Re-sighting of Collared Bar-headed Geese at Veer Dam, Maharashtra

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It was indeed exciting when a collared Bar-Headed Goose bearing a dark orange collar “RT” was sighted and photographed at Veer dam in Maharashtra on 01 January 2015. This was the only bird with a collar amongst 193 individuals present. Apart from Bar-headed Goose, one Ruddy Shelduck had a collar but could not be photographed. Mumbai birder Adesh Shivkar and team also recorded a collared Bar-headed Goose (C6) on 13 Jan 2008 from Veer Dam.

The information was mailed to … Read More

Gibbons in Our Midst: Informing Connectivity Conservation

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Authors Divya Vasudev and Robert J. Fletcher highlight the importance of using data of animal movement to infer connectivity. Below are the highlights of their study appearing in Biological Conservation (Volume 181) in January 2015.

A flash of black in the trees makes me stop. I am not sure if it is the softness of the black that differentiates it from the shadows. Perhaps it was a movement, uncoordinated with the swaying of the branches with the wind. For a … Read More

Bird Ringing, Chilika

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We owe our knowledge of bird migration to years of painstaking work by scientists. Since 2001, ornithologists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have collaborated with the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) and the Odisha Forest Department to study the birdlife of Chilika. Between 2001 and 2005, 6161 birds of 63 species were fitted with specially numbered rings. A large proportion of the ringed birds were recaptured during subsequent seasons, proving that birds return to the same areas every year … Read More

Counting Tigers Reliably — Combining Information From Multiple Sources

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Authors Arjun M. Gopalaswamy, K. Ullas Karanth, Andy Royle, Mohan Delampady, James D. Nichols and David W. Macdonald demonstrate innovative approaches that integrate information from photographic capture-recapture and genetic data to derive more robust estimates of tiger densities in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, India. These are the highlights of their study published in the journal Ecology in 2012.

In landscapes where wildlife occurs in low densities, gathering information from a single method often does not allow accurate estimation of population densities … Read More

Developing Simple and Innovative Techniques to Monitor Elephants

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Authors V. R. Goswami, M.V. Lauretta, M. D. Madhusudan and K. U. Karanth have developed an automated process to identify individual adult male elephants effectively. These are the highlights of their study published in the journal, Animal Conservation in 2011.

There are an estimated 40,000 wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) spread across 13 countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in South Asia and Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam). According … Read More

What do Carnivores Eat?

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As umbrella species, the tiger and its co-predators, the leopard and dhole play a fundamental role in shaping prey communities in the forest. Understanding the food habits and dietary seperation of these three large carnivores is vital for conservation of prey species and overall ecosystem functioning.

Authors Anish P. Andheria, K. Ullas Karanth and N. Samba Kumar conducted a study of diets of three sympatric large carnivores, the tiger (Panthera tigris), the leopard (Panthera pardus) and … Read More

Small-clawed Otters: Where are they Found?

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The smallest of the world’s otters, the Asian small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea) is found widely across Asia from south-western India, through southern China, the Malay Peninsula, to Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Palawan Island in the Philippines.

Being amphibious in nature, this animal is found in and around a range of habitats including rivers, hill streams, estuaries, marshes, wetlands, and mangroves. As apex predators, the otters function as key links in cycling nutrients between aquatic and terrestrial systems, … Read More

India to Establish a National Database of Camera-trapped Tigers

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This piece originally appeared in the journal Oryx: Volume 47- April 2013.

Following the adoption of refined protocols for intensive annual monitoring of source populations of tiger (see Oryx, 46(4), 480), India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is now following through by establishing a country-wide database of wild tigers captured in cameratrap surveys conducted by multiple research and governmental institutions at increasing intensity across the country. The objective of this project is to assign Unique Tiger Identification (UTID) numbers to … 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

Q: “I have seen news reports that radio collaring in tigers affects mating? How true is that?”

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Answer from Dr. K. Ullas Karanth, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS): Radio-collars have been in use since the 1960s on a variety of animals ranging in size from small birds to whales..tigers included. When professionally done it does not interfere with the normal activities of the animals. Over a 100 wild tigers have been fitted with radio-collars since the 1970s and no adverse effects on mating or reproduction have been observed. I have personally observed radio-collared tigers mating without a problem. … Read More

Innovative Sign Surveys and Modeling for Tropical Forest Ungulate Densities

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Habitat destruction, hunting and socio-economic pressures are leading to low densities of large ungulates in tropical forests. With traditional population assessment methods proving to be unreliable, the need for innovative applications that tackle issues of imperfect detections becomes paramount.

A. M. Gopalaswamy, K. U. Karanth, N. S. Kumar and D. W. Macdonald estimate forest ungulate densities using abundance models of occupancy. These are the highlights of their study published in the journal Animal Conservation in 2012.

  • A field survey of
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New Genetics Research on Leopards and Tigers in India Underscores Importance of Protecting Forest Corridors

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As rapid economic expansion continues to shape the Asian landscape on which many species depend, time is running out for conservationists aiming to save wildlife such as tigers and leopards. Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have used genetic analysis to find that the natural forest corridors in India are essential to ensuring a future for these species. According to two studies recently published in two papers, these corridors are successfully connecting populations of tigers and leopards to ensure … Read More

Modeling Conflict Hotspots and Compensation Access in Central India

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Human-wildlife conflicts are among the most pressing conservation challenges today. Krithi K. Karanth, Arjun M. Gopalaswamy, Ruth DeFries and Natasha Ballal survey 735 households in a 5000 sq km area around Kanha National Park to model and map conflict hotspots and compensation access reported by people. These are highlights of their study from a paper published in the journal PloS One.

  • Surveys and interviews with 735 local residents from 347 villages surrounding Kanha.
  • Crop loss was reported by 73% of
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BPL – 123, Tale of a Leopard

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This one belies the field guides and the natural history books, which usually dismiss the leopard’s diet as “scrounging on smaller prey.” In actual fact, leopards are powerful predators that routinely kill fairly hefty prey such as spotted deer and sambar fawns.

Even so, Vinay S Kumar’s photograph of a leopard dragging a gaur calf is not a sight you see everyday. The picture, which was taken in Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve, shows a male leopard dragging his massive kill … Read More

A Wildlife Survey along the Khanduli River, outside Ranthambore

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The river Khanduli emanates from the Mansarovar dam, situated south of Ranthambore National Park and heads along the Eastern boundary of Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary. It gradually drifts Southeast and merges with the mighty Chambal, in the National Chambal Sanctuary. The Khanduli flows through a mixed-use landscape comprising of forest, agricultural fields and plantations. However, like the Chambal, the Khanduli river floods heavily during the monsoon and as a consequence the most dominant features along its course are its ravines. These … Read More