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
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.