Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Success stories and learnings

Restored Forests Breathe Life Into Efforts Against Climate Change

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Arrival of Lesser Flamingos declines at Sambhar Lake

We were at the lake on the 17th of Jan, and saw a large flock of Greater Flamingoes.

Arrival of Lesser Flamingos declines at Sambhar Lake - The Hindu

Arrival of Lesser Flamingos declines at Sambhar Lake

Aarti Dhar

According to a survey only 54 of the birds visited the lake this year, down from 1,812 recorded last year

The number of Lesser Flamingos visiting the Sambhar Lake and adjoining waterbodies in Rajasthan has declined to 54 this year from 1,812 recorded last year, according to a survey. The bird has already been declared an endangered species and put on the IUCN-Red List, the most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC), conducted at the Sambhar Lake and adjoining waterbodies on January 13, has, however, shown an increase in the diversity of migratory birds and a jump in the population of other waterbirds. While the bird diversity has increased from 7 to 31, the number of birds has gone up from 3,155 to 3,495. The number of Greater Flamingos has increased from 1,325 last year to 1,853.
A similar survey was conducted at the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, where a large number of resident and migratory bird species was spotted. Even in foggy and cloudy conditions, the team recorded 44 species of waterbirds, including 18 resident and 26 winter migratory species of a total population of 5,879.
Among the major migratory species with larger populations are Bar-headed Geese, Graylag Geese, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Coot, Gadwal and Common Teal, and among the resident species with a large population are Lesser Whistling Duck and Indian Moorhen.
The AWC was carried out by a team of Wetlands International South Asia and the Territorial Forest Division of Jaipur, led by T.K. Roy, ecologist and AWC Delhi State Coordinator. The areas covered in the Sambhar Lake include the wetlands of Gudha, Jhaping and Devyani. The threatened species spotted include Lesser Flamingo, Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit. While the other migratory species found are Bar-headed Geese, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Coot, Northern Pintail, Pied Avocet, Common Teal, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwal and Tuff.
Sambhar is the largest inland saline lake in the country and the largest Ramsar site in Rajasthan.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Sri Lankan snake sighted in Seshachalam and Rishi Valley, in AP

Sri Lankan snake sighted in Seshachalam - The Hindu

Chrysopelea Taprobanica Smith 1943, a snake endemic to Sri Lanka, found for the first time in India at Chamala in the Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve of Andhra Pradesh.
Chrysopelea Taprobanica Smith 1943, a snake endemic to Sri Lanka, found for the first time in India at Chamala in the Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve of Andhra Pradesh.

Considered endemic to Sri Lanka, the snake has now been found for the first time in India in the Biosphere Reserve of Andhra Pradesh.

Chrysopelea taprobanica Smith 1943, a snake considered endemic to the dry and intermediate zones of Sri Lanka, has been sighted for the first time in India in the Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve, Andhra Pradesh.
The development, which significantly expands the known area of presence of this species, also indicates its probable movement between the dry zones of peninsular India and Sri Lanka, which remained connected around 17,000 years ago.
The rare sighting has found a mention in the tenth anniversary issue of ‘Checklist’, the journal of biodiversity data. The January 2015 edition released on Thursday indicates that the sighting of the snake in Chamala area of Seshachalam is the first-ever confirmed record of C. taprobanica from India and anywhere outside Sri Lanka.
The study was conducted by researchers Bubesh Guptha and N.V. Sivaram Prasad of the Biodiversity Lab in the Tirupati Wildlife Management Circle under the guidance of the Conservator of Forest M.Ravikumar, in collaboration with Simon T. Maddock of The Natural History Museum, London and V. Deepak of Centre for Ecological Studies, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
In fact, an unidentified specimen suspected to be chrysopelea taprobanica was sighted in the year 2000 in Rishi Valley, Andhra Pradesh and even photographed by V.Santharam, but the specimen was not collected. “In November 2013, we collected the specimen in the dry deciduous forest of Chalama and conducted morphological studies and DNA test to prove that it is the same”, Mr. Bubesh Guptha told The Hindu.
The chain of broken hills in the peninsular India, comprising the Eastern Ghats, has remained unexplored compared to the Western Ghats. “The Eastern Ghats are a repository of biodiversity and further studies will certainly bring newer species to light”, says Mr. Sivaram Prasad.
The recording of this snake is considered prestigious as it adds a new species to the biodiversity list of India.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Video: Drone Captures Amazing Humpback Whale Feeding Event on Camera

Video: Drone Captures Amazing Humpback Whale Feeding Event on Camera � Focusing on Wildlife

Apart from their massive size, humpback whales are most known for their extensive, complex “songs” that male humpbacks use for communication. But, humpback whales also have some fascinating feeding behaviors that are also worthy of attention—particularly bubble-netting. This form of feeding behavior occurs when groups of about four to twenty humpback whales concentrate their prey—like herring or krill—in large groups by producing bubbles and vocalizations before lunging at them, according to the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratories.
In recent footage captured off Alaska, a drone caught this incredible behavior on film as humpback whales race along the water’s surface in search of their prey. Then, around 50 seconds into the video, members of a pod of these whales lunge from the water’s surface and trap their tasty meal. Other footage recently captured off Norway filmed similar behavior, though in a much closer view.

Humpback whales feeding in Alaska. (Photo: AkXpro / Vimeo)
Humpback whales feeding in Alaska. (Photo: AkXpro / Vimeo)
Apart from this fascinating feeding behavior, a recent study also found out that humpback whales work together when feeding at night in dark, deeper water. The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that the whales make “tick-tock”-like noises—which may be used as a signal to notify nearby whales that food is in the area, or to help draw one of their prey, sand lance, up from the ocean floor.
Humpback whales can grow up to a staggering 60 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons, according to National Geographic. They are distributed throughout the world’s oceans from subpolar to tropical waters, and make vast migrations each year to breed. Humpback whales are listed as endangered under the  Act, though two populations are under review for delisting. Commercial whaling activity severely decimated populations, but humpback whales are said to be recovering today. Current threats include vessel strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, habitat degradation, and more.
Take a look below for a great view of this feeding behavior:

Humpback Whales Bubble Feeding Drone Views from AkXpro on Vimeo.

I thought these comments were also interesting, so we keep the audio in perspective:

A nice film, but the audio dub really could have been much better. It's very apparent that the audio used in the film is not original. The sound of waves lapping on a beach, when the whales are a considerable distance from shore doesn't make sense. Also, the sound was looped, so the seagull audio is repetitive, and the sound of the whales singing is also, repetitive, with the same whale sound playing over and over. 
With the crew possibly in a boat controlling the remote control drone, a better approach for audio I think, would be to take either a camera with a good mic, or an audio recording system, say like a "Zoom, H4, or something similar, and do several minutes of just audio recordings of that same location. Yes, there are other boats nearby, but that wouldn't matter too much. The most preferable option, is to do a stereo recordings with shotgun mics pointed in the direction of the whales from a boat at a safe distance, call for silence on the set, and record the audio.
James M. Williams Jr 
It's easy to capture and record good audio separately from the film of the same footage of the whales feeding. It's also much easier to dub the audio in during post, and to manipulate the audio track so that it closely fits the activity of the footage. No one would be the wiser if done correctly. It's only a matter of synchronizing a few of the whales surfacing to breath . The gulls are of no consequence and recordings of them would fit regardless. The water sounds of the whales surfacing to feed would also be captured and easily be dubbed in to fit the footage... 
Whales, especially Humpback Whales do not sing while feeding. The sound of their singing would drive the schools of herring, or fish away, and even the krill they feed on would flee, so they do not sing at all when they are feeding. They do employ the "Bubble-net Feeding" though.
Very nice footage, beautiful overhead shots with the drone though. Thanks for sharing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Elephant in the room

A lovely series illustrating the man-elephant "conflict".

Elephant in the room Key References: Goswami et al. (in press). Dynamic Occupancy Models Provide a Mechanistic Understanding of Human–Wildlife Conflict. Goswami, V. R., Sridhara, S., Medhi, K., Williams, A. C., Chellam, R., Nichols, J. D., Oli, M. K. (2014). Community-managed forests and wildlife-friendly agriculture play a subsidiary but not substitutive role to protected areas for the endangered Asian elephant. Biological Conservation, 177: 74-81. Goswami, V. R., Vasudev, D., Oli, M. K. (2014). The importance of conflict-induced mortality for conservation planning in areas of human–elephant co-occurrence. Biological Conservation, 176: 191-198. Kumar, M. A and Ganesh, R. (2012). Human-elephant coexistence: community involvement in conflict resolution in a land–use mosaic of the Anamalai hills, Western Ghats, India. NCF technical report No: 19, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore. Kumar, M. A., Mudappa, D., Raman, T. R. S. (2010). Asian elephant Elephas maximus habitat use and ranging in fragmented rainforest and plantations in the Anamalai Hills, India. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 3 (2)143-158.