Sanjay is a native of Bangalore and he earned a Ph.D from Mysore University featuring bats and rodents. He has been working in ZOO for nearly 21 years. Sanjay got married to Payal Bhojwani, who is an Wildlife Educator, and recently they adopted a baby girl named Mahika. Sanjay oversees both technical and practical works, assists in catalyzing new activities in conservation and maintains links with SSC. Sanjay is the Editor of a monthly conservation and taxonomy journal called Journal of Threatened Taxa’. He runs two South Asian networks, for amphibian and reptile researchers and field workers, assists with other taxon networks such as invertebrates and pollinators as well as bats and rodents. He is an expert in Red List assessment and categorization, has facilitated more than 18 conservation assessment workshops (C.A.M.P.s), and has assisted in the assessment of more than 3, 000 taxa in South Asia.

Sanjay is also the Editor of a monthly conservation and taxonomy journal called Journal of Threatened Taxa’. He runs two South Asian networks, for amphibian and reptile researchers and field workers, assists with other taxon networks such as invertebrates and pollinators as well as bats and rodents. He is an expert in Red List assessment and categorization, has facilitated more than 18 conservation assessment workshops (C.A.M.P.s), and has assisted in the assessment of more than 3, 000 taxa in South Asia.

A species of the cyprinid fish of the genus Pethia has been named in honour of Sanjay – Pethia sanjaymoluri.

Discussion

133 Comments
  • Mango Education

    Good evening all! Hi @Sanjay! Glad to have you among us. I hope this session would be inspiring for everyone. We’ve curated seven questions to make this session informative and interesting. We’ll start off with while the kids prepare their questions.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Lots of reasons some of which include the fact that we are an integral part of an ecosystem. More wildlife and biodiversity means better quality of life. Species are the backbone or the foundation of our living system.

      I can go into the specifics of reasoning, but we can have more sometime else.

      From an emotional point of view, saving wildlife is like saving our relatives and ancestors — after all we are part of the evolution. We wouldn’t kill off our own relatives, would we?

  • Mango Education

    Let’s understand a bit about how the species around the world are tracked. For example, the IUCN Red List keeps track of all the species and their conservation status. How such a sophisticated list is maintained? How often is it updated?

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      The IUCN Red List is one of the most amazing conservation tools available.

      It is curated in an office in Cambridge by a dedicated group of people — about four of them.

      But the process of Red Listing itself is carried out around the world by several enthusiasts and volunteers.

      In South Asia, Zoo Outreach Organization is responsible in assessing the risk of extinction of about 10,000 species on the Red List.

      The IUCN Red List is updated at least twice a year.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Aha! Good question.

      The Flying Foxes are fruit bats. They look very similar to foxes, hence the name.

      There are other fruit bats called Dog-faced Bats because of a similarity to dogs in their looks.

  • Mango Education

    Despite of the general awareness, the emotional impact of the ‘last cry’ of the ‘last surviving being’ of a species is very intense. Here is a question regarding that.

    Listening to the sounds and mating calls of ‘the last of its species’ animals like the last song of Kauai ‘O’o bird, or the lonely 52-hertz whale song, gives a haunting perspective of the idea of extinction. In a sense, it speaks volumes than words. Have you ever come across such (recorded/unrecorded) moments? How big of an impact can it make in spreading wildlife conservation awareness to the common people?

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      This haunts me always — losing species forever, or seeing some of them at the verge of extinction!

      Yes, these recordings provide us with a sense of realization — of how we’ve impacted the planet’s living system!

      The Dodo, Passenger Pigeon, Thylacine, Caspian Tiger, and closer to home the Indian Cheetah are all examples of what humans have done to our wildlife.

      In my own work in Coorg, while I was doing my PhD on rodents and bats, I recorded drastic declines in some species of forest rats, shrews, jungle squirrels, and definitely bats.

      Compared to what existed a 100 years ago based on the work by naturalists, I could compare the status of what existed in the early 1900s and then in early 2000s.

      One species — the Wroughton’s Giant Squirrel — Ratufa indica wroughtoni was shot to extinction in the mid 1950s. The biggest of giant squirrels anywhere in the world, the museum specimens measure almost 5 feet from nose to tail tip! Gone! Extinct forever!

      This extinct giant squirrel was found only in northern Wyanad, Nagarahole and Makutta forests.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Are you asking of the Peregrine Falcon? Or did you have some other bird in mind? The Peregine is not Endangered as a species.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Hi Suha … a few bats are threatened in India.

      Salim Ali’s Fruit Bat in southern Western Ghats is an Endangered species.

      Rhinolophus beddomei, an insect eating bat, is threatened.

      There are various examples. If you send me your email, I can forward a list of threatened bats from India to you.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Hi Kriya! Firstly, there are very few poisonous insects, thankfully.

      Some of the insects are venomous in their bites or stings, but mostly mildly poisonous to adults.

      One may be overreactive to the bites and have allergies which can cause a lot of discomfort, but mostly insect bites are rarely dangerous.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Srinivas, bat droppings are popularly known as guano. Yes, they are very rich in nutrients and in South east Asia and South America, bat guano is collected from caves and sold for a lot of money. They are good natural manure.

  • Avatar

    Hello Sanjay sir! I have a question: how can I as a ln ordinary person contribute to saving our species? Or at least NOT contribute to the extinction of them?

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Venkat, there are many ways you can contribute to saving wildlife.

      You can involve yourself in understanding the wildlife around you. Once you are familiar with the dailylife wildlife we live amidst, then you can start observing why they are getting threatened. You will realise how much you can do and get others around you to do to help them.

      You can also reach out to local conservation NGOs and individuals and join them in their ongoing projects as a volunteer and help.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Janav, bats have evolved from other mammals, not from dinosaurs. Mammals and dinosaurs evolved from reptiles and amphibians some 400 million years ago.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Suha, taxonomy, very simply, is the science of understanding the differences between species.

      It is an interesting subject. Our understanding of the natural world depends on some form of taxonomy, be it formal or informal.

      For example, one would differentiate between two different species of birds on the way they look, call, fly, eat, etc. All of this is nothing but taxonomy.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      There is this group of fish biologists/ecologists/taxonomists who are into describing new species of fish in India. They wanted to honour me for my work on conservation of species in South Asia, and so named this new species of fish found in river Wai in Maharashtra after me. They called it Pethia sanjaymoluri.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Venkat, in many ways — by overpopulating the Earth, humans have literally taken over the homes of many wildlife.

      By being materialistic, we have systematically extracted natural resources from forests and other wild habitats reducing the available space, home, food trees, habitats, etc. for wildlife.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Rithanya — yes, there is a solution. The power of knowledge! Once we all understand how having fewer kids or adopting kids can help save the planet from being overpopulated, we can make a difference. This of course takes time.

      I have so much to say, my mind is jamming my fingers 🙂

  • Avatar

    Can we “prevent” extinction by collecting DNAs of species? Of course it won’t prevent anything but we could potentially restore them in the future?

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Venkat — we should aim for preventing extinctions by our actions, not by collecting DNA. DNA technology is possible, but not yet. There are several other complications related to species and populations that DNA revival cannot resolve. Those are typically the problems of small populations as understood by the science of conservation biology. We can discuss this again on another day.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      India has more than 900 species of fish and according to the Red List more than 50% of them are threatened with extinction.

  • Avatar

    Akshay – is there any animal species in India that was nearly extinct but has come back due to conservation efforts?

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Akshay — The Pygmy Hog in Assam was almost extinct. Now there is a good conservation programme to help build its populations in a captive facility outside of Guwahati. The Pygmy Hogs are being reintroduced into Manas and other forests around Assam to bring them back to good numbers. Still a young project, but the prospects for the Pygmy hog are looking very good.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Pethia sanjaymoluri is not formally assessed for its extincion risk, but knowing something about its distribution and the threats to the river it is in, it is definitely threatened.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Mudskippers are amphibious fish. They live on land mostly although they are a group of fish. They breathe air through lungs. They are an excellent example of how evolution could have happened in the past when fish evolved into amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, mammals, birds …

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Akshita — fish are endangered due to the actions of humans — polluting the rivers, streams, lakes; deforestation; extracting sand for construction; quarrying; dumping waste (both solid and liquid) into water bodies; pesticide and insecticide run-off into waterbodies; abstraction or removal of water for urban, industrial, tourism and other purposes; damming; hydro-electric projects; deviation of water from rivers into canals; diversion for urban uses; etc, etc….

      And introducing exotic fishes like African catfish, Tilapia, Suckermouth fish, Piranha, etc. into the freshwaters. these compete with our wild native fish and kill them off. So be careful the next time you buy fish for your aquarium.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Mahaalakshmi — Obviously Pethia sanjaymoluri 😉 But seriously, I don’t have favourites. I like them all. Each group of fish has unique characters, looks, behaviours, etc. They are all equally GREAT!

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Exotics have come due to the aquarium trade, and due to the short-sighted policies of the fisheries department in the country that are responsible for releasing a lot of exotic fishes into our waters thereby killing off a lot of the native fish.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Mahaalakshmi — it’s named after me … isn’t that unique? 😄 Well, the fish is a kind of a barb. You can read all about it in the paper that describes it.

  • Avatar

    Quick question: roughly how many species of ants are native to India? Also could you provide actual names for ones we see every day?(mostly)

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Venkat — wo!, that’s a difficult question to answer. At least 600 known species of ants are native to India. We are yet to understand many of them since they have such a unique societal system sometimes different members of the same colony/species looking so different to have confused taxonomists into thinking they are different species.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Zoo Outreach Organization is a wildlife conservation, science and education organisation based in Coimbatore since 1987. It was established in 1985 by Ms. Sally Walker, an American, in Mysore.

      ZOO is involved in extinction risk assessments of species, building scientific knowledge on wildlife, field research (bats, primates, rodents, spiders, etc.), education and outreach, citizen science, publication of scientific journal and a popular magazine, training and capacity building of young biologists and anyone interested in conservation.

  • Avatar

    Sanjay sir, when I was trying to research on ants, I found quite a few “pest control” services. Was pretty sad about it. How major are their impacts? I’m trying to find ants while some people are eradicating them :<

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Pest control has had a huge negative impact on ants, termites and other insects. I remember seeing anthills and termite mounds more commonly about 30-40 years back than what we see today.

      Pest control also has had a huge negative impact on species dependent on ants, termites and other insects — such as insect bats, frogs and toads and dragonflies & damselflies. Pest control has effectively destroyed many habitats and species of crickets and cicadas too.

        • Sanjay Molur
          Sanjay Molur

          Unfortunately, pest control cant get rid of some of the more well adapted species like the common cockroach Periplanata americana, or disease carrying mosquitoes. These species are very hardy and have ways of adapting themselves to the effects of pesticides. Unfortunately, all other important species get affected and have literally vanished.

          You know what can keep cockroach population down? House geckos and garden lizards! So ensure you have plenty of them inside and outside your house.

          Do you know what can keep the disease causing mosquito populations down? Insect bats, frogs, toads, dragonflies, damselflies and geckos. Ensure you have enough biodiversity around your house.

            • Sanjay Molur
              Sanjay Molur

              Yes, but pesticides have effectively destroyed all these natural predators. One way you can help wildlife and conservation is by eliminating the use of pesticides in and around your houses, and encouraging daily-life wildlife to come back. We can talk more about this aspect some other time.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Yes Kriya, butterflies are threatened too. And unfortunately, humans again! Butterflies are dependent on certain food and host plants, usually of the family Asclepediaceae. This family with lots of plant species, however, are threatened by human exploitation, which means there are less and less plants for butterflies to feed on and lay their eggs on. So, habitat loss and the loss of plants of the family Aclepediaceae has resulted in many species of butterflies reducing in numbers.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Locusts are the American name for Grasshoppers. They have been recorded to grow in huge nubers and literally wipe out agricultural crops from the plains of America and Africa. Again, they have become pests because of human action in destroying the predators like birds and bats.

  • Avatar

    Also quick question: how many different varieties of solenopsis are in India? Agree they decreasing?

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      I do not have a ready answer for you regarding Solenopsis. Sorry buddy. By the way, I presume you are asking about red ants? Solenopsis is also the name of a group of plants.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      I have always had an interest in the natural world around me, even as a kid. I never liked domestic animals, but loved wildlife in and around my house in Bangalore. I used to spend a lot of time digging the ground with my bare hands to get out earthworms and see how they reacted to different kinds of soils.

      I was facinated by frogs. I used to love climbing trees and observe the flowers and fruits, pluck the fruits of champaka tree and chuck them on people walking on the roads — please don’t try that now.

      When I was in college, I used to go out with the person who used to supply frogs for dissection. I was curious to know where he collected frogs from. So, when I was in 11th standard, I started going out with him — he used to collect frogs (Indian bullfrogs) the size of a chicken. he use to collect them from waterbodies around Banglaore. By the time I complete my masters in zoology, 7 years later, he used to supply frogs the size of lollipops. He used to travel 40-50 kilometers outside of Bangalore to collect these small frogs (India nm bullfrogs). That instigated me into getting into conservation.

        • Sanjay Molur
          Sanjay Molur

          I don’t have favourites … Yes, i like frogs as much as I like any and every species. I work on a few of them like primates, frogs, tarantulas and aquatic plants.

  • Avatar

    🐼 Does a country (China) owning a species (Panda) 🐼 affect any conservation efforts? 🐼 I feel that these diplomatic things hinder conservation of 🐼 Pandas 🐼. I am sure it helped 🐼, but considering the limitations imposed by the Chinese government, it only feels otherwise. 🐼 Can 🐼 we 🐼 make 🐼 global? 🐼

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Karthikeyan — Every country has the responsibility of ensuring no species goes extinct. Pandas in China are doing much better now than they were 30 years back, thanks to international pressure and also some inventive Chinese conservation models for the species. However, China has a lot of other species that are threatened, but not taken care of, for example, the Hainan Gibbon.

      It’s not just China, but countries like India and most others that have the same issues but very little political will to conserve. It is up to the public to encourage local and collective action, build awareness and encourage governments to start thinking more about wildlife and conservation.

      • Avatar

        :0 I think people who say pandas are cute should actually make efforts to conserve them too! They might just become an old story after some years( I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen).

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      It’s an adaptation by one group of frogs, perhaps for some ecological reason. You can actually see through the insides of a glass frog. By the way, India has a species of glass snake, but it’s not transparent.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Rodents are simply fascinating creatures. More than 40% of mammals are rodents.

      They have a variety of lifestyles — from being burrowers to canopy dwellers; they live in tree holes or underground; they are the most important weed controllers; they help shape the landscape with their habits; they help in pollination and seed dispersal; they keep insect pests down to a minimum; they can be either rats and mice or squirrels and marmots; they have been surviving for the longest of times in mammal evolution …

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Hmmm … I can recommend what inspired me a lot towards conservation, although the main subject was not that.

      Comics — Asterix, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, Hulk, Superman, Spiderman, Tarzan, Korak, Phantom. All these helped me in their own ways.

      Enid Blyton’s books — The Faraway Tree and other related books worked wonders.

      Hardy Boys had some interesting takeaways.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Durrel’s books (38 in all!) are fantastic journey in wildlife storytelling in the most amazing and humorous style.

      Movies like Ape and Super Ape, Gods Must Be Crazy were fantastic.

      Desmond Morris’ books like The Naked Ape, The Human Animal and other fantastic books he wrote were a great inspiration.

    • Sanjay Molur
      Sanjay Molur

      Thanks everyone, for this extremely interactive and interesting session. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I look forward to hearing from you more. Thanks Karthik and gang! It was a pleasure, Aasif. Good night all.

      • Avatar

        Thank you so much Sanjay sir, @KarthikeyanKC , Aasif , and the rest of the mango team for this! Wonderful interaction with Sanjay sir! Again, thank you :). Hope to interact more in the future!

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