Didn't just stick to leopards, found off-beat species

Didn't just stick to leopards, found off-beat species

Chinkaras were among the rare finds.

Documenting leopard population in various forests across Karnataka, Sanjay and his team of researchers were in for surprise on several occasions.

Rummaging through heaps of camera-trap images captured from the field, researchers were awestruck by the presence of species that were known to be extinct or very rare.

Documenting the Indian Gazelle population in the not-so-common habitat to tracing the elusive honey badger or ratel (Mellivora capensis) for the first time in Karnataka, the team had several off-beat stories to share.

During the study, Chinkaras were spotted at the Bukkapatna state forest near Sira in Tumakuru district. According to Sanjay, Chinkaras (Indian Gazelle) near Sira was the first documentation of the species in Southern Karnataka,
especially close to Bengaluru.

“Indian Gazelles were reported to have been existent sparsely in North Karnataka. But their presence down south, closer to Bengaluru, was documented for the first time. Karnataka is home to three out of the six antelope species in India, including black bucks, four-horned antelopes and Chinkaras. While the first two have been widely documented, Chinkaras were hardly sighted. Interestingly, Bukkapatna forest area has all the three antelope species and perhaps, is the only documented place in Karnataka for all three antelope species,” Sanjay said.

Similarly, the camera-trap study of the nocturnal nature of leopards in Cauvery wildlife sanctuary was done. There was also photo evidence of the honey badger at Halagur and Hanur range of the sanctuary.

“Out of the 41 photos, seven images showed the honey badger. While there was one captured way back in 1970s in Kolar, another was rescued from a well in Bengaluru Rural district in 2003. Thereafter, there were no reports of ratels,” a researcher with Gubbi told DH.

This apart, the camera-trap images revealed several notorious poachers and movement of poaching gangs in various forest areas. All the evidences were submitted to the Forest department. Local forest officials cracked down on such poachers and booked several of them. 

The camera-trap images also revealed the presence of smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) in the forests in Roerich Estate on Kanakapura Road. The Estate is surrounded by BM Kaval reserved forest and a large patch of deemed forest of nearly 2,000 acres that connects to Bannerghatta National Park. The otter was camera-trapped at a forest trail about 700 metres from Vaderahallikere on Kanakapura Road.

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