KABINI Never Disappoints

KABINI Never Disappoints
Salil Sharma & Vikas Sharma

The Kabini/Kapila is one of the major tributaries of the river Cauvery in Karnataka and the Kabini forest reserve is the named after it which happens to be the most popular wildlife destination of South India. It comes under the Nagarhole National Park located in Kodagu district and Mysore. The Kabini wildlife sanctuary is spread over 55acres & includes dense forest, lakes, steep valleys & streams. It is also considered as an ornithologist’s paradise. Kabini is a favourite haunt of wildlife enthusiast and photographers as it provides sightings of animals that are usually elusive in other areas. It has a healthy population of tigers, elephants, gaurs & wild dogs. But the shadow of beauty of the melanistic leopard or Black Panther is a rare sight indeed. The best time to visit Kabini is from September to mid June.

Streak Throated Woodpecker


We were lucky enough to see the Black Panther or Kariya (Black)as it is called localy on the very first day of the safari. Its beauty was breath taking. Rarely visible, it was sighted by fellow travelers of a jeep while crossing their path. It made its way through dense bushes and climbed the branches of a tree sitting there for a good time. 

Black Panther

According to the data analysis by a nature travel company, Wild Trails, has revealed that maximum sighting of the Black Panther at Kabini Forest is during a full moon day or a new moon day. Its suggested that the Black Panther is active in the dark. 61 sightings of the Black Panther have been recorded in the previous year, out of which 42 were on or around full moon day.
According to Rudyard Kipling’s THE JUNGLE BOOK the famous character of the BAGIRA was sitting in front of our eyes and its beauty cannot be described in words.
Elephants & Gaurs are in numbers roaming in the entire reserve. Wild dogs /Dholes were seen as a couple looking for a hunt. Normally they move in a pack but when seen as a pair they are away for mating & hunt alone which is though a difficult task. On the same day in the evening we were taken to Kabini Backwaters where elephants  & Gaurs welcomed us at the gate of the zone itself. Spotted Deer, Sambhar, Malabar Flying Squirrel, Hanuman Langoor, Stripe necked Mongoose & Tortoise were spotted. As we were running short of time, our naturalist Prasanna Gowda (Kabini River Lodge) & driver thought of one last round in a hope to see something else, As soon as we were about to exit the park/reserve, our driver got a call that a tiger has been spotted on the road side. In minutes we were at the place which was hijacked by jeeps & canters queuing up for one sight of the national animal, the Tiger. Ours was also supposed to be the first glance and yes it was roaring in the bushes on the road side and marking its boundary looking at the enthusiastic viewers & the cameramen whose lenses were only zoomed at it. What a majestic Animal ? We were happy elated almost speechless unable to control facial expressions as it was our first tiger sighting.
Few Bird species were also located Brown Fish Owl & Streak Throated Woodpecker were the Lifers. We were staying a the Kabini River Lodge which is the only lodge to provide with a jeep safari, other hotels & resorts have facility only for canters/buses.

Malabar Flying Squirrel

Bengal Tiger

Birds Seen
1.Little Cormorant
2.Indian Pond Heron
3.Cattle Egret
4.Painted Stork
5.Open Billed Stork
6.Black shouldered Kite
7.Brahminy Kite
8.Indian White backed Vulture
9. Crested Hawk Eagle
10.Crested Serpent Eagle
11.Grey Jungle Fowl
12.Indian Peafowl
13.Common Button Quail
14.Rose Ringed Parakeet
15.Greater Coucol 
16.Brown Fish Owl
17.Lesser Pied Kingfisher
18.White Breasted Kingfisher
19.Common Hoopoe
20.Indian Roller
21.Indian Grey Hornbill
22.Lesser Golden back Woodpecker
23.Brahminy Straling
24.Common Myna
25.Jungle Myna
26.Southern Hill Myna
27.Grey Headed Starling
28.House Crow
29.Indian Treepie
30.Red Vented Bulbul
31.Green Bee Eater
32.Jungle Babbler
33.Common Tailorbird
34.Eurasian Cuckoo
35.White Rumped Needle Tailed Swift
36.Purple Sunbird
Salil Sharma & Vikas Sharma can be contacted at
They visited Kabini on 8th & 9th June 2019

Bird Watching

To birder’s delight, a Dollarbird appears in Anuvijay Township

To birder’s delight, a Dollarbird appears in Anuvijay Township

-J. Devaprakash

On a misty January morning this year, Vishnukiran, a class XI student of Atomic Energy Central School in Anuvijay Township – a  housing colony of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project located in southern Tamilnadu – stumbled upon a strange bird at his backyard. It was a blackbird with red beak. To him, it was not a crow as the bird is comparatively smaller, neither was it a myna. He has given it a whirl to recognize the bird, yet he couldn’t figure it out what it was. But he was sure that the bird was an unusual visitor to the place as he was familiar with almost all other birds that visit his garden regularly. Wisely, he took out his handy camera on the spur of the moment and snapped an image of the bird. And soon after that the bird disappeared, leaving no chance for him to take a few more pictures.

Later that evening, he shared the image with me through a social media messenger application. At the first sight of the image which was a long shot of the bird that perched on a tree branch, I thought it was Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus). But a closer look at the image proved me wrong. It was something else. Especially, the red beak and the stout body aroused my interest. A quick analysis of bird books and field guides revealed that the bird in the photo was actually an Oriental Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis).

A Dollarbird was sighted in Kudankulam region and that too for the first time ever. I was visibly enthralled. It was a record sighting, indeed. Thrilled by this fascinating information, I rushed to the spot where Vishnukiran saw the bird. But the bird was no longer there. Over the next few days I kept an eye on that site, I used to stop by the spot frequently with an expectation to see the Dollarbird, but to my dismay the bird never showed up.

Weeks later, the Pelican Nature Club of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, a voluntary association founded to help support nature conservation, organized the Kudankulam Bird Count, an annual event to study the bird life in the region. A one day survey of birds was held at various places in the locality including the Anuvijay Township. To my surprise, the Dollarbird was sighted again here. It was one of the 84 species of birds that were spotted during the day in this small settlement. The bird was seen in the same area where Vishnukiran had sighted it earlier, but this time on a different tree. It was on a top branch of a tall Night Jasmine tree, enjoying solitude, and making a hoarse “rak” sound repeatedly. From its perch the bird occasionally went after flies and insects. After feasting, it returned to the same perch every time. It was amazing to see the spectacular aerial acrobatics that the bird exhibited while it was chasing the flies.

A member of roller family, the bird earned its name as “Dollarbird” for its distinctive coin-shaped blue spots on its wings. Dollarbird which measures 25 to 30 cm in length and weighs around 150 grams, is bluish overall. Its crown, nape, face and chin are tinted with brown. Its back and wing coverts sport green sheen. While its breast, belly and undertail coverts are greenish blue, the throat and undertail are bright blue and flight feathers are dark blue. It has a short but wide bill with a hook like tip. The bill is of reddish orange while the tip is of black.

Usually, the bird prefers to dwell in forests and shrublands. But often it is seen in urban areas, too. According to reports, the Dollarbird is commonly found in Northeastern India and Western Ghats. But in Anuvijay Township, which doesn’t fall under its distribution range, its sighting is exceptional. The arrival of this rare bird to the nuclear power plant housing colony not just brought exhilaration among the birders in the region but also creates an opportunity to study more about its biogeographic range expansion.   

J. Devaprakash

The author is Senior Manager in 

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project where he looks after

public awareness and press relations.

He writes about nature, nuclear and communication.


Did You Know ?

Clean chit to wild-life intervention

Clean chit to wild-life intervention
A controversy about adverse effects of methods used by conservationists has been settled, says S.Ananthanarayanan
The last half century has seen global awareness of biodiversity that the earth has lost to the growth of industry. This has brought in laws where industry needs to be responsible towards the environment, and worldwide efforts to revive the wild-life that remains. In 1992, however, an authority on wild-life conservation arrived at a conclusion that some methods of conservation, since 1964, may be the unwitting reason for extinction of some dwindling species.

Craig R. Jackson, Emmanuel H. Masenga, Ernest E. Mjingo, Andrew B. Davies, Frode Fossøy, Robert D. Fyumagwa, Eivin Røskaf and Roel F. May, of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute and the Carnegie Institution for Science, at Stanford, and the, describe in the journal, Ecology and Evolution, their study that enables ecologists to take an informed view about this disturbing notion.

Radio collared tigers in Sariska being tracked
The question was first raised by Roger Burrows, of the University of Exter, UK, in a letter to the journal, Nature, in September 1992. Burrows referred to rising incidence, in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and adjoining conservation areas in Tanzania and Kenya,  of death of whole packs of Lycaon pictus, or the wild dog. Burrows noted that wild dogs, which were among the most endangered of carnivores in Africa, were also the subject of much study and research. Research involved immobilizing the animals and fitting them with radio collars. And some animals were vaccinated against rabies. Burrows noted that in 1989, a whole Kenyan pack had died from rabies, a disease not a disease not usual with African wild dogs. The dogs that died, Burrows said, included some that had been handled by researchers for radio collaring and for vaccination against rabies.  And between 1985 and 1990 in the two conservation areas, four of eight packs, though not vaccinated, died within two to five months after radio collaring. And it was known that one pack had died of rabies.

As rabies was feared, seven other packs that were being studied were then vaccinated against rabies, using air-pressurised darts. All these seven packs, Burrows said, died or disappeared within a year of vaccination. Although there was no evidence of rabies in the area, rabies was suspected. And then, packs that had not been vaccinated, and not fitted with radio collars, had not been affected. This pointed a finger to either radio collaring or to vaccination. The need for vaccination itself was not clear, as there was evidence that the packs had been exposed to rabies and some individuals had significant levels of rabies anti-bodies.

Burrows again noted that the stress of immobilising and ‘handling’ leads to raising levels of cortisol, a substance that suppresses the immune mechanism.  And he proposed that it may have been the stress of handling which led to reduced immunity. Some latent rabies viruses thus got reactivated and came to the surface, Burrows said.

The suggestion was widely contested, and two letters in the same journal, Nature, from the department of zoology of Oxford University, promptly questioned the conclusions and cited evidence to the contrary.  One of the letters regretted that “the debate has been fermented by inadequacy of data of the fates handled lycaon of the ecosystem” and made a plea for more study.  “…but the conservation of this marvelous species in an ecosystem it has helped make famous deserves the highest standards of scientific application,” the letter said.

Roger Burrows and those who agreed with him, however strongly defended what has come to be known as ‘Burrow’s hypothesis’. A paper by Burrows in 2011 strongly indicts conservation intervention, saying , “14 packs ….died or disappeared from two study areas in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya, in  East Africa, where the species had been considered a 'flagship species' for conservation. …The ecosystem population did not become extinct in 1991 a non study population persisted within and around the ecosystem throughout the study period and persists to date….All study packs were the subject of conservation research by scientists who routinely used invasive research techniques (known as ‘handling’)……”  

The paper also strongly attacked the arguments of opponents, often citing the reason of the data for contradiction being inadequate. As a result, was  the question stayed undecided the value and the safety of research methods was called in question and in many administrations, the practice of immobilization, the radio collar and immunization was stopped.

Serengeti ecosystem covers 30,000 square kilometers in Tanzania, has rivers, forests, wooded mounds, grasslands and is home to seventy mammal and five hundred bird species. And then to large numbers of lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and panthers. The seasonal migration of, 260,000 zebra, 1.7 million wildebeest, 470,000 gazelles and hundreds of thousands of other game, following grazing plains,  through the reserve, into Kenya in the north, is surely the largest known, in parallel with long distance migration of humpback whales and in numbers,  with the migration of birds or insects, and bats.  The mass movement of grazing animals is a bonanza for carnivores and large numbers of the animals never reach their destination, including hordes that fall to crocodiles during the crossing of rivers. 

Development of Serengeti as a major biodiversity and wild-life ecosystem has led to sophistication in the methods of observation, census taking and management of resources or topography. An important technique is the placing of camera traps, which captures animal movement, unobtrusively, and with automation, over months together, enabling huge data collection. In this context of massive data collection, the group writing in Ecology and Evolution decided that if it was lack of data that was in the way of deciding the truth of the Burrow’s hypothesis, then it was time to collect the data needed.

The group saw that while the wild dog population had disappeared inside Serengeti National Park, the animal was not extinct and there were packs that lived in ranges just outside the National Park. To assess the hypothesis that ‘handling’, by way of immobilization and fitting of radio collars, would reactivate latent rabies viruses, the group collected data of wild dog immobilizations carried out in the park since 1991.  Data was collected of 121 immobilisations between 2006 and 2016, using the same method of air-pressure-driven darts, and the  welfare of the 121 wild dogs in the next three, six and twelve months was monitored. To allow for the objection that a single immobilization was a ‘short term’ stress, six packs of wild dogs were immobilized, between 2012 and 2016, in the adjoining Loliondo Game Controlled Area . The animals were then captured, loaded in crates, transported, confined and released in the unfamiliar setting in Serengeti. This, in comparison with immobilisation  fitting the collar,  was severe stress, and according to the Burrow’s hypothesis, should have resulted in increased mortality.  The survival in the group of wild dogs that had been handled and relocated was compared with that of a similar group that had been exposed to ‘short term’ stress of only handling, without relocation.

Radio telemetry being used to track tigers translocated from Ranthambhore
Of the 121 animals relocated, it was found that 95.9% survived for three months, 91.7% for six months and 87.6% for a year or more. This certainly did not suggest that severe stress could cause reactivation of rabies viruses or other causes of mortality. In fact, it had been seen that in six packs that had been handled and translocated to Sernegeti, the survival rate for a year, 95.5%,was greater than, that, 77.8%, of animals that had been handled but not translocated. Another significant fact noted was that while numbers  of wild dogs increased around the Serengeti  park, creating pressure for new packs to seek territory,  camera trap records showed that there was no recolonisation of Serengeti.

The evidence thus shows that handling, for fitting radio collars, which enables monitoring of numbers and movement of animals, do not compromise their safety. “Consequently, in the case of the African wild dog, information gained through research involving radio telemetry and other interventions has most likely contributed to the conservation of the species as a whole, rather than compromised it,” the paper says.
[the writer can be contacted at]

News and Views

News and Views

News and Views

Shahanur Naturalists program

Three batches of naturalists were trained at  Melghat Tiger Reserve during April and May, 2019.
Here is the feed back from some of the participants 

"The program was very well structured and all stay and transfer arrangements were very good. The behavior, attitude and humbleness of the forest staff along with various NGO staff was the best part of the Program.They were all very helpful and went out of their way.
All in all amazing program. The first of a kind attended by me.
Having attended this I would like to suggest that forest department should organize more such programs at a higher level. Field patrolling with forest guard could also be a part of the program. Many thanks Indian wildlife club through which I came to know about the program."

Manish Singh

"Thanx a lot for giving us such a great information of the superb n unique naturalist program by MTR. lifetime achievement this is in which few r 
1. Meet with president awardee Mr. Vishal Bansod.
2. Drone operation n control
3. Night stay in Machan
4. Camera trapping training
5. Trekking in core area of a tiger reserve
6. Night Safari
7. Adventure sport
n many more.......thnx thnx a lot.
Requesting u to please let us inform on regular basis of such type of unique n special programs n also d next level (higher level) program of attended event..."


Currently we are promoting a Naturalist Program in Satpura Tiger Reserve.  Here is the link to apply

The Butterfly Pond in Gurgaon

As many of you are aware,  IndianWildlifeClub is crowdfunding to create a water lily pond in the Thousand Shades Butterfly Park in Gurgaon(Gurugram).  we have committed to raise Rs 2 lacs for the project whose  details are given HERE.

The work on the pond has already started and we are aiming to complete the pond work before end of June, 2019. Th NCR region expects monsoon rains by end of June.  Efforts are on to complete the pond digging, lining with geotextile and pond liner to be completed before the rains start. 

Architect Bharati Date and Landscape architect Kavita Ahuja visited the site along with Manish K.  They gave valuable opinions on making the pond long lasting and self sustaining (as far as water availability is concerned).  Estimates of work involved were also shared with us.  As the land belongs to the Forest Department, the officers from the Forest Department have also visited the pond site and given their inputs regarding depth of pond, issues regarding topography of the area etc.

Now that the field inspections and consultations are over, we are hoping to get the pond ready before the monsoons begin.

Funds raised so far by Indianwildlifeclub is Rs 32,300/-
The water plant group led by Manish has pitched in for the pond fund by selling water plants.  See a humorous video on their effort.

As word about the Pond is spreading more support is coming in.  We publish the list of supporters monthly in our forum under the category"butterfly pond".

If you wish to add your contributions, here is the support link


IndianWildlifeClub You Tube channel has grown to have 1232 subscribers with 203 videos uploaded.  In case you have missed some of our latest uploads, here are the links.
New videos 

Happy Mothers Day!!......Er... Parents Day!!-Indian White Eye (Zosterops palpebrosus)

Talk by Dr.Seema Sud on Haldi (Turmeric)

Kedarnath Mountains in the Himalayas-where the River Mandakini originates

Web Page

Our Technologist features in Times Of India

Alok Kaushik, the technical brain behind, and associated with us for the last 20 years, is on the front page of today's Times Of India. (TOI dated 12th May 2019, Delhi edition) Read the full report titled "The C++ men:  They can't see, but can code as fast as those with sight"

 Here is a quote

"It’s interesting to observe Alok Kaushik at work. You can see him typing on a keyboard but there’s no screen. There’s no mouse either. Kaushik, a senior application developer with an e-commerce platform in the UK who works with complex software, is blind. So he has no use for a screen or a mouse.

And he can code just as fast — and well — as the next guy who can see. Coming to his aid is assistive software called “screen reader” that converts written text into speech. That, essentially, has

changed his world."

Alok is currently employed in London.  He advises us on critical technical issues.

Alok, we at , are proud of what you have achieved at

Here is a photograph of Alok Kaushik and Dr.Susan Sharma receiving the Innovation Award from IIT, Delhi

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