Habitat Fragmentation in the Western Ghats

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Habitat fragmentation is the alteration of habitat, which results in the division of a continuous habitat into smaller, isolated fragments. While natural causes can contribute to habitat fragmentation, humans are the main cause. Human activities such as roads, mining, agricultural land conversion and urbanization contribute greatly to fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation has a greater effect on terrestrial animals as they have to cross human inhabited areas and roads to reach the habitats and resources they depend upon. This leads to road … Read More

National Highway through Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary is a death trap for animals

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Urgent Action Needed!

Effective speed control measures to reduce wildlife road kills needed immediately as per locations suggested in report (download).

This report has been submitted to the Principal Secretary, Environment and Forests Department, Tamil Nadu and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Tamil Nadu Forest Department for action.

Summary

  1. The National Highway (NH209) passing through Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary poses a grave threat to wildlife.
  2. The extent of the road within the sanctuary is
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Elephant Rescue, Valparai

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It was that time of the year again, when elephants slowly started marking their presence. Like every year, there were incidents of households getting hit here and there, thankfully, nothing major though. What is always interesting to note every year is the consistency they maintain in terms of their movement patterns, and also in the damage sites they choose! Early that morning I decided to take off from my daily routine in front of my Macbook’s hypnotizing screen. I went … Read More

Nilgiri Martens, Mukurthi, Nilgiris

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On the 18th of October, 2011, we were camping in a trekking shed, on the way to Mukurthi peak in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. The trek involved walking about 3 km through wattle and grassland to reach a stream, followed by another uphill trek. Two of us reached the last hill around 11 AM, and as it was hot, we decided to turn back. The disappointment at not completing the trek turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As … Read More

Wildlife in Tea Plantations, Western Ghats

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When was the last time you saw a continuous stretch of forest in India — wilderness as far as your eyes can see? It has indeed become a rarity. There is always a settlement or an agricultural field. Human imprint is everywhere and the notion of a ‘pristine’ wilderness doesn’t exist anymore. Our growing demands have led us to expand widely and rapidly, and now, more than ever, this has brought us in direct contact with wild animals. Wildlife is … Read More

Human-Elephant Conflict, Coimbatore

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Though an old picture (taken in 2012), this image shows the rise of Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) in the The Thadagam valley of Coimbatore. This area has become a major centre for brick production and the numerous brick kilns have drastically altered the landscape and interfered with the animal movement in the area. The outskirts of Coimbatore have served as traditional elephant migratory corridors connecting the various major forested regions of the Western and Eastern Ghats.

These two tuskers were standing … Read More

Marsh Crocodile and Fishing Net, Cauvery

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Tamilnadu Forest Department in association with Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS) had organised the ‘Melagiri Bird Survey’ – from 29th of January 2014 to 2nd of February 2014 – in the Hosur Division. I was lucky to have taken part in the survey and was assigned to Urigam Range. The anti-poaching camp (APC) I was assigned to is on the banks of the Cauvery river. Due to the location of the camp, our transit was along the banks.

We saw … Read More

Human — Macaque Conflict

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During the recently concluded Melagiri Bird Census we came across this macabre scene. A dead Bonnet Macaque was dangling on a fine wire noose attached to a bamboo fence and another barely alive macaque was writhing in pain with terror written on its face. The situation was appraised quickly and the anti-poaching watcher and the forest guard accompanying us deftly removed the noose from the macaque’s neck and saved it from certain death. The bamboo fence was the boundary between … Read More

Jungle Cat in the Bag

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On the morning of 28th November, when Balaji Rayadurgam, Karthik Ramamurthy and I went birding on the outskirts of Chennai, we heard gunshots. Closer inspection revealed that the shots were being fired by 2 poachers, who were coming out a field with a gun in hand and a bag. We caught them red-handed and snatched the weapons and the bag, anticipating birds inside. But we were taken by surprise as there was something else — a jungle cat — which … Read More

Living with Elephants, Valparai, Tamil Nadu

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In the human-dominated landscape of the Valparai plateau, abutting the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, this is the peak annual elephant movement period, which lasts till the end of February. Given the mosaic of landscapes the herds have to navigate, they encounter curious onlookers, passing tourists and heavy vehicle movement. The elephants normally choose to move once human activities reduce after sundown.

This herd had a hard time traversing through tea estates interspersed with degraded forest patches because of … Read More

Large-scaled Forest Lizard, Anamalais

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The Large-scaled Forest Lizard (Calotes grandisquamis) is an agamid lizard endemic to the forests of central and southern Western Ghats of India.

Western Ghats has lost over two-thirds of its original forest cover in the last several decades and only 3,200 square kilometres, or 15% of the intact area, is protected. This loss of habitat is mainly due to conversion of forests for various plantations as well as development. Even though few species struggle to adapt to newly altered environments, … Read More

Sighting of Caspian Plover, Koonthankulam, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu

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The Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus) is an attractive wader that belongs to the family Charadriidae. The bird is similar in size to the Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, but slimmer and longer-legged. The breeding male (as seen in the photograph) has a chestnut breast bordered with a black band below.

The first sighting of this beautiful vagrant this season was reported by Suresh Elamon and Bal Pandy, the “ birdman” of Koonthankulam on 25th January 2013. To see … Read More

Chinese Pond Heron in Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai

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While birding on the morning of Saturday, 30th March 2013, I saw a Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchu), in full breeding plumage at Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A lone bird was observed feeding on a small bund in the backwaters of the lake.

The Chinese Pond Heron looks almost identical to Indian Pond Heron and difficult to identify in non-breeding plumage. The size difference (Chinese is 8cm larger) is difficult to make out in the field. In … Read More

Pelican Poaching in Kanva Dam, Channapatna, Karnataka

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Kishan SB, Deepak Jois, Amith Kumar, Aravind S and I had gone to Kanva Dam, (which is behind Kengal temple on the Mysore-Bangalore highway near Channapatna) on the afternoon of 18th Feb 2013. There was a lot of water in the dam. We could see Painted Storks, River Terns, Whiskered Terns, Spot-billed Ducks, Black-winged stilts and Black-tailed Godwits in the water.

There were a flock of five Grey or Spot-billed Pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis). As we were watching them … Read More

Poisoning Egrets for a Village Booze Party

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I recently witnessed a grotesque ritual in my village, Rettanai, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu. We grow paddy at our farm there, and the flooded fields form a nice breeding ground for frogs and crabs which attract egrets. One evening, three young men came to our farm and asked permission to cross our farm to go to the neighboring field. They were carrying an assorted collection of stuff in their hands, and out of curiosity I asked them what they intended … Read More