Birds of Assam, India


This video says about itself:

Wreathed Hornbills in Assam: rare birds of India

4 April 2016

A large group of Wreathed Hornbills sit on an orchid-festooned tree across the Bhalukpong river, in Pakhui National Park of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, even as a Hoary-bellied Squirrel runs up the tree at 1:10 in this video clip.

From BirdLife:

The search for India’s hidden treasures

By Alex Dale, 13 Oct 2016

Come for the rhinos, stay for the birds – that should be the motto of Assam’s tourist board. Every year, thousands of visitors flock to the remote north-eastern Indian state in the hope of catching a glimpse of the rare Indian rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, which has less than 3,000 surviving individuals left in the world, roughly two thirds of which are found in Assam’s spectacular national parks.

But the region is also a birding hotspot. Two of the state’s parks, Kaziranga and Orang, are recognised by BirdLife as Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), with 512 and 225 identified species of bird respectively. Tourists don’t even need to take their eyes off the rhinos to drink in the rich avifauna; egrets and mynas can often be seen hitching a ride on their backs, feasting on the parasites that live in the folds of their skin or feeding on insects disturbed by these behemoths.

Birdwatchers who look further afield to the parks’ rivers and forests might encounter much rarer species of bird, such as the Critically Endangered White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis or the Near Threatened Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis. But while Assam’s forest environments are well-protected by Indian law, the surrounding grassland and wetland areas often go neglected.

These thick, almost impenetrable fortresses of grass and reed are home to numerous globally-threatened bird species, the most iconic of which is the Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis, a Critically Endangered bustard that, aside from a small population in Cambodia, exists only in isolated populations across the grasslands of northern India and Nepal. Despite the lack of attention they receive, the future of these environments is threatened by numerous factors.

They are becoming increasingly fragmented as they are cleared for agriculture and settlements, while grass burning, performed to make the land more suitable for the needs of large mammals, can destroy nests and eggs of grassland birds. Since most of these areas are rarely visited by birdwatchers, both for logistical and safety reasons (there are rhinos and tigers on the loose in these parks, after all!), the true status and range of the bird species that are dependent on these grasslands were not well understood – until now.

To fill this gap in our knowledge, a team from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, BirdLife in India), led by Senior Scientific Adviser Asad Rahmani, embarked on a one year project to survey the tropical grasslands that extend across the floodplains of the Brahmaputra, a major river that originates on the Tibetan Plateau, flows westwards through Assam and snakes southwards towards Bangladesh.

“I have been going to Assam for the last 30 years to survey and study Bengal Florican” says Rahmani. “During these surveys I found that floodplain grasslands are rather limited, and so are the species which are obligate to these grasslands. I had written proposals and encouraged others also to work on grassland species, but unfortunately no-one in India was interested in funding these projects. Then, two years ago, BirdLife International helped us by securing funds through their Preventing Extinctions Programme, allowing the study to go ahead.”

The project covered an area of grassland around the Brahmaputra, ranging from the lowlands of Arunachal Pradesh state in the north of the country to the plains of Assam. A wealth of protected areas can be found on the river’s floodplains; in addition to Kaziranga and Orang, the team visited numerous smaller or lesser-known wildlife sanctuaries such as Pabitora, as well as numerous non-protected grasslands, many of which were over-run by grazing cattle.

Also included in the survey were areas that fell outside the boundaries of the floodplain, but contained important grasslands where some of the species targeted by the study have been sighted. The largest of these being Manas National Park, a 520 km2 elephant and tiger reserve on the Bhutanese border, nearly half of which is covered in tall grass known to host species such as Jerdon’s Babbler Chrysomma altirostre, Swamp Prinia Laticilla cinerascens (a sub-species of the Rufous-vented Prinia set to be recognised as a distinct species in the 2016 IUCN Red List), and Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris.

All three of these species have something in common: they are small, sedentary birds that like to skulk and forage in tall, dense grass, which can reach as high as three to five metres in some areas. “That is why it is known as elephant grass”, says Rahmani. “It hides even an elephant.” Due to the rich soil and frequent rainfall, the grass grows back rapidly, clogging up walking trails in a matter of days if they are not used. This makes it an arduous environment to navigate by foot, and also caused the team a more pressing problem – in the thick blanket of grass, it is extremely difficult to locate these secretive birds unaided.

One of the techniques the team used to overcome the difficulty of surveying in this habitat was tape playback. After selecting which species’ calls to play in accordance to the length and type of grasses in each area, the calls were played either until the species was detected, or ten minutes elapsed, after which they would move on to a new spot, no less than 100 metres away, and begin the process again, marking their location and findings via a GPS log each time.

Playback is most effective during the breeding season when the birds are more vocal, which for many species falls between February-May, meaning the team had a very short window to conduct their studies. Other species breed during the monsoon season (June-September), during which time most of the national parks are closed. Indeed, the team was only able to conduct field work during November-May, as seasonal flooding rendered the majority of the grasslands inaccessible. While many species reacted well to tape playback, there were other species of interest, including the Bengal Florican, which cannot be lured by the technique, so the team had to depend on visual sightings only.

But even in fair weather, the remoteness of the area resulted in numerous logistical nightmares for the project. Many of the suitable grassland habitats were located on uninhabited islands, orchaporis, on the Brahmaputra River. And within many of the major national parks, the team were unable to survey many of the grasslands on foot for the same reason birdwatchers can’t – the presence of large mammals such as rhino. Even in non-protected grasslands, where rhinos aren’t found, the team faced danger in the form of feral wild buffalo and wild pigs.

Despite these tribulations, Rahmani’s team were able to compile a preliminary report that greatly enriches our understanding of the population status and distribution of the 12 globally threatened grassland species targeted in the survey. The findings indicated that the plight of many of these birds may be worse than even the team suspected. The endemic Manipur Bush-quail Perdicula manipurensis is of particular concern. Little is known about the ecology and behaviour of this shy ground bird; it is believed that the degradation and fragmentation of its grassland habitat has resulted in the species’ decline. The team did not encounter the quail during their field work, nor during separate surveys in 2015 and 2016. It was recently uplisted to Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2013, but with only two confirmed sightings in the last 50 years, Rahmani suggests it could now be further elevated to Critically Endangered. The report recommends a follow-up survey that extends the search from West Bengal to Manipur, using elephants for survey in areas where flushing the birds out on foot is not possible. While the Manipur Bush-quail was already known to be scarce, other findings illustrate exactly why this research was necessary.

The Swamp Prinia, an unassuming olive-grey wren-warbler, was assumed to be widespread, but the findings reveal that its range is far more restricted than was first thought. The report recommends further studies such as ringing and colour marking, so we can further study their movements, in addition to the recreation of suitable habitats in areas where the bird was once present, but now has apparently vanished. Similar measures are recommended for the Black-breasted Parrotbill, which is now found only in five locations, and is threatened by the fragmentation of the grasslands caused by local villagers cutting the grasses down for thatch, furniture and fencing.

Better news comes in the form of several relatively stable populations of Bengal Florican in Kazaringa, Orang and Manas, but its future is still threatened on several fronts. Threats include the constructions of dams upstream in Arunachal, which will affect the flow of the river in as-yet unknown ways, and the conversion of grassland outside of protected areas into agricultural land. Within some protected areas, such as D’Ering Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh, habitats are threatened by the spread of big-sage Lantana camera, an invasive weed from Central America which aggressively out-competes local plants. Elsewhere in the region, Kaziranga is plagued by the thorny Brazilian species Mimosa diplotricha, which forms impenetrable thickets, while the spread of wild rose Rosa spp. is damaging swampland and reducing plant biodiversity.

Combating invasive plant species in these areas is particularly challenging due to the nature of the land. “As many areas have rhino, elephant and wild buffalo, ground work has to be done under armed guards. We cannot depend on volunteers to go around removing these invasive weeds”, says Rahmani. Outside of protected areas, Rahmani adds, the grasslands studied have little future unless urgent action is taken. The majority have been degraded by overgrazing, or from badly-managed burning, which occasionally spirals out of control, torching everything in its path.

Happily, the team discovered there is still plenty of good grassland habitats within the protected areas that, if properly cared for, can continue to support Assam’s grassland specialists. The next step is to influence local users to alter the ways the grasslands are managed to allow for more bird-friendly practices. This is a complex task, with many social and legal issues.

This seminal study was made possible by generous support provided by BirdLife Species Champion Per Undeland, through The BirdLife Fund for the Conservation of Threatened Indian Birds– a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme initiative. The data gathered on the threatened species during the course of this study will prove invaluable in helping to secure their futures, but the greatest long-term impact may come from the team’s work in networking with local communities, researchers and decision makers, in the process of raising awareness of the importance of grassland conservation. “In Assam, most management practices are tuned to look at the needs of large glamorous species such as tiger, elephant, rhino, swamp deer, wild buffalo”, says Rahmani. “We have to bring a paradigm shift in this thinking.”

Indian villagers make way for elephants


This video is called Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) [Endangered].

From the Hindustan Times in India:

Jumbo effort: A village in Assam shifts to make way for elephants

Riddhi Doshi & Digambar Patowary

Updated: Jan 10, 2016 16:38 IST

The villagers of Ram Terang exchanged gifts with the wild elephants of Assam this Christmas, in a manner of speaking. On December 25, 11 of the 19 tribal families began the process of moving to New Ram Terang, clearing out of a vital elephant corridor. The other eight families will follow over the next 10 days, after which Ram Terang will be surrendered.

In exchange, each family has got a new home built to look like their old one, with the added advantages of 1.3 acres of arable land, a toilet and a bathroom (only a handful of the families had toilets in Ram Terang) and solar power (Ram Terang had none).

“Our new village is nice. We have got our houses, and also a community hall, and farmland to practice settled cultivation,” says village headman Khoi Terang. “We didn’t want to move when this was first discussed, but the NGO showed us all their plans, along with the workshops they plan to build to help us learn settled cultivation. And we decided to shift to help protect our own crops and to help protect the elephants.”

As an added advantage, the tribals will practice settled farming on their new plots, as opposed to their traditional slash-and-burn methods, and this will help protect local forest land.

The move has been in the making for five years, negotiated by NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), in association with the local forest department and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council. Planning and financial support was provided by the UK-based NGO Elephant Family, the Netherlands-based International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund.

The initiative has cost approximately Rs 1 crore. “When we first approached the Terangs, naturally no one wanted to move,” says Dilip Deori of WTI. “But we discussed the plans with them in detail, negotiated with them and made them aware of the crucial conflict in play. Eventually, we convinced them that it was as much about saving the elephant as it was about recognising their problems and trying to solve them.”

In a country where man-animal conflict claims hundreds of lives each year, this kind of voluntary relocation could offer a template for success. The corridor in which Ram Terang is located is a vital one because it connects the Nambor-Doigrung Wildlife Sanctuary with eastern Karbi Anglong, en route the Kaziranga National Park, says Abhijit Rabha, additional principal chief conservator of forests in the Karbi Anglong Forest Department.

Elephants, like most wild animals, are creatures of habit. They tend to follow the same paths as they migrate from one habitat to another through the year. This corridor is about 2.5 km wide, and when human settlements appear within or along them, it results in conflict.

“An estimated 1,800 elephants use the corridor in which Ram Terang is situated, so the village often found its fields raided by the elephants, and the elephants were in danger as people tried to keep them out of their fields,” Sandeep Tiwari, deputy director of WTI.

This, then, is a first-of-its-kind initiative for north-east India. “There have been previous instances of corridors being secured in Kerala and Karnataka,” says Sandeep Tiwari, deputy director of the WTI. “This is a big development in the struggle to reduce man-animal conflict as well as protect wildlife.”

Now that Ram Terang’s 101 residents are on their way out of the corridor, the second phase of the project will begin, with similar relocations and rehabilitations of other villages in the elephant corridor. Next up is Tokolangso village. “Most of the people in this village seem much more forthcoming about moving now that they have seen New Ram Terang take shape,” says Deori. “We are hoping to start work with them soon.”

Good Indian Amur falcon news


This video from Souith Africa says about itself:

20 Sep 2013

Every year thousands of Amur falcons leave the Mongolian winter and embark on one of the longest non-stop raptor migration known to man, flying down the east coast of Africa to roost in summery Southern Africa. These birds, with a weight equal to four slices of bread, face a 14500km journey, overcoming strong winds, bad weather and other aerial predators. The journey even includes a 2500-3100km leg over the sea which takes two to three days of non-stop flight.

Meet Falcon 95773, one of 10 falcons fitted with GPS trackers in 2010. She was picked up by raptor enthusiasts on 10th January 2013 in Newcastle amongst a roost of many thousands of birds. Until recently the migratory patterns of these birds were relatively unknown to science. Raptor 95773 was the only one of the initial 10 to return safely to South Africa.

This is largely because of the killing of raptors for bush meat that happen every year in India which have resulted in 140000 falcon deaths over the past five years. India is a signatory to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and is duty bound to protect this species and provide a safe passage through the country. An international outcry over the killings prompted the government to step in.

From BirdLife:

Action for Amur Falcons brings hope for an end to hunting in Nagaland

By Jim Lawrence, Fri, 29/11/2013 – 14:41

Last year’s news of the massacre of Amur Falcons in India shocked the world. BirdLife’s Indian Partner BNHS moved immediately to mobilise a response. The trapping was stopped, nets destroyed and arrests made, although not before terrible damage had been done.

This year, the generous response to our international appeal has enabled BNHS, with the support of the BirdLife Partnership, to organise a comprehensive programme to keep the falcons safe around the Doyang reservoir, where they roost during their stopover. The programme has mainly been implemented by a local NGO, Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust, working with the Nagaland Forest Department.

As a result, not a single Amur Falcon was trapped during the 2013 autumn migration. Attitudes have changed so much in the space of a single year that the Amur Falcons are now treated, in the words of Nagaland’s Chief Minister, as “esteemed guests”.

A year ago we brought you the shocking news of a hunting massacre taking place in Nagaland, India, which BNHS (BirdLife in India) had been alerted to by colleagues from the campaigning NGO – Conservation India.

Tens of thousands of migrating Amur Falcons Falco amurensis were being illegally trapped on the roost at a reservoir at Doyang and then being taken to local markets alive, or killed and smoked, for sale as food.

Online news articles and a graphic video of the atrocity were quick to spread via social media. Many individuals from around the world responded generously to the international appeal we launched.

We are delighted to report today that this appeal has been an outstanding success.

Robust conservation has been put in place with the funds raised and actions taken to ensure the prevention of illegal hunting of Amur Falcons this year have been completely successful. An innovative long-term community outreach campaign has also been initiated that has been received very well locally.

This year, the hundreds of thousands of Amur Falcons that visited Doyang reservoir were able to do so in peace. They have now passed safely through Northern India and continued their migration on to Southern Africa.

The BirdLife International Partnership would like to thank all who joined forces to make this happen!

“From an estimated 100,000 falcons killed last year, none have been trapped in nets this year. The transformation is extraordinary and the change has come very quickly. But we also have to guard against this rapid change getting reversed. We needed to also set up solutions which are sustainable and of practical use to the community,” said Dr Asad Rahmani, Director, BNHS. “I would like to thank Nagaland Forest Department, the people of Nagaland, the Government of India, BirdLife International and all the NGOs working on this issue for this conservation success”

Last year BNHS took action from the outset and many other BirdLife Partners quickly showed their support by lending their authority to our international campaign too.

Following a call from Dr. Rahmani, Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan – the Indian Minister for Environment & Forests – personally intervened and the Indian Forest Department and District Administration were also swift to act. The result was that nets were destroyed, captured birds were released, the sale of falcons was stopped and arrests were made.

The key next step was to put plans in place to ensure the atrocity would not be repeated again this year.

Preparation for the return of the Amur Falcons to Nagaland this autumn has been comprehensive. Supported by our appeal, BNHS has coordinated a widespread campaign of action that has been primarily implemented locally by Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust. Others supporting the campaign include WCS India, Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation and WildLife Conservation Trust.

Specific actions taken this year, enabled by BirdLife’s appeal, have included the employment of staff to patrol the Doyang area and to act as ambassadors within the local community. The local Government Forest Department has also been patrolling the roost areas.

As a result of the advocacy campaign, The Deputy Commissioner of the Wokha Police committed his forces to respond as needed and enforce the law rapidly when necessary. Local government also issued a timely anti-hunting order.

The spectacular site at Doyang Reservoir is now recognised as a stopover for up to a million Amur Falcons each year and will soon be declared an Important Bird Area.

Long-term community action plans have also been established in Nagaland through the church, schools and other local groups.

An innovative PR campaign “Friends of the Amur Falcon” was developed to galvanise community action throughout the region supported by a comprehensive set of eye-catching promotional and educational materials.

As part of the initiative, locals from Doyang, Pangti, Asha and Sungro villages in Nagaland were employed to start eco-clubs and target students with a powerful conservation message.

The local outreach activities began in August with a ‘train the trainer’ programme for teachers and church leaders and the eco-club programme for children soon followed. The community received this activity enthusiastically with more than 70 children enrolling and actively participating.

“When we were starting out, we were told this was a very difficult part of the world to work in. There had been virtually no history of conservation action in the areas we worked in. But we found that in the students we have real hope for creating conservation ambassadors. Some of them have never been exposed to Nagaland and India’s magnificent natural history. They are genuinely impressed with it and here is a long-term hope for change,” says Neha Sinha, Advocacy and Policy officer, BNHS.

One particular component of the eco-clubs that caught the children’s imagination and proved very popular was the issuing of an ‘Amur Ambassador’ Passport. Each child received this as evidence of their personal commitment to protect Amur Falcons in their community.

Additionally to their outreach in Nagaland, BNHS has extended its advocacy to several villages in nearby Assam, which they discovered had also seen some hunting of Amur Falcons. These villages include Habang, which is next to Habang IBA—chosen for another congregation of Amur Falcons, as well as the nearby Umro village, on the Assam-Meghalaya border.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio lent his weight to the campaign when he made a surprise visit to Doyang reservoir this November. As well as witnessing the spectacle of the migrating Amur Falcons first hand, he met students and members of the eco clubs there.

“The state government is committed to end the unfortunate killings of the migratory Amur falcons and fully support the efforts of NWBCT and other NGOs to educate the people about these migratory birds and to give them a safe passage through Nagaland,” he said during his visit.

Prior to his visit to Doyang, the Chief Minister had asked Nagas to “extend hospitality” towards their ‘esteemed guests’- the Amur Falcons – via a prominent poster campaign displayed on billboards throughout the state.

The outreach activities coordinated by BNHS this year will be continued in 2014 with the hope that a gradual change can be brought about in the region and help all in the community there live in greater harmony with their environment.

Good Indian tiger, rhino news


Rhino 17 with her new born calf in Manas National Park, Assam, India © Jamir Ali /WWF-India

From Wildlife Extra:

Translocated rhinos give birth in Manas National Park, Assam, India

Some good news for rhinos

March 2013. Amidst the recent spurt in poaching of rhinos in the north-east Indian state of Assam there is a reason to cheer. Two rhinos in the Manas National Park, translocated form Kaziranga National Park over the last two years, have both given birth.

Rhino 17, translocated to the Park in 2012 and Rhino 8, translocated to the park in 2011, were sighted on 23rd March and 25th March respectively with their new born calves by WWF-India researchers and Assam Forest Department staff involved in post release monitoring of the rhinos.

Hearing the news Diane Walkington, WWF director of international programmes said: “This is fantastic news. The birth of these calves is a great indication that the translocated rhinos are adapting well to the new environment and are beginning to thrive there”.

Rhino 8 was translocated to Manas in January 2011 and it is certain that the mating with one of the translocated males and subsequent pregnancy happened in Manas. These births indicate that the translocated rhinos are breeding successfully and have adapted well to the new environment. In total, three calves have been born to translocated rhinos in Manas National Park to date.

Relocation

The two rhinos were translocated as part of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 programme (IRV 2020) – a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Assam; WWF-India; the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the Bodoland Territorial Council and supported by a number of local organisations. A total of 18 rhinos – ten from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and eight from the Kaziranga National Park have been translocated so far to Manas National Park. The successes achieved under the programme until now are a result of the commitment and support extended to it by the different partners, stakeholders, local communities and forest staff of the different Protected Areas of Assam.

Under IRV 2020, Manas National Park has been provided with support to upgrade its infrastructure and monitoring capabilities to enable better protection for the translocated rhinos. It is now important to ensure the safety of these new-born calves and their mothers as well as the other rhinos in Manas so that the vision of establishing a viable rhino population is achieved over the long term.

New translocation site identified

WWF and IRF are excited at the prospect of partnering with the Assam Forest Department to return rhinos to the Laokhowa-Burachapori complex in Assam in the coming years, a site from where they were poached out in the 1980s.

The high demand for rhino horn in the illegal wildlife trade continues to be the biggest threat this newly established rhino population is facing with three translocated rhinos having fallen prey to poachers in the past two years. WWF and IRF, as constituents and partners of the IRV 2020 programme, continue to support the Assam Forest Department in its endeavour to provide a safe and secure future for Assam’s rhinos spread across different Protected Areas.

See also here.

Also from Wildlife Extra:

Camera-traps show tigers using wildlife corridor in Kerala

Success of tiger corridor very encouraging

March 2013. Camera-traps have recorded three healthy adult tigers in Kerala, in a wildlife corridor funded by World Land Trust (WLT), IUCN-Netherlands and Elephant Family. The pictures are a positive indication of the success of the Tirunelli-Kudrakote corridor, which runs through the Wayanad district of Kerala in southern India.

Wide range of wildlife

“We are all very pleased to see the increased usage of the corridor by a wide range of animals and capturing these tigers on film is very exciting,” said Sandeep Kr. Tiwari, Deputy Director at Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), WLT’s conservation partner in India.

Sandeep’s team is monitoring the corridor, which provides an important protected pathway for wildlife moving between Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and Wayanad North Division further leading to Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary.

Reducing animal-human conflict

In a landscape dominated by humans, secure wildlife corridors provide a wider area for animals to roam safely. This in turn increases the animals’ prospects of survival and reduces human-wildlife conflict.

“It’s really satisfying to see the unhindered movement of animals (tiger, elephants, gaurs, etc) through the corridor, post securement,” explains Sandeep. He is confident that the success of the Wayanad corridor will encourage and strengthen WTI’s commitments to work towards securing other critical bridges between reserves.

Elephants, sloth bear and a range of deer and cats

The camera-traps were set by Ramith Meledath, a WTI field biologist working on the Wayanad corridor securement project. He describes some of the animals that have been sighted: “Elephant herds and solitary bull elephants are frequently using the corridor. The corridor is also used by animals like Sloth Bear, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, mongooses, monkeys etc. The camera trapping also shows that secured areas in the corridor are facilitating new territories for individual tigers.”

Conservation partnership success

World Land Trust has been working with WTI for a decade to create protected corridors that connect existing forest reserves in India. WLT’s primary focus is securing land for elephants, because by providing habitat for a ‘flagship’ species like the Asian elephant, wildlife corridors benefit a huge range of other creatures, including the tiger.

The Tirunelli-Kudrakote corridor was the second one secured by funds raised by WLT and our partner IUCN-Netherlands and also Elephant Family. The first corridor was the Siju-Rewak corridor in Meghalaya in the Garo Hills of NE India.

Corbett corridor

Following the success of the corridors to date, WLT is raising funds to create a wildlife corridor in Uttarakhand in northern India, between the Corbett National Park protected area and the neighbouring Ramnagar forest, where there is increasing conflict between tigers and humans.

Help support this initiative

You can support the India Elephant Corridors Appeal by donating to WLT’s Action Fund and specifying Elephant Appeal.

November 2013: India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has approved the tiger conservation plan for the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, targeting sustainable development of one of the major forest areas of the state of Western Maharashtra for the next ten years: here.

Indian ‘problem’ tiger now safe in national park


The adult male caught on camera in Greater Manas

From Big News Network (IANS), Monday 1st April, 2013:

‘Rescued’ tiger survives 1,000 days in Assam‘s Manas

An adult male tiger, which was rescued from a human-wildlife conflict situation and released in the wild more than three years ago, was recently sighted in the Manas National Park, wildlife activists said Monday.

The development has elated particularly the wildlife lovers and conservationists in Assam at a time when the tiger population is estimated to be less than 2,000 across the country.

Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) executive director Vivek Menon said the adult male tiger was rescued from Geleki area in Assam’s Sivsagar district March 2010 after reports of human-tiger conflicts from the area leading to death of two people

“Analyzing the situation in this case – particularly after the tiger’s capture, the authorities found the attacks on people to be purely accidental, and decided to release it. The Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) administration, under which the Manas National Park falls, granted permission for its release in the park.

“The tiger was radio-collared and released on April 1 the same year,” he said while adding that the tiger was recently photographed in the camera traps set for tiger monitoring in Manas, 1,095 days after it was released.

“The new photograph showed that the tiger’s collar has dropped off. With the amount of time it has spent without reports of conflict involving it, we can now be satisfied that this tiger has established itself here. Its reproductive success in Manas will contribute to tiger conservation in this (Manas-Bhutan) landscape,” said WTI’s northeast region head Bhaskar Choudhury.

“This success has shown that conflict animals can be rehabilitated successfully with meticulous planning and scientific monitoring,” he said.

This is the second indirect sighting of the tiger. It was first photographed in February 2011, when it was with its collar, the WTI officials said.

See also here.

Rhino poaching in Assam, India


This video from India is about tigers, water buffalos, rhinos in Kaziranga Megafauna Park.

From Wildlife Extra:

Assam demands national investigation into rhino poaching in India

Assam calls for probe into rhino poaching – Written by Nava Thakuria

February 2013. The Assam government in northeast India has asked for the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the rampant poaching of rhinoceros in various forest reserves of the tiny State. Assam chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, has personally made this commitment recently, and the Assam government has written to the Union government in New Delhi requesting a high level probe.

2500 rhinos in Assam

Assam’s forest reserves contain more than 2500 rare one-horned rhinoceros out of a world population of around 3000, and large quantities of other rare and important wildlife. Kaziranga National Park in central Assam is the hot-spot for the rhinos, but has suffered increasingly from poaching in the last year or two. The last 13 months seem to be worst as the park has lost around 50 rhinos to natural disasters and poachers. Poachers took away more than 25 rhino horns in this period after killing the animals.

The value of a single rhino horn in the international market has sky-rocketed; as many people in China and Vietnam mistakenly believe that the horn carries an aphrodisiac quality and is a cure for cancer. Rhino horn is made from keratin, the same substance in human hair.

Students’ organizations, opposition political parties and various wildlife NGOs have organised street protests, crying fouls at the inability of the State forest department to protect the wildlife. On numerous occasions effigies of Assam forest minister Rockybul Hussain have been burnt. Chief Minister Gogoi was also targeted by some angry citizens on different occasions for his callous attitude towards the issue.

Forest officials involved?

Nature’s Beckon, an Assam NGO, alleges that few officials of the Assam Forest Department are involved in the rhino horn trafficking. Soumyadeep Dutta, director of Nature’s Beckon, claimed that some corrupt forest officials were involved in the poaching of rhinos. He maintained his demand that the CBI should also probe the security of all the rhino horns preserved by the department after recovery.

Rhino horns stolen from government warehouses

“We suspect that most of the preserved rhino horns have been sold in the illegal market by the corrupt officials and those are being replaced with fake horns. So we demand a high level probe to investigate the authenticity of the horns,” Dutta added.

The State opposition parties have criticized Gogoi for his ‘surrender’ to the poachers. They were unanimous in their opinions that Gogoi was only trying his best to safeguard his forest minister.

The All Assam Students Union has been critical of the State forest department. The students’ organizations have blocked the National Highway 37 adjacent to Kaziranga National Park several times to raise their voices against the wildlife poaching.

March 2013. As the rhino poaching crisis, hits new troughs, some snake oil salesmen from South Africa want to enrich themselves by selling ‘snake oil’ to the Vietnamese. In this case, the snake oil comes in the form of rhino horn, which some rhino farmers in South Africa want to sell legally to Vietnamese businessmen who will sell it in Vietnam as a cure all for cancer: here.

South Africa and Mozambique have vowed to work together to combat rhino poaching, particularly in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), and have signed a memorandum of understanding: here.

Eighteenth century coins discovery in India


This 2018 video about Indian coins says about itself:

Assamese coins during the Ahom Empire used various languages and had names of rulers, Gods, and Goddesses on their coins. Tripura had coins that resembled the currency of the Bengal Sultanate, were made of silver, and had inscriptions of their queens. Pandyan coins made of copper were influenced by Maunyan currency, were square in shape, and were called Kasu. Have a look at this episode to know more!

From The Telegraph in Calcutta (Kolkota), India:

Labourer’s spade strikes treasure

Pot of coins belonging to Ahom era found at Jorhat construction site

PULLOCK DUTTA

Guwahati, April 9: A labourer’s spade struck an earthen pot at a road construction site in a remote Jorhat village last evening and out spilled silver coins dating back to the Ahom era.

Although most of the coins were damaged, the authorities of the Jorhat museum managed to recover a few in mint condition this morning.

“The coins are from King Gaurinath Singha’s era. The name of the king is inscribed on few of such coins,” museum officer Gautam Bordoloi said.

The Ahoms ruled Assam from 1227 to 1826, with Singha’s reign extending from 1780 to 1796.

Bordoloi said the labourers claimed that several coins had got lost as the pot broke under the impact of the spade.

They were engaged in the road construction under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act project at Number 2 Brahmin gaon in Kenduguri.

“The colour of the coins has also turned darkish, making it difficult to distinguish them from the soil,” he said.