Freedom in a cage – a critical look at captive breeding

On the 64th anniversary of India’s freedom, we wonder about the efficacy of captive breeding programs. Are they really worth it? In the last six odd decades since Independence, India has been witness to the exploitation of its wildlife and natural resources along with apathy to diminishing forests coexisting with strident conservation initiatives. In this land of abundant wildlife, royals and nobles were enamoured with shikar. With ample help from their English masters, they brought about a rapid decline in the population of species large and small. In the latter part of our history, conservation programs have attempted to create … Continue reading Freedom in a cage – a critical look at captive breeding

Book Review: Life’s Grandeur by Stephen Jay Gould

Eminently readable, Stephen Jay Gould’s Life’s Grandeur is a must for anyone who wants to understand Darwin better Stephen Jay Gould (Sep 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) is one of the best known and most influential writers on the Theory of Evolution. The author of more than two dozen books on the subject, the scientist is also known for his theory of Punctuated Equilibrium (with Niles Eldredge). “Life’s Grandeur – the spread of excellence from Plato to Darwin” (Vintage, 1996, current printing 2005) is a compelling and eminently readable account of one of Gould’s favorite themes — the process … Continue reading Book Review: Life’s Grandeur by Stephen Jay Gould

On The Wing: Indian Grey Hornbill

What goes flap-flap-glide, flap-flap-glide? A Grey Hornbill in flight!Grey hornbills (Ocyceros birostris) fly like tiny missiles — if not by speed, by profile. Flap-flap-glide, flap-flap-glide… when you see one pass by you can always expect another one to be close behind – usually its soulmate. This one was headed straight for me when it realized I was right ahead, braked in the air spreading the wings and tail feathers, and within a second, it changed direction by ninety degrees and disappeared into the branches of a tree. Text and photo by Sandeep Somasekharan All rights reserved See all posts in … Continue reading On The Wing: Indian Grey Hornbill

Encounter: Malabar Grey Hornbill

The next time you hear a chuckle from the treetops or endearing squeaks and musical caws, look out for the Malabar Grey Hornbill. Or maybe a whole flock! What’s so different about the Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) compared with the other three hornbills found in the Western Ghats? The casque, of course. Rather, the absence of it. Although the attention-grabbing casque — the horn in hornbill — is not present in this southern species, the bright orange bill (in males) makes up for it and you realise the true meaning of the word “Hornbill”. The bill is shaped exactly … Continue reading Encounter: Malabar Grey Hornbill

Encounter: Dhole – the Indian wild dog

Watching one of our most efficient predators in the wild is a treat and a privilege. Most people might be obsessed with cats, but give it up for the Dhole, our very own wild canid Just after I told my wife how endangered the Indian wild dog or Dhole (Cuon alpinus) was, we saw about ten of them on our first three trips together. Which, naturally, evoked the question: “Are they really endangered? I have seen more wild dogs than tame ones since our marriage…” Sadly, they are… At first glance the dhole is very like a dog When, as a child, … Continue reading Encounter: Dhole – the Indian wild dog