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Egyptian Vultures: Victims of Myths And Misconception

In one of the most shocking cases of wildlife trade, seven endangered Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus), have been recovered from a man traveling from Kanpur to Manmad in Maharashtra. Wrapped in colourful cloth, the vultures were hidden inside a basket in Pushpak Express when the railway police rounded up the man with the threatened birds. The arrest is likely to unearth a wildlife crime syndicate. This blog will keep you updated on the issue . The scavenger birds are listed as endangered in the IUCN red list  threatened species because of its “rapidly declining"  population world over”. Myths Linked With Vultures Special task force (SIT) of Madhya Pradesh forest department is quizzing Fareed Sheikh (60) who was found in possession of 7 birds from a train at Khandwa railway station. He turned out to be only a   carrier-  like those  in drug trafficking. Fareed said that  Sameer Khan, a resident of  Kanpur, handed him over the vultures and  he was  asked to transfer the co
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Fertility Stories Immortalise Collarwali Tigress of Pench Tiger Reserve

  She was a superstar of Pench tiger reserve . The tigress that livedmore than 16 years and delivered a record number of 29  cubs in8 litters died on January 15 evening. Collarwali, as she was fondly referred toafter a radio collar was put around her neck in 2008, was darling of wildlifetourists who would visit the tiger reserve. They would remember the tigress forher ‘catwalks’ on the pathways of the national park giving them ample opportunitiesto click pictures. She would make easy wildlife photography. Collarwali was immortalizedafter scores of national and international documentaries were made on her. The Departmentof Post in India issued a special cover envelope of Collarwali  on World Sparrow Day in 2015 Besides, NewZealand and Canada too issued personalized stamps on the tigress in the sameyear. The park director said she died because of old age complicationsin her intestine.  Apall of gloom descended over Pench while her funeral was performed on January 16. RIP Collarwali Offic

A Decade of Forest Cover Decline in India

  In the times of Global Warming, there is bad news from the forests of India. The latest government report on the status of the forests of the country revealed that there has been an overall decline in the forest cover across the country's 32 tiger reserves ( of the 52).The forest cover in its sole Lion Conservation Area (LCA) of Gir in Gujarat has also shrunk. According to the biennial India’s State of Forest Report 2021, published by the Forest Survey of India , the country has also recorded an increase of 1,540 square kilometers in its forest cover but it was mainly due to plantation and agroforestry . There is an overall decline of 22.62 square kms in  forest area and it should be a cause of concern.  Decade of Decline  The decreasing forest trend varied from 0.06 sq km in Orang in Assam to  the biggest loss of 118.97 sq km in Kawal tiger reserve in Telangana, Bhadra  tiger reserve (53.09 sq km) in Karnataka and the fragile Sundarbans in West Bengal (49.95 sq km) have also wi

Shouldn’t The Record Number Of Tiger Deaths Be A Cause Of Concern?

This story was on my agenda since December 30 when the tiger death data was revealed by the National tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) but as I did not want to begin the New Year with a negative note, I held it back. And a positive story of sighting of the clouded leopard atop a Nagaland mountain seemed to be the perfect beginning for the year 2022 before we go back to address the tiger crisis. Madhya Pradesh with the highest numberof tiger population tops the list of the big cat loss. The central India state accounted for almost 35 % of the record number of 126 tigers’ deaths in India in 2021. As many as 44 tigers died in MP. I apologise  from the readers to carry the images of tiger carasses along with this writeup.  MP’s Tiger Deaths Under Scrutiny   Though there is nothing official in the tag, the term of 'tiger state' enhances Madhya Pradesh's  status in the wildlife. This term is used because of the maximum number (526) of  felines found in the state. But 2021 turn

Clouded Leopards Kiss Clouds Atop Nagaland Peak

  Photographic evidence of elusive clouded leopard ((Neofelis nebulosa) has been recorded at an elevation of 3,700 meters  not in a wildlife sanctuary but in a community-owned forest along the India-Myanmar border in the north eastern state of Nagaland.  This rare species of leopard is listed as 'vulnerable' under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and its population is unknown in the wild. A team of researchers gathered evidence of four leopards- two adults and two cubs. Found on the Highest Peak of Nagaland  The findings have been published in the winter 2021 issue of Cat News, the IUCN/Species Survival Commission (SSC) Cat Specialist Group’s biannual newsletter. The state animal of Meghalaya, the clouded leopard is a medium-sized felid (a mammal of the cat family), and is the smallest of the large wild cats. These leopards  are largely known to inhabit low-elevation evergreen rainforests and are spread from the Himalayan foothills in Nepal, Bhutan and India to Myanmar,

Shhhh - Leopard is watching you

Beware of Leopard (Panthera pardus ), the cat could be next door. A leopard in Lucknow mauled over 20 residents as the spotted cat stalked the busy roads in the last week of December in 2021. The wildcat wandered in the state capital of Uttar Pradesh as a team of over 100 members of forest department, police and others continued to make efforts to capture the cat. The city was on a high alert. People were panicking. The wild cat was ultimately caught on December 28. Over 600 kms away in Bhopal, not one but three leopards continue to move in different pockets of the city. There were no reports of any attack on residents. But pug marks and CCTV footage confirmed the presence of leopards in the city. There were reports of the presence of leopards in Pune in Maharashtra and Chattarpur in Madhya Pradesh. But why are leopards attracted to cities in this part of the year. Experts believe it is food-easy prey and garbage dumps of cities- that draws the attention of the animal. Are They Turnin

Tigress Abandons Two Cubs Near Bandhavgarh National Park

  A tigress abandoned her two cubs in a farm field  of a small village of Katni district .After waiting for their mothers for about a week,  the forest departent  transferred the cubs-about two and half months old- to  White tiger Safari, Mukundpur in Rewa. The big cat seems to have dispersed from  Bandhavgarh national park , about 65 kms away from Jhiriya village of Katni where the cubs were located. Katni is strategically located between Bandhavgarh and Panna tiger reserves. Wildlife experts fear for the life of both -the tigress and her cubs. Tigress , Cubs Unsafe    The tigress was spotted by some villagers on December 12 night in Jhiriya village. She was accompanying her three cubs. But in the morning, the two cubs were found in a farm but the tigress was missing with the third cub. When villagers first spotted the cubs, they were shivering in cold in the absence of the warmth of their mother.  A senior forest department official said that after the tigress dispersed from some n

Surviving the Toughest Test : A tale Told by Tiger Siblings

  This is a beautiful story of four tiger siblings- fortunate for two reasons. First, after the tragic death of their mother seven months ago, they were not caged but given a chance to learn and survive in the wild. Second, they not only survived but learnt all the skills required to be alive in the jungle where the law of nature prevails. They have lived to tell a different tiger tale.  Life after Mother’s Death In May 2021, when the park was parched and mercury was soaring, Uttam Kumar Sharma, the field director of Panna tiger reserve narrateda chilling story of the four orphaned cubs, three males and one female .Their mother had died of  a" msysterious" illness when they were very young and needed mother’s shadown to survive . As the park management pondered over the situation after the disheartening news of her death, there were many suggestions to save the cubs.“But only a few  suggested leaving cubs in the wild. Most of the people recommended capturing the cubs and kee

Elusive Cats of Panna, As Threatened As The Park

Panna national park , famous world over for its successful tiger relocation programme, has added another feather in its cap. During a  night safari, an Indian desert cat was spotted in the park which itself is threatened by the controvertial Ken Betwa river linking project. The cat was photographed by a tourist in Akola buffer, once famous for two tiger brothers- Heera–Panna. One of them died of poaching recently.   Desert Cat and Rare Sighting Also known as Asiatic wildcat , the Indian desert cat inhabits the Thar Desert (pic courtsey NiF Hive)  and is associated with the scrub desert. Soon after its sighting in Panna, the  the tiger reserve tweeted " In 1999, it was still reported as common in Bikaner, Barmer, Jaisalmer, Pali and Nagaur districts of Rajasthan .Only four sightings were reported from the Thar Desert between 1999 and 2006". Though its sighting was recorded in Nauradehi wildlife sanctuary of Panna landscape , in Madhya Pradesh and Mirzapur forests, it has not b

Are Tigers denied Honourable Death?

  Should a wild tiger be allowed to die its natural death in the jungle when injured after aterritorial fight or in natural course  or it should be  given medical treatment  when found injured.For long, this question has baffled the wildlife managers, many of whom are of the opinion that a wild tiger should not be denied an honorable death. Let the law of the jungle prevail and there should be no interference with nature. Treat or Not to Treat: Dilemma Continues   So a tiger carrying an injury in its natural course of life in the jungle (not due toany human action) – should it be treated with medicines? Though this question has been raised for the past many years, NTCA guidelines prohibit such intervention(of medication). A one-word answer for the question seems to be difficult ,especially in the times when most of the people are concerned moreover thetiger numbers. India along with other 13 tiger range countries has been workingfor the past few years to double the number of the big c

Bird Festival Begins in Bhigwan

  Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary (BBS) has come alive in a riot of colours. Thousands of resident and migratory birds have flocked the backwaters of the Ujani dam built downstream of river Bhima. For years, flamboyance of flamingos has been attracting a large number of tourists . The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread and largest species of the flamingo family. It is found in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and in southern Europe. As the birds stand on the pink lanky legs,  wildlife photographers click in frenzy to  catch the  best of the moves made by  them. Local guides call flamingo the “tiger” of Bhigwan as most of the people come here especially for this bird. Charm of B&W : Black Headed Ibis   Vying for the attention of the tourists, there are over 300 species of birds - both residents and migratory- in Bhigwan. Winter beckons birds' migration  to the backwaters of the dam as they  chirp, cheep , sing, shriek hoot and make all sorts

Midst Extinction Fear, Search Begins for Caracal in MP

Madhya Pradesh is searching for carcal, a cat fastheading towards extinction in India. Known for its elusive nature, caracal is foundmostly  in Rajasthan, Kutch in Gujarat and perhaps, parts of Madhya Pradesh around Chambal ravines. Though nocaracal has been sighted for long in MP, efforts are on to spot  them in and around Kuno Palpur National Park  in Sheopur district bordering Rajasthan. CameraTraps in Kuno The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and thestate forest department are trying to locate caracal by placing cameratraps   in the jungle. Few years ago, there were reports in Hindi media in Sheopur about sightings of caracal  but it couldnot be confirmed.  However, theneighbouring Ranthambhore national park is home to some of these fascinatingcats. The park is located in Sawaimadhopur district .Besides, the cat isbelieved to  be spread in Karoli  and Dholpur districts  of Rajasthan also. In October this yearphotographic evidence of the endangered cat was reported from Kumbhalgar

Death of a Superstar Highlights Signifiance of Tiger Corridors

                                                          A superstar-tiger of Panna National Park popularly known as Hira was poached. Code named 234-31,Hira was about 2 years of age and was perhaps headed towards Ranipur wildlifesanctuary in Chitrakoot Uttar Pradesh when he was electrocuted and de-skinned brutally by the poachers. For thousands of tourists and wildlife photographers,Hira along with his sibling Panna assumed a status of superstars because of thefrequent sightings and the photo opportunities they provided to the visitors of Akola wildlife tourist zone in the buffer area of the park.  They were born in November 2019 to Tigress P234 in her third litter. Panna,  the sibling of Hira, is still entertaining  the tourists.  Tiger Unsafe Outside  Protected Area As Hira was radio collared, his whereabouts were known tothe forest department. But tigers are not monitored on an hourly or day to daybasis. After leaving the Akola zone on July 24 , Hira remained in Panna’s  north di