Wildlife

Ravishing Ranthambore - Sight to behold

Posted by samanvay bhutani on December 28, 2015

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Dear Readers,

Thank you for turning up and reading my article.

My love for wildlife was merely an accident. I along with a few friends just landed up at Ranthambore National Park, Sawai Madhopur Distt. Rajasthan India. This was a very unusual trip for me since i have always loved luxury and relaxing holidays, but little did i knew that once i enter the forest  lovingly called as Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, I instantly felt a strong connect with this place.
  I hardly had any interest in wildlife and was doing absolutely nothing except for looking at a few deer's roam around and a few birds here and there and then to my surprise i was asked to sit back tight as the gypsy caught up with unusual adrenaline and it seemed like i was on the last ride of my life.
 For good two minutes i was rather angry for being there all covered by dust and splashes but than it all came to a halt and in a split second it changed my outlook for wildlife forever, A gigantic roar from across the bushes was enough to send chills down my spine,lips sealed i looked to the other side of waters(Rajbagh Lake) and it was a sight to behold and treasure. A female tigress(T-19) aka Krishna showed up frowning towards the maddened rush of gypsy and canters, As a few hundred eyes lit up seeing the beast walk around the bushes. It was an amazing thing to experience but what happened next was a mere dream.

The light started to fade away and as the tigress walked, from the bushes i heard another unusual sound and yes there it was a dream for many wildlife lovers, She was followed by 3 beautiful cubs. What more could you ask for, I stood admiring the beautiful relationship of the mother and her 3 adorable cubs who walked beside her in a straight line unaware of surroundings and soon disappeared in the habitat i now know as Malik Talab at Zone no. 3 of RNP.

Amidst the hustle bustle of my daily life coming into a jungle where i could literally hear myself breath,inhaling that fresh crisp air that brought peace to my mind, a feeling of a different world, a glimpse of a relation of a mother and baby which wasn't too different from real life human relations and that was the point RNP became a addiction and a wonderful 2nd home to me, I visit almost every month familiar to every Zone(1-10) and very familiar to almost all named tigers, May it be courageous story of T-16(Machli) or the Ravishing T-24(Ustaad) or the hunkT-72(Sultan) and many family like names to me now.

 Do love Nature, Protect Wildlife, Respect Animals and pledge to help make earth a better place for all to live in..!

Love
Samanvay

Photography

Time clicks

Posted by satheesh on November 17, 2015

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I have visited many wildlife sanctuaries accord south india .And iam deeply interested in wildlife photography which always emphasizes me with much eager and makes me learn in each and every picture.Since it is my first blog , i continue further in my coming blogs .  

Man Animal Conflict

Poshfoundation.inWe at Posh understand the concern you have for animals and share your value systems when it comes to helping the animals in distress. In case of emergencies time and information is of essence, Posh team is dedicated to assist you in case

Posted by Aditi Badam on November 14, 2015

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POSH FOUNDATION is a Delhi NCR based NGO actively involved in Animal welfare and awareness related issues.
https://www.facebook.com/poshfoundation.in

We at Posh understand the concern you have for animals and share your value systems when it comes to helping the animals in distress. In case of emergencies time and information is of essence, Posh team is dedicated to assist you in case of emergencies and we strive to improve our response systems to minimize the discomfort to the animal in distress.
Posh foundation is gearing up to optimize the rescue efforts and at present our efforts are concentrated in assisting in rescue of animals in distress in :

Noida,
G. Noida ,
Ghaziabad 
East Delhi
South Delhi

Rescue operations are a joint effort and it involves various stake holders of which the most important stakeholder is the person who is calling for help…YOU. Your call is very important to us and we would try our best to reach you in the shortest time possible.

Wildlife

Leopards are in a spot of bother-Pt.1

Posted by Soumya Banerjee on October 01, 2015

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The leopard in the above picture is the very embodiment of helplessness and misery. A young subadult, no more than 3 years old, it probably made its way from Rajasthan’s Kumbhalgarh National Park to Rajsamand district’s Sardul Kheda village, where its head got stuck in a pot, probably while it was looking for water.
This story has a happy ending ; the villagers who found the shell-shocked leopard roaming around with its head trapped in the pot informed the Forest Department, whose personnel tranquilized the leopard and set it free in Kumbhalgarh’s forests.

But numerous incidents of leopard “straying” dont end in the same way; in June this year, a leopard that had entered Tatuarah village in West Bengal’s Purulia district was brutally killed and strung up on a tree. Its paws and tail were hacked off. In August, another leopard was beaten to death in Assam’s Sivasagar, which has been a hub of man-leopard conflict for a long time.

The Purulia leopard, which met a grisly end.  Pic : deccanchronicle

The Purulia leopard, which met a grisly end.
Pic : deccanchronicle

According to estimates by the NTCA, India’s forests may host 12-14000 leopards,
though there is a lot of debate surrounding the veracity of this figure, as it is based on the arbitrary extrapolation of an estimated population of 7,910 leopards dwelling in tiger habitat.

One of Bandipur's leopards, captured on a camera-trap unit.  Pic : Ullas Karanth

One of Bandipur’s leopards, captured on a camera-trap unit.
Pic : Ullas Karanth

The most adaptable big cat, leopards are capable of residing in almost every conceivable type of habitat, ranging from the tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats and Arunachal Pradesh, to dry scrubland surrounding villages in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and the tea gardens of Assam and North Bengal. Leopard-human conflict is extremely common, as more and more of them are forced to dwell cheek-by-jowl with humans who destroy their forests and hunt their prey. Panicked residents of cities and villages who spot the big cat in their midst frequently attack it, without realising that the vast majority of leopards don’t see humans as prey. Untrained, under-equipped and overstretched forest department personnel are often forced to confront bloodthirsty mobs without police support. The ever-increasing nature of human population means that such incidents are becoming more commonplace.

Photography

indian birds crane

Posted by mohit kumar regar on September 26, 2015

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 some migratory birds come at pond named KAMAL wala talab ,
i think that is indian crane i click phoytos of them and i participate in wild life photography i place 3rd rank .

Environmental Education

Environmental issue

Posted by MD TABISH EQBAL on September 16, 2015

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environmental protection is one of the sensitive issue which we are facing today.

Nature Heals

Cordyceps sinensis fungs

Posted by Sheikh Gulzaar on September 08, 2015

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We are also fascinated by the fungus and just started a page because we believe it is important to do it in a sustainable way. Otherwise cordyceps sinensis will be disappearing soon from the slopes of the Kashmir Himalayan.

For more details: jkmpic@gmail.com
Home : http://jkmpic.blogspot.in
Ph: 09858986794/01933-223705

Wildlife

Asha----The Last Hope for Central India's Wild Buffaloes?

Posted by Soumya Banerjee on September 07, 2015

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The boma in Chattisgarh’s Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary has a unique resident-  Asha, one of Central India’s last wild buffaloes. At first glance, she looks strikingly similar to her domestic kin, but a closer inspection reveals the massive spread of her horns and huge bulk, which are unmistakeable characteristics of the wild buffalo.

Asha’s proud ancestors would once have roamed across much of Central India and Northeastern India. The eminent hunter-naturalist Dunbar-Brander, writing in the 1920’s, wrote of their abundance in the forests east of Balaghat, with their biggest stronghold being Bastar.

Unfortunately, the wild buffalo’s range and population have undergone a massive contraction since. A survey in 2007 by the NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), estimated their total population in Central India as being less than 50 individuals. Indravati, home to the largest population ( of about 25-30 individuals) , was in the grip in left-wing extremism, and hence, no conservation programme could be taken up there. Udanti in Raipur district was found to have 7 wild buffaloes, of which only 1 was female. The decline has been particularly steep in recent times, since in 1993, Chattisgarh itself was believed to be home to around 250 buffaloes, with both Indravati and Udanti having approximately 100 individuals each. Healthy populations of these giant bovines continue to exist in quite a few Protected Areas in the Northeast, such as Kaziranga, Manas and Dibru Saikhowa in Assam, Balpakram in Meghalaya and Dayang Ering in Arunachal Pradesh.

A wild buffalo with its calf in Kaziranga National Park. Pic : alamy.com

A wild buffalo with its calf in Kaziranga National Park.
Pic : alamy.com

However, many of the Northeast’s 3000-3500 wild buffaloes are believed to have been adversely affected by interbreeding with their domestic kin, and the remaining populations are also threatened by the destruction of their wet grassland habitat and poaching.

Asha, with one of her calves, at Udanti. Pic : Dr R.P Mishra, WTI

Asha, with one of her calves, at Udanti.
Pic : Dr R.P Mishra, WTI

WTI, with the assistance of the Chattisgarh Government, swung into action immediately. A “Wild Buffalo Conservation Project” was framed. Conservation initiatives could be undertaken only in Udanti, as it was the only habitat of wild buffaloes which was free of naxal violence at that time (sadly,  naxals have extended their control over much of udanti, and neighbouring sitanadi, since 2009-10. However, attempts to conserve the wild buffalo continue).

Given the very low population in Udanti, conservationists were determined to prevent any unnatural deaths, which could lead to the extinction of the population there. A “boma”- an artificial enclosure was constructed for the last female buffalo of Udanti, aptly named “Asha”, or hope. She has given birth four times since. Conservationists, however, could truly rejoice only when she gave birth to a female calf, named “Kiran” for the first time earlier this year. Her previous three calves had all been male. The male calves grew up in the boma with her, before joining the herd, which spends most of its time in an adjoining grassland, with some boisterous males frequently visiting the adjoining villages to mate with the female domestic buffaloes there.

One of Asha's calves gets a health check-up. Pic : Dr R.P Mishra, WTI

One of Asha’s calves gets a health check-up.
Pic : Dr R.P Mishra, WTI

Not wanting to take any chances, Karnal-based NDRI (National Dairy Research Institute) cloned Asha in January 2015, producing a female calf named “Deepasha”. These three females represent the last hope for Chattisgarh’s beleaguered wild buffaloes. Asha herself is 13 years old, and a female wild buffalo is normally reproductively viable for about 15-17 years of her lifespan, which is usually 20-22 years.

Even though administrative apathy and a steady rise in naxal presence in the surrounding forests have stymied initiatives, several attempts have nonetheless been made to preserve the buffaloes of Udanti. These involve the inoculation of livestock residing in fringe villages, the deweeding of grasslands, and the providing of incentives to villagers encouraging them to sell off domestic buffaloes, so that interbreeding between domestic and wild buffaloes, leading to a contamination in the genetic stock of the latter doesn’t occur. Attempts are also being made to procure genetically pure wild buffalos from the Northeast to boost Udanti’s tiny population.
In spite of so many measures, however, the path ahead is still treacherous.

In 2009, a tiger reserve, covering 1,842 sq. km (with a core area of 851 sq. km) was eked out of Udanti and adjoining Sitanadi wildlife sanctuary. The Udanti-Sitanadi tiger reserve suffers from several management lacunae, however. These include a highly complex administrative set-up which is not conducive to tiger conservation, with the Field Director’s office being located in distant Raipur. Moreover, protection infrastructure such as anti-poaching camps and vehicles for patrolling, is severely lacking. The DFO’s managing these sanctuaries are often burdened with non-wildlife conservation related tasks, dealing with the management of the surrounding territorial forests. A massive overhaul of the protection mechanisms currently in place need to be carried out by the State Government.

This will be very hard to carry out, however, given the ongoing naxal insurgency in the landscape. Udanti-Sitanadi should not be written off, however. Along with the contiguous Sunabeda-Khariar forests in western Odisha, it forms part of a compact forest block extending over 3000 sq. km, which serves as an important habitat for many species of Central Indian flora and fauna. Proposals to denotify such “lesser” forests are based on a poor understanding of their ecological potential, and should not be acted upon.
Tigers with cubs have been reported from Udanti and surrounding forests in recent times, and, for the first time, a tiger was camera trapped in 2014, an event which put to rest niggling doubts regarding the presence of tigers in the landscape.

A map of the Udanti-Sitanadi Tiger Reserve. Pic : cgforest.com(Chhatisgarh Forest Department)

A map of the Udanti-Sitanadi Tiger Reserve.
Pic : cgforest.com(Chhatisgarh Forest Department)

Attempts have also been made to conserve the other viable population of wild buffaloes in Central India, in the Indravati landscape. Indravati itself may be out of bounds to the Forest Department,  but neighbouring Kolamarka,  in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, frequently plays host to a couple of herds. A 181 sq. km area in Kolamarka was declared a conservation reserve in 2013, for the conservation of wild buffaloes. Inspite of recurring incidents of naxal violence, a dedicated team, led by RFO Atul Deokar, have been diligently monitoring the wildlife of the region, while undertaking numerous conservation initiatives with the help of the local villagers. Kolamarka is also an important habitat for Maharashtra’s state animal, the Indian giant squirrel ( Ratufa Indica). To sustain these initiatives, support from the State Government is key. Kolamarka’s forests are threatened by habitat destruction and poaching, and conserving the small wild buffalo population here (estimated at around 10-15 individuals), will be a stiff challenge.

“Treasures of Kolamarka”-a book detailing the biodiversity of Kolamarka conservation reserve in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli and is a product of the untiring efforts of RFO Atul Deokar and his team.
Pic : RFO Atul Deokar

Of late, the Central Government has also taken an interest in wild buffalo conservation, with the buffalo being one of the five target species for which recovery programmes have been implemented. Moving these plans from the cramped confines of the bureaucrat’s office to the field in the badlands of Udanti-Sitanadi is of the utmost essence.

The Central Indian wild buffalo has never received the same amount of conservation support as the tiger or the elephant, with the result that it is poised on the brink of extinction in a region that was once its historical stronghold.

Asha, the last adult female of Udanti, embodies the hope that the noble bovine will recover from the brink of extinction, and reclaim those forests which they once lorded over.

Wildlife

Memories of a tiger census in the Sunderbans

Posted by Soumya Banerjee on August 30, 2015

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After filling up our boat with foodstuffs and water, we – myself, two forest guards, the owner of our launch, and his assistant, bid adieu to civilisation, leaving the small town of pakhiralay (located opposite to the entrance to sajnekhali wildlife sanctuary) far behind, as we journeyed into the heart of the throbbing wilderness that constitutes the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve. This reserve, spread over 2,585 sq. km, is the only place in the world where wild tigers exist in a mangrove habitat. We were participating in the initial phase of the quadrennial tiger census carried out by the NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority).

The world's only mangrove tigerland.

The world’s only mangrove tigerland.

Enumerating wildlife scientifically involves demarcating “transects”, or pathways, in the forest and then noting down signs and direct sightings of the various species which are encountered while the transect is being negotiated. In the sunderbans, the various transects coincide with the innumerable creeks which dot the mangrove forests.

A map showing the transects in Panchamukhani block of Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary.

A map showing the transects in Panchamukhani block of Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary, STR.

Our transects lay mostly in the Panchamukhani and Pirkhali forest blocks, a part of the 362 sq. km Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary, which forms the north-western part of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve.
We had to fill up several forms stating the time and GPS location of each of our sightings of the various species and their signs. At half-hour intervals, we also had to state details of the flora noticed- the various mangrove species encountered, how tall they were, etc.

Such sheets needed to be filled diligently!!!

Such sheets needed to be filled diligently!!!

We negotiated each river bend in extreme caution, hoping to spot tigers at the very next one. Unfortunately, the big cat itself remained elusive. But tiger pugmarks were everywhere-we even saw the pugs of a tigress and her three cubs at a riverbank. Another set of pugs appeared to belong to a mating pair. These are the welcome signs of a thriving population.

Pugmarks left by the king of the mangroves.

Pugmarks left by the king of the mangroves.

Not that this population isn’t affected by any threats, though. Man-animal conflict is a significant problem in the Sunderbans, for this is an ecosystem where man is still preyed upon by quite a few species- the Bengal tiger and the estuarine crocodile being the foremost among them. We saw two crocodiles during our boat survey, however, they were extremely wary and rushed into the water as soon as they saw us.

An estuarine crocodile basks in the sun opposite the Nature Interpretation Center at Sajnekhali.

An estuarine crocodile basks in the sun opposite the Nature Interpretation Center at Sajnekhali.

The vast majority of those who get killed by tigers and crocodiles in the Sunderbans are honey-collectors and fishermen. Crab fishing often yields fair returns, but it is an extremely dangerous occupation, which, sadly, the poorest of the poor have no option but to take recourse to. Numerous ecodevelopment initiatives have been launched by the authorities in the fringe areas of the Sunderbans in the recent past; however, many people continue to remain heavily dependent upon the forest. Sometimes, poachers sneak into the reserve in the guise of crab fishers. While the direct targeting of tigers for their skin and bones has never been a common occurrence in the Indian sunderbans, there should be no let up in vigil.

The fisherfolk of the Sunderbans.

The fisherfolk of the Sunderbans.

Naturally, there are few permanent residences for the forest staff of the Sunderbans which lie on terra firma. Several boats have been converted to “floating anti poaching camps” , for more effective patrolling. Nevertheless, the average age of a forest guard in the Sunderbans is 52 years, and several posts lie vacant.
After having met no humans during the first day of our survey, we stopped at the first floating camp we came across on the second day. The guards there told us that a tiger had crossed the creek where the camp lay only half an hour ago. And sure enough, we saw his huge saucer-shaped pugmarks on the opposite shore.
Our next encounter with Homo sapiens was of a different kind, for a boatload of tourists chanced upon us, as we were headed off towards our next transect. They initially thought that we were an errant tourist-carrying boat that had strayed into  a part of the forests where tourists are forbidden to go!!!
On that very same transect, we came across a small herd of chital- some 4-5 members of the group were visible. Chital, or spotted deer, form the bulk of the tiger’s preybase in the sunderbans. Chital sightings in sunderbans are few and far between, since they are heavily reliant upon the few fresh-water ponds which exist on the Sunderbans. Poaching for meat has also played a significant role in depressing their density, which, at 13.3 per sq. km (according to a WII survey), leaves a lot to be desired.

Chital form the bulk of the tiger's preybase in the Sunderbans.

Chital form the bulk of the tiger’s preybase in the Sunderbans.

Tigers in the Sunderbans also prey on rhesus macaques, wild boar(of which there are few), and monitor lizards, some of which can grow up to 7-8 feet in length.

Rhesus macaques are commonly seen at Sajnekhali.

Rhesus macaques are commonly seen at Sajnekhali.

After 3 days, the hectic census finally came to an end, with our sheets full of data regarding the time and GPS location of each sighting of wildlife and their signs. Even though i am a novice birdwatcher, i was able to identify common sandpipers, great egrets, ospreys, purple herons, golden orioles and 4 species of kingfishers- black-capped, brown-winged, small blue and white breasted, among others. The Sunderbans, with over 230 recorded species of birds, is a dream destination for a birdwatcher.

A common sandpiper.

A common sandpiper.

Great egret(Ardea Alba).

Great egret (Ardea Alba).

The results of our hard work were made available a year later- 76 tigers were estimated to exist in the Indian Sunderbans, compared to 70 in 2010. The need of the hour is to strengthen conservation initiatives in the Sunderbans, especially when it comes to patrolling and monitoring. The mangrove tigerland, with its enchanting habitat, fierce tigers, lurking crocodiles, and soaring egrets is a unique component of our natural heritage which deserves to be jealously protected forever.
DSCN4859

Postscript : This article is a tribute to Panchanan Mondal and Ghosh Babu, those awesome forest guards whom i accompanied during the census, and whose dedication and knowledge was a source of inspiration. These brave foot soldiers of the Sunderbans are doing a wonderful job in possibly the most inhospitable tiger landscape in the world- serving with dedication day in and day out, inspite of having lost colleagues to tiger attacks in the past. 
I also thank Joydip and Suchandra Kundu, eminent Kolkata-based conservationists, for their help and support, and Subrata Mukherjee, the then field director of STR, and his team. May they receive all the support they so earnestly need, in their war to protect the mangrove tigerland.

Insects

A walk along the banks of Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 29, 2015

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I watch with interest the large number of morning walkers on the walking path so well carved out along the cleaned part of the Ulsoor lake.  Some are engaged in conversation, most glued to the earphone, some exercising, some playing ball in a clear strip.   Cormorants splash around in the clean part of the lake, obviously there are fish in the water.   Their splashes arouse the curiosity of walkers who are new to the area.  Mobile phones go clicking.   Pariah kites circle around.  A single Brahminy kite stands out.  The number of Brahminy kites seems to have gone down.  I could spot only one in about ten days' time.

This blog is for all of those who do not have time/inclination to watch the lovely butterflies and other insects they pass by every day.  These insects are becoming rarer by the day and we in India are lucky that spraying of insecticides is not that widespread yet so as to kill them off for ever from our parts. Safety tests done in labs before marketing insecticides don't account for the long term poison accumulation that kills bees, and possibly many other beneficial insects.   By disregarding the threat of chemicals to tiny creatures, scientists warn, may be endangering larger ones like ourselves. 

I call them Gems, because they are priceless in today's world.  Here are a few I could manage clicking.


Tailed Jay

To read more about this butterfly, go to

http://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/sp/569/Graphium-agamemnon



Common Castor

To read more about this butterfly, go to

http://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/#!/sp/765/Ariadne-merione



Plain Tiger

To read more about this butterfly, go to

http://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/#!/sp/744/Danaus-chrysippus



Silk cotton Bug

And now,  the Glaring Gaps of the Lake!

To reach the walking path I had to walk along a stinking sewer which borders the Lake for almost 1000 meters.   Sewage water kept spewing in from other parts of the lake as well. 


The stinking sewer whose water goes into the lake



The pretty water Lilies blooming in the enclosed part of the lake did not prevent the steps of the step well getting strewn about with polythene bags and styrofoam glasses.   (Double click on the picture to see a larger image)

Marketed in the US under the name Styrofoam, EPS Expandable Polystyrene Foam (EPS) was invented by Dow Chemical scientist Otis Ray McIntire in 1941.  There are two main issues that polystyrene causes for marine (read lake) animals - mechanical and chemical.

"The [mechanical root] is very straight-forward," says scientists.   Oftentimes, we find polystyrene foam lodged in the intestines that causes blockages that can be lethal. If you think about how we worry about a mild blockage from eating the wrong thing, imagine eating a ball of Styrofoam. That's what some of these animals are doing."

Chemically, absorbent properties make EPS even more dangerous. "Polystyrene foams essentially act like little pollutant sponges, picking up and concentrating some of the nastiest contaminants in the water"   That's not just bad for the fish and the cormorants. It could be bad for humans.

My earlier article on Ulsoor lake "Bringing back nature into the city of Bangalore"

can be read at the link


http://www.indianwildlifeclub.com/ezine/view/details.aspx?aid=830



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