Plucky idea: the feather library providing a visual A to Z of India’s birds

Finding a trapped silverbill during lockdown inspired Esha Munshi to create an invaluable record of species in an uncertain world

  • Photographs supplied by the Feather Library

Esha Munshi, an architect based in Ahmedabad, has “breathed birds” as far back as she can remember. She has travelled all over India on birding trips and has, she says, spotted 1,060 of the 1,400 bird species in the country.

But it was at home, during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, that she saw an Indian silverbill caught in the protective netting on her balcony, attracting the attention of her cat. Although the bird escaped, some of its feathers were damaged. When Munshi saw the exquisite markings and patterns, she tried to identify the bird, but was struck by how little information there was online.

Feathers from a red-necked falcon

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Wolverine fish and blind eel among 212 new freshwater species

Report from Shoal on 2021’s newly described species shows ‘there are still hundreds and hundreds more freshwater fish scientists don’t know about yet’


Scientists are celebrating 212 “new” freshwater fish species, including a blind eel found in the grounds of a school for blind children and a fish named Wolverine that is armed with a hidden weapons system.

The New Species 2021 report, released by the conservation organisation Shoal, shows just how diverse and remarkable the world’s often undervalued freshwater species are, and suggests there is plenty more life still to be discovered in the world’s lakes, rivers and wetlands.

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Leading the charge: wildlife experts plan for future of Nepal’s rhinos

One-horned species was nearly extinct before poaching was curbed. Now the climate crisis could pose a greater threat

Ganesh Pant worries about the future. While he delights in the stunning conservation accomplishment that has seen the numbers of greater one-horned rhinos in Nepal jump from 100 in 1965 to 752 in 2021, he wants to be sure that success will continue.

Before the 1950s, as many as 1,000 rhinos roamed the grasslands and forests of Nepal. But by 1965, rampant hunting, poaching and changes in land use had brought the species close to extinction in the country. Then, the national park was established in 1973 and thanks to concerted conservation efforts, the rhino population began to bounce back.

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Elephant trapped in Indian well rescued in 12-hour crane operation

Animal fell into well covered with bushes in village in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district

Forest officials in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state said they used a crane to pull an elephant from a well after working for more than 12 hours to rescue the animal.

The elephant, which strayed into a village bordering a forest in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district, fell into the well that was covered with bushes and did not have a fence or wall around it, Rajkumar, the district forest officer, said.

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