Indian tigers in love

This video from the Sariska Reserve, India says about itself:

Courting Tigers form a Tight Bond | BBC Earth

6 July 2018

Even if it’s just for a few days, tigers form a tight bond when they’re mating.

Adult elephants thank people for saving baby elephant

This video says about itself:

Wild elephants salute the men who rescued their baby elephant from a ditch

28 November 2017

Wildlife officials rescue baby elephant from a ditch. Elephant herd salutes the men before leaving

In Kerala, India, a baby elephant falls into a ditch (or an abandoned well) and gets trapped there. As the family of wild elephants watches and waits on the other side of the river, local people and forest officials use an earthmover to help the baby get out.

Watch when they come running and welcoming the baby, checking whether it is fine. The incredible moment then occurs when the elephant family head turns and salutes the humans, thanking them for saving their little one.

Amur falcons, from killing to love in India

This film, from Conservation India, says about itself:

The Race to Save the Amur Falcon

17 April 2017

“In a world where conservation problems usually go from bad to worse, the campaign to save the Amur falcon serves as a beacon of hope. I was so inspired by this story that I wanted to share it with the rest of the world”, says the filmmaker, Shekar Dattatri.

Around a remote reservoir in India’s far northeast, a small team of conservationists discovered something that was both enthralling and alarming. During a biodiversity survey in the winter of 2012, they stumbled upon vast flocks of Amur falcons, the likes of which they had never seen before. At the same time, they also witnessed local hunters capture and slaughter tens of thousands of the little raptors for consumption and sale.

When the horrific story first broke on Conservation India, a frontline partner in the campaign, it caused shock and dismay among conservationists around the world.

Fortunately, thanks to close cooperation between NGOs, local authorities and the local community, the falcons were granted a reprieve, and now enjoy a safe passage through Nagaland during their incredible migration from Russia and China to South Africa.

“We are inundated with bad news every day, which makes it even more important that we document and share success stories”, says the filmmaker.

From BirdLife:

29 Jan 2018

From slaughter to spectacle – education inspires locals to love Amur Falcon

Five years ago, hundreds of thousands of migrating Amur Falcons were being slaughtered annually in northeast India. Today, they are celebrated.

By Alex Dale

Amur Falcons Falco amurensis are incredible long-distance migrants. During their travels from their breeding grounds in north-east Asia, hundreds of thousands of them cross the Indian Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean to their wintering grounds in southern Africa. However, in November 2012, an estimated 100,000 falcons didn’t make it past Nagaland, a state in north-east India. They were trapped, slaughtered or taken to local markets alive and sold as fresh food.

The shocking news spread quickly across the world thanks to a video put together by the campaigning organisation Conservation India. The video showed how local hunters were using huge nylon nets across the Amur Falcon’s forest roosting sites, capturing them indiscriminately in enormous quantities. The appalling scale of the killing prompted the Bombay Natural History Society (BirdLife in India) to contact the Indian Minister for Environment and Forests and the Chief Minister of Nagaland.

Simultaneously, BirdLife set up an emergency fund to help BNHS coordinate a series of actions in order to halt the massacre. Many BirdLife Partners such as BirdLife South Africa and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) also lent their voice to the campaign and received international support. The then-Minister for the Environment Jayanthi Natarajan personally intervened, which led to the destruction of nets and to the release of some of the captive falcons that were still alive.

The tragedy was stopped that year, but BNHS needed to put steps in place to ensure that future crises would be prevented. Supported by the emergency appeal, BNHS coordinated a widespread programme of action, working with Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust. Field teams were established to monitor Amur Falcons at their roosting sites and to directly intervene to prevent the atrocities from happening ever again. Locals were employed to patrol the Doyang Reservoir, one of the largest roosting sites for the Amurs. The Government’s Forest Department also joined the patrolling team, who acted as conservation ambassadors within the local community.

After a process of consultation, BNHS decided to focus on natural history education as a means of advocacy. Several eco-clubs were set up, using a unique model. Local adults from Doyang, Pangti, Asha and Sungro villages were trained and employed as teachers, and young students between the ages of eight and 17 years were given free environmental education. The aim was to teach children about the wonders of bird migration and the importance of keeping certain wild bird populations intact. To this day, BNHS also runs eco-clubs independently in Jalukie, Lilien, Bongkolong and Ahthibung villages in Nagaland, resulting in more than 500 students being tutored.

BNHS is also supporting natural history outreach and advocacy in Manipur through the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN). The Amur Falcon dance festivals held in that state are the first of their kind. As a result, Tamenglong in Manipur, which sees a very large congregation of birds every year, has also passed a resolution to stop hunting Amur Falcons through their village council.

This video from India says about itself:


19 November 2017

GOLF FIELD, UMRANGSO, NOVEMBER 19: With a motive of spreading awareness regarding protection & conserving the Siberian Amur Falcon visiting Umrangso and for promoting tourism, North Cachar Hills Autonomous Counil under the leadership of CEM Debolal Garlosa is hosting the 3rd edition of the Falcon Festival at Golf Field, Umrangso from November 18, 2017 onwards.

On the opening day Chief Guest MLA BB Hagjer along with CEM Debolal Garlosa, EMs of NCHAC, DC Dibyajyoti Hazarika, guests and general public have visited in and around Umrangso for bird watching.

MLA Hagjer has inaugurated the festival by lightning of lamp where he was accompanied by CEM, EMs & DC; followed by cultural dances by different tribes.

The first day of the festival was scheduled with a battle of bands and beauty contest which will be continued for the next day. The winner of the battle of bands will be awarded with Rs 1 Lakh and beauty contest with Rs 1.50 Lakh.

Amur falcons, winged guests from Siberia and China, also stop over at Umrangso en route to Africa. The Amur falcon, a small raptor of the falcon family, covers one of the longest migration routes and arrives in Assam from eastern Siberia and northern China.

The winged guests, called daopana in Dimasa dialect and kalengmaha in Karbi, stop in the Umrangso area between October and November every year.

The BirdLife article continues:

Tackling the underlying causes of illegal killing in communities is no easy feat. Yet the following year, Amur Falcons were granted safe passage through north-east India, thanks to the joint action of locals, government and NGOs. As attitudes changed in the space of a single year, not a single Amur Falcon was trapped during and since the 2013 winter migration. The hundreds of thousands of Amur Falcons that visited the Doyang Reservoir that year were finally able to do so in peace.

“We have come a very long way from working in a state which has no conservation history to trying to advocate for wildlife in a sensitive manner, without hurting local sentiment”, says Neha Sinha, Advocacy and Policy Officer, BNHS, and Principle Investigator of the Amur Falcon Project. “One of the reasons we decided to impart natural history education is because education itself is empowering. We have not told the locals what to do. We have shown them Amur Falcon migration maps, falcon biology and stories, and inspired an absolute dedication to the community’s education and skill development, and they decided to give up hunting. For this, we have the community to thank.”

Not a single Amur Falcon was trapped during the 2013 winter migration

Pangti, the largest hunting village in the area, recently declared a total ban on airguns – a very significant development as it was a common hunting method. Furthermore, the village council put a seasonal ban on all wild bird hunting, fulfilling another one of BNHS’ project goals in the area.

Locals have been exemplary in giving up their hunting practices. Today the Doyang Reservoir is recognised as a stopover for up to a million Amur Falcons every year, a spectacle that all locals, from government officials to former hunters, can all enjoy together.

This article is brought to you by the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

We are grateful to the many BirdLife donors who have supported this action and, in particular, Per Undeland, through the BirdLife Fund for the Conservation of Threatened Indian Birds.

Unusual bird habitats

This video from India says about itself:

5 June 2016

On World Environment Day, we look at an endangered species in India that mostly feeds off Guwahati’s garbage dumps — the greater adjutant stork.

From BirdLife:

19 Jan 2018

Six unusual habitats that are birding hotspots

2018 is “Year of the Bird”, a year-long celebration in partnership with National Geographic, National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab on Ornithology. This month we’re encouraging you to “Bird Your World” by getting out there and spending time with the birds you love – no matter where you are.

By Jessica Law

We may love birds, but how often do we actually get to see them? Most of us would say, not as often as we’d like to. All too frequently, life gets in the way. We’re caught up in work and our to-do list of a hundred little chores, and when we look up, months have gone by since we last really appreciated their presence in our lives. As every relationship expert will tell you, keeping the love alive takes work.

Luckily, birds are everywhere. As renowned bird writer Jonathan Franzen says, “The only life forms more widespread than birds are microscopic”. It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford to travel the world. It doesn’t matter if you live in a city or only have a lunch-break at your disposal. Here are some top birding hotspots that will really surprise you – and we’re sure they’ll inspire you to find some of your own.

1. Rubbish dumps

Refuse has become a vital refuge for the world’s most Endangered stork, the Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius – an enormous bird that frequently grows to the height of an adult human. These birds evolved to live in wetlands and coastal zones, but their natural home is being encroached upon by re-development and degraded by pollution. As a result, there could now be fewer than a thousand adults remaining.

A surprising lifeline is the garbage dumps surrounding the city of Guwahati in Assam, India. These act as essential feeding grounds which may be supporting as much as half of the Greater Ajutant’s world population. Every time a refuse truck arrives, birds flock to it, cramming their gullets with discarded meat. It may not be glamorous, but it works – and this is one of the best places to guarantee seeing these fascinating birds.

2. Vineyards

The organic vineyard of Pago El Baldío in Trebujena, Andalucía (southern Spain), provides the ideal home for the Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin Cercotrichas galactotes.

Although it has a conservation status of Least Concern globally, this charming bird has seen significant declines in Spain – but bird-friendly farming is helping to halt this downward turn. The wine-makers don’t mind if the Robins steal the odd grape to feed their chicks, because they also eat the insects that would otherwise devour the crop – a natural form of pest control. What’s more, it brightens their day to see this beautiful bird flitting between the vines on their land as they go about their daily work.

This is a rufous-tailed scrub-robin video.

3. Sacred Groves

India’s Sacred Groves are verdant patches of forest or natural vegetation, usually dedicated to local folk deities. In Meghalaya, a state in Northeast India whose name means “The Abode of Clouds” in Sanskrit, local communities have protected small areas of native forest since time immemorial. The villagers believe that departed souls of ancestors reside there. No one collects fruits, flowers, leaves or wood from these areas, and as a result, they have been left almost untouched for centuries.

Although tiny, Mawphlang Sacred Grove is a haven for around 70 bird species, including the Tawny-breasted Wren-babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus (Vulnerable) – and it’s just one of hundreds of pockets of peace dotted about the country.

This video is about birds of the Himalaya, including the tawny-breasted wren-babbler.

4. Salt pans

Just because it’s man-made, doesn’t mean it’s not good for birds. Conservation and commerce can go hand in hand, and waterbirds love foraging for food in the shallow waters of traditional salt pans. Extracting salt through the natural evaporation of seawater, these vast expanses often act as crucial rest and re-fueling points for birds on their epic migration journey. In fact, the salt-pans of China are key players in the survival of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea (Critically Endangered), the star of last month’s Year of the Bird feature.

On the other side of the world, the stunning Ulcinj Salinas salt pans of Montenegro are a bustling habitat for a staggering 252 bird species – including flamingos and the Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus (Near Threatened). However, salt pans worldwide are closing, since they are no longer seen as cost-effective – and at one point, this site was almost turned into a hotel and golf course. Saved for now, the battle is ongoing.

This video is called Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Foraging.

5. Buddhist temples

Places of religious importance are often oases of peace and tranquility in a hectic world. And that means they’re oases of peace and tranquility for birds, too.

Tibet’s high-altitude Buddhist temples are home to some highly important pheasant populations. Not only do the Buddhist monks and nuns treat the natural landscape surrounding the temples with respect – they also enjoy feeding the pheasants. Shongsep Temple, perched on the mountainous slopes overlooking the Lhasa River, is a safe space for the Tibetan Eared-pheasant Crossoptilon harmani (Near Threatened). Elsewhere, its life has been plagued by hunting and deforestation, but here, it lives in the lap of luxury, and is often quite tame.

This video is called Tibetan Eared Pheasant, Qu Shui Cai Na Nature Reserve, Lhasa Tibet China 1 Sept 2016.

6. City skies

Even if you’re in the middle of a city, all you have to do is look up, and you’re sure to spot a bird sooner or later. But in some places, it gets extreme.

“Bottleneck sites” are places where large numbers of migrating birds, especially large, eye-catching species like birds of prey, storks or pelicans, pass through in a relatively small area, creating a birding spectacle. These bottlenecks are created by a combination of geography and climate. Narrow valleys, mountain ridges, or peninsulas stretching out to sea – all of these can funnel birds into startling aerial formations reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Sometimes these bottlenecks include major cities, such as Gibraltar and Panama City, where each spring and fall hundreds of thousands – and sometimes millions – of birds fly overhead on their way between their breeding and wintering grounds.

Get to know your local flock!

Because birds don’t just live in pristine woodland or untouched marshes. They live everywhere. That’s why we at BirdLife International have identified a network of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) – sites that are essential for bird conservation. And they come in all shapes and sizes. The Ulcinj salt pans are an IBA. So is Shongsep Temple, the Mawphlang Sacred Grove and the rock of Gibraltar. There’s even one near the rubbish dump in Guwahati – the Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary.

Not all of them are protected – yet – but we’re working on it. And if you join the movement to #BirdYourWorld this year, you can help us.

Indian Dutch speed skater to Olympic winter games

This 28 December 2017 video is about the victory of Indian Dutch speed skater Anice Asha Farzana Das in the 500 meter race in the Dutch Winter Olympics qualification event in the Thialf stadium in Heerenveen. At the end of the video, one sees the happiness of Anice’s twin sister Savida on the seated spectator stands.

This is an October 2017 interview with Ms Das and her sister.

Anice and Savida were born 31 December 1985 in Mumbai, India. Their poor parents did not have enough money to care properly for the girl twins. At seven months of age, a Dutch couple became their adoptive parents.

They went to live not far from the skating track in Assen. Little Anice asked her parents for speed skates. The parents said, OK, but only if you join a speed skating club. Else you might not use the skates maybe after two or three times.

Anice Das since has never stopped skating. She became one of the best Dutch short distance speed skaters. One of the best; never the best, never the champion. Often, she did not have a commercial sponsor like other good Dutch skaters have. Sometimes, sickness or injuries prevented her from racing.

Now, she is 31, almost 32. An age when many sports people stop, or think they will stop soon. But yesterday, Ms Das for the first time won a Winter Olympics qualification race. If there won’t be a disaster, then she will compete at the Olympic ice rink in South Korea in February 2018.

Anice Das is the first ever person of colour ever to participate for the Netherlands in Winter Olympics. She has an orange car. ‘The colour of Dutch national sports teams; also in the flag of India’.

After the Olympics, Anice and Savida plan to visit their biological parents in India. ‘Maybe we will have to explain to them what ice is’.