Western Ghats

A global biodiversity hotspot and one of the most irreplaceable areas  for conservation, this region has a staggering plant and animal diversity overlapping with a dense human population. In this region, our work focuses on human impacts on wild species and habitats, biological surveys, human-wildlife conflict research and mitigation, and ecological restoration.

Wildlife and Human Ecology

The Western Ghats forests, rivers, and grasslands contain an extraordinary diversity of species, including rare and threatened species and endemics found nowhere else in the world. These species survive in landscapes that are a mix of protected and human-use areas. Understanding plant and animal ecology, human impacts on wildlife species, and how people use and relate to natural resources is all critical for conservation and these motivate our research in the region.

Ltm with infant

Wildlife in rainforest fragments

Life in the treetops and undergrowth in rainforest remnants


The secret lives of leopards

Understanding the ecology of leopards in Karnataka 

Gh in flight

Hornbill hotspots

Hornbill distribution and conservation threats

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People of the rainforest

Tribal communities in the rainforests of the Anamalai hills


Of forests and farms

Conserving wildlife in forests and plantations in the landscape


Whittled-down woods

Plant communities and invasive species in forest fragments


Otters in troubled waters?

Otters in the Kaveri - sharing space with riverine fisheries and sand mining

Conservation and Communities

Living with wildlife: reducing conflicts and human impacts and ecologically restoring degraded areas

Elephant 1

Reviving the rainforest

Ecological restoration of degraded rainforest in the Anamalai hills

9 madhusudan electricfence july2008

Making good neighbours

Understanding and reducing conflict between farmers and elephants

Step sholayar

The elephant hills

From conflicts to coexistence in the Anamalai hills

Ltm kalyan 1020

Towards wildlife-friendly roads

Studying and reducing impacts of roads on wildlife in the Anamalai hills


Living with leopards

Carnivore, conflicts, and conservation in the Anamalai hills

 gan3519 20crop

LTM in the neighbourhood

Building coexistence to conserve an endangered primate

Policy and Outreach

Translating scientific research results and understanding to lasting changes on the ground involves communicating to a wide variety of stakeholders. There is also a need to translate ideas for change into policy and practice, whether it is to transform land use practices or to reap the benefits of conservation. Towards these ends, we continue to engage with policy and outreach in the Western Ghats.

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Fostering eco-friendly plantations

Linking sustainable agriculture and conservation in plantation landscapes

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Making room for elephants

Landscape level conservation planning for elephants in Karnataka


Nurturing nature appreciation

Rekindling conservation awareness and connections with nature




  • Journal Article
    From intent to action: A case study for the expansion of tiger conservation from southern India
    Sanjay Gubbi, N S Harish, Aparna S, H C Poornesha, Vasanth Reddy, Javeed Mumtaz, M D Madhusudan
    Global Ecology and Conservation, 9: 11–20

    PDF, 2.61 MB

    To conserve a large, wide-ranging carnivore like the tiger, it is critical not only to maintain populations at key habitat sites, but also to enable the persistence of the species across much larger landscapes. To do this, it is important to establish well-linked habitat networks where sites for survival and reproduction of tigers are complemented by opportunities for dispersal and colonization. On the ground, expanding protection to areas with a potential for tiger recovery still remains the means of operationalizing the landscape approach. Yet, while the gazetting of protected areas is necessary to enable this, it is not sufficient. It is essential to benchmark and monitor the process by which establishment of protected areas must necessarily be followed by management changes that enable a recovery of tigers, their prey and their habitats. In this paper, we report a case study from the Cauvery and Malai Mahadeshwara Hills Wildlife Sanctuaries of southern India, where we document the infrastructural and institutional changes that ensued after an unprecedented expansion of protected areas in this landscape. Further, we establish ecological benchmarks of the abundance and distribution of tigers, the relative abundance of their prey, and the status of their habitats, against which the recovery of tigers in this area of vast conservation potential may be assessed over time.

  • Book
    Birds of Cauvery/MM Hills Wild Life Sanctuary (Kannada) - Pocket guide
    Produced under the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme supported by IUCN and KfW

    PDF, 1.04 MB

    A pocket guide to common birds of Cauvery/MM hills Wildlife Sanctuaries, in a handy, foldable format. Illustrations shown for 137 species, with winter migrants marked separately. The pocket guide has 10 panels with bird illustrations, and is laminated for protection and easy to use in the field. The pocket guide is in Kannada, with bird names listed in both Kannada and English. 

    Supporting conservation outreach in India this product has been produced by our Western Ghats programme as part of Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme supported by IUCN and KfW. These pocket guides are distributed free of cost to schools, community members, social leaders and others in the project landscape.

    Keywords: Birds, Western Ghats, Pocketguide

  • Journal Article
    Providing more protected space for tigers Panthera tigris: a landscape conservation approach in the Western Ghats, southern India
    Sanjay Gubbi, Kaushik Mukherjee, M. H. Swaminath, H C Poornesha
    Oryx 50(2): 336–343

    PDF, 284 KB

    Conservation of large carnivores is challenging as they face various threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation. One of the current challenges to tiger Panthera tigris conservation in India is the conversion of habitat to uses that are incompatible with conservation of the species. Bringing more tiger habitat within a protected area system and in the process creating a network of connected protected areas will deliver dual benefits of wildlife conservation and protection of watersheds. Focusing on the southern Indian state of Karnataka, which holds one of the largest contiguous tiger populations, we attempted to address this challenge using a conservation planning technique that considers ecological, social and political factors. This approach yielded several conservation successes, including an expansion of the protected area network by 2,385 sq km, connection of 23 protected areas, and the creation of three complexes of protected areas, increasing the protected area network in Karnataka from 3.8 to 5.2% of the state’s land area. This represents the largest expansion of protected areas in India since the1970s. Such productive partnerships between government officials and conservationists highlight the importance of complementary roles in conservation planning and implementation.

  • Popular Article
    Rendezvous with Gabbar
    The Hindu in School, 3 February
  • Popular Article
    River under attack
    The Hindu in School, 10 February
  • Art & Literary
    Elephant crossing
    Orion 35(3): 6. (May | June 2016)
  • Journal Article
    Range extension of the endangered Salim Ali’s Fruit Bat Latidens salimalii (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) in the Anamalai Hills, Tamil Nadu, India.
    Claire F R Wordley, Eleni K Foui, Divya Mudappa, Mahesh Sankaran, J. D. Altringham
    Journal of Threatened Taxa 8: 9486-9490. http://dx.doi.org/10.11609/jott.2796.8.12.9486-9490
  • Popular Article
    Hornbills: the feathered foresters.
    Mudappa, D. 2016. JLR Explore, 15 May 2016.

    Most of us are familiar with charismatic mammals such as tigers, elephants and apes. And there are charismatic species amongst birds too: bustards, cranes, eagles. But in the Asian and African tropics are birds that gain charisma from their large size, spectacular appearance, and extraordinary breeding habits: the hornbills.

    Read here: http://jlrexplore.com/explore/focus/hornbills

  • Popular Article
    Icons of Anamalais: Malabar Whistling Thrush
    Pollachi Papyrus, July – September 3(3): 38-41.

    Shorter, edited version of article ‘Musician of the Monsoon’ that appeared in The Hindu Sunday Magazine on 6 Sep 2009.

    Read here: http://thepapyrus.in/index.php/malabar-whistling-thrush/

  • Popular Article
    The culling fields
    The Hindu (op-ed) 17 June 2016, page 9.

    A better approach to man-wildlife conflict management requires an integration of scientific evidence, animal behaviour, and landscape and socio-economic context.

    Read more here: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-culling-fields/article8737765.ece

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