How Green is Our Green Energy?

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Undoubtedly, power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity, as it produces no toxic pollution or global warming emissions. However, it has a variety of environmental, social and economic impacts. It has both temporary as well as permanent impacts on land use. Along with this, the impact of wind turbines on wildlife, most notably birds and bats, has been widely studied and documented in other countries. Surveys in the U.S. have shown … Read More

New species of gecko from Northern Western Ghats

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A new species of the gekkonid genus Cnemaspis has been described from the lateritic plateau of the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra, western India. The discovery of Cnemaspis girii from the Kaas plateau in Satara district, Maharashtra, highlights the diversity of herpetofauna of this region and adds to the growing knowledge of the diversity of the Western Ghats. The lateritic plateaus of the northern Western Ghats support endemic herpetofauna and are in need of protection owing to their narrow distribution … Read More

A new species of gecko from the lateritic plateaus of Northern Western Ghats

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Researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore and Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Bangalore have described a new species of gecko belonging to the genus Cnemaspis from Kaas plateau in Satara district of Maharashtra. The new species is named after Dr. Varad Giri of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) who has extensively worked to document the herpetofauna of India. The research paper was published on 17th of June in the journal Zootaxa (read summary) … Read More

Free Ranging Dogs with Indian Hare inside Mayureshwar Sanctuary, Maharashtra

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I took these pictures of a free ranging dog feasting on an Indian Hare inside Mayureshwar Sanctuary on 21st April 2014 around 7.00 A.M. Free ranging dogs in protected areas and grasslands is a big issue across India, including in Maharashtra, and the forest department needs to address this on priority.

Mayureshwar Sanctuary is 72 kms from Pune near a place called Supe. Its grassland ecosystem is home to Indian Gazelle (Chinkara), Indian Fox, Hyena, Wolf and Jackal.

Conservation India … Read More

Barn Owl Hunter, Maharashtra

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On 7th March, in rural Maharashtra, I came across a few young men coming out of the forests near Vajreshwar adjacent to the newly declared Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. We were a little off the road towards a tiny hamlet called Lendipara.

It was shocking to see they had come out with a dead barn owl which they had freshly hunted with a catapult. The young boy was more than happy to pose with his sick ‘trophy’, and when asked … Read More

Forest Owlet, Melghat Tiger Reserve

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This bird is almost as mythical as the Phoenix!

During a recent trip to Melghat, I had a memorable experience with this extremely rare bird. I saw three individuals, which helped me understand the differences between the sexes. It was fascinating to watch their bobbing heads and flicking tails!

The Forest Owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti) was first described in 1873 and last seen in the wild in 1884. Subsequently, it was considered extinct. The bird was rediscovered 113 years later … Read More

Woodchat Shrike — First record for India from Alibaug, Maharashtra

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I am a birdlover and amateur photographer from Mumbai. On September 7, 2013, between 11:00 to 12:00 hours in the vicinity of Alibaug, Maharshtra, I was traveling on my bike looking to photograph some butterflies when I encountered this unfamiliar bird. The bird was very accommodating and allowed me to slowly approach fairly close. I posted the record shots on India Nature Watch (INW) where birdwatchers readily identified it as a Woodchat Shrike.

The Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) … Read More

Dead Bonelli’s Eagle

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I came across this ghastly sight in Wai, in Satara district, Maharashtra, where I had gone birdwatching. Someone had tied this dead Bonelli’s Eagle to a tree. There was a deep wound on the body near the wing. My enquiries with the people nearby did not reveal who was responsible. I reported it to the forest department. The sight deeply saddened me.

Bonelli’s Eagle populations have declined drastically throughout their range. In addition to persecution by hunters and pigeon fanciers, … Read More

Failed to escape

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The Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica) is an elusive nocturnal rodent. It is covered in multiple layers of quills. The longest ones grow from its shoulders to about a third of its length. Its tail is covered in short, hollow quills that it rattles when threatened.  When attacked, it raises its quills and rattles the hollow tail quills. If the predator still persists, the porcupine launches a backwards assault, hoping to stab its attacker with its quills. It does … Read More

Macaque Eating Cookies, Pench Tiger Reserve

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Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta), although seen in urban and rural areas, deserve the same respect as any other wild animal. They are mostly herbivorous and are known to occasionally eat insects. Processed foods, like biscuits and chips, are not a part of their natural diet.

This image of a macaque, eating from a packet of Oreo cookies, exemplifies the pitfalls of unregulated wildlife tourism. In May 2013, we came across this macaque at Rukhad, Pench Tiger Reserve, eating … Read More

Q: I would like to understand why private vehicles are allowed in any sanctuary as it disturbs the ecosystem. One such example is Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali, Mumbai). In such a densely populated concrete jungle we have such wonderful flora and fauna. Why is this getting ruined because the government is allowing private vehicles to access the sanctuary, where speed limit is not observed, people who use the park as their bar and litter the park with bottles and plastic? When we have strong NGOs in the city, why do we fail to stop these harmful activities? I would like to raise these concerns to the forest department but I am unaware of how to go about doing it, so would like CI to look into the matter and give me a solution on how I can give my inputs to conserve the amazing wildlife in my city.

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Answer from Debi Goenka, who heads Mumbai-based environmental NGO Conservation Action Trust (CAT):

Private vehicles are only allowed to ply from the main gate at Borivili to the Kanheri Caves, which are not part of the notified National Park. We have tried to get the forest dept. to introduce shuttle buses, but since these are not financially viable, the forest dept. is not interested.

Re alcohol, this is strictly prohibited, and complaints should be immediately made to the SGNP … Read More

Leucistic Malabar Giant Squirrel, Mahableshwar

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Albinism and leucism are two terms to do with the lack of pigmentation in animals, that are often confused with each other. Albinism is the complete absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. Leucism (or leukism) is a form of partial albinism characterized by retention of color in the eyes, bill, and legs but the skin or plumage contains no color pigment.

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes … Read More

When Protectors Break the Law!

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On 4th May 2013, these two guards — one seen taking photos and another next to him (not in pic) — were on foot just a few metres away from this huge male tiger in the Telia range of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. When questioned about their behavior, they were rude and said the law did not apply to them. Soon, a furious exchange of words happened between a few tourists and the guards and later a formal complaint … Read More

Plover Drenched in Oil, Navi Mumbai

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In August 2010, two cargo ships collided off the coast of Mumbai spilling around 400 tonnes of oil into the Arabian Sea.

This image from the mangroves of Navi Mumbai shows the plight of an oil-bathed Kentish Plover in an oil-soaked habitat that was the aftermath of the incident. Oil penetrates the plumage of birds, reducing its insulating and waterproofing properties. As a result, oil-soaked birds are more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and are much less buoyant in the water. … Read More

Catalysing Awareness — How Mumbai’s Media Represents its Leopards

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The common leopard (Panthera pardus) is a highly adaptable species that is found throughout the country (and beyond) in a variety of habitats, from the pristine rainforests to human-modified and dominated landscapes. Despite its ability to survive on a wide range of prey species including the wild and the domestic, the leopard population is on a downward spiral owing to intense persecution and pressures of illegal wildlife trade.

Authors Saloni Bhatia, Vidya Athreya, Richard Grenyer and … Read More