Bioluminescent Fungi, Western Ghats, Goa

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With an estimated 3.5 million species of fungi, only about 148,000 are known to us today. Amongst these wide varieties of fungi, there are bioluminescent fungi like this one found in the Western Ghats of Goa and other tropical rainforests. Currently, there are more than a hundred known species of these bioluminescent fungi, most of them belong to a genus called Mycena (bonnet mushroom) (inset picture). 

A few weeks into the monsoon the forest floor starts glowing subtly as the … Read More

What Plagues the Mysterious Clouded Leopard?

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In 2018, Howlett’s Wild Animal Park designated the 4th of August as the International Clouded Leopard Day with the aim to enhance our knowledge and spread awareness about this mysterious cat. As of now, much of what we know about clouded leopards comes from observations of individuals in captivity. Information pertaining to their distributions in the wild, demographic parameters, diet, possible threats, and knowledge of other biological and ecological aspects necessary for their long-term survival in the wild remains largely … Read More

Draco or Gliding Lizard, Agumbe, Western Ghats, Karnataka

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Draco or gliding lizard (Draco dussumieri) is an agamid lizard endemic to the  Western Ghats and Northeast India. They are primarily arboreal and occur in rainforests and plantations like areca nut, rubber, etc. It has a membrane called a patagium around its belly which extends to create wings that help it glide across tall canopies. Interestingly, within the Western Ghats, they do not occur beyond the Goa gap, a significant biogeographic barrier between Goa and South Maharashtra, due to the … Read More

Ecological Restoration Increases Tree Diversity and Carbon Storage in Degraded Rainforest Fragments

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Our research article that appeared recently in the journal, Ecosphere, asks: To what extent can a degraded rainforest be ecologically restored to resemble an undisturbed and mature rainforest? This is the first study that attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of a long term rainforest restoration project in the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats in peninsular India.

The results of the study suggest that ecological restoration of degraded rainforests – by controlling invasive weeds and planting native tree saplings – … Read More

“Ganesha” Spider — a Unique New Spider that Masquerades as a Leaf!

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An oft-used survival strategy in nature is to mimic something you’re not, either to ambush unsuspecting prey or to convince predators that you’re not tasty!

On a warm summer night in April 2015, we headed out on a night trail in the evergreen forests of Agumbe, Karnataka. We were quite happy to see a few snakes, scorpions and frogs. We were still on the trail when I noticed something unusual. Initially I dismissed it as a fallen dried leaf. But … Read More

Dholes in Tea Estate near Chembra peak, Kerala

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Chembra is part of the Wayanad hill ranges in the Western Ghats, adjoining the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu and Vellarimala in Kozhikode district in Kerala. Chembra Peak is accessible by foot from Meppady. District Tourism Promotion Council provides guides and trekking equipment on hire charges to tourists. A heart-shaped lake on the way to the top of the peak is a major tourist attraction.

Last month (September 2013), my friends and I were trekking to Chembra peak. We had … Read More

Indian Wild Dog (Dhole) in Tea Gardens, Anamalai Hills, Tamil Nadu

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A pack of dhole on the prowl in a tea plantation near Valparai, Tamil Nadu.

The Western Ghats hill range in India contains spectacular landscapes and an incredible array of wild species, many found nowhere else in the world. One among the world’s 34 most biologically diverse “hotspots”, the region has representation of a wide variety of natural ecosystems from grasslands and dry forests to rainforests, rivers, and streams, threatened by a multitude of human activities such as industrialisation, agriculture, … Read More

Congo Summit to Produce Formal Forest and Climate Agreement

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A formal agreement for future discussions on forest and climate issues is expected to be hammered out by representatives from more than 35 tropical countries when they meet in Congo from May 31 to Jun 3, 2011. In celebration of the International Year of Forests 2011, more than 500 delegates will attend including representatives from countries that hold 80% of the world’s rainforests. The objective of the summit is to ensure sustainable management of forest ecosystems and to contribute to … Read More