IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 5 Issue X

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 5 Issue X

Newsletter-Oct-2013 (3.6 MB, 1500 downloads)

Cyclone and Mangroves

Severe cyclonic storms with epicenter near Gopalpur in Odisha was the cynosure of all eyes. Whereas experts abroad branded it as a Super Cyclone, the IMD (Indian Meteorological Department) predicted that its wind speed would be slight less and that wouldn’t merit it to be categorised as a Super Cyclone category, the one which had devastated Odisha in 1999.



The 24×7 news channels were ready to provide spectacular visuals of the devastation caused by the cyclone beamed into the drawing rooms of people.

The Odisha administration swung into action and evicted people from the coastal areas even shutting down hotels and resorts, guards from telecom towers etc. anyone not agreeing was forcibly evacuated. Not a single life to be lost was the order by Odisha Chief Minister. The popular Durga Puja holidays of Government servants was cancelled. People moved into official cyclone shelters and most of the people preferred to visit their relatives places in other towns. The evacuation is considered to be the biggest in the history of India.

Unfortunately, for the news channels this resulted in no deaths from cyclone unlike the 1999 super cyclone where officially 9803 people had died with the unofficial toll even at 15000. One popular lady tv anchor was known to have asked to arrange the dead bodies so that the tv camera could capture it well. This time there was no “opportunity” for a TV anchor to jump over or wade through bodies, fake a tear for the audience to be impressed in their drawing rooms.

No wonder the TV Channels most of whom are ever ready to skim these disasters quickly moved on from this story to the stampede in a temple in Madhya Pradesh. There were of course a few stories of the IMD asserting the accuracy of its predictions and trashing that of the foreign agencies and one story of fishermen of Tamil Nadu swimming and safely landing in Odisha coast. After focusing on a few micro localised issues, the cyclone is now quickly forgotten by the mass media.

And with that people have failed to notice that 2013 is yet to be over and we have already seen two massive natural calamities – one in Himalaya in June and the other in Odisha and Andhra. We are failing to notice that climate change has become a reality and these natural disasters have started to hit us at increased frequency.

The worst affected will be the poor who are staying in the coastal areas which immediately get inundated by the storm surge and the fields will be unsuitable for agriculture for a long time due to the salt water and debris deposited. Rebuilding lives takes a long time. Not everybody has the mental strength to pick up the threads of their broken lives and start afresh. We shouldn’t be surprised that these calamities have an impact on law and order.

After a long time, I visited the Gopalpur beach and was stunned to see the so called “development” or concretisation in the beach. The coastal regulation zone is not respected in many places. The beach for long stretches doesn’t have any natural vegetation left, which can act as a natural barrier for the waves and wind. Even the casuarina trees have been cut off by people looking for firewood. A study conducted after the 1999 Super Cyclone in Odisha (Das, Saudamini et al. 2009) found that villages with wider mangroves between them and the coast experienced significantly fewer deaths than ones with narrower or no mangroves. In the 1999 storm out of the official death toll of 9803 people, about 70% of them have been killed due to drowning in the storm surge.


Mangroves act as natural barrier during storms

Apart from helping reduce the storm surge, mangroves help in stopping the erosion of the shoreline. These mangroves also absorb excess nutrients like nitrates and phosphates and help in improving the water quality. They also absorb the sediments and help in creating a better ecosystem for fish, shrimps and other species. They also provide ecosystem services like carbon sequestration.

A lot of our mangroves have been lost due to conversion to shrimp farms, reclamation for setting up factories, tourism and also simply due to the increased population pressure. The Government has to urgently plan an ambitious scheme of re-wilding our coastal line by planting the natural vegetation like mangroves. This Government, which could successfully plan and execute the largest ever evacuation of people in independent India’s short history, appears to have the will and execution skills to create a long-term solution.


IndiaWilds Campaign: Justice for Leopard burnt to Death

During my research and travels for my film on Leopards, I have come across many situations that have brought a tear on my eyes. However, I am sharing an incident captured in a mobile phone camera in which shook me to the core. A wild leopard was capture in a cage in Rampur district in Uttarakhand. The cage had been set up to capture a leopard, which was supposed to be killing cattle and goats.

As soon as the leopard was captured, villagers’ young and old gathered and horribly assaulted it with sticks. The forest department officials not only watch this but they have also been caught in the video poking and maiming the leopard, which had nowhere to go. The leopard was then burnt alive. The poor leopard died an agonising death.

Leopard Burning


We have cut off all the forests and trees in the hills and poached all the deers, wild boars, rabbits for their meat. To overcome the pangs of hunger, perhaps this poor leopard would have killed a few cattle or goats. Or worse, some other leopard would have killed the livestock and this innocent leopard would have got trapped in the cage. Is this public lynching and burning it to death right when all it was doing was trying to satiate its hunger?

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India while delivering the judgment on the relocation of lions has stated that “Article 21 of the Constitution of India protects not only the human rights but also casts an obligation on human beings to protect and preserve a specie becoming extinct, conservation and protection of environment is an inseparable part of right to life”. Unfortunately, Indians today have forgotten their obligation and are actively involved in murdering a critically endangered species.

The Hon’ble Supreme court in the same judgment had further said,“our approach should not be human-centric or family-centric but eco-centric”. It had again observed, “no specie can survive on the brink of extinction indefinitely and the probability associated with a critically endangered specie make their extinction a matter of time”. So if we don’t act today, then leopards will go extinct.

Anyone who watches this video will be horrified. Despite that should we choose to remain silent?

Writing about a situation in the Epic Mahabharata where Draupadi was being disrobed and the kings and courtiers remained silent, Gurcharan Das in his book “The Difficulty of Being Good” calls it the “immorality of silence” and even termed it as “conspiracy of silence”. “When honest persons fail in their duty to speak up, they ‘wound’ dharma, and they ought to be punished, says the sage Kashyapa”.

I firmly believe that to remain silent is to acquiesce, to consent, and be complicit in this gory crime. To raise our voice is to become assertive. If we continue to remain silent, these kinds of things will continue to happen. I hope this sadistic murder wakes all of us up and forces us to raise our voice to punish the perpetrators of this crime.

All details obtained through RTI applications can be found in this link:

Uttarkhand RTI Files

Please raise your voice and write a letter or email to these and any other officials who can help in bringing justice.

Shri Manmohan Singh

Hon’ble Prime Minister of India,

South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi – 110011


Tel: +91-11-23012312

Fax: +91-11-23016857

Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan

Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge)

Ministry of Environment and Forests

ParyavaranBhawan, CGO Complex,

Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003


Tel: +91-11-24361727

Fax: +91-11-24362222

Dr. V. Rajagopalan, IAS


Ministry of Environment and Forests

Room No. 1, ParyavaranBhawan,

CGO Complex,

Lodhi Road,

New Delhi – 110003

Tel: +91-11-24360721

FAx: +91 11 24362746 (Fax)

Shri Vijay Bahuguna

Chief Minister of Uttarakhand


Address: 4 Subhash Road, C. M. Office, Uttarakhand Secretariat, Dehradun, Pin-248001

Phone: +91 135 2650433

Fax: +91 135 2655177

Shri Alok Kumar Jain

Chief Secretary of Uttrakhand


Phone:+91 135 2712094

Fax: +91 135 2712113


Book Review: Tripwire for a Tiger

This book “Tripwire for a Tiger:Selected works of F. W. Champion” is a compilation of 24 articles written by a remarkable gentleman, F. W. Champion, who worked in the forests of pre-independent India and had authored two well-known books, “With a Camera in Tiger-land” and “The Jungle in Sunlight and Shadow”. In an era when hunting was the norm and photography was at its infancy, F. W. Champion not only photographed tigers but also pioneered photography through camera traps. For more details check the link below –

Tripwire for a tiger

Tripwire for a tiger


Conservation News:

18 foot long giant Oarfish carcass found

Illegal sandmining in Palar basin in Tamil Nadu


Natural History

Country Notebook by Saktipada Panigrahi


Sounds of Nature

Mottled Wood Owl pair calling by Roopak Gangadharan


Equipment Discussions

Zeiss Launches Distagon T*55mm f1.4 Otus Lens

Zeiss has launched the Otus 55mm f 1.4 lens for professional photographers. For the first time Zeiss has brought their complex Distagon design which is found in their wide angle lenses to the 55mm range.

This lens is optimized for full frame DSLRs.

Construction: 12 elements in 10 groups.
Aperture: F1.4 to f16
Fully manual focus
Minimum focusing distance: 20″
Focus barrel rotation: 248 deg
Filter size: 77mm
Dimensions: Approx. 3.64 x 5.66″ (9.25 x 14.38 cm)
Weight:1030 g
Price: Retails at 3990 USD. (now available for preorder in B&H)
This lens will not only be used by high end professional photographers but also for filming.*-55mm-f1-4-Otus-lens


SennheiserEsfera 5.1 Surround Sound microphone system:

Esfera provides 5.1 surround sound from just two channels, which will come as a big help, as one will have two channels free in a four channel system. The system consists of a high-quality stereo microphone, designed with Sennheiser’s renowned RF condenser technology, and a 19“ rack-mount processing unit that converts the stereo signal into a complete 5.1 signal – anywhere in the production workflow, whether in real time or during post production. The compact size of the microphone unit and the versatile connectivity of the processing unit ensure that Esfera can easily be integrated into existing workflows. The system will be available from March 2014.

The SPM 8000 stereo microphone: With its two radio-frequency condenser microphones Esfera’s SPM 8000 stereo microphone offers all the advantages that Sennheiser RF condenser microphones are renowned for: natural, detailed sound, transparency, high resistance to adverse climatic conditions and ruggedness. The microphones feature an extremely low inherent self-noise, have very low distortion figures and are inherently fully floating and balanced.

The SBP 8000 processing unit: The Esfera processing unit uses a special algorithm to generate a full 5.1 surround signal with sampling rates of up to 96 kHz from the microphones‘ stereo signal. An integrated compressor ensures a broadcast-friendly signal. The processing unit has four directly selectable presets, which can be modified via an Ethernet interface. The processor software enables the user to adjust the gain of the individual channels, modify the front and surround focus, determine the surround delay, adjust several filters with their cut-off frequencies and set the compression, the limiter and the treble boost.

Connectivity of the processing unit: Inputs: two analogue XLR-3 sockets with P48 phantom powering and two digital inputs for an AES3 signal; outputs: six digital outputs (left, right, centre, LFE, surround left, surround right) for three AES3 signals.

This system is being targeted at broadcasters however there will be many uses in various other fields. The price is not announced yet.


Go Pro Hero 3+ Announced


Firmware update for Canon 1D C and 1D X cameras


Photography Tips:

Correcting Tilt in Photoshop by Rajan Kanagasabai


Image of the Month:

The honour for the Image of the Month for September goes to Satishchandra Ranadive’s image titled “Mothers Love: Sparrow with Chicks”


Wildlife Photography

 Indian Flying Fox by Roopak Gangadharan

 Leopard descending by Deepak Ramani

Tuskers sparring by Bhargava Srivari!

 Himalayan Marmots by Dr Ajay Kumar Singh

Dhole by Rajan Kanagasabai

Peacock by Kaleeswara Srikanth

Scaly breasted Juvenile by Dr.Jitendra Katre

Journey by Arindam Datta


Sabyasachi Patra

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Newsletter-Oct-2013 (3.6 MB, 1500 downloads)
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