Adventure

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

Spring eventually comes to Montana and then eventually another and then yet another. This process has fascinated me since my youth and has again. From stark and sensory depraved explodes color, sight, sound, and smell. Things are flying, running, and calling. Dry brown leaves swirl in the sharp early wind. Life begins again. Dreams begin again. Wrote my piece last night and have been pruning my roses. I love roses. Canadian geese sail overhead. I think some tulips may bloom tomorrow. It is quiet here right now.
-John Eickert



I shall not forget my first elephant ride. Standing before such, a colossal docile beast is intimate and humbling. I ascended a shaky branch and fiber ladder to a small platform. The mahout directed me to my place near him on the howdah. The mahout was named Sah Urendar. Pronounce his name slowly and you will understand what the elephant must do to become domesticated. With a cry of “hut, hut, hut” from the mahout and more encouragement, the elephant was off and gliding through the Sal forest and down to the tall river grass. An elephant moves in great rolling strides and rapidly covers even the most uneven ground. No SUV would dare to attempt this same terrain. Soon I was in rhythm and silently we crept through the forest. Spotting wild game from this perch, high above was easy and safe. I had hoped to see a tiger, but instead came away with an amazing encounter. We happened upon a lone bull elephant and he did not appreciate our company. Practicing great skill and control my mahout backed our elephant away from the danger. The tension was enormous and our elephant wanted to bolt through the grass, such an adventure! It takes great skill to train, discipline, and command any animal. How more so the world’s largest land mammal!


India has many great game parks. If I were to experience a “first” elephant safari and encounter the living fiction of Kipling, where would I go? Far from anywhere, in the foothills of the Himal and the border with Bhutan is a seldom-visited wildlife sanctuary named, Manas. Manas is in the northeastern hill state of Assam. You can use your rail pass to get near here; a city named Nalbari is your jumping off point and place to arrange for the approach to the Manas by boat. Manas is a World Heritage Site and part of Project Tiger. Above the river, the hills carry scattered patches of simul, khoir, udal, bohera, and kanchan trees, which give way to evergreens. Once out of your boat and onto your elephant a multiday safari is possible with perhaps three or more hours of riding each morning. These remote hills have an array of wildlife with wild buffalo, swamp deer, hog deer, sambar, rhino, and elephant seasonally common. If you are lucky and patient, there are slow lorries, capped and golden langur high overhead. Crouching in the bushes far below your howdah could be a pygmy hog or hispid hare who might be hunted by tiger, leopard, or maybe even the rare clouded leopard. During migration, there are flocks of redstarts, forktails, mergansers, and ruddy shelducks, watch along the Manas River for otters.
An elephant safari is not to be missed. I cannot put it more simply. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place, remote and wonderful. Take along your favorite Kipling and let me know, I might join you. As always, be sure to take the time and take your time.

Contributed by John H.Eickert

Num Bum Adventures or call 406-777-2228.

Amazing Facts About Wildlife

A father who becomes pregnant!


By Prashant Mahajan, CEC, BNHS, Mumbai

With its armoured body, head like a horse, tail like a monkey, eyes like chameleon and a pouch like a kangaroo, the bizarre seahorse (Hippocampus) is unique among fishes. The head is set at right angles to the body, which is completely enclosed by cruciform, interlocking plates, whose edge often have spines or rounded knobs, quite unlike the scales of other fishes. The seahorse swims upright, propelled by a wavering dorsal fin. The small pectoral fins help to steer the animal as it glides along. There are no pelvic or tail fins at all. But there is a tail-tapering and prehensile (grasping), able to grip seaweed or twigs as the seahorse watches for food.

The seahorse hunts mainly by sight, sucking tiny water creatures such as baby fishes and shell fishes into its tubular mouth. Its eyes turn independently to view two scenes at once-one eye searching for food, perhaps, while the other checks out a possible predator. The seahorse can remain still for long periods, secures by its prehensile tail and well camouflaged among weeds or corals. The seahorse grows to 12 or 15 cm long.

The strangest feature of these creatures is that it is the father, which gives birth to the babies and not the mother! As the breeding season approaches the male seahorse’s pouch, the front of his lower abdomen, becomes swollen and ready to receive eggs. The female lays up to 200 eggs in the pouch, through her long egg-laying tube (ovipositor). About two to six weeks later the young develop inside the pouch and are ejected as tiny replicas of the parents.

Seahorses are common in the costal waters of India and are usually found among marine weeds and submerged rocks where they obtain their food.


Note:
Many seahorses are listed as threatened according to international or national criteria. Seahorse trade is now largely unregulated, but all 32 species were recently provided protections under CITES(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). As of May 2004, trade will be controlled through a system of permits to ensure that it is sustainable and legal.
In 2002, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists one species of seahorse as Endangered, 20 species as Vulnerable and the remaining 11 species as Data Deficient.
( data from WWF )

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Right Answers to Reptiles

This month 3 users suhaskum@sancharnet.in, haje_n@yahoo.com and donna_b37@rediffmail.com have given all right answers

Right Answer to Quiz on Reptiles

1.This snake is found only in Asia. Its venom is a powerful neurotoxin that causes respiratory failure.
  • Viper
  • Krait
  • Cobra

  • 2.Russels Viper, found in Asia and China ..............
  • has a hemotoxic venom
  • is not venomous
  • has a neurotoxic venom

  • 3.Which is the largest venomous snake in the world ?
  • Anaconda
  • Rattlesnake
  • King Cobra

  • 4."Ophiphagus"; ie, they eat only snakes is a term used for
  • King Cobra
  • Python
  • Boa costrictor

  • 5.The largest, most conspicuous lizards, of India is called
  • Gecko
  • Water monitor
  • Comodo Dragon

  • 6.The only snake to make a nest to lay eggs is,
  • Rat snake
  • Rattle snake
  • King Cobra

  • 7.Why is the term cold blooded not very appropriate for reptiles?
  • The metabolism of reptiles can generate internal heat for temperature control
  • Reptiles swallow large prey whole to provide enough food to generate body heat
  • Reptiles do regulate body temperature by using behavioural adaptations

  • 8.This species of crocodile feed exclusively on fish.
  • Muggers
  • Gharial
  • Salt Water crocodile

  • 9.This snake is endangered and near threatened (IUCN)
  • Indian Python
  • Krait
  • Common Cobra

  • 10.Name the snake that has vestigal hindlegs
  • Watersnake
  • Mangrove snake
  • Boa constrictor

  • Please try our quiz for the current month on Coral Reefs

    Endangered

    Sarus Crane

    By Dr. Susan Sharma

    Schedule I, Part III of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 lists rare and endangered birds which are totally protected throughout the country, live or dead or part thereof. They include Andaman Teal, Assam Bamboo Partridge, Bazas, Bengal Florican, Blacknecked Crane, Blood Pheasants, , Eastern White Stork, Forest spotted owlet, Jerdon's Courser, Cheer Pheasant, Great Pied Hornbill, Hawks, Great Indian Bustard, Hooded Crane, Hornbills, Houbara Bustard, Humes Bartailed Pheasant, Indian Pied Hornbill, Lammergeier, Large Falcons, Large Whistling Teal, Monal pheasant, Mountain Quail, Narcondam Hornbill, Nicobar Megapode, Nicobar Pigeon, Osprey, Peacock-Pheasant, Peafowl or Indian Peafowl, Pinkheaded Duck, Scalter's Monal Pheasant, Siberian White Crane, Tibetan Snowcock, Tragopan-Pheasant, Whitebellied Sea Eagle, White-eared Pheasant, White Spoonbill, and Whitewinged Wood Duck.

    The Sarus Crane ( Grus a.antigone)

    The sarus crane is an endangered species found largely in the Indian wetland habitats. The Wildlife Institute of India conducted a study in 1998, on the impact of land use changes on the habitat and ecology of the Indian Sarus Crane. The Project documented at least 20 nesting sites of Sarus cranes along the irrigation canal system created wetlands and agricultural land in and around Kota ( Rajasthan) city. It was found that high proportions of these unprotected nests were destroyed by village urchins. A series of awareness campaigns were conducted during 1998-2002 to make the villagers aware of the plight of the Sarus crane. The Indian Bird Conservation Network and Wildlife Trust of India jointly helped create the "Rural Village Sarus Protection Group" with full support from local NGOs.

    Members Speak

    Member's Letter


    Quiz on large mammals

    From suhaskum@sancharnet.in


    Some points regarding your last quiz answers:

    1. Gorillas are the largest primate, ranging in size from 150cm for females
    and 185 for males. They are highly dimorphic with females weighing 70-114 kg and
    males averaging 160kg. They have robust bodies, long muscular arms, short legs,
    massive heads, and males have large sharp canine teeth. Mountain gorillas differ
    from other gorillas in having longer hair, larger jaws and teeth, smaller nose,
    and shorter arms.

    2. Gangetic dolphins do have dorsal fin, though not very prominent and according
    to my understanding the real peculiarity about them is their pin hole eyes. They
    were earlier considered totally blind but now some scientist believe that they
    use their diminished sight for finding direction( Lal Mohan, Assam)

    Please elaborate further if you think that the answer given on wildlife club web
    site are correct.

    Suhas

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From Simon Evans" <s.h.evans@anglia.ac.uk>

    Pro - poor tourism research


    I am currently head of tourism studies at Anglia University in England. My research specialisms are ecotourism and wildlife conservation. I am currently embarking upon a research project considering the validity of pro-poor ecotourism development as a potential tool for wildlife conservation. I am contacting you in the hope that you may be able to offer any comments or advice to me at the research design stage. At this point I am particularly interested in the problems encountered within the Indian protected area system and the role of tourism in contributing (or otherwise) to wildlife conservation.
    I would be most grateful for any views or advice you may be able to offer and will keep you in touch with the findings of the research. Thank you for your help in this matter.
    Kind Regards

    Simon Evans

    News and Views

    News & Views

    News………..

    The biggest strength of an online club is its ability to network people far and wide and fast. We are adding members on a daily basis without any kind of advertising online or offline. But networking by itself is not the objective of the Club. The idea is to bring together people who share a love for nature & wildlife and then interact with each other and take up activities to spread awareness about the need for conservation. While our interactive features online are fairly successful ( the quiz, contest, online chat etc.) our offline activities are not picking up as they should. This is possible only if local chapters come up with innovative activities and programs.

    IWC Ghana members!!

    Here is some good news for you. Isaac Churcher from Ghana has written saying he would like to mobilize members from Ghana and create an active team. He has sent in his picture and a small introduction. I am publishing them in the ezine with a request that members from Ghana get in touch with him through email or otherwise and start planning activities. Getting in touch is a two way process; hence I am making available the registration particulars of Ghana members till date to Isaac. He will also try to get in touch with you. Best of luck to the core group of Ghana and hope they make a wonderful group!

    NAME : ISAAC CHURCHER
    DATE OF BIRTH : 21ST AUGUST, 1971
    PLACE OF BIRTH: CAPE COAST ( CENTRAL REGION)
    OCCUPATION : TEACHER
    MARITAL STATUS : MARRIED
    WHERE I STAY: KUMASI ( ASHANTI REGION )

     

    Chandigarh

    Roopam Dhawan is among the first few members who registered on IWC.com. He is now an active volunteer for the anti toosh campaign of Wildlife Trust of India. Here is an interesting piece posted by him in yahoo club.

    Conversation with a Kashmiri shawl seller

    Roopam(Arranged meeting between shawl sellers and friends who posed
    as customers)

    Neelakshi(posing as customer)

    Rajeev(Resident Editor of a national newspaper posing as Neelakshi's
    relative)

    Haji(the Kashmiri shawl seller)

    Haji's nephew(the Kashmiri shawl seller who deals in Shatoosh)

    Location: A dingy rented accomodation in Chandigarh where a group
    of Kashmiris live.

    Time: 11th March, 2003 12PM (that's the time of the year when shawl
    sellers call it a season and head back to Kashmir)


    Roopam(switches on the hidden camera), Neelakshi and Rajeev enter the
    house where the Kashmiris live.

    Roopam: I'm here to meet Haji.

    A Young Kashmiri: He will be here soon. Please sit.
    (The room lacks any furniture. A 14" TV is playing loudly. A bedsheet
    is laid on the floor. We remove our shoes and sit down)

    Neelakshi(after sometime to the kashmiri): Can you turn down the
    volume of the TV(having handycam in her mind. The Kashmiri obliges)
    After some time, Haji arrives with his nephew. After greeting, his
    nephew proceeds to show his wares.

    Roopam: This is what material?

    Haji's Nephew: Pure Pashmini.

    Roopam: What's the cost?

    Haji's Nephew: 10500 only.

    Roopam: We want Shatoosh.

    Haji's Nephew(brings out a shawl from a bundle): See this.

    Roopam: Is this toosh?

    Haji's Nephew: Pure toosh.

    Neelakshi: What's the cost?

    Haji's Nephew: 30000 only.
    (The shawl is brown coloured. One can see the hard guard hair here
    and there)

    Neelakshi: This is very soft. Can it pass through a ring?

    Haji(looking towards Roopam): Try with your ring.

    Roopam(takes out a ring from his index finger and hands it to
    Neelakshi): Here.
    (Neelakshi takes the ring and passes the shawl through the ring. It
    passes easily)

    Haji: A pure Pashmina will also pass through a ring.

    Roopam: Then how do you distinguish between a pashmina and a toosh
    shawl?

    Haji's Nephew(after a pause): We have been into this for so many
    years. We just know.

    Neelakshi: Show us more toosh.

    Haji's nephew: I only have one right now. I have sold the rest.

    Roopam(looking towards haji): But you said you will show us a few
    shawls!

    Haji's Nephew(as he leaves): I will just get a few from other
    Kashmiris from a nearby house.
    (After a few minutes, he returns with three few shawls.

    Haji's Nephew: See this(as he shows a very light coloured shawl)

    Roopam: How much is this for?

    Haji's Nephew: This is a very good quality shawl. This is for 52000.

    Neelakshi: But you said the earlier shawl was also pure toosh. Then
    why is the colour and price different?

    Haji's Nephew: Both are pure. Out of a given material if 20 brown
    shawls are made then out of the same material, only one cream
    coloured shawl is made.

    Roopam: Why do you have so few shawls? Don't these shawls sell?

    Haji's Nephew: No, these are in great demand here. But you know,
    these are banned.

    Roopam: Banned. Why?

    Haji's Nephew: It is like this, that the animal they are made from,
    has reduced a bit in number. That's why.

    Rajeev(who had been a mute spectator so far): Then how do you bring
    these here?

    Haji's Nephew: We have to be very cautious. That's why these are few
    in number. We mix one shawl in a bundle of Pashmina shawls.

    Roopam: But is it safe for us to buy this. If police catches us?

    Haji's Nephew: No, No, No. It's absolutely safe. If anybody catches
    you, just say you are unaware or say that this is 15 year old shawl
    given to you by your parents. That's it.

    Neelakshi: What's your address in Srinagar?

    Haji: We are from Anantnag. You can contact us here only.

    Neelakshi: OK, we will let you know shortly as my mother is not here
    and I want to consult her.

    Haji: Make it quick as we will go back to Anantnag in a couple of
    days or so.

    Roopam: Sure.
    And, we move out.

    (A report on this was published in Financial World dated March 26, 2003.)

    Poem

    Story of a tree

    Wandering through the Woods, Once,
    I thought I should rest some !

    There I sat beneath huge tree,
    That grip the branches and leaves so many !

    I, then raised my head a bit high,
    To see the carpet of clouds in sky !

    The winter breeze blowing was fresh and fine,
    On which little birds chirped jingling rhymes !

    Suddenly, from the tree, something flew,
    Of which I had not, a single clue !

    It was not one, neither two, nor three,
    Soon I realized, they were so many !

    I wondered what it just might be?
    If they were not birds and butterflies any !

    I followed one without any sound,
    Till it came down to meet on the ground !

    To touch and feel, I went a little closer,
    To my surprise, it was lighter than the feather !

    It was a tiny little seed you see,
    That had just parted from its parent tree !

    Witnessing the incident, I asked myself, "Why did it happen?"
    Well, since nobody to answer, I said, "I must find the reason!"

    Pondering for a little while, I drew some conclusions !
    and appreciated the plants for having a broad vision !

    Maybe, they know, their young ones will, probably never grow,
    If they are allowed to live beneath their own shadow !


    So they make these young ones fly,
    Away from them to grow and survive !

    Giving a look at the seed, I thought about its basic needs,
    "How will it live and who will feed?"

    Maybe that's how they learn to grow,
    With nobody to pamper and caress their flaw !

    Now I had no more questions,
    Cause, I knew the fact and not fiction !

    I then kept the seed back on the ground,
    To let it grow like the trees around !

    When it will grow tall and become a handsome tree,
    Someday, somebody will stop there,
    To take a shelter just like me !

    Composed by Priti Sawant
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