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   Conservation Projects 

Conservation and Wildlife Studies at the Jalore Wildlife Sanctuary

The ever decreasing population of wild animals in Thar Desert and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan needs a better conservation plan for securing their survival. A conservation plan for endangered animals is a prerequisite for today’s world where so many species are now under threat. In these remote areas many species need conservation that ensures their protection and gives them the ability to re-produce and live in a secure environment.

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The Jalore wildlife Sanctuary (JWS) is home to various rare and endangered mammals, listed in IUCN’s Red Data book. The Leopard (Panthera pardus) population of the sanctuary is an extension of the western most distribution limit in Rajasthan, whereas the largest stronghold of the Asian Steppe Wildcat or Desert Cat (Felis silvestris ornata) is Western Rajasthan the sanctuary is the perfect habitat to know more about its ecology and behaviour. In, 2005 we estimated less than 13 were surviving in the sanctuary area and through our conservation program its population has increased to an estimated plus 50 in just four years. The problem of hybridization between Domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) and Asian Steppe Wildcat (Desert cat) is severe and one of the main threats to its survival throughout the few remaining pockets where pure wild cats still exist, the JWS holds some of the purest gene. The behaviour of the Asian Steppe Wildcat (Desert cat) is very shy and elusive with a thin lithe body, soft cream and white coloured coat with black spots that is quite distinct from its domesticated cousin. The exceedingly rare Desert Fox (Vulpus v. pusilla), a sub species of Red Fox (Vulpus vulpus) hunts field rodents and insects safely on the sand dunes and savannah grasslands while Hyena (Hyaena hyaena) lives under the boulders and comes out in the dark for roaming in the periphery of the sanctuary. The Jungle Cat sub-species found in Western Rajasthan (Felis chaus kutus), a more bold small cat that is less shy then the Asian Steppe Wildcat also shares the same habitat with the sanctuary’s other small carnivoures. The state animal of Rajasthan, the Indian Gazelle or Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) is having one of its safe habitats in the semi-arid landscape of the sanctuary’s savannah area, where it can freely stoat and roam without poaching threats. The sanctuary savannah area is also home to Blue-bull or Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), Asia’s largest antelope. A ‘sound’ (family of wild boar) boar family also has a safe home inside the sanctuary. More the seven troop of Hanuman Langur (Semnpithecus entellus) also live in the north-eastern mountain range of the sanctuary, and the special Zird, a small creature similar to a Gerbil makes its home in the uncultivated hard soil found in the sanctuary savannah and is one of the main prey species for the sanctuary’s cats, and predatory birds.

The JWS is also rich in birdlife, (more then 120 species of birds found here year round) including the rare Tawny Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Shikra, Common Peafowl, Egyptian Vulture, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, 3 species of Parakeet and the Eurasian Eagle Owl.

We at the JWS have implemented conservation projects to understand the habitat selection and resource utilization between the two small cats, the Asian Steppe Wildcat (Desert Cat) and its status in and around the sanctuary, the Jungle Cat and its status in and around the sanctuary, food habit of the Leopard, human-animal conflict, a complete check list of avi-fauna, bird community studies and other specifically targeted conservation aspects on all the endangered animals of the sanctuary and its periphery. The out come of all our studies leads us to better understand the uniqueness and importance of this sanctuary and the habits and habitat of the rare and endangered wildlife found here and in the Thar Desert and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan, India so we can help find processes necessary to ensure their survival. 

For more information on our conservation efforts or if you want to help and be involved please write to Shanane Davis at info@trueluxurytours.com   

Conservation Needed for Small Wild Cats

Fifteen species of cats are found in India in a variety of habitat. Most conservation and study attention has been paid towards research and conservation of larger cats while the smaller cats have lacked any comprehensive studies being conducted.

As separate research in ecology and conservation for small cats is still lacking in India, although these cats are listed in the Indian Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972, as amendment (2002), the very few small programs that are in existence for their conservation are conducted by concerned independent researchers and individuals. In contrast to larger cats that usually need relatively larger undisturbed areas and wildlife reserves, small cats can and potentially persevere in landscapes such as agricultural fields and pasture lands. Consequently, relatively larger populations of small cats exist outside federal wildlife reserves, and therefore a conservation mandate approach is needed that looks beyond these federal wildlife reserves. In the past few decades with the introduction of large scale irrigated agriculture and development of the rural sector, Western India has undergone rapid land-use change. The effect of this habitat modification on the population of small wild cats is at its infancy although many unconfirmed and confirmed reports of the decline of small cat species, due to loss of habitat, is widespread. Small cats require a conservation approach that complements and amends the present essential conservationists programs for large cats’ conservation; generating ecological information and understanding of the impacts of land use change on small cats, it is essential for their survival."

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