Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bison Information

Early History

American Buffalo (Bison bison) It is believed that buffalo, or bison, crossed over a land bridge that once connected the Asian and North American continents. Through the centuries buffalo slowly moved southward, eventually reaching as far south as Mexico and as far east as the Atlantic Coast, extending south to Florida. But the largest herds were found on the plains and prairies from the Rocky Mountains east to the Mississippi River, and from Great Slave Lake in Canada to Texas.

Because the great herds were nearly gone before any organized attempts were made to survey populations, we may never know just how many buffalo once roamed North America, although estimates range from 30 to 75 million. "The moving multitude..darkened the whole plains," wrote Lewis and Clark, who encountered a herd at South Dakota's White River in 1806

By 1800, the small buffalo herds east of the Mississippi River were gone. Buffalo may have been killed to protect livestock and farmlands in that region. With westward expansion of the American frontier, systematic reduction of the plains herds began around 1830, when buffalo hunting became the chief industry of the plains.

Conservation of the buffalo came slowly. In May 1894, Congress enacted a law making buffalo hunting in Yellowstone National Park illegal. Eight years later, money was appropriated to purchase 21 buffalo from private herds to build up the Yellowstone herd. With adequate protection, this herd has steadily increased until it numbers almost 4,000 animals today.

Although the buffalo's size and color, which ranges from light to dark brown, vary in different areas of the country, experts generally agree that all American buffalo belong to the same species. The differences in appearance probably result from the variety of environments in which they live.

Like their close relatives, domestic cattle and sheep, buffalo are cloven-hoofed. Both males and females have a single set of hollow, curved horns. The male buffalo, called bulls, are immense, often weighing a ton or more and standing 5 to 6 feet high at the shoulders. The huge head and great hump covered with dark brown wooly hair contrast sharply with the relatively small hips. The females, or cows, are not as massive. Despite their great size and bulkiness, buffalo have amazing mobility, speed, and agility, and are able to sprint at speeds of up to 30 mph.

In the spring, buffalo begin to shed their heavy winter coats, and soon their hair hangs in tatters. To hasten shedding and possibly to relieve their itching skin, buffalo rub against large stones and trees. By late spring, the only remaining long hairs are on the head, forelegs, and hump. To escape the torment of attacking insects, buffalo wallow in dust or sand.

Later History

Two hundred years ago, anywhere from 30 to 70 million bison, or buffalo, roamed free in North America. The aboriginal people who lived on the Great Plains relied on these wild mammals for food, clothing, and shelter. During the late 1800s, commercial hide hunters, settlers, and thrill seekers shot literally millions of bison. This killing spree brought the species to the verge of extinction and opened up the prairies for agriculture.

Since about 1900, the population of bison in North America has increased, but not to anything near its original numbers. The great free-ranging herds have disappeared. The centuries-old migratory trails that the great beasts scored across the western grasslands have given way to freeways and farms. The wild herds that remain move freely only within parks and other wildlife sanctuaries, many of which are fenced.

Distribution and population

There are two living subspecies of wild bison in North America: the plains bison Bison bison bison and the wood bison Bison bison athabascae. The map shows the bison's present, historic, and prehistoric distribution.

Two hundred years ago, the plains bison was by far the more common of the two subspecies. It was the dominant grazing animal of the interior plains of the continent, and it often occurred in large herds. A smaller population occurred east of the Mississippi.

Today, there are comparatively few plains bison. A herd of about 600 is fenced in at Elk Island National Park, 64km east of Edmonton. There are small numbers at Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. There are at least 25 herds of plains bison in national and state parks and wildlife refuges in the United States, numbering more than 14,000 animals. There are more than 140,000 in private collections and on a large number of commercial ranches in both Canada and the United States.

The wood bison has always lived to the north of its prairie cousin. In historic times its range was centered in northern Alberta and the adjacent parts of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan. Herds made use of aspen parkland, the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, the lowlands of the Peace and Slave rivers, and the coniferous forests and wetland meadows of the upper Mackenzie Valley. The wood bison was never as abundant as the plains bison, probably numbering no more than 170,000 at its peak.

In April 1994, there were approximately 3000 wood bison in Canada, most in five "free-roaming" herds, the largest of which consists of more than 2000 animals in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary near Fort Providence, N.W.T. The source herd of 350 animals for the recovery program is at Elk Island National Park. The total population is small enough that the wood bison is considered "threatened" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

The other large free-roaming herd of bison is in Wood Buffalo National Park, where there are about 2000 animals, descendants of mixed plains and wood bison stock.


A Boar is a male pig gone wild. Adult females are known as sows. The name also applies to the wild boar that originated in Europe and formerly ranged the entire continent, northern Africa, and western Asia. The European wild boar is a different color, grayish-black and about 1.2 m (about 4 ft) long and 91 cm (36 in) high at the shoulder, with short, woolly hair interspersed with bristles forming a mane along the spine. The lower teeth grow into formidable tusks, which turn up and are sometimes 30 cm (12 in) long.

The tusks are used for defense and digging. The boar usually inhabits marshy forestland, feeding largely on roots and grain, although occasionally it kills and eats small animals. Boars travel in small groups. Size and body variation in boars is probably due to interbreeding between wild boars and domestic stock that have escaped and become wild. Wild boars have been introduced to 20 states in the United States.

Boar hunting was formerly a popular sport throughout Europe, but is now confined chiefly to central and eastern Europe, the only part of the continent where the animal is still abundant. In India a wild boar, larger than its European counterpart, is hunted by people on horseback with lances in the sport called pigsticking. Scientific classification: The wild boar belongs to the family Suidae

Cobra in India

Cobra in India
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Class: Reptiles
Diet: Small mammals, reptiles, amphibians
Size: Body:1.8 - 2.2 m (6 - 7 1/4 ft)
Scientific Name: Naja naja
Habitat: Rainforest, Rice fields, Cultivated land
Range: India, Central Asia, Southeast Asia
About Cobra in India
The Indian Cobra is known around the world as highly venomous snake that feeds on rodents, lizards, and frogs. As well as biting, the Indian cobra can attack or defend itself from a distance by "spitting" venom, which, if it enters the opponent's eyes, causes severe pain and damage. The snake actually forces the venom through its fangs, by exerting muscular pressure on the venom glands, so that it sprays out in twin jets for 2 m (6 1/2 ft) or more.

Behaviour of Indian Cobra
When threatened, the Indian Cobra will assume its characteristic posture. It will raise the front one-third of its body and elongate its long, flexible neck ribs and loose skin to form its distinctive hood, on which are resembled eyes. .

Status of Cobra in India
Although the Indian Cobra is not an endangered species, it has recently been hunted for its distinctive hood markings in the production of handbags. It is listed under the treaty because it closely resembles other species that are threatened and in need of protection.

Physical Characteristics of Indian Cobra
The Indian Cobra's most known characteristic features are the wide black band on the underside of the neck, and the hood marking design which shows half-rings on either side of the hood. It is a smooth-scaled snake with black eyes, a wide neck and head, and a medium-sized body. Its colouring varies from black, to dark brown, to a creamy white. The body is usually covered with a spectacled white or yellow pattern, which sometimes forms ragged bands. The Indian cobra may grow from 1.8m to 2.2m.

Those Cobras which have the single ring on the hood are found in Assam and Eastern India and spit venom like the Ringhals Cobra of South Africa which can eject a spray for a distance of more than two meters and cause severe eye pain, sometimes blindness. Keepers who attend this particular variety of Cobra sensibly wear goggles.

Most Poisonous - The King Cobra or Hamadryad
The King Cobra or Hamadryad, is the largest of all poisonous snakes. This sometimes 5 meter long, lethal creature is entirely a snake eater. It enjoys Pythons, other Cobras, and even its own species. The King is aggressive, unpredictable, and can strike without provocation. It is most intelligent. When erect it can stand up to 2 meters in height. In certain fertility rites in Burma, a woman desirous of offspring is required not only to approach the King Cobra but to plant a kiss on its mouth. If she is successful in doing so she will bear many children; if she fails, obviously none.

Natural History
The Indian cobra feeds on rodents, lizards and frogs. It bites quickly, and then waits while its venom damages the nervous system of the prey, paralyzing and often killing it. Like all snakes, N. naja swallows its prey whole. This species sometimes enters buildings in search of rodent prey. In its characteristic threat posture, the Indian cobra raises the front one-third of its body and spreads out its long, flexible neck ribs and loose skin to form a disklike hood, on the back of which there are markings resembling eyes.

Indian cobras pay more attention to their eggs than is usual in snakes. The 8 to 45 eggs (usually 12 to 20) are laid in a hollow tree, a termite mound or earth into which the snakes tunnel. The female guards the clutch throughout the incubation period, leaving them only for a short time each day to feed.

Economic Importance for Humans
The Indian Cobra eats rats and mice that carry disease and eat human food. Also, cobra venom is a potential source of medicines, including anti-cancer drugs and pain-killers.

This species is highly venomous, and its bite can be lethal. Because it hunts rodents that live around people, it is often encountered by accident, and many people die each year from N. naja bites.

The Festival of the Serpents
Nagapanchami or the Serpent Festival occurs in India generally in August after the monsoon rains. It is then that the full impact of Cobra power is manifest. Throughout the country Cobras are either brought into the villages and fed, or effigies of the snake are anointed and worshipped. Rarely has it ever been recorded that a fatality has occurred from snakebite during this occasion; the Cobras appear to sense they are being revered.

Although there may be variations in the date and in the local traditions and modes of observance, Nagapanchami is celebrated according to ancient rites. The festival continues to testify to the feelings of awe and veneration which the Cobra evokes in the minds of the population since the earliest times remembered. The Cobra is a graceful animal and appears always to carry an air of dignity and nobility. The physical charisma with which it is endowed is without doubt also one of the reasons why it, among all snakes, was chosen by the Nagas to be their totem.

Snake Charming
Snake charming is fascinating and at times mystifying. The eyes of the Cobra are hauntingly black and hypnotic; the snake is beautiful to watch when it is being worked by a skilled charmer. The hood is then spread and the markings apparent. The colours of the hood merge from black to brown to beige and, when framed against the sunlight, it appears almost translucent. No visit to India is complete without experiencing it.

But the true essence of the art is not observed by the tourist. There are initiates of the Shiva cult who handle Cobras without any danger of being bitten. The ‘Commercial’ snakes, generally the Spectacled Cobra, have either had their fangs extracted or the poison sacs removed. In general their lifespan is shortened due to mouth rot. The performance, nevertheless, is spectacular and colourful.

Geographic Range
Palearctic, Oriental: Pakistan, India (throughout most of the country),

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, possibly E. Afghanistan.

Indian Peacock

The male Indian Peafowl, commonly known as the peacock, is one of the most recognizable birds in the world. These large, brightly colored birds have a distinctive crest and an unmistakable ornamental train. The train (1.4-1.6 meters in length) accounts for more than 60% of their total body length (2.3 meters). Combined with a large wingspan (1.4-1.6 meters), this train makes the male peafowl one of the largest flying birds in the world. The train is formed by 100-150 highly specialized uppertail-coverts. Each of these feathers sports an ornamental ocellus, or eye-spot, and has long disintegrated barbs, giving the feathers a loose, fluffy appearance. When displaying to a female, the peacock erects this train into a spectacular fan, displaying the ocelli to their best advantage.
The more subtly colored female Peafowl is mostly brown above with a white belly. Her ornamentation is limited to a prominent crest and green neck feathers. Though females (2.75-4.0 kg) weigh nearly as much as the males (4.0-6.0 kg), they rarely exceed 1.0 meter in total body length.

National Insignia
The Indian peacock,Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus), the national bird of India, is a colourful, swan-sized bird, with a fan-shaped crest of feathers, a white patch under the eye and a long, slender neck.

The peacock is widely found in the Indian sub-continent from the south and east of the Indus river, Jammu and Kashmir, east Assam, south Mizoram and the whole of the Indian peninsula. The peacock enjoys immense protection. It is fully protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection) Act, 1972.

Distribution and Habitat
The Indian Peafowl occurs from eastern Pakistan through India, south from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka. Though once common in Bangladesh, it may now be extinct in that country. Its highly ornamental appearance motivated early seafarers to transplant the peafowl to their homelands in other parts of the western world. Phoenician traders in the time of King Solomon (1000 B.C.) introduced the birds to present-day Syria and the Egyptian Pharaohs.

In its native India, the peafowl is a creature of the open forests and riparian undergrowth. In southern India, it also prefers stream-side forests but may also be found in orchards and other cultivated areas.

Indian Peafowl do most of their foraging in the early morning and shortly before sunset. They retreat to the shade and security of the forest for the hottest portion of the day. Foods include grains, insects, small reptiles, small mammals, berries, drupes, wild figs, and some cultivated crops.

Conservation and History of Relationship with Man
The great beauty and popularity of the Indian Peafowl has guaranteed its protection throughout most of its native and introduced ranges. It is the national bird of India. The peafowl is prominent in the mythology and folklore of the Indian people. The Hindus consider the bird to be sacred because the god Kartikeya (son of the Lord Shiva and Parvati and brother to the god Ganesh) rides on its back. Legends hold that the peafowl can charm snakes and addle their eggs.

Greek mythology describes how the peacock acquired the many eyes in his ornamental train. The goddess Hera had a beautiful priestess named Io. Io was greatly admired by Zeus. To protect her from Hera’s jealousy Zeus transformed Io into a heifer. Hera tricked Zeus into giving the heifer to her as a gift and set her faithful servant Argus to watch over her. Argus had numerous eyes all over his body, making him a natural choice for the assignment. Zeus sent the god Hermes to free Io from Hera’s watchman. Hermes charmed Argus to sleep until all of his eyes were closed and then killed him. To honor her faithful watchman, Hera took Argus’ eyes and placed them on the tail of the peacock.

This long and close association with humans has proven the peafowl’s adaptability to human-altered landscapes. This species does not appear to need any additional legal protection or conservation attention.

Camel in India

Camel in India
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Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
Family: Camelidae
Genus: Camelus
Species: Dromedarius

The dromedary camel is characterized by a long-curved neck, deep-narrow chest, and a single hump. Hair length is longer on the throat, shoulder, and hump. The size of the hump varies with the nutritional status of the camel, becoming smaller to non-existent during times of starvation.

Average Statistics
Lifespan 40-50 yrs
Geographic Range Africa, the Middle East, & Africa.

The dromedary camel is a herbivore, eating primarily thorny plants and dry grasses.

Social Habbits
Dromedaries usually form groups of 2-20 individuals. The group, or family, consists of one male, and one to several females, subadults, and young. The male is the dominant member of the family group and directs the family from the rear while the females take turns leading. Dromedaries tend to travel by walking single file.

Camels typically have 1 offspring at a time, after a gestation period of 15 months. Young are raised for a period of 2 years, before reaching adulthood. Camels reach secual maturity and begin mating at approximately 4-5 years of age.

Relationship with Humans
The dromedary camel is used as a beast of burden by humans and also provides humans with milk, meat, wool, leather, and fuel from dried manure. Through these services, the dromedary camel has enabled humans to inhabit the seemingly inhabitable desert.

Bengal Tiger in India

About Royal Bengal Tiger
Since the era of gods and goddesses, Tiger has been of great importance in India. It has been mentioned in every myth, epic and literature. The only place where Royal Bengal Tiger is found is the land of natural heritage, India. The Bengal Tiger is native to the Indian Peninsular. It also lives in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Bhutan and in Burma. A powerful hunter with sharp teeth, strong jaws, and an agile body, the Royal Bengal Tiger is the largest member of the cat family. It is also the largest land-living mammal whose diet consists entirely of meat. Its length can measure up to 10 feet and has a weight ranging from 180 to 260 kgs. Following are the details of Royal Bengal Tiger.
Bengal Tiger
Latin Name of Bengal Tiger: Panthera tigris

Length :
Males: 8.8 feet-10.2 fee
Females: 7 .11 feet - 8.7 feet

Males: 419-569 pounds
Females: 221-353 pounds

Diet: Consists of pigs, deer, antelopes and buffalo.

Habitat of Bengal Tiger
The habitat of this exquisite Tiger varies from the largest estuarine delta Sundarban, which is the biggest colony of the `Royal Bengal Tigers' to the desert land of Ranthambore, from the magnificent hills of Himalayas to Bandipur in the peninsular India.
Bengal Tiger
The Royal Bengal Tiger - The Endangered Species
The Bengal tiger is endangered from loss of habitat. It's estimated that less than 3,000 Bengal tigers are left in the wild today. In India we had over forty thousand tigers in the beginning of the 20th century, but the number has decreased considerably. For example, the authorities of the Buxa Tiger Reserve in North Bengal estimated the number of Royal Bengal tigers in the reserved areas as 32, as per the census in 1997, a notch above the figure of 31, as per the 1995 census. The reasons for tiger becoming an endangered species are uncontrolled cutting of trees resulting in the shrinkage of the habitat of the tiger, decrease of preys and an increase of poaching for its beautiful skin. To stop this and to increase the number of tigers, Government of India initiated the 'Project Tiger' in 1973, when the number of tigers in India was less than 2000. This project entailed the creation of nine tiger reserves, now this number has increased.

Due to above measures, it can thus be seen that out of five surviving sub-species of tigers, the position of the Bengal tiger animal is the most satisfactory and India accounts for 75 per cent of the species, which is roughly 60 percent of the global population of all tiger sub species put together.

The Royal Bengal Tiger animal lives in varied habitats open jungles, humid evergreen forests and mango grove swamps. Its diet consists mainly of deer, antelopes, gaursand wild pigs. Sometimes it also captures birds, lizards, turtles, fishes, frogs and crabs. Royal Bengal Tigers hunt on their own and usually lead a solitary existence, each in its own territory.

Characterstics of Bengal Tiger
Tigers lead solitary lives, and the courtship period, and association between mother and cub is their only interaction and association. Tigers are entirely different in their hunting habits from lions, and hence they are mutually exclusive in their distribution. Tigers rest during the day in the shade, and begin to hunt for food at dusk. They have keen eye sights and a sharp hearing that helps them stalk their prey. Tiger killings are split second affairs where the prey hardly has any chance of survival. Its formidable and retractile claws play a significant role in capturing and holding on to its prey.

Tigresses are devoted mothers who are very protective of their cubs. They look after their young till they are about two and a half years old.

Black Buck Antelope in India

About Black Buck Antelope
Black Buck, common name for an antelope, mainly of India but with other small populations in Pakistan and Nepal. The black buck has ringed horns that have a moderate spiral twist of three to four turns and are up to 70 cm (28 in) long. The name black buck has also been applied to the sable antelope of Africa. The adult male stands about 80 cm (about 32 in) at the shoulder and weighs 32 to 43 kg (71 to 95 lb). The body's upper parts are black; the underparts and a ring around the eyes are white. The light-brown female is usually hornless. Males are dark brown. Black bucks frequent the open plains in herds. When the rut (mating season) reaches a peak, one male establishes dominance.Black Buck

Kala Hiran also called Indian Black Buck Antelope (Antelope cervicapra L.). It has four sub species, they are:
» Antelope cervicapra cervicapra
» Antelope cervicapra rajputanae
» Antelope cervicapra centralis
» Antelope cervicapra rupicapra

It used to be found all over India except the northeast. Now it is seen in Panjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat and central India. It does not live in dense forest but in open plains. It is one of the fastest animals on earth and can out run any animal over long distances. Open plains, which allows it to move fast, are therefore needed to protect it from predators.

The males darken at maturity and the most dominant male in the herd has a black coat. White highlights the eyes, ears, chin, under parts, and rump. Even fawns have these markings. They are brown but turn tan after about a month. Grown males have ringed horns spiraling in a V at least thirty-three centimeters above the head. Record trophies exceed fifty centimeters. The black buck eats mainly grasses. Pods, fruits, and flowers supplement this diet. Few black bucks live longer than twelve years, and their maximum life span is about sixteen years.

Importance of Black Buck
Biological importance
As other animal it is also a part of Nature and we need to conserve it for future generation. Black buck is one of 26 species of mammals, which have been declared endangered and protected by low in Nepal .

Genetic importance
Cross breeding and development of high breed for domestic use.

Economic importance
Each species has value and meaning. In present context Biodiversity richness is greater than monetary value.

Local importance
Tourist, researcher, animal lover may come to see this important animal and it will help the diffusion of local culture or production to the external national or international visitor.

National importance
Tourism development and decentralization of tourist flow.

Ecological importance
System within a system
Black Buck

Tourism and Eco-tourism
Cultural important in Hinduism and Buddhism: Black buck is a vehicle of Chandrama (soma or chandra) (moon). This is a symbol of purity prosperity and peace. Its skin use in the time of taking secret thread (bratabanda) as well as at the time of worshipping. In Buddhism, a pair of buck symbolizes Buddha when he turned to the Sarnath India. The horns and skin are also regarded as sacred object in Hinduism.

Threat for Black Buck in India
The main reason of population loss are:
• Poaching
• Predation
• Habitat destruction
• Overgrazing
• Diseases
• Inbreeding and
• Visitors

Constant persecution by man has sadly reduced their number. Their large herds, which once freely roamed in the plains of North India where they thrive best, are no longer visible. During the eighteenth, nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, black buck was the most hunted wild beast all over India. Till Independence, many princely states used to hunt this Indian Antelope and gazelle with cheetahs. Within Black Buck habitat people are leaving and domestic animals are free to graze this area as well. In one hand there is very limited land for Black Buck and there is high pressure of domestic animal as well as the people.

Home of the Indian Black Buck
Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary
This is the home of the Indian black buck. Velavadar in the Bhal region of Saurashtra is a unique grassland ecosystem that has attracted fame for the successful conservation of the black buck - the fastest of the Indian antelopes, the wolf and the lesser florican.

Once found in open plains throughout the country and the state of Gujarat, its largest population at present occurs in Velvadar National Park. This exclusively Indian animal is perhaps the most graceful and beautiful of its kind. It has ringed horns that have a spiral twist of three to four turns and are upto 70 cm long. The body's upper parts are black and the underparts and a ring around the eyes are white. The female, light brown in colour is usually hornless.

The fastest of the Indian antelopes, they move off in a series of amazing leaps and bounds when threatened and then break into a lightening run.

A word of praise would not be out of place for the Kathi community who like the Bishnoi community have protected the black buck with vigour and zeal as it is associated with their past history of valour and religious practices.


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