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Eavesdropping on the forests of India with Project Dhvani

~ by Mansi Monga 

Project Dhvani takes you into the world of forests like never before. In 2018, NCCI members – Pooja Choksi, Sarika Khanwilkar and Vijay Ramesh began their journey of collecting data in the form of sounds (bioacoustics) for wildlife & forest management or as they like to call it ‘a mixtape from the forests of India’. These are used to detect biodiversity, and understand the relationship between biodiversity, land use cover and resource management.

The word ‘Dhvani’ comes from Sanskrit and means ‘Sound’, and sound is the essence of their project, becoming evident as we go on. Using sound as scientific data for conservation efforts is as unique and intriguing as it sounds, and “opens a new window into the future of forests in India”.


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Communication is key for all species animal or human, and all of us find ways to communicate with each other. In forests, however, you discover the most extraordinary ways of communication. Project Dhvani found a way to eavesdrop on a host of vocalising species just as one does with a camera trap for capturing visuals. They deploy acoustic recorders in the forest to record all frequencies between 0 to 24000 Hz. This includes vocalising species,  even the ones inaudible to humans. To understand vocalising biodiversity in human-dominated and protected landscapes across India. They contribute to India’s conservation efforts by providing data insights by studying the sound of animals and places. Who goes quiet in more degraded habitats? Who continues to call?

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They sample bioacoustics across human forest uses (timber, fruit tree plantations and more) in habitat gradients from protected areas to human-dominated areas. Bioacoustics can track the differences in faunal diversity in response to vegetative composition, anthropogenic use and landscape management. Understanding how these vocalising biodiversity measures vary across human use gradients enables managers to promote biodiversity-friendly land uses alongside human needs. Not only does collecting acoustics help conservationists with identification and monitoring species of concern in a forest, but also helps to detect incidents of poaching and illegal activities. Thereby contributing to wildlife protection that allows for more efficient enforcement.

The project has sites across Central India and Western Ghats

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Project Dhvani generously invites everyone to join them to explore the sounds of forests through their interactive maps. Their interactive maps allow you to explore the biodiversity of India’s forests like never before, by simply clicking on the locations of each sound recorder and listening to the sounds of our country’s forests leaving no species behind. Experience the sounds of thunderstorms, loud calls of the Sambar & Langur in the forest because of a big cat around and the ubiquitous sound of cowbells as a backdrop to the landscapes in central India.  Know more about the team that bring you Project Dhvani! Visit the website

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