TAWANG-Arunachal Pradesh

'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

King Lear! Again, I looked at the book on the small table near the Tawang Gompa in the North-East Hill State of Arunachal Pradesh. The book was hardbound, tattered, and looked to be very old. It had a dark red cloth cover with a design in yellow, which reminded me of ruffed grouse feathers. The man selling the book was a trader from Tibet and wore clothing the color of the book. He had a broad glowing smile and wore his hair in an explosive tangle of dreadlocks. I asked to look at the book. No. I would have to buy it. Half an hour of bargaining later, I was the proud owner of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” I carefully looked through my treasure, reassured all the pages were still intact. After the preface were the initials “A.A.” and the date October 1878. There was nothing noting any publisher or previous ownership, a mystery. In 1913 a surveyor named Bailey, with the British Geographic traveled through here, mapping the ancient trade route with Tibet. Had the book been for sale on this same table ever since?

It took six weeks for the permit. In the course of the long overnight ride, I developed a very numb bum, but I made it. The bus left Bomdila, a small town north of Tezpur, crossed Sela Pass in the dark, arriving at first light in Tawang. Tawang Gompa is largest Buddhist monastery in India. It is said it can house 500 monks. Though there is a road in, because of the exhaustive permit process Tawang is seldom visited. There are some very interesting places to stay and the people watching is superb. This ancient trade route brings people together to trade from the vast forests to the east, the plains to the south, and the vast mountainous plateau to the north. Hmm, didn’t King Lear have three daughters!? Bomdila and Tawang are excellent locales to base one's self and offer endless possibilities for day hikes. This adventure is an excellent opportunity to experience varied terrain, orchids to alpine, without spending weeks walking or camping. It is an exhilarating ‘soft’ adventure only requiring planning for the permit process and a stiff backside for the long bus rides.

This area of India, Arunachal Pradesh, is one of the least visited by western tourists. Translating the local dialect, the familiar local place name means ‘Land of the Dawn-Lit-Mountains.’ I spent a week there, hiking, visiting and watching the shadows move across the land. The ride out of Tawang to Bomdila began in the early morning, arriving at Sela Pass just after sunrise. We stopped briefly on the pass for everyone to stretch while the driver checked the engine and brakes. The sights and sounds were impressive and I understood and shared the meaning of the local place name. Arunachal Pradesh is the land of the dawn lit mountains! For your own sake, take the time and when you do go, take your time. Cheers!

Visit or call NumBum Adventurers at 406-777-2228

Amazing Facts About Wildlife

Change like Chameleon!

By Prashant Mahajan

Chameleons have a remarkable ability to change colour. A chameleon can change its colour from green and brown to different shades of yellow, white or black in the space of few minutes. Most chameleons are green and live among leaves but they do not change their colour to match their background. Their colour changes with the temperature and often becomes much brighter when chameleon meets chameleon.

During an aggressive encounter, partner chameleons in Madagascar signal their rage by flushing their bodies with violent, intimidating red and yellows. Another species advertises its sexual availability with colour. In the mating season, bright-green males seek out gray brown females. But if a female turns very dark, with black on her back and green lower parts she is not willing to mate. The male ignores this rejection at his peril, for she can deliver a powerful bite if he persists. A female who has already mated makes it clear that she is pregnant and no longer in search of a mate: about two or three days after copulation, she changes colour, developing an array of yellow stripes and black spots on a turquoise background.

The chameleon’s eyes are set in protruding turrets and can be rotated quite independently, so that the animal can see forward with one eye whilst looking sideways or backwards with other. The eyes rotate ceaselessly in all directions till the prey is sighted, and when the chameleon makes up its mind to catch the prey the eyes stop rotation and focus on the object, towards which the chameleon advances with great deliberation. About 25 cm away from its prey the chameleon stops, aims with its head, rocks sideways the better to judge the distance, and suddenly the insect vanishes, having been snatched up by a lightning lick of the tongue.

Africa is the home of these lizards. Only one species Chameleo zeylanicus, occurs in India.

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Right Answers to Pheasants

Last month no one has given all right answers, but has given 9 right answers

Right Answer to Quiz on Pheasants

1.All pheasants of the world originated in the ……...
  • Himalayas
  • China
  • Alps  

  • 2.Pheasants are…………..
  • water birds
  • tree dwelling birds
  • ground dwelling birds  

  • 3.Pheasants can…..
  • run very fast
  • fly short distances
  • Both the above  

  • 4.The following pheasants are in the endangered list
  • chir pheasant
  • tragopan
  • both the above  

  • 5.Altogether five species of tragopans occur all over the world. Of these …….. are found in India
  • 3
  • 4
  • 2  

  • 6.These pheasants are observed close to human habitation.
  • white crested khaleej
  • peafowl
  • both the above  

  • 7.This pheasant is hunted by man for its crest
  • peacock
  • tragopan
  • monal  

  • 8.This pheasant is the state bird of Himachal Pradesh and the national bird of Nepal
  • tragopan
  • koklas
  • monal  

  • 9.Conservation breeding of Western tragopan is being attempted at
  • Sarahan ( H.P)
  • Nainital ( Uttaranchal)
  • Chail ( H.P)  

  • 10.The Western tragopan`s habitat is destroyed due to
  • The Beas River project
  • The Narmada River Project
  • Parvati Hydel Project  

  • Please try our quiz for the current month on Deer and Antelopes


    Black buck( Antelope cervicapra)

    By Dr.Susan Sharma

    The black buck is a true antelope, one of the most beautiful to look at. It is related to the springbok and the gerenuk in Africa, as well as the various gazelle species. The blackbuck probably evolved within the Indian subcontinent. Indian art during the Mughal period pictured this antelope along with the graceful cheetah as black buck was one of the main prey of the cheetah. Decrease in their numbers must have indirectly affected the cheetah population which is now extinct.

    The antelope is regarded as a symbol of fertility and villagers around the Little and Great Ranns of Kutch will give up their lives to protect the black buck.
    Adult black buck males stand 80 cm ( 32in) at the shoulder and weigh an average of 40 kg ( 90 lb). The females and juveniles are coloured yellowish brown. After the age of three or so, the coat of the males darkens. In a mature male, the neck, the back, the sides, part of the face and the outside of the legs are black. Contrasted to its white chest, abdomen, rump and tail, the pattern is striking. Like other male antelope, blackbuck carry permanent horns, which are not shed annually ( as are deer antlers).
    Velavadar Blackbuck National Park in Gujarat has large congregations of blackbuck. The population in Kanha National Park has disappeared as the short grasslands preferred by blackbucks gave way to taller grass preferred by "barasingha", an endangered species of deer. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the "Bishnois" ( Read about them by clicking here) black buck are found in open agricultural habitat in the villages. The Asola Wildlife Sanctuary in Delhi has a small population of black bucks which attract the odd tourist.

    ( Photograph of female blackbuck at Asola by Amit Thomas)

    News and Views

    News & Views


    Online Chat

    Some of you have been inquiring about the offline activities of You can go through a list activities we have involved ourselves with by clicking here. . Our members are active in NGOs like BNHS, WWF etc. However, our vision is to network people online and share information. Hence the emphasis on online interactive features. Our online chat has been generating a lot of information which gets shared with club members. We would like to see more participation in our monthly chats. Remember we are a bunch of wildlife lovers and not wildlife experts!! So feel free and let us have your views/queries in the chat session. Individual queries send through e-mail may not always get answered. But do post them in the yahoo group or ask them during the chat - we shall try and answer them.


    A sulphur crested cockatoo in Delhi? This cockatoo has been around Saket area of Delhi for more than a month. Has it escaped from the zoo or from the cages of a pet owner? It seems pet cockatoos do return to their owners even if they break free. This white-feathered beauty with sulphur crest has been enjoying the canopy of ficus trees unmindful of the tauntings by crows. Green pigeons who occupy the same canopy and parakeets seem to tolerate the cockatoo. Could this bird have migrated all the way from the Far East? Hope an ornithologist among us will respond to this.

    Be creative!

    The tiger contest online closes in September. So hurry and send in your entries. We are giving away three attractive prizes for the best entries. So, log in with your email id and password for and write a script in 100 words for the slide show. Please remember to fill in your email id in the online entry form. This enables us to identify the contestants. Click here to enter the contest.

    and Views............
    Here is an appeal courtesy the yahoo group " EarthScapes"

    Dear friends,

    Kindly respond with solidarity and strengthen this campaign to avoid the catastrophe that the Uranium Corporation of India‘s action is going to unleash on unsuspecting citizens of Andhra Pradesh!

    THE UCIL- Uranium Corporation of India Limited – is planning to start mining and processing of Uranium ore in Nalgonda District. The proposed mining area is in Reserve Forest covered by notified “Rajiv Gandhi Tiger Sanctuary” and it is right above Nagarjuna Sagar abutting reservoir limits. The Processing Plant being located in the close proximity of Akkampally Reservoir. All preparations are underway to begin work from early next year. Uranium under the earth is safe. But, once it is taken out into the open, the radiation which this metal emits due to the constant decaying activity called radioactivity, will affect all the living and non-living things which come into contact with it. This includes humans, animals, trees, fish, the soil, the water, the entire food chain and everything else. And this metal continues to effect for many generations. Once ingested it stays in the eco-systems. It is known to create many health hazards like physical deformities, cancers, tuberculosis to name but a few.

    This project poses unreasonable risk to Public health by virtue of its proximity to a major river and drinking water source point for over 800 villages, 2 major towns, as well as Hyderabad. The best available Technologies, Methods & Practices could not contain Uranium from entering in to the Food chain in the past in India or any where in the world. Jaduguda is a case and point. Jabiluka in Australia is another example.

    • All abandoned Uranium Mining & Refining sites in USA are under NPL list for major remedial action.

    • There are over 100 Uranium Mining & Refining sites in the world. There is not even a single mining
    operation located adjacent to a major river, so close to a Major City drinking water supply source.

    • These mines were always located in a remote location to minimize public health risk.

    • In the USA - the Navajo Indians have suffered from uranium mining

    • The people of Jabulika in Australia are opposing uranium mining

    • The health of the people of Jaduguda in Jharkhand, is being jeopardized, due to the harmful radiation emitted by the mining and processing of uranium ore, for more than 20 years.

    • The government of Meghalaya has withdrawn its temporary clearance for survey and exploration by UCIL
    in their state.


    Write in your protests and send mails to the President and the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister
    of Andhra Pradesh asking them to stop this. (Please send cc copies to all the others mentioned below).

    1 President of India
    2 Prime Minister of India
    Fax No. 11-23019545 & 23016857
    3 Governor, AP
    4 Chief Minister AP
    5 Minister E&F, GOI
    6 Secretary, Ministry E& F, GOI
    7 Chief Secretary, AP
    8 Pr.Secretary, Dept E&F, AP
    9 Member Secretary, APPCB info@apspcb.orgv


    Issued in Public Interest by:
    “Movement Against Uranium Project”( MAUP ) 540, Road.
    No: 12, Banjara Hills Hyderabad – 500034


    Superb Shelters

    How I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    That doesn’t have walls and roofs to paste

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    That neither has doors nor the windowpanes

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    That neither has locks nor the doorbells

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    Just the support of twigs to rest

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    Holding the tiny, delicate eggs

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    Through by using leaves, grass and cobwebs

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    Chiseled in the wood, yet one of the best

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    Sometimes hanging and swinging in the air

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    Completed by using drab and waste

    How! I wonder about the bird’s nest,
    Floating on the water without getting wet

    I marvel on the brains behind this exceptional architecture,
    That indeed proves of building superb shelters!

    Composed by Priti Sawant


    ‘The rains came down and the floods came up’....

    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!

    It is not every one who reaches office to find that floods have stopped his work ! Even zoo folk who face all sorts of strange and funny situations would hardly expect to find flooded animal enclosures.

    I however worked for Delhi zoo where we had a catchment area around the monkey enclosures where a few heavy showers were sufficient to cause the area to be flooded making the monkey houses ,barking deer and the American bison enclosures to be covered with water. These animals would have to be shifted to higher land to save them from drowning or keep them from escaping.

    One day it rained continuously and the night saw it raining cats and dogs rather “tigers and hyenas in zoo language”. Morning saw the lands around the monkey enclosure really flooded as all the water had collected there- There was nothing much to think about - the head keeper and other animal staff went fully clothed into the floods to rescue the trapped animals. We were glared upon by zoo visitors. We would first wade and then swim to catch these monkeys to transport them to safety. They were all perched up on dead trees in their enclosures and since their regular doors were under water we would have to cut open the top of their pens to catch ., and bring them to safety. We approached the monkeys with some trepidation but since they had taken such a terrible soaking , they greeted us like long lost brethren and even the fiercest tamely entered their transport boxes.

    The prospect of carrying heavy monkeys in shifting boxes was not very cheering so we called our elephant mahouts to come to our rescue and soon enough, we and the monkeys were swaying atop the elephant backs to safety. There was another danger which the elephants had saved us from and this was from snakes who had been driven out of their holes by the swirling waters. While in the water we could hear hissings of angry cobras, vipers and their like swimming furiously onto safety. Since we both had to face the fury of the floods they did not harm us in any way. We noticed that they reached the safety of high ground and left us in peace to rescue our animals.

    Another victim of the rising water was the barking deer who had taken refuge on top of hillocks in their enclosures and though these are very excitable animals who could dash and kill themselves if disturbed- they came tamely into the transport crates. The presence of elephants did not unnerve them! They had had enough of drenchings in cold muddy waters and were ready to leave these wet surroundings as early as possible.

    The toughest shiftings were those of the American bison and it was nearly impossible to get heavy crates into flooded enclosures to catch and shift these animals. A mad plan however hatched in my head and I decided to noose these huge cattle with ropes around their horns- both male and female possessed a good pair- and could be noosed and led to the safety of high ground into the nearest safe place which happened to be the Brow antlered deer enclosure.

    Buffalo who would otherwise charge and grind we poor humans to pulp stood calmly on high ground to allow us to noose them around their horns and allowed us to lead them swimming through the enclosure over the overflowing moat and road finally getting on to the terra-firma of the emptied deer enclosure. It certainly was a moving experience to lead these huge bulls thundering on high ground, tethered at one end of a cotton rope being led by a puny human at the other end.

    All things good and bad finally come to an end and so did this tiring day and one could retire at the end of the day exhausted but satisfied that in spite of a number of odds, coming close to being trampled, bitten or poisoned one could sleep in a dry warm bed ready to face any challenge the next day would bring.

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