IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 10 Issue IX

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 10 Issue IX

ISSN 2394 – 6946

Download the full Newsletter PDF by clicking the below button –
IndiaWilds Newsletter-September-2018 (6.9 MB, 227 downloads)

Wildlife Preservation & Problem Animals: 

IndiaWilds Newsletter-September-2018 - PDF

IndiaWilds Newsletter-September-2018 – PDF

Wildlife preservation in India as well as the world over is facing a massive challenge arising from the population explosion of homo sapiens. The earth has an estimated human carrying capacity of 5 billion people. We are now at 7 billion and counting. India the second most populous country with 1.34 billion people is accelerating to take over China’s population of 1.41 billion by 2024. This is certainly not an enviable competition to win.

With massive human population trying to increase their materialistic living standards it is increasingly becoming difficult for the wildlife to survive. Their habitat is fragmenting and shrinking due to linear projects like dams, canals, railway lines, roads, pipelines as well as industrial projects and urbanization. Their health is also negatively impacted by the pollution we cause from synthetic chemicals and toxic wastes dumped indiscriminately in forests, rivers and oceans.

The habitat of wildlife is also increasingly degraded due to invasive alien species, tree cutting, NTFP (Non-timber forest produce) collection, grazing of livestock etc. So when the hungry wild herbivores come out of the forest there is conflict. Mega herbivores like elephants can’t be hemmed in within small sanctuaries and national parks as they are designed to move around and cover large areas for food.

Undigested polythene in the Elephant dung at Segur Road

Undigested polythene in the Elephant dung at Segur Road

Increasing urbanization and projects cut off their traditional migratory corridors. Conflict is inevitable. They are then immediately branded as problem animals and are then killed. At times there are blatant violations of laws by even Government departments. A case in the point being Numaligarh Refinery erecting walls in the elephant corridor and despite orders the wall not being dismantled. Unfortunately the Government, perhaps misguided by some of its officers, often supports such illegalities and the wildlife bear the brunt.

Wild elephant surrounded by Lantana

A charging Wild elephant surrounded by invasive Lantana camara

There are many people who illegally enter the forests everyday. If there is an accidental encounter between a human and a wild animal then the person is likely to be killed. So immediately the tiger or leopard is branded as man-eater. In several cases officials under pressure from the villagers are ready to brand a tiger or leopard as maneater. Hunting is legally banned in India. However, there are some hunters who manage to circumvent this law by conniving with forest staff to kill animals that have been branded as maneaters or problem animals. It is another matter that other species on earth won’t have a charitable view of homo sapiens and may brand us as “problem animals”.

Some of the NGOs, researchers & conservationists are also quick to jump the gun and declare that any animal which is involved in conflict be quickly slaughtered. These people fear that if they don’t support the move to declare an animal man-eater or problem animal then they would be in the bad books of the local forest department and local villagers. Fearing problems in their research they are all too obliging. The argument put forth is that the value of an individual animal is not greater than the species and sacrificing “problem animals” would get them the community support, which they say is better for conservation in the longterm.

Unfortunately, this is ethically not right. No one cares to find out the reason for the conflict. To be fair when an expert reaches the site of conflict it would have been days and marks would have been obliterated. So reaching conclusion can be difficult in some cases. The forest department officials are also in many cases too involved in managing the area and not able to devote time in the field to learn field craft.

There have been cases in the past where people have been murdered and thrown away in the forest. Wild pigs and other scavengers immediately scavenge and when the body is found the conclusion is drawn that the person was killed by a tiger. Tiger is a fastidious eater. It carefully eats from the carcass. However, people who don’t understand tiger behaviour accuse the tiger of swallowing like a python. In one case in a premier tiger reserve people colluded to accuse a tiger of killing a person and said that an entire slipper of the person was found from the stomach of the tiger. Nothing can be farther from the truth. However, tigers are killed under some pretext or the other. There is no presumption of innocence as is applicable to humans. The dictum “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence” is not applied to poor tigers and leopards.

So the tiger or leopard continues to earn negative points.

At times people have died trying to steal a fresh tiger kill when the tiger was a few feet away resting in the bush. Like any predator it attacks the person stealing its kill. Deaths of such people also adds up to the list of people killed by “maneater”. No one realizes that the poor tiger was trying to protect its kill from a thief and what it did was simply natural.

There are also cases when people are defecating in the bush and a leopard mistakes the squatting person to be an animal and kills it. Upon realising that a person has been killed generally the carnivore leaves the body. Later by instinct when it comes back to the scene and finds the body lying, the tiger or leopard may consume a small portion of it. Or a wild pig or other scavenger many eat a portion of the flesh. Promptly the animal is declared as maneater and then captured and sent to a zoo or killed by one of the hunters.

In the past, people used to fear the tiger. Not many would enter into the forests fearing the wrath of the tiger. Today that fear is gone. People feel if someone is going to be killed then they will burn the forest. The forest department is often powerless. They are most often saddled with old employees who are not fit enough to patrol the forests. At times their salaries come after a few months. Underpaid, unfit and without motivation these forest staff can’t save our wilderness areas. A few unscrupulous people among them even collect money from the woodcutters and poachers. In such situations anthropogenic pressures increase within the wildlife sanctuaries. Poaching becomes routine and is assumed as a birthright. So when the Government and forest department tries to relocate mega carnivores like tigers to such places, people protest, the most recent case of protest happened in Satkosia Tiger Reserve.

In some of the wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves the problem is more acute due to presence of large number of villages. When there are villages within the reserve it becomes difficult to monitor their actions. These days wide roads have been constructed within the forest and schools, hospitals etc are established. So there is no need for people to even leave the forest for a better lifestyle outside. Felling old hard growth trees and poaching can provide enough money. If one counts the number of SUVs possessed by villagers in number of prominent reserves, one would get an idea. And wherever there is money, politicians can’t be left behind. So forest department is increasingly having a tough time to handle people in many places.

In some of the states the forest department and some of the experts seem hell bent on killing and removing  wildlife so that there is no man-animal conflict. That is the easy way. One reputed elephant biologist and NBWL member had ensured that a big group of elephants were removed from the wild in Karnataka and those poor elephants are now separated and sent to different elephant camps for a life in captivity for no fault of theirs. Their own fault was that they happen to be victims of circumstances where by human habitations expanded and their habitat shrunk. So they had to raid on crops. In India today that is a sure sign of being sentenced to death or a rigorous life imprisonment term.

Looking at the general apathy of the Government in preserving our wilderness and wildlife, most of India’s wilderness areas are going to be devoid of wildlife. Our forests would soon be empty. And that would not be a good sign. There is a complex relationship between the various species in different habitats. Our modern science has been able to decipher only a limited number of interdependencies between species. While writing on Rainforests noted biologist George Schaller had said:

An intriguing aspect of rainforest life is its extraordinary mutualism, a dependence of organism upon each other. For instance, each of the many fig species has its own wasp pollinators…. A rainforest is remarkably complex, yet its stability is tenuous. The extinction of a pollinator or seed disperser may cause the death of a plant species and with it many other species, especially invertebrates, which depend on it. Such responses are subtle and perhaps long delayed. How many key species can a rainforest lose before order becomes chaos, before the community collapses in an avalanche of extinctions?” His words are equally applicable for other types of forest ecosystems.

So what is the way forward?

The Political class after Indira Gandhi have more or less failed to protect India’s wilderness and wildlife. They are far more focused on narrow interests of few people. Only if people realise that everything is connected and our wellbeing is also dependent on forests, environment and wildlife issues then there would be some pressure on the politicians. Politicians only understand vote bank issues. If they feel that they are going to be outvoted in the next elections then they would listen to people. People have to realise that due to climate change massive natural calamities like storms, rainfalls etc are going to be common place and the wanton destruction of forests for human habitations, dams and other projects is going to exacerbate the effects of these natural calamities. Only then they will apply sustained pressure on the politicians. Unfortunately that day may be too late to reverse the environmental devastations that is going on.



Conservation News:

Relief for Chilika lake as SeaPlane Project called off

The Government has listened to our #SaveChilika campaign where conservationists, researchers, experts and people from all walks of life stood up to oppose the muddleheaded project. Details:

The Government of Odisha had asked and received a detailed note on the proposed Seaplane project from the Chilika Development Authority. Accordingly the Government had said no to the project. Based on the Government of Odisha’s response the Airports authority of India has scrapped the plan to allow a SeaPlane project in the ecologically fragile Ramsar site of Chilika lake.

This is one of the rare cases where an ecologically fragile place could be saved from ill thought-out projects. All our conservationists and naturalists friends should bear it in mind that for every victory that we gain, there are perhaps a thousand losses. Every moment an ecologically fragile landscape in some corner of India is moving one step further towards irreversible damage.

No Victory is Permanent

No defeat is temporary.

Each one of us should continue spreading awareness about the perilous state of wilderness and wildlife of our country so that more people can understand what we are losing and its impact on all of us.


Specialised training on ecotourism on the anvil for capacity enhancement of local communities:

Emphasising the Government’s commitment to implement people-centric initiatives, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, has said that the Ministry has prepared an Eco-tourism policy that will provide livelihood opportunities for the local communities, as well as educate visitors and enhance their understanding of nature.   In a statement on the policy for Eco-tourism in forest and wildlife areas, Dr. Vardhan said that in an effort to enhance the capacity of local communities, specialised training on eco-tourism activities will be imparted.  The Minister pointed out that the members of local communities can be employed as nature and tourist guides for providing hospitality, as nature science interpreters and patrol partners to protect nature.  He added that the policy seeks to encourage homestead-based hospitality enterprises for enhancing local livelihood, which includes small-scale entrepreneurs and operators like souvenir shops and equipment for hiring for photography.

Eco-tourism can be defined as ‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.  Forests and wildlife are elements of nature and are an inseparable part of the environment.  The interface between nature and human beings is intricate, thus nature conservation must entail participation of people as a non-negotiable component.  The policy envisages active participation of forest dwellers living away from the forests, as well as of fringe dwellers in the forest.   The eco-tourism policy has been formulated in consultation with various important stakeholders.

Highlighting the objectives of the Eco-Tourism policy, Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that engaging local communities and develop mechanism with a view to enrich local economy, as well as sustainable use of indigenous material is a primary one.  “Establishing partnerships with all stakeholders to develop and promote nature tourism and promoting biodiversity richness and heritage values of India’s wilderness and adopting low impact nature tourism to ensure ecological integrity are some of the other objectives of the policy”, he said.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also indicated that the policy will further help in enhancing the education and awareness about wildlife and habitat in the country.  He added that the Eco-Tourism policy will also help in improving the livelihood of people living in and around Protected Areas (PAs).

Stating that areas with good wildlife habitat will be developed for eco-tourism to reduce pressure on sensitive “core” areas and to enhance local benefits, the Minister stressed the importance of community participation in such initiatives with a view to reinforce their interface and sense of ownership. Dr. Vardhan expressed the view that infrastructure development for eco-tourism will be designed in such a manner that it merges with the ambient environment.  He pointed out that the activities undertaken will be eco-friendly in nature and no permanent structure will be allowed without clearance under Forest (Conservation) Act.  The Minister averred that the infrastructure developed will be limited to the carrying capacity of the area.  Pointing out that the demarcation of eco-tourism zone will be based on target-species, their behavioral and habitat characteristics, Dr. Vardhan said that the eco-tourism plan will identify locations and routes for visitors, as well as the activities permitted and permissible time and means of travel for the visit.

The Minister observed that eco-tourism will be developed in wildlife conservation areas designated as Protected Areas (PAs) and will include wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, conservation reserves and community reserves, as well as in areas outside designated Protected Areas, including forests, mangroves, sacred groves, mud flats, wetlands and rivers.  He also asserted that each State/Union Territory will have to establish an Eco-Tourism Development Board to advise the State/UT on the modalities of eco-tourism and to oversee the implementation of the policy.  “In cases of dispute, the decision of the management of Protected Areas will prevail”, Dr. Vardhan said.

This announcement by Dr. Harsh Vardhan is welcome as we have been raising our voice for ecotourism for a long time. However, the way the carrying capacity of National Parks is decided and huge number of vehicles and visitors are asked to move into the forest in a line without stopping is making mockery of the word ecotourism. In many premier tiger reserves, the feeling one gets is that of a zoo. The forest department is more focused on earning revenue from the tourists and less on foot patrolling and preserving the wilderness areas. Our previous note on eco tourism can be found here: 


Draft of India Cooling Action Plan released:

A draft of “India Cooling Action Plant” has been released in Delhi on 17th of September. India is the first country in world to develop such a document (ICAP), which addresses cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand.  This will supposedly help in reducing both direct and indirect emissions. The thrust of the ICAP is to look for synergies in actions for securing both environmental and socio-economic benefits.  The overarching goal of ICAP is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society.

The goals emerging from the suggested interventions stated in ICAP are:  (i) Recognition of “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under national science and technology programme to support development of technological solutions and encourage innovation challenges, (ii) Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by year 2037-38, (iii) Reduction of refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by year 2037-38, (iv) Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by year 2037-38, and (v) Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by the year 2022-23, in synergy with Skill India Mission.

The broad objectives of the India Cooling Action Plan include – (i) Assessment of cooling requirements across sectors in next 20 years and the associated refrigerant demand and energy use, (ii) Map the technologies available to cater the cooling requirement including passive interventions, refrigerant-based technologies and alternative technologies such as not-in-kind technologies, (iii) Suggest interventions in each sector to provide for sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all, (iv) Focus on skilling of RAC service technicians, and (v) Develop an R&D innovation ecosystem for indigenous development of alternative technologies.

ICAP has been prepared by the MoEF&CC after deliberations with multi-stakeholders in public domain for receiving comments/suggestions.   Recognizing that integrated actions, taking a holistic view on the cooling requirement across sectors with long term perspective (20 years) will have a higher impact than either of the actions taken in isolation, the Ministry had initiated the process for developing the Cooling Action Plan in July 2017.   Also another publication called, “A Guide for integration of topics related to HCFC Phase out and Energy efficiency in Architectural Curriculum” was also released.


Centrally Sponsored Umbrella Scheme of Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats to continue beyond 12th Plan

The Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved continuation of the Centrally Sponsored Umbrella Scheme of Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (CSS-IDWH) beyond the 12thPlan period from 2017-18 to 2019-20.  The Scheme consists of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger (CSS-PT), Development of Wildlife Habitats (CSS-DWH) and Project Elephant (CSS-PE). The total outlay is Rs. 1731.72 crore as central share (Rs. 1143 crore for Project Tiger, Rs. 496.50 crore for Development of Wildlife Habitats and Rs.92.22 crore for Project Elephant) from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

A total of 18 tiger range States, distributed in five landscapes of the country would be benefitted under the Project Tiger scheme. Similarly, for other two schemes, the coverage is entire country in case of Development of Wildlife Habitats (DWH) and 23 elephant range States for Project Elephant. It would foster wildlife conservation in general with specific inputs for tiger in Project Tiger area and elephant in Project Elephant area.

Besides environmental benefits and effective implementation of tiger conservation inputs in and around tiger reserves under Project Tiger, wildlife conservation inputs in Protected Areas & nearby areas under Development of Wildlife Habitats and Elephant conservation inputs in Project Elephant areas, the schemes should result in overall strengthening/ consolidation of tiger, elephant and wildlife conservation in the country.

The schemes would address the human wildlife conflict effectively. Besides, the communities opting for voluntary relocation from the Core/Critical Tiger Habitat (6900 families) would be benefitted under Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger (CSS-PT) and 800 families under Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Development of Wildlife Habitat.

The implementation of the schemes would be done through the respective States in designated Tiger Reserves, Protected Areas and Elephant Reserves.

Unfortunately, these schemes are failing in many places due to lack of funds, lack of adequate manpower and often due to lack of scientific research inputs. We wish that the present Government can increase the funding to the various schemes and expedite relocation of villages from within the forests so that an inviolate zone can be created for wildlife.

India’s National REDD+ Strategy released:

Complying with the UNFCCC decisions on REDD+, India has prepared its National REDD+ Strategy. The Strategy builds upon existing national circumstances which have been updated in line with India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, Green India Mission and India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to UNFCCC.

In simple terms, REDD+ means “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.   REDD+ aims to achieve climate change mitigation by incentivizing forest conservation.    The strategy seeks to address drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and also developing a roadmap for enhancement of forest carbon stocks and achieving sustainable management of forests through REDD+ actions. The National REDD+ Strategy will soon be communicated to the UNFCCC.

Paris agreement on climate change also recognizes role of forests in climate change mitigation and calls upon country Parties to take action to implement and support REDD+.   India has communicated in its Nationally Determined Contribution under Paris Agreement, that it will capture 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.   India’s first biennial update report to UNFCCC has revealed that forests in India capture about 12% of India’s total GHG emissions. Thus, forestry sector in India is making a positive cost effective contribution for climate change mitigation.

The REDD+ strategy will help the country to fulfill its NDC commitments and will also contribute to the livelihood of the forest dependent population. A National Governing Council of REDD+ chaired by the Union Environment Minister at  the national level and two technical committees, headed by DG, Forest Survey of India and DG, ICFRE are being established for supporting the REDD+ implementation in the country. The REDD+ actions at the State level will be coordinated by the committee headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) & Head of Forest Force (HOFF) of the States.


Equipment Discussions:

Canon launches flagship XF705 UHD camcorder with 15x Optical zoom

Canon Launches New Flagship XF705 Professional Camcorder Featuring 4K Video Recording at 60P/4:2:2/10-Bit
Salient Features:
Resolution: UHD 4k (3840×2160) at 60p/4:2:2 colour
Bits: 10 bits
Media: SD Cards
Processor: Dual Digic DV 6
Lens: L series, 15x Optical zoom (25.5 mm – 382.5mm)
Autofocus: Dual Pixel AF
Image Stabilisation: 5 Axis IS
ND: 3 stage ND filter
Video format: XF-HEVC, XF-AVC, XF-MPEG
Log mode: Canon Log 3
HDR: 2 modes, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and Perceptual Quantization (PQ)
Recording: Simultaneously record HDR to internal SD cards and SDR to external recorder
Interface: 12G-SDI
I wish it had the 18x optical zoom range of XF305 series which is equivalent to 29-527mm. Without it this camera wont be a good choice for wildlife due to the limited focal length range.

Price: $6999 US Dollars

For more details check:


Canon EOS R Mirrorless system

Canon has announced its EOS R mirrorless system with the EOS R 30.3 MP still camera with 4K video.  For further details please check:

Canon Announces EOS R 30.3 MP Full frame Mirrorless Camera


Canon announces IS Ver 3.0 of 400 2.8 and 600 f4 lenses

Canon has announced the Image Stabilised Ver. 3.0 of its Super telephoto lenses by developing EF 400 f2.8 L IS III USM and 600mm f4 L IS III USM lenses. These lenses are way lighter than the pervious versions. I have the 400 f2.8 L IS USM lens which is the first image stabilised version of the 400 f2.8 lens. It weighs 5.6 kgs. The version 400 f2.8 L IS III weighs 2.84 Kgs. The 600mm f4 L IS III USM lens also has got its weight reduced. These lenses will be available in December 2018. The price of the 400 f2.8 L IS III USM is 11999 US Dollars. And the 600 mm f2.8 L IS III USM lens is priced at 12999 US Dollars. Given that rupee has depreciated so much, it would not be easy for anyone except the very serious professional to be able to afford it.

For more details check:


GoPro Hero7 Black launched: 

Action camera maker GoPro has launched the GoPro Hero7 Black with all the features that we new as well as some more and shoots at UHD 4k 60p.

For more details check:

GoPro Hero7 Black



Natural History

COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M. Krishnan: ‘Muckna at Bokani‘ shared By Saktipada Panigrahi


Wildlife Photography

Elephant-digging-at-Bandipur by Sabyasachi Patra

Barking-deer by Jitendra Katre

Leopard by Shyamala Kumar

Golden-Langur by Samrat Sarkar

Painted-spurfowl by Vipin Sharma

Ruddy-Shelduck in Chilika by Sabyasachi Patra

Lynx spider with a beetle catch by Prajwal Ullal

Caterpillar by Anil Kumar Verma

Broadhead Planarians (Genus Bipalium) by Mrudul Godbole

Mangroves choking in Versova (Mumbai) by Paramvir Singh


This is the 118th Issue of IndiaWilds.

The photo of a tiger adorns the cover page of this issue. This beautiful and majestic animal is increasingly threatened by loss of habitat and poaching. And to add to the challenge due to the increased anthropogenic pressures in tiger forests, these charismatic apex predator is increasingly being branded as man-eater and problem animal and officially killed by Hunters. The tigers have a majestic roar. However, its voice is rarely understood and hence for humans animal species like this tiger is voiceless. We wish the readers of this magazine can be the voice of these voiceless animals.

I look forward to your inputs and support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in our beautiful country and raising awareness about it. For other interesting articles and images check –

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Sabyasachi Patra

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IndiaWilds Newsletter-September-2018 (6.9 MB, 227 downloads)
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