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The Forest Spirit and the Neo-Naturalist

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The mosaic of the central Western Ghats, as viewed from Hassan, Karnataka Tea plantations, shola rainforests, and montane grasslands. That morning wasn’t any different. That gurgling stream, that timid click of the dancing frog, that flute-like song of the Indian Scimitar Babbler, that pressure-whistle of the now-returned migratory White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, and that low monotonous, shy greeting of the Malabar Trogon, underneath the dark canopy of the Ironwoods, Palaquiums, Syzygiums and Dipterocarps, the facies of the medium-altitude rainforest of the central Western Ghats, all of them together in a chorus refreshing mind-body-soul, would be punctuated by a long-drawn drone of the didgeridoo, making those of us raking the leaf-litter halt our time-specific chore for a moment. It was Day Three of the fourteen-day survey. That drone was another sound of the forest carrying another tune, primeval and raw, created by the damp, cold air of the rainforest understory reverberating to i

Insect Declines and Case for Long-term Insect Monitoring in India

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Separated by 15,000 km, tied to the same fate.  Left : Antioch dunes shieldback katydid  Neduba extincta , declared extinct by the time of describing the species from the Antioch sand dunes of USA (Rentz, 1977; see  archive.org ; under CC BY-NC 3.0);  Right : Enigmatic tiger beetle  Apteroessa grossa  (Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam; see  Wikimedia Commons ), not seen alive along the coastal and wetland areas of southern India; both gone because of severe land-use changes from ill-informed infrastructure developments. ‘Nature is under siege’ begins a collective of publications (Wagner et al., 2021) addressing the inquiries on the ‘validity of claims of rapid insect decline’. Within the last two decades, several studies established declines in insect abundances based on long-term monitoring data: In Great Britain, aerial biomass of insects studied between 1973 and 2002 showed significant decline in one of the four sites (Shortall et al., 2009), sugg

From Project Tiger to the People’s Tiger

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  A Commentary on the Decade Past and Decades to Come for Tiger Conservation in India This longform article puts numbers of tigers and allocated budgets of the decade past to protect tigers into perspective with simple math. It proposes a shift in attitude from looking merely at numbers to pockets where numbers can increase and at making this undertaking more participatory in the coming decade. This article focuses solely on Project Tiger’s All India Tiger Estimation and Tiger Reserve allocated budgets, and not the socio-ecological ramifications of this 48 year old project, but discusses the latter as being of paramount importance than merely doubling tigers in the coming decade. This is a part of a larger piece tracing history of wildlife conservation in the context of central India. The opinions in this article are mine; data sourced are cited. Counting tigers In 2018, about 12% of India’s geographic area was scoured for tiger signs – from the periodically inundating mangrove for