- Journal Article2005Of rights and wrongs: wildlife conservation and the tribal billEconomic and Political Weekly 40: 4893-4895Download
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While the Wildlife Act was always meant to recognise and settle the rights of forest dwellers, in practice, it has been used largely as a blunt instrument to bludgeon them with. It is entirely possible that the Tribal Bill could tomorrow become a similar blunt instrument with which to bludgeon wildlife.
- Journal Article2005Record of the Chinese goral Nemorhaedus caudatus in Arunachal PradeshJournal of the Bombay Natural History Society 102: 225-227
- Journal Article2005The Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala: a new primate species from western Arunachal Pradesh, north-eastern IndiaInternational Journal of Primatology 26 (4): 977-989.
- Journal Article2005The global village: linkages between international coffee markets and grazing by livestock in a south Indian wildlife reserveConservation Biology 19: 411-420Download
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India’s heritage of natural habitats and wild species is under growing threat from its biomass- dependent rural peoples and its consumeristic urban economy. As the mainstay of its wildlife conserva- tion effort, then, India’s wildlife reserves continue to face a range of extractive uses. The Indian conserva- tion/development discourse has, however, drawn a distinction between traditional subsistence use and modern commercial use of natural resources in wildlife reserves. It has also been suggested that subsistence use must be accommodated within Indian wildlife reserves because it caters exclusively to local consumption for livelihood, whereas commercial use warrants greater restriction because it furthers profit-based goals of distant interests. How valid is such a clear distinction between subsistence use and commercial use? I address this question using the village of Hangala on the boundary of Bandipur National Park in south India as a case study. Hangala’s livestock were reared primarily for their inputs of dung and draft power into local agriculture, and customarily grazed in the forests of Bandipur. This practice qualified as subsistence use because all goods and services obtained from livestock grazing in Bandipur catered exclusively to village-level consumption. In the last two decades, major upheavals in the global coffee markets dramatically boosted profit margins of coffee growers in the hill districts abutting Bandipur. The profits enabled coffee growers to afford expansions of their resource catchment for dung, an important farm manure in short supply in the coffee districts. When this demand reached Hangala, it resulted in large-scale export of dung, which transformed it from locally produced and locally consumed manure for village agriculture to a high-value organic fertilizer for commercial export to coffee plantations. Following the dung export, livestock numbers in the region increased, aggravating graz- ing pressures on the forests. This case study thus challenges politically correct notions that subsistence use is distinguishable from and preferable to commercial use in the context of protected-area management in India.
- Book Chapter2005Local hunting and large mammal conservationPages 60-67 in Wildlife Conservation, Research and Management. Y. V. Jhala, R. Chellam, & Q. Qureshi (eds.), Technical Publication No. RR-05/001, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India.
- Book Chapter2005Eight years monitoring of Malabar grey hornbill Ocyceros griseus nest cavity use and dynamics in the Anamalai rainforest, India.The ecology of hornbills: reproduction and population (eds S. Lum & P. Poonswad), pp. 3-10. Pimdee Karnpim Co., Ltd., Bangkok.
- Journal Article2005Macaca munzala: A New Species from Western Arunachal Pradesh, Northeastern IndiaInternational Journal of Primatology 26(4): xxx-xxxDownload
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Macaca, comprising 20 well-characterized species, represents the largest and one of the most ecologically and socially diverse of all the nonhuman primate genera. We report the discovery of a macaque that is new to science from the high altitudes of western Arunachal Pradesh, a biodiversity-rich state in northeastern India. We propose the scientific name Macaca munzala and the vernacular name Arunachal macaque for the species. It shares morphological characteristics independently with the Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis) and with the Tibetan macaque M. thibetana; like them, it appears to belong to the sinica species-group of the genus. However, the species is distinctive in relative tail length, which is intermediate between those of Tibetan and Western Assamese macaques, the subspecies with which it is sympatric. It is also unique in its altitudinal distribution, occurring largely at altitudes between 2000 and 3500 m. We provide a morphological characterization of the species, report preliminary data on its field biology and discuss possible taxonomic identity in relation to the other closely-related species of Macaca.
- Journal Article2005Ecology proposes, behaviour disposes: Ecological variability in social organization and male behavioural strategies among wild bonnet macaquesCurrent Science, 89: 1166-1179Download
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The structure and evolution of primate societies are generally shaped by ecological and social forces of natural selection. The habitat and feeding ecology of primate populations, in particular, largely determine the size of the existing social groups and the pattern of interactions between individuals within and across such groups. The bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), an Old World monkey endemic to peninsular India, usually lives in seasonal tropical deciduous forests and occurs in typically large multimale multifemale associations. This species, however, appears to have evolved, in re- cent years, a fairly high proportion of small, but rea- sonably stable, unimale troops within one particular population in the Bandipur–Mudumalai wildlife sanc- tuaries of southern India. Demographic analyses indi- cate that, as compared to multimale troops, unimale groups are relatively depleted in subadult and juvenile males, exhibit a unique female-biased birth sex ratio and display extensive female dispersal, all of which may have arisen in response to reproductive monopo- lization by the solitary resident male. Several ecological factors, including food provisioning, may have led to the evolution of this social organization, unique for a seasonally breeding cercopithecine primate. Provisioning of primate groups also leads to a significant increase in intra-troop competition among individuals for the newly available resources. Do such individuals, however, exhibit altered behavioural strategies to alleviate social tension? Changing patterns of social interactions between adult males were also analysed for one particular troop of bonnet macaques in the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary under two ecological situations – as they foraged on their natural diet and when they gathered provisioned food from tourists visiting the sanctuary. Although feeding competition increased markedly as these individuals alternated between natural foraging and competing for provisioned food, individual macaques were able to adopt appropriate social strategies under such rapidly changing eco- logical regimes. These studies demonstrate the behavioural and social plasticity of a primate species and the value of demographic studies of multiple groups and populations in different ecological environments.
- Journal Article2005Not in their genes: Phenotypic flexibility, behavioural traditions and cultural evolution in wild bonnet macaquesJournal of Bioscience 30: 51-64
- Journal Article2005Discovery of the Tibetan macaque Macaca thibetana in Arunachal Pradesh, IndiaCurrent Science 88(9): 1387-1388
- Report2004The high altitude wildlife of Western Arunachal Pradesh: a survey reportTechnical Report No. 8, Nature Conservation Foundation, International Snow Leopard Trust, and Wildlife Conservation Society (India Program), Mysore, India.Download
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The high altitude wildlife of Arunachal Pradesh, located in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, has remained unexplored and unprotected. Between August and October, 2003, we undertook a biological expedition in the high altitudes (> 3000 m) of Tawang and West Kameng Districts of Western Arunachal Pradesh, with the objective of inventorying wildlife and identifying areas for the establishment of wildlife reserves. The expedition documented the occurrence of a rich mammalian species assemblage (34 species), 12 of which are of global conservation importance. Our discovery of the Chinese goral Nemorhaedus caudatus represents a new addition to the list of large mammals of the Indian sub-continent. We also recorded a primate belonging to the sinica group of the genus Macaca, which is potentially a species new to science. We recorded 150 bird species, identified 140 plant species, and prepared a preliminary description of the high altitude vegetation. We also documented peoples’ dependence on natural resources (grazing, collection of timber and medicinal plants), and the threats to the region’s wildlife, including widespread hunting, and persecution of the snow leopard Uncia uncia and dhole Cuon alpinus in retaliation against livestock depredation. Preliminary vegetation maps were prepared using field data in conjunction with satellite imageries. Based on information about the wildlife assemblages, extent of high altitude habitat, and levels of anthropogenic disturbance, we identify and propose an important site (815 km²) for the creation of a wildlife reserve. Future conservation efforts need to focus on establishing the state’s first high altitude wildlife reserve, and garnering the support of indigenous people for wildlife conservation through community-based programs.
- Book2004Walk the rainforest with Niwupha.Katha, New Delhi, October 2004, 32 pp.
- Report2004Effects of landscape matrix and plantations on birds in tropical rainforest fragments of the Western Ghats, India.NCF Technical Report No. 9. Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.Download
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As large nature reserves occupy only a fraction of the earth’s land surface, conservation biologists are critically examining the role of private lands, habitat fragments, and plantations for conservation. This study in a global biodiversity hotspot and endemic bird area, the Western Ghats mountain range of India, examined the effects of connectivity of rainforest fragments with shade-coffee plantations and the influence of habitat structure and floristics on tropical rainforest bird communities. Systematic sampling for habitat and birds was carried out in 13 sites, including six fragments (three relatively isolated and three with canopy continuity with adjoining shade-coffee plantations and forests), six plantations differing in canopy tree species composition (five coffee and one cardamom), and one control site containing a large relatively undisturbed primary rainforest in the Valparai plateau of the Anamalai hills. Around 3300 detections of about 6000 individual birds belonging to 106 species were obtained. The plantations were depauperate in relation to rainforest in rainforest bird species, particularly endemic species, but one site (cardamom plantation) with an entirely native canopy of tall rainforest trees, had species richness and bird abundance values comparable to that of primary rainforest. Plantation and fragment sites that were less isolated (more canopy continuity in surrounding landscape) tended to support greater number of rainforest and lesser number of open-forest bird species and individuals than more isolated sites. Rainforest bird richness and abundance were positively related to the vegetation component representing densities of woody plants, canes, lianas, and bamboos. Bird community composition was however related only to floristic (tree species) composition of sites. The results indicate that the maintenance or restoration of such attributes in plantations and fragments can aid in bird conservation in the region. The potential of rainforest fragments and shade-coffee and cardamom plantations for bird conservation outside wildlife protected areas is emphasised.
- Journal Article2004Competition between domestic livestock and wild bharal Pseudois nayaur in the Indian Trans-Himalaya.Journal of Applied Ecology, 41, 344-354.
- Popular Article2004Rainforest revival.Sanctuary Asia 24(2): 38-41.
- Popular Article2004Bandipur-Brazil: the falloutsDown To Earth 30 October 2004
- Book Chapter2004Western Ghats and Sri LankaHotspots revisited—Earth’s biologically richest and most endangered ecoregions (Eds R. A. Mittermeier, P. R. Gil, M. Hoffmann, J. Pilgrim, T. Brooks, C. G. Mittermeier, J. Lamoureux & G. A. B. da Fonseca), pp. 152-157. CEMEX, Mexico.
- Journal Article2004Recovery of wild large herbivores following livestock decline in a tropical Indian wildlife reserveJournal of Applied Ecology 41: 858-869Download
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1. Resource competition is an important process governing the impact of livestock on native wild mammalian herbivores, an issue acknowledged to be of global conservation con- cern. Resource competition occurs between species when their resources (habitat and diet) overlap and are limiting. Yet the evidence that livestock compete with wild herbivores has remained weak because resource limitation is often difficult to demonstrate in the field.
2. This 2-year field study at Bandipur National Park, India, examined livestock-mediated resource limitation among five wild herbivore species: wild pig Sus scrofa, chital Axis axis, sambar Cervus unicolor, gaur Bos gaurus and Asian elephant Elephas maximus, by comparing their distribution and densities in adjoining livestock-grazed and livestock- free areas before, and after, a 49% decline in livestock density.
3. During 2001, mean densities of wild grazers, gaur (0·11 ha−1), chital (1·51 ha−1) and elephant (0·61 ha−1), were, respectively, 132, 11 and six times higher in the livestock-free area than in the adjacent livestock-grazed area. Densities of gaur, chital and elephant showed a sharp declining relationship with increasing livestock density, whereas no clear pattern was discernible with wild pig, a non-ruminant generalist, and the sambar, a forest browser. Preferred plant biomass also fell sharply with increasing livestock density.
4. Following the decline in livestock density in the livestock-grazed area in 2002, the densities of gaur, chital and elephant increased by a factor of 57, five and two in the same area, respectively, whereas no changes were seen in the densities of wild pig and sambar or in the preferred plant biomass. Except for a decline in elephant density, the livestock-free area did not show changes in wild herbivore densities.
5. Given the considerable overlap in habitat and dietary preference/requirements between livestock and wild herbivores in the study area, it is suggested that the recovery of gaur, chital and elephant densities following the livestock decline represents their release from livestock-mediated resource limitation.
6. These results indicate that resource competition may be intense between wild herbivores and grazing livestock, and if left unchecked could trigger declines of wild herbivores, particularly grazing ruminants and bulk feeders. These results also suggest that, where possible, interventions to reduce livestock grazing may rapidly benefit wild herbivores.
- Report2004The elephant hills: conservation of wild Asian elephants in a landscape of fragmented rainforests and plantations in the Anamalais, IndiaNCF Technical Report #10, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore
- Journal Article2004War and wildlife: A post-conflict assessment of Afghanistan's Wakhan corridor.Oryx, 1, 102-105.