Wildlife

Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary!

Posted by Natasha on June 29, 2010

 
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A visit to the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary.

Trekking in the Western Ghats!

The Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Udupi district of Karnataka, Kollur and was established in 1974 covering an area of 247 sq km. The vegetation type is a mix of evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests covering the steep slopes typical of the Western Ghats Mountains. This forest comes under the Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas. (Local communities are actively involved in this conservation effort. MPCAs serve as the study sites for conservation biology related research and also the source of authentic and quality planting material for propagation).

Longitudes : 13o41'25.87"E to 13o58'51.85"E
Latitudes : 74o39'8.68"N to 74o56'8.84"N.
Annual rainfall : 4,593 mm
Elevation ranges : 9-1,315 m above sea level.

The sanctuary receives an annual rainfall of 4,593 mm and the elevation here ranges from 9-1,315 m above sea level. Water sources include the Chakra nadi, Kollur River, 27 perennial streams, 36 large seasonal streams, several smaller streams, two seasonal natural lakes, one spring and 20 artificial water tanks. (Source from Atree’s Website)

I hadn't heard of Mookambika WLS and didnt know what to expect. I had gone on work and was pleasantly surprised when i reached this forest. It reminded me so much of Anshi( Dandeli- Anshi Tiger Reserve). We had planned our day so we could complete 2 treks.One trek was focused on identifying the butterflies. This is being done to Educate tourist's on the different colorful species of the forest. The butterfly life was amazing and the list of butterflies seen was good. These forests can support a myriad of butterflies due to the varied plant composition and diversity. I was amazed at their numbers. This place was teaming with butterflies all hovering about. On the trek i noticed a snake up on a tree. It was a lovely ornate flying snake. We completed this trek and rested before we headed out to complete the birds trail.

A wide variety of butterflies, reptiles and birds are found here. My trek through this beautiful forest opened my eyes further on the beauty and endemism of species of flora and fauna seen in this region. I was completely amazed at the beauty of this forest. I trekked  to Arshinagundi Falls and its a wonderful place for Birding.I spotted the Mountain imperial pigeon, Black headed oriole, Pompadour green pigeon, Malabar Trogon, a lovely pair of painted bush Quail,White bellied treepie and lots more. We also noted medicinally rare trees like

Wildlife

Melagiris

Posted by Aparna V K on June 23, 2010

 
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Atroop of five people descend down the narrow trail juggling theirglances between the sky to look out for birds, the trail to look outfor scat and pug marks and everywhere else to soak in the heavenly viewof the towering hills all around. The call of the Common Hawk Cuckooalso called the Brain Fever Bird reverberates all around.


Weare the members of a Kenneth Anderson Nature Society, named after theerstwhile legendary hunter turned conversationalist Kenneth Andersonwho roamed these very forests of Melagiri. The Melagiris are a range ofhills on the Eastern Ghats, bound by the river Cauvery on the west. Thetotal reserve forest area is around 1295 sq. kms. Inspired by thestories of Anderson the first KANS members ventured into these foreststo feel the wild in first person. Over the years however the forestshave been infiltrated by the locals for cattle grazing and to obtainthe forest produce. The reserved forests are shrinking at the rapidlyencroaching agricultural lands , the fauna disappearing by theunrestrained poaching activities.


KANS decided to takeon the task of securing this habitat for the Tiger, to restore theregion back to its original state.This is being achieved through a mixof passive and active conservation activities like communityinteraction programmes (afforestation, educational programmes,alternative agricultural practices), equipping the ground forest staff(uniforms, torches), field work to control Man-Elephant conflict,removal of invasive species etc.


Last weekend sawthe the bio-diversity survey conducted at Anchetty, The objective ofthe surveys have been to take stock of the forests. To bring to publiclight the beauty and diversity of these forests and also highlight thesocio-economic issues facing conservation in this region. The inventoryof the species and inputs on the human-forest interaction issues are toadd in to help to achieve the goal of securing Sanctuary status to theMelagiris.(Note: The proposal has not yet been submitted)



Aswe reached the bed of Dodahalla river, that has been a witness to theglorious past, a time when Majestic Tigers roamed this land, a timewhen Kenneth Anderson set float his hair raising adventures, We grewexcited as we IDied the pug marks of leopards. At least one of thebigger carnivore has escaped the same fate as that of the Tigers,although that could be due to the fact that leopards are tinier thanits cousin, have an excellent camouflage, very shy but intelligentcreature that can live on smaller prey base and very adaptive. We alsospotted pug marks and scat samples of Civet, Chital, etc.,However ourjoy was shadowed by the presence of large amount of Cattle dungscattered everywhere in generous quantity. Cattles are a menace to theforests. Their rampant grazing not only means less grass cover,dwindling the wild herbivore population but also causes seasonaloutbreak of diseases to which the wild animals have no resistance. Thetigers in this region have been single-handedly wiped out largely bythe locals by poisoning the cattle kill (Tigers finish their food inseveral sittings thus becoming an easy target.) diminished prey numbersand a variety of other reasons due to the never ending interferences byman.  If the forests are to be revived their is no go but to stopcattle grazing withing the boundaries of the forests.


Wetrekked a stretch of 8km approx along the Dodhalla river that is beingfed by several small streams originating in the forests. This riverfinally joins the Cauvery, that forms western boundary of the Melagiriforests. While the forests on the other side of the Cauvery within theKarnataka state borders are Sanctuary the Melagiris are only Reservedforests. While the protection provided by the Sanctuary tag has helpedsustain the Tigers in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary they have vanishedfrom the Melagiris.


The Tiger census that yieldedthe numbers 1411 has created a huge wave of alarm and people across thecountry have risen up in arms to protect them by raising funds throughrunning marathons and what not. While money is continuously pouringinto already protected Tiger Sanctuaries securing them and tighteningthe protection, we have sadly not hit the mark. The numbers 1411 are ofthe number of tigers that can be accommodated in the Tiger Reserves.You cannot stuff in more, in fact the recent Tiger Cub deaths we havebeen reading are by the Adult Tigers is to reduce the competition forterritory. Internal fighting have become common, the excess tigers havebegan to search for new territories and are frequently seen on thefringes of the Sanctuary boundaries inadvertently going for the cattlekill and what happens? A Ranathambore episode is inevitable. Man-Animalconflict is on rise. And here its just not Tigers, Elephants areseasonal migrants. They do not recognize the boundaries set by man.


BannerghattaNational Park (BNP), Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS), Nagarhole (RajivGandhi NP), Bandipur Tiger reserve, BRT and the Hosur forest Division (Melagiris) forms a continuous region making it a major bio-diversitybelt and Elephant corridor. With Melagiris assuming the Sanctuarystatus, the excess Tigers from The CWS, BNP and  BRT can be soaked bythis region. This indeed is an viable option since securing theMelagiris is cheaper than trying to extend the already existing tigerreserves that have swarms of villages littered on its fringes. Not onlythe Elephant Corridor is secured minimizing Elephant-Human conflict butalso sustains the life-source of Karnataka-Tamil Nadu, Cauvery.


Withthe Anchetty Survey, ends the last of the bio-diversity survey by KANS.KANS with ANCF has found both direct/indirect evidences of the rareGrizzled Giant Squirrel, Four horned Antelope and Leopards. The Floracontains almost 20 Red listed species, these were discovered during thesurvey, considering the Melagiris are almost 1200sq km (An area coveredby putting Nagarhole and Bandipur together) there could be many moresurprises waiting to be discovered. Unless this region is declaredimmediately with effect - Sanctuary, the poaching/ extraction ofnon-timber forest produce and infringement of the Forests by the localfarmers and cattle grazers will only deteriorate them further snatchingaway the last chance for the Tigers in this zone to grow back torespectable numbers, increasing the Man-Elephant conflict , depletingthe Cauvery - a death-blow to the farmers in Tamil Nadu and increasingtension between the two states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Wildlife

Endangered Ghariyals

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 05, 2008

 
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Endangered Ghariyals

The past two months have seen the unprecedented and shocking death of the Gharials on the Chambal River, while other animals such as marsh (mugger) crocodiles and turtles appear unaffected. The National Chambal Sanctuary is spread across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh and protects a 425 km stretch of the Chambal River. The mortalities have been confined to a 70 km stretch of the Lower Chambal from Etawah to Gwalior. The epicenter of this disaster is near Etawah (Uttar Pradesh), at the confluence of the Yamuna and Chambal rivers.

 The Min of Environment & Forests, Govt of India set up a 14-member Gharial Crisis Management Group (CMG) consisting of U.P, M.P and Rajasthan forest departments, along with representatives from IVRI (Indian Veterinary Research Institute), ITRC-Lucknow, WII (Wildlife Institute of India) and NGOs like GCA, WWF and Wildlife S.O.S. The CMG had also decided in meetings that regular patrolling of the river shall be done to identify affected animals and if needed live animals would be rescued / captured and treated / observed and samples collected and analysed in the interest of saving the species.

The team of international crocodile experts includes Dr. Fritz Huchzermeyer (Vice-Chairman of the IUCN-Croc Specialist Group’s Veterinary advisory group), Dr. Paolo Martelli (Ocean Parks, Hong Kong), Dr. Brian Stacy (a pathologist from the University of Florida) and Dr. Samuel Martin (Director of La Ferme Aux Crocodiles, France).

"Not only do we hope to get to the bottom of the Gharial deaths, we are also creating a database on the Indian Gharial which will be crucial for the long term conservation of the species in its natural habitat,’’ said Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder, Wildlife S.O.S.

 Source: www.wildlifesos.org

 

Wildlife

Endangered Giraffe

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 27, 2008

 
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A Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) study revealed that man and nature are threatening at least six distinct species of the African Giraffe, which are highly endangered and could face extinction if not protected. 


The extinction threat was real since giraffes are listed as lower risk in the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List, "under the assumption that giraffe species are considered a single species and therefore managed as such". 

"Severe poaching and armed conflict in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya reduced the number of reticulated giraffes   from about 27,000 individuals in the 1990s to currently fewer than 3,000 individuals over the past decade."

Wildlife

Endangered Gharials

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 14, 2007

 
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Another Rare Species, Another Disease Killing Them Off

What is killing India’s endangered gharials? 17 of the critically endangered crocodile-like critters have been found dead in the Chambal River in recent weeks, a terrible blow to a species whose population boasts just 200 breeding pairs.

Whatever killed the gharials -- most likely a "bacterial disease," according to wildlife conservator V K Pattnaik -- wreaked havoc on their liver and lungs. And the 17 found bodies may not be the only ones affected. According to the news agency UNI, unofficial death tallies could be in the dozens over the last week alone.

According to the IUCN Red List, gharial populations plummeted from as high as 10,000 in 1946 to just 200 in 1974, mostly due to hunting for their skins. Current threats are mostly habitat-related, with irrigation, sand-mining and commercial river traffic destroying the gharial’s river home.

The IUCN downgraded the gharial from "endangered" to "critically endangered" earlier this year. At this rate, it may not be long before it is downgraded again -- if not lost forever.

 
  
Source:
http://www.plentymag.com/blog-mt1/mt-tb.cgi/3811

Wildlife

Endangered Gangetic dolphins

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 07, 2007

 
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The presence and health of wildlife ( birds, squirrels, fish ...) around us is often the best indicator of pollution levels in the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The disappearance of the fresh water dolphin , (a schedule I animal) in a stretch of 7 km of the Ganga where the Simbhaoli Sugar Mill discharges their effluents, is a case in point.

While bureaucratic tussles between the pollutioncontrol board and the sugar mill owners go on about treating the pollutants before discharging the waste,the river is slowly dying.
 

Wildlife

Endangered Vultures in Gujarat

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 09, 2007

 
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There are close to 300 windmills in Kutch area of Gujarat, India.  Bird watchers attribute the decline in number of vultures found in this area (from 70 to 15) to the windmills. 

Dr Vibhu Prakash, Principal Scientist, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and in charge of the vulture breeding programme says, “Windmills do create problems for birds, especially for large birds like the raptors. They can get sucked into the windmills and get injured. "

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Vultures-grounded-by-windmills/218522/

 

Wildlife

Endangered vultures

Posted by Susan Sharma on September 22, 2007

 
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Endangered Vultures

 The two- day statewide (Gujarat) census on vultures, carried out in May 2007 through direct sighting system, has come up with some alarming findings. According to forest officials, in some segments like Junagadh, Banaskanda and Kutch districts, the vulture population has come down to half of the previous census figure of 2002, while some species have disappeared altogether.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com

Wildlife

Bird watching

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 21, 2007

 
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"Most of bird identification is based on a sort of subjective impression- the way a bird moves and little instantaneous appearances at different angles and sequences of different appearances, and as it turns its head and as it flies and as it turns around, you see sequences of different shapes and angles," David Sibley says.  "All that combines to create a unique impression of a bird that can’t really be taken apart and described in words.  When it comes down to being in the field and looking at a bird, you don’t take the time to analyze and say it shows this, this, and this; therefore it must be this species.  It is more natural andinstinctive.  After a lot of practice, you look at the bird, and it triggers little switches in your brain.  It looks right.  "You know what it is at a glance."

Quote From ’BLINK’ by Malcolm Gladwell

Wildlife

Migrating butterflies protected in Taiwan

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 26, 2007

 
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The milkweed butterflies, indigenous to Taiwan, migrate in late March from Southern Taiwan to the north, where they lay eggs and die. The young butterflies then fly south every November to a warm mountain valley near the Southern part of Taiwan. Conservationists say Taiwan has about 2 million milkweed butterflies.

To protect the migrating butterflies, a 600 meter stretch of highway in Southern Taiwan’s Yunlin County will be sealed off in the coming days as the migration peaks. Authorities set up nets to make the butterflies fly higher and avoid passing cars. They will also install ultraviolet lights to guide the insects across a highway overpass.

( Source: The Economic Times, Delhi dated 25 March 2007)

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