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Over a Barrel

The earliest known leopard Panthera pardus fossil, discovered in Laetoli, Tanzania, dates back 3.8 million years. The spotted cats are believed to have found their way to Eurasia about 900,000 years ago. The leopard, lion, tiger, jaguar, snow leopard and even the clouded leopard are related. Though no one has yet discovered any fossil evidence of the immediate ancestor that links all these…

Dance Of Death

April 2008: After a decade of denial by wildlife officials, the truth is out. Wild tigers are being taken down. According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority, we have lost half of all wild tigers that existed in India less than five years ago. Even granting that five years ago, the number of tigers was nowhere near what Project Tiger had been claiming, today’s figures are…

Up in Smoke

Way back in the 1970s, of all the absurd ideas that scientists, in search of funding, came up with, the Frankenstein Award would surely go to the guys who wanted to spray coal dust on the polar ice caps to “speed up ice melt.” This, they said, would “improve” the Earth’s weather by reducing the climatic extremes between the poles and the equator. 

Predator And Prey

February 2008: Following the biphonic yips and whistles of a dhole Cuon alpinus pack, as its members run down their quarry deep in an Indian forest, has to be amongst the most dramatic, awe-inspiring wildlife events anyone could hope to witness.

Man bites shark

Diving in the seas off Lakshadweep with Mitali Kakkar of Reefwatch, I watched the young white-tipped reef shark swim nonchalantly through its coral universe, searching for octopus and other prey that it had learned to hunt from the moment of its birth.

The Deadly Web

December 2007: I cannot think of a single life form on Earth that has a net negative impact on the health of the planet; can you? One way or another, every single living thing acts as a maintenance engineer to keep the engine of life ticking. Creatures that exceed their brief and destabilise the planet die at the altar of their own impudence.

Death on Track

“An enormous body, two overgrown teeth, and an upper lip, which joins the nose to form a trunk – these are the evolutionary tools, which the world’s largest land animals have used to survive for millions of years. Today, the elephants are dying. By fragmenting their habitats and killing off the best of their breeding stock for ivory, we have effectively destroyed the species’ chances for future…

Carbon Neutral Squirrels; Negligent Policy Makers

October 2007: It’s a rodent, the smallest of the Indian giant squirrels and next to impossible to sight – largely because it spends most of its life up in the canopy of thick forests, far from human eyes. Also because it is very rare, and getting rarer.

Hook, Line And Sinker

August 2007: Ancient Indians worshipped nature. By contrast, ‘modern’ Indians were indoctrinated by the British belief that nature was an impediment to progress and that wild places had to be subdued using clinical violence.

Stern Warning

June 2007: The year is 2050. Or is it 2030?


You can wade across the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers whose glaciers have virtually vanished. The plains of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, and the Assam valley have turned into toxic dust bowls. Farmers’ wells are dry and their soils are drier still.

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