The Giants of Chhattisgarh: An Overview

Elephants and Chhattisgarh: An Ongoing History The elephant population assessment report of India is due for over a year, and it is likely only next year that we will see the numbers. Much has happened since the last update in 2017: About 1,160 elephant died in the 2010 decade mostly due to human-related causes (500 in the last five years alone since the last report) [ 1 , 2 ] – that’s 4% of the 2017 population of elephants, at 27,306 for the country. On the other side of this equation, 4,000 people died in the last decade (1,500 people in the last three years alone) due to human-elephant conflict [ 3 , 4 ], and an estimated 10,000 sq km of crop fields are damaged by wild elephants every year [ 5 ]. Overall, over 100 elephants and 400-500 people die every year, making human-elephant interaction an important issue to address. The delay in the assessment report, therefore, is a matter of concern. Much of wild elephant boundaries have been redefined –   in Central India, from seven in t

Barefoot Notes: The Fall of Specialists and the Rise of Generalists, Or, What Ails Urban Insects?

Photographing moths in the central Western Ghats. Light curtains are the best way to explore moth diversity. Many years ago, I used to wait for moths to enter my urban home through the old casement windows, and hover over to photograph them on an incandescent light. It feels so long ago; today, those windows have changed to the sliding ones, coupled with a netted window that keeps most insects out – even when it is open, the only ones to sneak in are mosquitoes all year round. Moths that would visit were of various sizes and colours. Mind you, my house is in the middle of one of the most densely populated cities in India. Seeing any insect here was allowed due to proximity to the remnant copse comprising of mangroves, gardens and urban farms – and, perhaps more so, vegetable wholesale markets – more on the latter in a while. Moths from years ago: Top Underwings: Thyas coronata and Achaea janata ; Bottom Hawkmoths: Theretra alecto and Agrius convolvuli . From the Underwings to Hawkmot

Sea, Sand, Flippers

An Indian Humpback Dolphin, Sousa plumbea , off the coastal waters, overlooked by Konkan hills. For the first time in my explorations I find myself wanting to express this feeling, for I am as much in awe as in search of words. I have always maintained that mountains moved me. Sahyadrica’s tagline was ‘belonging to the mountains’ – the name itself means ‘of the northern Western Ghats.’ That has changed over the years, of course, but even as I wrote about the coastal region where land and sea meet, even as the sea inspired me, even as the coast offered me a diversity of experiences in various shapes and forms of marine organisms and coastal communities, it is mountains that captured my wonder and awe whenever I stood at the foot of one before climbing to the very top. It may be because the coast doesn’t challenge me the way a mountain does, or so I thought. That is a thin line I walk, for even if I am comfortable on a boat in the high sea, I am not underwater, which is why what remains