- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Journal Article2003The role of incentive programs in conserving the snow leopard Uncia unciaConservation Biology 17:1512-1520Download
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Pastoralists and their livestock share much of the habitat of the snow leopard (Uncia uncia) across south and central Asia. The levels of livestock predation by the snow leopard and other carnivores are high, and retaliatory killing by the herders is a direct threat to carnivore populations. Depletion of wild prey by poaching and competition from livestock also poses an indirect threat to the region's carnivores. Conservationists working in these underdeveloped areas that face serious economic damage from livestock losses have turned to incentive programs to motivate local communities to protect carnivores. We describe a pilot incentive program in India that aims to offset losses due to livestock predation and to enhance wild prey density by creating livestock-free areas on common land. We also describe how income generation from handicrafts in Mongolia is helping curtail poaching and retaliatory killing of snow leopards. However, initiatives to offset the costs of living with carnivores and to make conservation beneficial to affected people have thus far been small, isolated, and heavily subsidized. Making these initiatives more comprehensive, expanding their coverage, and internalizing their costs are future challenges for the conservation of large carnivores such as the snow leopard.
- Journal Article2003Changing social strategies of wild female bonnet macaques during natural foraging and on provisioningCurrent Science 84 (6): 780-790Download
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Provisioning of free-living primate groups usually leads to a significant increase in competition among individuals for the newly available resources. Do such individuals, however, exhibit altered behavioural strategies to alleviate social tension? Changing pat- terns of social interactions between adult females was studied in a wild group of bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata) in the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, southern India, under two conditions of forag- ing. The group spent approximately 66% of the ob- servation time foraging on its natural diet; during the remaining period the group gathered provisioned food from tourists visiting the sanctuary. Provisioning was marked by a sharp increase in aggression and feeding supplants within the group. Dominant females directed contact aggression specifically towards higher-ranked subordinates, while subordinate fe- males increased non-contact aggression towards their dominant counterparts. Allogrooming was, however, much more reciprocated at the group level during provisioning. Subordinate females also initiated rela- tively more allogrooming towards those dominant in- dividuals who were most aggressive during this period. Social tensions thus increase markedly when bonnet macaques move from natural foraging to com- petting for provisioned food; individual macaques, however, can adopt appropriate social strategies un- der such rapidly changing ecological regimes.
- Journal Article2003Correlates of hornbill distribution and abundance in rainforest fragments in the southern Western Ghats, IndiaBird Conservation International 13: 199-212.
- Journal Article2003Foraging patterns of sympatric hornbills in the non-breeding season in Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India.Biotropica 35 (2): 208-218.
- Journal Article2003The hunting of the Snark: seeking transcendence in the Indian conservation debateConservation and Society 1: 73-76
- Conference Proceedings2003Protected areas and beyond: wildlife conservation in the Trans-Himalaya.Bombay Natural History Society WORKSHOP 'A LOOK AT THREATENED SPECIES'. NOVEMBER 13, 2003, Bombay.
- Journal Article2003Discovery of the leaf deer Muntiacus putaoensis in Arunachal Pradesh: an addition to the large mammals of India.Current Science 84 (3): 101-102.
- Journal Article2003Conservation as if biological diversity matters: preservationism versus sustainable use in IndiaConservation and Society 1: 49-59
- Journal Article2003Living Amidst Large Wildlife: Livestock and Crop Depredation by Large Mammals in the Interior Villages of Bhadra Tiger Reserve, South IndiaEnvironmental Management 31: 466-475Download
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Conflict with humans over livestock and crops seriously undermines the conservation prospects of India's large and potentially dangerous mammals such as the tiger (Panthera tigris) and elephant (Elephas maximus). This study, carried out in Bhadra Tiger Reserve in south India, estimates the extent of material and monetary loss incurred by resident villagers between 1996 and 1999 in conflicts with large felines and elephants, describes the spatiotemporal patterns of animal damage, and evaluates the success of compensation schemes that have formed the mainstay of loss-alleviation measures. Annually each household lost an estimated 12% (0.9 head) of their total holding to large felines, and approximately 11% of their annual grain production (0.82 tonnes per family) to elephants. Compensations awarded offset only 5% of the livestock loss and 14% of crop losses and were accompanied by protracted delays in the processing of claims. Although the compensation scheme has largely failed to achieve its objective of alleviating loss, its implementation requires urgent improvement if reprisal against large wild mammals is to be minimized. Furthermore, innovative schemes of livestock and crop insurance need to be tested as alternatives to compensations.
- Journal Article2003Diversity, risk mediation, and change in a Trans-Himalayan agropastoral system.Human Ecology, 31, 595-609.
- Book Chapter2003Why big fierce animals are threatened: conserving large mammals in densely populated landscapesPages 31-55 in V. K. Saberwal & M. Rangarajan (editors) Battles over Nature: Science and the Politics of Conservation. Permanent Black, New Delhi, India.
- Journal Article2003Bridging the gap: sharing responsibility for ecological restoration and wildlife conservation on private lands in the Western GhatsSocial Change 33(2&3): 129-141.Download
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A major conservation issue, particularly in the tropics, is habitat loss and fragmentation due to developmental activities and increasing human populations. Ecologists today recognise that much of the once-pristine forests that are now secondary forests, as well as large areas outside existing conservation reserves, harbouring significant levels of biological diversity need to be targeted for long-term conservation. Governmental agencies such as the Forest Department and the conservation community have come to accept that the conventional patrol and protect method has its limitations in addressing the increasing threats to such conservation areas. A complementary strategy is to develop conservation plans for protection and improvement by ecological restoration of forests, particularly isolated fragments and degraded areas on private lands. This requires bridging gaps between private landowners, governmental agencies, and non- governmental conservation organisations and fostering efforts based on mutual cooperation and collaboration as well as developing positive incentives for private landholders involved in conservation of forests and biological diversity. In this paper, we discuss one of the first examples of such an effort of sharing responsibility for long- term conservation in a highly disturbed tropical rainforest region of the Western Ghats.
- Book Chapter2002Mitigating human wildlife conflicts in Southern AsiaPages 250-264 in J. Terborgh, C. van Schaik, L. Davenport, & M. Rao (editors) Making Parks Work: Strategies for Preserving Tropical Nature. Island Press, Washington DC, USA.
- Journal Article2002A theoretical analysis of competitive exclusion in a Trans- Himalayan large-herbivore assemblageAnimal Conservation, 5, 251-258
- Journal Article2002Local hunting and large mammal conservation in IndiaAmbio 31: 49-54Download
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Hunting by local communities is among the most wide- spread threats to Indian wildlife, yet, the understanding of its nature, extent, and impacts on wildlife has been poor. We surveyed 2 protected areas—Kudremukha and Na- gara-holé—in southern India to assess the impacts of local hunting on large mammals. Detailed interviews with retired and active hunters were employed to describe hunting patterns. Impacts of hunting were assessed by comparing large-mammal abundance in adjacent sites differing in their vulnerability to hunting. In Kudremukha, at least 26 species of mammals were hunted, mostly with guns, at an esti- mated intensity of 216 hunter-days per month per village. In Nagaraholé, 6 of the 9 focal species of large mammals occurred at significantly lower densities at the heavily hunted site where enforcement capabilities were poorer. Our data underscore the importance of preservationist programs in the conservation of large mammals in a context of extensive local hunting.
- Report2001Impact of fragmentation and plantations on rainforest birds in the Anamalai hills, southern Western Ghats, India.NCF Technical Report No. 5. Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.
- Journal Article2001Overstocking in the trans-Himalayan rangelands of India.Environmental Conservation, 28, 279-283.