Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gangetic Dolphin Videographed on River Girwa at Katernia ghat wildlife sanctuary.

During my last two visits to Katernia I unsuccessfully tried to photograph the dolphins but they always eluded my camera.They would always make their presence felt by diving out of the water for a fraction of second and disappear to pop out at the least expected place it was a frusturating experience.This time I decided to abandon the Idea of photographing them and decided to capture them on Video after a patient wait and with trial and error I was able to capture a glimpse of one on Video.

The Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica ) is a fresh water dolphin which has recently been declared by Indian Government as its National Aquatic Animal.Its listed as Endangered species by the IUCN Red List.This species is thriving in the River Girwa in Katerniaghat sanctuary,UP,India.They can be easily spotted while boating on River Girwa.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

White backed vultures spotted in Katernia.

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Katernia ghat wildlife sanctuary is host to a flock of around hundred white backed vultures.This is another success story in the proud history of conservation efforts by the staff of the sanctuary.
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White backed vultures [Gyps bengalensis]are in the IUCN Red List critically endangered species.This species, as well as the Indian and Slender-billed Vultures have suffered a 99 percent population decrease in India and nearby countries since the early 1990s. The decline has been widely attributed to poisoning by diclofenac, which is used as veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug , leaving traces in cattle carcasses which when fed on leads to kidney failure in birds.

When the population of this birds are declining on a rapid pace in the country katernia is rewriting the vulture conservation story, here they are thriving and are in good health whose perfect indicator is that they are breeding in the sanctuary.

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Once they were a common sight in the whole of country but now they are spotted in isolated pockets.The major cause is in discriminate use of diclofenac by the livestock owners.In Katernia the socio economic status of the forest dwellers has been a major factor in the survival of this species.As per sanctuary officials the livestock owners in the villages are economically so weak that they are not even able to afford diclofenac for the treatment of their animals hence when they die their carcasses don't have traces of the drug hence reducing the risk to the vultures.Apart from this various steps have been taken by the park officials which include regular monitoring of the nesting sites of the vultures on the banks of Girwa.Sensitising the local population on the importance of vulture conservation.Advising the local veterinary drug sellers to not to stock diclofenac and informing the that the sale of the drug has been banned by the government, informing them about the substitute drug Meloxicam which has been tested to be safe for vultures and other scavenging birds.
All this has immensely contributed to the conservation of vultures in the sanctuary and i was informed that apart from white backed vulture the sactuary also has population of slender/long billed vultures and is also host to a migratory vulture [King Vulture] during the winter season.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Butterflies: the bounty of nature

One late autumn afternoon gazing out of the window I discovered a beautiful world among the blooming flowers.My instant instinct was to grab my camera and capture the marvel of nature before it was too late, and I missing it.presented below are some moments harnessed from the nature for you to enjoy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Naag Panchami-The festival of Snake God.

Naag Panchami is one of the most important festivals in India celebrated to commemorate the existence of the snake god.
Celebrated on the fifth day of the moonlit-fortnight in the month of Shravan according to the Hindu calendar, this festival falls in the month of July /August according to the Gregorian calendar. It is celebrated in various parts of the country amongst the community where it has been prevalent for long. The grandest celebrations can be seen in the southern India and in the states of Bengal and Maharashtra. The festival has religious significance too. It is believed that Snakes have been the savior of human race from the wrath of demons and also, that the earth is balanced on the head of on Shesh Naag.Presented below are some photographs taken on the occassion of the festival.

The Female cobra in full glory.

The fully hooded male cobra.

The Snake Charmer a study in concentration.

The Cobra Couple.

Snake charmer in company of Cobra.

Double Headed Snake.

A Double heade snake crawling.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Green Bee Eater

The Little Green Bee-eater,Scientific name [Merops orientalis], is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family. It is resides in a belt across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and from Gambia to Ethiopia, the Nile valley, western Arabia and Asia through India to Vietnam.
Like other bee-eaters, this species is a richly coloured predominantly Green, slender bird. It is about 9 inches (16-18 cm) long with about 2 inches made up by the elongated central tail-feathers. The sexes cannot be determined visually.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Indian Roller

The Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis), also known as Blue Jay is a member of the roller family of birds that is found in tropical southern Asia from Iraq to Thailand. It is not migratory, but undertakes some seasonal movements. They are found in open grassland and light forest areas. It is known for the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. Males and females are however not readily distinguishable. Several states in India have chosen it as their symbolic bird.It is the state bird of Karnataka an Indian state.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Indian Silverbill

Indian Silverbill [Lonchura malabarica] also known as White-throated Munia is a small passerine bird. Found in most of Middle East and South Asia:Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Oman,Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates.
The Indian Silverbill is a tiny gregarious bird which feeds mainly on seeds. It frequents dry open country and cultivation, especially near water.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Memories of Katernia

This shot was taken at the ghat of Girwa river in katernia ghat sanctuary.This is the place where passengers to the other side of river take the boat.

This shot was taken along the bundha road in Katernia range, of katernia ghat sanctuary.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Crow Pheasant or the Great Coucal

The bird was spotted during my recent trip to Katerniaghat wildlife sanctuary in the grasslands of Katernia range.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Black Ibis spotted in Katernia.

This Black Ibis was spotted on the banks of River Girwa in Katernia, a beautiful bird.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pythons are nesting in Katernia

Python nesting in Katernia

This time during my latest visit to katernia ghat abandoned railway station which was abuzz with active pythons in the last visit.This time I found a python nesting painstakingly sitting on the eggs.It was not moving at all and the local people told me it was in this position for the last two months.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gharial tales

Recently I was witness to a very important event in the relentless journey of Gharial conservation on the banks of Girwa river at Katernia ghat sanctuary.
The untiring efforts of conservationists,wildlife officials are bearing fruits and I witnessed about 40 to 50 hatched young ghariyals basking in the glory of late afternoon sun on the river bank with their mother jealously guarding them.

The Gharial [Gavialis gangeticus] is known as one of the world's largest crocodile species , the most endangered and has been listed in 'critically endangered' category by the IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] in red data book.Known populations of Gharials now exist only in India and Nepal.At one time its population was spread in Bangladesh,Myanmar,Pakistan and Bhutan and now they are extinct in these countries.In the early years of the 20Th century they were extensively hunted for their much in demand skins which led to their being extinct in large areas.In the year 1970 a survey conducted by S.Biswas of Zoological Society of India brought fore the findings that the species was in grave danger of being totally extinct further the study undertaken by Rom Whitaker across the Indian rivers confirmed the unpleasant findings and full protection status was granted to them by the Government.

Nine areas were designated as protected areas in India and captive breeding was undertaken where eggs were collected from the wild and hatched to be released into the wild.As per reports about 3000 Ghariyals were released from the year 1981 onwards.It led to a temporary increase in their population to about 1500 adults but studies in the last decade indicated that again their population was grimly decimated, and they were disappearing from their known habitats.

By the year 2007 Gharials were again given the status of critically endangered species in the IUCN red list.They face major threats from many sources in their habitats.Major factor being the pollution which exposes the species to Toxic chemicals.In the year 2008 about 100 died in the Chambal sanctuary due to this, the cause attributed to increase in level of uric acid leading to Kidney failure although this has not been conclusively proven.

Other factors being cited by conservationists and wildlife experts are Illegal mining of the riverbed for sand which results in loss of habitat and human interference,Unchecked fishing in their habitat.Poaching for their skin and snout of the male thought to have Aphrodisiac properties and eggs stolen by humans for their supposedly medicinal properties.

A major problem as per experts in their conservation efforts is the lack of definitive information on their behavioural patterns ,and their migration patterns when the river gets flooded to overcome this The Gharial conservation Alliance [GCA]was formed in the year 2007 under the Chairmanship of Rom Whitaker a leading herpetologist, it has as its members leading Ghariyal scientists,experts to coordinate research and conservation efforts with its priorities being protecting their habitats,monitoring and research on remaining population,study of human impact and making local population aware of their importance and significance and involving them in the conservation initiatives.

Coming back to recent hatchings at Girwa river in Katernia I had a detailed discussion with Shri RK Singh,DFO,Katernia on the significence of the event.As per him it is a matter of great satisfaction that Gharials are breeding in natural environment in Katernia.He also outlined the various measures being undertaken by his staff to ensure the survival of the hatch lings and eggs,according to him a total no.of 28 nesting sites have been identified on the river bank out of this in 2 to 3 sites eggs have hatched.To ensure the survival of hatch lings and eggs patrolling of the sites is being undertaken on regular basis and night patrolling is also being done.A research team including Abhijeet Das and other researchers under the supervision of Rom Whitaker is keeping a tab on Gharial behaviour during the breeding season and is also monitoring the laid eggs scientifically.

Despite all this efforts Shri Singh expressed cautious optimism on the survival rate of young hatch lings.As per him there are many natural factors which will affect the survival rate of the young Gharials.With the onset of Monsoon season it is very likely that Girwa will get flooded and many of the off springs may get washed away in the strong currents of the river,Natural predators like Muggar,Eagles and Jackals who thrive on the banks of river also prey on the young off springs and eggs.

Hence the coming months will determine the future of the young Gharials and i wish them all the good luck and to the men and women who are putting up so much efforts and dedication to ensure the survival of this ancient species.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Landscapes from Girwa river,Katerniaghat wildlife sanctuary,India.

Enjoy the pristine beauty of River Girwa.

View from the river bank.

A panaromic view of the river.

Cruise view along the river.

Near pontoon bridge

Motorboat ride on the river.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Its boomtime for Ghariyals In Girwa river,Katernia ghat sanctuary.

The mother Ghariyal

These days the banks of Girwa are abuzz with activities with the hatching of Ghariyal eggs a large number of hatch lings of Ghariyals can be spotted on the banks of the river Girwa.About two days ago on the recent trip to Katernia ghat wildlife sanctuary while boating on the river a pleasant surprise awaited us while passing through the banks we spotted a group of large number of recently hatched Ghariyals lazing on the banks of the river in late afternoon sun with a huge female guarding them.It was a pleasnt sight to watch.

Newly hatched Ghariyals in Girwa river,Katernia ghat wildlife sanctuary.

Its a major success story for the conservation of Ghariyal (Gavialis Gangeticus)Which is on the red list of critically endangered species, In Katernia ghat wildlife sanctuary, uttar pradesh,India which has a running Ghariyal conservation project and a breeding centre,being run by UP Forest department,it is a praiseworthy effort and a great effort has been put up by the authorities there to breed and conserve the Ghariyal population there.

Newly hatched Ghariyals with egg shells.

This effort needs special mention as in UP the other sanctuary i.e.Chambal has seen rapid decline in the Ghariyal population in recent years and there dwindling population has been a cause of major concern for conservationists and wildlife lovers.
Ghariyals contribute a lot in maintaining the ecological balance in the river system and are an integral part of it.Therefore the efforts of the park authorities deserve kudos for the same.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Expectation from the new Government in India

After a long period a government is going to take over the reigns of power in India which is enjoying the full support of the electorate and is free from the pulls and pressures of the coalition Politics.This is significent as this arrangement has ample scope for the new dispensation to pursue its policies independently without the influence of external pressures.
Now It would not be unreasonable to expect some major policy initatives from the Government related to Wildlife protection and protection of the Country's rich Bio- diversity.This has long remained a neglected area of the successive governments where long overdue decisions have remained suspended on grounds of political expediency.
It is my ardent wish that a highly qualified individual heads the enviornment ministry who has an enviable track record in matters of wildlife conservation and protection.Some major issues that require the urgent attention of incumbent govt. are -
-A new policy related to Tiger conservation and major overhaul of 'Project Tiger'.
-Creation of new wildlife corridors in the country to facilitate the unhindered movement of endangered animal species, to eliminate the possibility of them straying into inhabited areas.
-Recruitment of trained wildlife staff in the various sanctuaries and parks as many posts are lying vacant.
-New technologies and practises to be adopted in the matters of wildlife conservation.
-Updated training programmes to be conducted for the existing staff so that they are more aware of the latest conservation techniques.
-Speedy clearances to be given to pending proposals for creation of new wildlife sanctuaries and were proposals are cleared steps to be taken to expedite their implementation at the earliest.Latest example being the case of Pilibhit Tiger reserve in UP.
I hope someone in the new dispensation is listening.

Monday, February 23, 2009

portraits from Katernia

A Panaromic view of Girwa river, Katernia

Darter on Girwa River.

A herd of Cheetals in Katernia.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reaching katernia

In the last few views I have observed that there are quite a few viewers who are looking at the route options to reach katerniaghat sanctuary.This is a mistake on my part I should have first taken up this issue before blogging on various facets of katernia.The nearest place before starting for Katernia is one should reach Lucknow the capital of Uttar pradesh from here it is linked by transport corporation buses and narrow gauge trains.But in my view the best option is to hire a Taxi or book a tour through UP tourism the tourism guys will make all your lodging and tour booking arrangements. I think this is the best option available for out of state and foreign tourists as it will save you from lot of hassles.The Telephone No.s for making bookings are as follows-
DFO Katarnia-09451172650[Mob.],0525-2232498[Off.]This No.s are for only making bookings in forest department rest houses.
UP Tours- 522-2615005,2612659,[Mob.No.9415013041] This are for making bookings for complete tour packages.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Great Indian Hornbill

The bird was photographed in Katernia ghat sanctuary.The Great Indian Hornbill is a huge bird, belonging to the Bucerotidae Family. It is known by a number of other names also, like Great pied hornbill, Large pied hornbill, Concave-casqued hornbill.

Kingdom : Animalia
Scientific Name : Buceros bicornis
Common Names : Great hornbill, Great Indian hornbill, Great pied hornbill, Large pied hornbill, Concave-casqued hornbill
Class : Aves
Order : Coraciiformes
Family : Bucerotidae
Genus Species : Buceros (big horn) bicornis (two horns)
Height : 100 cm to 120 cm (40 inches to 48 inches)
Average Wingspan : 150 cm (5 ft.)
Average Weight : 6.5 lbs
Average Length of Tail Feathers : 36 inches
Diet : Mainly fruits
Incubation : 25 days to 40 days
Clutch Size : 1-2 eggs
Lifespan : 35 years to 50 years
Natural Habitat : Evergreen and moist, deciduous forests
Status : Listed in Appendix I of CITES and also listed as 'Lower Risk/Near Threatened' by USFWS

this is a bird hunted for its meat in the Indian hinterland and is a threatened bird and needs action to preserve its survival.

Citrine wagtail at Katernia ghat sanctuary.

Also known as yellow hooded wagtail is a local bird found in Himalayas and is found in plains in winter time.Was able to photograph it in the sanctuary near a waterbody.