Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 5 Issue XII

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 5 Issue XII

Newsletter-Dec-2013 (6.4 MB, 1642 downloads)

Conservation and Prevailing winds in politics

The recent assembly elections in five states have proved to be disastrous for the Congress party as it could only win the Mizoram elections. Out of these five elections, it is the elections in Delhi that has seen some tectonic shifts in Indian Politics with the spectacular debut of the Aam Aadmi Party.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal, is an offshoot of the mass protests led by Anna Hazare in 2012. The mass protests by Anna Hazare had galvanised the nation by bringing youth and old to the streets. Not many people believed that these protests would have any value other than making the Government sit up and take notice. When one group led by Arvind Kejriwal decided that they have to form a political party, it was believed that they will not make much of an impact in the elections. However, in Delhi, the congress party has been routed and Aam Aadmi Party is now the second largest party in Delhi Assembly. With the outside support of the Congress Party the Aam Aadmi Party is now going to form the Government in Delhi. Their brand of politics has stunned all the political parties. The Vice President of Congress, Rahul Gandhi was candid enough to give credit to the Aam Aadmi Party saying that they could connect with the common man better and promised that they too will reboot their political structure and processes.

This is a time of big change. The cynical brigade of politicians of all parties are now grudgingly going to listen to the common man. In this scenario we hope to make our voice heard.

The general elections will take place in 2014. Every political party will now write their manifestos. Earlier political parties used to write a manifesto as one of the routine chores. However, in this age of intense media scrutiny and debates, the manifesto will be taken seriously.

Today Manifesto of all our political parties are devoid of any reference to conservation issues. Unless we bring our issues to the mainstream, wildlife conservation community will remain isolated. We have decided to send our wish lists to all the political parties to include conservation issues afflicting India. We invite you all to kindly send us your suggestions so that we can create a robust set of Conservation Guidelines for Indian political parties.

This is a proactive measure to seek inclusion of our demands to protect the fast vanishing wilderness and wildlife of India. In the second step, after the General elections, we will again send our demands to the winning party/coalition ruling the Centre for inclusion in the budget during May/June. I hereby request our scientists, naturalists, activists and people interested in nature and wildlife conservation issues to kindly spare some of their time to pen their thoughts on the issues that ought to be part of the national agenda and send it to us.

Crocodile Intelligence:

In a stunning study on crocodilian behaviour, Vladimir Dinets from the University of Tennessee found that muggers and alligators use twigs as a bait to catch birds. In the past we knew that the crocodiles can lie motionless for several hours at a stretch and after sometime its prey forgets the crocodiles presence and mistakes it for a log. When the prey comes closer the crocodile moves swiftly to capture it. The crocodiles are also known to predate on bird chicks that fall from the nests. However, Vladimir Dinets study shows that crocodiles not only lie motionless in shallow water but also use twigs as bait to capture birds that are actively looking for twigs to build their nests.


The crocodile lying motionless below tree with nests and not bothered by bird droppings on its head. The droppings camouflage it better

These crocodiles were observed to have collected twigs and position those close to their snout and wait for an unsuspecting nest building birds to come close to collect the twigs. This behaviour shows us the level of intelligence of the crocodiles.

It is interesting that this behaviour has been observed in muggers in India as well as in alligators in USA. How much of this behaviour is transmitted from the common ancestor and how much individual learning plays a part in this is yet unknown.

We human beings in our arrogance refuse to believe that animals have intelligence and instead describe it as instinct. In the past there have been many instances of hunters getting hunted after being hoodwinked by the tiger. I have had instances of tiger fooling me.

Similar level of intelligence is also displayed by elephants. One promising life was lost when he perhaps misunderstood the level of intelligence of an elephant. In a sad mishap in 1977, Mr.Rajasekaran Nair, Director of Wildlife Research and Education, Dehradun thought that he could dodge the elephant by running around a tree. The elephant instead of following him around the tree retraced its path and moved to the other side of the tree and he met his gory end. I strongly feel that animals display intelligence, which is at times more than man. Unfortunately, the scientific community will not believe these incidents unless proven other wise in carefully constructed experiments.

The researcher Vladimir Dinets had observed the behaviour of muggers in the Madras Crocodile Bank and not in some esoteric location. So it is perhaps our failure to conduct systematic studies which results in we not being able to learn it. The other learning from this is that it is not just important to have facilities and expect scientists from this country to take advantage of it. Grants to pursue pure scientific research would be of help as well as a keen eye to observe a phenomenon in nature. I hope there can be more grants for research studies so that there can be more of talent flowing to the wildlife and conservation biology sector.


Other Conservation News:

Jayanthi Natarajan removed from MoEF, Petroleum minister gets additional charge of MoEF

Odisha Plans Webcasting of mass Olive Ridley Turtle nesting

Coast Guard launches ‘Operation Oliver’ to save rare turtles

Amur falcons have safe passage through Nagaland this year

The three Amur falcons which were trapped in Naga, Wokha and Pangti and realeased after radio collaring are now in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively. The latest positions and the track followed within Africa can be seen in this map. The Red dot denotes the position of the Naga Amur Falcon, the orange dot represents the position of the Amur falcon from Wokha and the yellow dot represents the Pangti Amur falcon.

Screen Shot 2013-12-25 at 11.36.51 AM


Book Review:

Field Days – A Naturalist’s Journey through South and Southeast Asia

Field Days by AJT Johnsingh

Field Days by AJT Johnsingh

Equipment Discussions:

Samsung Galaxy NX – Hands on by Rajan Kangasabai


Wilderness Updates:

The Bor Wildlife Sanctuary by Shymala Kumar

Pakke Tiger Reserve by Abhishek Jamalabad

Natural History:

Leaf bird collecting Spider web for nest by Roopak Gangadharan

The tiger who went up a tree and couldn’t come down by Shyamala Kumar


Sounds of Nature:

Grey Jungle Fowl Alarm Call by Roopk Gangadharan

Nilgiri Langur Call by V S Sankar

Great Hornbill Call by Roopak Gangadharan


Wildlife Photography:

Snow Leopard Sighting by Sucheth Lingachar

Snow leopard – dream come true by Hymakar Valluru

Black panther sighting by Praveen Siddannavar

Wild Gaur by Uday Kiran

Jungle Cat by Roopak Gangadharan

Eurasian Eagle Owl by Subhash Shrivastava

Red breasted flycatcher by Jitendra Katre

Common Tailor Bird by Anand Madabhushi

Blue bearded bee eaters by Mrudul Godbole

The Rays by Punith Suvarna

Russell’s viper by Abhirup Dutta Gupta

Flying Frog (North East) by Abhishek Jamalabad



Sabyasachi Patra

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Newsletter-Dec-2013 (6.4 MB, 1642 downloads)
Sabyasachi Patra
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