- Popular Article2005Shot down by friendly fireIndian Express 3 July 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 Article2005The Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala: a new primate species from western Arunachal Pradesh, north-eastern IndiaInternational Journal of Primatology 26 (4): 977-989.
- 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.
- Popular Article2005High on hornbills.Wildlife Conservation magazine. June 2005.
- Popular Article2005Shot down by friendly fireDown To Earth 30 June 2005
- Journal Article2005The global village: linkages between international coffee markets and grazing by livestock in a south Indian wildlife reserveConservation Biology 19: 411-420Download
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India’s heritage of natural habitats and wild species is under growing threat from its biomass- dependent rural peoples and its consumeristic urban economy. As the mainstay of its wildlife conserva- tion effort, then, India’s wildlife reserves continue to face a range of extractive uses. The Indian conserva- tion/development discourse has, however, drawn a distinction between traditional subsistence use and modern commercial use of natural resources in wildlife reserves. It has also been suggested that subsistence use must be accommodated within Indian wildlife reserves because it caters exclusively to local consumption for livelihood, whereas commercial use warrants greater restriction because it furthers profit-based goals of distant interests. How valid is such a clear distinction between subsistence use and commercial use? I address this question using the village of Hangala on the boundary of Bandipur National Park in south India as a case study. Hangala’s livestock were reared primarily for their inputs of dung and draft power into local agriculture, and customarily grazed in the forests of Bandipur. This practice qualified as subsistence use because all goods and services obtained from livestock grazing in Bandipur catered exclusively to village-level consumption. In the last two decades, major upheavals in the global coffee markets dramatically boosted profit margins of coffee growers in the hill districts abutting Bandipur. The profits enabled coffee growers to afford expansions of their resource catchment for dung, an important farm manure in short supply in the coffee districts. When this demand reached Hangala, it resulted in large-scale export of dung, which transformed it from locally produced and locally consumed manure for village agriculture to a high-value organic fertilizer for commercial export to coffee plantations. Following the dung export, livestock numbers in the region increased, aggravating graz- ing pressures on the forests. This case study thus challenges politically correct notions that subsistence use is distinguishable from and preferable to commercial use in the context of protected-area management in India.
- Journal Article2005Record of the Chinese goral Nemorhaedus caudatus in Arunachal PradeshJournal of the Bombay Natural History Society 102: 225-227
- Book Chapter2005Local hunting and large mammal conservationPages 60-67 in Wildlife Conservation, Research and Management. Y. V. Jhala, R. Chellam, & Q. Qureshi (eds.), Technical Publication No. RR-05/001, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India.
- Book2005Let’s discover our hornbills. Colouring and activity book on Indian hornbills. Hornbill Conservation Program.A Nature Conservation Foundation Publication. 42 pp.Download
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A colouring and activity book for children on Indian hornbills. This book tells you about the nine different hornbill species found in India, how they look, where they live, what they eat and much more!
- Book Chapter2005Eight years monitoring of Malabar grey hornbill Ocyceros griseus nest cavity use and dynamics in the Anamalai rainforest, India.The ecology of hornbills: reproduction and population (eds S. Lum & P. Poonswad), pp. 3-10. Pimdee Karnpim Co., Ltd., Bangkok.
- Journal Article2004Conflicts between traditional pastoralism and conservation of Himalayan Ibex (Capra sibirica) in the Trans-Himalayan mountainsAnimal Conservation, 7, 121-128.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Book2004Walk the rainforest with Niwupha.Katha, New Delhi, October 2004, 32 pp.
- Journal Article2004War and wildlife: A post-conflict assessment of Afghanistan's Wakhan corridor.Oryx, 1, 102-105.
- 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.