The Forest Cane Turtle, Anamalai Hills, Tamilnadu

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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 More Reliable than Monoculture Plantations for Sequestering Carbon

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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

Forests May Not Recover Even After 36 Years of Abandoning Plantations, Finds Study

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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

Ecological Restoration Increases Tree Diversity and Carbon Storage in Degraded Rainforest Fragments

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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

Conservation is Not Enough, We Need to Restore

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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

Crested Hawk-eagle with Loris Kill, Anaimalais, Tamil Nadu

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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

Amboli Toad Roadkill, Amboli Ghat, Maharashtra

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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

Conserving Otters as if People Mattered

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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

Scutiger Feeding on Western Tree Frog, Bisle, Karnataka

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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

Dholes in the Western Ghats

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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

Otters in a Famous Tourist Destination

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Beaches and sunsets are what come to mind when most people think of Goa. This small state in western India has earned its reputation as one of the most favoured top tourist destinations. But very few know that Goa also has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Much of the eastern rim of Goa falls within the Western Ghats (a global biodiversity hotspot). Goa has an area of 3,702 sq.km with several rivers spread across the state, all of … Read More

Western Ghats Coffee Plantations Sustain High Bird Diversity in India

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In a recent study, scientists have found that the coffee, rubber and areca agroforests in Karnataka support 204 bird species including 13 bird species found exclusively in the Western Ghats, highlighting the supplementary role of agroforests in conserving wildlife.

Highlights:

  1. One of largest scientific assessments of tropical birds in the world, covering an area of 30,000 sq km in Karnataka
  2. Coffee, rubber and areca agroforests found to support 204 bird species, including 13 endemic birds of the Western Ghats
  3. Coffee
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Urgent — Help Safeguard the Western Ghats!

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Urgent! Time is short, so please act immediately – your appeal to the Central Government can help safeguard the Western Ghats.  Use the form below to write to the minister. 

I support the Government’s decision to declare 56,825 square kilometres of the Western Ghats as Eco Sensitive Area (see contents of the letter below the form). 


This campaign is now closed. We received support from more than 3500 concerned citizens. We are now sending a consolidated letter to the ministry, Read More

Mapping Sloth Bear Distribution in India and in Western Ghats of Karnataka

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Endemic to the Indian subcontinent, the Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) inhabits tropical and sub-tropical habitats across India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Being the most common among the four species of bears in India, it is widely distributed from the foothills of the Himalayas to the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. With sloth bear populations in the Himalayan foothills and northeast India becoming isolated, the Western Ghats and central Indian landscapes now possibly harbor the largest populations.

Despite their … Read More

Dead Long-billed Vulture in Windmill Site, Western Ghats

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A large number of windfarms have been constructed across the Western Ghats landscapes. Many of these fall in area rich in biological diversity with many endemic and threatened species. So far they do not require any EIA and hence analysis of impacts on biodiversity is never measured. Although the serious concerns are the actual birdhits, the changes brought about in the entire landscape during construction and working phases are also heavily impacting these sensitive landscapes. This picture was taken in … Read More