India hosts a wide diversity of carnivores in a relatively small fraction of the global land area. Unfortunately, a lot of these carnivores are at risk of extinction with barely any information on their populations, nor methods available to monitor them. The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (cuon alpinus) ranks among the most threatened carnivores in the world. Till date, monitoring their populations has proven to be a challenge because dholes do not have visible distinguishing features such as stripes … Read More
On April 7 2020, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) cleared three infrastructure projects during a standing committee meeting via video conference of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), namely:
- The 400 KV High Tension Line, cutting through both protected areas (PAs) — Mollem National Park and the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Double-tracking of the railway line from Vasco to Castle Rock, which hits two segments of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The National Highway expansion damaging both the protected
The tiger is one of the most visible icons of conservation in India, and massive investments have been made for its conservation for over five decades. While there have been a few, well-documented success stories at the scale of individual reserves, there have been no concerted efforts to assess the efficacy of long term conservation programs at large regional scales (> 10,000 sq km). In a recent paper titled “Tigers against the odds: Applying macro-ecology to species recovery”, published … 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
A young tusker walks along Aala Halla in Lokkere reserve forest (RF), an important migratory corridor connecting two parts of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Ecological restoration in this landscape over the last 12-years involving Junglescapes (an NGO specialising in ecological restoration) has created a very healthy habitat for elephants, with excellent grass cover and numerous browsing trees / shrub species. The area has been made almost completely free of the exotic invasive Lantana camara. Usage of the habitat by elephants … 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
Natural forests harbouring a diverse mix of native tree species are more reliable than monoculture tree plantations for sequestering carbon, suggests a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. This is because natural forests vary less from year to year in the rate of carbon capture from the atmosphere compared to plantations, as the ability of these forests to capture carbon is less affected by disturbances such as droughts. The study was conducted by scientists from Nature … Read More
All over the world, the number of plantations have been increasing for timber, paper and other produce. Several studies have been carried out to understand if plantations can sustain native flora and fauna. But, how long does it take for an abandoned plantation to recover and grow back into a forest? In a new study published in the Journal of Tropical Ecology in February 2019, researchers from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and Gubbi Labs, … Read More
Our research article that appeared recently in the journal, Ecosphere, asks: To what extent can a degraded rainforest be ecologically restored to resemble an undisturbed and mature rainforest? This is the first study that attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of a long term rainforest restoration project in the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats in peninsular India.
The results of the study suggest that ecological restoration of degraded rainforests – by controlling invasive weeds and planting native tree saplings – … Read More
This was the constant undertone at the 8th Global Ecological Restoration Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) held recently at Cape Town, South Africa. Almost a third of the world’s natural resources are degraded today, many severely, and India is no exception. This includes our forest and non-forest landscapes, oceans, rivers, coasts, wetlands, and many other unique ecosystems. Biodiversity as well as ecosystem service delivery capability stand more seriously impaired than ever before. Importantly, many of nature’s systems … 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
One of the major factors affecting faunal survival is our road network. Road kills are documented widely and affect all taxonomic groups, especially in protected areas. Animals don’t recognise a road as a hazard. Often, the road might have cut through a continuous patch of forest, and animals will have to cross these man-made roads in search of food, mates and other resources, like water.
On a recent trip while driving on the Amboli ghat road, we came across this … Read More
The first time I saw an otter in the wild – a Smooth Coated Otter in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary – I knew this was the animal I wanted to see much more of. If you have seen an otter – any one of the thirteen species found across the World – you will agree that there is something charming, childlike and engaging about this mammal. Yet what really got me moving along an ottery path about a couple of … Read More
On a rainy night on 6 July 2015, we encountered an arthropod of the genus Scutigera feeding on a juvenile Western Tree Frog, Polypedates occidentalis. Commonly known as the house centipede, the Scutigera spp we saw was chewing on the eye of the froglet. We made observations for about five minutes and continued on our survey as part of the annual “Bisle frog watch” activity. The froglet seemed to be stunned with venom, as it never moved. This incident was … Read More
Large carnivores across the world face several threats even as they continue to decline in numbers. Understanding where these species occur, how they use their habitats and what factors influence these patterns are important for their conservation. The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a unique endangered predator. It is the only social, wild canid that almost exclusively inhabits forest areas in Asia. Historically treated as ‘vermin’, dholes were bounty-hunted across the India until they were protected under … Read More