In the foothills of the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) in Tamil Nadu, a couple of ‘mango showers’ mark the end of summer and herald the beginning of the monsoon. At this time, the private farmlands that adjoin the Tiger Reserve in the small village of Sethumadai are leased out by their owners to the local villagers – temporary tenant farmers, who work as daily laborers during the rest of the year. They plough the leased farmlands and sow the most … Read More
In 2019, I made yet another visit to the Palni foothills in Tamil Nadu, and this visit took me to the catchment area of Kuthiraiyar Dam. I walked around, observing birds, discussing with the locals, and thinking about the ongoing reclamation process that could hold a lot of promise to the Kuthiraiyar.
The Palni hills, including this area, are some of the last remaining habitats of the grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura). Of the four giant squirrels in … Read More
In India, the words, Mountain ungulates- Wild sheep and goat of the subfamily Caprinae-, often invokes the images of flamboyant species like the Ibex (Capra sibirica), standing atop a crag in the snowy Himalayas. Aptly titled “Mountain Monarchs” by the legendary conservationist Dr. George Schaller, given their elaborate horns (particularly on males), mountain ungulates of High Asia are mesmerizing species. However, beyond the Himalayan heights, there is also the Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius), a mountain monarch … Read More
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a small, but important, protected area in Chengalpattu district, South of Chennai. It is the oldest waterfowl sanctuary in India and is home to more than 40,000 birds every winter, including many migrants and numerous rare species. A 1998 Government Order (GO MS 199) declared this lake area (73 acres / 29 ha) and a five-kilometre radius surrounding it a wildlife sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
In March this year, the Tamil Nadu … Read More
Originally appeared in Pollachi Papyrus.
During one of my recent bird surveys in the Anamalai Hills, I had the privilege of sighting the rare (Cochin) Forest Cane Turtle. Forest Cane turtle is one of the rare reptiles of our fragile rainforests in the Western Ghats chain of mountains. It is a forest-dwelling species and found mostly in the dense forests, and, unlike many other turtle species, they avoid perennial water bodies like streams and ponds. The distribution of the … Read More
On 26th August, 2017, we were roaming around Valparai looking for wildlife, we came across an incidence of Human-Elephant conflict. We could sense some commotion near the sheds of some estate workers, and saw people running here and there. Upon checking, we heard that a female elephant had entered the premises of one of the workers and was polishing off a plantain tree.
There appeared to be two groups of people at the scene – one, consisting mostly of youth, … Read More
On November 15th 2015, my brother and I were driving back from Valparai in Tamil Nadu after a productive wildlife trip in the Anaimalais. On slowing down near one of the hairpin bends, we spotted a Crested Hawk-eagle with a Slender Loris in its talons. We spent about 15 to 20 minutes observing and photographing the scene, as the eagle dismembered the loris and fed on it, not at all bothered by our presence. The slender loris (Loris tardigradus) is … Read More
Chinna Thambi, a 25-year old tusker from the Anaikatti region in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, was relocated to Anamalai Tiger Reserve on 26th January, 2018. This was done following repeated complaints by a section of farmers from the region that the elephant was raiding crops and breaking into houses for food. These agricultural lands are adjacent to Thadagam Reserve Forest and Anaikatti South Reserve Forest of Coimbatore Forest Division. Perhaps because this particular bull had never attacked anyone, the indigenous community … Read More
I saw this sight of House Crows (Corvus splendens) feeding koel chicks in their nest opposite our home in Mylapore, Chennai, on the 5th of August, 2018. I waited until the next morning to be able to make an image right from the terrace (with no disturbance to the birds).
I heard the chicks calling whenever the foster parents came, and found that there were four nestlings, two slightly older (bigger) than the other two. I soon realised that all … Read More
Grey-tailed Tattlers (Tringa brevipes) breed in Siberia and use the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for migration. They are more commonly seen in the north of Australia, where they winter in good numbers.
Late September and early October are productive periods for shorebird lovers. This is the onset of winter migration and surprises are usually encountered. Pulicat lake covering the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is one such place in South India where there is always a possibility of seeing … Read More
Grasslands in Twilight, Shola in Ascendance.
The Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu are in the midst of significant ecological change. It’s not the kind of process that is easily observed and most people, including those managing forest resources, have been taken by surprise by just how fast the montane (high altitude) landscape of the hills has changed. These are the conclusions of regular observation and photo documentation by the author as well as, a peer- reviewed scientific study using satellite … Read More
Birders and nature lovers were in for a treat this season.
A rare pelagic bird was sighted near the Pulicat coast in the last week of April, 2018. This is the first time the bird was sighted near Chennai. There are only two previous records from Tamil Nadu.
Lesser Noddy (Anous tenuirostris) is a bird that is closely related to terns. Pelagic birds spend most of the time in the sea and visit the shores only when they breed.
Pulicat … Read More
The Tamil Nadu Forest department is required to respond to a petition filed in the Madurai High court that asked the Forest Department to act to solve a problem. This problem has been in the making for over 50 years and has no simple solution. I define the problem, its complexities, and some interventions that could help guide a response to the court order in the short-term, and possibly address the problem in the long-term.
Over fifty years … Read More
This ingenious snare was set just outside a scrub forest in Kanchipuram district. The small patch of scrub forest supports axis deer, monitor lizard, wild pig, peafowl, partridge and black-naped hare. The snares in this area are primarily set for trapping black-naped hare and birds.
While on a casual stroll on 19th June 2013, I came across this set-up and informed the staff of the near-by forest office. Numerous snares such as this are silently concealed in and around our … Read More