephants. Long-term research on behavioural and ecological … Read More

Dogs attack a Spotted Deer near Dandeli, Karnataka

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At least 20 reports of dogs attacking deer have come in recently from the Kali Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and places around it, such as Dandeli, Haliyal and Kumbarwada. Haveri, which boasts a large population of blackbuck, is also affected by the scourge of feral dogs.

Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR) is located in Uttara Kannada district, in Karnataka, bordering the state of Goa, and is spread over an area of 1300 sq km. KTR comprises of two important protected areas … Read More

Lessons from Leopards — Uncovering the Real Conflicts in Sanjay Gandhi National Park

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This article is condensed from ‘Cities, Towns, and the Places of Nature’ (A. Rademacher, K. Sivaramakrishnan ed., Hong Kong University Press, In Press). The study in question was conducted by Frédéric Landy, Professor of Geography, University Paris Ouest-Nanterre, France, in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SNGP) in Mumbai, and documents the dangerous and sometimes deadly presence of leopards in and around the park. It also focuses on the fact that leopards in Mumbai are not only a matter of human-nonhuman … Read More

Living with Leopards Outside Protected Areas in India

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This article was first published in The Pioneer on August 11, 2012 with the title ‘Leopards are shy, not aggressive’. It is being reproduced here with permission from the author.

Urban perceptions

Our idea of wildlife often does not match what it really is. Perhaps it stems from the holiday tours to the forests where we go to enjoy the weekend. From our homes in the concrete jungles we check into comfortable, plush resorts in the midst of verdant … Read More

Numaligarh — On a Wrong Course?

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Reports of a golf course coming up in the township of the Numaligarh Refinery Limited near Kaziranga National Park in Assam created ripples and troubled many; some also regarded it as one of the ‘regular’ depressing news on the wildlife conservation front. Why – one wonders though – does a Miniratna Public Sector Unit need an arena for a sport usually associated with the elite, that too within a ‘No Development Zone’. Golf courses are ‘infamous’ for their water guzzling … Read More