Thursday, November 11, 2021

Internship for snakes

From Gerry Martin" Our work in snakebite mitigation and management is scaling up again and we need a few more hands on deck. This is an opportunity to work in the field, at a grassroots level to understand the dynamics of snakebite in a rural landscape. Please get in touch with Sumanth on if you'd like to take on this internship. #snakebite #humanwildlifeconflict #fieldwork #epidemiology #ruraldevelopment #ruralcommunities #ruralindia"

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Study on citizen volunteers

"More than 100 ‘citizen scientists’ who had volunteered with the longest-running tiger research program in the world, led by WCS in India, were surveyed by the authors. Since 1990s, over 4000 such volunteers have been trained by WCS to survey wildlife populations and local communities across several Indian states including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and others."

................The study revealed several important impacts of volunteering with WCS and CWS. Over 80% of the respondents acknowledged increased knowledge and concern for wildlife rooted in science. More than 60% said that they were able to use the knowledge learned during volunteering with WCS-India in other aspects of their lives. Several also indicated greater spiritual understanding about life in general................

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


-Nirmal Kulkarni

  1. Always let a family member/friend/colleague know the area and approx. location or range/beat of the forest as a rule. This is the first precautionary rule that every serious amateur / professional student of ecology or wildlife enthusiast should follow. It helps a lot in the long run in times of any eventuality.
  2. Always enter a Protected area with permits/ entrance tickets and after paying prescribed fees. In case of reserved forests and community forests one must inform the local forest officer or village community forest committee member before entry into a forest.
  3. Read up on the area/habitat/ current social and forest related issues in the area. It is also a good habit to cross check from those who have worked in the area before. A detailed map is always an asset too.
  4. First Aid Kit/ torch/water bottle/whistle/good walking shoes are essentials that one MUST have while heading out on a field trip. Do not attempt to borrow or share any of these at any time during a field trip. Get your own set of essentials and always be prepared.
  5. Be very clear on why you are visiting/ entering a forest area in the first place. Is it for leisure/investigation/survey/photography- a combination of any of these or anything different? It is essential you do just that and do not change focus. Remember, forest sojourns impact wildlife too. 

 Nirmal Kulkarni can be contacted at

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Getting lost in the woods...and surviving

Five tips if you get lost
No one plans to get lost, but it can happen; yes, it can even in these days of mobiles and Google maps.  We hear of people getting lost in forests without food or water but surviving for many days.  But how?  By eating lizards, squirrels, insects? We’re not saying that you need to practice your hunting skills, but the point is –  you must do what you have to do and survice. Most people would.

Whenever you enter the wilderness there are precautions you should take to make sure you’re prepared for anything.
These tips will get you started.

1) Plan for Your Situation

Every situation is different and should be treated as such. If you’re hiking in an area with unpredictable weather patterns, plan for warm and cool clothing. If you’re going hiking during the summer, pack plenty of water and wear light colored clothing. If you’re trekking into the wild by yourself, let a friend or family member know where you’re going, and when you plan on returning.

2) Know Where You Are

Study a map of the area or bring one with you. Being able to identify landmarks or waterways could save you in the event you get lost. Always carry a compass so you can triangulate your position.

3) Don’t Panic

The natural reaction is to panic when we are unsure of our surroundings. Panicking can waste crucial energy and affect your state of mind. Use the acronym STOP to regain your composure and get in the right mental state.

S = Sit Down
T = Think About The Situation
O = Observe Your Surroundings
P = Prepare for Survival by Gathering Materials

4) Call For Help

If you’re out hunting, firing your weapon can direct attention towards you and hopefully lead to your rescue. Unfortunately, most people aren’t carrying when they’re out hiking or camping.  A great alternative is a whistle, which studies have shown to be the least cost and most effective way of getting attention.

5) Be Prepared

Having a whistle is just one of many survival tools that can help you in a dire situation. A water filtration straw can help you drink safely from a river or stream, and a fire striker can easily assist you in getting a heat source going. But If you ask any survival enthusiast, they would probably tell you their knife is the most important. And for good reason. A survival knife can be used for:

First Aid Tool
Food Prep
Shelter Building
Fire Making
Hunting Weapon
Prying Tool
Make-Shift Screwdriver

Tips courtesy @ Blog

Friday, October 18, 2013

Meeting Melghat: A volunteer's account Part 2

One evening, as I attempted to photograph a shikra in an open patch of the forest, Ankosh, the guard I was accompanying, suddenly drove my attention to a drab grayish brown bird, perched high in a tree about 100 meters from where we stood. It was just another noisy jungle babbler, I thought. Why was he so exited about this particular babbler when the trees around us were full of them? “Alarm call”, he said. “There is a predator nearby.” Instantly forgetting the shikra, we silently inched forward in the direction of the tree. Crouch - stand - bend - crouch - was the pattern we followed till we stopped at the edge of the open patch. Directly ahead was thick vegetation, making it impossible for us to see what was troubling the bird. To avoid making any sound, we stayed in our crouched positions. The babbler had stopped calling by now, and after a few eerily quiet moments, Ankosh, having decided that the animal has slipped away, stood up. SNAP, the sound of a branch breaking startled us. We quickly scanned the trees ahead, but the leopard was gone.

Morning light bathes the path frequented by a leopard

The narrow winding road that bridges Melghat to the outside world 

A stroll on the road that connects the villages alongside the reserve revealed some of Melghat’s avian citizens. I heard a company of loud alexandrine parakeets long before I saw them fly overhead. A crested serpent eagle, looking stoic and majestic as only eagles can, perched long enough for me to photograph it, before swooping away effortlessly. My time at the reserve was almost at an end, and in a land I hoped to glimpse the tiger, it was birds like the white naped woodpecker, rufous treepie, shikra, and white throated kingfisher that kept me fascinated.

A jungle babbler eyeing me suspiciously

Crested serpent eagle

The sun finally managed to break through the clouds on the morning of my departure. Seeing an opportunity, I made my way to the stream. To say that bathing in a cold water under a hot sun while listening to birdsong is relaxing would be a chronic understatement. After a leisure bath, just as I was getting ready to return to camp, I felt a drizzle on my face and shoulders. Fully expecting to see the sun disappear behind another set of rain clouds, I looked up. On the topmost branches of a tree I was standing under, squatted a troop of gray langurs, peering down at me with a bland expression on their coal black faces. I knew now what that drizzle was. I fondly try and think of it as their way of saying goodbye.

Meeting Melghat: A volunteer's account Part 1

A stream gushed through the teak dominated forest that surrounded the camp, running on its stony bed till it formed a waterfall so loud, it could drown a person’s thoughts out. As I lay listening to this watery soundtrack - occasionally broken by the Forest guard’s snores, some over enthusiastic crickets, and a large rat hunting for a snack - I wondered about the wild inhabitants of this stunning Maharashtrian forest, lurking about in the dark, unaware of the strange human who had tried his luck at spotting some of them.

Waterfall, as seen from the watchtower at '0 point'

The stream greeted me when I first arrived at Bori Ghogara, a camp which sits on the border of Melghat Tiger Reserve. The trusty Mahindra Marshall which drove me here could not risk the crossing. So I, with my bags of vegetables, clothes and camera gear, crossed on foot with as much grace as a blindfolded tightrope walker.

Meeting of the Ghats - Hills as far as the eye can see

After introductions with the camp’s staff, I wandered back outside to get a proper look at the ruggedly hilly central Indian landscape I was in. The first thing any visitor to Melghat in the Monsoons will notice is the thick blanket of green that drapes them. The grass bordering the trails, the broad leaves of trees, the moss in the hollows of trunks, even the walls of the camp come in every imaginable shade of green. In the coming months, as summer approaches, this tropical dry deciduous forest will shed most of its green and turn golden brown, bearing very little resemblance to the scene I was witnessing.

Gunjan, out patrolling in his camouflaged outfit on a rainy day 

Over the next eight days, I assisted the Forest guard and his troops on their daily patrols in the forest, documenting what I saw, and observing the excellent tracking and identification skills on display by the mostly tribal staff. The rain, which was unrelenting, made our progress slow. Yet we walked, past rising streams and down slippery slopes, with stomachs stuffed with so much food (a heavy breakfast cum lunch to get us through the day) that the simple act of bending to examine a hoof or paw-print turned into a clumsy affair. 

Paw-prints of a mother leopard and her cub

The creatures of Melghat rarely, if ever, showed themselves. But a leopard and her cub, a lone sloth bear, wild pigs, and an occasional munjtac would all leave their fresh and unmistakable impressions in the soft, wet mud of the forest floor. During the patrols, I remember the feeling of being acutely aware that I was not alone, for even if the animals could not be seen, I knew they were in the vicinity, perfectly hidden behind a veil of green that the forest provided.

Continued in Part 2