Thursday, 15 December 2016

A Message for Readers

Dear Friends,

Greetings again.

In 2017, I will be posting articles on Rare Mammals that are critically endangered that is facing the real threat of extinction or seriously endangered because of a trio of factors like Poaching, Deforestation, and Man's Indifference.

These are Mammals that are not in the Public Eye as they should be.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Ganges River Dolphin -- The Finest Aquatic Mammal

The Ganges River Dolphin is blind as its eyes do not have the seeing power that is to say simply it lacks optical lens.

Its Long Snout enables it to browse the banks of the Ganga and its tributaries for River Fish. Its Fin is quite small in comparison to the rest of its body.

The Ganges River Dolphin depends exclusively on Echolocation to detect schools of River Fish for its daily and weekly sustenance.

This Aquatic Mammal has to constantly live in muddy waters of the mighty Ganga River and its associated tributaries.

One gets a thrill as a Wildlife Lover to see it perform different aquatic stunts in the Ganga.

The Female Ganges River Dolphin is bigger in size than the Male. A Female Dolphin on average weighs about 100 Kilos or more.

A Female Ganges River Dolphin is ready to give birth to Calves at the age of 10 years at the earliest and at the age of 12 years at the latest.

Calves, when they are born are usually dark in colour but as they grow to full maturity they become "Pink" in colour.

Since, the Ganges River Dolphin is an aquatic mammal it can survive in River Water of varying temperatures.

In the past, it was assumed that there were 5,000 or more Dolphins existing in the Ganga and Brahmaputra River Systems in North India and North- East India respectively.

But, now it seems only 2,000 Ganges River Dolphins or less exist in these two River Systems namely the Ganga and mighty Brahmaputra.

Let us act to save this Mammal before it is too late.

Credits and References :

Ganges River Dolphin -- Going, Going, Gone ??
By Sandeep Behera
Pages 39-41
Hornbill Magazine, Mumbai
October - December 2010



 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve -- Asian Elephant Paradise ??

The Nilgiris  of South India harbour unique and threatened ecosystems which despite years of study are still capable of throwing up new surprises for naturalists.

As, India staggers under the burden of savaged forests and decimated wildlife nature continues to be marginalised and fragmented. Where once, continuous grasslands, wetlands, and forests clothed its land, we see only violated wilderness now.

The unique geography of the Nilgiris is however, still holding on to its tenuous character despite all trauma it has faced. This is because a sizable chunk is still under forest cover under whose canopy a variety of mammals thrive.

Barring perhaps, North - East India, there is no region in India where such a large contiguous forest area still exists.

More than 10,000 Asian Elephants roam its verdant surroundings. This is the largest Asian Elephant population in the wild in the world.

This entire region was constituted as the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in the 1980's with the hope that a comprehensive conservation strategy could be evolved and adapted to protect this valuable wilderness.

This is in acknowledgment of the fact that despite being divided between 3 States that is Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, the Bio- Geographic Zone is a distinct and cohesive entity.

The Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve or NBR encompasses the National Parks of Nagarahole, Mudumalai, Bandipur, Silent Valley, Mukurthi, and Wayanad. Besides, these a number of biodiversity rich "Reserve Forests" are encompassed by NBR.

As Forests and Elephant Populations are threatened with fragmentation, their survival is in question as the genetic viability of both is clearly endangered. Already, the poaching of male elephants has caused the male- female ratio to go awry.

Bull Elephants must navigate between Northern NBR that is Mudumalai, Bandipur, and Wayanad, Eastern NBR that is Billiranga Hills and Eastern Ghats and Southern NBR namely Silent Valley to keep their genetic stock going.

This movement can take place only through the thorn forests of the Eastern Side and so the protection of this habitat assumes even more significance.

The inter- related nature of Forests and Elephants can be ascertained from the result of a study which established that 17 species of Plants and Trees in this scrub jungle germinate well only when their seeds pass through the alimentary canal of these magnificent pachyderms.

The entire ecosystem is one complex entity.

Where things have become precarious, wildlife corridors at least must now be preserved for continuity.

All in All, it has to be said that Asian Elephants and their habitat in the Nilgiris Ecosystem is gravely threatened and imperilled specially by Developers and by Mining Companies.

Only Nature Lovers and God himself can save the Nilgiris from complete destruction.

Credits and References :

Sanctuary Asia Magazine
1997
Shredding the Nilgiris
Pages 30-37


 

Friday, 2 December 2016

Why I love Botswana

Since, This is the 50th Year of Botswana's Independence I thought I would write an article showcasing Botswana as a country where there are a lot of positive things going on in Sub - Saharan Africa.

From a Flourishing Economy to Bountiful Wildlife, Botswana has it all.

Botswana is a hot dry country but seems to be very vibrant.

It is indeed a "Remarkable Country".

It has a First Class Statesman in President Ian Khama. Botswana has made great strides in economic prosperity, education, health - care, corrupt - free administration and last but not the least in Wildlife Conservation all under the Presidency of Ian Khama.

Botswana has a booming "Beef Export Business" to Europe. This Beef Export Business to Europe forms a large part of the country's GDP.

In 2013, Botswana exported 3 Million Tonnes of Beef to the European Union. Out of which 1 Million Tonnes of Beef were exported to Norway alone. Various Cuts of Beef are available in plenty in Botswana.

In 2013, Transparency International a Berlin Based Group ranked Botswana as number 30 out of 177 countries with regard to a corrupt free administration.

Botswana was way ahead of all African Countries and specially ahead of countries like South Korea, Portugal, and Costa Rica in terms of a corrupt free administration.

In terms of Wildlife Conservation and in terms of the Vigorous Diamond Mining Industry Botswana seems to be making great strides internationally.

Vast Elephant Herds are found in Botswana at varying densities from Chobe National Park to Ngamiland. White Rhinos and Cheetahs are found in fair numbers in the Okavango Delta specially in Moremi Game Reserve.

Finally, One needs to praise the Botswana Defence Force charged with protecting Botswana's Wonderful and Beautiful Wildlife.

Credits and References :

1. Botswana Calling
    by Shreya Sen Handley
    Page 26
    National Geographic Traveller India
    May 2016
    Vol - 4, Issue 11.

2.  Africa's Elephant Haven : Botswana a rare bright spot in dire battle against poachers
     August 2014 -- The Associated Press.

3. Botswana's Elephant Country
    By Jane Perlez
    The New York Times
     July 1992.






 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Visit India's Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks in 2017 They have the best on show Part 2

6. Katerniaghat  Wildlife Sanctuary :

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Uttar Pradesh's Bahraich District and is quite close to the Indo- Nepalese Border.

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary consists of dense forests, savannah like grasslands, rivers, and various man made waterholes.

Nishangarha Forest Range which is part of Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary is home to Big Cats like Royal Bengal Tigers and Spotted Leopards and also home to herbivorous ungulates like Blackbuck, Barking Deer, Spotted Deer, and Sambhar.

The Ganges River Dolphin is one of the star attractions at Katerniaghat Wildlife Samctuary. Over 700 of these Dolphins can be found in the Gerwa River which flows through Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.

These River Dolphins have poor eyesight and depend exclusively on their ingrained sense of sound to locate river fish which they depend upon for their daily sustenance.

They are distant cousins of whales who live in the open ocean and have a muddy -brownish colour. One has to be very lucky to see them at Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary as they come to the surface of the river only every 4-5 minutes. Therefore, one has to be alert all the time.

Finally, some mention must be made of Spotted Leopards at Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary who live precariously on the periphery between Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and Human Habitation.

They seem to be hanging on by a thread.

7. Eravikulam National Park :

Eravikulam National Park is located in the Idukki District in Kerala.

This Wildlife Reserve is famous for the largest numerical population of Nilgiri Tahr in the world.

It survives without any interference of Humans.

Due to its awesome Flora and Fauna, Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a National Park in 1978. This Wildlife Reserve has large savannah like grasslands with tropical rainforests called "Shola Forests" adjoining it.

The habitat for various wild denizens who live in Eravikulam National Park consists of wetlands, perennial streams, marshes, and rainforests.

8. Sharavathy Valley Wildlife Sanctuary :

Sharavathy Valley Wildlife Sanctuary contains moist evergreen forests commonly known in Karnataka as "Shola Forests". These Forests are essentially tropical rain forests and are home to a large number of species of Flora and Fauna.

Most importantly, Sharavathy Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is an important "Elephant Corridor" for Wild Elephant Herds that live in North Kanara and is used by these Wild Elephants to migrate from season to season.

Essentially, a large number of highly endangered wild denizens like Royal Bengal Tigers, Indian Bison, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Spotted Leopards, and Barking Deer have made Sharavathy Valley Wildlife Sanctuary their Home for numerous years.

Finally, it must be said that Sharavathy Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a Biological Treasure Trove nestled amidst the Western Ghats and needs to be protected strictly from illegal mining groups and logging groups.

9. Kudremukh National Park :

Kudremukh National Park in Karnataka is nestled within tropical moist forests of the Western Ghats.

Kudremukh National Park has 2 Big Cat Carnivores living in its forests namely Royal Bengal Tigers and Spotted Leopards.

Kudremukh National Park encompasses over 550 square kilometres of moist tropical forests in the Western Ghats.

Along with Spotted Leopards and a few Royal Bengal Tigers --- Kudremukh National Park is home to Indian Bison in fair numbers as well as to herds of Spotted Deer.

Finally, its Rainforests known as "Shola Forests" are home to immense biodiversity as far as Flora is concerned.

10. Periyar Tiger Reserve :

Periyar Tiger Reserve is situated in the Deep South of the Western Ghats. It is home to possibly the best biodiversity one can have in any part of India.

In its moist deciduous forests live magnificent "Gentle Giants" namely Wild Elephants for which Periyar is famous all over the world. Periyar has a large population of wild elephants and a diverse habitat in which they live.

Besides this, one can also see Herds of Indian Bison or Gaur as they are known in India who come to drink water from the rapidly flowing Periyar River.

Royal Bengal Tigers and Spotted Leopards are also present at Periyar Tiger Reserve but to a reasonable degree. However, they are elusive and hence it is difficult to spot them because of thick vegetation in this reserved forest which provides them with excellent camouflage.

Wild Elephants at Periyar deserve a special mention because one can see upclose and personal what "Family Life" is all about to these wonderful Pachyderms.



 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Visit India's Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks in 2017 They have the best on show Part 1

1. Parambikulam  Tiger Reserve :

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve formerly known as Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Palakkad district of Kerala. It is surrounded on all sides with Forests and has 3 Water Reservoirs within its limits.

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has dense moist deciduous forests containing teak and rosewood trees. Since Parambikulam is connected to a host of reserved forests like Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary and the Sholayar Reserved Forests -- it has a diverse habitat for wild denizens that live within its confines.

Since, it is situated in the Western Ghats it is home to a number of mammals like the "Nilgiri Tahr" which is one of many flagship species found in Parambikulam along with magnificent Wild Elephants and majestic Royal Bengal Tigers to mention a few.

For Your Information : The Nilgiri Tahr is an antelope that is endemic to Southern India with a special reference to Tamil Nadu and a particular reference to Kerala.

2.  Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary :

Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Anamalai Hills in the Southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu.

It is an important "Bio-Diverse Forest" with special reference to the Western Ghats.

Indian Bison aka Gaur, Sambar, Muntjac, and Spotted Deer are found in plenty in the rainforest and dry deciduous forest of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Wild Elephant Herds are also found in this Bio- Diverse Wildlife Sanctuary in the Rainforests that comprise Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary as well as in the dry forests that comprise Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Royal Bengal Tigers, Spotted Leopards, and Malabar Giant Squirrels are found in the Rainforests and Dry Forests respectively.

3. Corbett Tiger Reserve :

Corbett Tiger Reserve also known as Corbett National Park is situated at the foot of the Kumaon Hills in Uttarakhand -- a separate State that was formerly part of the State of Uttar Pradesh till 2000.

Corbett National Park is essentially situated between the mighty Himalayas and the Terai -- Grassland Region of Uttarakhand. It is home to Regal Bengal Tigers who are found in large numbers at Corbett but all the same are difficult to spot because of thick vegetation.

The scenic Ramganga River which flows through Corbett provides plenty of prey for stalking Bengal Tigers and Spotted Leopards who are specially found in hilly forests that are part of Corbett National Park.

During Summer, Wild Elephant Herds are seen in large numbers all over Corbett. These Wild Elephants essentially come to Corbett when they migrate from Nepal using traditional migratory routes. There are an estimated 1000 Wild Elephants that live in Corbett.

Various Kinds of Deer are found in plenty in Corbett National Park specially Barking Deer, Sambar, Hog Deer, and Spotted Deer.

Last, but not the least Himalayan Black Bears and Sloth Bears are found in the Hilly areas of Corbett National Park in fair numbers.

4. Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary :

Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary is situated some 22 Kms from Srinagar in the State of Jammu and Kashmir which is renowned for its snow capped peaks, fast running rivers, placid lakes, and verdant valleys.

This Wildlife Sanctuary which is spread over 140 Square Kilometres is home to the endangered Red Deer also known as the Kashmir Stag or Hangul the name by which it is locally known in Kashmir.

Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to Himalayan Black and Brown Bears, Musk Deer, Spotted Leopards, Endangered Snow Leopards, and large birds like Pheasants and Black Partridges.

Finally, Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Himalayas with terrain which includes sloping grasslands, pine clad hills, and craggy cliffs.

5. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary aka Anshi Dandeli Tiger Reserve :

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary which is situated on the Goa - Karnataka Border is home to Black Panthers in fair numbers.

It is said that Spotted Leopards at Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary roam about with Black Panthers freely in these Reserved Forests and their Cubs do it too.

Wild Elephants are found in small numbers at Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and a few years back some wild elephants from Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary strayed into a reserved forest in Goa called Bondla but were ultimately cajoled and coaxed by Goa Forest Officials to return to Dandeli.

Finally, some mention must be made of Bengal Tigers at Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. It seems there are 8-10 Tigers or more now living in and around Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary as per the Tiger Census which was conducted in 2006/2007.

There is a project underway at Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary to study the habitat of these "Striped Beauties".

All in All it must be said that Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is an "Adrenalin Rush" for any wildlife lover or wildlife addict.



 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the catch phrase of the 21st Century.

What does it really mean to me ??

To me, Biodiversity means saving Royal Bengal Tigers in their natural habitat as well as saving Beautiful and Mysterious Snow Leopards in their rugged snow bound natural habitat in mountain ranges all across Central Asia and South Asia.

Snow Leopards are the Apex Predators of the Himalayan Ecosystem and their well being is most important in maintaining a balance between them and hundreds of wild herbivores that graze on cliffs and ravines in snow capped mountains in Central Asia and South Asia.

 Biodiversity also means saving Clouded Leopards and Spotted Leopards in their natural habitat in Tropical Rain Forests and Deciduous Dry Forests all across South Asia, South - East Asia, and Africa.

To save these Wild Denizens, it is of paramount importance to save their natural prey namely Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Swamp Deer, Wild Blue Sheep, etc.

This is because carnivorous Big Cat Predators depend exclusively on their natural prey for their daily sustenance.

Last, but not the least Biodiversity means saving Savannah Bush Elephants and Forest Elephants in their natural habitat in various African Countries as well as saving White and Black Rhinos who face a precarious future in Southern Africa.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Snow Leopards of Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand  is a Hilly State in North India which has the mighty Himalayas nestled within it.

The Uttarakhand Forest Department has discovered the presence of critically endangered Snow Leopards in six valleys during a survey conducted to study the population of this Mysterious and Beautiful Big Cat Predator in the upper reaches of this Hilly State.

The 15 day survey in June 2015 -- the first in the state to map the population of this High Altitude Wild Cat was conducted in 16 valleys and evidence of its presence was found in 6 valleys.

Uttarakhand is one of 5 States in India where Snow Leopards have been sighted.

Their Presence has been earlier recorded on camera traps in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve also in Uttarakhand.

Snow Leopard Conservationists say, that the number of Snow Leopards has decreased over the years due to the receding snow line and rampant poaching in this Hilly State.

The lack of an actual numerical estimate of Snow Leopards in Uttarakhand created a hurdle in the State's inclusion in Project Snow Leopard launched by the Federal Indian Government in 2009.

But, this new finding brings a glimmer of hope to all snow leopard lovers within Uttarakhand and elsewhere.

Snow Leopards prefer steep rugged habitat with broken terrain, Cliffs, and Ravines.

Credits and References :

Snow Leopards spotted in 6 Valleys of Hilly Uttarakhand
By Nihi Sharma Sahani
Hindustan Times Mumbai,
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Page 10

 

Dolphins of South America

There is an elegant little charcoal and white animal of the Southern Coast of Chile -- namely the "Black Dolphin".

Living among the innumerable islands and fjords of that rainy windswept coast of rolling breakers, it is regularly harpooned by local fishermen in what seems to be unsustainable numbers to be used primarily as Crab and Fish Bait.

There is hope that the remote forbidding habitat still houses undisturbed pockets of Black Dolphins.

Two Dolphins, The Boto and the Tucuxi live in the Amazon and Orinoco River Systems of South America.

The Boto is a cantankerous pinkish loner of a Dolphin.

When the Amazon spills into the Forest in the flooding season, the Boto often swims miles from the main channel to feed among the trees.

The Tucuxi on the other hand only about five feet long is  a shy animal that travels in schools just like an "Ocean Species" filling the River with the sharp clicks of its echolocation.

Credits and References :

Dolphins in Crisis
By Kenneth S. Norris
Pages 23-24
National Geographic Magazine
September 1992
Vol - 182, N0-3


 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Snow Leopards in the Tost Mountains

This is an excellent article about Snow Leopards and their Families in the Tost Mountains in Mongolia.

Read the whole article here :

Rare Footage of Snow Leopards shows a Healthy Population in Mongolia

http://www.earthtouchnews.com/conservation/endangered/rare-footage-of-snow-leopards-shows-healthy-population-in-Mongolia


 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Raising an Important Question about Wild Elephants in India

This issue should have been raised many years back, but it seems to me one of the many problems in India with regard to Wild Elephants is simply the lack of interest in saving Wild Elephants in Reserved and Unprotected Forests all across India.

Most importantly, it is obvious that there are very few Wild Elephant Conservationists in India who are dedicated to the core.

The only Wild Elephant Conservationists that come to mind are Dr. Raman Sukumar, Vivek Menon, and Dr. A.J.T. Johnsingh respectively. They have been responsible for creating outstanding awareness with regard to the plight of Wild Elephants all across the country.

But the Bigger Problem, as I see it is this. Project Elephant which was started in 1992, receives a "pittance" in terms of funding with regard to the conservation of Wild Elephants as compared to Project Tiger which receives a Lion Share of all Federal Funds.

In my humble opinion, Project Elephant should receive equal funding to the same extent as does Project Tiger.

The Honourable Union Minister for Environment and for Forests needs to make this happen with immediate effect.

It is only when this happens that these Wild Giants of Planet Earth can hope to have a "Secure Future" in Indian Forests and Wildlife Sanctuaries.



 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Snow Leopard Conservation in India ---- The Challenge Ahead

It is sad to say this, that Wildlife Lovers in India seem to be more obsessed with Tiger Conservation as compared to Snow Leopard Conservation which has been sadly left in the deep freeze.

Wild Snow Leopards are found only in 5 States in India whereas Wild Tigers are found in 18 States all across India.

I strongly believe that Wild Snow Leopards are more deserving of our attention as compared to Wild Tigers who have numerous advocates and defenders in their favour.

Wild Snow Leopards number only an estimated 500 Plus Individuals at the most in India. They are mostly found in States in India like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Hemis National Park in Ladakh is possibly the perfect place to spot a wild snow leopard in its natural habitat.

The Snow Leopard is a Big Cat Predator that is naturally secretive, well camouflaged among the craggy slopes and ravines of the snow capped Himalayas and most often than not it is usually solitary.

Snow Leopards are active in their natural habitat at night and in the twilight hours of dusk and dawn amid the most formidable tumult of snow capped mountains in India namely the mighty Himalayas.

Finally, what is very sad about Wild Snow Leopards is that many of them are trapped in the snares of poachers for their magnificent and luxurious skin.

Credits and References :

Out of the Shadows
By Douglas H. Chadwick
Pages 112-114
National Geographic Magazine
June 2008
Vol -- 213, N0-6


 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Polar Bears -- Giants of the Arctic

Eighteenth Century European Scientists called Polar Bears "Ursus Maritimus" meaning Sea Bears and they truly are as they spend a lot of their life on Sea Ice.

Not much is known about how long Polar Bears live as few carcasses have been found. Polar Bears are capable of swimming 100 Miles at a stretch.

Most Female Polar Bears, return to land to Den and give birth and there lies a clue to their past.

The first animals that taxonomists recognize as Bears go back about 20 Million Years to the Miocene Era. The size of a small dog, those early bears gradually grew much larger and began living in caves, some were even bigger than present day bears.

They spread to all the continents except Australia and Antarctica. Some 200,000 years ago when glaciers covered much of Eurasia and the Arctic Ocean was frozen, hungry brown bears wandering frigid northern shores discovered something new to eat -- namely "Seals".

By 125,000 Years ago, a new species had appeared in Eurasia split off from its Brown Bear Ancestors.

Gradually, its Head and Snout had grown longer, and its teeth had become smaller and more jagged -- a better design for tearing seals apart.

Its coat turned white, blending with the surroundings. Those White Bears began to walk great distances to hunt seals until possibly within a few thousand years, they ranged across the Arctic.

Today, between 25,000 and 40,000 Polar Bears roam this frozen world. They aren't considered endangered thanks to Global Foresight.

Norway, outlawed hunting of its Polar Bears and Canada began research that led to a quota system and the United States passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act which allows only Alaska Natives to take Polar Bears.

Canada and Norway have created National Reserves specifically to protect Polar Bear Habitat and Denning Areas.

In the Former Soviet Union, Polar Bear Hunting was banned in 1955.

But today, in the wake of Russia's Free - Market- Economy - some Russian Researchers fear increased poaching of Polar Bears that range over the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Siberia.

They also worry about the long term effects of recent oil spills into Siberian Rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean.

Finally, This has to be said that awareness is the Key with regard to Polar Bear Habitat and specially with regard to Polar Bear Survival.

Credits and References :

Polar Bears
Stalkers of the High Arctic
By John L. Eliot
Pages 55-60
National Geographic Magazine
Volume 193, N0-1
January 1998


 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Snow Leopards of Mongolia

There are at least 1,000 Snow Leopards in Mongolia right now.

Mongolia remains almost as much a nation of herders as it was when Genghis Khan lorded it over its inhabitants.

Livestock outnumbers the 2.8 Million Humans. It seems that an admirable network of Parks and Reserves have been established in Western Mongolia where Snow Leopards are found in fair numbers.

In Mongolia's Mountainous Altay Region, there are 4 Reserves where Snow Leopards not only seem to be holding their own but their population seems to be significantly increasing.

Snow Leopards hunt chiefly Asia's array of hoofed wildlife such as Ibex, Argali, Blue Sheep, Tahr, and Goat - Antelopes such as Gorals along with Tibetan Antelopes and various species of Deer found in Alpine Areas of Central Asia.

As, the Top Carnivore of the Alpine and Sub-Alpine areas, the Snow Leopard strongly influences the numbers and area of operation of hoofed herds.

It is my fervent prayer as a Wildlife Lover that Snow Leopards in Mongolia will continue to flourish for many decades to come.

Credits and References :

Out of the Shadows
By Douglas H. Chadwick
Pages 117-126
National Geographic Magazine
June 2008
Vol- 213, N0 -6
 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Help Save Minke Whales From Mass Slaughter

It is distressing to know in 2016 that Minke Whales are being slaughtered on an unprecedented scale by Whaling Fleets of Far East Asian Nations.

The Meat of Minke Whales which are an "Endangered Species" are available for sale in Supermarkets of certain Far East Asian Nations.

Isn't this all terrible ??

In 2014/2015, 333 Minke Whales were slaughtered, out of which 200 Minke Whales were "Pregnant Females". So Imagine, the terrible loss to the World of Marine Wildlife.

How can Man be so Inhuman and Barbaric to God's Creatures that live in Deep Oceans all across the World ??

Essentially Speaking, there are 2 Species of Minke Whales that live in this World of Ours.

There is the Magnificent Antarctic Minke Whale that lives in the Southern Ocean and there is the Northern Minke Whale which is equally beautiful that lives in Oceans in many parts of the World.

Antarctic Minke Whales feed on Krill exclusively in the Antarctic Southern Ocean but Northern Minke Whales eat mostly fish.

Like all Whales, the Minke Whales must surface to breathe oxygen from the air through two blowholes.

I hope some International Group of Whale Lovers or an NGO takes cognizance of this article of mine and does something asap to stop Whaling Fleets in their tracks before it is too late for Minke Whales -- who are truly "Mermaids of the Southern Ocean".

Credits and References :

Hindustan Times Mumbai,
October 29, 2016
"Whale Watch"

 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Goral - A Wild Mountain Goat

Goral live in small groups, rest undercover in the noon heat and when alarmed, run for a short distance before standing still to sound the alarm.

The Goral is a stocky goat like animal 65 -70 cm at the shoulder and 20 - 25 Kilos in Weight.

Both Sexes have Horns and a conspicuous white throat patch. The Male's Horns are thicker at the base, and when viewed from the front more divergent than those of females.

The Goral has been placed by Wildlife Biologists in a group popularly known as "Goat Antelopes".

These Goat Antelopes seem to have an Asian Origin. There are fossil deposits of relatives of the Goral which have been found in China.

Goral has a wide distribution from the Indus-- Kohistan Region in the Western Himalayas across the Eastern Himalayas To Myanmar, Thailand, and in a few scattered areas in South Korea, North Korea, Eastern Russia, and adjoining regions of China.

Within the Himalayan Region of the Indian Sub-Continent there are 3 Species; The Himalayan Goral, with 2 Sub-Species -- the Grey Goral in the Western Himalayas and the Brown Goral in the Eastern Himalayas.

In India, Goral are found in the Himalayas and in the Shivalik Region of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal, and Arunachal Pradesh.

They prefer varying altitudes from 200 metres in Uttarakhand to 4,000 metres in the Garhwal Himalayas.

There could be 100,000 Goral at least in the Indian Himalayas. The Goral usually feed on fallen leaves, flowers, and fruits.

Finally, this must be said that large and agile tigers occasionally prey on the nimble footed Goral.

Credits and References :

Goral -- A Mountain Goat
By Dr. A.J.T. Johnsingh
Pages 23-26
Hornbill Magazine
Silver Jubilee
October - December 2001


 

Friday, 14 October 2016

Wildlife of Hemis National Park

Hemis National Park is named after the famous Hemis Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh.

It was established by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir in 1981. It is presently the only National Park in Ladakh.

Encompassing an area of 4,000 square kilometres this National Park harbours a unique group of high altitude fauna.

The North - Western Part of the Park is the only place on earth where 4 beautiful mountain sheep and goats namely -- Tibetan Argali, Ladakh Urial, Asiatic Ibex, and Wild Blue Sheep occur.

This National Park is the ultimate haven for the highly endangered Snow Leopard -- The Flagship Species of the Himalayas.

Snow Leopard Mothers with Cubs in tow can be seen most often in various parts of Hemis National Park before the Breeding Season begins.

The Vistas and Cliffs of Hemis National Park are "Unique Homes" for the critically endangered Snow Leopards.

The Ladakh Urial, the favourite natural prey of Snow Leopards are endemic to this region and are distributed along 2 major rivers namely -- The Indus and the Shyok.

The Ladakh Urial, suffered a lot from poaching by hunters in the last century largely due to its existence along the Leh -- Srinagar Highway that runs along the Indus for about 100 Kilometres.

Finally, This has to be said that awareness is the key to conservation of Wild Mammals of Ladakh.

Credits and References :

Wildlife at Hemis
By Tsewang Namgail
Pages 4-5
Hornbill Magazine, Mumbai
April - June 2006

 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Wild Siberian Tigers

The Tiger is at Home in a great variety of environments across a wide range of latitudes.

Studies of the Tiger, living on the very edge of its range in the Russian Far East indicate that there is no hard and fast rule about tiger behaviour and indeed shows us how capable it is of adapting to a host of different environmental conditions.

Amur Tigers or Siberian Tigers as they are otherwise known seem to be at home in the snowy forests of Russia.

The orange background with black stripes gives them excellent camouflage in masterly fashion in oak forests and temperate forest thickets all over the Russian Far East.

A Thick Winter Coat provides them with adequate protection against winter temperatures that can drop to - 40 Celsius.

As with all Big Cat Predators, the population density of Amur Tigers is ultimately limited by the availability of their natural prey.

As elsewhere, across their range Wild Amur Tigers prey on medium sized and large hoofed animals like Deer and Moose.

Amur Tigers make kills in their territory which require higher energy requirements associated with cold temperatures.

In the Russian Far East, Amur Tigresses generally occupy exclusive home ranges and males attempt to secure exclusive access to Females by retaining territories that overlap with those of one or more females but exclude other males.

Despite the low densities of Prey in their Home Ranges, Amur Tigers have a fairly high reproductive rate.

Finally, it is my hope that Tigers in the Russian Far East will exist for many decades to come.

Credits and References :

Living on the Edge
By Dale Miquelle
Pages 88-89
From Tiger -- The Ultimate Guide
By Valmik Thapar
Oxford University Press
United States of America
2004
 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Wild Indian Elephants -- Is Anyone concerned about them at all ??

I am gravely disturbed and distressed about the death of several wild indian elephants from Assam in North East India to Orissa in Eastern India and from Jharkhand in Central India to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in Southern India.

As, a 'Global Wild Elephant Lover' and Freelance Wildlife Writer -- I believe it is part of my duty to create awareness about the plight of wild elephants in various parts of India.

However, what disturbs me the most is the ''Gross Indifference'' by Humans who live in various urban cities in India to the plight of wild elephants particularly in Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.

In Assam, more than a Dozen Wild Elephants were run over and horrendously killed by callous super fast trains in Karbi Anglong District in Assam as well as near Guwahati -- the State Capital of Assam between January 2010 and August 2010 respectively.

Similarly, in Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal 7 Wild Elephants were mowed down by a callous goods train in September 2010.

To make matters worse, some baby elephants along with their mothers have been dragged by these callous trains all along rail lines in Assam; till they were left in a disfigured state. These incidents took place in Assam in January and March 2010 respectively.

In Orissa, between 20-40 Wild Elephants were slaughtered en masse by organized poacher gangs in collusion with illegal ivory traders in Similipal Reserved Forest in the month of April 2010 and May 2010 respectively.

The carcasses of many of these pachyderms were discovered by environmentalists and wildlife conservationists during the annual census which was conducted in Similipal in the month of April and of May 2010.

We still do not know the actual number of Wild Elephants that were horrendously slaughtered in Similipal in April 2010 simply because of the remote wilderness that surrounds Similipal Biosphere Reserve.

In Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Tuskers are routinely shot dead by vile poacher gangs specially in and around Bannerghatta National Park as well as in reserved forests that surround Mysore.

No one seems bothered about the death of Wild Elephants in Similipal or in Assam or anywhere else for that matter. Most Urbanites seem to be only concerned about money and going to the latest pub or night club. Those who are interested in the safety of ''Wild Elephants' are few and far between.

It is extremely sad that wild elephants in many parts of India are being slaughtered for their ivory.

Therefore, I appeal to anyone and everyone to raise this issue about the plight of wild elephants in India with any concerned Government Official.



 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Wild Maharashtra -- A Tiger Paradise

1) Tadoba Tiger Reserve :

This Tiger Reserve situated in Eastern Vidarbha has one of the best forest tracks in India.

It's one of the few tiger reserves in Maharashtra where the chances of spotting a Tiger are high.

A Deciduous Forest right in the centre of India -- Tadoba is also home to Spotted Leopards, Sloth Bears, Four-Horned Antelope, Wild Dog, Flying Squirrel, and Porcupines.

In 2010 and 2012, A Large Number of Tiger Cubs were spotted in a number of forest ranges in Tadoba.

For Example : Three Tiger Cubs were spotted near Devdoh Forest Range in 2010. This was the second sighting in as many months.

The Birth of 11 Tiger Cubs to Three different Tigresses in 8 Months has proved that the State's Oldest National Park has rich wildlife habitat specially with regard to prey for Tigers and is the perfect breeding place for Tigers.

This seems to be a good sign with regard to the long term future for Tigers specially in Vidarbha.

Devdoh is the Park's perennial water source, located on the boundary of Tadoba and Moharli Forests.

A Tigress who had marked this area as her territory delivered a number of Tiger Cubs in the Summer of 2010.

Tadoba Tiger Reserve was the first tiger reserve in the country to spot as many as 32 Tiger Cubs since January 2010.

2) Melghat Tiger Reserve :

This Tiger Reserve is situated in the Amravati District in Maharashtra's Vidarbha Region.

This Tiger Reserve is home to around 50 Tigers and an equal number of spotted leopards.

Note :

99 Tigers and 96 Leopards were spotted in one day at different tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries all across the State of Maharashtra in 2012.

During this time, 45 Adult and Sub Adult Tigers were spotted in Tadoba Tiger Reserve while 22 Tigers were spotted at Melghat Tiger Reserve in Amravati District.

As many as 7 Tigers and an equal number of leopards were spotted in Nagzira Tiger Reserve in Gondia District.

This proves amply that Maharashtra is a Tiger Haven in more ways than one.

Credits and References :

1) 99 Tigers spotted  in one day during Census
    by Pradip Kumar Maitra
    Hindustan Times May 15, 2012

2) Spotted 3 Cubs in Vidarbha's Reserve
     By Pradip Kumar Maitra
     Page 12 HT Nation
     Hindustan Times July 2010

FYI -- Maharashtra is the State in Western India of which Mumbai is its Commercial Capital.

 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Madhya Pradesh -------- Destination Wildlife

1. Kanha Tiger Reserve -- Kipling Country :

Kanha is truly the "Jewel" of Madhya Pradesh as far as Tiger Reserves in India are concerned. It is a rich Sal Forest which is home to the hardground Barasingha also known as "Swamp Deer" and also home to Majestic and Magnificent Royal Bengal Tigers for a number of decades.

Kanha is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Asia. It is one of the first Project Tiger Reserves in India. The Natural Splendour of Kanha was created in 1974 under Project Tiger. The Park is one of the few remaining habitats in India of the rare hardground barasingha.

It is spread over 950 Square Kilometres and is outstanding for its natural beauty. It is renowned worldwide for its extensive bamboo forests and rolling savannah like grasslands.

Kanha is often called "Kipling Country" as the natural splendour of Kanha had bewitched Rudyard Kipling to write his now famous "Jungle Book" in the 19th Century.

Kanha Tiger Reserve was also the location for a famous "BBC Natural World" Wildlife Documentary which was shot at Kanha a number of years ago.

It is called the "Tiger" and it is narrated by David Attenborough and it takes you through Families of Tigers that have grown up in Kanha for a number of years.

Kanha is also famous for being the first wildlife sanctuary in India where a famous American Wildlife Biologist, namely Dr. George Schaller conducted a scientific study on Tigers and on Tiger Habitat in the 1960's.

There were 100 Tigers in Kanha as per the census conducted in 2014-2015.

2. Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve -- Big Cat Paradise :

Bandhavgarh is a small national park where the density of tigers is the highest in Central India, so sighting the Big Cat in the wild is almost certain.

Bandhavgarh covers an area of 448 square kilometres and is situated in Shahdol District among the outlying hills of the Vindhya Ranges.

At the Centre of the Park, is Bandhavgarh Hill rising 811 metres above sea level.

Surrounding it,  are a large number of smaller hills separated by gently sloping valleys. These Valleys end in small swampy meadows locally known as "Bohera".

The Tiger Reserve in Bandhavgarh is graced with an ineffable quality, a vast purity about it. Sal - dominated Forests blessed by fragile to tough topography hold pristine bamboo groves, life giving grasslands.

Golden Green Foliage drapes tropical valleys and meadows along the Charanganga River. Quietly lapping streams -- the Tiger's precious watering holes ripple forth serene circles.

Unique, Humbling, this is sacred space. One is fully alive here. Bandhavgarh was home to famous tigers such as Charger and Sita in the 1990's. The Deciduous Landscape which encompasses Bandhavgarh is home to numerous species of deer, sloth bears, jackals, and foxes.

Bandhavgarh's 276 Bird Species, 39 Species of Mammals, and 515 Species of Plants make it a carbon sink to beat back climate change.

According to the 2014-2015 Census, there were more than 40 Tigers in Bandhavgarh.

3. Pench Tiger Reserve -- Land of Mowgli :

Pench Tiger Reserve located in Seoni District in Madhya Pradesh is 80 Kilometres from Nagpur City. It was the setting of Rudyard Kipling's famous book "Jungle Book".

Rudyard Kipling based Mowgli on William Henry Sleeman's pamphlet "An Account of Wolves nurturing children in their dens" which describes a wolf - boy captured in Sant Baori village of Seoni in 1831.

Many places mentioned in Jungle Book have been identified as actual locations in Seoni-- River Wainganga with its gorge, Kanhiwara village, and the Seoni Hills.

One can see groups of spotted deer whose present population is over 20,000, Sambhar Deer, Wild Boars, Jackals, and Owls when visiting Pench.

Pench Tiger Reserve consists of tropical dry deciduous teak forests interspersed with bamboo trees which provide perfect camouflage for Majestic Bengal Tigers.

In the Book "Tiger Fire" by Valmik Thapar, there is an outstanding photo of a Tigress walking with 5 Sub -Adult Tiger Cubs in a Forest Range in Pench. That Picture will remain forever etched in my memory.

As per the Tiger Census in 2014-2015, there were 40 Tigers in Pench.

Credits and References :

The King and I
By Prerna Singh Bindra
Published by Rupa Books
2006
 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Gabon -- Tropical Forest Paradise Revealed

Let me start off by saying that "Gabon is rich in earth's rarest commodity -- Tropical Forests little touched by humans".

Gabon is an African Anomaly, a relatively prosperous and stable nation and the least densely populated country in Central Africa.

White Sand Beaches and Mangrove Swamps give way to a rugged densely forested interior -- some 70% of Gabon remains covered in forests which are among the richest and most diverse on Earth and an eastern fringe of grassy plain.

Up to 20% of Gabon's Plant Species are found nowhere else.

Gabon's Equatorial Forests and Wetlands are known to be teeming with life.

Mike Fay -- An American Ecologist who walked across the wildest places in Central Africa in 2000 had pledged in 2002 to save them and so he did.

In a meeting with the then President of Gabon -- Omar Bongo he described the extraordinary biological riches residing in the trackless rainforests, the remote mountains, and the inland and coastal waters of Gabon.

Mike Fay made a recommendation to the President of Gabon that the best way to protect these wilderness places in Gabon would be to create "13 New National Parks" that would encompass them.

Accordingly, 13 National Parks were created.

It must be said here that perched on the edge of the Congo River Basin, Gabon's Forests support some of the greatest numbers of species on the continent of Africa.

Ungulates like the Bongo, the Sitatunga -- a water loving antelope and the Forest Buffalo have declined in many areas but gather at Langoue Bai -- Centerpiece  of Ivindo National Park for its rich grasses and cooling mud.

Some mention must be made of the Rivers that drain into Gabon. Most notably, the little "Offoue River" a modest squiggle of brown near its confluence with the much larger Ogooue.

The Ogooue, one of Central Africa's great waterways shares a divide with the mighty Congo River and oozes seaward from the Gabonese interior like an enormous runnel of gravy.

The Little Offoue serves as the eastern boundary and the mighty Ogooue the northern boundary of what is now Lope National Park.

Mention has to be made of the mighty Ivindo River. It is a major Ogooue tributary. It is a big black water channel that pours in from the north -- dark with tannins leached from detrital mulch in the swamps and seasonally flooded forests that it drains.

Further on, staying with the Ogooue -- one comes across another black water river -- a smaller one this one is known as the "Djidji".

One can follow the river upstream along a serpentine course till one comes across a set of minor chutes -- a rocky cascade totalling 40 Feet of a vertical drop which passes by the invisible boundary of the newly created "Ivindo National Park".

The next set of chutes are major ones. Abruptly, from a lip of quiet water screened by trees, the Djidji River drops nearly 200 Feet -- its volume split into 5 Fingers that clench down over the rocky face like a grasping hand, each finger a frothy channel punctuated by ledge holes plummeting to an explosion of foam at the bottom.

These are the Beautiful and Awesome "Kongou and Mingouli Falls" respectively.

Continuing upstream, the river's surface is as sleek as an ebony table. The Chutes seem to mark an "Escarpment" of some sort above which the Djidji winds sedately across a flat thickly forested plateau.

All that one can see to the horizon in every direction is unbroken canopy in its thousand shades of green and through it a thin slash of black.

Credits and References :

Saving Africa's Eden
By David Quammen
Pages 56-68
National Geographic Magazine
Vol - 204, N0-3
September 2003





 

Saturday, 28 May 2016

My 5 must visit International National Park Destinations

1. Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Game Reserve, KwaZulu Natal Province,  South Africa :

This is a favourite destination of mine because of the large number of White Rhinos and Black Rhinos in the Reserve.

The 960 square KM Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Game Reserve is 280 Kms from Durban.

Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Reserve is the largest protected area in the KwaZulu - Natal Province in South Africa.

It is a "union of two reserves" -- Hluhluwe and Umfolozi. Both of these reserves were established in 1895, when the Zulu Kingdom was conquered by the British.

The Habitat in Hluhluwe is more hilly with a predominance of savannah grassland.

Umfolozi is carved out of two large valleys of the Black and White Umfolozi River and it is a thinly forested grassland.

Amalgamation of the two reserves took place in 1989 nearly 100 years after their notification by a corridor which is less rugged and more open.

The White or Square lipped Rhino that lives in this reserve numbers more than 1,000. In this reserve there is also a population of the much more elusive and endangered Black or Hooked - lipped Rhino that is largely a browser.

Finally, the Reserve is totally fenced, devoid of human settlements and has a 250 Square KM wilderness area where no development is allowed and to which the only access is on foot.


2. Aberdare National Park Kenya :

This is an East African Game Reserve situated in Kenya. It is 160 Kms north of Nairobi.

Elephants can be seen at a dried up lake bed in their dozens. Elephants need salt and other minerals that they do not find in their regular diet of grass and fruits.

A Saltlick is usually a dried up lakebed that contains all kinds of nutrients that elephants need.

One can see female elephants with their calves, bull elephants squabbling with each other and juvenile elephants interacting with each other within the herd.

Apart from elephants; baboons, buffaloes, various kinds of antelope, and hyenas can also be seen at Aberdare National Park.


3. Ngorongoro National Park, Tanzania :

This is a Unique Wildlife Destination.

The Ngorongoro Crater which is part of Ngorongoro National Park is a dormant volcano. It was a tall mountain before it exploded and collapsed two million years ago.

It is home to 35,000 Mammals and Birds.

Ngorongoro National Park is situated on the edge of the mighty "Serengeti" in Tanzania in East Africa. The Mammals that live here do not take part in the annual migration that one normally sees.

The 500 Metre drive down to the floor of the crater takes one to one of the most spectacular savannah grasslands.

A large population of the highly endangered black rhinoceros shares the crater floor with an equally powerful big cat carnivore -- the formidable black maned lions of Ngorongoro.

The Ngorongoro Crater is home to the world's most ferocious lions. These magnificent, black maned lions are powerfully built and look more formidable than their cousins on the Serengeti Plains.

There are at least 65 Lions in this small area - the highest density of Predators found anywhere in the world.

The Savannah Elephants at Ngorongoro are definitely worth a mention. They easily bear some of the hugest tusks seen anywhere in Africa. There are at least 20,000 of them at Ngorongoro. Huge Solitary Males can be seen in plenty.

One can also spot at Ngorongoro the classic 75-80 MPH dash of a magnificent cheetah as it chases a fleet -footed Thomson's Gazelle.

Finally, Ngorongoro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great destination for wildlife lovers that has managed to remain unspoilt by human infiltration.


4. Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Chandrapur District, Maharashtra India :

Tadoba Tiger Reserve is located in Chandrapur district in Eastern Maharashtra. It is 160 Kms from Nagpur.

It is without a doubt a best kept secret of India.

Although, it was designated as a "Reserve" in 1955 it was not heard of until recently.

Tadoba Tiger Reserve is 626 square kilometres long and consists of dense teak and bamboo forests and a river which flows through it. Apart from Tigers, this Reserve is home to leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, hyenas, and bison.

Tadoba Tiger Reserve has 70 plus magnificent Tigers. It is teeming with all kinds of wildlife. Sambar Stags can be seen locked in combat under jamun trees while tiger cubs can be seen frolicking in the water in the serene Telia Lake.

At the Devdoh Forest Range and Moharli Forest Range, one can see Breeding Tigresses in all their beauty and glory.

The Birth of 26 Tiger Cubs from 2010 till today proves that Tadoba Tiger Reserve has rich wildlife habitat and is the perfect breeding place for Tigers.

Tadoba Tiger Reserve was recently in the news for better wild cat conservation and also because its tigers will be radio collared soon to understand their behaviour.

5. Ivindo National Park, Gabon :

Ivindo protects Langoue Bai and spectacular Kongou and Mingouli Falls on the Ivindo River.

Langoue Bai, the hidden clearing discovered by eminent wildlife conservationist and ecologist ---- Mike Fay has concentrations of Forest Elephants that one can only dream of.

It is a gathering place for hundreds of Forest Elephants that likely had never encountered humans.

A rare clearing in a sea of Forest, the mile long "Langoue Bai" was carved out by Forest Elephants digging in the mud.

The pristine Equatorial Rain Forest surrounding Langoue Bai in the upper Ivindo River harbors big tusked Forest Elephants like never seen before.

Early Observations by Conservationists at Lagoue Bai indicate that Forest Elephants drawn to the Forest Clearing for succulent vegetation, water, and salt make some sort of seasonal migration away.

They disappear when the rains end.

Where have they gone ?? Our guess according to conservationists is that they come here during the dry season to the marshy, provident, flatlands of the Upper Djidji River.

It might be the last unprobed hideout of "Gabon's Biggest Tuskers".











 

Monday, 23 May 2016

Who is snuffing out our rosettes ??

Project Spotted Leopard :

Its Need and Importance

Introduction :

I am a Lover of all 'Leopards' specially spotted leopards who are facing an unprecedented crisis of epidemic proportions as a result of rampant poaching, loss of habitat, loss of fringe forests, buffer zones, and loss of prey upon which they heavily rely.

It is an established fact now in 2016 that spotted leopards are being decimated like nobody's business in India to feed a thriving and illegal market in South - East Asia.

This majestic wild carnivore with its rosettes is a prince among all 'Big Cats' and is also a royal denizen of reserved and unprotected forests in India.

We, in India need to jumpstart ''Project Spotted Leopard''  in a big way and create suitable leopard reserves with immediate effect in the same way as Project Tiger was started in 1973 and Project Elephant in 1992 respectively.

In this respect, it would also be wise to start a foundation  to save leopards at the central level and state level which should be aptly called 'Save the Leopard Foundation' which should be an integral part of Project Spotted Leopard.

The Spotted Indian Leopard and Leopardess who are found in a variety of Indian Jungles are a vital cog in the forest ecosystem found all over India.

Facts about Spotted Leopards :

Spotted Leopards in Forests which stretch from Uttarakhand to Karnataka and from Kerala to Assam and to Orissa in the east help control the burgeoning population of wild boar and Nilgai or Blue Bull which would otherwise lay waste to Potato and other fields of a large number of farmers that are situated not far from unprotected forests.

This would otherwise result in enormous damage to all farmers.

In my humble opinion, spotted leopards found in unprotected forests in India are as regal, as beautiful, as agile, and as intelligent as the Royal Bengal Tiger.

It is sad and distressing that spotted leopards are treated as 'Outcasts' by a large number of Wildlife Lovers specially when this beautiful Big Cat with wondrous rosettes on its golden skin should be given the same protection as the Royal Bengal Tiger in Tiger Reserves all over the country.

The Rosettes on the skin of a spotted leopard distinguish it in a myriad of ways from other Big Cats and makes it regal in more ways than one. It is truly a remarkable big cat that has survived the ravages of time and man and has adapted to humanity in the 21st Century whether it is life near a tribal village or near a town.

Project Spotted Leopard -- A Possible Reality :

Sometime back in August or September 2009, a leading Hindustan Times Correspondent by the name of Brajendra Parashar had stated in an article called 'A Menace called Nilgai' that it was his contention that Nilgai or Blue Bulls were destroying farmers precious fields in Western Uttar Pradesh because of the lack of carnivores to prey on these blue bulls and thus help in controlling their increasing population.

Hence, it would be an excellent idea to jumpstart 'Project Spotted Leopard' in this geographical area as it would be a prey rich habitat for full grown adult leopards who could get sufficient prey for their daily or weekly needs.

I bet there are still a large number of full grown adult leopards left in unprotected forests of Western Uttar Pradesh that can be tranquilised and introduced to this area which is abundant with Blue Bulls.

In my humble opinion, a Leopard Reserve should be immediately started in Western Uttar Pradesh without wasting any more time.

If this experiment proves to be an immense success, it can be replicated in other states in India where wild ungulate herbivores are available in plenty and where fields of farmers are at risk of being destroyed.

Saving the Spotted Indian Leopard is essential :

Leopard Reserves have to be created now as if there is no tomorrow. We need to save the spotted leopard on a 'War Footing' starting from today.

Spotted Leopards have lived in India for more than 1000 years or more. Yet their continued existence is query today because their natural prey has been decimated like young spotted deer, young barking deer, wild pig, etc.

Moreover, Fringe Forests where leopards used to live have been cut down completely and turned into farms or even worse mines.

Conclusion :

Spotted Leopards in Indian Forests are starving today because of Man's Greed. They are confused and have nowhere to go.

Let us extend a helping hand to spotted leopards away from organised poachers and illegal fur traders and help them to live as they are known namely as the 'Prince of Carnivores'.

References and Credits :

1. Thirsty Leopard Cub run over on Highway
     Saturday, Times of India - March 20, 2010.

2. Leopards are new tigers for poachers
    Hindustan Times, Friday June 11, 2010.

3. 69 Leopards die in 8 weeks this year
    Sunday Times of India March 1, 2009.

4. Hunt for Poacher of 6 Leopards in 12 hours
    Times of India Tuesday, January 8, 2008.

5. 27 Leopard Skins seized in 45 days By Avijit Ghosh
    Times of India Friday September 12, 2008.





 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Dedication of this Blog

This Wildlife Blog is dedicated to my Mother Mrs Lena D'sa, now deceased who was an avid wildlife lover specially of wild mammals and of Birds to a certain extent.

My Mother taught me the ABC's of wildlife conservation at a young age.

Way back in 2014, My Mother told me to start a Wildlife Blog to promote conservation of Forest Elephants that are found in Tropical Rain Forests in Central Africa and of Savannah Bush Elephants that are found in Savannah Grasslands in East Africa as well as in Southern Africa.

In Addition to all this, she told me to write about Dolphin Conservation regarding various species of Dolphins that live in fresh water rivers and that also live in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean.

She loved Bottlenose Dolphins, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, and Long Snouted Spinner Dolphins in more ways than one.

From the age of 5, My Mother taught me to appreciate Bird Calls of various kinds.

She specially loved the chirping and beauty of Sun Birds and Parrots.

My Mother was not "Internet Savvy" but she had wisdom beyond her ears.

I am so grateful to my Mother for teaching me to appreciate Wild Denizens of various kinds.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

In Memory of my Mother

Today, My Mother Mrs Lena D'sa  passed away peacefully at the age of 77.

She was a passionate wildlife lover and took active interest in Elephant Conservation in Africa and in Asia specially in the countries of Botswana and Kenya.

She also took an active interest in Dolphin Conservation wherever Dolphins are found.

She bought me two books one on Tiger Conservation and one on Elephant Conservation written by Valmik Thapar and Gill Davies respectively.

The Books are called "Tiger the Ultimate Guide" and "Spirit of the Elephant" respectively.

She knew that Elephant Conservation and Tiger Conservation was very close to my heart.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK --- ELEPHANT COUNTRY

Introduction :

Chobe National Park is the "Jewel" of Botswana in Southern Africa.

Chobe National Park is best known for its spectacular elephant sightings -- the population is estimated at more than 70,000 elephants today.

Chobe National Park is said to have the highest concentration of elephants in Africa. Concentration of elephants is very high throughout Chobe.

You are sure of one thing in Chobe -- just a brief drive along any of the roads in Chobe  reveals a torn branch, a trumpeting call-- all unmistakable signs that this is "Elephant Paradise".

At Chobe, you can get so close to elephants that you can hear their deep rumblings as they communicate with each other over miles of savannah grasslands.

Because of a large population of 70,000 "Loxodonta Africana" is plentiful and abundant and because of extremely tight restrictions on poaching remarkably tolerant of "Wildlife Tourists".

Elephants living at Chobe are "Kalahari Bush Elephants", the largest in size of all elephant subspecies.

In the dry season, these elephants sojourn in the mighty Chobe River and Linyanti River areas taking advantage of the permanent water in the area; by the end of the dry season the area looks stripped of all nutrients, dry, and very desolate.

When the rains come, the elephants start moving south on a 200 kilometre migration path to the southern reaches of the park.

Now, that it has rained there are lush pools of water in the bush and they can graze on trees and grasses lush from the summer rain.

Once these pools start drying up, these magnificent elephants once again make their way to the permanent waters of the Chobe River.

A sight not to be missed while visiting Chobe National Park is "Hundreds of African Bush Elephants" swimming across the mighty Chobe River from one end to the other.

Conclusion :

Let us do our utmost in supporting the Government of the Republic of Botswana against 'organized poacher gangs' and keep Chobe National Park -- An Elephant Paradise for years and decades to come.


 

Thursday, 31 March 2016

World Tiger Day 2016 -- 29th July

Introduction :

On World Tiger Day 2016, Let us take a look at the Royal Bengal Tiger and its future in Indian Forests.

Today, Royal Bengal Tigers number less than 2,200 in India and are falling rapidly.

The Tiger is the King of the Indian Forest but is facing grave danger on a daily basis from vile poaching gangs who smuggle the skins of Tigers to countries in the Far East where it is in great demand.

Saving the Tiger is essential and important :

India will lose its wondrous tigers completely if we do not take up the challenge of saving this "Majestic Striped Beauty" with a new and powerful urgency.

The challenge of saving the Tiger is at the heart of "Wildlife Conservation". The Tiger is in trouble and only we can rescue it. Human Beings are responsible for the Tiger's plight and only Human Beings can ensure the tiger's survival needs are met in the wild so it can effectively survive.

10 essential points with regard to Royal Bengal Tigers :

1. I believe that the Royal Bengal Tiger is the most beautiful beast in the world and a regal Big Cat that one can still find in the wild.

2. Saving Majestic and Magnificent Royal Bengal Tigers in India rests on a sophisticated biological knowledge about the tiger's needs for quality space in Reserved and Unprotected Forests and adequate prey and water for Adult Tigers, Juveniles, and Cubs at heel.

3. Saving Tigers rests on the well being of its prey, namely Sambhar Deer, Swamp Deer, also known as Barasingha, Barking Deer, Chital or Spotted Deer, Blackbuck, and Herds of Wild Gaur also known as Indian Wild Bison and the varied forests where they still live, its critical habitat in blocks large enough to support viable tiger populations.

4. Saving the Tiger rests on the skill and dedication of "Tiger Conservationists" like Valmik Thapar, Dr. Ullas Karanth and Dr. Raghu Chundawat entrusted with seeking ways and means for the Tiger's survival.

5. To me, it is insane to kill a beautiful and magnificent animal like the Royal Bengal Tiger and use its skin as a decoration on oneself like a number of individuals from the Far East have been doing for a number of years.

6.  I also believe that Dr. Raghu Chundawat, Valmik Thapar, Fateh Singh Rathore (now deceased), P.K. Sen, and Krishnendu Bose to mention a few are India's conscience against the rampant poaching of Big Cats.

7. It was they who discovered that "Sariska's Striped Beauties" were horrendously slaughtered and skins transported to a neighbouring country through a network of illegal wildlife smugglers based in India and Nepal respectively. They were also responsible for discovering the "TRUTH" about the disappearance of all Big Cats from Panna Tiger Reserve.

8. Killing a "Royal Bengal Tiger" for its skin or bones as an aphrodisiac for individuals in the Far East is inhuman and highly cruel.

9. Wild Royal Bengal Tigers remain "critically endangered" in many parts of India like Similipal, Palamau, Indravati, and Valmiki Tiger Reserves to mention a few; mainly due to a lack of political will in protecting Tigers and their prey from ruthless poachers, mining companies, and lawless political forces.

10. Tadoba Tiger Reserve near Nagpur in Maharashtra is "Tiger Country". The birth of 26 Tiger Cubs till today proves that Tadoba Tiger Reserve has the finest Tiger Habitat in the country. The State's oldest National Park has rich wildlife habitat and is the perfect breeding place for Tigers.

At the Devdoh Forest Range and Moharli Forest Range, one can see Breeding Tigers and their Cubs in all their beauty and glory.

 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

DZANGA BAI - FOREST ELEPHANT PARADISE THAT IS DISAPPEARING

Introduction :

Dzanga Bai is a Tropical Rain Forest Clearing situated within the confines of Dzanga Ndoki National Park in the crisis and chaos ridden Central African Republic in Central Africa. It is being destroyed by organized poacher gangs on a daily basis.

It was once said that in the Continent of Africa, human communities were like islands surrounded by Elephants. These days, its exactly the opposite as Elephant Populations are plummeting and drastically declining almost all over Africa due to rampant poaching.

Dr. Andrea Turkalo of the Wildlife Conservation Society - New York conducted a pioneering study of "Forest Elephants" for more than 20 years at Dzanga Bai, a remote 30 acre clearing within one of the largest of such islands on the continent - a cluster of rainforest preserves in Central Africa.

When Dr. Turkalo, came to Dzanga Bai in the late 1980's, little was known about "Loxodonta Africana Cyclotis", the Savannah Elephant's elusive smaller cousin that makes up 20% of the 400,000 remaining African Elephants or less.

Ranging widely through dense rainforest vegetation, Forest Elephants are extraordinarily difficult to study. For years, researchers considered themselves lucky even to spot a Forest Elephant, much less observe one and based their limited conclusions on indirect evidence such as dung or feeding trails.

Then, Dr. Turkalo set up camp at Dzanga Bai where Forest Elephants congregate to drink and dig minerals from the soil.

Working from a platform in the trees, Dr. Turkalo meticulously observed every Forest Elephant that visited Dzanga Bai. She noted physical characteristics so as to establish individual identities, and then built on this data to study life histories, family structure, and patterns of group behaviour.

Over the last 20 years or more, Dr. Turkalo has spent most afternoons on her platform "Unravelling  the intricacies of the forest elephant lives".

Bachelor Life of Forest Elephants :

Middle - aged Males gather at the Modoubou River near Dzanga Bai during the rainy season, using a network of foot-worn trails that are probably centuries old.

Solitary travellers in the "Equatorial Rain Forest", these bachelors socialize at such clearings relying more on their sense of smell than on eyesight to identify old friends or foes.

Why saving Forest Elephants at Dzanga Bai is important :

There are less than 4,000 Forest Elephants left at Dzanga Bai. Because of the chaos in the Central African Republic, these Forest Elephants are at the mercy of poacher gangs as there is no one to protect them.

Dr. Turkalo has identified more than 2,500 Forest Elephants at Dzanga Bai over the last 20 years or more. Dr. Turkalo has brought a wealth of research from Dzanga Bai to the world. She has studied more than 300 Forest Elephant Families in depth. What she has found, has been a classic matriarchal system with all groups led by mature females. It is obvious that they have highly organized social lives centred around the "Matriarch" who controls everything.

Since Forest Elephants play a key role in spreading "Biological Diversity" within tropical rainforests in the Central African Republic it is essential that "Elephant Conservationists" get their act together to save forest elephants for posterity before poacher gangs beat them in the race and slaughter them for their ivory.

Conclusion :

Saving Forest Elephants of Dzanga Bai who do not have good eyesight is of utmost importance now. It has been documented by Dr. Turkalo how forest elephants communicate with each other in the absence of good eyesight. From birth, Forest Elephants use their trunks to touch each other establishing bonds of kinship while storing vital information from smells and textures to the muscular strength of their playmates.

Later, these games become more aggressive specially among males which grapple and joust with each other in order to establish dominance.

According to Dr. Turkalo, Forest Elephants dig relentlessly with their tusks and trunks in the muck at Dzanga Bai, mining the earth for salt and other minerals to supplement their diet of leaves, bark, grasses, and fruit.

Elephants work overtime to excavate these holes, according to Dr. Turkalo. "It is their main activity in the clearing".

Trampled by generations of tonnage underfoot, the clearing at Dzanga Ndoki National Park is constantly growing.

Forest Elephants pull down tree branches around the perimeter by tugging on a vine, or will strip bark off a tree until it dies and falls -- opening the forest to sunlight and to newer and more edible vegetation.

With the number of Forest Elephants Dr. Turkalo has counted, observed, and identified it is no wonder she calls "Dzanga Bai" a miracle.

But to keep Dzanga Bai as a miracle for generations of forest elephants, "zero tolerance" needs to be practiced against organized poacher gangs who slaughter these hapless elephants.

Let's hope that these forest elephants at "Dzanga Bai" never ever go extinct.

Reference :

National Geographic Magazine, February 1999
Vol 195, N0 -2 Pages 100-113
Forest Elephants by Don Belt





Monday, 14 March 2016

Another Message for Readers

Dear Friends,

I will be posting 2 more articles connected to Global Wildlife Conservation for the months of March and July.

They are as follows :

1) Dzanga Bai -- Forest Elephant Paradise that is disappearing.

2) World Tiger Day 2016.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Smiling Ballerinas of the Sea

Sub Title 1 : Help Stop the slaughter of Dolphins on the West Coast of India

Sub Title 2 : A Dolphin Sanctuary on the West Coast of India is the need of the Hour

Introduction :

These Dolphins are like your "smiley" playful children attending ballerina classes !!

Would you chop your huggable little darlings and serve them on a platter because of the money they bring in ??

Every time they spring up in synchronized leaps, they seem like the best trained ballerinas on any "world stage" and you feel like they are challenging you saying "Anything you can do, I can do better than you !!

You feel like "running and hugging them" if that was possible at all in the "open sea".

In view of all this, I am absolutely horrified at the large scale slaughter of a number of species of Dolphins by notorious deep sea trawlers all along the Karwar Coast -- part of the West Coast of India which was published by DNA India in July 2009.

The title of the article in DNA India was "Endangered Dolphins are poached mercilessly" which in my opinion was apt.

Annually, 500 playful and innocent dolphins are brutally slaughtered by deep sea trawlers on the Karwar Coast. I find it extremely distressing as a "Passionate Dolphin Lover" from Mumbai that Star Hotels in various parts of Goa are serving "Dolphin Meat" on their menu.

More importantly, as a Goan from Goa and as an Indian I find it extremely disgusting that nothing at all is being done to stop this barbaric slaughter of these intelligent, playful, innocent, and lovable marine mammals.

Dolphin Facts :

It must be clearly remembered that Dolphins are not "Fish" at all. They are mammals, who are smaller relatives of great whales. A number of dolphins are some of the most intelligent animals on this planet; in the kingly company of Wild Elephant Herds whose family life and inter-personal behaviour is remarkable and outstanding.

The memory capacity of dolphins matches our very own; they are capable of following complicated directions through all kinds of commands.

What is really and truly remarkable is that Dolphins seem quite capable of developing ties with human beings. To so many of us, the average "Bottle Nose Dolphin" has come to be cherished for the love and intimacy it bestows on Adults and Kids.

Increasingly, We human beings find ourselves fascinated with the prospect of having pseudo- human "relatives" in the vast open sea.

Our vast knowledge of these dolphins is their protection all over the Universe. "One cannot kill and slaughter on a whim or fancy, what you come to know and love".

One of the problems on the Karwar Coast is that most "Commercial Fishermen" frequently regard dolphins as just another kind of fish to be hunted.

On the commercial level, in every country there are few pangs of conscience at all; almost every human society has got used to "Dolphin Slaughter". This must stop right now.

Star Hotels in Goa the Driving Force behind Dolphin Slaughter :

Star Hotels in Goa who serve "Dolphin Meat" on a platter should be boycotted completely. An urgent awareness campaign must be conducted as soon as possible from Panjim -- The State Capital of Goa to Margao and from Calangute to the beaches of South and North Goa by "Dolphin Lovers" and more importantly by the Goa State Government in conjunction with the Karnataka State Government with immediate effect highlighting the fact that all "Species of Dolphins" are critically endangered on the West Coast of India and need the highest and best protection in the land from deep sea trawlers who are out to slaughter them.

It needs to be stated in no uncertain terms that dolphins on the West Coast of India specially on the Karwar Coast are "critically endangered" to a dreadful extent.

The Karwar Coast is home to a number of species of dolphins; the most common being Bottle Nose Dolphins, Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins, and Long Snouted Spinner Dolphins.

A number of serious questions need to be raised with regard to the supply of dolphin meat to Star Hotels in Goa :

1. How is it that "Star Hotels in Goa are unaware that what they are doing is "illegal that is having and serving Dolphin Meat on the Menu ??

I say this simply because, all dolphins who are mammals in India are critically endangered and are supposedly protected by Wildlife Conservation Laws and Marine Laws !!

2. Are these Star Hotels in Goa clueless that they are serving "Critically Endangered Species" on a plate to various hotel guests, specially to Far East Expatriates and others who have an obnoxious love for Dolphin Meat ??

This must be stopped as soon as possible.

3. Would these Star Hotels in Goa serve a grilled or marinated "Pet Pedigree Dog" to a hotel guest ?? This is said simply because Bottle Nose Dolphins, Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins and Long Snouted Spinner Dolphins and all Dolphins found on the Karwar Coast are better than our pet dogs if not 5-10 million times better.

Eating Dolphins is akin to eating your very own "Pet Pedigree Dog". All Dolphins found on the West Coast of India are extremely intelligent aquatic mammals who are more human, more loving, and have a terrific friendly disposition which i believe is at least 10,000 times better than the best Pet Pedigree Dog like Pomeranians, Alsatians, Beagles, and German Spitz to name a few.

4. Isn't it terribly sad that these innocent Dolphins who live on the Karwar Coast have a friendly attitude which is truly proving to be their death in more ways than one ??

At Sea World in San Diego, California various dolphins have been trained to engage in a variety of tasks and they even communicate with human beings- with their trainers and the audience included.

It therefore distresses me endlessly, as a Goan and as an Indian that these Dolphins who are capable of so much and more are being slaughtered on the Karwar Coast. I believe that the Dolphins of the Karwar Coast possibly have an I.Q. better than the best I.T. Professional worldwide and are possibly more loving than any human on this earth.

Bottle Nose Dolphins, Indo- Pacific Humpback Dolphins, and Long Snouted Spinner Dolphins on the Karwar Coast are man's last link to his "Sea Relatives".

If this slaughter is allowed to go on, we will never be in touch and have close contact with our most loving, most human, most caring, most intelligent, and most accepting of our sea relatives namely -- Dolphins.

Dolphin Sonar : The Outstanding Sound Machine :

Schools of Dolphins rely on split-second clicks between themselves to warn each other of impending danger, like Killer Orca Whales or Killer Sharks beneath the waves.

On the surface of the water, a boat's hull can be seen sliding through the water, yet schools of dolphins seem to detect these boats -- why is that ??

When dolphins do not rely on smell at all !! This is only because it has a skull which is adapted to sending and receiving signals and a fairly large brain which helps them interpret them.

Conclusion :

We must make Dolphins our partners in the sea. Instead of killing them off, we need to learn desperately from them what we are destroying so actively.

Once we do that, only then can human beings and the Oceanic World be capable of living in something which could be called "ecological peace".

The Dolphin is a "Wild Animal" that is so accepting of human beings, yet we are so indifferent to its plight when it is harpooned and slaughtered in all kinds of ways as it was on the Karwar Coast in India in 2009/2010 and perhaps even now in 2016.

It is very important to say here, that every individual dolphin has a distinctive signature whistle. Infant Dolphins have signature whistles quite different from their parents and yet other dolphins learn to associate every different whistle with every different individual.

Is this 'Extra-ordinary Intelligence at work or what ??

Through listening for whistles, Dolphins keep track of fellow dolphins even when they cannot see them. This is truly magnificent !!

This shows us that, while features of some dolphins are stable; others may vary. Changes that take place during the processing of a signature whistle from Dolphin to Dolphin could pass on additional information that other dolphins can hear. This is absolutely essential for their survival from Killer Orcas, Harpooners, Sharks, and Deep Sea Trawlers.

Let us in India and throughout the world take a strong stand right now against the endless slaughter of innocent and intelligent dolphins on the Karwar Coast or it will be too late if no action is taken at all.

If action is not taken, right now to save these dolphins we are in immediate danger of losing the finest aquatic mammal that has lived in oceans since the beginning of time.

My hope is that "Green Peace International" will take some steps immediately to help save the "Dolphins of Karwar" on a war footing from barbaric slaughter orchestrated by "Deep Sea Trawlers".

Being a Goan, it is sad to say this that the "Real Culprits" with regard to the slaughter of Dolphins are Star Hotels in Goa. Such Hotels should be "blacklisted" for serving critically endangered species fried to a crisp to foreign expatriate guests and other guests too.

There should also be a "Complete Boycott" by all NRI and Foreign Expatriates who love "Dolphins" of such star hotels in Goa who serve "Dolphin Meat" or have it on the menu in some sort of dish or the other.

Why can't star hotels in Goa have King Fish, Pomfret, Mackerel, Indian Salmon, or some other fish instead of Dolphin Meat on the Menu !!

I sometimes wonder, if "Foreign Expatriates" are aware what Star Hotels are doing in Goa ??

In my humble opinion, a "Dolphin Sanctuary" needs to be created as soon as possible to save these beautiful, intelligent, caring, and loving mammals on the Karwar Coast.

I specially appeal to "Green Peace International" to do something right now before it is too late. Please come to the Karwar Coast and register your protest. This needs to happen right now.

Notes :

1. In my humble opinion, having amphitheaters built all along the West Coast where "Dolphin Spotting" can be the most exciting and pleasurable past time for the whole family is the need of the hour. This can be specially done from Dapoli on the Konkan Coast to Karwar where Schools of Dolphins are regularly spotted.

2. Is no one interested at all with regard to the slaughter of dolphins on the Karwar Coast or what happens to the Dolphins of India ?? How long will this brutal slaughter go on ?? Does no one care for Dolphins any more ??

Are the Dolphins of the Karwar Coast "Our Forgotten Relatives" ??


Internet References and Links :

1. Endangered Dolphins are poached mercilessly

   http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report-endangered-dolphins-are-poached-mercilessly-1270981

2. Dolphins in Danger

http://fiapo.org/view_art.php?viewid=12254

Book References and Credits :

1. National Geographic Magazine Volume 182, N0 -- 3
    September 1992
    "Dolphins in  Crisis"
    Pages 11, 12, 13, and 28
    by Kenneth S. Norris and Photographs by Flip Nicklin.

2. National Geographic Magazine Volume 155, N0--4
    April 1979
   "The Trouble with Dolphins"
    Page 531
   by Edward Linehan and Photographs by Bill Curtsinger

 

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

An Important Message

Dear Friends,

Greetings again.

Here is my forthcoming article for my Blog dedicated to Global Wildlife Conservation.

"The Smiling Ballerinas of the Sea"

 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Kalahari Bush Elephants the largest Elephants in the World

Botswana's Elephant Country :

Elephants living in Chobe National Park in Botswana and in the Okavango Delta in Northern Botswana are "Kalahari Bush Elephants"; the largest in size of all known Elephant Subspecies.

Yet they are characterized by rather brittle ivory and short tusks, most likely due to calcium deficiency in the soil.

Chobe National Park in Botswana which is home to around 70,000 Bush Elephants is part of the range of Africa's largest Elephant Population. Concentration of Kalahari Bush Elephants is extremely high throughout Chobe. At Chobe, you can get so close to elephants that you can hear the deep rumblings as they communicate with each other across miles of savannah.

With an estimated population of 70,000 "Loxodonta Africana" is plentiful and because of tight restrictions on poaching, remarkably tolerant of wildlife tourists. One thing is a given in Chobe; just a brief drive along any of its roads quickly reveals a torn branch, a trumpeting call, an enormous grey shape coming out of the Bush ..........  all the unmistakable signs that this is elephant country/territory.

That is why, Chobe  National Park is probably best known for its spectacular elephant sightings. Chobe National Park is said to have the highest concentration of elephants in Africa today as of February 2016.

Botswana is home to the largest remaining population of African Bush Elephants. They number around 130,000 as of February 2016.

This is largely thanks to government - backed conservation and protection programs. Kalahari Bush Elephants stand 4 metres tall and weigh a colossal 12-14 tonnes.

Wildlife Experts in Botswana say that Kalahari Bush Elephants have short tusks because of the poor mineral content in the soil. Poor Soil means short tusks.

In the Okavango Delta, it is quite common to see hundreds of Elephants coming together to play, wash, and swim in the waters that encompass the delta.

The Dry Season from May through November in this part of north - eastern Botswana forces large numbers of  "Kalahari Bush Elephants" in Chobe to move to the Chobe River for drinking and bathing.

They come in such large numbers that they give wildlife tourists an unsurpassed chance to see "Bush Elephants" in a variety of ways -- in the water, on land, and upclose.

At Lake Ngami, one can come across herds of hundreds and hundreds of Bush Elephants drinking water or browsing in the area for grass and other nutrients.

There are a number of reasons why Botswana has so many "Bush Elephants". Many Elephants from Angola fled Angola during the civil war there and came across the Caprivi Strip, a slender piece of Namibia into Chobe National Park some 11,000 square kms in area.

Additionally, rampant poaching in Southern Zambia also encouraged elephants to move south into Botswana. This all happened in the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's.

Along the Okavango Delta, one easily comes across small and large breeding herds of "Kalahari Bush Elephants". Since Elephants travel in sex- segregated groups, Cows and Calves are always led by a "Matriarch".

If one is lucky while travelling along the Okavango Delta by boat, one can come across Gigantic Herds of Bush Elephants reveling in an elephant's favourite pastime, namely taking a "mud bath".

Conclusion :

Let us do our utmost in 2016 to protect the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, and its elephants from rampant poaching.

Important Note : I wish I could be a Global Ambassador for "Botswana's Elephant Herds".

Credits and References :

1)  Africa's Elephant Haven

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/africas-elephant-haven-botswana-a-rare-bright-spot-in-dire-battle-against-poachers

2) Update from the Great Elephant Census in Botswana

http://magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-17/great-elephant-census-botswana-update/

3)  Elephant Fiesta in the Okavango Delta by Gaia Vince ( October 29, 2010)

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2010/10/elephant-fiesta-in-the-okavango-delta/

4)  Botswana's Elephant Country by Jane Perlez (New York Times Published July 12, 1992)

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/12/travel/botswana-s-elephant-country.html

Friday, 12 February 2016

A Message to Readers

Dear Friends,

I have decided to resume blogging again with regard to Wildlife Conservation.

I will be posting 2 articles in the near future.

They are as follows :

1) Kalahari Bush Elephants the Largest Elephants in the World.

2) My 5 Must Visit International National Park Destinations.

Monday, 11 January 2016

A Message

Dear Friends,

Greetings.

I will not be blogging anymore about wildlife.

Help Save Elusive and Rare Snow Leopards of the Himalayas was my last blog post.

This Blog will remain online forever.

Please enjoy reading my blog whenever you can.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Help Save Elusive and Rare Snow Leopards of the Himalayas

Help Jumpstart "Project Snow Leopard" a Necessity in the mighty Himalayas

Introduction :

I strongly believe that after the "Royal Bengal Tiger", the most beautiful and majestic Big Cat is the shy and elusive "Himalayan Snow Leopard".

At present, there are supposed to be only 250-350 Regal Snow Leopards that live in the trans-himalayan mountainous region that covers Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh in India.

What is most distressing is that poaching has taken a tremendous toll on the population of shy snow leopards over the past 10-25 years in the snow capped Himalayas.

Some Facts on the Snow Leopard and its rugged habitat :

The Snow Leopard is a rare and solitary Big Cat that is elusive and hardly ever seen. It is persecuted and slaughtered a lot for its thick- luxurious -soft fur by organized poacher gangs as well as by illegal fur traders.

The Snow Leopard is a magnificent highly endangered mammal that is threatened by encroachers in its rugged himalayan habitat specially by livestock herders who chase away the prey of snow leopards namely "Bharal" or "Blue Sheep" as they want their livestock to graze where bharal normally graze.

As, a result many snow leopards are left to starve to death whenever their prey base is depleted namely "Bharal" who move to other mountain ranges in the lofty Himalayas.

There has always been an aura of mystery surrounding elusive snow leopards who are the rarest of all "Big Cats".

Snow Leopards inhabit remote and fairly inaccessible mountain cliffs and vistas in the Himalayas specially in and around Spiti in the trans-himalayan mountainous region in Himachal Pradesh and in and around Kibber National Park and Hemis National Park in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh respectively.

Is Bharal the primary prey of Snow Leopards some kind of deer ??

No, the Bharal is "Wild Blue Sheep" that makes up more than 80% of the snow leopard's diet.

The Bharal is "Blue Sheep" which is native to the Himalayas and is found exclusively in the Himalayas. It is stocky and is adept at climbing across remote vistas, canyons, mountains, and cliffs in the Himalayas.

The Bharal is well adapted to climbing and jumping across all areas in the rugged Himalayas. Herds of Bharal can be seen all across the Himalayas in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh grazing on craggy slopes and cliffs.

Flagship Species of the Himalayas :

One of the best places in the "High Altitude Himalayas" to see the extremely endangered Snow Leopard is Hemis National Park in Ladakh.

This Big Cat Predator is the dominant "Flagship Species" in the Himalayas and in Hemis National Park -- the Snow Leopard is blessed with prey such as Bharal -- Wild Blue Sheep, Ibex, Urial of Ladakh, and Argali found only in this part of the Himalayas.

It is important to remember in this connection, that patience is a virtue if one wishes to see the Magnificent Snow Leopard in all its glory up close and personal at Hemis National Park.

This is only because the snow leopard is very shy and very elusive and avoids contact with Humans at all times even when it is in search of a meal. It has been observed that "Wildlife Biologists" of international repute have had to wait for a number of years to see the wonderful snow leopard in its rugged mountain habitat.

Breeding Behaviour and other Behaviour of Snow Leopards :

Some mention must be made of the "Breeding Behaviour" of elusive, magnificent, shy, and solitary snow leopards of the Himalayas.

Elusive Snow Leopards of the Himalayas are quite solitary in nature but they meet one another of the opposite sex during the breeding season which extends from January to March.

It is very important to keep in mind that snow leopards unlike other Big Cat Predators namely Royal Bengal Tigers  and Spotted Leopards do not growl or roar at all.

Rather, they possess  a high pitched yowl which can be heard over mountain gorges, vistas, canyons, and cliffs specially when the nights are frigid and sounds travel faster across mountain valleys and deep gorges.

It is important to know that snow leopards in most part of the Himalayas are extremely active early in the morning, at daybreak, or late in the afternoon or even in the evening.

It has been observed that these shy Big Cat Predators of the Himalayas and Trans -- Himalayan Mountain Regions even travel in the middle of the day from one mountain cliff or gorge to another.

Snow Leopards are moving constantly in their habitat, looking for a cave where they can rest and only in the event of prey that they have killed and have to consume; they remain in a particular place for a long time.

What can be done to save Snow Leopards and their Habitat :

To save Snow Leopards and their rugged mountainous habitat, all effort must be concentrated on saving the prey of snow leopards namely bharal or wild blue sheep as they are otherwise known.

To save Bharal, all livestock herding must be banned with immediate effect in the immediate vicinity where herds of bharal roam freely. This needs to be done as soon as possible as bharal are often driven away by graziers and livestock herders who want their domesticated livestock like goats, sheep, Tibetan Yak, and others to feed on grass in the craggy mountainous areas where herds of bharal feed.

Once herds of bharal are chased out from a certain area where they graze, the possibility of snow leopards and their gorgeous cubs starving to death is extremely high as snow leopards like all "Big Cat Predators" depend exclusively on their prey in their immediate vicinity for their daily or weekly sustenance.

Unlike Wild Elephant Herds and One -Horned Rhinos who live on grass, vegetables, fruit, and leaves of trees in various parts of India -- Snow Leopards need prey to live on a day to day basis as they are essentially "carnivorous".

Unprotected areas where herds of bharal feed and also where herds of Tibetan Argali and Urial feed should be converted into protected areas or national parks if we are really keen on seeing regal snow leopards in their wonderful mountain habitat over the next 10-25 years.

Since, a large number of snow leopards are getting increasingly fragmented within protected areas; buffer zones must be created as soon as possible to allow snow leopards to move about freely between separate protected areas.

This is necessary as many protected areas where snow leopards exist are no longer contiguous with other protected areas where other groups of snow leopards live.

Conclusion :

Without hesitation, it must be said that in the absence of snow leopards, the high mountains of India would be like the savannah grasslands of Africa without cheetahs; reduced in life and zest.

But for now, the snow leopard is a living symbol of the very concept of  "Life" and most importantly a sensitive indicator of a healthy "Himalayan Ecosystem".


References and Credits :

1. Wildlife at Hemis by Tsewang Namgail
     Hornbill Magazine, April - June 2006
     Pages 4-10

2.  Tracking the Snow Leopard
      Page 793, National Geographic Magazine
      Volume 169, N0- 6
       June 1986