July 31, 2011
Here is a write-up by Prof.Ulhas Rane who is moderating firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a valuable piece of writing for all photographers.
"The news in Loksatta and subsequent messages on various E-groups about the destruction of bird nests in Chandrapur forests in Maharashtra by a so-called wildlifer / nature photographer is shocking. It made me sad that the disease of unethical birdwatching
/ photography which emerged over the last 15 / 20 years has grown to such enormous scale, pehaps due to the advent of technology and easy availability of equipment - whether digital camera, powerful flashes, voice recorder or mobile phone. The market potential
for such 'rare' items also increased due to mushrooming of glossy magazines, books, newspapers and even TV media. This is affecting our wildlfe adversely and would further destroy our already endengerd rare species of wildlife, particularly birds. I have
noted and written / talked about unethical nature observations /photography / collection over the last over 25 years and there are simple 'dos and don'ts' everyone need to follow to not only enjoy nature experiences yourself but also to leave them undisturbed
for the others to enjoy. Most of us are aware of such norms. However now we need to add more such guidelines / rules because of the advent ot technolgy and new tricks.
Going in large groups in the wild regions, disturbing natural evosystems with over-active movements (sometimes called 'enthusiasm'!), loud noise, throwing litter (now plastic water bottles), getting drunk and out of control (including throwing empty bottles
particularly in the streams), shouting and screaming with excitement when one sees something new, collecting rare plants / flowers / insects etc. are common flaws incurred by many 'nature lovers'.
The next stage is more serious - climbing trees and inspecting nests, collecting nests and eggs, trying to go very close to wildlife to have a 'good' looks, encircling resting wildlife for tourists to get a closer look,
getting down from the vehicle / elephant in the sanctuarlies / national parks (where one is not allowed to walk) to get a good picture of a rare butterfly or even to collect the same (this happens mostly by bribing forest guards / drivers / mahuts). This contiues
to the next stage of trading wildlife as collection items / momentoes.
The next category is wildlife photographers - Nest photography with insensitivity by carrying out 'gardening' (removing leaves, weeds, grass etc. around the nest) to get a better / clear picture. In a process, the nests are left prone to predators' attack
and many times the birds are compelled to abandon them. The chicks are tortured / lured to open their beaks / give good poses etc. Powerful flashes are used to get 'bright & beautiful' pictures without considering that the creatures may get blinded. Then finally
to have the exclusivity of one's rare picture, destroy the nest / animal so that no one else could get an opportunity. Many lure local tribals with money to show nests or attract / trap birds, animals using their traditional methods. Then this becomes another
busines for tribals which is cleverly termed as employment generation / poverty alleviation!
Relatively recent emergence is the use of tape recorders / players - This comes with some amount of graduation / advancement of one's nature study endeavours. Many birds respond to the calls of their mates / colleagues. So this is used to track the birds,
particularly rare, elusive and crepuscular / nocturnal birds. The recorded calls are played in the wild and those rare birds are attracted / fooled to come near you so that you could have a 'good' look, take close-up pictures and then laugh / enjoy how the
foolish bird was cheated. Many times cell phones are used to play this trick. This is being done in the remote forests (particularly Norheast region) not just by photographers but mainly by so called 'wildlife tour organisers'. They
guarantee you of showing rare bird / animal so that you join such a tour by paying hefty amounts.
All this is happenning because 'Wildlife' has become a big business and any business is likely to become exploitative. Unfortunately so called 'nature lovers' do not realise that they destroy the 'item' which fetches them money / fame / name. It is more unfortunate
that it is being rampantly done under the garb of Nature Awareness / Study Programmes.
Many times good wildlifers tend towards these tricks due to ignorance, over enthusiasm, competition, jealously or one-upmanship. Even when they are cautioned they become defensive and continue in what they believe! We must take strong action against this attitude
and destructive behaviour of a few individuals which brings a bad name to the most beautiful hobby and entire fraternily of nature lovers. I am sure the forest department will take appropriate action in this particular case, but the authentic nature groups
should also take initiative to cure this disease.
It must be ensured that only serious wildlife researchers are allowed to collect data using right techniques for scientific purpose, and that too after obtaining requisit permissions from the forest department / authorities, however difficult it may be.
We need to inculcate simple ethics in upcoming nature lovers by making them experience / enjoy the natural ecosystem. Calls, pugmarks, scratch marks, smells etc. are the evidences of the existance of wildlife in the ecosystem and one should enjoy the excitement
of being a 'nature detective'. This would give you satisfaction, provide you more enthusism even though you may not have 'seen' a single creature. Seeing is of course fun and that eventually comes when you become 'wild', go again and again without disturbing
the natural environment and become a part of ecosystem. Such love for nature would culminate to wildlife study and nature conservation. We should enjoy nature by following simple ethics of doing what is good for wildlife.
Prof. Ulhas Rane
'Brindavan', 227, Rajmahal Vilas Extn. II
HIG Colony, First Main Road
Bengaluru - 560 094
July 28, 2011
An accidental discovery by a farmer that red ants could replace the use of pesticide to contain the attack of tea mosquito bugs in cashew plants, has prompted the Kerala Government to refine the ant technolgy for larger field application.
Entomolgy department of the Kerala Agricultural University in Kasargode has begun a three year project on the use of red ants in vegetable cultivation to do away with the use of pesticides to curb the insects.
N. Vasavan, a small-scale farmer in the district, had brought back the ant- based biological pest control in his cashew plantation when the farm sector was heavily banking on pesticides.
Read more at
July 19, 2011
Sunday one mansoon picnic with friends at Malshej ghat on bikes. the experience was like heaven, beutifully establish trees ,liferejuvenated rain and a most wonderful thingh the nature which is travelling with us .
the water falls with the fog on top of Ghat ,we cant see clear because of fog ,the monkeys are wondreing without the fear ,climbing ,eating the waste food which leaved by tourists.
their children are with them wondering ,and one more sound with clear tone i really dont know wht bird is that and i got i upset because , i cant see him ,fog is their . but i remenber the sound
it was awsome trip with a finest nature.
July 16, 2011
In ancient times and during the Mughal Rule wildlife in India was in plenty. The Maharajahs and Sultans indulged into shooting game indiscriminately. the decline had begun but it was not apparent. The mogul kings in
New Delhi trapped a large number of Indian Cheetahs for game. Simultaneously the population had started to increase and the natural land were being occupied. One fine example of destruction of ecosystem for agrarian and habitation purpose in the extinction
of Indian Rhino from most of its erstwhile range.
During the British Rule hunting continued with renewed vigor. The Maharajahs and the British big wigs continued with the massacre and the wilderness was substantially reduced. There were some conservation measures as in Kanha and Bori Sanctuary but they were
not enough. The Maharajah's inadvertently saved wildlife by denoting remaining ecosystems as private reserves. These were reserved blocks where only the ruler and his British guests could shoot. Most of the our tiger reserves and sanctuaries exists as result
Thanks to Jim Corbett conservation practices in this country were rejuvenated. The first tiger reserve was hence named after him. The Nawab of Jungadh played a crucial role in bringing back the Asian Lion from brink of extinction. Subsequently protected areas
where created and in 1972 wildlife protection act was passed. The commissioning of Project Tiger Program initially boosted tiger conservation in India. The status of the big cat is critical in present times due to poaching for tiger bones.
Many effective NGOs like the WPSI have contributed a lot of conservation of
Indian Wildlife especially the tiger. This animal is on the brink of extinction and if proper measures are not taken it will slip into cosmic realm forever. As humans ingress into forest
ecosystems man animal conflict and poaching increase. These are the major factors behind the down slide of keystone species in India.
Koushik Ranjan Das
July 02, 2011
“My Sunday noon: Urban Squirrel watch from my balcony”.
On one lazy Sunday noon while standing on my balcony I noticed one small squirrel playing on the sunshade
and water-pipes of a nearby house. I glued my eyes to and found it in a playful mode. I have hardly captured any squirrel as I am interested with people and places, but that time I became very much interested with this tiny loving creature. To capture a squirrel
movement is a tuff job, but I fixed up my mind to follow it and shoot it as an assignment and “ON ASSIGNMENT”. I watched and captured it to play, relax, giving anxious call, run & jump, fight with the crows and Salikhs for a piece of bread and also a strange
thing I have noticed about it : to eat the dried white crow-shit (may be for calcium enrichment) <Picture SQ35>. Also I am lucky enough to freeze it’s long tongue movement. Later I found it as a female and she was carrying. She made her nest behind a hollow
of a gutter-pipe of that house, may be for giving birth to her babies. I am still keeping my eyes on her and eagerly waiting for her proud pose with babies. I don’t know whether I could make it or not. (#I am shooting with my Canon 450D and Nikon D7000).
See the photographs in my facebook album:
June 27, 2011
A tiny piece of information regarding snakes by Pooja Shah in the July issue of care4nature(E-magzine) inspired me to share some more myths on snakes in
rural Rajasthan which I think to an extent justify to science and rurals as well.
Myths, may it be on anything, are never false but they are always time proven general observations around people & followed by the justifications of the
innocent brains or sometimes created by shrewd quacks. Snakes!!! after God unfortunately crowns the maximum number of myths amongst all immortals and living things, in my last 18 Yrs. of resquing, releasing & general social working on reptiles I came across
many situations for example a road side welder once called me on the site & I saw a rare behavior of a cobra, the welder and the labour around refused to work cos a cobra used to surface a few minutes after the welder would start welding in the underground
pipeline, I was unable to help at that time but now I think I know the reason, Infact the Arc welding rod leaves a long trail of red hot metal behind it, snakes depend upon their Thermal vision for food & the hot trail of metal must be giving an illusion of
a smaller snake or amillipede or may be some other insect in the snakes menue.
Similar is the reason behind a common misbelief that the Ratsnake (Dhaman) suckles milk from the cow’s nipples& people are not lying when they say they have
seen this, in fact this is another illusion of the thermal vision, the ratsnake confuses the nipple for a live rat & holds around it looking for the head of the rat as all reptiles eat their prey from the head first, the moment it realizes that its not a rat
it simply leaves it, but why ratsnakes only do this? this is so as ratsnakes have a great ability to lift their bodies very high in comparison to the rest.
It is most commonly believed that snake charmers remove the teeth of the cobra as protectection, but snake charmers or beggers to be precise are far more
cruel than simple Defanging, The heart touching fact is that the helpless cobra’shead is laid inverted on an upside down mud pot and then using a shaving blade an H shaped incision is made inside the mouth over the venom duct to expose it, then a small piece
of the duct is cut off in order to delink the venom gland and the fangs, turmeric powder is then applied as a disinfectant. Even if thecobra survives the trauma the results of this barefoot surgery are sad as the snake is unable to eat on its own and neither
can it digest the force fed egg or minced meat, nothing on earth can stop the snake from dying due to starvation& in addition to this snake charmers stop giving water to their snakes months before the Naga festivals cos the snake has to perform in public the
act of drinking milk while the starved reptile is actually drinking milk to satisfy the quench of water as it has no other options.
Well! Placing myths and the facts behind is endless, it is required that we wildlifers start sharing the responsibility to generate awareness to protect
this innocent reptile, there are very simple things we can do like stop entertaining charmers on streets and ask others to follow, efforts are to be made by coordinating with NGOs dealing with beggers& ask them to add charmers in their targets & to help snake
charmers find alternate means of living.
It is not a good idea to call a snake charmer or a local wildlife activist involved in snake resquing (like me) if in case a snake enters the house as the
snake charmer will kill the cobra & if it some other snake apart cobra he will simply leave it next doors cos he will never bother to find the right place to release, where as the local wildlife activist is likely to release it in some forest adding to food
pressure on regular basis, any how removing the snake or killing it is never a solution as a new snake will take its place uptill the food source (rat, frogs, insects, lizards, bird nests) is not removed so it is always better to shift the snake outside the
house and explain to people the facts of their food chain and easy availability.
It is indeed very difficult to explain this to most of the people around because of the myths and fears but that is where we conservationists are required
in the society. This reminds me of an instance where I made a Monitor Lizard (varanusbengalensis) bite my finger in order to explain to the villagers that it is not poisonous and to my surprise they started making fun of me saying ”We know you are not gonna
die as you catch snakes, you’ve poison in you but we’ll surely die if this one bites any one of us” I felt very helpless indeed but continued to work. Today people of that village are far more aware about snakes than what they were at that time.
June 25, 2011
Over the last five years, the forest department has rescued more than 70 leopards in North Bengal. In most cases the animals, which is covered as a co-predator under the tiger conservation programme, were rescued from tea gardens. Bushes are like natural
cover for leopards and the drains running through the tea gardens are used as the hiding place. The heap of leaves in the drains acts as a cushion for the big cats, especially when the females give birth to their cubs.
In many cases in the past, leopards lost their life in conflict with humans when they strayed into villages or gardens. Since the predators often lift livestock animals, humans prefer to kill them once spotted. Around five-six leopards and a couple of human
beings die in this conflict every year.
June 24, 2011
"Part of the problem arises from the fact that we do not have a system of “green accounting”. Economists estimate GDP which is gross domestic product as a broad measure of national income and also estimate NDP which is net domestic product which accounts
for the use of physical capital. But as yet, we have no generally accepted system to convert Gross Domestic Product into Green Domestic Product that would reflect the use up of precious depletable natural resources in the process of generating national income.
Many years ago, the noted Indian environmentalist Anil Agarwal had advocated the concept of a Gross Nature Product to replace the usually estimated Gross National Product................
.........Economists all over the world have been at work for quite some time on developing a robust system of green national accounting but we are not there as yet. Ideally, if we can report both Gross Domestic Product and Green Domestic Product, we will
get a better picture of the trade-offs involved in the process of economic growth. Alternatively, as some economist have argued, we need alternative indicators to measure true welfare improvement, as Green GDP is not be the best indicator of sustainability
or future increases in consumption or welfare – indicators such as “Genuine Savings/Investment”, and “Genuine Wealth Per Capita” are being developed as alternatives. We don’t need precise numbers. Even a broad-brush estimate will be a huge step forward to
give practical meaning to the concept of “sustainable development” which all of us swear by in theory.
Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta at Cambridge University has calculated that the “genuine” domestic investment rate in India is around 2.3 percentage points lower than the normally reckoned domestic investment rate for the period 1970-2001 after taking into
account environmental costs and both calculated as a proportion of GDP. He goes on to show that as against the estimated growth rate of India’s per capita GDP of 2.96% per year during this period, the growth rate of per capita genuine wealth after taking into
account environmental costs works out to 0.31% per year."
Read full speech by Jairam Ramesh,
Minister of State (Independent Charge), Environment and Forests, Government of India at the link
[Open in new window]
June 23, 2011
"Scientists have developed the first mobile app to identify plants by simply photographing a leaf. The free iPhone and iPad app, called Leafsnap, instantly searches a growing library of leaf images amassed by the Smithsonian Institution. In seconds, it returns
a likely species name, high-resolution photographs and information on the tree's flowers, fruit, seeds and bark. ...
Leafsnap debuted in May, covering all the trees in New York's Central Park and Washington's Rock Creek Park. It has been downloaded more than 150,000 times in the first month, and its creators expect it to continue to grow as it expands to Android phones.
Smithsonian research botanist John Kress, who created the app with engineers from Columbia University and the University of Maryland, said it was originally conceived in 2003 as a high-tech aid for scientists to discover new species in unknown habitats.
The project evolved, though, with the emergence of smartphones to become a new way for citizens to contribute to research.
..Leafsnap cost about $2.5 million to develop, funded primarily by a grant from the National Science Foundation. It will cost another $1 million to expand it within the next 18 months to cover all the trees of the United States, involving about 800 species.
Full Story on - San Jose Mercury News
June 21, 2011
How many times have we felt 'virtual proximity' to nature,just by watching a movie or a program on Discovery/Net Geo (for India,usually the credit goes to Tigers).Our problem is (Media included) we do not think of other animals,forget birds.For us,Tigers
rule the rule books.
Fortunately,I got a copy of 'Sarang-The Peacock',last week.It's a wonderful account of Peacocks and their life made by Susan Sharma.Watching it is like a musical journey,too calm and soothing (thanks to the excellent music score).
Peacocks have always fascinated us,rains can't be imagined without a dancing peacock,making that 'eye catching' pattern.The whole 'web of life' including humans,snakes,squirrels and peachicks (new born peacock) is encircled in this beautiful narration.
Must watch for every Indian, at least we must know about our 'national bird'.Thanks Susan for this beautiful account.I am on my way to search out for peacocks in fields nearby.