Why Captive or Man-Eating Big Cats Should not be Released into the Wild

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Preamble

They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. That’s certainly true of releasing captive or man-eating big cats into the wild, ostensibly to ‘conserve’ them. In 2015, a wild tiger from Chikmagalur that killed a local woman, and showed no fear of humans, was captured by the Forest Department.  Unfortunately, while initial press reports indicated that it would be transferred to the Bannerghatta zoo, this dangerous animal was instead released into the Bhimgad forest against the Read More

Electric Lines Through Protected Areas

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During a recent trip to Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, we noticed a few common langurs at play. We paused for a few minutes to observe them jumping around trees, very close to some electric lines running beside the road. Suddenly, one of the excited Langurs jumped straight on to the wires. Unfortunately, it touched two wires at the same time. There was a big spark, which threw the langur off. As it fell to the ground and lay still, … Read More

Miscreants Caught Trying to Poison Vultures

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On a recent visit to Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary along with my friends Hrishikesh and Preetham, we came across a group of miscreants who were caught red-handed while trying to poison vultures at the sanctuary. Five of them were caught by the local Iruliga tribe while they were trying to poison vultures using chicken meat. An insecticide called PHORATE was applied to the chicken meat and dispersed near the vultures nests. The motive behind hunting these vulture was not clear. However, … Read More

Jumping Ant with Prey

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I saw my first Jumping Ant (Harpegnathos saltator) on the outskirts of Bangalore and observed how it moves about. The ant jumped and lived up to its name!

Back in 2004 near Belgaum, as I photographed a jumping ant, it did something very interesting. I was peering through my view finder when suddenly the ant leapt and went out of my frame. The ant had actually jumped and caught a moth mid-air!

I saw it jump, but missed … Read More

Palm Civets Rescued, Trade Busted in Mysore

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The Forest Mobile Squad (FMS), Mysore, busted a pet trade involving Common Palm Civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) following a raid on a house outside the city. The accused, who has been handed over to the police, was rearing the civets at his residence. He confessed that he hunted the civets in Madahalli reserve forest between Mysore and HD Kote.

See media report about this bust.

Wildlife poachers and traders in India are not just going after large, charismatic … Read More

Dhole Pups on a Tree, Nagarahole

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During a morning drive around Nagarahole national park, Karnataka, in March 2013, we encountered a pack of 5-6 dholes (Cuon alpinus) close to the forest office. There were a few pups playing around, even climbing a tree. Being highly social, playing is helpful in cementing bonds between pack members, besides being fun! (Adult dholes too will sometimes climb onto sloping tree trunks or termite mounds – Ed). Pack sizes may sometimes swell to over 20, but will usually then split … Read More

Wild dogs attacking Gaur calf, Bandipur

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We came across a pack of 18 dholes or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus) at Bandipur National Park. The pack was getting ready to attack an elephant herd with two calves. After a few attempts, the dholes moved on. A few minutes later, we heard the call of a gaur and moved forward. In an open area, we saw the dholes attacking a gaur calf while the mother tried to protect it.

As the cries of the calf and the … Read More

Dholes near Karkala, Kudremukh

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On Sunday, June 22, 2014 we set out from Karkala, as usual, for a birdwatching and photography trip. We decided to explore Samse village close to Kudremukh town.

The monsoon got delayed this year, but it did rain heavily in the 3rd week of June. We were enjoying a downpour while driving through the dense shola forest of Kudremukh NP. At around 10:35AM we reached the South Canara Border (SK border), on to the left of the road I saw … Read More

Roads Emerging as a Critical Threat to Leopards in India?

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This article originally appeared in Cat News 60 – Spring 2014 issue.

Leopards (Panthera pardus) face severe threats from poaching, loss of habitat and killing in retaliation to conflict. However, in India a new threat appears to be emerging in the form of vehicle accident mortalities. In the past 60 months 23 leopards have been recorded as killed due to road accidents in the southern Indian state of Karnataka alone. When roads overlap with important wildlife habitats, considerable … Read More

Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle, Mysore

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Here is an image of an adult Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle (Lophotriorchis kienerii) sighted in Mysore on 2nd July 2014 near Chamundi Hills. This is a very interesting record for Mysore given that the species is an uncommon raptor restricted to the forested hills of the Western Ghats.

The Rufous-bellied hawk eagle is easily identified by its black upper parts, chestnut under parts and under wing-coverts and white throat and breast. The two sexes are physically alike but the female is … Read More

Chital antlers entangled in fishing net, Nagarahole

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This was photographed on the Kabini Backwaters in the Nagarahole tiger reserve on 18th June, 2014. This chital was running desperately trying to get rid of a fishing net entangled in its antlers. I hope this image highlights the threat of carelessly discarded nets to wildlife.

Nets pose a significant threat to wildlife often leading to fatalities. See more images of this threat on Conservation India.

Is there any way the forest department can periodically clean such nets and plastic … Read More

Dead Giant Flying Squirrel, Agumbe

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Came upon this sad sight recently. An Indian Giant Flying Squirrel (Petaurista philippensis) is caught in a barbed wire fence near Agumbe (Shimoga district) in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. This animal must have suffered a slow and agonizing death entangled in the fence. Possibly, the squirrel had died a few days ago as the body was beginning to decompose.

A local said he saw a similar sight last year in the vicinity. Incidentally, that incident was also reported on Read More

Feral Dogs and Wild Canids in Bidar

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The grasslands of Bidar are home to several species of wildlife. The star attractions are Blackbuck and Indian Fox, among others. There has been a rapid development of the city and industries around the grassland. There are several small settlements that have come up, bringing with them domestic fowl and stray/feral dogs.

During one of our trips to Bidar, we saw a fox on an evening visit to the grassland. We also saw dogs chasing blackbuck. The next morning, we … Read More

Yellow-legged Buttonquail hunting in Bangalore

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Due to high demand for their meat, wild quails are hunted ruthlessly even though there are licensed quail farms where they are bred in captivity for the table.

This Yellow-legged buttonquail (Turnix tanki) was rescued from hunters by a group of people near HSR layout in Bangalore. The hunters had already killed five. We tried to convince them and create awareness not to kill these birds, but they were ignorant and lacked any concern. Avinash and I had … Read More

Chemical Poisoning of Freshwater Fish in Western Ghats

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Kumaradhara River, a major lifeline of Netravathi Basin, hosts an impressive diversity of fish species, including endemics such as Garra Gotyla stenorhynchus, Barilius canarensis and Tor malabaricus. The River has nourished the local communities with fish for centuries, which have traditionally been harvested using gill nets, cast nets, passive fish traps and plant-based fish poisons. However, more toxic and destructive methods of fishing have become a convenient alternative in recent times. Most locals now use low cost, easily … Read More