- Popular Article2009Musician of the monsoonThe Hindu Magazine, 6 September 2009, page 5.
The Malabar Whistling Thrush is a flautist of unbridled creativity but, given the wanton destruction of its habitat, how much longer will we hear its music?
- Journal Article2009Effects of herbivore species richness on the niche dynamics and distribution of blue sheep in the Trans-Himalaya.Diversity and Distributions, 15, 940–947.
- Conference Proceedings2009Opportunities and challenges for tiger (Panthera tigris) conservation in the southern Western Ghats, IndiaShifting Trajectories of Ecology and Coexistence: Proceedings of the National Seminar on People and Tigers. Kerala Forest Department, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady, India. pp. 135-147Download
PDF, 7.21 MB
The southern Western Ghats is an important ecological subunit of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. Dominated by moist forests, including tropical wet evergreen forests, it has higher levels of biodiversity and endemism than the rest of the Western Ghats. There are 19 Protected Areas in the southern Western Ghats that cover 36% of its total area, among which Parambikulam, Anamalai and Periyar Tiger Reserves stand out as primary source habitats for tigers. The region is fragmented from north to south into the Anamalai, Periyar and Agasthyamalai landscapes. Given the crucial need for large, contiguous areas to ensure the persistence of wide-ranging large predators such as the tiger Panthera tigris and its prey, it is important to establish and maintain habitat connectivity within and between these landscapes, whereas conservation efforts today are focused on small, insular protected areas. Possibilities for forging connectivity between the Anamalai and Periyar landscapes along Kerala state are nonexistent owing to the loss of Devikulam Range in Munnar Forest Division to cardamom cultivation and developments related to tourism and Kumily Range in Kottayam Forest Division to encroachment. The link on the Tamil Nadu side, along the steep eastern slopes of Theni Forest Division, is extremely narrow and consequently unsuitable for large mammal movement at present. Our surveys, however, point to the possibility of bridging this gap through a corridor at Kottavasal. Recent camera-trapping studies by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun have highlighted the precarious situation of tigers in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in the Agasthyamalai landscape. Therefore, establishment of the Kottavasal corridor and the Kulathupuzha Conservation Reserve is a must to secure the future of tiger in the Agasthyamalai landscape. It is important that all endeavours now be made to enable the Anamalai and Periyar-Agasthyamalai landscapes to each sustain a minimum population of 100 adult tigers. Controlling poaching of prey species especially sambar Cervus unicolor, establishment of protected areas such as Kodaikanal, Megamalai and Kulathupuzha, acquisition of failed private estates to facilitate large mammal recolonization and restoration of native vegetation in exotic species plantations are priority tasks that need immediate attention in order to realize the huge opportunities for tiger conservation in the southern Western Ghats.
- Dataset2009Western Ghats Hornbill SurveyIndia Biodiversity Portal, Western Ghats bird transect layer http://indiabiodiversity.org/layer_info.php?layer_name=lyr_235_wg_birdtransects
Data from Western Ghats Hornbills and endemic bird survey contributed to India Biodiversity Portal
Available here: http://indiabiodiversity.org/layer_info.php?layer_name=lyr_235_wg_birdtransects
- Popular Article2009In troubled watersHindustan Times, 21st January
- Book Chapter2009Tiger reintroduction in India: conservation tool or costly dream?Pages 146-163 in M. Somers and M. Hayward (eds.) Reintroduction of Top-order Predators. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.Download
PDF, 468 KB
The tiger (Panthera tigris), like many other large carnivores, has experienced serious declines in its global distribution and abundance. Reintroduction is one of a suite of important conservation tools developed to reverse such declines in a range of species across the globe. Most experience with large- carnivore reintroductions comes from North America, Europe and South Africa, where carnivore declines have ensued from their direct persecution by humans. Once the factors responsible for the original extirpation of a large carnivore have been removed, reintroduction has proved a viable conserva- tion option given the backdrop of low human densities, extensive land avail- ability and the commitment of adequate financial and socio-political support for the reintroduction project. In this chapter, we examine the role of reintro- duction in the conservation of the tiger in India, where the species has been extirpated from many parts of its former range—not only through direct persecution, but also due to prey depletion and habitat loss. Given the complex socio-cultural, economic and political factors that drive habitat loss and prey depletion for the tiger, we review the feasibility of reintroduction as a conser- vation intervention. In the Indian setting, which is characterized by the per- sistence—even aggravation—of conservation threats to tigers, we argue that the prudent course of conservation action is to first invest in effective means of reducing threats to tigers and their habitats before exploring the option of tiger reintroduction.
- Art & Literary2009Who gives a fig?The Hindu Magazine, 26 July 2009, page 5.
Trees are being slaughtered in large numbers in the face of urbanisation. A reflective piece on what is happening to our landscapes from a conservation perspective.
- Journal Article2009Corrigendum: mammal persistence and abundance in tropical rainforest remnants in the southern Western Ghats, India.Current Science 97: 612-613.
- Newsletter2009The future of the dugongs in the Indian sub-continentSirenews, Newsletter of the IUCN Sirenia Specialist Group, Vol. No. 52.
- Journal Article2009MigrantWatch: Changes and Results from the Second YearIndian Birds 4 (4): 122–126 (2008)
- 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 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 Article2009Winter Ecology of the Arunachal Macaque Macaca munzala in Pangchen Valley, Western Arunachal Pradesh, Northeastern IndiaAmerican Journal of Primatology, 71: 939–947Download
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The newly described Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala occurs largely in sub-tropical to temperate environments at elevations of c. 1,800–3,000 m in Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India. We studied its over-wintering strategy by comparing the diet, ranging, and behavior of a troop of 24 individuals during winter and spring (December 2005 to May 2006) through instantaneous scan sampling (3,002 records, 448 scans, 112 hr of observation). We also monitored the phenology of food plants. The macaques spent more time (41–66%) feeding in the winter than in spring (33–51%), whereas time spent moving and resting was greater in spring. The diet composed largely of plants, with animal matter being eaten rarely. The number of plant species in the diet increased from 18 to 25 whereas food types rose from 18 to 36 from winter to spring, respectively. Although only two species formed 75% of the winter diet, seven species comprised this proportion in spring. Availability of fruits and young leaves increased in spring; the troop moved more and utilized a larger part of its range during this time. Seasonal changes in behavior could be explained by the scarcity of food and the costs of thermoregulation in winter. Our study suggests that the Arunachal macaque inhabits a highly seasonal environment and has an over-wintering strategy that includes subsisting on a high-fiber diet by increasing the time spent feeding, and minimising energy expenditure by reducing the time spent moving.
- Popular Article2009Death on the highwayThe Hindu Survey of the Environment 2009: 113-118.
Read here: http://blog.ncf-india.org/2009/10/10/death-on-the-highway/
- Popular Article2009Mountain rainforests. Quest for large mammals in the southern Western GhatsSanctuary Asia 29 (April): 48-53Download
PDF, 16.3 MB
The jeeps forming a crescent beside the forest stream switched on their headlights almost simultaneously, brightly illuminating
the drama unfolding before my eyes. Fifteen wild elephants were approaching the water from the forest beyond, unfazed by the presence of a horde of humans less than 20 m away. I was in Anakulam, a remote village in the rainforests near Eravikulam National Park in Kerala. During a field survey in the southern
Western Ghats, reports had filtered through of a fabled spot where elephants have been congregating since living memory to drink at a natural mineral spring. To ascertain the veracity of these stories, the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) team, led by Dr. A.J.T. Johnsingh, braved the rough, mountainous roads to Anakulam (meaning ‘elephant pond’) through dense Ochlandra reed brakes, arriving at dusk, only to find the locals playing cricket beside the stream!
- Popular Article2009Welcome back,warblersThe Hindu Magazine, 1 November 2009, page 5.
- Popular Article2009Act before it is too lateThe Telegraph (Calcutta), 13 August 2009
- 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.
- Popular Article2009Hope burns bright for state’s tigersDeccan Herald, 3 November 2009