The Threatened Tragopans

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Tragopan is a genus of bird in the family Phasianidae. Four species of tragopans are found in India, while the fifth, Cabot’s Tragopan (Tragopan caboti), is a south-east Asian bird. All tragopans are under great threat from hunting and the fragmentation of their habitats.

This photo-feature covers all the four tragopans in India with a short background on each.… Read More

Ingenious Bird Trapping near Murlen, East Mizoram

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In a recent (Jan 2011) trip to Murlen National Park in East Mizoram, we (Shashank Dalvi, Atul Jain and I) observed rampant bird-trapping near villages. Villagers had set up several traps. We counted 25+ traps in a 1/2 km stretch along the road and released all trapped birds.  A trapped Assam Laughing Thrush (a below-Brahmaputra endemic) first caught our attention. Then we found Flavescent bulbuls, Oriental White-eyes and Leaf-birds also caught in traps.

It is very unfortunate in that there … Read More

Insect Camouflage

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Camouflage (noun) is defined as concealment that obscures the physical appearance. In the natural world, camouflage (verb) is essentially the process by which an organism blends with the elements in its habitat, conceals itself, alters its appearance or for that matter resembles an object in its environment.

Camouflage has, over several millennia, evolved in response to various environmental conditions and survival pressures. According to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, camouflage was one of the features that … Read More

The Pakke Hornbill Nest Adoption Program

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There is a quiet change taking place in Arunachal Pradesh. Not big, but quite important. Pakke Tiger Reserve lies in South Western Arunachal Pradesh and is home to several Nyishi tribal villages. Late one morning in December 2011, a group of nine tribal headmen representing their villages, the dynamic Nyishi District Forest Officer (DFO) Tana Tapi, and researchers from the Nature Conservation Foundation’s (NCF) had gathered in a community hall. They were kicking off an innovative program – the Hornbill … Read More

Killing a Grassland, Hesaraghatta, Bangalore

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There is an urgent conservation issue related to the Hesaraghatta grasslands in NW Bangalore. Of all places in Bangalore, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) selects possibly the last remaining grassland to go on a tree-planting overdrive. Using bulldozers, close to 30,000 pits have been dug and most of them planted. The media coverage was helpful and possibly aided in putting a halt to the digging but almost 200 acres of prime grassland is dug and gone — unless the saplings … Read More