It’s A Tiger, It’s A Leopard, It’s A Wonderful World!
Even as life forms exhibit astonishing diversity on the planet, an underlying commonality underscores the art of survival. Sanctuary presents a series of images of varied creatures mirroring their behaviour in the wild. Clearly a common thread weaves through all of nature’s tapestry.
The Great Outdoors
A tiger Panthera tigris, stares into the great outdoors of Corbett’s Dhikala grasslands. The cat’s orange fur and black stripes help it merge into its grassland habitat, while its conspicuous white spots on the back of its ears enable cubs to keep track of their mother as they follow her in tall grassland habitats. Moving its ears like antenna, the tiger uses its acute sense of hearing both to hunt and to protect itself from danger, which often comes in the shape and form of a rival tiger.
Photographer: Sunaina Barua
Location: Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand
Details: Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Lens: Canon EF 300 mm. f/2.8L IS USM + 1.4x III, Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec., Aperture: f/4.5, ISO: 1250, Focal length: 420 mm.
Date: March 10, 2015, 6:00 a.m.
In one of Satpura Tiger Reserve’s spectacular meadows, a young leopard Panthera pardus fusca, surveys its domain. Like the tiger’s stripes, a leopard’s rosettes help break the outline of its body in tall grass, enabling it to launch surprise attacks. Dr. George Schaller, legendary conservation biologist, suggests that variations in markings could possibly serve as recognition signals between animals. Leopards give tigers a wide berth and will scamper up a nearby tree to avoid being overpowered by its much more powerful cousin. The white spots behind the ears seem to serve a similar purpose for both cats.
Photographer: Surya Ramachandran
Location: Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Details: Camera: Canon EOS 6D, Lens: 150-500 mm., Shutter speed: 1/250 sec., Aperture: f/8, ISO: 2000, Focal length: 500 mm.
Date: July 19, 2013, 01:58 p.m.
Love Makes The World Go Round
In Amboli, a male beetle mounts a female to initiate copulation. All beetles reproduce sexually, with the male’s sperm being transferred directly to the female to fertilise her egg. Of course, the mating behaviour varies from species to species with males courting females in time-honoured ways. If the male’s advances are accepted, the female will allow him to insert his aedeagous into her genital opening to transfer a package of sperm. If not, he looks for another mate. Afterall, it is love that makes the world go round!
Photographer: Chandrashekhar Shirur
Location: Amboli, Maharashtra
Details: Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Lens: Canon EF-S55-250 mm. f/4-5.6 IS II, Shutter speed: 1/60 sec., Aperture: f/5.6, ISO: 800, Focal length: 70 mm.
Date: June 26, 2016, 11:01 a.m.
In the rainforests of the Sharavathi Valley, a critically endangered male Kottigehar torrent frog Micrixalus kottigeharensis clasps his forelegs around a female’s middle in a ‘false’ mating position known to herpetologists as ‘amplexus’. In most frog species, egg fertilisation takes place outside the female’s body, which is why this position is held long enough to allow the sperm to reach the eggs, both of which are released simultaneously. Frog species have been recorded holding the amplexus position for hours and, some claim, even days. For reasons not fully understood, some females of a species may release just a few, perhaps even just one egg, while females of other species may produce several hundred eggs.
Photographer: Angad Achappa
Location: Sharavathi Rainforest, Karnataka
Details: Camera: Nikon D3S, Lens: 105 mm. f/2.8, Shutter speed: 1/160 sec., Aperture: f/13, ISO: 1000, Focal length: 105 mm.
Date: August 23, 2014, 07:45 p.m.
The simple rule of survival is eat or be eaten. Every species on Earth has been given the means to survive and for most herbivores this involves being able to outrun or outsmart predators. An Indian, or black-naped hare Lepus nigricollis, so named after a patch of black fur that runs along its neck, is seen bounding across a scrubland on the outskirts of Bengaluru. These fleet footed hare are widely distributed across India (except for the high Himalaya and the Sundarbans). Preferring grasslands, fallow fields, forest edges and blanks, these Lagomorphs are surprisingly, amongst the fastest small mammals in the world, capable of reaching speeds exceeding 60 km. per hour.
Photographer: Saravana Gurusamy
Location: Banergatta, Karnataka
Details: Camera: Canon EOS 30D,
Lens: EF 100-400 mm. f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec., Aperture: f/7.1, ISO: 320, Focal length: 400 mm.
Date: April 03, 2010, 09:12 a.m.
An Indian giant squirrel Ratufa indica finds itself uncharacteristically stranded on the forest floor in Nagarahole’s Kabini forest. A tree upper-canopy dwelling species, the squirrel rarely leaves the refuge of heavily-branched trees in which it builds its nest. The long tail helps the agile rodent balance as it bounds with ease along its branch-highways. Exceptionally strong hind leg muscles enable the rodent to leap astounding distances spanning six metres from tree to tree when escaping predators including raptors, leopards and martens, or accessing ripe fruit, flowers, nuts and even bird’s eggs.
Photographer: Gaurav Ramnarayanan
Location: Kabini, Karnataka
Details: Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: Nikon 300 mm. f/2.8 VR + 1.7x Teleconverter, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec., Aperture: f/8, ISO: 1600, Focal length: 500 mm.
Date: April 12, 2012, 07:49 a.m.
Look Ma, No Hands
Found near small streams in densely-shaded, lowland forests, an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca swallows a skink in Chiplun, Maharashtra. Unlike most other kingfishers that feed on fish, the Oriental Dwarf feeds primarily on insects, small lizards and frogs. The smallest of the kingfisher species in India, it overcomes prey such as lizards or frogs by holding them in its beak and repeatedly hitting them against a stone or tree stump before tossing and swallowing them head-first.
Photographer: Shivaram Subramaniam
Location: Chiplun, Maharashtra
Details: Camera: Nikon D4, Lens: 600 mm. f/4, Shutter speed: 1/1250 sec., Aperture: f/4, ISO: 2000, Focal length: 600 mm.
Date: July 12, 2015, 05:22 p.m.
An Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis photographed in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve expertly tosses a scorpion into the air before swallowing it. Commonly seen in open grassland and scrub forest habitats, the Roller feeds on insects, arachnids, small reptiles and amphibians. The bird hunts by sitting motionless at a high vantage point, before swooping down on unsuspecting prey… after which it returns to its perch to wait for another meal.
Photographer: Susmita Datta
Location: Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
Details: Camera: Canon EOS 60D, Lens: SIGMA 150-500 mm. f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec., Aperture: f/6.3, ISO: 2500, Focal length: 500 mm.
Date: June 08, 2016, 06:21 a.m
Male Indian one-horned rhinos Rhinoceros unicornis jostle for supremacy in the Kaziranga National Park. Dominant males will often instigate fights, which can sometimes cause wounds grievous enough to kill. Each weighing more than two tonnes, fortunately most bouts involve non-lethal sparring to establish rights to mates, with the loser quickly giving way to its more powerful competitor. Unlike their African counterparts that use horns in tussles, Indian rhinos use their incisors to inflict bloody bite wounds
Photographer: Jayant Sangale
Location: Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Details: Camera: Nikon D5200, Lens: Tamron 150-600 mm., Shutter speed: 1/200 sec., Aperture: f/5.6, ISO: 800, Focal length: 300 mm.
Date: March 23, 2016, 05:05 p.m.
Male chital deer Axis axis, spar in the Kanha Tiger Reserve. Sparring is preceded by dominance displays involving a slow approach towards each other. Such bouts are usually not serious between well-matched adults, but instances have been recorded where lethal harm has been inflicted by a horn that punctures the opponent’s body to strike at a vital organ. Rarely, horns may get inextricably interlocked, leading to the death of both animals.
Photographer: Nilesh Rathod
Location: Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Details: Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Lens: Tamron 150 - 600 mm. f/5-6.3, Shutter speed: 1/180 sec., Aperture: f/5.6, ISO: 800, Focal length: 552 mm.
Date: May 22, 2016, 12:55 p.m.
Holding On For Dear Life
A bark gecko Hemidactylus sp. pursues its prey on a leaf in an urban park in Rajkot, Gujarat. Unlike tree frogs, geckos maintain a dry but firm grip by employing Van der Waals force, which involves the weak molecular bonds between minute hair-like structures called setae on its toe pads and the surfaces on which they stand. This ability to attach itself to surfaces that cannot possibly support most other creatures, spells the difference between life and death for the gecko.
Photographer: Bhavya Joshi
Location: Rajkot, Gujarat
Details: Camera: Canon EOS 70D Lens: Canon EF 100 mm. f/2.8 Macro USM, Shutter speed: 1/100 sec., Aperture: f/5.6, ISO: 1000, Focal length: 100 mm.
Date: June 28, 2017, 10:38 p.m.
A Malabar gliding frog Rhacophorus malabaricus rests on a leaf in the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa. By adjusting the angle of their toes, tree frogs are able to attach and detach themselves from seemingly precarious perches. A coating of thin mucus on the frogs’ toes facilitates adhesion in a manner comparable to the tendency of wet tissue paper to stick to glass.
Photographer: Baiju Patil
Location: Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa
Details: Camera: Nikon D800E Lens: 105 mm. f2.8, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec., Aperture: f/13, ISO: 200, Focal length: 105 mm.
Date: June 28, 2016, 07:23 a.m.
Source: First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVIII No. 2, February 2018.