'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

The bus broke down. I do not speak Hindi and the only thing I could understand to be true was, the bus was done moving. Everyone got off and carried their belongings away from the bus. As a traveler I was used to delays, what was different this time was, we were in a large city, Shimla. It was nice to be stranded somewhere other than ‘a million miles from nowhere.’ I had been on my way to Leh, taking a bus from Delhi over the Manali highway, headed for the province of Ladakh. I ended up staying in Shimla for a little over two weeks. There I learned about the classic epic the Ramayana and the classic river rafting experience, the Sutlej.

The Sutlej originates from a lake south of Mt. Kailas in Tibet cleaving the Himal in a forced attempt to reach the lowlands of India. This is a lush area of farms and fruit trees. My descent with a local company in Shimla began north of town and lasted one week. The Sutlej is a large unruly river with a rapid, Patakhra, which must be portaged! I was surprised to find such incredible water so low in the river system. Since then, I have read of the tremendous gorge of the middle Sutlej near the mountain pass of Shipku La. I hope someday to return and trek in the area around the gorge. The days on the river are long as there is a lot of water to cover, on average count on six-hour days covering 20 or more kilometers of water. In the middle of the trip, there is an opportunity to soak at the hot springs at Tattapani. This brings welcome relief, as paddling such distances is exhausting. The Sutlej offers an incredible outing only hours away from Delhi.

The adventure doesn’t stop at the take out point. The river trip ended at the Salapper Bridge on the Sutlej. There I boarded a bus for Kalka. From Kalka I rode the old narrow gauge train back up to Shimla. On the train, I found myself seated next to a young, energetic university student. We spent the five hours of train travel discussing the Ramayana. I enjoyed the train ride and the discussion. The train clattered up the tracks crossing kilometer after kilometer of bridges and passing though over one hundred tunnels. I was equally fascinated by the story of Rama and especially the antiquity of the saga and the oral tradition, which allowed the saga to be passed through generations. Finally, I returned to Shimla. Finally, I found another bus bound for Manali and its deodar forests, with Leh there beyond the many passes. I think of Shimla its cool air and fruit trees. I think of the river, huge hydraulics, and rapid descent. I wonder if I will ever find the time to see the gorge at Shipku La.
I hope you take the time and when you do remember to take your time. Cheers.

Visit or call NumBum Adventurers at 406-777-2228

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Right Answers to Sea Turtles

This month and have given all right answers. Here are the correct answers

Right Answer to Sea Turtles

1.Which sea turtle species dives the deepest, travels the farthest and grows the largest?
  • loggerhead
  • leatherback turtle
  • green sea turtle  

  • 2.Almost all sea turtles are found in these regions of the world....
  • tropical & sub tropical waters
  • temperate & arctic waters
  • temperate & tropical waters.  

  • 3.While a female sea turtle is nesting, she appears to shed tears, but the turtle is really,……….
  • secreting extra salt from her body
  • secreting sweat from her body
  • secreting extra water from her body   

  • 4.Olive Ridley sea turtles eat………….
  • crabs & clams
  • fish & squid
  • all of the above  

  • 5.Olive Ridley turtles………..
  • nest two times each season
  • eggs incubate in 55 days
  • Both statements are true  

  • 6.Which of the following is not a human caused threat to sea turtle survival?
  • coastal armoring
  • beach front lighting
  • ghost crab predation   

  • 7.Leatherbacks nest in …….
  • Western coast of mainland India
  • Eastern coast of mainland India
  • Srilanka & Andamans & Nicobar   

  • 8.The only sea turtle that is strictly herbivorous as an adult
  • Loggerhead
  • Green sea turtle
  • Kemp`s ridley  

  • 9.This turtle feed almost exclusively on jellyfish and cannot distinguish between plastic bags and jelly fish
  • leatherback
  • flatback
  • Hawks bill  

  • 10.This turtle is primarily found in the open ocean as far north as Alaska. The only reptile known to remain active at temperatures below 40 degree F
  • hawks bill
  • flatback
  • leatherback  

  • Please try our quiz for the current month on Captive Elephants


    Koklass Pheasant ( Pucrasia macrolopha )

    Text & photograph By Susan Sharma

    The koklass is a medium-sized pheasant seen in India in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal. The koklass prefer dense undergrowth in fir spruce forest, though it also occurs in Oak Deodar areas. The chestnut breast, black head, and white patches on the sides of the neck are unique, and the female also has a distinctive whitish patch along the side of the neck. The male's call in spring and summer is a loud pok-pok-pok . . . pokias, uttered mainly during morning and evening hours. This species feeds on all kinds of grain, grass seeds, acorns, berries and buds, and also upon insects and worms.

    There is a seasonal movement downward of approximately 1000 m, so that by February the birds are concentrated at about 2200-2500 m. This species apparently keeps very close to the same quarters, and may be found morning after morning and evening after evening in the same open glades searching for food. The birds are monogamous, and apparently remain in pairs throughout much of the year. Further, once the chicks have hatched the male participates in brood-rearing and brood protection. Later writers have generally confirmed the view that an extended monogamous mating system prevails in this species.
    The male's territorial call is a distinctive kok-kok-kok- . .

    In various parts of India the koklass breeds from April to June Evidently most birds lay from the middle of May about the end of June in this race. Most nests placed under thick bushes, usually of evergreens, on the sides of hills in coniferous forests.

    It is vulnerable to destruction of mature middle-altitude forests with thick undergrowth, its prime habitat. The species is not highly prized for its plumage, and it is apparently less prone to being trapped than are some of the other pheasants of the area.

    Members Speak

    Member`s Speak

    From John Eickert

    Here is a mail from John Eickert which I felt like sharing with IWC members. Montana or Manali, we humans share- and feel the same way about -nature's bounty
    -Susan Sharma.

    " How are you dear lady? I read in the news there was a considerable and unseasonable weather front which passed through your area. Hope this note finds you and yours healthy, happy and strong. In March, I worked so hard in our orchard. The price of organic fruit has spurred the desire to harvest and so the additional effort was put forth. Then, two weeks ago, came a huge snow storm and it killed almost all the buds on our apple trees. Ho, hum. In addition, the lilacs were hit hard as well. Will miss their delicate scent and the way in which it fills the cool spring air. Went to an address by Dr. Schaller in Missoula last weekend, then stood around afterward and gained an opportunity to shake his hand. Wow. Have also been working hard to keep oil development out of the Front Range here in Montana. I am afraid we are destined to lose that battle. The numbers of large ungulates in this area of intersecting ecosystems, mountain, forest, river, and plains, is staggering. I guess it is considered easier to explain to future generations that it was more important to make a few wealthy men even more wealthy than to save this area for them to see. Ah, the destiny of man. Fascinating how Homer understood this six thousand years ago. Take care. Cheers. "

    Dugong is State Animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands!!


    From : Hoslo Jiwa
    Subject : RE: End of season report from Green Life Society, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

    Dear Susan,
    Here is a round up of the last six months work on the Dugong Baseline Study. We will be closing the work during the monsoon season for Sirenian PEER training with Sirenian International.

    January - March 2004

    The problem seemed to be quite obvious in the administration and different departments there seemed to be a lack of knowledge on the islands about what exactly is a Dugong.
    The idea came about to start an artist workshop to paint, sculpt or draw Dugongs and invite the public to take a look. We asked for permission for all the government artists employed in schools or various departments to take part in this workshop.

    The department of Education, Culture and Sports agreed this was a good way to raise awareness about the environment and conceded to our wishes. We also got the local businesses to participate in the form of the Lions club which provided us with logistical support. The Lieutenant Governor and his wife both visited the workshop as well as the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Shri Patnaik and over 400 local people during the six day workshop.

    The aim was to let the public become aware of the Dugong species while at the same time give the local artist exposure both locally and in Europe.

    The paintings will be put up for auction on our website and will hopefully raise funds for the desperately needed equipment to conduct the baseline data research.

    Besides this we have consolidated our first field station in Havelock Island where there has been two sightings of Dugongs. This has been made with the kind co-operation of the Jungle Resort owner Susheel Dixit. His concern for the environment is genuine and will take part in our future programs.

    The present plan to be submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forest has been delayed because we need the equipment to carry out the work and it is not possible to give the MOEF a clear timeline when the work will commence and end until we know our equipment status.

    In the next few weeks we will conduct Dugong discussions and multimedia presentations to the Anthropological, Fisheries, Coast Guards and Navy Departments.

    March-June 2004

    We at GreenLife Society are very happy at this moment due to the awareness campaign taking shape into something sustainable. The latest news should make anyone who cares about Dugongs globally very happy.

    In India each State recognizes an animal to represent the State or Territory, after weeks of behind the scenes discussions the State animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was elected by the State Wildlife Board.

    They announced the Dugong as State Animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands!!

    We are extremely happy to have bought this animal from obscurity to the level of a State animal within such a short time frame. This in itself has created awareness among people who have had no idea of what a Dugong is, the extra publicity has been self generated by newspapers, radio, and local television. Traveling to obscure islands around the Andaman and Nicobar everyone has heard of the Dugong “Oh yes the Dugong is our state animal” has been the constant reply, the majority of people listen to their radios and the State radio broadcasts have been Pro-Dugong selection.

    Here is the rest of the news from the Dugong project

    Awareness campaign during March-April-May included presentations about Dugongs to the following:

    • GreenLife Society in association with the Andaman Prakriti Samsad (another local NGO) and the Media Centre of Press Information Bureau. Cordially invited 50 local scientists to a televised session to discuss the status/conservation of dugong in the Andaman Sea on the 4thMarch 2004 at 16:00hrs, at the Media Centre of Press Information Bureau, in Aberdeen Bazaar Port Blair.

    •On the 6th March All India Radio broadcasted a live discussion with the Fisheries Department and GreenLife Society on the status of Dugongs.

    •The State local newspaper the Telegraph published a full half page story on the Dugong in their Editorial section.

    •The Private owned newspaper The Andaman Express covered the meetings in their articles.

    •Dr Khatri GreenLife Society friend, Professor of Zoological studies at Port Blair J & N College and State Wildlife Board Member wrote an article in Hindi about Dugongs to the local State Hindi newspaper.

    •The Port Blair Lions Club hosted GreenLife Society to discuss and inform them on the status of Dugongs and the underwater world of the Andaman in a visual audio presentation.

    •Dugong and underwater world of Andaman Presentation was conducted at Centre for Agricultural Research Institute (CARI)

    •Centre for Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) has joined forces with GreenLife Society to assist in collecting and analyzing sea grass species for the Dugong study.

    •Indian Space Application Centre (ISAC), Ahmedabad Gujarat, CARI and GreenLife Society will conduct a triangular signal procedure for collecting accurate GPS coordinates to assign to sea grass species. We will then send the information to the ISAC team who will in return take GIS images of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and with the signatures we have given will develop an accurate map of sea grass beds in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This will enable us to find Dugong feeding grounds more easily. This is the first time we will be using satellite imagery for sea grass beds in India.

    •Directorate General of Lighthouse and Lightships, Ministry of Shipping. Noida will allow GreenLife Society researchers onto their vessels to investigate very remote Islands for Dugong activity.

    •GreenLife Society is now an official member of the Indian Wild Life Club

    •On the 26th April GreenLife Society conducted Dugong (Sea Cow) Aerial Monitoring Methods Teaching Presentation to the Andaman and Nicobar Coast Guards. The event was attended by all the helicopter pilots, senior officers and the DIG of Coast Guards Commander Basra.

    •On the 28th of April a new and important ally was made The Tribal Welfare Department granted the Director of GreenLife Society to conduct interviews and survey of Little Andaman at Dugong Creek. The importance of this decision shows just how crucial our awareness campaigns has been, the area is inhabited by the aborigine tribe the Onge a group of 95 persons make them one of the rarest aboriginal tribes in the world! Clearance to go into these areas is a painstaking procedure we managed because of the trust we have built between the A&N administration and GreenLife Society and the sheer dedication to the Dugong we have shown.

    •Hut Bay Dugong presentations were given to the local fisheries dept, and to over 50 people in the Hut Bay area

    •Dugong Presentation was given on board Coastguard Ship CGS Lakshmi Bai to all ship crew.

    •The Coastguards helped GreenLife field worker conduct coastal surveys of Northern Little Andaman by utilising the CGS Lakshmi Bai and their Gemini boats.

    Warm regards


    News and Views

    News & Views

    NEWS………. By Dr.Susan Sharma

    On 8th May 2004, released two posters on pheasants from India.
    Mr.Samar Singh, President, World Pheasant Association (India Chapter) was the chief guest who released the posters at a quiet function at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

    The events leading up to the release went like this. During April 5-10, 2004, the third international Galliformes Symposium was held at Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun. I attended the symposium and took time off after the symposium to visit 'Dhanaulti', a hill station near Mussourie, about 6000-7000 ft high and which is the natural habitat for some of the galliformes including the khalij, koklass and monal. Speaking to a school teacher at Dhanaulti, it shocked me to hear from her that in those parts pheasants and partridges were still being killed for meat. While she had never set her eyes on a monal ( In fact when I showed her a picture of Himalayan Monal, she happily told me it is a peacock. ) she was also unaware that monal was the state bird of Uttaranchal, her state. That is when I decided that I would use the pictures I had taken in 'Sarahan Pheasantry' in Himachal Pradesh to make simple posters, which will have the common names of pheasants in English and in Hindi.

    Coming from a scientific symposium where international experts talked about saving the last of the many species of pheasants by conservation breeding and other methods, the encounter with the schoolteacher with her students numbering over a hundred, was an eye opener. Here we are, letting the birds slip away before our very eyes, in the land of their birth. is looking for sponsors who will help us in reaching these posters to all schools in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal , Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland- the last natural habitat of rare pheasants and other galliformes.

    "Pheasants of the Hills & the Plains" Mr. Samar Singh and Dr. Susan Sharma are seen in the picture. " Pheasants, the most spectacular birds" makes Mr. Samar Singh beam as Mr. Junaid, research student working with galliformes, looks on.


    "The ecological, economic and aesthetic importance of Galliformes must not be undermined. The gorgeous Indian Peacock is our National Bird. And the other forms of pheasants, partridges, quails etc. have also been contributing directly or indirectly to human welfare.

    …The state of Uttaranchal is the natural home of several species of pheasants and other galliformes. These beautiful birds are closely linked to the lifestyles of our people, their survival and well-being is certainly essential. "
    -Narayan Datt Tiwari
    Chief Minister, Uttaranchal

    "Pheasants have an important role in the eco-system and their food niche incorporates a variety of crop pests and insects. Our National Legislation, the wild life (protection) Act, 1972 prohibits hunting and or trade of all pheasants. However, the present scenario calls for more concerted efforts with wider publicity, since these birds are threatened by poaching and habitat degradation. Hence pheasants, like any other endangered species, require the much needed public support.
    N.K. Joshi
    Director General of Forests & Special Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests.

    "India is home the home of about one-third of all pheasants in the world. In fact, China and India account for more than two-third of the world's total number of pheasant species. Hence these two countries have a very special role and importance in the movement for the conservation of pheasants, in particular, and galliformes, in general.
    M.S. Swaminathan
    International Patron, World Pheasants Association.

    ( All the above views are taken from the publication of abstracts of the Third International Galliformes Symposium 2004.)


    Stripes to the rescue

    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!
    Zebras live in herds and they enjoy huge numbers of their species around them and they breed pretty well in captivity. If a Zoo has a nice, acre and half open grassy enclosure with a few trees and some flowing waters it makes for an ideal Zebra exhibit. This was exactly what the Delhi Zoo had and we used to breed Zebras well. Nothing exotic but plain Burchells Zebra. A herd galloping through the two acre open enclosure would be a great sight. The moat had nice clean flowing water with plenty of huge Rohu fish interspersed with a smattering Sole fish who would respond to a call baited with some bread crumbs.

    Our pair of Zebra was breeding particularly well and we had some five of them soon enough. We got a couple of good exchanges and gave away three of the offsprings to another Zoo.

    The original pair we had was doing very well and the male who answered to the name of Raju was quite a character! He was my self appointed body guard and also that for our keeper and his assistant. The enclosure, by the way was also occupied by a trio of Ostriches. The male was a particularly bad tempered individual who would for no reason attack, if he was approached with in some 10-15 feet. (this was his private space and would not tolerate any one there). Refuge would be in running and standing behind a tree. Even if the Ostrich kicked, the legs would fly harmlessly on either side of the tree and the human would be as safe as if he were behind a 6 feet wall. A few pecks on the tree and a couple of unproductive kicks would have the Ostrich frustrated and he would soon join his harem and leave the intruding human being in peace.

    There however was a rare scenario when the human would be caught in the open and the refuge tree was nowhere close by. That is when Raju would come into the picture .All that one had to do was to let out a few loud anguished cries for Raju who would come hooves thundering on and literally push the attacking Ostrich off to another place while the human could run to find a proper refuge!

    This “rescue run” was a game which Raju thoroughly enjoyed and would never fail to carry out. Raju was a real darling to all of us and he has saved our bacon very many times. He would never attack the Ostriches at any other time and thus this rescue mission was always a very pleasant surprise.

    All of us in the zoo felt extremely close to Raju.

    More on Raju in my next episode.

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