Sloth Bear and Tiger Encounter, Nagarahole, Karnataka

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This image was taken on the 13th of April 2021 in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. A sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) was ambling along a path heading towards a lantana thicket, where a tiger was earlier spotted resting. Suddenly loud growls erupted as a fight broke out between the two. The hassled tiger came running out of the thicket and growled back, returning to where the bear stood in a show of resistance. Eventually, the ferocity of the bear drove the tiger … Read More

Nilgiri Striped Squirrel, Palani Hills

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The Nilgiri Striped Squirrel (Funambulus sublineatus) is endemic to the Southern Western Ghats. Members of this genus (family) are found in India and Sri Lanka and can be identified by their dorsal stripes. They are diurnal and are often seen foraging either on the ground or on trees during the day. Habitat loss and deforestation remain their top threats.

This individual was found in Palani Hills foraging at dusk near a small waterfall, visited by tourists. However, like most popular … Read More

The Hunter’s Hunter

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As air breathers, sea snakes (Hydrophiinae) have to rise to the surface regularly, making them vulnerable to air-borne predators like this white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster). Although most sea snakes have potent neurotoxic venom, they have small fangs, and are generally reluctant to bite. While it is not known if the eagle is immune to the snake’s venom, it is likely that the tough scales on its feet and the thick feathers on its legs offer it a measure … Read More

In search of the Pale-capped Pigeon, Odisha

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The Pale-capped Pigeon (Columba punicea), a large dark purplish-maroon bird with a contrasting pale crown, has a wide but fragmented range in South and South-East Asia from Odisha (Orissa), Assam and north-east India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam to south China (where it has not been recorded for many years). Generally a primary or secondary evergreen forest dwelling frugivore of plains and foothills, it has been recorded as high as 1,600m and in habitats such as mangrove forest in Thailand and … Read More

Moths of Churicad Estate, Kodagu

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Like butterflies, moths depend on specific host plants to develop, help in plant pollination, and are an important source of food for birds. They come in many colors, shapes and sizes, designed over millions of years by mechanisms of evolution. However, unlike butterflies, in India, they remain poorly documented and studied.

During the pre-monsoon months of 2021, as a hobby, I documented the moth diversity at Churicad Estate- a small coffee plantation in southern Coorg. Located in the biodiverse central … Read More

Tale of a Scorpion

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Three decades after I first saw a scorpion carrying a cluster of young on its back, I had a chance to photograph this spectacle recently. Walking in the dark within the Dubare Jungle Lodges campus armed with a camera and a torch, I started looking for the creatures of the night.

After spotting some bicoloured frogs, spiders, and geckos, I saw a scorpion on the trunk of a tree. Upon closer observation, I realised that it had babies on its … Read More

Tiger and Civet, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

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Nagarahole Tiger Reserve offers a variety of habitats with its mix of dry and moist deciduous forests. It is one of the best places to experience a wildlife safari full of surprises and thrills. 

On a cool February afternoon in 2020, we were all excited to see a huge male tiger resting on the bund of a waterhole. Initially he appeared to be very calm. But soon he seemed a bit uneasy and stood looking up at the trees, seemingly … Read More

Albino Indian Grey Mongoose, Daroji, Karnataka

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A flash of white caught our eye just as we entered the gates of the Daroji Bear Sanctuary. While we only had sloth bears on our minds, a furry white creature had us freeze in our tracks. It wasn’t hard to pick it out against the brown of the brush. An albino Indian grey mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii). A first for all of us there and quite a sight.

Colour variations can occur within a species and sometimes there … Read More

Collared Owlet — a Terror for Small Birds

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In February 2020, I was on a birding trip to Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam with my wife. On the evening of 24th, I was waiting silently for over two hours to get a glimpse of the rare and elusive Black-tailed Crake while dusk was setting in.

Suddenly, I realized that several birds were mobbing and calling frantically at something. And there it was, one of the smallest and cutest birds of prey, the Collared Owlet. It had just killed … Read More

Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Nagarahole

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We were on a morning drive at the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve and we heard very loud and repeated alarm calls of spotted deer. We waited there for a few mins and we see this flying squirrel crouched on the base of the tree motionless. It was just beside the safari track. We left the place and came back to the same place after about 25 mins. Only the animal’s bushy tail was visible. Later it was gone. A very rare … Read More

The Forest Cane Turtle, Anamalai Hills, Tamilnadu

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Originally appeared in Pollachi Papyrus.

During one of my recent bird surveys in the Anamalai Hills, I had the privilege of sighting the rare (Cochin) Forest Cane Turtle. Forest Cane turtle is one of the rare reptiles of our fragile rainforests in the Western Ghats chain of mountains. It is a forest-dwelling species and found mostly in the dense forests, and, unlike many other turtle species, they avoid perennial water bodies like streams and ponds. The distribution of the … Read More

Flamingo Spectacle in Navi Mumbai, April 2020

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Mumbai residents were offered a breathtaking visual treat last week when hundreds of thousands of migratory Lesser Flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) flocked to the creeks of Navi Mumbai.

Every year, thousands of flamingos migrate to Mumbai. Their numbers peak in hotspots like Navi Mumbai creek, Thane creek, Bhandup Pumping Station and Sewri.

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) said there has been a 25% cent increase in flamingo migration since 2019, when 120,000 (1.2 lakh) visited. This year, an estimated 150,000 … Read More

Eurasian Otter Found in Chilika Lake, Odisha

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The Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) is a Near Threatened otter species. While there is much research globally, little is known of its distribution in India, making a recent record from Chilika lake in Odisha significant.

We, at The Fishing Cat Project, stumbled upon this otter while searching for another wetland carnivore in Chilika – the Fishing Cat. Locals told us about the presence of ‘Uddho’ or otters in Chilika, but even they were not aware of the fact that two … Read More

First record of Finsch’s Wheatear for India, Desert National Park, Rajasthan

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A Finsch’s Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii), observed and photographed between 20th and 26th December 2018 near Sudasri, Desert National Park by a team of birders including Mukul Balkrishna Wasnik, Surat Singh Poonia, Manoj Sharma, C. Abhinav, Atul Jain, Sudhir Garg and Antar Singh was the first record of the species from the country. The bird had a slim black bill; white coloration of the crown continuing onto the mantle, upper back, lower back and base of the tail; black throat … Read More

Tiger Stalks and Hunts Down Wild Dog in Nagarahole

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We witnessed an astonishing natural history moment while on a ride inside Nagarahole Tiger Reserve on the 20th of September, 2017. 

Just as the rain stopped in the morning in the Kabini area of the park, our safari jeep came upon a tiger facing off with a large pack of dholes. The crouching tiger seemed ready to pounce, when a bike-borne forest department staffer came riding between them, inadvertently chasing both away. The tiger disappeared into a bush, so we … Read More