- Popular Article2005Shot down by friendly fireIndian Express 3 July 2005
- Journal Article2005Discovery of the Tibetan macaque Macaca thibetana in Arunachal Pradesh, IndiaCurrent Science 88(9): 1387-1388
- Popular Article2005Shot down by friendly fireDown To Earth 30 June 2005
- Journal Article2005Benthic recovery four years after an El Niño-induced coral mass mortality in the Lakshadweep atollsCurrent Science. 89(4): 694-699Download
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The reefs of the Lakshadweep suffered a mass mortality of coral in 1998, in the wake of an El Niño event of unprecedented severity. In 2002, we conducted a broadscale benthic survey of six atolls in this group to check if there were geographic trends in recovery patterns across the archipelago. Four years after the mass mortality, live coral cover was relatively low on most atolls, and thin algal turfs dominated the benthos. Clear benthic differences were apparent between eastern and western aspects of reefs, pointing to the importance of local hydrodynamic conditions in determining recovery rates. Where recovery was the most apparent, it was dominated by fast-growing and bleaching-resistant coral genera. Despite the apparent lack of recovery at many sites, the reef system did not show signs of having suffered a ‘phase shift’ to a macroalgal state. High herbivorous fish abundance was likely responsible in controlling macrophyte levels, and may be crucial for further benthic recovery in these reefs.
- 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 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 Article2004Conflicts between traditional pastoralism and conservation of Himalayan Ibex (Capra sibirica) in the Trans-Himalayan mountainsAnimal Conservation, 7, 121-128.
- Journal Article2004Competition between domestic livestock and wild bharal Pseudois nayaur in the Indian Trans-Himalaya.Journal of Applied Ecology, 41, 344-354.
- 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.
- 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 Article2004Modelling habitat selection and distribution of the critically endangered Jerdon’s courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus in scrub jungle: an application of a new tracking method.J. Appl. Ecol. 41(2): 224-237.
- Book2004Walk the rainforest with Niwupha.Katha, New Delhi, October 2004, 32 pp.
- Popular Article2004Bandipur-Brazil: the falloutsDown To Earth 30 October 2004
- Journal Article2004War and wildlife: A post-conflict assessment of Afghanistan's Wakhan corridor.Oryx, 1, 102-105.
- Journal Article2004Nest site selection and nesting success of hornbills in Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India.Bird Conservation International 14: 249-262.
- 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 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.
- Popular Article2004Rainforest revival.Sanctuary Asia 24(2): 38-41.