Where passion meets wildlife science – at the line transect

(February 19, 2019) Volunteering for this activity comes with a dash of adventure and lots of learning about the jungle.Being alert, observant and working as a team in noting down the details are part of walking the line © WCS-India/HyTiCosDropped before dawn near the start location somewhere inside the forest, my companion, —a veteran transect walker—and I, wait for the pre-determined time before we start walking slowly and quietly along the marked transect line, scanning both sides for anima...


Healthcare for the Pangolin

(February 16, 2019) On World Pangolin Day, a look at one aspect that seems unconnected but contributes to the trade in the world's most trafficked mammal.Written by Aristo MendisIt is World Pangolin Day. And, as much as we would like to look at the pangolin trafficking dilemma as either glass ‘half-empty’ or ‘half-filled’ in terms of existing efforts to ensure their survival, we do have to address one of the main triggers behind why these scaly mammals (and so many more) are continuously col...


Trumpeting for long-term solutions

(February 14, 2019)  Representational image © Srikanth RaoA fan club for a crop-raiding elephant may seem a paradox but if Chinna Thambi (meaning little brother), a wild elephant has been left free (for now) and not captured and tamed as per initial pans, it was thanks to the club.This tusker in Coimbatore has been raiding crops in the field and also damaging shops and homes in search of grains and fruits. Following protests from locals, he was translocated to a forest 100 kms away but soon enough, found ...


The thing with Exotic Pets

(February 09, 2019) Live wildlife trade in species like turtles, tortoises, birds and snakes often kept as pets could seriously affect some of these species.By Aristo MendisIndian star tortoise © N A NaseerGeneral awareness of the threat posed by illegal wildlife trade involving high value species such as tigers, leopards, elephants, rhinos and pangolins is relatively better than how ‘live wildlife trade’ as a whole is perceived. This trade too has a significant impact on wild populations of severa...


Wild in the Wilderness

(February 05, 2019) Handling mob fury is a challenging task, especially in protected areas that can be damaged by one act of arson.Written by Praneet GotetiCauvery Wildlife Sanctuary near Sangama. © Srikanth RaoIn a recent unfortunate incident at Melghat Tiger Reserve, many government staff including police and forest department officials, were grievously wounded and prime tiger habitat set fire to by an angry mob. The grasslands in the core area were just recovering when this incident took place.It was the ti...


The Hunter Among the Reeds

(January 31, 2019) Bad practices and habitat loss are affecting birds that inhabit city landscapes.Written by Prasad NatarajanBefore the stone benches were installed at Hebbal lake, during summer we were able to access the tiny islands. Water used to recede and we were able to walk on the shores, sit up in bamboo shades and watch waders at close quarters. However, in the past few years a lot of work has gone into this lake and many of the islands stay submerged in summer as well. About three years ago, when I had ...


Illegal Wildlife Trade – More than What Meets the Eye

(January 25, 2019) Joint action by various enforcement agencies alone can check the organised illegal trade which also has national security ramifications.Written by Mridula VijairaghavanSeized pangolin scales ©WCS-India ArchivesI recently came across a powerful video called Last Days, which showcased the close link between trade in ivory and how it funds militants in Africa. It shook me, and I started to read a little more about similar patterns in India. What I found was rather unsettling.The link between i...


Boot Camps that Build Citizen Science Volunteers

(January 22, 2019) Learning can never be as much fun and adventurous as when you volunteer with WCS-India. Our legion of Citizen Science volunteers is proof of that.On the Walk'Boot-camps' often see few participants return back with the same vigour as they did the first time. But at WCS-India's boot camps, rigorous though they are, the numbers keep swelling as newcomers join the ranks of veteran volunteers. Together, they form the citizen science force, engaged in wildlife conservation.The ‘boot-camps’...


A four-day-long rescue of an endangered animal

(January 18, 2019) It was the 15th rescue in five years involving a whole posse of experts and specialists. The nearly 9-foot pregnant female Gangetic Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) found itself stuck in the Sharda Sahayak canal in Amethi district. There was water and food but for the dolphin there is often no way to return to its wide home range.© Ravindra Kumar SinhaThe dolphin gave the rescue team a good chase up and down over four days, covering nearly 100 km. Nicknamed 'Maharani' (Queen) by the team...


Collecting Bird Songs for Posterity

(January 15, 2019) Meet IFS officer Pratap Singh whose all-consuming passion for recording bird songs from the wilderness has resulted in a huge repository.Birds may have small brains but that does not make them less intelligent than mammals. In fact, recent studies have shown that they have more neurons packed into a square unit of area than most mammals or even primates, explaining their remarkable cognitive abilities. From making tools of twigs or building intricate nests, to placing nuts to be cracked by vehic...


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