Saturday, October 23, 2010

Factors influencing densities of striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) in arid regions of India

I read an excellent paper by PRIYA SINGH, ARJUN M. GOPALASWAMY, and K. ULLAS KARANTH titled  " Factors influencing densities of striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) in arid regions of India", published in the Journal of Mammalogy.

The paper drives home the point that striped hyenas, despite the ability to adapt to human-modified landscapes, require natural habitats free of anthropogenic disturbances to serve as refugia for source populations. The authors advocate creation of more protected refugia for hyenas across arid regions if India. One finding of interest is that this large carnivore appears to survive at high densities even in human-dominated landscapes. The authors contend that persistence of hyenas in this arid region appears to be a function of availability of disturbance-free denning refugia in hilly terrain and abundant availability of livestock carcasses. 

Journal of Mammalogy, 91(5):1152–1159, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Soundscape Management Plan in Wildlife Reserves

Couple of month’s back I had posted an item titled Symphony and cacophony of sound and their role in wildlife management. This post highlighted the importance of managing the soundscape in wildlife reserves. I was delighted to hear from my friend Janine that this is actually being done by a Park in US
Zion National Park has a well planned Soundscape Management Plan which is purported to be the first of its kind in a major national park.  Monitoring stations record the sound in the park which is mapped. All possible efforts are made to reduce human induced noises in the park
Human induced sounds affect wildlife. A change of only three decibels can have a deleterious effect on whether predators can detect prey. Wildlife biologists say masking has serious repercussions. Masking is the inability to hear important environmental cues and animal signals due to extraneous noise.
Highrage Tidings exhort parks in India to follow the example set by Zion National Park. Many of our parks have an excess of human induced cacophony. In many parks we have been pushing ecotourism unmindful of long term effects of our inroads in to the pristine habitat of the denizens of the wild. The symphony of natural sounds in our wildlife reserves is an important natural resource that is very critical to the ecological communities.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Another Wildlife week and the Angst of a Retired Wildlifer

Here comes another wildlife week. High flown pronouncements from politicians and top brasses of the forest department are round the corner. We have been hearing these pronouncements that sound hollow for the past many years. All that is said and promised are forgotten with nauseating regularity after the wildlife week.
The bedrock of conservation is committed front line staff led by able and dedicated officers. This has always been a neglected area is spite of repeated calls from men who know the heartthrob of conservation.  The reserves are more often than not either understaffed or staffed by under trained men past their prime. Most often these men have no particular interest in wildlife and are there just because they have been posted there. Men with genuine love for wildlife are the crying need of the hour.
Why is it that we cannot build committed team of officers and men in wildlife reserves? What we have right now are couple of officers and men, with genuine love for wildlife, here and there. The stumbling block is sheer lack of political will. Extraneous considerations injected by local politicos’ makes conservation a mockery. Take the example of much touted eco-development programme of Periyar. The whole project is on the verge of collapse because of rampant political interference. 
If conservation is to be a success there has to a consensus that politicians will keep their hands off, from day to day affairs of the park. Central Government and other funding agencies should stick to and insist on this. They should also insist on posting of dedicated officers with adequate and appropriate training.