Developing Simple and Innovative Techniques to Monitor Elephants

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Authors V. R. Goswami, M.V. Lauretta, M. D. Madhusudan and K. U. Karanth have developed an automated process to identify individual adult male elephants effectively. These are the highlights of their study published in the journal, Animal Conservation in 2011.

There are an estimated 40,000 wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) spread across 13 countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in South Asia and Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam). According … Read More

Madras Tree Shrew in BR Hills, Karnataka

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On one of the safari drives in BRT Wildlife Sanctuary, I came across a small rat-like mammal. Though I knew it was the Madras Tree Shrew, I wasn’t really sure since it had rarely been recorded in this area. The ID was later confirmed by experts.

The Madras Tree Shrew (Anathana ellioti), also referred to as the Indian Tree Shrew, is a small mammal belonging to the order Scandentia, and is endemic to peninsular India. It is distributed … 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

Tribal Family Prefers Voluntary Relocation Over Forest Rights

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On January 17, 2014, Padmaiah Malekudiya, whose family had been living on about 2 acres of encroached forestland in Bijjale enclosure, Mala Village of Karkala Taluk, Kudremukh, chose to renounce the rights he had acquired under the Forests Rights Act, 2006 in favor of a fresh start and a better life outside, thanks to fair and just compensation from the government.

Through a landmark order dated 9th January 2014, the Deputy Commissioner of Udupi, M. T. Reju, provided a compensation … 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

What do Carnivores Eat?

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As umbrella species, the tiger and its co-predators, the leopard and dhole play a fundamental role in shaping prey communities in the forest. Understanding the food habits and dietary seperation of these three large carnivores is vital for conservation of prey species and overall ecosystem functioning.

Authors Anish P. Andheria, K. Ullas Karanth and N. Samba Kumar conducted a study of diets of three sympatric large carnivores, the tiger (Panthera tigris), the leopard (Panthera pardus) and … Read More

The Tree Whisperer!

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The leopard is one of the key predators of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. It is elusive, graceful and an expert at climbing trees. It has fantastic camouflage, making it difficult even for a trained eye to spot this spotted cat. Over the years, I have seen many a leopard by following pugmarks or alarm calls, and every sighting has been a learning experience.

Including watching this male, which is rather bold and doesn’t seem to mind the safari vehicles. This individual … Read More

Stripe-necked Mongoose with Plastic Bottle, Bandipur

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On a rainy morning safari in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, we came across a Stripe-necked Mongoose very close to the safari track. Unmindful of our presence, it was moving around busily looking for a quick morsel. It came across this plastic water bottle lying in the grass. And it took to it as a kid takes to a new toy. The mongoose cuddled with the bottle and rolled around for a few minutes.

What explains this behaviour? Probably, as our naturalist … 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

First record of Hodgson’s Bat from Western Ghats

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The Hodgson’s Bat (Myotis formosus) is a strikingly colored bat that roosts in foliage. It is a widespread species ranging from Central to South-east Asia. In India it is reported from 14 localities in North and East India and one locality in Central India. This species superficially resembles the more popular Painted Wolly Bat (Kerivoula picta).

On 12th January 2013 at 11:13 h, we (D.V. Girish, Shashank Dalvi, Vishnupriya Sankararaman and Rohit Chakravarty) visited Mullayangiri peak … 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

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

Commercial activity in Shola grasslands

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Shola grasslands are high-altitude grasslands, evergreen, with very good water retention capacity. The Western Ghats is a biodiversity hotspot, supporting many endemic and threatened species, a region where many streams and rivers originate. The mountains are known for the wide variety of flora, including many medicinal herbs. The roads are laced with many tiny wild flowers of different hues.

One look at the landscape is enough to take your breath away. It is alright to soak in the beauty. It … Read More

Macaque fielding at slip, Bandipur!

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The highlight of a rather rainy trip to Bandipur in April 2012 came from a rather unexpected source. With Bandipur’s famed carnivores declining to give us an audience, the little bonnet macaques decided to put on a show for us on our last safari!

We were on our way out post the afternoon safari and right at the exit, in a large open meadow, we stopped to check out some bonnet macaques. Especially since one of them had a little … Read More

Huge Impacts, But No assessment? Groups Urge MoEF to Correct its Blunder on Yettinahole Diversion Project

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Yettinahole Diversion Project is being planned in the Western Ghats and Eastern Plains of Karnataka, by the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited (KNNL) purportedly as a drinking water supply scheme to supply 24 TMC water to Kolar and Chikkaballapur Districts. The scheme involves 8 dams in Western Ghat forests, 250 kms long canals, 80 and 50 kms long raising mains, a reservoir that will submerge 1200 hectares of land and 2 villages. A closer look at the Project Report of the … Read More