Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Blue Eyed Boy

Tiger with blue eyes

This is an enigmatic and startling image of a blue eyed male tiger at Bandhavgarh. The unusual stance and blue eyes have mesmerized my sensory apparatus no end. Photographed by a seasoned naturalist Tirath Singh this is a classic example of capturing the right moment. The pose appears much man like deliberation. I have earlier noticed an amusing look in tiger countenance in presence of humans. (Could be my mind gone beserk?) The dominant male tigers are oblivious of humans whence not disturbed. The females are very shy but can be over zealously aggressive when along with cubs and threatened.    

From a humble safari guide Tirath Singh a local tribal has come a long way. Mr. Singh now conducts tiger tours in India through his MP package tour company. He guides many photographic expeditions in India. I have realized that this man is highly skilled with the camera. His keen observation power, equally keen eyesight and sensitive ears contribute to his photography skills. His understanding of animal behavior and the terrain is another reason for being successful in his recreation.      

Of Dignity and Honour

Tiger cub by Tirath Singh

The tiger cub is unaware of the plight of its species. Shrunken homes, brutal murders, diminishing prey base - the tiger cub knows nothing about. But as it will grow, it will realize that something is amiss. The struggle for survival is not only against the enemies in the jungle, a more vicious creature poses an indomitable challenge for the existence of its kind.        

For centuries man has been making inroads into land meant for other life forms. Human assault has been brutal with marked insensitivity to its kind. The tigers are aware of their land being usurped by humans but they know nothing about their diminishing numbers or of sliding statistics. As majestic as ever, even in defeat the tiger is facing its last hour on Earth with dignity and grace.    

The slipper in the tiger cub's mouth has been callously disposed off by a pilgrim on the way to Ram Janki Temple on the Bandhavgarh Fort. This is our attitude towards few remaining natural habitats. Will the tiger forage on plastic waste and discarded papers like our holy cows do? Will Bandhavgarh become a potential industrial area with loads of slipper factories all around? The reckless mining is already taking a toll of our reserve and protected forests. Will Bandhavgarh be next?        

These threats are real, in populist governance man's interest comes first even if the land belongs to the tiger and its kins. We espouse non violence principles as preached by the Great Mahatma...but do we practice? Do we read the five thousand years old Vedas that preach us to respect all life forms.  Nurture and nourish them, value their existence as much as we do for self.

Its all in our minds what we do? How we do? Our attitude contributes to dismembering of nature or its preservation. It is for each individual to think and act positively. The big cats can still be saved if we the people care for it assiduously. Plant a tree in your garden save wilderness in your backyard. Save natural habitats!  Live and Let Live!   

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flying Squirrel at Kanha

Flying Squirrel at Kanha

This is one rare image of the flying squirrel at Kanha. The photograph has been taken by Mr. Navneet Maheshwari near his resort at Kanha National Park. It took him quite some time and lot of efforts to capture the mammal in his camera. Being an avid photographer and naturalist he has hundreds of exciting images in his personal collection. He owns Kanha Village Eco Resort.

The flying squirrel is found at many places in Central India but little is known about the species. These rodents remain hidden from predators in the day time and emerge during the dusk to eat insects, fruits, fungi and eggs of birds. 

On tiger safari tourist hardly look for these animals and miss wonderful creations of nature. Some time back flying squirrel was reported near the Kisli Gate. These mammals do not fly but glide from one tree to another.         

Monday, April 16, 2012

Indian Tree Shrew - Lesser Known Indian Wildlife

The jungle is always full of surprise. In spite of going repeatedly to Barha for birding the expectancy remains. Barha is a reserve forest about 8 km from my house. It is part of Mandla and Jabalpur forest divisions which were once densely forested and teemed with wild animals including tiger and leopard.    

Due to the destruction of these forest and poaching by villagers, the mega fauna is extinct. But one does come across squirrels, Hanuman langur, rhesus macaque and monitor lizard. Perhaps a night safari would churn up more nocturnal animals. 

Indian Tree Shrew JBP
Tree Shrew on Ground
Tree Shrew on the run
Tree Shrew Photo

The above photographs have been taken by Mr. Jagat Flora my friend and fellow birder. At Barha the birds remain and near to Jabalpur it is the finest birding destination. During our many birding trips we saw this creature scurrying to hide on the very first glance. The confusion over its identity prevailed till we were able to photograph it. The images helped us identity this mammal. 

Indian Tree Shrew are found in dry deciduous and moist deciduous forest of Central and South India. They resemble the common squirrel but are hardly akin in habits. This mammal has been placed in Insectivora but lot of confusion prevails over its classification.

This animal is diurnal in habit and hardly climbs trees though it can. Very little is known about the Indian Tree Shrew which lives in burroughs in the forests.          

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Brutality at its best

I was horrified at the sight on a news channel. A sloth bear that had wandered near a village was being beaten to death. One small animal and thousands of humans enact a battle scene of survival. The animal must have wandered near the village in search of water or by some error.

The panicked lot collected around the helpless animal. It was running here and there, desperately trying to save its life. But to know avail, men were everywhere and the badly ruptured body could not hold life. Another rare animal was taken off the charts.

How brutal we are towards other life forms is evident from this horrendous incident. Such instances of cold blood killing are being regularly reported especially in case of wandering leopards.  

Is there a will and commitment to save wildlife and protect our forest ecosystems?  Do people understand the complex web that sustains life on earth. Do people know that our survival depends upon the survival of other life forms. We are hell bent upon destroying nature due to apathy, selfish gains, monetary greed and what not.     

The  tamasha went of for a long time and the forest department was conspicuous by its absence. It was too late by the time the team arrived. This sparks lot of questions in mind.

Why is it that the sentinels arrive too late or never at all?

The animal could have been easily tranquilized and transferred back to its habitat. A precious life could have been saved.

Where are the bosses?

In all my wanderings in the reserve forests I have yet to see seniors on field. The forests are totally at the mercy of the helpless and sometimes corrupt forest guards.  

Wood logging and Poaching?

The reserve forests are in continuous state of denudation. Wood logging for fire and commercial gains is quite often seen or heard. Newspapers now and then report poaching incidents. How come poachers are not taken to law by the mehekma?