1 Tahrcountry Musings

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Flying SpiceJet? Be wary of booking months in advance

We usually book flight tickets in advance to take advantage of price factor. In the era of dynamic pricing the early bird gets the advantage of lower fares.
In the case of SpiceJet, you are in for a surprise. I had booked a ticket for October couple of months in advance. Now I find that the same ticket is available for almost half the price on the same flight. It's akin to hitting below the belt of customers. When I contacted the SpiceJet people they had a strange explanation. It's part of dynamic pricing they say. World over in the case of dynamic pricing, the fares go up towards the travel date. In the Quixotic world of SpiceJet, passengers who book in advance pay more while those who book last minute pay less.

So guys, if you are planning to fly SpiceJet, don't book months in advance. You will be in for an unpleasant jolt. Better still, go for other airlines that does not follow skwed policies. My experience with Indigo has been great. I regret not booking with them .When I did the booking they had some technical glitches and I was not able to do the booking.
Guys, be on your guard against SpiceJet.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Book Review.
On Jim Corbett's Trail and Other Tales From The Jungle by A.J.T Johnsingh.

I have just finished reading this magnificent book by Dr A.J.T Johnsingh and I am sipping my weekend whisky and reminiscing about what I have read.
The book is a feast for those interested in India's rich natural history. Dr Johnsingh, India's first field biologist to do a PhD on a free ranging large mammal, has in his inimitable ways laid bare the intricacies of the natural world, a world he loves and has crisscrossed many times. Chapter by chapter the eminent biologist reveals the past and present scenario of India's natural world. The endnotes at the end of some chapters, is a sure fire remedy for many of our ills and has to be followed up by our administrators. Packed with fascinating snippets, the book gives us rays of hope for the future. As Dr John Seidensticker says, through his stories, we can all begin to experience Dr Johnsingh's passion and his joy in experiencing nature and being the master naturalist that he is.

I recommend this engaging, informative book unreservedly. The book is beautifully presented and produced. It is a great addition to the natural history writings of India  Go ahead and buy it. You will treasure it for years to come.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Attempts by coterie to run down others work

The coterie is also in to, attempts, to run down the achievements of others.
I am also a victim of this nefarious attempts. I have never staked claim to anything I have not done, but with pride I can say I have contributed significantly to Periyar and Eravikulam.
One of my boys in Periyar had overstepped, in his attempts at protection. He was a great forester and I deliberately owned up the whole thing to protect him. If I had not done it he would probability have ended up behind the bar. I had to do a tight rope walk for months to come out of the incident unscathed. It was mental and physical agony for months. The guy involved is still greatful to me, but the coterie says I have usurped credit for what this guy has done and that too after all these years.
 Similarly I can unabashedly say that  in Eravikulam it was I, who ended the poaching. Even before the rest of the country had even thought about it, I had made Eravikulam a litter free, plastic free park. Sorry guys, to bring in all this stuff here. I was forced to do this as the coterie was propagating falshood.  

Sunday, April 29, 2018

More on the coterie

The coterie and their associates are a determined lot. Here is another taste of their misdemeanor. A photographer from Kochi had submitted a proposal for a photodocumentation of Munnar flora and fauna. The estimate was a mere 6 lakhs. This was rejected. Now to the utter consternation of this photographer, some associates of the infamous coterie, has come up with the same proposal for an outrageous 42 lakhs. The front for the coterie is Cdit. The new propsal is a straight lift from the Kochi photographers proposal. Some sentences have been reproduced verbatim . In two sentences there were two spelling mistakes. Even this has been reproduced verbatim. Now the coterie is using it's influence to get the project okayed. Where is biodiversity conservation in Kerala headed?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A piece of advice to the coterie

In my previous post I had indicated the disturbing trend that is sweeping Kerala, when it comes to taking decisions about wildlife affairs. I have a small piece of advice for the coterie.
What thet coterie wants is to hog the limelight. By this overeagerness to hog the limelight the coterie members are stifling the creativeness in the younger set of officers in wildlife. You can certainly be the advisors, buy do it unobstrusively without creating any problems for the younger guys. Couple of officers have complained to me about the proclivity of the coterie members to thrust decisions on the officers, using their clout in the department. This has hamstrung the younger officers .
So my dear coterie members please don't try to hog the limelight. Be an inspiration to the young set of officers and groom them to take right decisions. Right now you are doing a great disservice to wildlife by your ham-handed ways. I practice what I preach. I chip in with help whenever the officers ask for it, but I make them do the hardwork based on my inputs. This has helped in grooming the younger guys and they feel elated by the work. Giving credit where it is due really pays.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The coterie that runs wildlife decisions in Kerala

Kerala is famous for inclusiveness, when it comes to wildlife management. Decisions are taken based on views of experts and this has paid rich dividends for the department.
A recent disturbing development is the emergence of a coterie. It's this coterie that decides who should  be included and who should be excluded from deliberations. A case in point is the experience of Dr Rajan Verghese. Dr Rajan Verghese is a pioneer when it comes to introduction of modern  census techniques in Kerala. Recently the coterie decided that he has to be dispensed with. He was not invited for any deliberation. If the coterie wanted to hog the limelight this was not the way to go. They should have invited him and discussed with him, their new plans, if any. A very upset Dr Rajan Verghese said if the  coterie wants to take credit let them do it , but they should not do away with inclusiveness, which is the hallmark of Kerala. I think, Dr Rajan Verghese has a point here. For the first time since the inception of Nilgiri tahr census I was also not informed about it, last year. Obviously the coterie is powerful and has a stranglehold. This does not auger well for wildlife.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Emerging digital threat to wildlife

 The digital technology, in recent years, has given a huge boost to wildlife research and conservation, but sadly the technology has started doing the Frankenstein act, with the advent of cyber poachers. Poachers and wildlife smugglers are pouncing on the technology with glee, in pursuit of their nefarious practices. Unwittingly social media is also lending a helping hand to the criminals. Data mining on social sites has become very easy. Internet has become the scouting ground of the scoundrels indulging in cyber poaching. What a travesty

When pictures of rare wildlife are posted on social sites like facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram, it leaves behind enough data for the cyber criminals to latch on to. They can easily hack and find the area where the pictures were taken.  Modern cameras and smartphones add geotags to the pictures and the digital data naturally goes up with the uploading. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade-monitoring network has recently reported that transactions for illegal wildlife products, particularly ivory, were shifting away from online retailers and onto social media platforms.

A few days back the social media sites were agog with the pictures of two lovely pygmy elephants of Sabah, Malysia.. One of the elephants had an unusually long curved tusk. The poachers had no difficulty in finding out the area where the pictures were taken. They massacred the poor creatures to get the ivory. The conservation world is still reeling from shock waves of this sad incident.

In the latest issue of journal conservation biology, Professor Steven Cooke of Carleton University, Ottawa, has graphically described the modus operandi of the cyber poachers.  The professor says the very tools that were used to further the conservation efforts of endangered species are being hijacked to do just the opposite. Even though the threat is increasing alarmingly, right now there is no data to quantify the menace. Dr Cooks advises encystations of data and limiting the use of telemetry tools for non-research activities, as an immediate solution. What we should go for is in fact military style encystations of wildlife data, if we are really serious about containing the cascading threat.  Reputed scientific journals have already implemented the policy of not disclosing the sites of newly discovered species. In India we had a sample of cyber poaching when attempts were made to hack GPS collars of tigers. In some countries wildlife tour operates also have been guilty of accessing the digital data on the sly. Tags send out pings that can be easily accessed with cheap radio receivers. Instead of waiting for the animal you can easily stalk the animal.

All individuals can join the effort to free the cyber space from criminals. When you intend to upload pictures of rare wildlife, turn off geotaging before taking pictures and never disclose the exact site. The picture of pine marten taken in Munnar is a good example. All the photographers were keen to disclose the exact site where the picture was taken and naturally there was a rush to grab a picture of the rare animal. If you are a researcher, wildlife manager or a conservation photographer never discloses the sites of, rare, newly discovered wildlife. Use broad term like Western Ghats, instead of specifying the exact place of discovery.  The threat is not restricted to big animals. Rare snakes, tortoises and frogs are on the list of cyber criminals. Researchers have reported that some of the recently discovered frogs have very limited range, all the more reason to exercise abundant caution. The threat is real and increasing. Time to act is now. In June scientists are assembling in Australia to take stock the situation and come up with remedial measures on a war footing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hi Guys,
                Due to paucity of time and other imponderables, I am not in a position to blog regularly. I have started a WhatsApp group called Wilderness unplugged to post wildlife news. This allows me to post on the go. If you are interested in joining the group send me a request.
Have a great day

Monday, August 22, 2016

No updates for some more time

Hi guys,
             Due to personal constraints I am not in a position to post regular updates.  Hope to see you soon. Have a great time.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Taking a break

Hi Guys,
              I am taking a break for 15 days. There wont't be any updates during this period

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Adult female ungulates: The importance getting to know about lambing habitat: Parturition, nursery, and predation sites.

Desert bighorn sheep lambing habitat: Parturition, nursery, and predation sites
Rebekah C. Karsch,James W. Cain,Eric M. Rominger and Elise J. Goldstein
The Journal of Wildlife Management,Volume 80Issue 6pages 1069–1080August 2016

Fitness of female ungulates is determined by neonate survival and lifetime reproductive success. Therefore, adult female ungulates should adopt behaviors and habitat selection patterns that enhance survival of neonates during parturition and lactation. Parturition site location may play an important role in neonatal mortality of desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana) when lambs are especially vulnerable to predation, but parturition sites are rarely documented for this species. The objectives of the researchers were to assess environmental characteristics at desert bighorn parturition, lamb nursery, and predation sites and to assess differences in habitat characteristics between parturition sites and nursery group sites, and predation sites and nursery group sites. They used vaginal implant transmitters (VITs) to identify parturition sites and capture neonates. We then compared elevation, slope, terrain ruggedness, and visibility at parturition, nursery, and lamb predation sites with paired random sites and compared characteristics of parturition sites and lamb predation sites to those of nursery sites. When compared to random sites, odds of a site being a parturition site were highest at intermediate slopes and decreased with increasing female visibility. Odds of a site being a predation site increased with decreasing visibility. When compared to nursery group sites, odds of a site being a parturition site had a quadratic relationship with elevation and slope, with odds being highest at intermediate elevations and intermediate slopes. When the researchers compared predation sites to nursery sites, odds of a site being a predation were highest at low elevation areas with high visibility and high elevation areas with low visibility likely because of differences in hunting strategies of coyote (Canis latrans) and puma (Puma concolor). Parturition sites were lower in elevation and slope than nursery sites. The researchers signs off stating that understanding selection of parturition sites by adult females and how habitat characteristics at these sites differ from those at predation and nursery sites can provide insight into strategies employed by female desert bighorn sheep and other species during and after parturition to promote neonate survival.