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27 July, 2009

Trapped Sloth Bear rescued & released in state forest

As told, with his pictures, by:
Mr.TVN Murthy
Honorary Wildlife Warden, Tumkur District, Karnataka and
Founder Advisor, WANC, Tumkur.
Email: tvnmurthy at vsnl dot com

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 
Dear Friends,

It was yet another incident of Sloth bear being trapped by the farmers at Pandithanahalli near Hirehalli of Tumkur Taluk.

It is common in Tumkur district for farmers to set up traps to catch wildboars that venture into farm land for food. This was unfortunate for a well built adult male sloth bear on the night of 20 July 2009. It was trying to cross the barbed wire fence of a farm land near TVS Electronics at Pandithanahalli. The trap hooked the front leg of the bear sometime during night and the animal was crying for help after that.

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 
Early morning on 21 July, the local forest department officials and WANC took a local veterinary doctor to release the animal. The animal was sedated even as it was trapped. When the sedation was in effect it was manually released from the trap and put into a cage.

The entire operation to successfully catch the animal and safely release it near Nayakana Kere inside Devarayanadurga State Forest, took about 3 hours. Mr. Naik, RFO, Tumkur Range and Mr.Boregowda, Forester were present during the operation.

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 
It is to be noted that 11 days into the release, there have been no reports of this (or any) bear attacking humans or entering villages surrounding this state forest.

WANC, led by TVN Murthy has been working to conserve the lesser wildlife of Eastern Karnataka, which gets far less attention (and funding) both by the Government agencies and non-Government agencies.

WANC has been actively work for a sloth-bear sanctuary/ conservation reserve in Madhugiri State Forest and its surroundings in Tumkur district, south-eastern Karnataka.

12 March, 2009

Sending a wild guest back to its home

As told, with his pictures, by TVN Murthy
Honorary Wildlife Warden, Tumkur District, Karnataka and 
Founder Advisor, WANC, Tumkur. 

Dear Friends,

On Feb 20, 2009, I received an unusual call from residents of Devalapura village, near Madhugiri Town, in south-eastern Karnataka, at half past eight and rushed to the spot. I could hear howls of a bear from almost half a KM from where it seemed to be located. On reaching the place, I saw an entire village watching in apprehension a Sloth bear. It was trapped up a Jackfruit tree. 

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 
The problem
Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) is quite common around Madhugiri in Tumkur District. Many villagers encounter this animal in early hours and at dusk. I have heard many reports of attack on human in this area. During the recent by-elections to Madhugiri Assembly constituency, a sloth bear mother with cubs, mauled to death a home guard deputed to secure the elections.

But, what I didn't know was, about a systematic trap used by villagers to catch this animal. All that the farmers here do is wind a thick steel wire around trunks of Jack fruit trees in and around their farmlands and intertwine it with a few ligatures drawn from automobile brake/ clutch cable. When an animal tries to climb or come down the tree, it unwittingly puts its feet into the knot. As it tries to pull the limb away, the 'trap' will arrest the animal. You can see this in the close-up image of the trapped leg.

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 
The solutions
It would have been an easy task to just untie the knot to release the animal, but villagers said this animal frequently entered the farmlands around their village. They demanded its relocation away from their village. Giving into the villagers, authorities summoned a veterinary doctor to assist them. 

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 
The rescue
It was not easy to go near the injured and anxious animal. First, ropes were tied to the animal arresting its movement and then the Vet managed to inject a sedative. In a few minutes, the animal developed drowsiness and was near asleep. With the support of  villagers and forest guards we could able to bring down the animal. It was then put in a cage.

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 
It was a sub-adult male Sloth Bear. The body was about 168 cm long, covered in long and shaggy fur. It has its distinctive "V"-shaped white mark on the chest, a whitish snout and black nose. It's snout was long with bare lips and lacked upper incisors - adaptations for its insect-based diet. For your information, the sloth bear's front feet are turned inwards and its curved claws are non-retractable, that are adapted to dig and climb.

©TVN Murthy (All rights reserved) 
The release
Since the bear was healthy and did not have any injuries, it was decided that it be released in a nearby state forest. It was brought into the wilderness of Devarayanadurga State Forest, 10 km as a crows flies south-east from the place where it was caught. After ensuring the sedation had worn off and it was active as it should be, it was released in to the wild. 

Three weeks from the release, there have been no reports of this (or any) bear attacking humans or entering villages surrounding this state forest. Please click here to read some info and see a map on Devarayanadurga State Forest. 

04 March, 2009

Blackbuck census - backstage images

Dear Nature lovers,

Below are some images that depict the way the wildlife census at Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve, Maidenahalli, Madhugiri Taluk was conducted, in February 2009.

Mr.TVN Murthy, Honorary Wildlife Warden, Tumkur District and Founder Advisor, WANC welcomed the volunteers.

Murthy explained how WANC has made a difference to the area

WANC ex-chairman and member Ameen Ahmed spoke about the Conservation Reserve, its history and current status.

WANC had put up hoardings and banners at various locations guiding volunteers to the area.

The conservation reserve comes in the jurisdiction of Madhugiri Subdivision as well as Range

Much of the area inside the conservation reserve has been planted and gives the look of an artificial forest. 

The expansive grasslands of this area are mostly spread across private farmlands as well as a 'Gomal' or Government common grazing lands, outside the boundaries of the conservation reserve. 

A male buck is curious to find out who is in the SUV.

Closing remarks by Mr.Harish.K, RFO, Madhugiri Range and Mr.TVN Murthy, Honorary Wildlife Warden, Tumkur District and Founder Advisor, WANC.

Participants listening in rapt attention to the closing speeches.

The dynamic RFO of Madhugiri Range Mr Harish K, distributing certificates to the census participants.

Enthusiastic WANCers (WANC members) pose for the cameras at the end of gruelling two days.

27 February, 2009

'Red alert: Blackbuck numbers on the wane'

Source: The New Indian Express, Bengaluru, 23 Feb, '09


Red alert: Blackbuck numbers on the wane

DAYS NUMBERED? A male blackbuck at the Maidenahalli Conservation Reserve in Bangalore on Sunday.
First Published : 23 Feb 2009 03:44:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 23 Feb 2009 11:29:34 AM IST

BANGALORE: The number of blackbucks in the state is fast dwindling, finds a census conducted in and around Dayamangali Conservation Reserve in Tumkur by the forest department.

The census was released in the city on Sunday. The census, conducted in association with NGO Wild Awareness Nature Club (WANC), estimated the population of the endangered species at 458.

This is a steep fall from the 2002 census data, which had pegged the number at 600.

Dayamangali is one of the two blackbuck reserves in the state, the other being Ranibennur Reserve.

Direct spotting method was adopted for the census, in which 100 volunteers and 25 forest department officials participated. The number of male and female blackbucks were put at 129 and 325 respectively, while the gender of four was not known.

The first blackbuck census in Dayamangali in 1997 had put the numbers at 408. "The population rose during 1997-2002, but has dwindled now. Reasons for this could be loss of habitat, heavy use of pesticides in farms and electric fencing," says Ameen Ahmed, Secretary of WANC. The demography of the area has been changing during the last few years. "Earlier the area around the forests was occupied by marginal farmers, who cultivated groundnut and dry crops. Now these holdings have been consolidated and acquired by large farmers, who use it for horticulture.

This has affected the mobility and feeding practices of the blackbuck, which tends to stray a lot. Commercial activities by vested interests, with some support from the government, has been going on in the area," says Ahmed.

Adding to the trouble is a road right in the reserve forest area constructed by the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) authorities without the forest department's consent.

A case filed by the department against the ZP authorities is pending in the court. However, the road continues to be used by the public.

The number of poaching cases in the area has also risen recently. In two separate incidents, the forest department and the police had arrested poachers in the last ten months. Poaching is usually for sport or meat.

Forest guards should be given vehicles and equipment for patrolling.

More funds should be allocated to protect the blackbuck, activists say.

"This forest was declared a blackbuck reserve, but no funds were allocated for it. Blackbuck or antelope cervicapra is the only animal belonging to the antelope family that is spotted in India and more needs to be done to protect it," says TVN Murthy, wildlife warden in Tumkur district.

10 February, 2009

Feb 22, 2009: Census at Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve, Karnataka


Dear Nature lover,

We have CLOSED the registration to new participants.



Please click here to see if you were one of the first 100 participants

Best regards,

WANC (Wildlife Aware Nature Club)
Tumkur, INDIA

UPDATE ON 13 Feb. 2009

A couple of the participants who happen to run an adventure organisation, 'X-Trails' have come forward to transport other participants from Bengaluru to the venue. Please contact Mr.Omer Khaiser or Mr.Prasad at OR 98450 19200


Dear wildlife lovers,

Blackbuck is one of the most endangered mammals of India. Its population in India, once estimated at 40 lakhs is now estimated between 25 - 35 thousand. Jayamangali Blackbuck Conservation Reserve neighbours Maidenahalli, a small village in Madhugiri Taluk, at the north-eastern tip of Tumkur district of Karnataka state. It has the largest contiguous population of Blackbuck in Karnataka, next only to Ranibennur sanctuary. Apart from blackbuck, this area abounds with birds of prey and wildlife - typical of grasslands.

About the census:
The first ever census was conducted in the area in 1997 by Forest Department and WANC, led to the counting of 408 blackbuck. Subsequent census in October 2002, had resulted in the counting of over 600 blackbuck.

The 3rd Blackbuck and wildlife Census of this Conservation Reserve is being held on 22 (Sunday) February 2009. The census aims to approximate the current population of blackbuck in the area along with other mammals. The census has been organised by Tumkur Division of Karnataka Forest Department in association with WANC - Wildlife Aware Nature Club.


1) How can I register?
Please send an email, BEFORE 15th February, the filled registration form that was sent to you. If you have not received the form as an attachment, please email Ameen Ahmed at tumkurameen AT Selected participants will be informed by 17th Feb by email.

2) Is there any registration fee?
No. Participation is free.

3) Will I be provided food?
Yes, you will be provided simple vegetarian food during the length of the census, specifically the following:
a) Dinner on 21 (Saturday) night.
b) packed breakfast on 22 (Sunday) morning.
c) lunch on 22 (Sunday) afternoon.

4) Can I bring eatables?
Yes, you can bring eatables. But please do not litter the area with plastic and remember to take away packaging of all your eatables.

5) Will I be provided accommodation?
Yes, you will be provided basic accommodation in the forest bungalow at the conservation reserve. We encourage you to bring your own supply of floor mat, bed spread, a bed sheet to cover yourself as well an air pillow. Bringing along an odourless inspect repellent will be a good idea as well.

6) Can I camp in my own tent?
You can get your own tent if you have one. There are three tent bases that can acommodate 6 persons each. PLEASE INFORM US IN ADVANCE IF YOU PLAN TO BRING YOUR TENT.

7) How will the weather be there right now?
February is the month when the temperatures start to rise in this area. The day temperature will be around 33 degrees.

8) What should I wear?
Please wear full sleeved shirts preferably earth or dry grass coloured. Wear full pants and comfortable shoes. The soil here has pebbles, hence please avoid high heeled shoes. Dark/ dull coloured sneakers should be fine.

9) How much do I need to walk?
The census might involve walking over 5 km in a day in hot conditions. Those who are able to withstand this physical activity are encouraged to apply.

10) Where is the venue? How and when should I reach it?
Venue of the census is Forest Quarters, Jayamangali Conservation Reserve. Details on how to reach the venue along with a printable map are available at: .

Please reach the area by 5 pm on Saturday 21 Feb.

12) Can I reach the venue by bus?
No. The conservation reserve is not accessible by public or private transport.

13) I am coming from Bengaluru/ Tumkur, I do not have a car or bike. Can you provide me transportation?
Please note that we have NOT made any arrangements to travel to the venue, as we do not have the resources to do so.

14) I am coming from Bengaluru/ Tumkur, I do not have a car or bike. Can you let me know if any other participant/ any body else can provide me transportation?
A couple of the participants who happen to run an adventure organisation, 'X-Trails' have come forward to transport other participants from Bengaluru to the venue. Please contact Mr.Omer Khaiser or Mr.Prasad at OR 98450 19200


The other option is to pool with friends and arrange your own transportation.

15) Is first aid available at the venue?
Basic first aid in the form of dettol and band-aid is available in case of very minor injuries. But it is suggested that the participants carry their own small first aid kid for common ailments and injuries. We are trying to arrange for a resident doctor, how ever this is not guaranteed. The nearest medical aid is available at Kodigenahalli village along Hindupur - Madhugiri highway, 11 km from the venue. The nearest hospitals with admission facilities are either at Madhugiri and Hindupura towns, around 20 - 25 km from the venue.

16) Can I carry a cell phone?
We encourage you to bring your cell phone. Please note that the points for recharging cell phones at the venue are limited and the electric power supply is erratic. You are requested to bring a fully charged spare battery for your cell phone, if you have one.

17) What cell phone network is available in the area?
All the major cell phones have network coverage in the area including Airtel and BSNL. Since this is a remote area, BSNL is supposed to have a wider coverage. Also please note that, since this area borders Andhra Pradesh, you might be charged for roaming, even though you might technically be inside Karnataka boundaries.

18) Whom should I contact, if I need more information?
Please contact either of the following:
TVN Murthy, Honorary Wildlife Warden, Tumkur District at tvnmurthy AT (Mobile: 94480 73129)
Ameen Ahmed tumkurameen At (99808 32814)

19 January, 2009

Government buldozes CEC direction, authorises construction in forest

The Tumkur University authorities have again raised their voice to have the University campus inside the jungles of Devarayanadurga.

There is a direction by the CEC to the Chief Scretary of Karnataka in its hearing on Application Number 585, Wildlife Aware Nature Club, Tumkur VS State of Karnataka, 20th October 2005 (Ref: FOREST CASE UPDATE, Issue 17, October 2005). It has been clearly said that "there be no construction activity or felling of trees till a decision on this case is taken".

Though the CEC decision refers to the entire 300 acres that was originally occupied by the University, only 225 acres has been vacated. The rest 75 acres has been fenced off and has remained in possession of the University authorities. The University wants to clear fell this 75 acres for non-forest purposes. Of late the Vice Chancellor of the University has been
issuing many press statements to this effect. Below is one such statement that appeared in Kannada Prabha, a sister publication of the Indian Express from Bengaluru, on 6 Nov 2008.

Also on 30 November 2008 at 9:30 AM, the University VC claimed on TV9 Kannada Television channel that "he has filed an appeal with CEC". He said there was "a hearing about the same on 28 November and that there is a 'final' hearing regarding this soon" and he "expects the land to be hand over for construction purpose." But this seems far from the truth.

The team of wildlife lawyers who are helping us have a different story. According to them "the matter was listed before CEC on 26.11.2008. The VC of Tumkur university was present during the hearing and requested for the land. CEC has asked the university to approach State government for the land and if they agree, then the VC can ask for reopening of the case."

But despite this, the State Government has gone ahead and directed the Deputy Commissioner of Tumkur district to hand over 75 acres of land for construction of University (please see copies of the letter below).

WANC opposes any non-forest activitiy in the area including construction or felling of trees till a clear directive is given by the H'ble CEC in this case.

Big python run over in Devarayanadurga forest

Dear Friends,

A rock python, big by standards of specimens recorded in Tumkur district, was run over on one of the roads inside Devarayanadurga (DD) state forest on 16 Nov 2008. This magnificent specimen measured 8.74 ft and weighed over 6 kilos. It was a really sad day as DD lost one more precious and endangered animal due to increased vehicular traffic and human movement inside the forest.

This is the reason why we suggest there should be speed breakers on the roads here. Also there should be checkposts inside the forest to prevent unneccessary movement of vehicles from dusk to dawn.

Mallikarjun (Mallik)