Tag Archive | "India"

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Indian Big Cats’ “Well” Fiasco

Posted on 04 June 2012 by RE Team

The big cats of India has been fighting with the increasing population in the country. There are regular incidents when Leopards or even Tigers stray into villages and create unexpected situations. We have here captured some of the examples where the big cat gets trapped in men dug  wells and struggles to get out of it. It creates nervousness and frustration in the animal and sometimes even injures people.

May 28, 2012

A wild leopard fell into a water reservoir tank at a tea estate in Sangatram, some 30 kms from Siliguri, in West Bengal, India. After various efforts by authorities, the Leopard finally escapes using a ladder put by the rescue team from Mahananda Wildlife sanctuary.


The Nervous Leopard struggling to climb the well - Diptendu Dutta / AFP



Leopard climbing a ladder - Diptendu Dutta / AFP


Feb 29, 2011

Within a span of 24 hours two big cats of India slipped into man made wells at different locations.

The first incident was reported from Chameli Forest are of Maharashtra, western India.

The tiger, a full grown adult around four years old, fell into the 40-feet-deep dry well, which was not protected by a wall. The tiger was probably chasing some prey and must have accidentally fallen into the well around dawn today. It spent around ten hours in the well without food or water.


The frightened Tiger in the well


The animal’s plight was detected almost five hours later when some tribals and forest officials heard its roar and alerted police and wildlife officials, who then mounted a rescue operation. The tiger was first tranquilized and then taken out of the 40 feet deep well. It took more than three hours for the authorities to complete the operation. Later the Big Cat was released to wild.

In another similar incident reported from central India, a one-and-a-half year-old leopard was Tuesday extricated from a well in after a six-hour rescue operation.

Villagers of Dewas district in Madhya Pradesh first heard roars of the Leopard in a well situated in the fields. They informed the forest department. The intital efforts from the villagers to rescue it failed.


Angry Leopard in Well


Later, the forest department workers used a cage and successfully took out the leopard from the well.  The leopard would be released in the Dewas forest area after a medical check-up.

These are not only the first reports of big cats falling into human structures. There are frequent reports of such incidents from all corners of India.

On Sep 6, 2010, a Leopard was rescued from a well by locals in Udupi, south India.

On March, 2009, an adult Leopard was rescued from Guwahati, eastern part of India.

These reports imply the shrinking habitat of these big cats.

In fact the sighting of tiger in that area surprised the authorities. The area  never reported a sighting in the past many years since it is not a thick forest region. This says how far the rare animal travelled into human settlements, where it is never safe!

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Where the birds commit suicide!

Posted on 04 June 2012 by RE Team

It is one of the unresolved mysteries of nature why this place named, Jatinga, in the North-East India region attracts birds from high sky to the ground on special weather conditions and the birds of various species fall prey to hunters and tribal villagers! Jatinga is a small village in the North-Cachar Hills of Assam where few thousands villagers of the Jayantia tribe live.


Jatinga Bird - Courtesy ZAHID AHMED TAPADAR @flickr


Jatinga was first inhabited by a tribe called Zeme Nagas in 1890 under the discretion of the Dimasa king who was the sovereign ruler. They were the first to witness the mystery when their camp fires attracted various birds. They considered this as the act of some evil spirits and the frightened tribes deserted the settlement. The Jaintias, who moved in around 1905 under their leader Lakhanbang Suchiang, tumbled upon the mystery while venturing into the valley at night with lightedtorches to round up stray cattle. The bamboo torches attracted showers of birds which the Jaintias regarded as a “gift of God”. The first mention of this mystery is found in the Wild Life of India (1957) by the British tea planter andorinthologist E.P. Gee. “The whole thing is extraordinary” Gee wrote. He notedthat the bird death took place only at this spot. Even when lights were put up in nearbyplaces, the phenomenon did not occur. He also noted that some conditions are necessary for the phenomenon to take place. In the following years, this phenomenon was referenced as “Birds committing suicide”.

This mysterious phenomenon takes place only in the later days of rainy season from September to November. During moonless and foggy dark nights between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., flying birds come crashing to the ground with no prior warning whatsoever. Curiously, most of the doomed birds do not attempt to fly away after they land near the lights. They look dazed and disheveled, perhaps due to the trauma of the whole shocking experience. This is not confined to a single species but around 50 birds species fall prey to this nature’s mystery. Tiger Bittern, Black Bittern, Little Egret, Pond Heron, Indian Pitta and Kingfishers are some of the species to name.
Another interesting point is that, this phenomenon does not occur in the whole valley but only in a well-defined strip, 1.5 km long and 200 mts. wide. Invariably the birds come in only from the north and attempts at placing the lights on the southern side of the ride to attract the birds have failed. Another fact is that no long distance migratory bird gets attracted to the light traps. Some common resident birds like grouse, hornbills and imperial pigeons do not get caught at Jatinga. The directionless, hapless birds fall prey to the villagers after they land into the ground.


Jatinga Hills - Courtesy ZAHID AHMED TAPADAR @flickr


Various studies have been conducted to unravel the causes behind this phenomenon. But the root cause of this mysterious behaviour of the birds is not yet determined. Conservation groups and wildlife officials in India have taken steps to prevent this wanton killing of the birds, creating awareness in the illiterate villagers. Since then, the amount of birds killed have decreased by about 40 percent. However, there is still need of more research to unravel the real cause behind this un-natural phenomenon.

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Will Someone Save The Vultures?

Posted on 17 May 2012 by RE Team

Once very easily sighted, many animals and birds vanished from everywhere without notice of most of the common people in India. One such bird is the Vultures. Few years back vultures were one of the common bird in the urban india, cleaning the carcasses around cities. No one ever bothered to think about them. They were seen in the tall trees and in the wastelands in the heart of the cities. But without much of notice, these urban friendly birds disappeared so quickly that people never got a chance to even realize. It is a shocking story for anyone living in India that these large and ugly looking(that’s how it is considered in culture) birds are on the brink of extinction and very soon it may become impossible to save the very few left.


Indian Vultures were considered the most common large bird of prey in the world in 80s and early 90s and they were found in millions


To start this tragic story of the vultures, we don’t have to look back much far. The vulture story is one of the latest event in human history like those in medieval world where some species faced extinction within a span of few years due to human activities. In 1980s, the vultures were found in millions in India, usually in group of hundreds. It was probbaly the most common large bird of prey in the world at that time.  Even in early 90s they were found almost everywhere and adapted well to the urban environment of India. No one could imagine at that moment that there is any danger to this species.


The vultures seemed to have adapted the urban world pretty well


The vulture crisis started only in mid 90s, when news of mass vulture deaths were reported in the local news frequently. The news reported deaths of hundreds of vultures in single instances, where they were found just found dead in a span of few square meters.  They were lying on grounds, hanging from trees, nests and in all possible posture. Initially it was thought to be as some poisonous drug in the carcasses they eat and taken lightly. Those incidents happening across all the zones in India were believed to be independent of each other. As news were reported almost daily from one place or the another, scientists took some initiatives but they were just mystified. For years these news took important place in the news media but slowly declined. The common people realized probably the death are reducing, but in reality, the groups of vultures started declining catastrophically from everywhere, so the death numbers of the vultures, to be able to find a place in the news media.


In the last decade dead Vultures were carried away like this in tens-hundreds in India. They were found dead everywhere, hanging from trees, in the nests or lying on the ground!


For more than a decade, these large birds faced deaths without a known reason to the scientists. It was as late as 2004, when scientists in the United States identified the cause: the drug Diclofenac. Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory agent, has been deployed successfully in human medicine for decades. In most EU countries medication containing Diclofenac is only approved for treatment of humans. In India, Pakistan and Nepal it has been deployed in veterinary medicine as well since the 90s, in particular for livestock. When vultures feed on cattle carcasses, they too ingest the drug. The drug acts as a fatal poison to the vultures and they die from kidney failure.


The poor vultures died in thousands without a known reason at that time


Though the cause was discovered in 2004, it took the government in India and also Pakistan, Nepal two years to banned the medicine. In May 2006, the medicine was banned, but by that time almost 97% of the total vulture population was wiped out.

The medicine was banned, but due to other obvious reasons like habitat loss, etc. the vulture populations kept on declining in the Indian subcontinent. Now it is estimated that almost 99% of the vulture population vanished from nature in just 15 years.

Indian subcontinent is home to three vulture species, Slender-billed Vulture, Indian Vulture and Indian White-rumped Vulture. Currently only less than thousand individuals are believed to be alived from each species! They are now restricted to very small pockets in the country. The white-rumped Vulture weighs 3.5-7.5 kg (7.7-16.5 lbs), measures 89-93 cm (30-37 in) in length, and has a wingspan of about 260 cm (8.6 ft). Slender-billed and Indian Vultures weigh between 5.5 and 6.3 kg (12-13.9 lbs) and measuring 80-100 cm (32-40 in) long and 205 to 229 cm (81-91 in) across the wings.


Vultures are now found in small pockets in Indian subcontitent, with a total population of around a thousand - courtesy misiku1@flickr


The RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, BirdLife in India) are pioneers in creating awareness on this crtically endangered bird. They have set up vulture breeding centres in northern India, West Bengal, Assam and also have been working on a campaign “Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE)” across all three countries, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Some government initiatives have been also started and many centers across the country are opened in recent years. SAVE which is in place for more than five years now is the last hope for the vultures.

SAVE’s breeding program has contributed a lot in last few years. In 2008 the program was successful to breed artificially in captivity. But the artificial program is not that efficient, so the scientists looked into artificial hatching in incubators. 2010 brought success in this sector too.

But its unfortunate that there are still some reported news of mass vulture deaths as late as a week from today. On the first week of March, death of 20 vultures were reported at a paddy field in Goalpara district of Assam, North-East India.

Culturally vultures are always considered as symbol of death and something bad in India. They are neglected for thousands of years and just disappearing unnoticed. Species like tiger has got so much important in the country over the few years. But these large birds are simple neglected. Its already very late to bring to give attention to these birds, but if we don’t give them now, it will be too late. Like tiger, being on the top of the eco pyramid, vulture has got very important role in the ecosystem. In fact they are much more imporant than any birds in the human society. They have been keeping our environment clean and hygienic.

If drastic steps are not taken, the vultures may take space from high skies into just books in front of our eyes. In fact the Parsis, whose religion prohibits burying or burning their dead, had to resort to technology such as solar reflectors to hasten decomposition of corpses already. The vultures used to dispose of human remains set out for them on sacrificial “towers of silence” by adherents of the ancient Parsi religion till few years back.

Will you step up to save these poor large birds?


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Rare Photo of a Tiger Family

Posted on 03 May 2012 by RE Team

A rare image of a photo-trapped complete Tiger family in Kaziranga National Park, India.


Rare Photo of Tiger Family


The Family consists of two cubs, father and mother. On the left is the Tigress and facing the trap camera is the Tiger, other two are the cubs.

In a recent reports release by Aaranyak, a premier biodiversity conservation organization of Assam, India states that Kaziranga has the highest density tiger habitats in the country and has a healthy breeding source population. According to the survey spanning over three years based on camera-trapped technique, the National Park  has over 118 tigers, includes six tigers which died during the monitoring period.


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The Rarest Palm Tree Survives

Posted on 30 April 2012 by RE Team

In 1919, Scotish Botanist William Roxburgh, who is considered as the father of Indian botany, discovered a very rare palm tree endemic to the Bengal region of India. The palm tree grows around 40 feet tall and the most interesting fact is that is seeds only once in it’s lifetime. It flowers only at around the age of 80 and after seeding it dies. Roxburgh idetified this species as very rare as very few instances of this tree was found in wild. It was also found that the flower structure is extraordinarilly large when it flowers. The palm tree was scientifically named as “Corypha Taliera“. Locally it is known as Tali Palm in the bengal region.

The Talipalm is solitary in nature, gorws moderately but becomes massive in size. It gorws till 80 years without producing a flower. At the end of it’s life, the flowers grow at the top of this tree and the leaves below it slowly dries out. Finally the trunk with millions of golf-ball sized seeds lives on for sometime. The seeds rains down for months producing thousands of saplings. With further studies it revealed this palm tree is really extra-ordinary. It currently hold two records in world’s botanical world. It holds the record of the largest flower structure in the world along with another palm species “Corypha umbraculifera”. The other record is of the largest palmate leaf which is 6 m. (20 ft.) wide.

The Largest Flower Structure in the world on the top of the Last Tali Palm in Wild

Due to the Tali Palm’s (Corypha taliera) rare nature, it was not known the local people of Bengal much. In 1979, a Tali Palm tree , located in a village in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, had begun flowering. The locals fearing that it was a ‘ghost palm tree’ due to its horn-like flowers. Botanist Shamal Kumar Basu came to know about its existence and tried to motivate local people but failed. Local fearful people chopped it down before the flower could set seed. It was the last known wild specimen of the Palm tree reported in last 30 years. Fortunately, there are some specimens of the tree preserved in the Howrah botanic garden in India.

Shamal Kumar Basu visited Bangladesh in 2001, when he saw the Tali Palm tree in the Dhaka University campus. This tree was identified as of the genus “Corypha” in 1950 by Professor Md. Salar Khan from the Department of Botany,Dhaka University. At that time he failed identify the exact species of the plant but realized it to be a rare species. There were construction going on the University campus, so Khan appealed to the higher autority to take special steps to preserve this tree and not to cut down. Since then the tree was preserved well in the Vice-Chancellor residential quarter. When Botanists visited the campus, he immediately identified it as “Corypha Taliera”. This Tali Palm in the campus became legend as it was the only naturally grown Tali Palm tree known in the world.

The last naturally Grown Tali Palm(Corypha taliera) In Dhaka

In 2010 January, the Tali Palm in the Dhaka University finally flowered and dried out naturally. Some of the seeds were preserved and let others plant naturally. Thousands of tali palm sapling grew naturally under the mother tree and around 500 grown artificially. The effort by various organizations to save this rarest Plam tree brought fruits. Now the saplings are planted in various locations and maintained properly. Some of the seeds from the mother tree were also put on research to find any medicinal value of it. The primary results are exciting as it can be used for the treatment of can be used in curing diseases like typhoid and diarrhoea. It also may be used as anti-ageing but needs to be confirmed yet.

The “IUCN Red List” has listed “Corypha Taliera” as “Extinct from Wild”. But the botanists in Bangladesh and in India are doing good to preserve the saplings. Currently there a number of grown Tali Palm in the Howrah Botanical Garden of India and we will have to wait till these tress become around 80 years old to flower.

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Tigress vs AK-47

Posted on 30 December 2011 by RE Team

The conflicts between human and big cats in India have been discussed and highlighted many times here. Despite many programs and money purred into this matter, the conflicts are getting in fact deeper with the ‘National Big Cat’ and the king of the jungle entering the scene. Yes, now its tiger that is directly confronting the human settlements in India creating panic in both wildlife lovers and common public.


The tigress that fell victim to AK-47 bulllets


During the last week of November, an adult tigress strayed out of the Kaziranga National Park of North-East India which is home to around 90 tigers.  The tigress created panic among the habitats living near by Kohora range of the National Park. The tigress not killed cattle of the villagers creating fear among all.

On 5th December, the tigress killed a pig of one villager and started eating in near by bush. It was witnessed by the villagers and informed the forest authority. The authority kept the tigress under notice and prepared to tranquilize the full grown tigress. While the villagers informed the police and also tried the flee it with crackers. The noise made the tigress nervous and cross the highway towards the other side of the jungle. In the mean time a team of Assam police also arrived at the location. The crowd created panic in the tigress too, and it started roaring. After sometime the tigress again came out and this time attacked one journalist and also one police personal armed with AK-47. He fired at the tigress on self defense. Injured with bullets, the tigress became weak and took a back step. But then another police personal fired at the tigress with his AK-47 and rained it with bullets. The tigress had no choice this time but to surrender to death.

Another sad incident! The death of the Royal bengal Tigress brought back peace into the locality among the panicking villagers. But the story shouldn’t have ended with 14 bullets inside a beautiful animal, in fact the National animal of India. The animal could have been saved with proper planning and with a little more effort. The bullets of an AK-47 should not be a solution or answer to the panic among the villagers.

This clearly proves how inadequate are the process in place to stop the human-animal conflict in the region. Its a now a grave matter, because after so much hype and money flown into the tiger projects, there are not sufficient actions are in place.

Hope as the “King of the Jungle” is involved now, the conflicts will get more attention. Unfortunately the poor villagers around the forests have suffered so much loss and more than that so many beautiful and precious animals have already lost their lives due to the negligence of a few authorities.

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Stop Brutality on Leopards

Posted on 30 April 2011 by RE Team

Acting in self-defense or in defense of another person is generally accepted as legal justification for killing a person in human civilized law. Unfortunately, the same may not be applicable to the innocent and rare animals. The dumb animals are given the worst punishments and treated brutally for any crime they make.

The above statements are based on recent human leopard conflicts in Indian sub-continent. The number of conflicts between human and the big cat are increasing day by day. Within a span of a month there are large number of news coming from various parts of the country. In most of the cases , the innocent and beautiful animal is killed to death brutally.

Incidents of 2011

We are covering some of the news came into the media and published in past one month. Read these and provide your comments whether the wild cats need justice or not!

On January 13th, a leopard was beaten to death by villagers at Gandarpur in Orissa state. A group of children from Gandarpur village while  playing  cricket near the village saw the leopard behind a bush. When they raised an alarm, the villagers rushed to the spot and started pelting stones at the animal. Desperate to free itself from the brutal attack, the leopard started running while launching a counter attack on the people, injuring four villagers in the process. But the villagers didn’t stop, they finally beat the Leopard mercilessly to death with sticks, iron rods and cricket bats.


Leopard killed in Gandarpur


On January 12th, in Haryana’s Faridabad, a homeless Leopard straying around attacked a woman and injured her. The mob got so angry that they searched for the Leopard all around the village and finally punished to death in a brutal manner. The angry mob even broke tranquilizer guns brought by rescue teams.


Brutally Killed Leopard of Faridabad


On the afternoon of January 9, a policeman shot dead a rampaging leopard to stop it from mauling a man who had stepped out of a bar in Maharashtra’s Karad city.


Leopard of Karad


On 20th January, two Leopards are found dead in Valsad of Guajarat. All but two nails of the male leopard were removed, as were the canines. The culprits had also cut off his tail and taken away some internal organs. The post-mortem of the female leopard revealed brain haemorrhage as the cause of death. Sad end to the wild beauties!

On January 20th, a leopard was killed in Udhampur when it was hit by a vehicle on Srinagar-Jammu highway.


The Leopard killed in Road-mishap


On 31st December, a leopard is killed in North Kashmir by wildlife authority. The leopard was suppose to be a man-eater killing six people. Its unfortunate that the authority didn’t use tranquilizers to catch the leopard.


The man-eater Leopard


Similarly on December 15th, Yuvraj of the erstwhile state of Utelia near Dhandhuka, Bhagirathsinh Vaghela, shot aleopard that was believed to have turned maneater. The cat was shot around 6.30pm in a sugarcane field near Areth village, near Valsad, where a leopard had killed a 75-year-old woman on Monday morning. Forest officials said the leopard returned to the spot where it had left the body on Monday evening and was brought down. But later, post mortem reports confirmed that the leopard was not a man-eater!


Leopard killed near Valsad


A leopard that caused scare among local residents was caught in a trap laid at Bhopal Pani (Ballawala) by Forest and Wildlife Department officials on 20th December. It was tranquilized and then caged. The poor animal was lucky enough to survive from the wrath of the mob!


Leopard trapped in Bhopalpur

These are few occurrences just in a month. The list goes long if look back more into past. Who will provide justice to these animals?

Wildlife experts want rapid response teams set up in sensitive areas across the country to deal with human-leopard conflicts. But Its the government who needs to take some action as soon as possible. The Government needs to study all aspects of this complex problem if the majestic feline is to co-exist peacefully with humans.

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Tiger Cubs Bring Joy to Ranthambore

Posted on 28 January 2011 by RE Team

Ranthambore National Park of India has a great 2011 start with the news of 9 tiger cub births.

Ranthambore, which is one of the largest National Park of India, is widely known for its Tigers. The Sanctuary was one of the initial reserved area to come under Indian Governments ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973. In 80s the park saw increase of tiger population slowly reaching 44 in 1989. But this critically endangered species saw a decline of population in 90s and later. The main reason for the population decline is attributed to poaching and habitat loss. In 2005 the official survey reveals only 24 tiger in the park. With tremendous efforts from wildlife activists and forest department, the population again soared to around 34 in 2008. According to the census conducted in the core division in 2009, revealed there were 14 males, 16 females and 10 cubs.


Tigress with Cubs at Ranthambore


But 2010 brought no good news for Tigers in Ranthambore with around 10 tiger lives lost. Due to tiger population growth and habitat shrinking, there were fierce competition among the tigers for food and territory. Apart from deaths due to fights, a few of them found staryed away from the National park. Adding worse to the scenario, in March 2010, two tiger cubs were poisoned by local villagers!

Though 2010 was not a very good year, 2011 brings really joy to the Ranthambore National park with news of nearly 9 or more new born cubs.

A trap camera caught three cubs recently in the Indala region of the park. Though the news of the birth of the cubs at the Indala region came sometime back, forest officials could not confirm it as pictures were not available. According to Rajpal Singh, member of the state wildlife board, the Indala tigress was the same one that gave birth to three cubs in 2006. Unfortunately, none of those survived.

Since last September, five cubs have been caught on camera while forest guards spotted two more tigress which are said to be lactating, park sources said.

However, sources said that there are four more cubs have been spotted in separate areas in the park. These four cubs are in two separate areas of the park. But there is no official confirmation on them as of now.

We hope this time the cubs will grow up with good health and authorities will take proper measure for this increasing population.

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Elephant twins bring joy to Orang

Posted on 17 December 2010 by RE Team

Alka, an elephant at the Orang National Park brings joy to wildlife animal lovers, as she created a history by giving birth to twins in the sanctuary on 15th December. Alka has engaged at the National Park to ferry thousands of tourists inside the wildlife sanctury for several years. Orang is situated in Assam, North-East India. The National Park, aka Rajib Gandhi National Park, is located on the north bank of the river Brahmaputra and around 150 km west of the capital city of the state Assam. It is home to rich flora and fauna, including the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, Pigmy hog, Elephants, Wild buffalo and Tigers.


Alka with her one day old little twins


The twin elephant calves, both female, were seen enjoying the warmth of their mother as Alka’s mahout Trailokya Bishya, who passed a sleepless night to protect the twins from the tigers, watched over them.

“I was on ambush duty in a camp a little away. Around 3 a.m. I heard Alka yelling in labour pain. At crack of dawn, when I reached her I was overjoyed to see that she had already given birth,” Mr. Baishya told. He lit a fire, preparing to guard the mother and the twins. Mr. Baishya was vigilant against possible tiger attacks. The 80-sq. km. park has an estimated 16 Royal Bengal Tigers.

Twins are extremely rare in the domesticated world of elephants. It is rare because a large-bodied animal would have to invest significantly higher effort to obtain nutritious food for twin foetuses. It is more likely to occur in wild elephants who have access to both wild food as well as cultivated crops which are more nutritious.

India has recorded Elephant twins birth more than a decade ago in Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. 2010 turns out to be an exceptional year for Elephants as this is the second report of Elephant twins in the same year. Early this year, Phang Thong Khun, an elephant from Thailand gave birth to male twins.

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Photos of Nature