River Linking Project Threatens Decade-long Success Story Of Panna Tiger Reserve

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Panna’s success story is now a conservation case study in other tiger range countries where efforts are ongoing to increase tiger numbers.

Every monsoon the stunning Dundhwa Seha gorge in the middle of the Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, comes alive with a spectacular waterfall. Even during the drier months, the rocky outcrop is a refuge for wildlife looking to escape the grueling summer heat of Bundelkhand.

In this deep gorge, Panna recorded its first litter of tigers on this … Read More

Conserving Shared Spaces for People and Predators

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Conservation of carnivores and their habitats is a complex challenge. Many of India’s carnivore species continue to share space with humans, and this necessitates understanding human-carnivore interactions to minimize conflict and foster co-existence. A recent study by researchers from the Centre for Wildlife Studies, University of Florida, Wildlife Conservation Society-India and USA, and Duke University examined interactions between humans and carnivores (dhole, Indian wolf, Indian fox, golden jackal and striped hyena) in the Kanha-Pench corridor in central India.

The study … Read More

Connecting the Tigers — Mapping Habitat Connectivity for Tigers in Central India

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It turns out that – when it comes to protecting India’s tigers – size matters, just not in the way most people might think. Large protected areas are clearly important for such a wide-ranging, territorial species. But in what may be a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, new research also shows that small protected areas often play a disproportionate role in ensuring the long-term survival of tigers in Central India.

Over the last several years, India has been working to improve tiger … Read More

Bleeding the Chambal Dry

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Reckless water hoarding, diversion, sand mining and fishing are killing a pristine river that once used to recast its vast ravines every flood. Jay Mazoomdaar on the curse of the Chambal.

This article originally appeared in Tehelka, 8 March, 2013.

In a culture where rivers are worshipped, the Chambal, by all means mightier than the Yamuna, would be slighted as a tributary of the latter. Unsurprisingly, no great cities or shrines came up on its banks. This traditional isolation fostered … Read More

Endangered Lesser Floricans give MP a miss

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Western Madhya Pradesh is witnessing a bad year with respect to the arrival of the endangered Lesser Floricans (Sypheotides indicus) in the area.

There are primarily three areas where the floricans used to arrive for the breeding season in western M.P. These are Sailana sanctuary in Ratlam District, Petlawad in Jhabua District and Sardarpur sanctuary in Dhar District. No birds have arrived in M.P. this year until the 31st of July. in earlier years they used to arrive … Read More

The Enigma of the Forest Owlet

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The Forest Owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti) is a curious bird, both by name and nature. It has captured the imagination of many within and outside the country and for the right reasons.

The forest owlet has an interesting past associated with it. Let us travel back in time to the 19th century. It was in 1872 when an Irish officer, Mr. Francis Robert Blewitt (F. R. Blewitt) saw this different looking owl near Phooljhar in eastern Madhya Pradesh (now in Chhattisgarh). … Read More

Understanding Sloth Bears — An Interview With Dr. K. Yoganand

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CI: Tell us about your research on sloth bears

I conducted intensive field research on sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) between 1996 and 2000 in Panna National Park (Madhya Pradesh), a partly degraded, dry deciduous forest habitat in Madhya Pradesh, central India. I captured and fitted radio-collars on several sloth bears and followed them to observe their behaviour and learn more about their secretive lives, such as, when did they sleep, what did they eat, how far did they … Read More

First Records of Preorbital Gland Opening in Rare Wild Barasingha, Kanha TR, Madhya Pradesh

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The opening of the preorbital gland in deer serves as a visual communication and has been linked to a wide variety of behavioural situations. As we reported recently, all previous long-term studies on preorbital gland opening were carried out on only one species, whereas case reports on six other rarely studied species have shown associations with different behaviours, thus greatly increasing our overall understanding of the real function of this gland in animal visual communication.

Here, we report for the … Read More

Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS), Dec 2016

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The Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS) was organized in Pench Tiger Reserve (MP) from 14th to 17th December, 2016. It was the second of a bi-annual symposia aimed at bringing together researchers, conservationists and managers working in the Central Indian Highlands to share their perspectives and findings, and develop networks for collaborative future work in the region. It was organized by WWF-India, Satpuda Foundation and the Network for Conserving Central India – a network of researchers, NGOs and managers dedicated … Read More

Indian Grey Hornbill Nesting Adaptability, Indore

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In the middle of the city of Indore, an Indian grey hornbill pair has made its nest in a hole (cavity) on the 2nd floor of a multi storied building. Till now it is known that hornbills make nests in cavities of large trees, but this peculiar nesting behaviour has amazed the birder fraternity.

I was informed by a fellow birder that a hornbill was being seen near a building very frequently in the mornings and evenings. I immediately figured … Read More

Tiger vs. Cow: Risk Models Help Beat the Odds

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A tiger and a cow meet in a jungle. The scenario is tragically predictable: tiger kills cow, cow’s owner kills tiger. Yet in India, where repeated conflict can amount to sizeable livelihood losses and tiger declines, predicting where the scenario plays out is far from easy. However, a simple statistical method applied to mapping human-carnivore conflict could up the odds by helping people anticipate high-risk hotspots.

Our study, published in Ecology and Evolution, explored a technique that could be … Read More

A New Breeding Location of Indian Skimmer in Son Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh

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The Son Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary in Sidhi District of Madhya Pradesh, which was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1981 by the State government to protect and preserve the faunal diversity of the river, specifically the critically endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), and the vulnerable Marsh Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), is also a breeding ground for the Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis), a hitherto unrecorded site. Birdlife International and IUCN have declared the skimmer as “Vulnerable” (see Birdlife factsheet on the … Read More

Dundhwa Seha, Panna Tiger Reserve

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On 22nd September 2015, The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (and Chairman of the State’s Wildlife Board) cleared the Ken-Betwa River Linking project despite strong protests from some members of the Board. Now the proposal needs approval by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL).

Here’s a snapshot of what the project will entail: A 224 km long canal will siphon off 660 million cubic meters of water from the Ken to the Betwa; a 77 meter high dam will be … Read More

Compensation for Coexistence — Lessons from Kanha

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Although attacks by tigers and leopards on livestock cause devastating losses to owners around Kanha Tiger Reserve in Central India, villagers now rarely retaliate. A prompt compensation scheme by Reserve authorities may be the secret to saving cattle-killing big cats in the wild.

(The author has adapted this article from its original publication form, which appeared in Frontline)

Sweat running from every pore, Vishal exhaled with relief at the sight of his dead buffalo. For two days he … Read More

Gharials On The Chambal

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The Chambal river (here on the MP-UP border) is under severe pressure from human activity like sand mining and agriculture. The National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, is a 5,400 sq. kms. protected area for critically endangered Gharial Crocodiles, the Red-crowned roof turtle, the endangered Gangetic Dolphin and vulnerable bird species like Indian skimmer, Sarus Crane, Pallas’s Fish Eagle and Indian Courser.… Read More