What happens when you ask an ornithologist, a wildlife photographer and a dog to “duck”? They will all perk up and ask “Where? Which one?” Here are some facts about Indian wildlife from The Great Indian Nature Trail With Uncle Bikky, a comic book about one such wildlife mad trio.
Sloth bears are only found in the Indian subcontinent! Sloth bears are so pawsome that even a tiger would never want to get in a fight with them.
One, they are expert tree climbers.
Two, have you seen their sharp claws? They may not be able to hear or see that well, but bears have an incredible sense of smell. Mama bears are fiercely protective of their cubs. In fact, they have been known to scare tigers away!
Third, Sloth Bears can close their nostrils completely—okay, okay, that has nothing to do with them winning a fight, but how cool is that?
Jump like a florican
The Bengal Florican is one cool bird. If you visit Dudhwa between March to June, you may get lucky enough to spot the show that the male birds put on during the breeding season. The male florican will fly almost 10 feet up into the air, then come down, and fly up again and then whoosh, dive to the ground, all the while clapping its wings and calling “chikchikchik”.
(Pro tip: If you are watching this, you do not clap and frighten them away)
SOS: Danger Alert
The Godavan in trouble!
Godavan is the local name for the Great Indian Bustard. Once a common sight in this landscape, the Great Indian Bustard is now critically endangered. Where once people could see flocks of over 20 birds, now one sees only two or three individuals. In fact, the species once lived across Central, Western and South India and parts of Pakistan. Today, it can be found only in small populations in Rajasthan, and in very small populations in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Hunting and the dwindling of grasslands are the reason behind drastic reduction in population. And this is the species that represents the health of the grasslands it lives in.
The snow leopard is so elusive that it is called the ghost cat or the grey ghost. So much so, that even the conservationists who work in the region haven’t sighted this cat often.
According to WWF, snow leopards are found in 12 countries, including China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and Mongolia.
They use their thick tails to balance on the rocks. And it comes in handy to wrap around and hug them when it’s too cold.
Snow leopards are agile climbers and can leap for as far as 50 feet!
Sadly, the Snow Leopard is in lots of trouble. Poaching, habitat loss and climate change are some of the biggest threats this species faces. In fact, research indicates that climate change can mean a loss of about 30% of their habitat in Himalayas.
Show your stripes
They are fascinating creatures—just like no two fingerprints are alike, no two tigers have the same stripes. According to researchers, “a lion’s or a tiger’s roar can reach 114 decibels to someone standing a few feet away, which is about 25 times louder than a gas lawn mower.”
(Excerpted with permission from the book The Great Indian Nature Trail With Uncle Bikky, conceived and created by Rohan Chakravarty for WWF-India.)