- Newsletter2008Uttar Pradesh: An unlikely Shangri-laThe ICF Bugle 34(2): 6
- 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 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 Article2008Mammal persistence and abundance in tropical rainforest remnants in the southern Western Ghats, India.Current Science 94: 748-757.
- Popular Article2008Out of the BlueSanctuary Asia, Vol. XXVIII No.1, 40-45.
- 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.
- Journal Article2008Distributional correlates of the Tibetan gazelle Procapra picticaudata in Ladakh, northern India: towards a recovery programme.Oryx, 42, 107-112.
- Book2008Secrets of the Rainforest – Nature Activity Book for children in Arunachal Pradesh.A Nature Conservation Foundation publication
- Journal Article2008A Voucher Specimen for Macaca munzala: Interspecific Affinities, Evolution, and Conservation of a NewlyDiscovered PrimateInternational Journal of Primatology 29:743–756Download
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Sinha, A., Datta, A., Madhusudan, M. D., & Mishra, C. (2005. Macaca munzala: A new species from western Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India. International Journal of Primatology, 26, 977–989) discovered Arunachal macaques (Macaca munzala), a species new to science, in the eastern Himalaya of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. They depicted the holotype and paratypes of the species in photographs, and a specimen of the species had been unavailable for preservation and examination. In March 2005, we obtained an entire specimen of an adult male Macaca munzala, which we propose as a voucher specimen for the species. We provide detailed morphological and anatomical measurements of the specimen and examine its affinities with other macaques. Macaca munzala appears to be unique among macaques in craniodental size and structure, baculum, and aspects of caudal structure, while exhibiting affinities with the other members of the sinica-group to which it belongs. We summarize our insights on the origins and phylogeny of Macaca munzala. Finally, we review the current conservation status of the macaques, which are threatened by extensive hunting in the only 2 districts of Arunachal Pradesh where they are documented to occur.
- Journal Article2008In search of the munzala: distribution and conservation status of the newly-discovered Arunachal macaque Macaca munzalaOryx, 42(3): 360–366Download
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The recently-described Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala is so far known only from western Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India. Here we present the first conservation status assessment for the species. Our surveys enumerated a total of 569 individuals in the Tawang and West Kameng districts of the State. The species seems to be tolerant of anthropogenic habitat change but is vulnerable to hunting. A low infant to adult female ratio suggests that not all adult females reproduce at any given time, and females do not give birth every year. The macaques are persecuted largely in response to crop damage, with the practice of keeping them as pets providing an added in- centive to hunting. The species is, however, able to attain remarkably high densities in the absence of hunting. Crop damage by the macaque is widespread; patterns of crop damage are similar across altitudinal zones and do not seem to be correlated with macaque density. The species will need to be protected in human-modified landscapes, and the issues of crop damage and retaliatory persecution need to be addressed urgently.
- Report2008Strategies for reducing bycatch of susceptible speciesPolicy Brief. UNDP/UNTRS and NCF. Chennai
- 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.
- 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)
- Popular Article2008Eastern PromisesSimplifly - Deccan inflight magazine
- Book Chapter2007Rainforest restoration and wildife conservation on private lands in the Western Ghats.Making conservation work (eds G. Shahabuddin & M. Rangarajan), pp. 210-240. Permanent Black, Ranikhet, Uttaranchal.
- Journal Article2007Suceeding poorly or failing better?Seminar 577: 53-57
- Journal Article2007Pastoral nomads of the Indian Changthang: production system, landuse and socioeconomic changes.Human Ecology, 35, 497-504.
- Journal Article2007Foraging ecology and time-activity budget of the Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala – A preliminary studyCurrent Science, 93 (4): 532
The Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala was discovered in 2003 from the high altitudes of western Arunachal Pradesh, and described as a new species in 2005. Vir- tually nothing is yet known of this new macaque spe- cies. In order to generate scientific knowledge on this primate, a field study was conducted to collect infor- mation on its ranging patterns, diet and behaviour. Two multimale multifemale troops were observed for a pe- riod of 112 h in Zemithang valley, Tawang District. The two troops, consisting of 22 and 13 individuals re- spectively, spent on an average, 48% of the observed time in moving and foraging, 36% in sitting and rest- ing, and 16% in social interactions. Foraging alone accounted for 29% of the time-activity budget and was the major activity of the macaques throughout the study. The troops had home ranges of 28 ha and 16 ha respectively, much smaller than those of other ma- caque species studied in similar environments else- where. The macaques ranged largely in the secondary scrub habitat in the study area, where they were ob- served to feed mainly on Elaeagnus parvifolia and Erythrina arborescens. Although fruits of the former species constituted more than 65.8% of the overall diet, this largely frugivorous diet is likely to be seasonal. Our preliminary results suggest the ranging and forag- ing behaviour of the Arunachal macaque to be largely in response to food resource availability. The species also appears to be a typical member of the sinica spe- cies-group of the genus in exhibiting a matrifocal society with tolerant social relationships.
- Popular Article2007Namdapha: beyond the tiger.The Hindu Survey of the Environment 2007, pp. 89-95.
- Journal Article2007Application of photographic capture-recapture modelling to estimate demographic parameters for male Asian elephantsAnimal Conservation 10: 391-399Download
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In addition to the threats of habitat loss and degradation, adult males of the Asian elephant Elephas maximus also face greater threats from ivory poaching and conflict with humans. To understand the impact of these threats, conservationists need robust estimates of abundance and vital rates specifically for the adult male segment of elephant populations. By integrating the identification of individual male elephants in a population from distinct morphology and natural markings, with modern capture–recapture (CR) sampling designs, it is possible to estimate various demographic parameters that are otherwise difficult to obtain from this long-lived and wide-ranging megaherbivore. In this study, we developed systema- tic individual identification protocols and integrated them into CR sampling designs to obtain capture histories and thereby estimate the abundance of adult bull elephants in a globally important population in southern India. We validated these estimates against those obtained from an independent method combining line-transect density estimates with age–sex composition data for elephants. The sampled population was open to gains and losses between sampling occasions. The abundance of adult males in the 176 km2 study area was N(se N)= 134(14.2) and they comprised 14% ( ± 1%) of the total elephant population. Time-specific abundance estimates for each sampling occasion showed a distinct increase in adult male numbers over the sampling period, explained by seasonal patterns of local migration. CR-based estimates for adult male abundance closely matched estimates from distance-based methods. Thus, while providing abundance data of comparable rigour and precision, photographic CR methods permit estimation of demographic parameters for the Asian elephant that are both urgently needed and difficult to obtain.