Amazing Facts About Wildlife

The Peacock Fly Trap (Ceropegia oculata)

Jayant Deshpande ( Photograph of Peacock flytrap by Jayant Deshpande)

Found in the Western Ghats this plant is an annual twiner. Every Monsoon the plant springs to life from the tuber underground, and flowers. The tip of flower looks like a snake head. The long tube like structure contains stiff bristles. These bristles allow one-way entry for the small insects that enter the flowers for nectar, which is in the bulb at the far end. Once the insect reaches the bulb and accidentally pollinates the flower the bristles fall down allowing the insect to go out. Hence the name Peacock Fly trap.

Caterpillars of the Striped Tiger, and the Glassy Tiger butterfly relish the poisonous leaves of this plant. The tubers are cooked and eaten by tribals like potatoes. Extensive tuber collections coupled with habitat destruction have unfortunately endangered this plant. More research on this plant may throw up interesting insights.

A well known Flytrap of the West is 'Venus flytrap'. ( Photo by Lindsay Boyd )

Just like other plants, Venus' Flytraps gather nutrients from gases in the air and nutrients in the soil. However, they live in poor soil and are healthier if they get nutrients from insects. Carnivorous plants live all over the world but Venus' Flytraps live only in select boggy areas in North and South Carolina. Because of people's fascination with these plants, they collected many of them and they became endangered. Venus' Flytraps today are grown in greenhouses.

The leaves of Venus' Flytrap open wide and on them are short, stiff hairs called trigger or sensitive hairs. When anything touches these hairs enough to bend them, the two lobes of the leaves snap shut trapping whatever is inside. The trap will shut in less than a second. The trap doesn't close all of the way at first. It is thought that it stays open for a few seconds in order to allow very small insects to escape because they wouldn't provide enough food. If the object isn't food, e.g., a stone, or a nut, the trap will reopen in about twelve hours and 'spit' it out.

When the trap closes over food, the cilia. finger-like projections, keep larger insects inside. Fold your hands together lacing your fingers to see what the trap looks like. In a few minutes the trap will shut tightly and form an air-tight seal in order to keep the digestive fluids inside and bacteria out.

If an insect is too large it will stick out of the trap. This allows bacteria and molds on the insect to thrive. Eventually the trap turns black, rots and falls off.

The trap constricts tightly around the insect and secretes digestive juices, much like those in your stomach. It dissolves the soft, inner parts of the insect, but not the tough, outer part called the exoskeleton. At the end of the digestive process, which takes from five to twelve days, the trap reabsorbs the digestive fluid and then reopens. The leftover parts of the insect, the exoskeleton, blow away in the wind or are washed away by rain. The time it takes for the trap to reopen depends on the size of the insect, temperature, the age of the trap, and the number of times it has gone through this process.

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Answers to Quiz on Nature Spots of India

Last month no one answered all the questions right
Here are the right answers from last quiz.

1. The Sainj, Tirthan and Jiwa valleys constitute the -------------National Park.
O Great Himalayan O Rajaji O Manas
2. 'Gahirmatha' is a part of the -----------------Sanctuary.
O Bhitarkanika O Similipal O Buxa
3. The lovely Markha Valley goes through------------------National Park
O Dachigam O Silent Valley O Hemis
4. The only river in India where you can raft in the summer
O Ganges O Kauvery O Zanskar
5. The Nilgiri langur and the lion tailed macaque, both listed in IUCN's red list of threatened animals, are found here.
O Kanha N.P O Silent Valley N.P O Corbett N.P
6. 70% of world's swamp or wild buffalo population is found in
O Kaziranga O Nagarhole O Kanha
7. The topographic isolation of this plateau has prevented human habitation. What is this forest called?
O Kalatop-Khajjiar O Karakoram O Silent Valley
8. In this sanctuary the Maldharis ( cattle herders) and predators compete for space.
O Gir O Kolleru O Binsar
9. At least ----------of the 23 Project Tiger Reserves have special security forces for counter insurgency operations.
O 2 O 4 O 6
10. Ali Bagh and Ratnagiri are two picturesque areas one passes through while going in the train
O Rajdhani Express O Palace on wheels O Konkan Express

Please attemp this month Quiz on Tiger Facts

News and Views

News & Views

Susan Sharma


We at strive to communicate with as many people as possible through as many media as possible. E-magazine, e-mail, online chat, photography, film…all these are media to share the beauty of India's natural hertage and to help conserve it for future generations.

Our e-zine 'WildBytes' goes by mail to about 1000 registered users, 53% of whom are from India and the others, from various other nations. As a niche portal on Indian wildlife we need to include more and more people in our club. Help us reach out and hear from more like minded people- Use the 'recommend it ' button on our homepage and invite your friends and acquaintances to join in as registered members.

Online chat, which we introduced in July 2002 as an exclusive chat room on our site ( the chat does not ride on popular chat facilities of yahoo, msn etc. ), has not yet been taken advantage off by our members. This was started as a forum for exchange of views. We believe this has great potential to facilitate learning and sharing. You can read the transcripts of our chat sessions in August in this e-zine. Mr. Mahendra Vyas, dedicated environment lawyer, will be available between 7.30 pm and 8.30 pm (Indian Standard Time) on 18th of every month to answer our queries. The chat room will be open only during this time.

There is more good news on ' WildScapes', our photography initiative. Our gallery is undergoing a change to include all the acclaimed photographs exhibited by us. Fifteen of these photographs have been selected by FujiFilm ( India) to be put up in their stall at 'Photo Kina', which is an international exhibition of photographs and images taking place at Kolm, Germany from 20th September to 25th September, 2002.

Our commitment to wildlife film makers of India is evident from the growing number of films listed under the video section of our Library Page. Ideally we would like our members to be notified whenever any of these films are screened any where. To start with here are some screenings taking place in Delhi, organized by World Wide Fund for Nature-India.

Wings of Kokkre Bellur ( English) 45 min.
September 15, 2002 Sunday -10.45 am at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

Manas and Buxsa Tiger Reserve( Hindi) 25 min.
September 21, 2002 Saturday - 6.30 pm at India International Centre, New Delhi

Wild Dog Whistling Hunters (English) 30 min.
September 21, 2002 Saturday - 6.30 pm at India International Centre, New Delhi

Sarang-The Peacock (English/23 min)
September 27, 2002, Friday- 7.30 am on GyanDarshan ( Educational TV channel of India)

(You can read brief synopsis of these films by clicking on the title)

DO NOT MISS - Poem "Screams Etched in Stone'' by Vinita Agrawal in this issue.

......& Views

(Heard in an online club)

Jeff Hush

Subject: artist and polar bear

" I'm an independent filmmaker, originally from NYC, now living in Prague. About three years ago a Czech artist I had met, Veronika Bromova, transformed her own life and work by falling in love with a captive polar bear, Gus, in the Central Park Zoo in NYC.

My first reaction, I admit, was that Veronika was exaggerating, making a temporary infatuation into a lifestirring event. As the weeks and months passed, however, I began to reflect on Veronika's experiences with the polar bear in NYC. She had been totally alone in NY, far from her beloved dog Nostro and family and friends, and as a child she had grown up in a closed society, Communist Czechoslovakia.

Being alone in NYC had thrown Veronika into a totally new mental and spiritual place, and the polar bear in his aquarium, swimming back and forth endlessly, seemed to her the only creature in NY who sympathized with her, who understood her condition. Then I read J.M. Coetzee's "The Lives of Animals," and I was able to get in touch with my own feelings, nothing particularly shocking or revolutionary--simply, that animals are as deserving of rights and life as I or any other human.

The clarity of this thought has stuck with me ever since. It's not a question of whether animals are as "advanced" as humans or whether they "think" or "have souls"--again, it's simply that they feel pain like you or me. That's enough. .......... Don't get me wrong, I've been a vegetarian for more than twenty years, but the simplicity of animals' rights had never become so clear to me before I reflected on Veronika's surprising experience in NYC. I realized also that animals had been infantilized in mainstream human thought (they are not as "developed" or as "mature" as humans, supposedly) in almost exactly the same way as dark-skinned peoples and women over the previous few centuries.

This infantilizing has been a favorite technique to try to claim that some group (women, dark-skinned peoples, animals) can't really handle the responsibilities of their own lives without the guidance of the group in authority, whatever that controlling group might be.

I realize that by saying these things here I am simply preaching to the converted. However, my film, when it's finished in a few months, should be able to take Veronika's experience with the polar bear and make it touchable by people far outside the normal animal rights' channels. The word should spread. But my film is a work of art, not a piece of propaganda."

Jeff Hush


Screams Etched In Stone

Vinita Agrawal
Q-66, Kalindi Park,
Srinagar Extension

This May,
my country's tigers did not smile -
staring extinction in the eye
it was hard for them to even cry
for the amorphous, scented shelter
of velvety forests and delicious hunts
that beckoned maddeningly in dreams.
When life's scent is cloyed with doom
wearing badges on T-shirts reeks of tiredness.

This August
there was an elephant less.
Heard one had been shot down…
its blood blackening the dew
that played winking games with sunlight
on tender green leaves.
When its majestic tusks
were blown to smithereens of ivory artifacts,
the earth stilled.

This November
the flock of seagulls that flew down south
from the snowy north, was poorer.
Their wings spread wide
trying to hide their vulnerability
with touching bravado.
Down below, their lakes lay folded forever-
crudely book marked with an oil-spill,
the former sparkling clarity of water
reflected only in sad memories
glinting in their eyes.

This April
the count of eggs
from sandhill cranes was scary.
Their lofty courting had
mated with demons of hell this time.
Monogamous death!
Civilization had ravaged their marshy
wetlands and razed it to dry fields,
for structures to bloom and bloat
and scoff at angry, hissing winds.

This whole year I have heard Screams and seen them etched in stone.

Photocredits: One of the many tiger skins seized from poachers that were set ablaze by environmentalists in Mumbai to mark World Environment Day(AP) Elephant killed by poachers in Corbett( Sanctuary magazine)

Transcript of chat online

Transcript of chat online dated 18th August 2002

Mahendra Vyas: Hi. Jyotsna and Ramani. I am sorry I could'nt get thru earlier.
Susan: Welcome!
ramani: hello????which is the rarest resident bird in india & where is it found?

Mahendra Vyas: Mr. Ramani the rarest resident Indian Bird could be the Jerdons Courser - a small bird found in the arid region of Anantpur in Andhra Pradseh - It was discovered a few years ago by team of BNHS after a gap of about 30-40 years.

Mahendra Vyas: There may be a few white winged wood duck deep inside forest swamps in the North Eastern States, another rare bird is the lesser florican a bird belonging to the bustard family- found in grasslands near Ratlam in M.P.

ramani: thanx 4 the information. i'm aware of the team which made this discovery. have there been any recent sightings?

ramani: i remember seeing a picture of the jerdon courser in the office of my agent (exotic journeys). On further questioning,i was told that the trip was organised by them..the bird is probably nocturnal.The team had gone inside the forest with head lamps/torches & special shoes which imitated the sound made by the bird. How far this is correct,i don't know but the team had a very good sighting & the photograph was taken & was the on on display in the office.Approximate year wud be 1994-95.

Mahendra Vyas: Mr. Ramani - I am glad if you know the team which discovered it - we may also know from you the latest status of this bird- but I have'n much heard about it after that.

Mahendra Vyas: I can certainly give you more information about the discovery of the J. courser nocturnal bird. It has a funny band of colour around its neck. The common desert courser I have seen around the arid region of Jodhpur. The team which rediscovered J. courser was able to take its photographs which was given a wide publicity.

Susan: Mr. Ramani can you send a pic of the Jerdon courser to ramani: i'll get a copy of the picture & send it across w/t jyotsna.

Mahendra Vyas: Susan- you can see its painting in Salim Book of Indian Birds if you have it in your Lib. Susan: Yes, I have seen the painting -but not a photo.

Susan: I wish more members had logged in. Thank you for the stimulating views, Mahendra Vyas.

ramani: Thx Susan/Mr Mahendra Vyas. It was gr8 sharing this information with you.Hope to get back to you very soon.

Susan: Thanks Mr. Ramani

Susan: Qn.from LilaGhosh : Please tell us about the Brown Cloud over Asia from your perspective.

Mahendra Vyas: The brown cloud could be result of the pollutants hanging over this region - this a new discovery - we have to wait till we get more facts - but it is quite a disturbing news.

Understand The Animals

Bombay`s Barn Owl

It was one of the usual days in the first week of June this year, when I returned from the Borivli National Park after helping a group of children explore the local flora and fauna. My colleague informed me that a lady from Andheri, a western suburb in Mumbai has been desperately calling us since early morning. The lady had left a message that a strange looking bird is seen in her gallery, which has a monkey like face and gives weird whistle. She guessed the bird as owl and was worried about it’s existence as it was a bad omen to have an owl at home. It happened to be a Barn owl also known as Screech owl, which is one of the 29 species of owls in the Indian region.

The incidences of Barn owls straying in the buildings have been reported quite often in the cities especially in Mumbai in last couple of years. The Barn owl which is active in the night and seen standing upright and dozing during daytime in deserted buildings, ancient forts and ruins. This bird has golden buff colour above and finely stippled black and white spots on its chest. The silky white colour is seen below tinged with spotted dark brown. Like most species of owls the Barn Owl depend as much on their ears as on their eyes to find their prey. The facial disc with a conspicuous ruff of stiff feathers radiating from eyes is believed to help in locating the sources of sounds with great precision. The soft plumage and some special modification of the flight feathers enable them to fly noiselessly and to take their prey by surprise. The powerful feet and strong needle sharp claws help Barn owl capture their prey with a great ease.

Being nocturnal (active during night), the owl depends upon the call notes for communication with others of their species. The shades of brown, grey, darker streaks splotches and spots on its body help the Owl camouflage in the surrounding and protect from its enemies during day time.

Nocturnal, ghostly, mysteriously noiseless in its movement, but endowed with eerie call notes, Owls have always been object of superstitious awe in our country and greatly persecuted. Nevertheless they perhaps have the highest claim for strict protection among all our birds, because of their inestimable service as destroyer of rodents, which are amongst our most serious agricultural pests.

Prashant Mahajan

" Every year, during peak nesting season ( October to March), young fluffy white owls appear roosting on the ledge below our roof. Their screeching noise makes it difficult for us to sleep. " says Salim, a resident of Kalyan Mansion, Dongri, Mumbai 9. Salim notifies BNHS the arrival of the birds and many like him seek advice on dealing with the birds by calling BNHS at 2821811/2821817.

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