Q: Hi, a lot of temples in Tamil Nadu sell peacock feathers. I would like to know how one would visually differentiate between a plucked feather and a naturally-shedded feather.

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Answer from Shekar Dattatri, Conservation India:

Based on years of experience as a once-upon-a-time bird keeper and pigeon fancier, I have to say that it is virtually impossible to definitively differentiate between a plucked feather and a naturally-shed feather through visual inspection. When a wing or tail feather that is still in its growth stage is plucked from a bird, some blood will be evident within the lower hollow tube of the quill, or central shaft. However, when a … Read More

Electrocuted Elephant in Sathyamangalam

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This cow elephant was electrocuted on the periphery of Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary on December 21, 2011. The spot is just 15 m away from the forest boundary. It did not die inside a farm. It seems to have just been foraging through densely grown bushes on the side of a cart track abutting a turmeric field. A live wire was concealed inside the bushes and in the course of foraging, the animal seems to have stepped on it, thus getting … Read More

A Tiger’s Pain

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On the 28th of April 2012, I was in Valparai in the Anamalais, Tamil Nadu and was surprised to hear a report of a tiger near human habitation. Leopards are common in Valparai, and a tiger, that too close to houses, was extremely rare. The tiger was sitting in the far end of a garden near a house, and appeared exhausted and unable to move. A large crowd had already gathered, and the forest department and police did a commendable … Read More

Nilgiri Marten, Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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Only a handful of biologists and naturalists have had the good fortune of having sighted one of the most elusive and fascinating species of small carnivores of the Western Ghats — the Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii). The Nilgiri Marten is a small carnivorous mammal endemic to moist and wet evergreen forests of the Western Ghats—occurring at altitudes ranging from about 150 – 2200 m. It is similar to the more commonly seen and more widely distributed Yellow-throated Marten … Read More

Large-scale Waterfowl Slaughter in Puducherry

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Every day, hundreds of waterfowl (both resident and migratory) and other animals notified in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, meet with a fatal end in Puducherry (Pondicherry, Union Territory). A large number of gypsies or narikoravas, hunt these birds and sell the meat right under the nose of the Forest Department. Birds are caught at the nearby Oussudu Lake (which is notified as a bird sanctuary) and openly sold for their meat at roadside stalls on Koodapakkam … Read More

Grizzled Giant Squirrel, Bheemeshwari, Karnataka

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The Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura) is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and hunting. The strongholds for the squirrel are Srivilliputtur Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary and Chinnar wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, and the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka.

These arboreal creatures seem to thrive at the Bheemeshwari and Galibore Fishing Camps of Jungle Lodges and Resorts (part of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary), and the two that … Read More

Over 600 Smuggled Star Tortoises Returned To India From Malaysia

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A parcel containing 601 Indian star tortoises was returned to Chennai from Malaysia and handed over to the Forest department. The tortoises were handed over from Kuala Lumpur after customs officials in the airport found it in an unclaimed parcel that allegedly arrived from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Star tortoises are not protected species in either Malaysia or Bangladesh. They are protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA). The tortoises will be quarantined for a couple of days in the local … Read More

Erode District In Tamil Nadu Had 23 Elephant Deaths In 2011

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Erode district in Tamil Nadu, comprising of the two forest divisions of Erode and Sathyamangalam, recorded 23 elephant deaths in 2011. The majority of the deaths were due to natural causes according to the Erode Conservator of Forests. Three died due to electrocution, one was killed by poachers and 19 died due to natural causes (illness). The large population of elephants in the area causes frequent man animal conflicts and the forest department has erected around 239 km of solar … Read More

Kaliveli Wetlands Endangered By Film Shoot

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Kaliveli wetlands near the Puducherry (Pondicherry)-Tamil Nadu border, which sees the arrival of over a lakh migratory birds every winter, is facing threats from a film shoot that is using bombs. Four days of shooting of the Tamil movie “Vadhamalar” has been going on, and the crew is using water bombs as part of the sequences, creating a lot of sound and smoke. Cranes and rollers are also used along with the blasts. Students associated with the Indian Bird Conservation … Read More

Youth for Conservation (YFC) School Outreach Marathon in Tamil Nadu

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Youth for Conservation (YFC), an upcoming non-profit that aims to inform and inspire the youth of the country about nature and conservation, has kicked off phase two of its outreach marathon in Tamil Nadu. The marathon, which will cover various parts of Tamil Nadu in five phases, revolves around screening the documentary, “The Truth about Tigers” by Shekar Dattatri, to fourteen and fifteen year olds and having an interactive discussion on various questions they have about the documentary and the
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Poaching For Crude Medicines Continues To Threaten Nilgiri Langurs

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Poaching continues to be the key threat for Nilgiri Langurs, where their pelt, organs, blood and flesh are used to produce crude medicines and aphrodisiacs. This was highlighted by the National Studbook on Nilgiri Langurs, released recently by the Central Zoo Authority and the Wildlife Institute of India. Prior to the Wildlife Protect Act, 1972, these crude medicines were widely available and even advertised. Karinkorangu Rasayanam was one of the leading products at that time. With the act and campaigning … Read More

Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary Expanded

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The Tamil Nadu forest department has issued a notification expanding the area under the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary from the current 52,434 hectares to 1.41 lakh hectares, by adding seven reserve forests to the sanctuary. According to the last wildlife census, the sanctuary is home to one fourth of the elephant population in the state. It is also a unique habitat where tigers, elephants and blackbucks co-exist. Hyenas and vultures exist in the larger numbers here than anywhere else in the … Read More

Unilever’s Mercury Fever — Dumping Toxic Mercury in a Biodiversity Hotspot

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Corpwatch examines Unilever’s response when caught dumping toxic mercury waste from a thermometer factory in Southern India earlier this year. The Anglo-Dutch company recently closed the factory. Community members, however, allege that the multinational has downplayed the dangers of mercury and misled the public in an attempt to cover up the truth. Indian journalist Nityanand Jayaraman reports for CorpWatch.

In March 2001, residents of Kodaikanal, a pretty hill retreat in Southern India, caught the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever red-handed when they … Read More