The State of Wildlife and Protected areas in Maharashtra – News and information from the PA update 1996-2015

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Book review

‘The state of Wildlife and Protected areas in Maharashtra – News and information from the PA update: 1996-2015’.
Edited by: Pankaj Sekhsaria
Publishers: Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust, Kalpavriksh, and Rainfed Books, 2019
Price: INR 400/-
Reviewed by: Santosh Shintre

Nature conservation is perhaps one of the more successful cultural movements in the history of humans, and has led to the setting aside of significant areas of the planet for nature. Presently, close to 15% of the Earth’s … Read More

Kite Flying — A Death Sentence

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It was a pleasant Sunday evening, during the 1st week of June 2020. I was enjoying the nature trail inside our lush green campus of CMPDI Nagpur, a habitat with more than 70 species of birds. While on the walk, I was left horrified after spotting a juvenile Shikra, hanging by its neck. This unfortunate bird was tangled in a nylon thread used for kite flying. Despite the National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s ban on using Chinese manja (kite strings made … Read More

Flamingo Spectacle in Navi Mumbai, April 2020

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Mumbai residents were offered a breathtaking visual treat last week when hundreds of thousands of migratory Lesser Flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) flocked to the creeks of Navi Mumbai.

Every year, thousands of flamingos migrate to Mumbai. Their numbers peak in hotspots like Navi Mumbai creek, Thane creek, Bhandup Pumping Station and Sewri.

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) said there has been a 25% cent increase in flamingo migration since 2019, when 120,000 (1.2 lakh) visited. This year, an estimated 150,000 … Read More

Wolves Chased by Dogs, Pune Grasslands

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Grasslands are always neglected and, more often than not, deemed to be ‘wastelands’. In reality, grasslands are a treasure trove of biodiversity. And it is in these spaces that one of India’s endangered species thrives – the Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes). The wolf has adapted to living in close proximity to humans, as it gets an advantage of being able to prey on livestock or domestic fowl.

But with this benefit comes a bane, in the form of … Read More

A Free Meal — Conflict between Wolves and Feral Dogs

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My passion is to highlight the plight of grasslands, and to work towards the conservation of these vast, neglected spaces.

On one of the occasions when my friends and I were in the grasslands near Pune, we were observing a few wolves from a distance. They had killed a Chinkara. However, stray dogs from the nearby settlement showed up in no time, running towards the pack of wolves. I have observed that these wolves are quite shy of human presence … Read More

Living with Leopards – Conflict or Coexistence?

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Nayan Khanolkar first chanced upon Luna the leopardess in 2014 while monitoring the man-animal conflict in Mumbai. Back then she was an almost grown up leopard cub roaming in Aarey Colony with her mother. Over the years he and his team have trailed Luna and watched her become an adult, independent leopardess having grown and thrived in an urban landscape. She learnt and understood the human ways enough to manoeuvre around them.

She knew that where humans roamed during the … Read More

Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins off Mumbai Coast

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To be able to observe dolphins from one’s balcony or from shore is a possibility for most of us in Mumbai. There must have been a time when Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins (Sousa plumbea) roamed this coastal stretch in large numbers. Today they are scattered in small pockets, one of which is the bay off Raj Bhavan, Malabar Hill.

Other locations in Bombay, where these dolphins are seen is Worli, off Chowpatty in South Mumbai, Marine Drive, Sassoon Docks, and … Read More

The Hornbills of Malabar Hill, Mumbai

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It’s been over a year since the Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) decided to make their presence conspicuous in the Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai, just as the peacocks of ‘Doongerwadi’ and the Raj Bhavan have made theirs for some time now.

These ‘urban hornbills’, as my friend and ace birder Shashank Dalvi calls them, are seen mostly at dawn and dusk flying around from tree to tree as they are mostly arboreal in nature.

The male has a … Read More

Carnivores as Co-owners of our Lands

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Among the range of attributes that represent India is the little-known, seldom-acknowledged diversity of carnivore species it harbors. The country has 23% of the world’s terrestrial carnivore species. While popular discourse typically links large carnivores to forested reserves or large inviolate spaces, many of India’s carnivore species have historically shared spaces and adapted to using human modified landscapes. A recent study by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society-India, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Foundation for Ecological Research And Learning, University of … Read More

A Bullet to the Lungs: Mumbai Set to Lose More Forest to High-Speed Railway Line

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Will development once again take precedence over conserving India’s natural wealth?

India’s forests are quietly disappearing to accelerated infrastructure development. During the past three decades, approximately 15,000 sq km of forests have been diverted for development projects. Among them, 5000 sq km for mining, 1,600 sq km for defence projects and 1400 sq km for hydroelectric projects (http://data.gov.in). As of 2019, government data shows that 15,19,167.19 hectares of forest land have been diverted for non-forest use cumulatively across … Read More

Amboli Toad Roadkill, Amboli Ghat, Maharashtra

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One of the major factors affecting faunal survival is our road network. Road kills are documented widely and affect all taxonomic groups, especially in protected areas. Animals don’t recognise a road as a hazard. Often, the road might have cut through a continuous patch of forest, and animals will have to cross these man-made roads in search of food, mates and other resources, like water.

On a recent trip while driving on the Amboli ghat road, we came across this … Read More

Rusty spotted cat family in Tadoba, Maharashtra

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I had the good fortune of this sighting in the summer of 2017 at Tadoba Tiger reserve. On a morning safari, while driving from a waterhole in anticipation of a tiger, we encountered some movement in the bushes. As we turned off our engine, we saw a small cat appear out of the bush. Initially we thought it to be a jungle cat kitten, but later realized we had just spotted one of the most elusive members of the cat … Read More

When Humans are Curious to Know the Spotted Cat

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Nashik district’s Niphad taluk is situated on the fertile banks of the Godavari River. Agriculture is the main occupation here, with sugarcane the major cash crop, grown along with food crops such as wheat, grapes, jowar and other vegetables. Livestock-rearing also contributes a major part to the local economy. In this productive landscape, where human density is fairly high, jackals, hyenas, jungle cats, civets, and leopards also co-exist, as there is water, prey, and shelter.

Some communities like Warali, Mahadeo … Read More

Indian Grey Mongoose with Indian Eagle Owl Kill, Maharashtra

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This photograph was taken in February 2015 at Hiraj-Solapur, Maharashtra, where Indian Eagle Owls are regularly seen near a canal.

I was surprised to see an Indian Eagle Owl in the clutches of an Indian Grey Mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii). When I came across the scene, the kill was pretty fresh and there were feathers lying around. I saw the mongoose dragging the kill from one end of the road to the other and then to a nearby mound.… Read More

A Dogged Problem

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Free-ranging dogs are unfavourable to wildlife, they are reservoirs of many diseases.

The word carnivore often conjures up images of large, dangerous predators such as lions and tigers. Few, however, realize that they spend most of their lives in the presence of the world’s most common carnivore — the domestic dog. Man’s so-called best friend is indeed the most numerous and widespread of the world’s carnivores.

In much of the developed world, dogs are generally confined to certain areas, but … Read More