Aquatic insects: Indicators of ecological quality of waters of wetland in Tamil Nadu

Aquatic insects are a diverse group of invertebrates that inhabit freshwater ecosystem, including wetlands. They play a vital role in assessing the ecological quality of water bodies as they are highly sensitive to environmental changes and serve as valuable indicators of water health and habitat conditions. Since, Aquatic ecosystems are under increasing pressure from various kinds of man-made activities, which directly affect the flora and fauna of that ecosystem. Many water pollutants are invisible and they must be analyzed by some laboratory techniques. But frequent laboratory analysis of water is laborious and expensive. Entomologists suggest that aquatic insects are good ecological indicators of water pollution, because they are affected by the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the water body. Thus some groups of aquatic insects act as indicators of water quality and this feature can be used to assess the quality of wetland water without any laboratory testing. The present work is planned to find out key aquatic insect species to be used as indicators of water quality in two wetland ecosystems namely Otteri lake in Vandalur and Vellode Bird Sanctuary (Ramsar site) in Erode district, Tamil Nadu, India. By studying the aquatic insects present in the wetlands of Tamil nadu, researchers and conservationists can gain valuable insights into the ecological health of these vital habitats. The information obtained can guide conservation efforts, highlight potential threats, and help implement appropriate management strategies to maintain and restore the ecological integrity of the wetland ecosystems.


Human-wildlife conflicts (HWC) occur when human populations and wildlife interact and clash in shared environments. These conflicts have become increasingly prevalent due to expanding human activities and encroachment into natural habitats. The primary cause of HWC is habitat loss, as forests are cleared for agriculture, infrastructure development, and urban expansion, depriving wildlife of their natural homes. Such conflicts pose risks to both humans and wildlife. Addressing HWC requires a combination of strategies, including preventive measures like physical barriers and electric fences, deterrents such as loud noises and lights, and the deployment of trained personnel to manage conflict situations. It is crucial to strike a balance between the needs and concerns of both humans and wildlife.

Our current project focuses on various aspects of HWC management. Firstly, we aim to identify high-risk zones for conflicts to take appropriate actions. Additionally, we are evaluating the effectiveness of current mitigation measures to fill knowledge gaps in HWC mitigation practices. Given the rising concerns among conservationists and policymakers regarding HWC, it is essential to understand the trends, patterns, and contributing factors of these conflicts. Over the past decade, HWC incidents have increased, resulting in financial losses and loss of life for humans, as well as wildlife fatalities. The growing human population and shrinking forest cover have exacerbated the issue, as limited resources lead to competition between humans and wildlife.

Through our project, we aim to pinpoint HWC hotspot zones, enabling more focused management efforts in those areas. We have collected data from secondary sources, interviews and interactions with farmers to address the shortcomings in current HWC management policies. The project outcomes will include improved allocation of funds to conflict-prone regions and increased recruitment of manpower in high-conflict forest divisions. Currently, the distribution of funds is uniform, but our analysis of conflict patterns and species relationships will allow us to identify divisions with higher risks of HWC. By doing so, we can allocate appropriate compensation funds, as conflicts like human deaths require significant financial resources. This analysis will help streamline the fund allocation process and ensure that the resources are distributed more effectively based on nuanced needs.

Overall, our project aims to contribute to better HWC management by identifying high-risk zones, evaluating mitigation measures, and improving the allocation of funds and manpower. By understanding the trends and patterns of HWC, we can work towards minimizing conflicts and safeguarding the interests of both humans and wildlife.

Assessment and identification of potential wetlands as bird sanctuaries and conservation strategies for them in Tamil Nadu

Wetlands, which cover approximately 6% of the Earth's land, are vital ecosystems where water plays a central role in shaping the environment and supporting diverse plant and animal life. These areas, characterized by the presence of water either year-round or seasonally, provide habitats for species adapted to wet conditions. Wetlands are essential for preserving biodiversity and offer numerous ecological, economic, and social benefits to communities worldwide. However, they face various threats from human activities such as urbanization, agriculture, and resource extraction, as well as from natural occurrences like climate change and rising sea levels.

In Tamil Nadu, wetlands play a crucial role as habitats for a wide range of bird species, including both resident and migratory populations. These wetlands offer suitable conditions for feeding, roosting, and breeding, contributing to the overall bird diversity. Factors such as wetland type, location, and season influence the variety of bird species found in these areas. Many wetlands in Tamil Nadu are important bird habitats, attracting bird watchers and researchers from around the globe. Monitoring the status of water birds in these wetlands provides valuable insights into the overall health of these ecosystems. Therefore, this study focuses on identifying bird congregation hotspots outside protected areas in Tamil Nadu, examining the composition, relative abundance, and distribution of wetland bird species across different locations in the state. The aim is to develop conservation and management initiatives that safeguard suitable wetlands and preserve their avian diversity.

The study has identified approximately 215 potential wetlands in Tamil Nadu that host bird congregations. Secondary data on bird species was obtained from ebird, a citizen science platform, and analyzed based on specific parameters. These parameters consider the presence of threatened and near-threatened bird species, migratory and resident birds, as well as threat index. To visualize the data, GIS (Geographical Information System) analysis was utilized, as it plays a critical role in assessing wetland degradation. GIS tools were employed to analyze the landscape factors that pose threats to the wetlands, establishing the Zone of Influence. These assessments serve as the foundation for developing conservation strategies and management plans for protecting and preserving wetlands and their avian populations.

Delineating feline claws and canine teeth of Tiger and Leopard by morphometric methods

The Tiger (Pantheratigris) is listed as 'Endangered' and the Leopard(Pantherapardus) is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List ofThreatenedSpecies.

Wild Tigers and Leopards are killed illegally to fuel the demand fortheirproductssuchasskin,claw,canineetc.Thisdemandforfeline parts has led to poaching, habitat destruction, and other threatsto the survival of these species. Conservation efforts to protect tigers and leopards must include addressing the issue of illegal wild life trade.

Tiger and Leopard claws were worn as charms against male volent spirits and to instil courage in the wearer.Many jewelleries and arte factsareal so made from their canines.

This information can be used by conservation sand lawen for cement officials to identify the species of wild life products being sold inillegal wild life markets and its genunity

Additionally, studying the claw sand teeth of Tigers and Leopard can provide insight into the behaviour and ecology of these animals.For example,the size and shape of feline claws can reveal information about the type of prey ananimal hunts.

Now a day many replicas has been seized and we are in the need toidentify the originality of the seized samples. For that we can go for morphometrican alysisas cost effective method.

This study includes visual examination and identification, traditional manual Measurements, Software Measurements, Wear and Tear Measurements, claw /canine Geometry, Sharpness, X-ray and Scanning Electron Microscopic Analysis, Morphological Comparisonwith stereo zoom Microscope.


Development of Short Tandem-Repeats (STR) based genetic database of Leopards for geographic assignment in wildlife forensics and determination of population genetic structure


Leopard (Pantherapardus) is the most widely distributed and adaptable member of the family Felidae. sp, Pantherapardusfusca, is absent only in the arid deserts and above the timber line in the Himalayas and found in all forest habitats in the country (Prater 1980, Daniel 1996). In the Himalayas they are sympatric with snow leopards (Pantherauncia)upto 5,200 m (Uphyrkinaet at., 2001). Leopards are very adaptive in terms of habitat and dietary needs; they can be found in heavily populated and farmed areas as well as close to urban developments (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Recent meta-analyses of leopard status and distribution suggest 48–67% range loss for the species in Africa and 83–87% in Asia (Jacobson et at., 2016). Recent genetic study in India said leopards have experienced a possibly human induced 75-90% population decline in the last ~120-200 years (Bhatt et at., 2020). Thus resulted in changing the species status from ‘Near Threatened’ to ‘Vulnerable’ by IUCN (Stein et at., 2016)

Advances in DNA techniques along with non-invasive sampling method can be used to monitor the populations and individuals across large landscapes including human dominated areas. Microsatellites (short tandem repeats, STRs) are markers of choice because of their polymorphic and co-dominant nature. These strictly follow the Mendelian inheritance and are highly reproducible (Anjusinghet al., 2004).

This study “Development of Short-Tandem-Repeats (STR) based genetic database of leopards for geographic assignment in wildlife forensics and determination of population genetic structure” helps in establishing individual identification of leopard for forensic investigation, development of in-house STR based database for geographic assignment and individual identification ofLeopards in Tamil Nadu and assessment of genetic diversity and population genetic structure.


Haematological and biochemical assessment of health in camp Elephants in Anaimalai and Mudumalai Elephant Camps.

Elephants are umbrella species and they play major role in maintaining and creating habitats. In Tamil Nadu, many forest camps have been established and captive elephants are maintained there. Diagnosis of blood and serum of camp elephants is necessary to identify many diseases.

The aim of the present study is to establish a normal reference interval for haematological and serum biochemical parameters for health assessment in camp elephants.


Works completed so far

Three field visits were carried out from November 2022 to May 2023 and blood samples were collected from a total of 48 elephants (in Theppakadu and Abhayaranyam camps in Mudumalai Tigers Reserve and Kozhikamuthi and Varakalayar camps in Anamalai Tiger Reserve). Haematological parameters and serum biochemical parameters were studied according to standard methodologies. The work will be completed in the month of July 2023 and standard haematological and serum biochemical values for camp elephants will be established using the results.

Study of heamoprotozoan disease infection in zoo carnivores.

Haemoprotozoan are predominantly important vector-borne disease of tropical and subtropical parts of the world including India. Climatic conditions in tropic region are favourable the survival and development of potential vectors which is foremost reason for susceptible animals getting affected. Piroplasmids are tick-borne protozoan parasites that infect blood cells (erythrocytes, lymphocytes or other leukocytes) or endothelial cells of numerous wild and domestic vertebrates worldwide. They cause severe disease in livestock, dogs, cats, wild mammals and occasionally in humans. There are currently nine recognized species of Babesia, two of Theileria, two of Cytauxzoon and one of Rangelia infecting captive and wild carnivores, including members of Canidae, Felidae, Mustelidae, Procyonidae, Ursidae, Viverridae, Hyaenidae and Herpestidae in the Americas, Eurasia and Africa. However, the number of piroplasmid species is likely higher than currently accepted due to the reported existence of DNA sequences that may correspond to new species and the lack of studies on many host species and biogeographical areas.

The aim of the present study is to review the current knowledge on the epidemiology of piroplasmid infections in wild carnivores and associated tick vectors. Emphasis is given to the role of wild carnivores as reservoirs of clinical piroplasmosis for domestic dogs and cats, and to the importance of piroplasmids as disease agents for endangered carnivores.


Surveillance of chronic kidney disease by analysis of serum symmetrical dimethyl arginine (SDMA) in captive Tigers of AAZP.

In India Royal Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) are one of the most important non-domestic felids that are highly prone to chronic kidney disease (CKD). Symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) is accepted as a promising renal biomarker. It is normally eliminated through renal clearance. Its presence in serum above an acceptable limit will indicate the abnormality in glomerular filtration. The primary aim of this project is to establish a reference range for SDMA in captive tigers for early detection of kidney problem

Works completed

From November 2022 to till date, eight tigers of AAZP were studied for serum SDMA level. More number of tiger serum samples will be studied to establish a reference range for SDMA in captive tigers.

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