Mating Indian Vultures, Ramadevarabetta

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In early February​ 2016​, a few of us from Bangalore went to the Ramanagara rocks to see Shaheen Falcons (Falco peregrinus peregrinator). On our way back, we stopped over at the Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary. We reached the sanctuary around 11 am and spent 1.5 hours there observing the resident vultures. We saw five Long-billed or Indian Vultures (Gyps indicus) and a lone Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus).

There were two courting pairs of Indian Vultures, and we saw both … Read More

Spotted in the News: Understanding Leopards Through Media Reports

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Print media plays a crucial role in disseminating knowledge and in influencing public opinion. Further, media publications could also provide powerful information about wild animals like leopards and elephants, which frequently interact with people. A study by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society India Program relied on information from ​newspaper media reports to understand leopard ecology, leopard-human interactions, and management practices that deal with problem leopards outside protected areas of Karnataka.

The study used reports of leopards from 11 widely … Read More

Leopard Cat Killed by Feral Dogs, Coorg, Karnataka

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During my recent bird watching visit to Coorg (Suntikoppa), Karnataka on December 13, 2015, I witnessed a tragic incident in which a leopard cat was killed by feral dogs. A bunch of friends and I were busy photographing birds close to a coffee estate when one of my friends noticed two dogs trying to catch something in the bushes close by. He alerted us about the situation, and the next moment, one of the dogs caught something and started running … Read More

Demoiselle Crane — First Record from Bengaluru, India

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At the last minute, on Sunday morning, I convinced 20 other birders that instead of going to Valley School, we should bird along the Kaggalipura-Bannerghatta stretch, and then go to check out Hulimangala. And there, at nearly the end of a long birding outing, we saw a migrant which has never before been sighted in the Bangalore area – the Demoiselle Crane. I have since got information that there were at least two individuals on the lake.

Demoiselle cranes undertake … Read More

Chital Chewing Plastic Bag, Bandipur

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While I love to shoot great action and beauty pictures of wildlife, I could not resist shooting this unfortunate scene in Bandipur recently. In my opinion, Bandipur is amongst the most abused national parks in India. It tolerates all sorts of issues caused by picnickers – starting from litter and yelling tourists, all the way to human-animal conflict. Tourists often enjoy a great picnic beside the National Highway that cuts through the park, after which they throw plastic and paper … Read More

Local Hunting and Conservation of Large Mammals

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Hunting wildlife for the pot and for commercial sale is far more widespread than most people realize, and is leading to an ‘empty forest’ syndrome in many parts of the country.  M.D. Madhusudan and K. Ullas Karanth conducted a fascinating study on local hunting around two wildlife reserves in Karnataka. These are the results of their study, excerpted from their original scientific paper published in Ambio in 2002.

  • Mammals that weigh over one kilo are the most prone to hunting
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Mining and its aftermath

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Iron ore was discovered in Kudremukh in 1913, when P. Sampath Iyengar, a geologist from Mysore, set out on a quest for the mineral.  As he rode along the Bhadra River he noticed that fine particles of ore had adhered to his horse’s shoes. Following the trail, he finally reached the Aroli range of hills and discovered Kudremukh’s iron-ore deposits. However, full-scale mining operations only began decades later, when the Iranian government, under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi — the Shah of … Read More

Intruding the personal space of elephants, Bandipur

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We were driving back to Bangalore on 10th March 2013. That weekend saw an extraordinary rush to Bandipur, Mudumalai and Ooty. There were a lot of places on the Bandipur – Mudumalai (NH 67) highway where people were stopping to see wildlife. After we crossed the Kakkanhalla checkpost, we saw a car (Xylo) stop; two people casually got out, walked towards this pair of elephants and started taking pictures. I shot a video anticipating a charge, but the truck scared … Read More

Incident of a Man-Eating Tiger in Nagarahole, Karnataka

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News papers have been reporting the presence of a livestock killing tiger in agricultural fields and state forests outside the eastern boundary of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve over the last few days. Unfortunately on 25-August-2012 the tiger attacked a woman grazing livestock, killed, and partially ate her. On 26-August-2012 Forest Department staff managed to locate the tiger using domestic elephants, tranquilized it and moved it into captivity.

We have been carrying out long term monitoring of tiger populations in Karnataka using … Read More

Counting Squirrels in Indian Forests

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Although the ecology of squirrels has been extensively studied, most past work is characterized by the failure to account for detection and heavy reliance on indices rather than directly measuring abundance. This has involved acoustic and visual surveys, sign surveys (tracks, middens and dreys) and capture-recapture sampling (trapping rates) methods are adopted to estimate squirrel abundance. Such field studies assume the detection probability of the species to be equal in all sites, leading to incorrect estimates of true abundance.

Authors … Read More

Camera Trapping Reveals Exciting Secrets of Tiger Dispersal

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On 1-5-2011, Forest officials of the Shimoga Wildlife Division, had safely captured a male tiger that strayed into Gama village near Shikaripur. A decision was made by the Forest Department, based on consultation with WCS senior scientist and NTCA member Dr. Ullas Karanth, to release the tiger in Bhadra Tiger Reserve, rather than hold it in perpetual captivity. This decision was based on the fact that the tiger was estimated to be of dispersal age (about 3 years), healthy and … Read More

Coastal Crabs of India — Photofeature

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A walk along the beach is something most people would enjoy. When we see crabs trying to run away from our path, often the child in us comes to the fore and we run about chasing them! It was during my first visit to Devbagh, Karwar, off the North Karnataka coast that I was taken by surprise by the beauty of coastal crabs.

Over the years, during the many visits to Devbagh, I have spent considerable time looking for crabs … Read More

Dead Indian Vulture at Ramanagara, Karnataka

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Ramnagara (or Ramadevarabetta) Vulture Sanctuary, with an area of 346.14 hectares, was declared as a Vulture Sanctuary on January 31, 2012. It has received attention from Bangalore’s ‘wildlifers’ and consequently, there have been a few interesting articles published about this area in the media. However, the story I am about to relate is not a pretty one and exposes the potential deficiencies in vulture conservation strategy.

While birding at Ramanagara on 14th June 2015, Vishnupriya and I scanned the cliffs … Read More

Bullfrogs in a Bucket

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This image highlights the serious problem of Indian Bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) poaching during the monsoon. We came across a paddy farmer near Jog falls, Mavingundi, Karnataka, who had collected nearly 30 bullfrogs and kept them in a bucket waiting to hand them over to a guy from Goa who was supposed to come and collect the frogs for the Goan Bar/Restaurant market. They are sold as ‘Jumping chicken’ there. We immediately rescued and released them plus reported the poacher to … Read More

A Dead Owl on a String, Bangalore

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A sunny Sunday morning turned up one of the most bizarre sights of the season. A Barn Owl’s right wing hanging on a string, blowing and turning in the wind in a secondary forest patch in Bangalore. It was not too difficult to unravel the story though!

A play kite had been flown and somehow the person flying it had let it loose, and it had blown over and got stuck in a tree in the woodland patch. The dark … Read More