T R Shankar Raman

Scientist, Western Ghats

Trsr field dscn1934

I like to imagine that I am a writer turned wildlife scientist turned writer, living in a landscape of rainforests and plantations in the Anamalai hills of southern India. As a wildlife scientist, I focus on the ecology and conservation of tropical forests and wildlife—especially rainforest plants, birds, and mammals—mainly in the Western Ghats. In parallel, I write creative non-fiction and essays on nature and conservation for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, besides occasional book reviews and op-ed or feature articles. I like to read a fair bit and you can see what I am reading here. My blogView from Elephant Hills is on the Coyotes Network. 

As a participant in an open initiative called WikiProject Nature and Conservation in India, I have also been contributing media (my images, video and audio recordings) to Wikimedia Commons and editing Wikipedia pages related to nature and conservation in India. Here is my Wikipedia user page, and you can find my Wikimedia Commons photo gallery here (works in progress).

I am also interested in animal welfare and ethics, empathy and aesthetics in humans and other animals, music and poetry, public reasoning, openness in anything from software to knowledge, and human capability and freedom and flourishing, but have done precious little about any of this except for strapping on headphones and tuning out.


Varattuparai 201

Fostering eco-friendly plantations

Linking sustainable agriculture and conservation in plantation landscapes

Gh in flight

Hornbill hotspots

Hornbill distribution and conservation threats


Living with leopards

Carnivore, conflicts, and conservation in the Anamalai hills


Nurturing nature appreciation

Rekindling conservation awareness and connections with nature


Of forests and farms

Conserving wildlife in forests and plantations in the landscape


Otters in troubled waters?

Otters in the Kaveri - sharing space with riverine fisheries and sand mining

Elephant 1

Reviving the rainforest

Ecological restoration of degraded rainforest in the Anamalai hills

Ltm kalyan 1020

Towards wildlife-friendly roads

Studying and reducing impacts of roads on wildlife in the Anamalai hills


Whittled-down woods

Plant communities and invasive species in forest fragments

Aerial jhum landscape

Wildlife and shifting cultivation

Forest, wildlife, jhum, and plantations in the Dampa landscape, Mizoram

Ltm with infant

Wildlife in rainforest fragments

Life in the treetops and undergrowth in rainforest remnants


  • Book Chapter
    Birds in Relation to Farming and Livestock Grazing in the Indian Trans-Himalayas
    In Bird Migration across the Himalayas: Wetland Functioning amidst Mountains and Glaciers

    PDF, 194 KB

  • Journal Article
    Successional status, seed dispersal mode and overstorey species influence tree regeneration in tropical rain-forest fragments in Western Ghats, India
    Anand M Osuri, Dayani Chakravarthy, Divya Mudappa, T R Shankar Raman, N Ayyappan, S Muthuramkumar, N Parthasarathy
    Journal of Tropical Ecology 33: 270-284. DOI: 10.1017/S0266467417000219

    The effects of fragmentation and overstorey tree diversity on tree regeneration were assessed in tropical rain forests of the Western Ghats, India. Ninety plots were sampled for saplings (1–5 cm diameter at breast height (dbh); 5×5-m plots) and overstorey trees (>9.55 cm dbh; 20×20-m plots) within two fragments (32 ha and 18 ha) and two continuous forests. We tested the hypotheses that fragmentation and expected seed-dispersal declines (1) reduce sapling densities and species richness of all species and old-growth species, and increase recruitment of early-successional species, (2) reduce the prevalence of dispersed recruits and (3) increase influence of local overstorey on sapling densities and richness. Continuous forests and fragments had similar sapling densities and species richness overall, but density and richness of old-growth species declined by 62% and 48%, respectively, in fragments. Fragments had 39% lower densities and 24% lower richness of immigrant saplings (presumed dispersed into sites as conspecific adults were absent nearby), and immigrant densities of old-growth bird-dispersed species declined by 79%. Sapling species richness (overall and old-growth) increased with overstorey species richness in fragments, but was unrelated to overstorey richness in continuous forests. Our results show that while forest fragments retain significant sapling diversity, losses of immigrant recruits and increased overstorey influence strengthen barriers to natural regeneration of old-growth tropical rain forests.

  • Dataset
    Data from: Successional status, seed dispersal mode and overstorey species influence tree regeneration in tropical rain-forest fragments in Western Ghats, India
    Anand M Osuri, Dayani Chakravarthy, Divya Mudappa, T R Shankar Raman, N. Ayyappan, S. Muthuramkumar, N. Parthasarathy
    Dryad Digital Repository. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vd0nn.2

    Dataset available from the Dryad Digital Repository:

    Original Publication
    Osuri AM, Chakravarthy D, Mudappa D, Raman TRS, Ayyappan N, Muthuramkumar S, Parthasarathy N (2017) Successional status, seed dispersal mode and overstorey species influence tree regeneration in tropical rain-forest fragments in Western Ghats, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 33(4): 270-284. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266467417000219

  • Popular Article
    The march of the triffids.
    The BOU Blog, 8 August 2016

    Shifting agriculture supports more rainforest birds than oil palm or teak monocultures

    Read here: http://www.bou.org.uk/raman-march-of-the-triffids/

  • Popular Article
    Why Mizoram must revive, not eradicate, jhum
    The Frontier Despatch, March 4 – 10, 2016, page 6.

    JPG, 755 KB

  • Popular Article
    Is oil palm expansion good for Mizoram?
    The Frontier Despatch, March 18 – 24, 2016, pages 6-7.

    PNG, 682 KB

  • Popular Article
    Icons of Anamalais: Malabar Whistling Thrush
    Pollachi Papyrus, July – September 3(3): 38-41.

    Shorter, edited version of article ‘Musician of the Monsoon’ that appeared in The Hindu Sunday Magazine on 6 Sep 2009.

    Read here: http://thepapyrus.in/index.php/malabar-whistling-thrush/

  • Popular Article
    The silence of India's wildlife scientists, including myself, rings louder than gunshots.
    Scroll.in, 20 September 2016.

    Eight reasons why those like me stay away from India's most important debates.

    Read more here: http://scroll.in/article/816752/the-silence-of-indias-wildlife-scientists-including-myself-rings-louder-than-gunshots

    Republished from my blogpost at View from Elephant Hills: http://coyot.es/elephanthills/2016/09/16/conversation-biology-eight-reasons-why-i-am-a-silent-scientist/

  • Art & Literary
    Elephant crossing
    Orion 35(3): 6. (May | June 2016)
  • Popular Article
    In clouded leopard country
    The Hindu Sunday Magazine, 8 October 2016, pages 1-2.

    In the rainforest, the rewards of silence sometimes exceed your wildest expectations. From where I sit quietly, I don’t hear a single artificial sound. Unseen cicadas shrill and set the air ringing, woodpeckers cackle from the treetops, and frogs click and boom from the rock-pools alongside the singing river below. From somewhere in the undergrowth, a grey peacock-pheasant sounds an echoing, guttural laugh. In the distance rise great grey cliffs, home of serow (a forest goat-antelope) and bear, overlooking the rainforests where every morning the hoolock gibbons still hoot and sing. Around the steep rock slope where I am stretched out on my back, the looming rainforest envelops me like an amphitheatre. I feel like a tiny flame steady in an evergreen sconce. As yet, I have no inkling of what we are about to witness.

    Read more here: http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/tr-shankar-raman-describes-an-encounter-with-the-clouded-leopard-in-dampa/article9197225.ece

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