Amazing Facts About Wildlife

Live Predation by Tiger

Live Predation by Tiger

(Courtesy  http://www.kanhatigerreserve.com/)    

Photograph taken byShriVikram Singh Parihar, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Kanha Tiger Reserve  

The tiger is a very secretive animal. More so while at predation. Its a very rare occasion that you might get to see predation by a tiger, that too of a large mammal like the gaur (Bos gaurus - Indian Bison).

On 7th March 2001, when Shri Vikram Singh Parihar, Assistant Conservator of Forests, got a wireless message that a tiger had attacked a gaur herd, he lost no time and immediately set out on elephant back to the spot 6 kilometres away from his field HQ. It was a normal sunny day with a clear sky, and the time was 8.20 a.m. when he reached this clearing at Andhiari Jhap in the Mukki range. Except for a few shadows from the woods, the view was wide and clear. What he saw was an unusual sight.

The tiger started devouring the live prey.

The field staff who had relayed the message told him that this tiger seemed quite hungry to have attacked the gaur herd. Because of the prey's size and the movement in group, the tiger attacked one of them from behind and ham-stringed it. The gaur fell down and could not run. There was no way it could fight back. Although the other members of the herd tried to help him by attacking the tiger in return. And a couple of them even tried to lift the incapacitated animal. But the tiger seemed so hungry that it started eating the prey from the rump, even while it kept bellowing and its companions looked on helplessly from the fringe of the clearing   

Such devouring of live prey was till now only seen in the case of wild dogs that hunt in packs; their hunting method is different though. The members of the pack take turns to tire out the prey all the time snapping at and biting it. Finally when the poor animal cannot run any more, the pack fell the prey, disembowel it and start feasting even while the hapless chap is writhing in the last throes of life.

On the contrary, the tiger hunts singly and strategically. And since the injury of the gaur in such a case is not sufficient for it to die instantaneously, the tiger starts eating it from the hind portion. The large mass of a prey like gaur would eventually be eaten over in 4 to 6 days, not only by the tiger but by other denizens of the habitat like jackal, wild boar, vultures etc., of course in the absence of the master predator. Gaur kills by tiger have been found many times but none at so early a stage as this one.  Shri. Parihar can be contacted at

Shri Vikram Singh Parihar,
Assistant Conservator of Forests, Kanha Tiger Reserve
Mandla, MP 481661, INDIA
Email: fd@kanhatigerreserve.com

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Correct Answers to quiz on trees

No one sent in all correct answers to the tree quiz.

1. A tree brings down the temperature of a place by losing water through transpiration. The temperature loss is upto
O 2 Degree c O 4 Degree c O 10 Degree c
2. Burning forests let off
O CO 2 O Methane O CFC
3. If one hectare of land is left without green cover, the amount of fertile top soil taken away by the wind and water every year is
O 5 kg O 20 kg O 24 kg
4. When in flower, this tree is either entirely leafless or left with some leaves on lower branches. A red coloured gum exudes from the tree which is largely used in medicine and in tanning & dyeing. The leaves serve as plates. What is this tree?
O Flame of the Forest O Indian Coral Tree O The Pagoda Tree
5. The bark of this tree is covered with sharp, conical prickles which disappear with increasing age. The fleshy petals of the flowers are eaten by birds & squirrels. The fruits ripen and open while still on the tree. What is this tree?
O Bhendi Tree O Silk Cotton Tree O Java Cassia
6. The flowers of this tree are streaming clusters of bright yellow blossoms which hang from its branches. What is this tree?
O Queen of Flowers O Jacaranda O The Indian Laburnum
7. The leaves of this tree resemble the imprint of a camel's foot; being joined together in the middle each leaf looks like one of Siamese twins. In fact the Latin name for the tree was given by two 16th Century German botanists who were identical twins. Theses trees grow all over India.
O Semul O Gulmohar O Bauhinias
8. A tropical evergreen, related to mahogany. Has potential in the fields of pest management, environmental protection & medicine.
O Neem O Teak O Peepul
9. Nature was left untouched by humans at various spots that dot India's countryside. These sites owe their existence to
O Forest Laws O NGOs working for tree conservation O Sacred Groves
10. The Government of India's Wildlife Conservation Program comprise just over ---------% of India's land surface.
O 2% O 15 % O 5%

Please attempt this month quiz on 'Parks Sanctuaries of India'

Did You Know ?

Did You Know?

DID YOU KNOW?

(Collected from Limca Book of Records by Prashant Mahajan, CEC, BNHS)
  • State with most forest area: Madhya Pradesh has 1,55,414 sq.km of forest land
  • State with least forest area: Goa has less than 1,053 sq.km. under forest.
  • State with maximum per capita forest area of 8.15 hectares.
  • Union Territory with highest percentage of forest area: Andaman and Nicobar Islands have the highest percentage of forest area to geographical area.
  • Union Territory with the minimum per capita forests area: The Union Territory of Delhi has the minimum per capita forest area of just 0.0006 hectares.
  • Thickest forests: The thickest forests in the country are the Miao forest in the Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh and the Jirkantang and Kolamtala forests in the South Andamans.


    Why save threatened species?
    (parveen khan" )

    Some people ask "Why save threatened species? What makes a relatively few animals and plants so special that a great deal of effort and money should be expended to preserve them?"

    Many times Indian Parliament addressed these questions, and our government states that endangered and threatened species of birds, mammals and other biodiversity are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people. This statement summarize a number of convincing arguments advanced by scientists, conservationists, and others who are greatly concerned by the disappearance of wildlife.

    From scientific observation, we know that each species occupies a special niche, playing a unique role in its ecosystem. Loss of one species can produce a chain reaction affecting all the other organisms which the species feeds on, those which prey on it, or with which it interacts in other ways.

    The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has for over a century pioneered efforts to conserve India's natural wealth. Today it is the largest NGO in the Indian sub-continent engaged in the conservation of nature and natural resources, education and research in natural history, with members in over 30 countries.

    One of the primary ways in which we raise resources for our projects to save threatened and common species is by marketing greeting cards, wall and desk calendar, to the corporate sector and Educational Institutes. We also produce customized calendars for our clients. We have made special calendars and cards for many agencies such as Colorchem, Goodlass Nerolac, Corporation Bank, SBI, IDBI, Blue Star etc.

    You can make vital difference to save the threatened and common which are becoming uncommon such as Vultures by supporting the BNHS. You can do this by using our environment friendly cards/calendars and other products.

    This is the time to book calendars/cards on a special price.

    Contact me on the following address:
    Ms. Parveen Z. Khan
    Marketing Executive
    Marketing and Products Department

    Bombay Natural History Society
    Hornbill House
    Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road
    Mumbai-400 023, INDIA

    Fax: +91-22-2837615
    Tel: +91-2025481/82
    E-mail: parveen_kh@rediffmail.com
    bnhs@bom4.vsnl.net.in


  • News and Views

    News....

    News…….

    A scanned news item from 'Asian Age' which reported on the wildlife photography exhibition.

    " How many colours are there on a peacock" ?  " Why did the mongoose not attack the snake"? These were some of the many questions raised by the young children who were taking part in 'Akshara' theatre's summer camp in the capital.  The children were reacting after a screening of 'Sarang- The Peacock' .  Ms Jalabala Vaidya, noted theatre artist and Dr.Susan Sharma, producer of the film responded to the questions and clarifications from the youngsters.

    Cathay Pacific Environmental Education Program  for 2002 announced the winners for this year- Samira Sukhija and Tanmay Kale from Mumbai and Devangana Jha and Shilpa Ruby Simon from Delhi.  IWC.com was associated  with the program in Delhi.  An exclusive online chat for the winners and Cathay officials was organized on the website in June 2002.

    Views…….

    " We have been through all Northeastern states ( of India ) and to us the best place in terms of environment seemed Arunachal Pradesh. Tripura was fine in terms of environmental plans such as long term teak wood plantations, reforestation etc. Nagaland is almost bald because of slash and burn, same with Mizoram where we mainly saw second hand growth. The hills of Manipur to us seemed to be in a better state, same with some areas of Meghalaya (especially south). Garo hills seemed to be in quite a good state.

    Regarding fauna we had the best experiences in Tirap district of Arunachal where we could hear herds of hoolocks during the day and lizards at night. Also experiencing the changes of atmosphere on an evening in the jungles of Siang (Arunachal Pradesh) was most impressive. West Kameng rainforest (especially in an area called "The Fog hole" was very very beautiful and appeared quite untouched. The high altitudes of Tawang / Bhutan border seemed to be intact as well. Kaziranga of course is nice and the people are doing great work there. We haven´t made it to Namdapha, but to Keibul Lamjao in Manipur. It seemed huge but not very populated to us - but that impression could be wrong. We were very much impressed by the prevalence of the habit of still hanging animal skulls on people´s houses - especially in Mizoram and the Naga territories. The problem with that is that people become more and animals become less - prestige remains and animals become extinct sooner.

    Of course all in all pollution seems less in the Northeast than in Indian metropolises such as Delhi or Calcutta. The Northeast in general has the potential of being an exceptional terrain, if environmental issues may be heeded intensely and deforestation gets banned by carefully introducing other cultivation methods such as terracing to the people. But then again all these developmental aspects are so complicated that surely we are not the right people to discuss them invaluably.

    I hope this little excursion nevertheless was a bit helpful to you."

    Dr. A. Stirn

    Dr.Stirn@t-online.de (peter.van.ham)

    "India's GNP per capita goes up when a chicken is born, but goes down when a child is born.  Why? Because we place a value only on items of consumption, which a chicken is and a child is not"

    -Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar in 'Swaminomics'.

    ( Compiled by Susan Sharma  )

    Understand The Animals

    Wild Yak

    WILD YAK  - 

    Scientific Name: Bos grunniens

    Photo Brent Huffman

    Status and Trends

    IUCN Categories

    1960's: Endangered

    1970's: Endangered

    1980's: Endangered

    1994: Endangered

    1996: Vulnerable;

    2000: Vulnerable; (Population Trend: Decreasing)

    Population Estimates:

    [Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

    WORLD

    1995: A preliminary estimate of around 15,000 (Schaller 1998) 

    Countries Where It Is Currently Found:

    2000: Occurs in China and India. May be extinct in Nepal. (IUCN 2000)

    Distribution:

    The wild yak was once numerous and widespread on the entire Tibetan plateau north of the Himalayas, in central China, India (Ladakh), Bhutan and Nepal. By around 1970 it was thought to occur only in remote areas, mainly in the northern and especially the northeastern parts of Tibet above 4000 m (13,000'), with a few animals still existing in Sikkim. Currently it is found in remote areas of the Tibetan plateau and adjacent highlands, including Gansu Province, China, with a few having been observed in the Chang Chenmo Valley of Ladakh (eastern Kashmir, India). Wild yak distribution is highly clumped, with most animals in widely scattered herds, concentrated in the areas with little disturbance by humans. For the most part, the wild yak's eastern limit now lies at the transition zone between alpine meadow in the east and alpine steppe in the west. From here its range extends westward through southwestern Qinghai Province, China. The western limit of the wild yak's distribution lies between the Karakoram and Kunlun Ranges in an area known as the Aksai Chin. (Oakland Zoo, Schaller 1998)

    Threats/Reasons for Decline:

    Pic. Of domestic yak by Saurav Ghosh

    Uncontrolled hunting is the main reason for the wild yak's decline. Its range has been reduced by more than half during this century. Poaching remains the main current threat. The wild yak has lost most of the best alpine meadow and steppe habitat to pastoralists. Problems are also caused by habitat disturbance, hybridization and competition with domestic yaks, and disease transmitted by domestic yaks.

    Facts about wild yak

    • The wild yak grazes on grasses, herbs and lichens.
    • It survives the long winter months by eating very poor, coarse grass and withered leaves and twigs, quenching its thirst with snow and ice.
    • The yak was probably domesticated in Tibet during the first millennium B.C., and domesticated animals now occur throughout the high plateaus and mountains of Central Asia, in association with people. Yaks found in zoos are usually of the domesticated variety, which is smaller than the wild yak. There are now more than 12 million domestic yaks in the highlands of Central Asia.
    • The wild yak is supremely well adapted to the harsh highlands with its thick coat, great lung capacity, and ability to clamber nimbly over rough terrain. Even its blood cells are designed for high elevations - they are about half the size of those of cattle and are at least three times more numerous, thus increasing its blood’s capacity to carry oxygen. Its thick coat and low number of sweat glands are also efficient adaptations for conserving heat. (Schaller 1998)
    • In winter the yak survives temperatures as low as - 40 deg C (- 40 deg F).
    • Wild yak herds travel on snow in single file, carefully stepping on footprints left by the lead yak.

    Zoo

    Rhino Bride Hunt

    Toby Ninan retired from Delhi Zoo about two years back. With his varied experiences with the wild animals in the zoo, he is the right person to direct your queries to. Hear what Ninan has to say about his life and chosen career!

    Finding suitable partners for our charges is a full time job and fraught with many dangers of very different kinds.
    After locating the bride or the groom - somehow it is usually the bride that needs locating - preparations go on in full swing to bring her home. Introducing her to the Prince Charming requires all the animal behaviour skills one has acquired over the years. All these are jobs which entail a few headaches and very many sweet memories.

    It was the Rhino' MOHAN' this time and though he had this huge 4 acre wooded estate with a private mud wallow all to himself, there had to be the LOE (Lady of the Estate) to make things really complete!

    The result of a large number of letters, a bit of wining, dining and some flattery, resulted in ' Rongi ' the female rhino being promised for us .We, Hari Ram ( Zoo keeper) and myself, finally reached Kaziranga Sanctuary and were comfortably ensconced in a small guest house. Soon we went to see this lady who had blotches of pink on her flanks and back, which gave her the name Rongi or the coloured one. Certainly she was one who had a highly coloured spirit too and had nearly made up her mind not to leave the stockade in which she was housed to go to the great city of New Delhi.

    A few days of starvation coupled with the temptation of luscious green grass in her traveling box, the bottom of which was plastered with her own dung, finally made her change her mind. After four sleepless nights Hari Ram came banging at my door to tell me that she was trapped in her crate with the sliding door rope stays cut down to block her re-entry to the stockade. Although the green grass was fading and not very fresh, we could feed her well. After making sure that she had plenty of water to drink, and attending to a few of the wounds she got during the struggles, we finally retired for the night.

    The next day was another exciting day which involved haggling over the fare to Gauhati by truck and getting two elephants to lift Rongi- crate and all -into the truck. By night fall I was asleep on top of the driver's cabin, Hari Ram had made himself comfortable with the driver and we were on our way to Gauhati. The next day morning saw us loading this precious cargo right into the centre of what railways call a postal van or an eight wheeler bogie. The loading entailed a crane and dozens of labourers armed with crow bars. The crate had to slide from one end to the middle of the long van. It could and would get blocked at different points where it would have to be eased out by man power only. We had to make sure that it was loaded at the dead centre otherwise we could have had a derailed train which was not what anyone wanted!

    The van was finally hooked on to an express train and which was ready to leave from the main platform. To add to my troubles a "babu"came charging down to our bogie to tell us that his calculations were wrong and we would have to pay nearly double the fare we had already paid. If this money was not paid it would be recovered from his pay and all the moneys he would get from the rest of his tenure would go to the Railways. I consoled him and told him though I did not have the money then I would pay as soon as I reach Delhi and would make sure that he and his family would not starve.

    We used to cook our food a mixture of boiled rice ,vegetables and pulses. We gave the same sort of mixture of cooked rice, pulses, jaggery, salt and oil to Rongi - all of 10 kg per day. This gooey mixture was supplemented by 15-20 kgs of cabbage, lettuce, or any vegetable green or otherwise that we could lay our hands on..

    At nearly every station, railway staff connected our bogie with a running water hose with which we could cool down Rongi who would bang the roof of her crate with her horn to say that she was hot or hungry or both. We also had a big drum which held plenty of water in case there was some "cooling" problem! It was also a source for our bath and I am sure that some co- passengers would have stories of a half clad man having a bath next to a caged rhino.

    Staff at most stations were very cooperative except once when I went to meet a fellow curator. When I returned, the bogie, the rhino, and the keeper had disappeared! The bogie had got attached to some train heading back to Gauhati.This certainly gave me a minor heart attack but my prayers saved the day and after passing through a few stations the bogie was found to have been wrongly "marshalled" .

    I didn't understand what that meant ! But then the Railways got moving and soon I was in a taxi headed to the station where the bogie was stalled. I re-boarded it vowing never to get off till we reach Delhi. The journey which would take only two days took us nearly a week as the metre guage bogie would have to travel through West Bengal, Bihar, U.P., Rajasthan and finally ended up at Sarai Rohilla station in Delhi.

    It was indeed a great relief to see those big muscled men, their bullockcarts and block and tackles at Sarai Rohilla station. They gently took Rongi, crate, water drum, cooking vessels and all off the train and brought these to the Zoo. We could now release Rongi into the beautiful enclosure which she would now share with Mohan. They were housed for the next few days in adjacent enclosures, where they could see and smell each other.

    We were waiting for the day when Rongi would come into heat and Mohan could start a family. Soon Rongi was in full heat and early morning all the zoo staff surrounded the open enclosure with crackers , tins and any noise making contraptions. Both animals were left out and they banged into each other by their nasal horns like some giant battering rams and soon we had the male chasing madam round and round their wooded estate reminiscent of some Hindi film but on a gigantic level and to the music of shouting, banging tins and exploding crackers. As soon as Rongi was a little tired Mohan charged under her belly and threw Rongi up in the air some three feet and bang she came down with a tremendous thud. This was the first time I had seen this behaviour though I knew it in theory. I was sweating and shivering in my shoes but I had to show that I was calm and passed on a few orders to yell and shout when things got too rough.

    Finally after a few 'throwings' which the old girl was none the worse for, things calmed down and both animals retired into the cool watery depths of the moat and to the accompaniment of grunts and snorts, they mated. Though tired beings, all of us heaved sighs of relief - happy to wait sixteen long months for baby rhino's arrival.




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