Sanctuary Asia’s Facebook Finds
Sanctuary Asia’s Facebook presence was a natural corollary to our evolution from print and foot-on-the-ground reporting and campaigning. Our social-network savvy readers and supporters have responded admirably and this combination of three overlapping media is bringing new vigour to our 30-year-mission to celebrate, savour and protect the natural heritage of the Indian subcontinent. In recognition of the raw talent of our many ‘friends’, we reproduce here a handful of images from among the thousands posted on our pages. In the months ahead, this new social network is expected to expand exponentially. Just one video placed by us on YouTube (www.sanctuaryasia.com) has quickly turned into one of the world’s most popular environmental statements with more than 5.7 million views under our belt and counting. As a Sanctuary reader, you are already a part of our life and we urge you to be a part of our cyber mission, too. Add your strength to ours and explore more of the wonderful world of nature at www.facebook.com/sanctuaryasiapage and www.facebook.com/groups/sanctuaryasia.
Vatsal Trivedi is a student from Jamnagar with more than a passing interest in nature.
Photo: Vatsal Trivedi.
Photographed just as it was about to touch down on the shore of the Dhinchda Lake near Jamnagar (Gujarat), the Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus, is a common, but strikingly attractive raptor whose chestnut plumage is contrasted by its white head, breast feathers and black wing tips. Primarily a scavenger, this fish eater depends on the health of the wetlands, marshlands, rivers and coasts, where it can be seen feeding on fish, crabs and other creatures washed up on the shore. However, it is also an expert hunter and will take hares, bats, squirrels and other prey it can overcome. All too often, stealing from other birds also provides it with a meal.
Daanish Shastri is a student of Shri Ram School, Gurgaon.
Photo: Daanish Shastri.
This incredible image was taken by a 14-year-old boy who wrote to the Editor to say: “It was one of those days where you go out after breakfast from Dhikala hoping you’ll have some superb luck to see any animal in the piercing heat. I was with my friend, Arjun and his father. We were driving along the road from Mota Sal when we sighted a Shikra, which I photographed and as we proceeded along towards Thandi Sadak (Cold Road) our guide exclaimed: “TIGER”! We stopped the car and reversed and there sitting with its back to us was the striped predator we wanted to, but absolutely did not expect to see. After 10 minutes it got up and walked towards us, then slowly turned to its right and vanished into the forest. From its posture we knew it was poised to hunt. Within two minutes we heard a series of sharp calls followed by the chital running helter-skelter right on to the road. Slowly, I picked up my camera (D5100, fitted with a 300 mm. f4 lens) and started clicking, within six seconds it was over, the tiger had dived across the road in hot pursuit of its quarry and he gifted me with four images, one of which was selected to be printed in Sanctuary!
Hira Punjabi was nominated as Sanctuary’s Photographer of the Year in 2001.
Photo: Hira Punjabi.
The Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, breeds across Europe and Asia. It is migratory except in the mildest regions, and primarily winters in Africa. This impressive raptor preys on small mammals, insects and birds, grabbing them with its claws as it drifts low over fields and verdant wetlands. More often than not it can be seen flying, wings outspread in a shallow V, with dangling legs. In the Mediterranean region the birds are hunted mercilessly by ‘sportsmen’ in groups who use guns that give the birds little chance if any. In India their primary threat comes from habitat loss and bioaccumulation of pesticides ingested from its food that includes insects, amphibians, fish and carrion.
Riddhi Mukherjee is a trekker with an interest in wildlife photography.
Photo: Riddhi Mukherjee.
Far more dramatic than most tiger sightings, this predator and prey spectacle played itself out in the Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh. What we see is a Bengal monitor Varanus bengalensis closing in on the nest of a Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri in search of an easy meal (young parakeets). As many as 30 parakeets did all they could to dissuade the monitor, but all their valiant efforts went in vain as the reptile successfully raided their brood.
Amit Chand captured this amazing natural history moment in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Karnataka.
Photo: Amit Chand.
Hanging is not what comes automatically to mind when thinking of the words – predator alert! But that must surely be uppermost in the mind of the spider, whose life literally hangs on a thread. Far from being a bird brain, the Purple-rumped Sunbird Leptocoma zeylonica, found a most creative way to get to the spider by rolling the web up using its leg to edge the spider closer to it. And the spider? Its response was to secrete more silk, thus maintaining the distance from its arch predator. Unbelievably, the ploy worked. For several minutes the bird kept pulling the spider up and it kept releasing more silk... the bird gave up and flew away.
Paul Tan is a Singapore-based wildlife photographer.
Photo: Paul Tan.
This male Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella was photographed in the Kao Yai National Park, Thailand in April-May 2012. The chicks fledged a week after the image was taken. About 20 cm. long, the bird sports a sturdy red bill and a short crest that is slowly raised and lowered. Adult males have a chestnut forehead, cheeks and nape, and a bright blue cap. A bird of lowland rainforests, it is found up to 1,700 m. in Brunei, but normally below 1,100 m. altitude elsewhere in its range. Less dependent on pools or streams, it hunts lizards and other terrestrial prey. It nests in a hole in a rotting tree trunk or sometimes in the spherical nest of tree termites.
Sharad Agrawal lives in Udaipur where he often goes out in search of elusive wildlife images.
Photo: Sharad Agrawal.
What you see here is the only mammal in the world capable of true flight. Look even more closely and you will see a tiny pup clinging to its mother’s chest. Feeding on fruit and nectar, this Indian flying fox Pteropus giganteus was photographed in the evening in Udaipur. The bats have a feeding range that may extend to 400 sq. km. and because their young are totally helpless, mothers will expend extraordinary energy transporting them over long distances as they go out in search of sustenance. The destruction of old growth trees in urban areas adversely impacts the bats, even as it diminishes the quality of life of humans.
Vickey Chauhan is an Ahmedabad-based practicing Chartered Accountant who enjoys photographing wildlife.
Photo: Vickey Chauhan.
Thousands of mouse-tailed bats Rhinopoma sp. jostle for a foothold to roost in an abandoned sewage system in an old fort in the princely state of Baria in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district. Insectivorous mammals, these bats belong to the Rhinopomatidae family of which only five known species exists. These incredible creatures are especially adapted for survival in arid and semi-arid regions across the world and have even been seen in the pyramids of Egypt. Biologists say they can consume as much as 30 per cent of their body weight in a single feed. Their name comes from the unusually (for bats) long tails that are barely attached to their wing membrane. Their metabolism slows down when temperatures drop, though they do not really hibernate.
Kartik Mahajan is a wildlife photographer with a special interest in central Indian tiger landscapes.
Photo: Kartik Mahajan.
It is said that at one time a squirrel could move from the Western to the Eastern Ghats without ever once touching the ground. Just as the dolphin symbolises the quality of its aquatic habitat, the Indian giant squirrel, Ratufa indica, an arboreal, herbivorous rodent, indicates the health of forest canopies and seldom ever comes to the ground where predators lurk. This agile creature was captured ‘mid flight’ as it leapt from one branch to another in the Central Indian forests of the Bori-Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh.
Vivek S. Kale lives in Pune and is involved with wildlife conservation issues.
Photo: Vivek S. Kale.
A small Indian civet Viverricula indica is mowed down by a speeding vehicle in the scenic village of Anjarle in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. This slender, nocturnal creature preys on small mammals but supplements its diet with fruits, berries and flowers and thus helps to disperse seeds. Arboreal in nature, it is adversely affected by habitat destruction, which is often accompanied by new roads and highways that take a vicious toll on India’s wilderness areas and creatures ranging from frogs, snakes, birds, deer, leopards, tigers to even elephant calves.
Saptagirish Oleti is a software architect by profession and a wildlife photographer by passion.
Photo: Saptagirish Oleti.
Photographed in a grassland on the outskirts of Bengaluru on December 2011, this Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus swallowed gravel, preened for 10-15 minutes and then started regurgitating it. Gravel serves to grind food in the gut of some birds thus helping digestion. Appropriately called gizzard stones, these are normally round and smooth and may be passed out through excreta or regurgitated.
Tejas Soni’s nature photography has an impressive fan following.
Photo: Tejas Soni.
Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra clashing for mates in the grasslands of Velavadar in Gujarat. Grasslands are among the fastest-vanishing habitats in India and it is not surprising therefore that the animals are listed as endangered by the IUCN. At one time, cheetahs were imported from Africa by Maharajas to run down and hunt these fleet-footed antelopes, which can reach speeds as high as 80 kmph. The animals are revered by most Indian communities, particularly the Bishnois of Rajasthan.
First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXII No. 4, August 2012.