Tiger in the high altitude of Himalaya

Tiger conservation in Shiwalikh and also North Eastern India had been a success story since long. Also,  India’s neighboring countries in Himalaya, Nepal and Bhutan, have been focussing on tiger monitoring nationally and also as part of the trans-boundary exercise in collaboration with India. However, Nepal focusses most of the tiger conservation programs in time-known terai landscape. Bhutan has covered almost all of its forest across various habitat and altitude with a camera trapping exercise and is in an excellent understanding of tiger distribution in their country.  During this camera-trap exercise, Bhutan reported the presence of tiger in a high altitude of above 4000m and so began the story of carnivore of plains occupying snowy mountains! Since then Tiger has been reported from the higher altitude of Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, and North Bengal. What is making these tigers go on the Himalayan trail? Is it climate change or the habitat fragmentation or the shift in habitat characteristics in lower altitude or loss of prey and forest in lower elevation of the Himalayas or was it undetected until these times?


Trying to understand this heritage animal love for mountains, we at Global Tiger Forum had a consultative meeting with the representative of Nepal, India, and Bhutan as part of the project funded by IUCN. Exploring the arena of the tiger at the higher altitude will open scientific vision to not only tiger ecology but also the effect of climate change on carnivore and habitat.


the changing concrete-2

This is another city, Bengaluru. The resilience of the city is being lost somewhere when it rains and also managing the groundwater storage. The images are one almost 2-decade interval. Can you see the difference?

the changing concrete

The Marlimund Lake is very much dependant on the Shola ecosystem. The drought condition may arrive very soon as the shortage of water in the region is very prominent. The disbalance of shola grassland ecosystem is one of the major cause of this threat. 

The above two imagery is a decade interval. Can you spot the reason of the disbalance in shola-grassland ecosystem?

stories that unfold

I thought of writing about the review of a book which is generally popularized as a simple story. Stickeen: An adventure with a dog and a glacier by John Muir. John Muir was not only a mentor for wildlifer but his stories are an inspiration for any adventurous soul. he has authored many stories about his vast adventurous life which are unable to do justice to this ecologist persona. Like most of us in wildlife, probably Muir was also reluctant about his interest in a “feeble pet dog” and believed the true lessons are offered by wild and free souls. We learn from the animals who enjoy the wonderful mother nature in their own unique way. However on a trip to Alaska Muir found that the heroes and teachers are often souls who respond with courage in an adverse situation.

Stickeen was one such company. A feeble dog accompanying the group to Alaska was the last thing to show any courage, adventure; or so Muir felt when he first lay his eyes on him. But a disinterested-on-whole-trip Stickeen showed loyalty when it was least expected of him. Muir being a lover of glaciers wanted to see it in a different perspective and so the storm was one of the perfect filters for him to explore glaciers. However, the team members oblivious of his plan were peaceful in slumbers of sleep and didn’t bother to think about his whereabouts. Normally timid Stickeen saw Muir venturing out and decided to be his company in this adventure when he couldn’t dissuade Muir from this dangerous mission. He followed Muir and explored the wild by his side.  In the process, Stickeen explored his fears and made Muir realize his loyalty was greater than his fear.

For Muir his adventure for glaciers and wilderness was the inspiration and push but what was the inspiration for Stickeen? What made this innocent, speechless soul venture out in the most dangerous storm on the most dangerous path following the almost stranger? This guy was not his master too that he needed to show his loyalty and in the process risk his life. A lovely story which leaves a mark on minds of any animal lover. Children would especially enjoy this true account of Muir life wherein adversity he made a lifelong friend but also as it explores the realms of dog overcoming his fears. The speechless companions have fear of their own and courage to overcome it, which is impressive and worth understanding!

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


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


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


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