Wildlife field in India

In current scenario, India is turning a big hub for wildlife research, reason being not only rich biodiversity of India but also due to the best expertise available in our country. When wildlife was taking its nascent steps in our country, most of the research; especially conservation oriented were supported by the foresters who so fondly conserved not only forests but also its inhabitants. Many species based programmes were initiated and wildlife got a huge impetus by political supporter like Smt Indira Gandhi. Our tryst with understanding of natural world is not new as BNHS (established in 1883) had been working perseveringly towards wildlife conservation quite a time ago. The 1900 era saw many institutions taking this natural heritage research and conservation seriously. The establishment of Zoological Survey of India (1916), Wildlife Institute of India (1982), The Centre for Ecological Sciences (1983), The Centre for Wildlife Studies (1984), Wildlife division of Aligarh Muslim University (1986), SACON (1990) to name few such organization which brought the field of wildlife in front of laymen Indians, affected many policies regarding forest and wildlife and gave a wealth of baseline research for future researchers. However, the aura of this scientific field attracts and also the need of hour of research is interdisciplinary minds to be working in close association.

A simple example of the involvement of various fields in wildlife research can be hypothetical study of estimate of a species population in any particular area. To understand the species and its interaction with the environment, biologist comes into picture. To plan the study over a large inaccessible landscape, Remote sensing and GIS expert is required. To place the right kind of technology to capture live; a veterarian or non-invasive capture of animal like cameratrap, drone application like MSTrIPES, pattern recognition software; an engineering background plays a humongous role. To understand human and animal interaction sociologist plays an important role. Once field data is collected the various statistical models required bolstering our studies outcome and here statisticians are a big help. Awareness and outreach is being encouraged by journalism students. The good and unique research is being conducted in one aspect and by one specialist and sometime all these backgrounds are required for research outcome. For the advancement of science an interactive group of the interdisciplinary research would form the best team.

Either a researcher does all this or a team of different experts come together for a common cause. This could be reason that institute like National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), located in Bangalore initiated masters programme for various background student. Wildlife sciences have expanded its wings in past decade tremendously and many people are making names in this field as ecologist, statistician, photographer, scubadivers, writer etc. In recent times many universities have recognized the specialized course of Zoology and provide Phd programme in Wildlife related research like Forest Research Institute, Saurashtra University, Manipal University, Amity University, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bharathiar University, Aligarh Muslim University, and University of Jammu and Kashmir , Mumbai University, Pune University etc. Even if students don’t want to pursue as Phd, many short courses are offered by BNHS, SACON etc and youngsters can explore the field to relax in nature or form a career in same.

Hopefully students from remote areas also explore this exciting field in nearby universities and also students from various field come and make a mark in Wildlife field.

 

 

Depression? turn to nature

I took pride in being the inspiration for my nephew’s penchant towards nature. As a child he would follow my gaze and camera lens whenever they were following birds or butterflies. When I was not around, he would ask my sister to shoot the birds with mobile camera for me. I was delighted, always, to see his innocent mind enjoying and searching for nature. At least if future flag bearers take interest then only they can work towards the importance of conservation of nature. My contribution as a wildlifer was somewhere paying back.

However I realized stopping and enjoying nature was not something for greater humankind cause only. It inflicted us with an addiction of introspection. Like W.H. Davies puts it “No time to stand and stare”, we are in so much hurry that we do not realize to appreciate whatever is around us. Off course we are fast losing our battle against the getting extinct nature, still we should live in moment over large and learn and enjoy from those experiences. When I was going through a bad phase of my life, which became sort of comatose, I found my silver lining “observing nature”. I used to watch small sized birds gathering food every day. The miniature spiders who would build their nests everyday and wait for their prey. Most of these birds and spiders hard work went in vain, when we humans would barge in their daily activity, scaring them off or just breaking the nest unknowingly. Still, everyday they would do their chores. Unlike us humans who would sulk, shout, swear and waste our energy. Now you may say that they don’t have those emotions, probably yes. A lot of emotions that we go through many animals don’t but they do fight over food. They know they have to gather food for their and their offspring survival. So they do their work no matter human’s barge in or any other circumstances don’t go according to them. I learnt this from observing these relatively small organisms when few of my friends suggested me to try drinks or smoke to overcome depression. The observation of nature around me not only helped me survive but be stronger and wiser. And this didn’t come as “knowledgeable background” of wildlife. At one point of time I was amongst topmost in knowing the bird’s identity. I had sort of checklist of my own. But that knowledge was not helping me to relax. As soon as I forgot the names and just observed whatever was infront of me, I felt better. I could think clearer and be more composed.

I always thought that my experience would help my nephew and kids like him. I was happy that he is inclined towards nature but I was sort of disappointed when I saw him going in the category of competitive learning. My rendezvous with him in national capitol, left me baffled when he a child of 6 years of age could tell me names of many birds. I would call him in balcony, and he would see the bird and tell me name and retire to his TV cartoon. I asked him what is special about the parakeet he just told me about, he didn’t know. I learned from him that he is having nature classes where he learns all these big names. Activists like us, who are trying to bring awareness sort of miss the point that nature offers you enjoyment and peace. If you make it also competition then the child will grow with more of rat race capability but restless soul. When they grow up, they could feel the depression pang very quickly as child may win or lose in this highly competitive world. But if you let the nature nurture him/her slowly, they would take their life peacefully and happily. It’s not taking them to Yellowstone national park or trekking to the highest Himalayan peak that we elders are doing our job properly but everyday taking them to your garden or park for half hour, sitting and observing nature and talking about it is the best gift we would be giving.

Likewise I remember going on a stroll in the garden with my nephew when he was 3 and half years of age. I showed him a tree and told him it’s called bottlebrush. That was first time I just dropped a name without telling him characteristic of that tree. No wonder next day when we reached that tree I asked him its name. He thought for a while and told me “toothbrush”. I laughed and then explained showing him the flowers that they resemble the brush we use to clean the bottles hence bottlebrush. He remembers the name but unluckily he doesn’t have “time” to observe the birds, especially sunbirds, which visit the tree.  It’s not wrong to miss out on names of bird and trees, nature doesn’t mind actually. But nature does mind when you don’t visit it’s any form. I hope we can make younger generation understand this as it would do them good in long run.

Convex or Concave (MCP) in QGIS?

Many times in the Home range analysis (radiotracking data) , we want minimum convex polygon. Although this method includes more area than is actually required for analysis.  Read more in Analysis of Wildlife Radio-Tracking Data by  Gary C. White, Robert A. Garrott. This is where minimum concave polygon comes to our rescue. Making minimum convex hull and concave hull is possible in QGIS.

1.Goto Geoalgorithm> Vector geometry tool> Concave Hull

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The polygon is formed on the basis of cluster of point nearby. It reduces the actual captured area,rather than combining the holes in points placement.

2. Goto Geoalgorithm> Vector geometry tool> Convex Hull

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For the same set of point in image no 1, Convex hull is created.

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the resulting Concave (inner polygon) and Convex (the outer polygon) is shown in following image.

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to add XY coordinate, view in attribute table in QGIS

IF a file is provided in which one wants the XY coordinate in attribute, first step is to be sure in what projection it is. Whichever projection, coordinate of same will be added.

This is single step process.

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1.open the point layer. Goto> Vector>Add co-ordinate to points

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2. Select the point layer and give save output. You can save as temporary file too.Also if you want to run many files as batch, you can select that feature too.

 

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The output file will have XY coordinate in attribute table.

the bird delight

Mussorie is a delight for humans for the cool weather and pleasant walk in the mountain. But it is also a perfect playground for many birds. More so the way from Doon valley to Mussorie provide enchanted encounters of birds, butterflies and many more interesting small survivors. The heavy traffic and changing weather is creating problem for the hill station and its musical residents. Post a rainy night, I decided a trek to the Mussorie to explore bird which on vehicle gets too difficult and annoying.

From Rajpur road, a famous shop Hathi tea stall marks the identifying location if the trek. If one cannot figure out old route to Mussorie from Dehradun ask people about this shop! Its right next to the Christian Retreat and Study Center in Rajpur. the trek opposite to that will take you to Jharipaani and trek to Mussorie . The old toll of British India time is present ahead of which is  heritage route to Mussorie.

walking up the trail we encountered many birds and yes lots of lantana bushes. The prominent bids on the trek were Rufous sibia, Egyptian vulture,streaked laughing thrush, purple sunbird, crimson sunbird, oriental white eye. Further up on the trek as we reach Barlogunj, we encountered great barbet, Bar-tailed Treecreeper,Blue-throated Barbet,Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush,Russet Sparrow,Green-backed Tit,Black-lored Tit,Thick-billed Flowerpecker .

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Barlowganj is a small settlement which is mid-way to Mussorie. The famous location is Jharipani of this area where people can trek from the main town itself. Some nice place to stay and walk around if your are looking for peaceful environment. One could see the real birds as well as painted ones in the town and flowering of rhododendron can be witnessed in this small settlement. Bus travelling to this route is not very frequent.

The trek  was exactly how many kilometers we could never tell. Rain, running after birds, exploring trees and talks amongst the exploration of route might have added to 4-5 km extra to the total trek. We concluded that we might have walked some 12-13 km from Rajpur road to Mussorie in 7 hours. But all the bird sighting and beautiful landscape view made it a memorable and worthwhile trek.

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Will explore another route in the hills, till then happy birding!

the camouflaging one

the scaly thrush as observed in first week of march in Dehradun. A peculiar “khrrr khrr” sound drew me to investigate and found the bird sitting on the leaf litter. since it was first shower of winter, observing the camouflaged bird in brown and green leaves was difficult. the observation was made in slightly drizzling afternoon.

To convert multiple kml file (googleearth layer) to shapefile with QGIS.

 

If you have multiple point, polygon in kml format we can use QGIS to convert all as shapefile in single step.

  1. Following is example of kml point files, b1, b2, b3, b4, b5, b6kml-points
  2. Open Qgis Toolbox
  3. Goto  Geoalgorithms>Vector>General Tools> Save selected feature. Right click on it and select execute as batch processpicture1

 

  1. In the window of Batch processing , select your KML (google earth layer) from file system. The + sign is to increase the number of rows if you have many kml files.picture2

5.In the selection window,  give the output file name and location for shapefile that need to be created.picture3

6.In the autofill settings, preferably select fill with parameter value if you want to save the content of kml file.picture4

7.By default , keep yes in load in QGIS.

8.Once all the kml has been loaded in Input layer, click on run. Close window when batch process complete come.

9.Result will be displayed as followspicture5