- Journal Article2009Corrigendum: mammal persistence and abundance in tropical rainforest remnants in the southern Western Ghats, India.Current Science 97: 612-613.
- Journal Article2009Observations of small carnivores in the southern Western Ghats, IndiaSmall Carnivore Conservation 40: 36-40Download
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Despite a diverse assemblage of small carnivores in the forests of the southern Western Ghats in India, there is a paucity of information on their ecology, distribution, behaviour and current conservation status. Chance observations generated during surveys for other purposes are therefore useful. Sightings and signs of small carnivores were recorded opportunistically during a study to assess the distributions of larger mammals in the southern Western Ghats. The study yielded sightings of seven species of viverrids, herpestids and mustelids. The Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus and Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica were sighted most frequently. The restricted-range Brown Palm Civet Paradoxurus jerdoni was sighted once.
- Journal Article2009Brewing trouble: coffee invasion in relation to edges and forest structure in tropical rainforest fragments of the Western Ghats, IndiaBiological Invasions 11: 2387–2400
While the conservation impacts of invasive plant species on tropical biodiversity is widely recognised, little is known of the potential for cultivated crops turning invasive in tropical forest regions. In the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, India, fragmented rainforests often adjoin coffee plantations. This study in the Anamalai hills assessed the effects of distance from edges and forest structure on the occurrence and abundance of shade-tolerant coffee (Arabica Coffea arabica and Robusta C. canephora) in four fragments (32–200 ha) using replicate line transects laid from the edges into the interiors. The coffee species cultivated in adjoining plantations was more abundant than the other coffee species inside study fragments, showing a clear decline in stem density from edge (0 m) to interior (250 m), suggesting the influence of propagule pressure of adjoining plantations, coupled with edge effects and seed dispersal by animals. Significant positive correlations of coffee density with canopy cover indicate the potential threat of coffee invasion even in closed canopy rainforests. Stem density of Coffea arabica (150–1,825 stems/ha) was higher in more disturbed fragments, whereas Coffea canephora had spread in disturbed and undisturbed sites achieving much higher densities (6.3–11,486 stems/ha). In addition, a negative relationship between C. canephora and native shrub density indicates its potential detrimental effects on native plants
- Journal Article2009Effects of rodents on seed fates of hornbill-dispersed tree species in a tropical forest in north-east India.J. Tropical Ecology 25: 507-514.
- Journal Article2009First underwater sighting and preliminary behavioural observations of Dugongs(Dugong dugon) in the wild from Indian waters, Andaman Islands.Journal of Threatened Taxa 1 (1): 49-53.
- Journal Article2009Are rice paddies suboptimal breeding habitat for Sarus Cranes in Uttar Pradesh, India?The Condor 111: 611-623
The globally threatened Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) has low annual productivity and occurs mostly in landscapes dominated by agriculture; it is therefore vulnerable to extinction caused by human-related disturbance and mortality. The Sarus Crane’s increased use of rice paddies as breeding habitat has fueled concerns that the species is being forced to use suboptimal habitats. To assess the issue, I studied nest-site selection and quantified nest and brood survival of Sarus Cranes in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, during 2000 and 2001 and evaluated differences between natural wetlands and rice paddies. The cranes preferred wetlands as nesting habitat at the levels of both the landscape and individual territory. The success (daily survival rate) of nests closer to roads was lower, suggesting that human-related mortality played a role. The effect of habitat on nest successwas equivocal, suggesting that rice fields per se are not suboptimal as nesting sites. This result is unique to this area, suggesting that favorable attitudes of farmers still allow Sarus Cranes to nest in rice paddies. Broods hatching later and those in territories with fewer wetlands had a lower probability of survival. Vegetation changes and disturbance during crop harvesting likely decreased brood survival. Maintaining a patchwork of shallow wetlands in rice-dominated landscapes and ensuring that farmers retain a positive attitude toward the species are crucial for survival of Sarus Crane nests and broods.
- Journal Article2009Endangered markhor Capra falconeri in India: through war and insurgencyOryx 43(3): 407-411Download
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The flare horned markhor Capra falconeri occurs in northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Most of the species’ range is along volatile international borders and limited information is available, especially for the population of the Pir Panjal or Kashmir markhor C. f. falconeri in India. From October 2004 to April 2005 we therefore conducted the first range-wide survey of the species in India since independence. The markhor's range has shrunk from c. 300 km2 in the late 1940s to c. 120 km2 in 2004–2005. Our surveys and interviews with key local informants indicate that 350–375 markhor may yet exist in the region. All the populations are small (usually < 50) and fragmented. International conflicts, developmental projects, the needs of an increasing human population and poaching, along with lack of awareness, are the primary threats to the species. The largest population in India, in Kajinag, may have potential for long-term survival if immediate conservation measures can be implemented.
- Journal Article2008Molecular evidence for the occurrence of the leaf deer Muntiacus putaoensis in Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India.Conservation Genetics 9: 927-931Download
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The discovery of the leaf deer Muntiacus putaoensis in northern Myanmar has added to the growing list of large mammals recently discovered in remote, unex- plored parts of south and south-east Asia. Its subsequent discovery in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, India, based on morphometric analyses of two skulls collected from local hunters, doubled the size of its known east-west range, which is significant for a newly-discovered and poorly understood species. However, ambiguity remained regarding several other partial skulls and dried skin samples collected during subsequent surveys. The sympatric occurrence of the Indian muntjac Muntiacus muntjak further complicates species identification based primarily on morphometry. In this paper, we develop molecular genetic analyses that can unambiguously identify muntjac species. Further, we test and apply our methods to unknown skin samples to confirm the occurrence of the leaf deer in Arunachal Pradesh. Finally, we use our samples and genetic data from three mitochondrial markers to establish phylogenetic affinities between these samples and other extant members of the Muntiacus genus. Our approach, which combines the use of specific primers and phylogenetic analyses, is generally applicable towards the detection of cryptic biodiversity in unexplored and species-rich areas like north-east India.
- Journal Article2008Distributional correlates of the Tibetan gazelle Procapra picticaudata in Ladakh, northern India: towards a recovery programme.Oryx, 42, 107-112.
- Newsletter2008Sighting of a rusty-spotted cat in the Varushanad Valley, IndiaCat News 49: 26-27Download
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A solitary rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus was sighted in a dry deciduous habitat of the Varushanad valley (9°
40’ 3.72”N/77° 25’ 44.15”E) in Tamil Nadu, India on 6 June 2008. The Varushanad valley is located in the southern Western Ghats, an ecological subunit of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot.
- Journal Article2008Empty forests: Large carnivore and prey abundance in Namdapha National Park, north-east IndiaBiological Conservation 141: 1429-1435.Download
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Illegal hunting poses a dual threat to large carnivores through direct removal of individuals and by prey depletion. We conducted a camera-trapping survey in the Namdapha National Park, north-east India, conducted as part of a programme to evaluate carnivore and prey species abundance. Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) was the only large carnivore detected by camera-trapping. Indirect evidences indicated the presence of the wild dog (Cuon alpinus) and leopard (Panthera pardus), however, there was no evidence of tigers (Panthera tigris), suggesting their possible extinction from the lower elevation forests. Of the major ungulate prey species, sambar (Cervus unicolor) and wild pig (Sus scrofa) were the only large prey detected, while the Indian muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) was the only small prey species detected. Relative abundances of all species were appreciably lower than estimates from other tropical forests in south-east Asia. We suspect that illegal hunting may be the cause for the low carnivore and prey species abundance. An ongoing community-based conservation programme presents an opportunity to reduce local people’s dependence on hunting by addressing their socio-economic needs and for using their skills and knowl- edge of the landscape for wildlife conservation. However, long-term wildlife monitoring is essential to assess the efficacy of the socio-economic interventions in bringing about wild- life recovery.
- Newsletter2008Rains in northern India bring floods and Sarus Crane nesting habitatThe ICF Bugle 34(3): 7
- Book2008Secrets of the Rainforest – Nature Activity Book for children in Arunachal Pradesh.A Nature Conservation Foundation publication
- Journal Article2008MigrantWatch: A citizen science programme for the study of bird migrationIndian Birds, 3(6) 202-209Download
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What are the consequences of rapid global change for the behaviour and ecology of wild species? Answering this very broad question is a challenging but important task. One relatively manageable question under this broad umbrella is how the timing of biological events (i.e., phenology) is changing as the earth’s climate
changes. In this article, we describe a new programme aimed at assessing the timing of migration of birds that winter in the Indian Subcontinent and monitoring changes in this timing over the long term. MigrantWatch is a volunteer-based programme in which participants record the arrival, presence and departure of migrant species across India. We also outline the goals, structure, and open-access philosophy of the programme, and illustrate its potential by briefly describing information collected on the arrival patterns of winter migrants in the second half of 2007.
- Thesis2008Overwintering strategies and demographic response of bharal (Pseudois nayaur) to livestock grazing and removal, in Kibber Wildlife SanctuaryMSc Thesis submitted to Manipal University
- Journal Article2008Effects of rainforest fragmentation and shade-coffee plantations on spider communities in the Western Ghats, India.Journal of Insect Conservation 12: 53-68.
- Popular Article2008Shifting livelihood options and changing attitudes in the Garo hills, western MeghalayaCurrent Conservation
- Report2008Hornbills and endemic birds: a conservation status survey across the Western Ghats, India.NCF Technical Report No. 17, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.
- Report2008Tribes of the Anamalais: livelihood and resource-use patterns of communities in the rainforests of the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and Valparai plateau.NCF Technical Report No. 16, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.Download
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The Western Ghats hill range of India, recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot, also contains impressive cultural diversity including a number of tribal communities. This study uses past records and primary field research to describe aspects of ethnic identity, social change, demography, livelihoods, and resource use among three tribal communities in the Anamalai hills along the Western Ghats mountains of southern India. Kadar, Muthuvar, and Malai Malasar communities across 190 households in 8 settlements located adjacent to rainforests in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary were studied to examine current modes of existence vis-à-vis their past and the use of rainforest patches they live within. (Download PDF to read more)