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Friday, May 5, 2017

Ghost of the forest - Elusive black panther



I was very fortunate to sight for the first time in my life the elusive black panther of Nagarhole forest twice on back to back safaris during my visit beginning of this year after three years of being sighted there. This sighting did make me read and learn more about these elusive creatures  and I have penned down few interesting information from Wikipedia and other sources



Color of the skin:
The Black Panther is merely a colloquial name given to a melanistic colour variation of a leopard or jaguar, and is derived from the genus name, Panthera. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are black leopards and black panthers in the Americas are black jaguars. Melanism (a Greek word meaning black pigment) is an over development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin or its appendages and is the opposite of albinism. Close inspection of these cats will show that the spots and rosettes are still present but much harder to see due to the darker color of the coat.

Black Panther’s Historical Connection:
Ancient Egyptians revered black panther as goddess  whose name is Bast ( daughter of Amon-Ra) and later the name was tinkered by the Greek to mean  (Soul of Isis) Ba-Aset .  She is one of the well-loved goddesses of Egypt; especially lower Egypt.  Many temples and statues were built to her honor by her cult following in the cities of Memphis, Heliopolis, and Herakliopolis. However, of all the cities, none could surpass the reverence she received in the city of Busbastis near the Delta, which was named after her. Every year, in the months of April and May, the historian Herodotus noted that her yearly festivals drew some 700,000 people in huge ships singing songs and dancing as they head to the city. Prodigious amounts of wine were drunk in these festivals. Upon reaching Bubastis, great sacrifices were made. This annual festival went by different names including “Festival of Bast”, “Procession of Bast”, “Bast Goes Forth from Bubastis” and “Bast Guards the Two Lands”. The festivals continued until the destruction of the city in 350 BC by the Persians. What remains today are just ruins to remind us of its one-time glory and splendor  



 Black panthers are very shy and in the event you have been lucky to have sighted one it would more or less lounging on a distant tree. Due to the black color skin the black panther would find it difficult to camouflage itself like the normal leopards for  it can be seen quite easily even if the stalking their prey… possibly this is the reason for its shyness . But during the recent days I have been seeing the reports of regular sighting of this magnificent animal often which makes me conclude that the animal is becoming bolder day by day. The image above is with lots of clutter.. dry branches of the tree but then we may never get the perfect background and the foreground settings in the wild. I hope that you like these images and enjoy the same.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Does an endangered tiger deserve this inspite being a national animal !!!



This is a common topic of discussions these days and i am not an expert but a wild life lover who is frustrated and angry with the happening in our country with scant respect being shown to the endangered National animal Tiger . When a death of a Tiger  is reported there are flurry of activities by wildlife lovers and conservationists trying to get the relevant authorities to investigate the deaths and punish the people responsible in the event these deaths are unnatural.But then the government departments are just not bothered to do in depth investigations into the matter and this does frustrates most wild life lovers and the reactions can be seen on the social media networks. We did have a twitter storm to various government official to introduce accountability and stricter laws to protect these endangered tiger since it is not prevailing now.

Just couple of weeks back a well known and most photographed tiger of Bandipur named Prince was found dead and the FD initially gave out a statement that the tiger had died due to old age and starvation but kept the identity of the tiger shrouded. Wild life enthusiast delved deeper to find the identity of this tiger and finally when they were able to match the stripes they found it was the Prince. Body images given to the media did not tell the whole story as the face of the tiger was covered and it was then noticed by one wildlife reported that the tigers snout was missing and this led to protest by wildlife lovers at Bangalore demanding investigation into this matter and for having more transparencies in reporting findings of such deaths of the national animal. Finally the culprits to this gruesome cutting of the tiger snout were arrested and three canines of the tiger recovered from them.

Recent finding of tiger Shrinivas’s body buried in a farm land outskirts of Tadoba is sending shockwaves among the wildlife lovers and conservationists. He was the son of the legendary tiger Jai from UKWLS who has gone missing now for over a year and is suspected to be poached though there has been sporadic reporting of having been sighted in various parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh & Telengana. If a radio collared tiger is able to be killed by electrocution just imagine the fate of other tigers from the core forests that are not monitored at all. We may never get to know the true count of mortality of our national animal. The government agency NTCA claims that there have been only 9 deaths in the month of April 2017 however the record maintained by CLAW of the reported deaths from all parts of India stands at 14 tiger deaths this month.




In fact there are many more deaths of tigers that have taken place but has not been reported to the authorities and the reason I say this is because I read the following post on the CLAW portal wherein a member states that in the last 6 months three full grown tigers have been killed by truckers in Kaali Ghat section that connects Chalisgaon to Aurangabad …. See the screenshot of that post and the author is desperately trying to get in touch with concerned authorities to save a tigress with two cubs. Hats off to such wildlifers.. in a small way he is making an attempt to help saving the tiger.  

 There are so many tigers missing from the various regions and as their bodies / body parts are not found are not listed at dead. I did write about this last year too and you can read it here .There has been a recent case where one Tiger by named Ookan went missing from Tadoba in 2012 has been found this year in March 2017 hale and healthy nearly 100 kms away from where he was last sighted. This does bring cheer to wild lifers but this is one off case that was solved on the list of these missing tiger. The balance of the missing tigers may be dead with the bodies being hidden by perpetrators in fear of being convicted or the body parts have already been exported out of India.

  

Coming back to the death of Shrinivas , the farmer confessed that the electrified  fence he had put around the farm had killed the tiger but this does not account for the injured paw. Farmer stated that he removed the radio collar and threw it away from his farm and buried the body. The department states that it was due to the radio collar they were able to trace the last known location of Shrinivas and on intense search found the body.



The images of the body being dug out tells it all ... such an pathetic end to a magnificent animal.The arrested farmer has already got bail as per the post I read on social media. This is the kind of punishment one gets for killing a national animal that is endangered and it just shows how helpless we wild life lovers are. A strict punishment may have deterred others who think of poaching animals but with this sort of ruling they would hardly think twice before poaching… for they can get away with murder.



 
 I sincerely hope that the Government of India wakes up to the reality of the situation prevailing in the ground with respect to the endangered national animal instead of thinking all is fine by reading the reports of pencil pushers, who only make reports that are flowery to make on International symposiums or for the matter of getting funds.

PS: Image & post courtesy – CLAW portal on facebook. & Dhananjay Kumar
CLAW- Please revert back if you feel the same is inappropriate so that i can withdraw the blog.