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09 October, 2008

Friend of Slender Loris

Dear nature lovers,

Many of you might have heard about the Slender Loris' of Nagavalli village near Tumakuru City. This place is a story of the tireless efforts of BV Gundappa, a school teacher and the current Chairman of Tumkur -based conservation group Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC), to conserve wildlife of our eastern plains.

An article on this place by Amit S Upadhye, who is doing a wonderful job of covering wildlife stories in the mainstream media, was published in The Times of India. The story reminds us of the rich bio-diversity of the much neglected eastern Karnataka, like Kaggaladu Heronry, Jayamangali (Maidenahalli) Blackbuck area, Devarayanadurga State forest and numoerous other places of spectacular wilderness which lie outside the Western Ghats and also need the Government's focus.

In conservation,

Ameen Ahmed
WANC, Tumkur

PS: For those interested in emailing Mr.Gundappa, unfortunately he doesn't currently have access to internet at his home : (

Source: Sunday Times of India, Times City

This village has an unusual friend
Amit S Upadhye | TNN
Nagavalli village (Tumkur district):

Are your children delighted to see wild animals on a TV show? But here is a village where one of the rare species dwells right in the backyard and peacefully co-exists with the villagers.

Slender loris (loris tardigradus), smallest of the primates in India, is found in abundance in and around Nagavalli village, situated 86 km from Bangalore. Thanks to a government high school teacher who was instrumental in making villagers aware of the wealth they have in their backyard for decades.

It was in 1996 some children saw two small monkeys sleeping on a bamboo clump in the school compound. When the villagers searched the clumps, they were found to be slender loris which excited everyone, recalls the school teacher Gundappa B V.

Later, several people in the vicinity started reporting to Gundappa about spotting the rare animal in their areas too. These primates are found in Lakkenahalli, Sopanahalli, Timmasandra, Pannasan dra, Banavara, Bidrekatte, Dommanakuppe and Bellagere, all surrounding villages of Nagavalli.

Today, children from schools in and around Tumkur visit Nagavalli to see the animal. Villagers have made friends with loris and no one harms them. "We are used to seeing these animals throughout the day. Sometimes in the evenings we see them crossing the road or moving in the bush,'' says Maruthi, a villager.

Interestingly, slender loris can be easily spotted only during nights because it is a nocturnal animal. But, in Nagavalli, even a school kid can guide you to the tree where slender loris are resting in broad daylight. Today, these primates are facing the danger of habitat destruction. A few electric wires which have come up in the village are also posing a threat for loris. "We have requested the department to insulate the electric wires where loris are usually found,'' Gundappa added.

According to Tumkur deputy conservator of forests B M Parameshwar, the department could not make Nagavalli a popular spot as the exact number of these animals was difficult to estimate.

Conservationists are now planning to put pressure on the forest department to declare the village as community conservation reserve on the lines of Kokkare Bellur where painted storks and pelicans coexist with villagers.


- Slender loris is a small, nocturnal primate found only in South India and Sri Lanka

- Loris tardigradus malabaricus is a subspecies of the slender loris which is found only in Western Ghats

- The animal has long, pencil-thin arms and legs. It has no tail and has saucer like eyes

- It lives alone or with a mate and an infant. It feeds on insects and small lizards

- It is protected under Schedule 1 of Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972


23 September, 2008

Wild Tigress sighted (and caught) near Chitradurga after 60 (35 ?) years!!!

Dear friends,

A wild tiger has been sighted near Holalkere in south-interior Karnataka's Chitradurga District after nearly 60 years (or 35 ?) years. Please click here to see a satellite image of the area on Google maps. Some of the stories as they appeared in the press are on this page. So, did this tigress come from south-west of Chitradurga via Joldala from the north-eastern portion of Bhadra Tiger Reserve? Or did it do so from the south-east of Chitradurga via the huge forest belt along the Tumkur - Chitradurga district borders. This sighting may fuel the controversy that Tigers might just be surviving in the forests of Mari Kanive State Forest (Chitradurga District) - Bukkapatna State Forest (Tumkur District). Or is it that the tiger population of Bhadra Tiger Reserve has increased beyond its carrying capacity driving young tigers like these out of its boundaries? 

But the biggest question is, are tigers (like leopards) adapting to so called "big prey-depleted" forests like those of Tumkur and Chitradurga districts? This is particularly in view of the tiger sightings inside the isolated Devarayanadurga State Forest. It's high time serious scientific research is taken up to prove/ disprove this.

For those interested in knowing the sightings of Tigers in Devarayanadurga jungles near Tumkur city, please see:

In conservation,Ameen

Source: Deccan Chronicle, Bengaluru, Sep 23, 2008's tiger after 35 years

Durga's tiger after 35 years
Bengaluru Sept. 22: A tiger in Chitradurga? A three-year-old tigress was spotted on the outskirts of the fort city of Holalkere on Monday, the first report of a tiger sighting in this region for over 35 years.  Alarmed that the feline could prey on their cattle, the local people alerted the forest department which captured the beast. The big cat, which was manually trapped, has been kept under observation at the Chitradurga mini-zoo. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, deputy conservator of forests Srinivasulu said: "Some people noticed the animal around eight in the morning. But they could not identify the carnivore. By the time we arrived at the spot, it had moved into a maize field. We noticed its movement from the top of a tree."

"But we had to wait for three hours before we managed to immobilise it manually. The government veterinarian (Dr Bhaskar) sedated it and we moved it to the mini-zoo," said Srinivasulu. The DFC said the tigress was given vitamins and glucose. "As it had travelled a long distance it was finding it difficult to move. The veterinarian injected vitamins and glucose so that it would not collapse from exhaustion. At the moment it is doing well." Would the tigress be released in the wild again? "I am in touch with the principal chief conservator of forests. We will take a decision once it recovers completely," said Srinivasulu.

Where did the feline come from? "It is hard to say as there is no forest cover for nearly 10km from where we captured it. In fact, the nearest patch of forests is at Chitradurga, Chennagiri and Bhadravathy," said the DCF.

31 March, 2008

A case for expanding India's second oldest Reserve Forest

Devarayanadurga state forest (DDSF) has seen many changes in its boundaries since it first got protection status by the British, way back in 1853. When it finally got notified in 1907 as a Reserve Forest, for unknown reasons, some parts of the forest were excluded from its official boundaries. These are chiefly the slopes along the periphery of state forest’s hills. These have been under control of the state's revenue department but protected by the forest department.

Proposed 'Devarayanadurga East Yellow-throated Bulbul' Conservation Reserve in relation to Devarayanadurga State Forest (sketched from Survey of India sheet No:57 G/3, Scale 1:50,000) Ameen Ahmed, March 2008

India's largest butterfly, over 250 bird species, some of India's most beautiful mammals and snakes, all live in DDSF and its surrounding revenue forests. The Yellowthroated Bulbul (Pycnonotus xantholaemus), endemic to interior peninsular India and categorised as 'Vulnerable' by Birdlife International - IUCN’s official red list authority for birds, deserves special mention. First sighted here by well-known ornithologist Dr.S.Subramanya, it is found here in large numbers. As part of observing of the state forest's 'centenary year' - its final notification in 1907, a bio-diversity survey of the revenue forests around Devaranayadurga village was conducted this March by WANC. Wildlife biologists and scientists from IISc also participated in this. During this exercise, Dr.Gururaja KV added 4 new species to the previous list of 6 amphibians here.

A sketch on a picture showing the forested slopes proposed to be included in the proposed conservation reserve. They were originally excluded from the final notification of the forest by the then Government of Mysore, in 1907.

A sketch on a picture showing the forested slopes proposed to be included in the proposed conservation reserve. They were originally excluded from the final notification of the forest by the then Government of Mysore, in 1907.
(Above and below) View of the Yellowthroated Bulbul habitat

Apart from being a haven for rare and threatened wildlife, its jungles are a catchment area for tens of streams. These streams provide much needed water for tens and thousands of villagers along their courses. Two irrigation reservoirs - Irraksandra and Teetha, apart from countless small ‘keres’ (small man-made lakes or ponds) are fed by the rivers Jaya and Mangali which originate here and for whom this forest forms a major catchment area.

Like the rest of urban and semi-urban India, Tumkur district has been expanding by leaps and bounds. There has been an immense pressure on natural areas to meet the demands of development, particularly the boom in construction of not only Tumkur District but that of Greater Bangalore as well. There is an urgent need to safeguard current and future interests of humans as well as wildlife in and around our urban centres. This has to be done by sustainably using our non-renewable natural resources. Expanding official boundaries of forests like DDSF by including the existing wooded areas contiguous with them and retaining the legitimate rights of local villagers, is one way of doing it. In this direction, a team from the local NGO Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC) has been identifying the potential forest areas around DDSF that are currently free of human habitations and developmental activities like quarrying. A proposal is being prepared to submit to the state forest department, in April this year, for a Yellowthroated Bulbul Conservation Reserve to be carved out from the revenue forests surrounding Devarayanadurga village, under India's Wildlife Protection Act (1972). This proposal is a part of WANC’s overall strategy to conserve DD’s revenue forests.

For an earlier story on the Revenue forests of Devarayanadurga, please see this link:

'Saving the bulbul's home'

Yellowthroated Bulbul: A new home to secure the future of this exclusively 'Indian' bulbul. Pic: Clement Francis

Saving the bulbul's home
Amit S Upadhye TNN Bangalore:
In 1906, when the British government notified a 42.27-sqkm forest patch on the hills along east Tumkur district as Devarayanadurga state forest, it left out 6 sqkm abutting it.

Over a hundred years later, the patch is now getting its due, with conservationists formulating a proposal to declare it a yellow-throated bulbul conservation reserve. The area is a nesting ground for these winged beauties, apart from being home to sloth bears and leopards.

On World Forestry Day recently, researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, members of the Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC), Tumkur, and forest department sleuths began a two-day survey of the patch, which is categorized as southern thorny scrub forest. The forest department will formulate the proposal based on the study results. The patch is at present under possession of the revenue department.

"Quarrying on the hill ranges around Tumkur has been putting immense pressure on the critical wildlife habitat thriving below. Seeking the declaration of this patch as a reserve is an attempt to retain it,'' said Ameen Ahmed, WANC member.

"The area holds potential for wildlife. The yellow-throated bulbul is found in plenty in the Devarayanadurga forest, as well as the patch which is being studied,'' said Tumkur DFO B Parameshwar.

The findings of the two days survey were overwhelming for the local conservationists when they sighted a spotted deer and jungle cat, apart from number of winged beauties. "The presence of prey base (spotted dear) for the big cats, gives boost to the theory that the tigers are on prowl in Devarayanadurga state forest,'' added a biodiversity expert.

The 6 sqkm of forest, abutting Devarayanadurga state forest, is likely to be proposed as 'Yellow-Throated Bulbul Conservation Reserve'. The patch, situated about 75 km from Bangalore, is home to leopards, slender loris, blacknaped hares, jackals, hyenas, langoors and sloth bears. Paradise fly-catcher, tickel's blue catcher, Nilgiri fly-catcher and blue rock thrush, apart from yellow-throated bulbul, are seen here in large number.

Givotea trees are found here, along with sterculia and anogeisus species. Anogeisus trees, locally known as 'antu mara' or 'dinduga', are elephants' favourites. Bamboo clumps and more than 200 medicinal plants are found here.


The Times of India (Bangalore), Times City, Page 5

Map below shows some of the areas in focus in the above story:
View Larger Map

05 March, 2008

Tigers 'return' to haunt Devarayanadurga

Dear WANCers,

The Tigers of Devarayanadurga have always haunted nature lovers visiting this place so as many of our 'Tiger Conservationists'. The later deny their existence or attribute them to captive tigers being released by travelling circuses or others. What ever the truth is, the tigers of Devarayanadurga don't seem to go away as quickly as our 'tiger conservationists' want them to. Please read the latest 'sighting' below.

Tigress with two cubs spotted in Devarayanadurga State Forest
20th February 2008 :
Early morning by 00.30 hrs ie., 19th midnight (at 12.30am) Assistant Conservator of Forests, Tumkur Sub-Division Sri T V Srinivas and Range Forest Officer, Tumkur Range Sri. M N Naik along with a guard Ganganna K C, spotted a Tigress with two cubs near Shanimahatma Temple and Ganesh Temple along Belagumba - Oordigere road inside Devarayanadurga state forest. They were returning back to Tumkur from DDSF. According to Srinivas, he says he was thrilled to see a tiger in the wild. He says the majestic look of tiger can never be forgotten. He was driving his car from DDSF. Car passed the tigeress which was spotted on the road side. Two cubs ran away when the light of the car head light fall on the animal. They took the car reverse and focused the headlight on the Tigress which was sitting with out bothering about the car for about 5 minutes. It did not move from the spot it seems. After some time they raised the engine noise, the tiger gently raised and tried to climb the elevated area. It failed to climb and retook another direction.

According to Naik, who to his credit has worked in tiger reserves like Bhadra and Anashi - Dandeli, claims the visibility of tigress was very clear as the headlight was focused on the animal. He says the stripes on the body were very clear and the head was quite big compared to Leopard. Since they had the opportunity to see the animal for a long time he explains every part very clearly. According to him the cubs were of one and half foot height and the tigress was over 3 ft in height. He says only a tiger could sit such a long time with calm in spite knowing that some one is watching. The whiskers were very prominent and the and the markings on the face were prominent. Next day morning RFO along with few guards tried for the pug mark. Since it is summer and the soil was hard they could locate the pugmarks but were not very clear. No documentation made of the pug mark.
Honorary Wildlife Warden, Govt. of Karnataka
Tumkur District
For more/related information, please see:
The following story based on this incident appeared in the Times of India (Bangalore on Mar 7, 2008

Tigress seen in Tumkur forest

You don't have to go too far from the city to spot a tiger. In 2000, a team of biodiversity experts engaged in mapping the medicinal plants nursery in a forest patch in Tumkur district were stunned to spot tiger pug marks and fresh scat in the area.

This discovery proved the existence of tigers in Devarayanadurga reserve forests in Tumkur. Moreover, the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, confirmed the scat found in Tumkur was that of a tiger.

Eight years later, on the night of February 19, a forest official team spotted a tigress along with her two cubs at Belagumba Beat in Namadachilume, Devarayanadurga Reserve Forest.

The forest night beat, led by assistant conservator of forests,Tumkur division, T V Srinivas, along with range forest officer, M NNaik and guard K C Ganganna, spotted a tigress with two cubs at Namadachiluve, near Shanimahatma temple along Belagumba-Oordigere Road. This was inside the Devarayanadurga forest.

"We were thrilled to see a tiger family in the wild. We havealready recorded it in the log books. A letter will be submitted to the higher-ups in a day or two,'' said Naik, Tumkur range RFO. When the vehicle passed, the cubs ran away. They reversed and focused the headlight on the tigress, which was sitting without bothering aboutthe vehicle for 5 minutes. "The visibility of tigress was very clearas the headlight was focused on the animal. The next morning, we tried to check the pug marks, but could not since the soil was dry,'' Naik added.

Spread across 41 sq km, Devarayanadurga forest is home to leopards,sloth bears, wild boars and spotted deer. Sambar and tiger have beenspotted in the past. The previous tiger census conducted by the stateforest department recorded indirect sighting of tiger in the samereserve, since pug marks were noticed.

17 February, 2008

'Rare' sparrow spotted after 69 years in Devarayanadurga

Dear friends,
We saw a pair of Yellowthoated Sparrows in Devarayanadurga State Forest today (Sunday, 17 Feb. 2008) during an outing by WANC members. This was about a kilometre to the east of Namadachelume at the foot of Devarayanadurga hill, immediately after the Durgadahalli/Goravanahalli temple cross. The birds were perched at the top of a Ficus bengalensis tree and we could see them for about 7 - 8 minutes.

Below are some pictures taken with a Canon A95 digital camera through a spotting scope. We were not able to take a picture with the male showing the yellow patch on its throat as it (the male) had turned its face away through the sighting.

It is worth remembering that the only sighting of a YTS in DD was by Dr.Salim Ali 69 years ago. This was way back in 1939, during his survey of the birds of erstwhile state of Mysore. Most birders had thought the bird to be locally extinct. This is another reason to conserve Devaryanadurga's jungles.