Wednesday, October 7, 2009

KANS 1st Anniversary and 55th Wildlife Week

Celebrated KANS 1st anniversary and 55th Wildlife Week on Oct 4, 2009 at Denkanikotta where a medical camp was organised for the Forest Dept. staff. Karthik and I went there the previous day and after taking permission from the DFO for conducting the camp, met the Hosur RFO at Mathigiri to make arrangements for acco etc. Went over to Denkanikotta and inspected the location of the camp. Gave instructions for cleaning up the place and returned to Mathigiri. Sanjeev joined us in the evening and we went on a drive to SamiEri with the hope of catching a glimpse of the elephants...but no luck!

Next morning, reached Denkanikotta where I was joined by the doctors from Chennai and Bangalore and other KANS members. Mr. TNA Perumal was the chief guest of the event and after inaugurating the proceedings, the doctors Dr. Sudhakar, Dr. Balaji and Dr. Manjunath, got down to their job.

Around 45 people were inspected and medicines and prescriptions were given. The RFOs of Hosur and Denkanikottai, Mr. Madeshwaran and Mr. Ramachandran respectively also joined the camp and provided all the support during the entire day.


Visit to Bhadra Tiger Reserve on Sept 5-10, 2009

The long due visit to Bhadra Tiger Reserve happened finally. Prakash, Sunil and I left on our bikes (Thunderbird, Bullet)early on 5th morning to volunteer for a post-doctoral research project being conducted by Dr. Krithi Karanth, Columbia University on impact of Eco-tourism around Tiger Reserves.

Reached Chikmagalur towards noon (around 260 kms) where we were joined by other volunteers. From thereon, the route became interesting since had to go up the hills along a windy path and eventually after about 40 kms, we reached our camp for the next 5 days - Hulikanu Estate. This is the field station of the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore. The rest of the evening was spent in settling down and interacting with the other volunteers. One group left in the evening for the Lakkavalli Range.

On 6th morning, we took off to do the questionnaire surveys. My route was towards Chikmagalur town and Vishnupriya and I left in that direction. Conducted interviews at the Lodges and Homestays in Chikmagalur town and near Mullaihnagiri and returned to Hulikanu by evening.

On 7th morning, Vikas and I biked towards Kemmangundi. This was the best route..lovely western ghats drizzle, mist, clouds, wind etc. made the ride unforgettable.
On crossing KM, Vikas and I split and visited some of the Homestays near Kalahatti falls and Ballavara. Had lunch with the amiable owner of one of the homestays and his wife and dad. Vikas also joined in and after lunch, visited Kalahatti falls. Returned to Hulikanu by around 7.30 pm. Around 90 kms covered.

On 8th morning, we were taken for a drive in the Muthodi range by DV Girish from Wildcat. Went along the Kesave beat and for the first time in my life I saw a Tiger pugmark.
Some other sightings we had were of Muntjacs, Gaurs, Chitals, Malabar Giant Squirrels and plenty of birds.
Later, Krithi, Santosh, Vishnupriya and I went on a ground-truthing exercise. Covered around 300 kms and travelled through CM-Kadur-Igati-Srirampura-Huliyar-Banavara and back.

On 9th morning, my bike conked out! It simply refused to start despite efforts by myself, Santosh, DV Girish and all. Finally took Sunil's bike and went to Chikmagalur town where I was supposed to interview couple of homestay owners whom I could not meet earlier. Finishing those, I joined Amit, Vishnupriya and Sunil who were lunching at Chikmagalur. Later Sunil and I went to a garage referred by DVG and asked them to pick up the bike and then we returned to Hulikanu.

10th was very relaxed. Most of the resorts/homestays had been covered and all the ground-truthing had been done. Took Prakash's bullet and biked to Mallandur where VP and Sunil were interviewing the last of the homestays. Headed to CM to pick up Chicken for the 'badaa khana' that was planned for the evening. I paid a visit to the garage to hear the sorry news that the valves had to be replaced and the entire engine oil had drained out. After giving him the money to buy the spare parts, I returned to Hulikanu. The evening was special since we were joined by Dr. Ullas Karanth and his wife, Ms. Pratibha Karanth. Over cocktails and snacks, we exchanged conservation stories and his exepriences with the late Mr. Kenneth Anderson. Had sumptous dinner prepared by Santosh and retired for the night.

Left for Bangalore on 11th morning. Sunil dropped me at the garage. The bike was ready by 2.30 pm and I headed back home to Bangalore and reached by 9.30 pm!

A good experience, many new friends made, first tiger pugmark sighting..hope to go there soon! The road beckons...


Rapid Survey at Jowlagiri RF on Sept 12, 2009

Three transect routes have been marked out by the forest department and these three routes were taken up for survey
1. Pasumandoddi to Chennamalam (Gnanaskandan and party)
2. Jowlagiri to Kembudoddi (Khusro and Party)
3. Maragadadoddi to KembaraKotta (Debashish and party)
Three teams accompanied by their respective forest department personnel set off at 7:00 AM. There were 2 GPS between the 3 teams. Indirect evidences of Gaur, elephants and Chital etc were encoutered by all teams. The team on the second trek path also encountered pug marks of wild dog and jungle cat. Bird activity was subdued probably due to the overcast weather conditions.

Length of trek varied as all teams returned to the same starting point after touching the RF boundary. The longest was nearly 22 Kms. As the planned blocks were covered in one day, the teams dispersed in the afternoon after a couple of hours of birding in the early evening.

Eupatorium and Lantana are the most visible flora in most parts of the RF.

Team members:
1. Sanjeev
2. Khusro
3. GRP Karthik
4. Ajay
5. Gnanaskandan
6. Sripad
7. Varun
8. Debashish Bandophdhyay
9. Chandan Haldar
10. Rakesh Verma
11. Gowri Varanashi
12. Paul

Forest Department:
1. Forestor Rajamani
2. Muthu
3. Madangiriappa
4. Balakondappa

Food expenses were met by contributions from the volunteers, leaving over a surplus of Rs.500/- to KANS account.

Sanjeev Kumar S. R.
Vice President
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society


Rapid Survey at Denkanikottai RF on Sept 5/6, 2009

Seven blocks were selected in Denkanikottai Range. These blocks are of various sizes and are in various reserve forests. Of these seven blocks four blocks which were in the vicinity of Aiyur were taken up for rapid ground survey.

Of the remaining blocks, Gutherayan RF was set aside for a comprehensive survey at a later date. Remaining 2 blocks have been set aside due to logistic reasons and non availability of volunteers. Some blocks of Anchetty and Denkanikottai range can be more easily covered from a convenient base camp other than Aiyur.

The four blocks selected had the following trek routes:
1. Galigattam to Mukankere
2. Mukankere to Aiyur
3. Nelkunthi to Panchapalli Eri
4. Denkanikottai extension reserve forest

Denkanikottai extension reserve forest could not be covered due to lack of resources.
The trek teams have noted down encouters of indirect evidences and direct sightings of birds on the data sheets.
Lack of GPS units
This survey was again hampered by lack of GPS units. Only one working GPS was available at the Field station at Aiyur. At least 4 working GPS will be required so that each team is equipped to note down significant indirect evidences of less sighted animals such as carnivores. This will be very helpful at a later stage when setting up Camera Traps.
Lack of ID Cards.
The team that surveyed Galigattam to Mukankere led by Saravanan was accosted by a large Police team lead by a Deputy Superintendent of Police carrying out combing operations. This happened when Sanjeev was dropping off the team to the starting point of the trek. The police could not be convinced even after we showed them permit letter from Hosur Division office and the Chief Wildlife Warden and demanded to see photo ID cards of ANCF. Unfortunately the name of KANS does not figure anywhere on the permit letters issued by either the Hosur Division or the CWW, hence they will be of no use. It is very important that the key personnel co-ordinating the survey have to be provided with photo ID cards. Anti Naxal operations are quite regular in these regions and a chance encounter can easily escalate into unsavory incidents. All KANS members carry their photo ID cards of the society and volunteers also need to be issued ID cards which are available with KANS. It is recommended that the following people Saravanan, Mohan and Madan be issued ANCF photo Id cards as soon as possible. It is also recommended that each trek team be accompanied by at
least one KANS member or ANCF member carrying their respective ID cards.

Team members:

1. Dr.Geetha Nayak
2. Saranavan
3. Karthikeyan
4. Khusro
5. Arvind Adhi
6. Manivanan
7. Akshay Ukey

Forest Department:

1. Kadirappan
2. Annadurai
3. Samappan
4. Nanjappan

Sanjeev Kumar S. R.
Vice President
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society