'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity '
John H.Eickert

Born of the sacred lake, Mansarovar, our river of adventure this month is first known as the Yarlung Zangbo, “the Purifier,” or more commonly the Tsangpo. The Tsangpo flows across it’s own vast windswept plateau before bending south, rushing through a cut in the Himalayas to India. At the border, the river changes name and speed to become the Siang. Near the town of Pasighat, the Siang joins with several tributaries and then is formally known as the Brahmaputra. From Pasighat the river flows flat and quiet all the way to the Bay of Bengal, interestingly the Brahmaputra is the only major river of India whose name is a derivative of the male gender!

The wild stretch of river from Tuting on the Chinese border to Pasighat can be considered one of the world’s great rafting adventures. Access to the river at this point is via helicopter (!) and jungle trekking. If you are not familiar with leeches, you will be by the time you arrive at the river put in. If you are lucky, this area of India has large numbers of wild elephant, buffalo, one horned rhino, red panda, hog deer and the very seldom seen clouded leopard. Tiger tracks and tracks from the common leopard are normally sighted on the many sandbars. Mugger crocodiles are sometimes seen basking on those same sandbars. There is a lot of wildlife here, 500 species of bird including hornbills and cranes with exotics such as white winged duck, Sclater’s monal, Temmick’s tragopan, and the Bengal florican. There are also 500 varieties of orchid; sometimes the damp quiet morning area smells richly scented. Further down the river nearing Pasighat the fields can come alive with pheasants, there are more types (10) and numbers of pheasants here than anywhere else in India. I have an amazing tiger/pheasant story from here and hope to relate this terrifying tale in a later saga.

The river is very remote and contains many roaring rapids to class V. The people living in the villages seldom see outsiders and some will trek through the jungle for miles just to sight you! I can’t overstate how remote this area is. There are no roads in this area where China, Myanmar and India converge, just mile after mile of jungle. The villagers and farmers have many different languages and ethnic backgrounds with Adi and Bori being the most common. All worship the Donyi-Polo, the Sun-Moon, and the river because of its fierce nature. Not feeling well? The local Bori shaman might treat you using different species of tree frog! Access is difficult, be prepared both mentally and physically for your two-week journey down the Siang. November through April is the best time. The monsoon begins in April and travel at that time would be most unpleasant. A one-day float from Pasighat is available and one day of rafting here would be better than missing it all together. As always, take your time and take the time.

Contributed by John H.Eickert

Num Bum Adventures or call 406-777-2228.

Amazing Facts About Wildlife

Man bites dog, Frog bites snake!!

By Prashant Mahajan, CEC, BNHS, Mumbai

My office in Mumbai is surrounded by deciduous forest, which is a contiguous part of Borivli National Park. I am privileged to observe variety of wildlife from the window while working in the office. Summer is boom time especially when water scarcity brings wildlife closer to the waterhole created by us near the office. It was one of the summer evenings when I finished my day's work at about 7.30 p.m., started the scooter and switched on the headlight. While moving the scooter, I heard a leaping movement near the water tank constructed close to the office, which is known as Conservation Education Centre (CEC) of Bombay Natural History Society. This tank being a favorite drinking water source for wild animals during summer, I was curious to identify that moving object. When I turned the focus of scooter light towards the tank I observed a huge frog with a long, slender and moving object around it. My attempt to observe something in the pitch dark made CEC watchmen curious and they came out with their duty torch. I parked the scooter and had a close look with the help of torchlight. I was amazed to see a bullfrog, resident of CEC tank in total control of a young cat snake (about one foot long) . The mouth and tail of cat snake was free but the central portion was firmly gripped by the powerful jaws of bullfrog

The cat snake's desperate attempt to escape from the jaw only helped the frog tighten its grip. The desperate and awfully irritated cat snake turned back and revengefully attacked the frog's back. However, the "Bull" would not budge.

While observing this uncommon behavior where predator had fallen prey to its own prey and perhaps praying for life, I realised the mistake of not keeping a film role handy. But then nature freak friends in the close vicinity are always a boon. I called up Satish Amberkar, my friend and nature photographer, who resides just 10 minutes away from CEC. Well-equipped Satish landed within 15 minutes after the call and the photo session began, which lasted for about 10 minutes before the frog jumped in to the tank and settled in the bottom. Although water was turbid we were able to observe the drama with the torch beam. The frog was still holding the helpless cat snake in a tight grip and the snake was determined to escape. There was a long silence. 'Snake is perhaps counting its last breath' was Satish's reaction when we observed water bubbles which surfaced from the cat snake's mouth. After some time, the snake opened its jaw and attacked the frog with a 'do or die' spirit only to stimulate the frog's "bullish" instinct. Within a moment the bullfrog grabbed the cat snake with the help of fore limbs and gulped it. After a minute the bullfrog vanished under the leaf litter accumulated in the tank perhaps for a good night's sleep. It was 8.45 p.m.

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Right Answers to `Elephants-Part III`

Last month no one has given all right answers, only has given 8 right answers

Quiz on elephants: Correct answer is shown in bold letters.

1. The word 'elephant' is derived from the Greek word 'elephas' which means....

• huge ivory • trunk

2. Which of the following does an elephant NOT use his trunk for?..

• drinking • feeling fighting

3. When an elephant is killed, others will do what?.

Place twigs on it and mourn • Bury it where they are •Eat it

4.The African elephant is the largest f all land animals. What is the average weight for a male?

6 tons • 3 tons • 10 tons

5. Which of the following threatens the Asian population of elephants most?

•ivory hunters restriction of their habitat •poaching.

6. Why do elephants sway back and forth? .

•9They sense danger Because they are bored • Because of their weight

7. How old can an average elephant live in the wild?

•100 years • 50 years 60 years

8.How many 'lips' do African elephants have on the end of their trunks?

•none •one two

9. Elephant's heart beats ………………... times in a minute

•60-90 •90-120 25-30

10.Elephants have a bad sense of what?

•smell sight •hearing

Please try our quiz for the current month at Elephants-Part IV

Call For Submissions To The Indian Wildlife Club

Join Us In Our Efforts.

Would you be interested in contributing content to the world wide web's portal to network nature lovers?

Do you or someone you know have a veritable closet full of wildlife adventure stories, articles, pictures or other interesting media which would interest other nature lovers?

Have you always wanted to write about a specific travel adventure to the jungles/mountains/rivers or a memorable animal contact but never been motivated enough or given the forum to do so?

Do you have photographs of animals/nature's moods/forest tapestry, which sit gathering dust, never finding an audience beyond family and friends?

If your answer is yes to any of the above, read on!

As the founder and content aggregator for this website dedicated to bringing people all over the world to the 'Indian Wildlife Club' I need your help. With tightening budgets all around the tech and dot-com market place, is in need of support from those who love nature and wildlife.

How can you help? 

By offering content
What kinds of content are you looking for?
Two main categories: editorial and images.

250+words on your favourite animal contact story, favourite nature spots....or your feelings on conservation of wildlife, environment, trees, your review of a remarkable video/book on Indian wildlife, write up on an NGO which prefers to do the work quietly outside public gaze, reports of volunteer efforts to protect rivers, trees, wildlife in your area.

Whether you are an amateur or professional, the pleasure of sharing your work with a group who share your passion is immense.
Pictures are even more valuable to us if they accompany an editorial piece, which you or a partner has written.
How will my work be used?
With the highest level of integrity and appreciation.

Unless we negotiate with you for use of rights other than the website, anything you offer to will be used exclusively on the pages of our website. We may, at a later date, get back in touch with you to discuss using your work in a CD ROM, or video about nature/wildlife which we would sell on the website. Of course you would receive payment for this use. But for now, all we are interested in is the right to use your content on the website.

Will I get paid for this?

Currently, the simple answer to this question is No.
But there are several benefits we can offer beyond cash, which may be immensely satisfying to you:
a) Exposure to a global market of your skills as a writer, photographer, or videographer.
b) Traffic to your own website. We will credit all work and be happy to place a link to your website.
c) Establish a good working relationship with in anticipation of future, paid assignments.
d) Helping a worthwhile project and building global appreciation of India's natural wealth which needs protection.

What is Indian Wildlife Club all about ? is a forum for wildlife lovers to share the wonder and beauty of India's exclusive wildlife and birds through reports, photographs and videos. It is the vision of this club that appreciation of the beauty and diversity of wildlife can promote commitment to a healthy environment objective which in turn achieves a conservation objective. The site gets visitors from an average of 40 countries.

The website offers videos and CDs on wildlife produced by independent and committed producers of India. The film and television industry has grown to become the greatest single force for education and change that the world has ever known, with the ability to reach all corners of the globe and touch the hearts of all people, regardless of class, religion and ethnic origin. We do see the website developing into an exclusive Indian Wildlife Channel in the future.

The site is not all about clicks though. The Mumbai chapter of the club has a few active members who is working in tandem with the Bombay Natural History Society. You can read minutes of the club's meetings at Club News.The Pune chapter has been arranging slide shows and also is helping create a butterfly garden in a local school. The Delhi chapter has been organizing wildlife photo exhibitions, art camps and screenings. It is also associated with the yearly Cathay Pacific Wilderness Program for school children.

Nature lovers know very well the alarming disappearance and destruction of habitat around the world that is causing what biologists refer to as the 6th major extinction period. As more and more of humanity moves to large urban centres, our connection with and need for nature becomes less obvious. There has never been a time when a conservation message is more urgently needed.

Conserving species, protecting the environment, safeguarding individual animal welfare - these are the core missions of Indian Wildlife Club. But however hard you work, if no one gets to hear about your projects then attitudes remain unchanged, public support suffers and things get steadily worse. Getting our message out, to inform, to educate, to encourage and inspire - and to bring about change for good - is an essential task. We hope to be a forum that can marshal the energies and talents of the common man to actively support the conservation of the natural world.

How does support its activities?

Good question! There are three current revenue models we are pursuing:
a) Sponsorship and advertisement.
b) Marketing of videos/CDs
c) Subscription to premium areas of the site ( projected model)

How do I submit content?
It is easy! Just send an e-mail to me ( and tell me about your idea. Before sending any material by post, it is required that you contact me through e-mail.

I will do my best to respond in a timely manner to everyone who contacts me in this regard.
Whether you submit content to us or merely visit the site as an active member of Indian wildlife Club, I offer my deepest thanks for your support. Let us create a web force which percolate to the physical chapters and enthuse them to actively take up field projects.

We invite club members to send us 'species profiles' on endangered animals/birds

Join Us In Our Efforts.


Save Elephant

Creating awareness about Asian Elephants
( Extract from paper presented by Dr.Susan Sharma at Elephant Symposium, Hardwar, 2001)

Before deciding on a strategy to disseminate information, it helps if one has a fair idea of the state of elephant awareness in the country. A brief questionnaire was administered to a geographically disperse, but educated sample of Indians from various walks of life.

Annexure I
Quiz to assess present level of awareness.

Quiz on elephants: Correct answer is shown in bold letters.

1. Asian elephants have a life span of --------------- years.

30-40 years 60-70 years80-90 years

2. Asian elephants were widely tamed more than ---------------- ago.

• 1000 years • 2000 years 4000 years

3. The forest department used the method of ----------------to catch wild elephants in India.

•Kumki Khedda •Khotal

4.The lustrous white dentin called ivory are actually--------------------- of elephants.

•upper molars upper incisorshorns

5. Elephant families are--------------------------

•patriarchal matriarchal •neither of these.

6. Elephant babies are carried by their mothers for---------------months.

•9 months •5 months •22 months

7. 'If the tiger is the spirit of the jungle, the elephant is its body' Who wrote these words?

•Katharine Payne •Dereck Joubert •Raman Sukumar

8. To ensure long term survival of elephants, in addition to forests, forest--------------are to be protected.

•paths •fauna corridors

9. The species closest to elephants are,

•rhinos •hippos dugongs

10.The national animal of India is the ---------------------

•elephant •tiger •lion

You are in the age group:

Below 18 years
Between 19 and 30
Between 31 and 50
Above 50 years

Study Area

The sample group is drawn from various age groups as shown in the Table I below.


  Below 18 Between 19 & 30 Between 31 & 50 Above 50
Kerala 4 7 11 3
Chandigarh 139 3 8 1
Delhi 12 40 14 4
Mumbai 11 19 13 3
Online 2 16 15 5
Total respondents 168 85 61 16

There are a total of 330 respondents drawn from Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, and Kerala as well as respondents who attempted the questionnaire online.
The sample population can be considered to be representing the educated cream of the nation since; they are drawn from the two metros and the two states of India with 100% literacy. The respondents online are members of the drawn from all over the world. Out of the total of 330 respondents, only 15 were non-Indians. Hence they have not been considered as a separate group for the purpose of analysis.


Level of awareness is measured in four stages
Stage1: 0-2 correct answers- little or no awareness of wildlife
Stage 2: 3-4 correct answers- some awareness -Could be a segment willing to learn more
Stage 3: 5-6 correct answers- aware segment: Can be motivated to take more active roles
Stage 4: 7-10 correct answers - committed wildlife lovers-May be already active in their areas in spreading awareness -Can be networked to have a core group of committed conservationists.

The answers are analyzed to examine the possible commitment to conservation in this sample population. Responders with a minimum general knowledge about elephants are likely to be indifferent to conservation. Those with a more in depth knowledge are likely supporters. As educationists and awareness creators, our aim must be to increase the number of people to the second level of awareness where they will support and few will even commit their energies to conservation of elephants.

Summary of analyzed results:

Marks Below 18 Between 19 & 30 Between 31 & 50 Above 50 Total respondents Percentage of respondents
0 to 2 28 10 3 2 43 13
3 to 4 77 39 18 2 136 41
5 to 6 50 28 25 9 112 34
7 to 10 13 8 15 3 39 12
Total respondents 168 85 61 16 330 100

Discussion of the results

The majority of respondents were in the range of 3 to 4 correct answers i.e., - Some awareness -Could be a segment willing to learn more. Out of a total of 330 respondents 136 viz., 41% fell in this category.
Of the total respondents, 112 got marks between 5 and 6, i.e., aware segment: Can be motivated to take more active roles.
The respondents with little or no knowledge formed 13 % and those in the category of committed wildlife lovers formed 12 %.















Marks and % Of respondents Kerala Chandigarh Delhi Mumbai Online Total
0 to 2 4 17 11 13 5 13
3 to 4 40 42 52 41 19 41
5 to 6 48 31 37 33 34 34
7 to 10 8 10 0 13 42 12
Total respondents 100 100 100 100 100 100



The region wise results also show that maximum number of people is in the 3 to 6 marks range. As educators and awareness creators we need to target 88% of the sample population, which have scored less than 7 marks. . The percentage of 88% who scored less than 7out of 10 in the quiz may be taken as an indicator of the percentage of population in need of wildlife education, in particular awareness about elephants as the quiz questions were limited to elephant related questions. The survey applies to educated, English speaking populations only. It will be interesting to know what the results would be if the survey is done in regional languages. We noted that nomenclature in Hindi for the rhino, which is Genda Hathhi, created ample confusion about the elephant and rhino being of the same species.
With tiger conservation projects and awareness campaigns being held in many parts of the country, one would have expected all the respondents to give correct answers to the question of national animal. But 54 respondents i.e., 18% gave wrong answers to this question.
Needless to say, the survey is a mere indicator and more meaningful results can be obtained by similar surveys covering larger populations.
All the same, the major question, which concerns us, namely is there need for more awareness campaigns to make the elephant conservation projects a success, is answered in no unambiguous terms. 88% of the people surveyed (all those who scored less than7 in the quiz) can do with awareness programs in some form or other.
That brings us to the next question. How do we get a generation used to fast cars and loud music get interested in these gentle creatures, which need protection?

News and Views

News & Views

Author: Dr. Susan Sharma

The good news is that this online club is growing at the rate of three to four additional members per day. The bad news is that the the involvement of registered members in the interactive features of the website is not forthcoming as expected. Please participate more actively in the monthly online quiz, the online chat on 18th of every month and also in the currently hot "Elephant Story" contest.

A sincere apology from our team for a bug in the submission of online contest stories. Submission of text with special characters was not being accepted initially. But the bug has long since been removed. And do send in your stories if you have not done so already.

I visited Nepal this month. The conservation problems faced by this Himalayan kingdom are very similar to those of India's. The migratory birds use the lakes in Nepal as a transitory stopover while flying to India. This year the birds have decreased and are making use of any available wetland as a resting place. Many of the splendid water bodies in the 'twenty thousand lakes' area are shrinking due to water hyacinth and silting.
The Royal Chitwan National Park is recovering from the July 2002 floods in which small mammals perished in large numbers. The forest is surrounded by villages who eke a living from the forest. The wild elephants seem to have all but disappeared. Rhinos were sighted easily on the elephant safari. Crocodiles could be seen basking in the sun during an early morning canoe ride. At the elephant breeding centre baby elephants amuse visitors who feed them bananas and leaves. Will these babies ever learn the myriad uses of the millions of muscles in their trunks? That is something they have to learn from the chained matriarchs on their supervised sojourn into the forest. There was some excitement on the day of our visit about a wild tusker who appeared near the breeding centre.
Awareness about the need for conservation seemed to be present almost everywhere around the Park and also among Khatmandu based birdwatchers. There was young
Shankar, ( Tel. 430645 ), who opted to take a night casino job so that he can watch birds during the day. His 'Save the Bird Nepal' NGO has identified silting and mining for marble as the major threats to bird lakes ans forests in the area. His pet project: clearing the 'Taudaha' lake- which is just 7 km from Khatmandu- of silt & hyacinth. We saw coots, ruddy steel ducks and pochards swimming about in the polluted waters of this lake.

And VIEWS…………….

"I believe it is now more important than ever for filmmakers to make programs that discuss vital conservation issues. Conservation films can play an important role in producing an informed and active citizenry, which is what keeps our democracy thriving.

Of course, broadcasters are citizens too. They want clean air and robust wildlife populations for themselves and their kids. But like the rest of us, they also want to hold on to their jobs. Their performance is assessed on the ratings they achieve, not on their contributions to the cause of conservation. Their first priority is the solvency of their company. Producers have to remember that making and selling programs is a business.

We need a new generation of wildlife films that attract large, new audiences and huge ratings while inspiring viewers to become active in conservation. This is a noble cause worthy of all the storytelling techniques and audience-grabbing approaches we can bring to it. Conservation is too important not to be made entertaining."

(Chris Palmer is President and CEO of National Wildlife Productions at the Reston, VA-based National Wildlife Federation. He can be reached at

Understand The Animals

Forest Spotted Owlet

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, , Cheer Pheasant, Eastern White Stork, , Jerdon's Courser, Great Indian Bustard, Great Pied Hornbill, Hawks, 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 Forest Spotted Owlet is a bird of the moist deciduous forest, but is also seen near streams. Though it is diurnal, it is very shy.

This little known bird of India was listed as an extinct species. However, the forest spotted owlet was rediscovered in Maharashtra in November 1997 by Dr. Pamela Rasmussen, Scientist, Smithsonian Institution and her colleagues. During subsequent surveys conducted by Ms Farah Ishtiaq of Bombay Natural History Sociey (BNHS) in 1998, 14 birds have been located in two different sites in Maharashtra and further efforts are being made to study the Ecology and Behaviour of the Forest Spotted owlet.

The forests of Taloda and Shahada in northern Maharashtra shot into prominence in 1997 with the rediscovery of the Forest Spotted Owlet Athene blewetti, thought to be extinct for over a century. Before its rediscovery, no definite record of the species had been obtained since 1884. Surveys by BNHS have since established that a precarious population currently exists in the Taloda and Shahada forests.

Unfortunately, the forests of Taloda, have been identified as one of the rehabilitation sites for oustees (development refugees) of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) dam being built across the Narmada river in Gujarat. The government has asked for 1,500 ha. of forest land in five villages of Taloda. Thousands of trees have been marked for felling. The influx of oustees will take a toll of still more and will ruin one of the few remaining habitats for the owlet.

The forest spotted owlett has often been confused with the spotted owlet which is widely distributed. in India. This is due to the similarity in size and spots on the body. But the call of the forest owlet differs greatly from that of the spotted owlet. The call is like a "song" sweet and mellow, somewhat like the koel. The spotted owlet, on the other hand, has no call except for the screech call.

Photograph By - Farah Ishtiaque, BNHS


An Elephantine Welcome

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!

A pair of Leopard cubs were the P.M.’s gift to the Algerian people and these were flown in style to Algiers with me. I would be required to (1) clean dirty crates (2) provide for the care of the cubs (3) meet V.I.P.s and welcome them properly.

The late Prime Minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi was on his first trip to U.S. –after becoming the P.M.-one of his stops was Algiers where the cubs would be presented and looked after in the Algiers Zoo thereafter.

Our trip to Algiers, a week before the P.M.’s arrival, was indeed very eventful but that is another story. Every body in Algeria was very excited especially the Zoo people and they wanted to give a fitting reception to the P.M. who would formally present the cubs.

I got a shock when the plan to receive Mr. Gandhi was unfolded to me . The Algerians wanted the welcome to be heralded by a group of some thirty semi wild Indian elephants, who would receive the honoured guest with a royal trumpet!!

I was given this task and it gave me quite a number of sleepless nights. The reason for my sleepless nights was the fact that these Indian elephants had been sent to Algiers before they completed the full training sessions. I knew that chances of them getting trained further in Algiers was remote.

Finally I came up with a plan which would fit the bill, or so I hoped. There was a piece of raised land near the welcoming site which was covered with scrub bushes about two feet high. I planned to tether the elephants there with both forefeet in manacles and with a length of chain in between. This was to be repeated with the hind legs,and because of the growth of these bushes the manacles would not be seen by the visitors.

The great day came and as usual I came down in the morning to the Zoo in my work clothes. I started my day by giving a helping hand to the zoo officials to catch a leopard cub which had hid itself in the corner of a big enclosure. A Zebra had a bad eye infection had to be caught so that the infection could be treated . The leopard job was completed with a stream of water from a hose pipe but the Zebra job was much tougher and messier, it took all my skills as a marks man to tranquilize the animal. Soon she- with pus flowing out of one eye- was cradled in my lap and duly dressed and treated.

All this work got my clothes as dirty as one could imagine. I looked forward to go back to the hotel, have a nice cold shower and get properly dressed for the presentation ceremony to be held in the evening. Little did I realize that the Algerian security would not let me come anywhere near the hotel which also hosted the P.M. I had to go back as dirty as I had come. No amount of persuasion by my host, the Vet of the Zoo, would change the security's mind.

Finally I got some of the muck off from my clothes and sprayed myself liberally with perfumes. I waited anxiously for the P.M. He was really gracious and in spite of my visibly dirty clothes, shook me warmly by the hand and waited for the welcome ceremony.

The elephants, seeing the cavalcade of cars, were some what worked up and with a slight urging trumpeted wildly so that even the ground shook. I saw quite a few pale faces in the P.M.’s party and more of them among the welcoming crowed which included the Indian community some of whom had come from far flung areas in flowing Arab clothes to welcome Mr. Gandhi.

The trumpeting stopped and Mr Gandhi formally presented the leopard cubs by opening the curtains that hid the cubs held in crates.

All this looked very simple but it really required a lot of inner strength to execute the programme flawlessly.

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