Large Carnivores in Human Dominated Landscapes

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The conservation of large carnivores like wolves, bears, tigers and lions is always a challenging task in our modern and crowded world. Humans have modified and fragmented habitats and often experience a diversity of conflicts with large predatory neighbours. There is currently a major debate going on among conservationists about how to best go about achieving large carnivore conservation. Alternatives range from a focus on fencing carnivores into protected areas to allowing them to reoccupy shared landscapes where they must … Read More

Understanding the Distribution and Occurrence of India’s Smallest Bovid: The Chousingha

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Endemic to the Indian sub-continent, the four-horned antelope (FHA) or Chousingha is listed as Vulnerable (C2a (i)) in the IUCN Red list. In 2008, there were an estimated 10,000 adults in the wild in Nepal and India. Being a low-density species, FHA are particularly sensitive to changing habitat conditions and anthropogenic pressures. In India, the species is protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

At present, there is little scientific information available on the four-horned antelope, and the … 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

Science-based Approach to Promote Human-Elephant Coexistence — Lessons from Valparai

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Understanding human-elephant interactions is critical for conservation of elephants outside Protected Areas. One of the intriguing questions is how can a person weighing 50kg and a 5000kg animal coexist with no barrier between them?

Conflict incidents frequently lead to use of reactive measures such as chasing elephants, capture and translocation, or retaliatory persecution, but these often fail to resolve conflicts on a sustained basis, empower communities to implement solutions, or help conservation of elephants. Long-term research on behavioural and ecological … Read More

Mapping Sloth Bear Distribution in India and in Western Ghats of Karnataka

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Endemic to the Indian subcontinent, the Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) inhabits tropical and sub-tropical habitats across India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Being the most common among the four species of bears in India, it is widely distributed from the foothills of the Himalayas to the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. With sloth bear populations in the Himalayan foothills and northeast India becoming isolated, the Western Ghats and central Indian landscapes now possibly harbor the largest populations.

Despite their … Read More

Lessons from Leopards — Uncovering the Real Conflicts in Sanjay Gandhi National Park

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This article is condensed from ‘Cities, Towns, and the Places of Nature’ (A. Rademacher, K. Sivaramakrishnan ed., Hong Kong University Press, In Press). The study in question was conducted by Frédéric Landy, Professor of Geography, University Paris Ouest-Nanterre, France, in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SNGP) in Mumbai, and documents the dangerous and sometimes deadly presence of leopards in and around the park. It also focuses on the fact that leopards in Mumbai are not only a matter of human-nonhuman … Read More

Help Pakke Pick its Best Images and Keep up Koro Tayem’s Legacy

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In 2013, Koro Tayem, a forest guard in Pakke Tiger Reserve for more than a decade, was the first awardee for the best camera trap photograph competition. Now in its fourth year, ‘Tayem babu’ is no longer with us. On Christmas day in 2014, he was in Pakke doing his duty, and on his way back he was killed by a wild elephant. He is remembered fondly, and in 2013 we carried out a photo-feature of photographs which included his … Read More

Volunteering Can Help Save Wildlife

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Participation of non-scientists as volunteers in conservation can play a significant role in saving wildlife, finds a new scientific research led by Duke University, USA, in collaboration with Wildlife Conservation Society and Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bengaluru.

The study has shown that citizen science projects greatly contribute to ‘increased environmental awareness among the general public’. It also reported direct impacts on conservation including – shift in formal profession by volunteers to become conservationists, initiation of new conservation organizations or groups, … Read More

Tracking the Incredible Journey of the Amur Falcon

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Of the 69 species of raptors known from India, Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) was one of the least talked about species till recently. Primarily recorded from northeast India, with a few scattered sight records in peninsular India, the species is generally considered rare. All that changed following a report by Conservation India in October 2012 of the massive large scale harvest of these falcons in Nagaland. Researchers estimated that between 120,000 and 140,000 individuals were being trapped and killed for … 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

Incident of a Man-Eating Tiger in Nagarahole, Karnataka

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News papers have been reporting the presence of a livestock killing tiger in agricultural fields and state forests outside the eastern boundary of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve over the last few days. Unfortunately on 25-August-2012 the tiger attacked a woman grazing livestock, killed, and partially ate her. On 26-August-2012 Forest Department staff managed to locate the tiger using domestic elephants, tranquilized it and moved it into captivity.

We have been carrying out long term monitoring of tiger populations in Karnataka using … Read More

Counting Squirrels in Indian Forests

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Although the ecology of squirrels has been extensively studied, most past work is characterized by the failure to account for detection and heavy reliance on indices rather than directly measuring abundance. This has involved acoustic and visual surveys, sign surveys (tracks, middens and dreys) and capture-recapture sampling (trapping rates) methods are adopted to estimate squirrel abundance. Such field studies assume the detection probability of the species to be equal in all sites, leading to incorrect estimates of true abundance.

Authors … Read More

Camera Trapping Reveals Exciting Secrets of Tiger Dispersal

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On 1-5-2011, Forest officials of the Shimoga Wildlife Division, had safely captured a male tiger that strayed into Gama village near Shikaripur. A decision was made by the Forest Department, based on consultation with WCS senior scientist and NTCA member Dr. Ullas Karanth, to release the tiger in Bhadra Tiger Reserve, rather than hold it in perpetual captivity. This decision was based on the fact that the tiger was estimated to be of dispersal age (about 3 years), healthy and … Read More

Banded Tickell’s Thrush, Uttarakhand

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Bird ringing or banding is the attachment of a small metal or plastic ring/band around the tarsus of a bird. Birds are usually caught using mist-nets, ringed and their morphological characters (beak length, tail length) are measured before they are released, usually within a few minutes. Ringing helps generate exceptional data about avian biology. For over a hundred years, birds have been ringed at permanent ringing stations in Europe to study migration patterns. The legendary Dr. Salim Ali set up … Read More

Native Grasslands Matter for Denning Indian Foxes

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Habitats of many species are rapidly getting fragmented and human-modified today; therefore assessing how species respond to such changes in native habitats is an important precursor for any conservation strategy. The tropical short grasslands in India are heavily human-modified landscapes, but are still home to a diverse array of species, including the widely distributed Indian fox (Vulpes benghalensis). Even though commonly seen, Indian fox populations appear to be declining in most parts of its range, and this decline … Read More