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Kanagavel A.,Conservation Research Group | Parvathy S.,Conservation Research Group | Nirmal N.,Conservation Research Group | Divakar N.,Conservation Research Group | Raghavan R.,Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies
Ambio | Year: 2017

In the Western Ghats of India, amphibians are culled at cardamom plantations since they are perceived to consume cardamom. To better understand the relationship between amphibians and cardamom, a study was undertaken at these plantations, which harbor numerous threatened and range-restricted amphibians. We undertook questionnaire surveys with 298 respondents at 148 plantations across southern India. Time-activity budget and diet analysis surveys were undertaken to determine whether amphibians really consumed cardamom. The conception that amphibians eat cardamom was found to be widespread especially among small-sized plantations, leading to negative perceptions and a lack of interest in amphibian conservation. The plantation community perceives a substantial economic loss due to amphibians, even though this is non-existent as revealed by our field surveys. These perceptions would lead to a continued intolerance of amphibian presence in plantations. A suitable outreach initiative re-affirming facts and spreading awareness on the positive role of amphibians would need to be conducted to negate this age-old myth. © 2017 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences


Gupta N.,King's College London | Bower S.D.,Carleton University | Raghavan R.,Conservation Research Group | Raghavan R.,Outreach | And 3 more authors.
Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture | Year: 2015

Recreational fishing is an established activity in developed countries across the world. Many emerging economies have well-established recreational fisheries; however, in countries such as India there has been little discourse on what is needed to support this activity's sustainable development. Here, we review the history of recreational fishing and the current status of recreational fisheries in India. The lack of scientific knowledge on the basic biology of sport fish species, targeting of threatened species, and the absence of region- or species-specific angling regulations for recreational fisheries are identified as some of the challenges associated with this sector in India. Moreover, governance structures are disorganized, with multiple agencies assuming some responsibility for recreational fishing but none tasked explicitly with its sustainable development and management. With improved legislative support and a clear policy framework, developing a responsible and sustainable recreational fisheries industry in India is possible. Copyright © 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Gupta N.,King's College London | Kanagavel A.,Conservation Research Group | Dahanukar N.,Indian Institute of Science | Sivakumar K.,Wildlife Institute of India | And 2 more authors.
ORYX | Year: 2015

Indigenous communities worldwide have long relied on their environment for survival. Religious and customary beliefs that foster community conservation have not only bound these communities to ecosystems but also assisted in the conservation of species. We provide an example of how religion fosters the conservation of freshwater fishes in India. Since ancient times rural communities in India have revered fish species as symbols of divine power, and offered them protection in pools associated with temples. Such voluntary, informal institutions and arrangements continue to help conserve several freshwater fish species that are otherwise subjected to anthropogenic pressure in open-access areas. However, religious beliefs in India are waning as a result of increased urbanization, modernization of societies and disintegration of rural communities, and the sustainability of existing temple and community fish sanctuaries is questionable. We discuss the role of temple sanctuaries as an informal conservation strategy for freshwater fishes, and discuss the knowledge and policy gaps that need to be addressed for ensuring their future. Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2015


Benziger A.,Fatima Mata National College | Benziger A.,Center for Aquaculture Research and Extension | Philip S.,University of Porto | Philip S.,Conservation Research Group | And 14 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Background: The Malabar snakehead Channa diplogramma is one of the most enigmatic and least understood species within the family Channidae, which comprise one of the most important groups of freshwater food fish in tropical Asia. Since its description from peninsular India in 1865, it has remained a taxonomic puzzle with many researchers questioning its validity, based on its striking similarity with the South East Asian C. micropeltes. In this study, we assessed the identity of the Malabar snakehead, C. diplogramma, using morphological and molecular genetic analyses, and also evaluated its phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary biogeography. Methodology/Principal Findings: The morphometric and meristic analysis provided conclusive evidence to separate C. diplogramma and C. micropeltes as two distinct species. Number of caudal fin rays, lateral line scales, scales below lateral line; total vertebrae, pre-anal length and body depth were the most prominent characters that can be used to differentiate both the species. Channa diplogramma also shows several ontogenic color phases during its life history, which is shared with C. micropeltes. Finally, the genetic distance between both species for the partial mitochondrial 16S rRNA and COI sequences is also well above the intra-specific genetic distances of any other channid species compared in this study. Conclusions/Significance: The current distribution of C. diplogramma and C. micropeltes is best explained by vicariance. The significant variation in the key taxonomic characters and the results of the molecular marker analysis points towards an allopatric speciation event or vicariant divergence from a common ancestor, which molecular data suggests to have occurred as early as 21.76 million years ago. The resurrection of C. diplogramma from the synonymy of C. micropeltes has hence been confirmed 146 years after its initial description and 134 years after it was synonymised, establishing it is an endemic species of peninsular India and prioritizing its conservation value. © 2011 Benziger et al.


Britz R.,Natural History Museum in London | Ali A.,Conservation Research Group | Philip S.,Conservation Research Group | Kumar K.,Community Environment Resource Center | And 2 more authors.
Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters | Year: 2012

The first record from the wild of the freshwater dwarf puffer fish Carinotetraodon imitator, originally described from aquarium trade specimens, is reported. Five males and two females were collected from the Kumaradhara River in southern Karnataka, Peninsular India, providing clear evidence for its occurrence in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. © by Verlag Dr. Friendrich Pfeil.


Harpalani M.,Conservation Research Group | Parvathy S.,Conservation Research Group | Kanagavel A.,Conservation Research Group | Eluvathingal L.M.,Florida International University | Tapley B.,Zoological Society of London
Herpetological Bulletin | Year: 2015

Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus is a Critically Endangered, range-restricted frog found in the southern Western Ghats of India. We report new distribution records outside the protected area network in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala State through direct sightings and local ecological knowledge. These records increase the distribution by 12 km to the south-east of its currently known range and increase the altitudinal range of the species to 1600 m asl. We present a preliminary call analysis of the species that is distinct from the call of its nearest congener R. malabaricus. Foam nests, tadpoles and metamorphs were sighted in agricultural land suggesting the importance of these landscapes for breeding. Breeding continues into the month of November extending the known length of its breeding season. Breeding occurred in highly disturbed areas and oviposition sites varied according to the vegetation around breeding sites and included the use of non-native plants. This suggests the need to exercise caution while conducting habitat restoration programs that involve a standard removal of non-native plants. The IUCN Red List status for this species could be revised from 'Critically Endangered' to 'Endangered' in light of our findings. Local ecological knowledge on amphibians could provide supplementary information on distinct species with local names and those that have short periods of activity, which may not be frequently encountered during field surveys.


Anitha K.,Center for International Forestry Research | Anitha K.,Conservation Research Group | Aneesh A.,Center for International Forestry Research | Raghavan R.,Conservation Research Group | And 6 more authors.
Primate Conservation | Year: 2013

The endangered and endemic lion-Tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) of the rainforest fragments of Valparai plateau in the Western Ghats Hotspot (India) are facing serious threats to their survival due to anthropogenic pressures and habitat degradation. In this study, we identify potential wildlife corridors between the rainforest fragments and adjacent more extensive forest areas so as to connect isolated lion-Tailed macaque populations. Satellite datasets were used to delineate the forest fragments and assess the conditions of the surrounding landscape. The corridors were selected on the basis of minimal impact on human settlements, agricultural areas and other infrastructure, as well as to enhance ecosystem services. The results show that a minimum area of 156 ha is required to connect three isolated lion-Tailed macaque populations to the adjacent forest area. This includes 54 ha of seasonal stream beds (low human-use areas), 99 ha of cultivated area (medium human-use areas) and 3 ha of roads, settlements and built-up areas (high human-use areas). This methodology for identifying wildlife corridors in highly fragmented landscapes of the Western Ghats can also be applied to other human-dominated landscapes, including biodiversity hotspots.

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