King Cobra, Agumbe, Karnataka

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The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the longest venomous snake in the world, growing up to 10 to 13 feet on average. The longest individual recorded was 19.1 feet in length. King cobras are sexually dimorphic, with the males being larger than the females. King cobra males captured in the Western Ghats weighed up to 10 kg while females weigh around 5 kg. The etymology of its zoological name come from “Ophiophagus” meaning “snake-eating” and hannah derived from … Read More

Painted Bat, Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka

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The painted bat (Kerivoula picta), also known as the painted wooly bat, is widely distributed in South and Southeast Asia but uncommon species to see. This image was taken on a banana plantation in Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka.

Little is known about its ecology but has been recorded from dry deciduous and dipterocarp forests, small woodland patches, floodplains, paddy fields, sugarcane fields, orchards, and mixed plantations. Small groups of these animals (2-4) can be seen roosting inside unusual sites … Read More

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

Grizzled Giant Squirrel, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary

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The grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura) is the smallest of all giant squirrels. It is found in the riparian forests of Southern India and Sri Lanka. Unlike their cousins, grizzled giant squirrels prefer riverine or riparian forests, which grow next to rivers. They are called ‘grizzled’ due to the white flecks of hair that cover their greyish-brown body. Like all giant squirrels, they are arboreal. They are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) and spend most of their … 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

A Leopard’s Meal – the Ubiquitous Feral Dog

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On September 19, 2020, while exiting the forest after wrapping up our afternoon safari in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, we noticed a free-ranging/feral dog enter the park from the highway. Although we tried our best to chase it back towards where it came from, it ventured deeper inside the forest. We were quite concerned as we had just sighted a tiger cub near a waterhole, 500m from the highway.

The next day, we skipped the morning safari and drove around the … Read More

Precious Amrit Mahal Kavals are not Wastelands

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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

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

Major Mortality of Birds in a Vineyard in Karnataka

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While on a birding trip to the Jayamangali Blackbuck Conservation Reserve on February 27th, 2021, my friend, Chris Bowden, and I, witnessed a serious problem involving the killing of hundreds of birds on a nearby private property. A vineyard, owned by Krushnamruga Wineyard and Blackbuck Vineyards Pvt Ltd., was covered over with a fine synthetic net, presumably to protect the ripening grapes from bird depredation. Unfortunately, gaps at the sides of the net due to poor installation had allowed … Read More

Hessarghatta Grasslands Must Be Saved!

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OUR APPEAL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF KARNATAKA

We urge the government to take a visionary decision to protect the natural grassland habitat of Hessarghatta for posterity by notifying it as a Conservation Reserve. This will not only ensure the safeguarding of Karnataka’s precious natural heritage but will also protect the water catchments of Arkavathy, which provides water security to the people and farmers in the area. Such a decision would be in consonance with India’s Constitutional mandate under Article 48-A,

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Pelicans in Peril – Nematode Infestation Alert!

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On the morning of December 20, 2020, when international birders Mike Prince and Chris Bowden visited Sonnapura Lake near Chikkaballapur Town, about 23 km from Bengaluru, they were not prepared for what they found along the water’s edge — two dead Spot-billed Pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis). Subsequent visits to the lake resulted in the matter being brought to the attention of the Karnataka Forest Department, which promptly despatched the dead birds to the Bannerghatta Zoo on the outskirts Read More

Crake Amidst Plastic Waste, Hubli, Karnataka

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This picture is from one of the wetlands near Hubli, North Karnataka, where we would regularly see waterbirds. Rails and snipes were quite common, but that has now been replaced by an assured sighting of garbage.

On one of my recent visits, I saw this Brown Crake (Zapornia akool), one of the bolder rails, with its striking yellow beak. The IUCN Red List ranks it as a species of ‘Least Concern’. However, the wetlands scream a different story. Due … Read More

Wetland Habitat Destruction at Sonnapura, near Chikkaballapur, Karnataka

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There is heavy digging and destruction of the ecologically-important wetland habitat in Sonnapura, near Bannikuppe, just east of Chikkaballapur town in Karnataka. Two JCBs (diggers) are working in the area.

The exact location can be accessed here. 

Several concerned citizens wrote to the district administration and the forest department immediately. The memo is attached on the right and is downloadable.

It seems the digging is for a park with walking / jogging track, a water body and boating, and a … Read More