Marsh Crocodile and Fishing Net, Cauvery

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Tamilnadu Forest Department in association with Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS) had organised the ‘Melagiri Bird Survey’ – from 29th of January 2014 to 2nd of February 2014 – in the Hosur Division. I was lucky to have taken part in the survey and was assigned to Urigam Range. The anti-poaching camp (APC) I was assigned to is on the banks of the Cauvery river. Due to the location of the camp, our transit was along the banks.

We saw … Read More

Human — Macaque Conflict

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During the recently concluded Melagiri Bird Census we came across this macabre scene. A dead Bonnet Macaque was dangling on a fine wire noose attached to a bamboo fence and another barely alive macaque was writhing in pain with terror written on its face. The situation was appraised quickly and the anti-poaching watcher and the forest guard accompanying us deftly removed the noose from the macaque’s neck and saved it from certain death. The bamboo fence was the boundary between … Read More

Pond Heron fatally entangled in fishing net

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We found this Indian Pond Heron or Paddybird (Ardeola grayii) fatally entangled in a plastic fishing net, at Hoskote kere (lake), rural Bangalore, on 28th December, 2013. I did not how to address the problem, and posted the picture on my Facebook page. Miraculously, someone on my timeline took up the issue with officials locally in Hoskote, and the farmers were told to remove the net. My friend went a few days later and confirmed that the net was indeed … Read More

Human-Elephant Conflict, Corbett Tiger Reserve

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The Sunderkhal village falls in the crucial Kosi river corridor linking Corbett Tiger Reserve to the Ramnagar Forest Division. This landscape constitutes prime tiger and elephant habitat. A population estimation exercise done jointly by the state forest department and WWF-India revealed no less than 13 individual tigers — including breeding tigresses. The All India Tiger Estimate 2010 indicated a density of 14 tigers / 100 sq km in Ramanagar forest division.

Here is a stray tusker being driven away by … Read More

Disease is Not the Most Urgent Threat to Wild Tigers

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Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), a common disease among millions of street dogs in India, has infected wild tigers in some parts of the country, as reported in the media (CTV News, Salon.com). Given that conservation resources are limited, how should we treat this ‘outbreak’?

In the Western Ghats, where I have worked as a tiger researcher for the past 25 years (and been a conservationist for 50+ years), diseases such as distemper, mange, anthrax, foot and mouth … Read More

Life between Net and Death in Chilika

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I was on a planned trip to Chilika’s Teen Muhana (Three River Mouths) with friends from Odisha, to watch migratory waterfowl of the great wetland. We started early in the morning from Mangalajodi on a hired boat. It was a lovely winter morning and the sun had gently warmed up the lake, where we witnessed large congregations of waterfowl.

Our first stop was at a very small island no.7 for 10 minutes. As we proceeded again towards Teen Muhana, … Read More

Lion-Tailed Macaque and Traffic, Someshwara

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This image is from the Agumbe – Someshwara main road in the Malnad region of Karnataka. This is a very busy road as it provides the shortest connection from Shimoga to coastal towns like Manipal, Mangalore and Udupi. Sadly, there are no signboards or speed-breakers to notify wildlife crossing areas.

The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) is an endangered and endemic macaque found only in the tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats. These macaques can benefit from ecologically informed and … Read More

Living with Elephants, Valparai, Tamil Nadu

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In the human-dominated landscape of the Valparai plateau, abutting the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, this is the peak annual elephant movement period, which lasts till the end of February. Given the mosaic of landscapes the herds have to navigate, they encounter curious onlookers, passing tourists and heavy vehicle movement. The elephants normally choose to move once human activities reduce after sundown.

This herd had a hard time traversing through tea estates interspersed with degraded forest patches because of … Read More

Leopard on a tree

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“There is a Leopard on a tree” –  the call from a friend made me pack my camera bags and drive approximately 75 kms in a hurry. Throughout the journey, I hoped that the leopard would still be on the tree, and fortunately, it was.

We regularly come across stories of human-leopard conflict from this region (South Gujarat – outskirts of Vansda National Park & Poorna Sanctuary). Just four days earlier, a girl was attacked by a leopard in the … Read More

Q: I wanted to bring to your notice the news that a leopard family (mother & 3 cubs) spotted in Karnataka near Kolar (70km east of Bangalore) at Danmatnahalli on 28th Oct 2013 (being tracked for the past 2 days by the forest department). I also want to bring to your notice that the leopards in Kolar district had a peaceful existence before independence and we can read many instances that they existed peacefully with humans in Kenneth Andersson’s writings . So I guess this is a natural occurrence and an opportunity for the forest department to conserve this gene pool of leopards in Kolar. We should try to find a reserve (if translocation is tried) that has deer (natural food for leopards) somewhere in Kolar district, we may consider the forests near Kolar Gold Fields surrounding the Kolar – Bethamangala road and behind BEML Nagar in KGF, where the deer population has increased greatly and has already started to bother the surrounding farmers by raiding their crops, so this is a good solution and this also can be a great thing for the district ecology. I would request CI to help me bring this to the notice of forest officials in Karnataka.

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Answer from Vidya Athreya, carnivore biologist and leopard-human conflict mitigation expert.

As you point out, it is well known by now that a lot of wildlife exists outside protected areas and in human-use landscapes, with leopards being one such adaptable species.

If, as you say, the leopards are already living in human-use landscapes without a problem, why do they need translocation? Also, considerable experience has shown that translocation does not work. When translocated, animals that are territory holders move … Read More

King Cobra and Monitor Lizard

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The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is not just a snake eater as its generic name might suggest (Ophio = snake; phagus = eater). While its main diet does consist of snakes, it will also catch and eat monitor lizards. The king cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world, and males are capable of growing to a length of nearly 6 metres. In India, king cobras are found in the Andaman Islands, in the semi-evergreen and evergreen … Read More

Feral Dogs Bringing Down a Nilgai (Bluebull), Gujarat

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I had gone on a routine birding trip to Gandhinagar, Gujarat in Nov 2011. We were surprised to find around five feral dogs attacking an adult Nilgai or bluebull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) when it came near a water body to drink water. By the time I saw them they had almost killed the antelope, and 15 more dogs were waiting on the shore for their share. I have seen dogs feeding from a bluebull carcass earlier so they must … Read More

Fences in Protected Areas — No Easy Solutions

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Fences are meant to protect forests from encroachment. Sometimes, however, they can prove fatal for the very animals that they are in place for. An Indian Giant Flying Squirrel (Petaurista philippensis) is caught in one such fence near Agumbe (Shimoga district) in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.

This is a popular tourism spot that is also part of the rainforest. The fences were erected to protect the rainforest – to stop people from trespassing into the forest and … Read More

Dangers to Wildlife due to Railway Tracks

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The laying of railway tracks is considered crucial to the economic development of a region, and has for the past several centuries been actively encouraged. Being human-centric, political thought has always considered the felling of forests, and clearing of lands to lay railway lines. Technology improvements that allow for ecological considerations are not implemented, and less-than-ideal practices are often followed to this day. In this regard, even the widening of the track gauges can have an adverse effect on ecology.… Read More

Walayar — Walking on Knife’s Edge

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This image was shot at 1209 hrs on 13th Oct 2012, at km 510/21 on the B-line of the Palakkad- Coimbatore railway line, a kilometre away from the Walayar Railway station, in Kerala. The B-line, which has been laid through the Walayar Reserve forest, bisects an elephant corridor. More than thirty elephants have been killed / maimed during the last two decades (see post on calf being run over), due to speeding trains between Kanjikode and Madukkarai (a … Read More