Director's Note
Dear Friends,

Much is being said about the ongoing COVID-19 spread, and much being done. I hope that all of our readers, families and friends are safe in their homes and environs.  For the first time, strangely enough I hope that you all are socially distant.

Shoots and Leaves will continue to be delivered to you on a monthly basis as always to describe all the wonderful work that ATREE continues to do. This time however, the importance of conducting research on biodiversity is in the spotlight around the globe because of its criticality for understanding and managing emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases. It is a complex subject, served best by an expression of humility for nature in words that could be captured only by Shakespeare... "In nature's infinite book of secrecy, a little I can read." (Antony and Cleopatra, act1, sc.2, l.9-10.)

Stay safe.

Food Vision 2050 Semi-Finalist

ATREE Sikkim-Darjeeling Himalaya Region

ATREE's vision for the Sikkim-Darjeeling Himalaya region is one of the Semi-finalists for the Food System Vision Prize. The goal of the prize is to envision regenerative and nourishing food futures for the year 2050,  to achieve food and nutritional sovereignty for all through smallholder farming and responsible tourism while sustaining our environment.


International conference FSD2020 

Awards Kadambari Deshpande second place

Kadambari Deshpande, a Ph.D. candidate at ATREE, studying bat-people interactions in the Western Ghats was awarded the second prize for best oral presentation at FSD2020 - 7th International Conference on Frugivores and Seed Dispersal themed "Seed Dispersal in the Anthropocene".

This 5-yearly conference brought together experts and student researchers in this field from across the world and was held from 2 March - 6 March, 2020, in the Corbett Landscape, India.

Sumitha Bhattacharya recieves BSF small grant

The proposal 'Developing Citizen-Relevant Water Quality Criteria for Urban Lakes in Bengaluru' submitted by ATREE's Sumita Bhattacharyya and  JalaPoshan's Annapurna Kamath was accepted for the BSF small grants program. The duration of the grant is one year. 

Online course launched on 

Community Rights and Forest Governance

Oxfam India launched an online course on Community Rights & Forest Governance. The course includes sessions by ATREE's Sharad Lele, Kanchi Kohli, Shomona Khanna, and others. The course modules are:
Who and what are forests for?
1. Power to control forest land
2. Negotiating community participation in forest governance
3. Community participation in forest governance-legal and constitutional provisions
4. Responding to relocation from forests
5. Holding the Private sector accountable
6. Skills for advancing community interests.

From the Himalayas

New insights into mammalian
communities in

 Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Camera trapping carried out in different farming systems across Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya landscape offers new insights into the mammalian communities residing within this landscape. The presence of one Critically Endangered, three Vulnerable and four Near Threatened species in two major farming systems i.e. Tea Cultivation and Agro-ecosystem speak volumes in terms of their conservation potential. Mammals outside protected areas have often been subjected to anthropogenic threats, directly - hunting, retaliatory attacks and from feral animals among others - or indirectly – through habitat fragmentation, human population growth and our ever increasing resource demand. Thus, the need to assess these farming systems and the mammalian community present is paramount to check the viability of these farming systems as refuges for biodiversity.

We recorded the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla), a Critically Endangered species, in the Tea Estates in sites of Darjeeling and Terrace Rice Cultivation areas in Sikkim. Given that, according to previous studies, the home ranges of this species vary from 0.66 - 0.96 km for males, 0.143 - 0.303 km for females and 5-6 km away from the resident burrow for foraging, these sites have high potential for conservation of the Chinese Pangolin provided it should be a community initiative spearheaded and supported by the local communities themselves.

Besides the Chinese Pangolin, these farming systems also support the Common Leopard (Panthera pardus), Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) and the Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) falling under Vulnerable category in the IUCN Red List. The presence of Near Threatened mammals such as the Himalayan Goral (Naemorhedus goral), Gaur (Bos gaurus), Malayan Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor) and Terai Grey Langur (Semnopithecus hector) also confirms the conservation value of these farming systems as wildlife friendly farming systems given the added benefit of the landscape with complex topography with minimal agriculture machinery.

Although most species found in these farming systems are residents, some such as Gaur or Indian Bison use a part of the landscape as a corridor which is equally important. The presence of arboreal mammals such as the Malayan Giant Squirrel and the Terai Grey Langur also indicates healthy forest patches within these systems. The ecological role of some of the species as keystone species and their role in maintaining the ecosystem should be taken into consideration before any management plans for relocating them from these spaces is put forward. This is keeping in mind that most human-wildlife conflict arises out of livestock and crop depredation by some of these species present in the landscape. Compensatory mechanisms such as monetary incentives for improved livestock management, loss compensation, insurance for loss and deterrent physical mechanisms could be some ways of mitigating the conflict. Ecological measures like habitat restoration, habitat improvement and preventing habitat
degradation have to also be put in place.

-Thangsuanlian Naulak

In the News
Copyright © 2017 Ashoka Trust for research in ecology and the Environment, All rights reserved.
Shoots and Leaves is free! Subscribe to our newsletter by writing to us at
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.