Saturday, December 25, 2010

African Animals - African Lions

Pictures of African Animals African Warthog Pictures and African Warthog Informations

Snow Bunny - Wild Animals

Hippo facts


Polar Bear
Homeland: South America, on the coasts of Chile and Argentina, and the Falkland Islands.

Eats: Fish, squid, and crustaceans

Fun facts:

• Many people think we penguins live way up by the North Pole, but actually, all penguins live in the southern hemisphere. (Unless, of course, we live in a zoo.) Some penguins, like Magellanic penguins, live in places where it’s not always all that cold. In fact, where I live in South America, summers can get downright warm! (The only way Nanuk and I know each other is from being penpals. He lives way at the top of the earth, and I live down toward the bottom.)

• Penguins have wings, yet we can’t fly. But like other birds who can fly, we have feathers. Lots and lots of feathers! I’ve got more than 70 feathers per square inch – far more than the average bird. My feathers are covered with a natural oil to keep me waterproof and warm.

• If you watched Peggy and me swim on the video to get to our little hike, you’ll see that we swim so fast we almost fly through the water. A penguin can swim at speeds of 15 miles per hour – that’s four times as fast as the speediest human swimmer!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Keoladeo Ghana National Park - [ Rajasthan ]

keolado_ghana.jpgJust 176 km. from Delhi is a very special wilderness - the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, one of the finest water-bird sanctuaries in the world. The 28.73 sq. km. lake and wetland was artificially created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur in the l9th century. By building small dykes and dams and diverting water from an irrigation canal, he converted this low lying area into a fine wild fowl shooting preserve. In a few years, the new wetland surrounded by marginal forests was able to support thousands of water-birds. Commonly referred to as Bharatpur, the Park is a delight for bird watchers. Over 300 species of birds are found here and raised paths, camouflaged by babul trees and undergrowth make viewing easy.
A quiet ride by boat in the early hours of the morning is also an unforgettable experience. There are mixed heronries on the half submerged babul trees and the cacophony is unbelievable as painted storks, open bills, spoon bills, egrets, cormorants, white ibis and multitudes of others, tend their young. Jacanas with their iridescent colours and elegant tail feathers and purple moorhen can be seen delicately treading over the floating vegetation. While harriers and fishing eagles circle overhead in search of prey, the pied kingfisher hovers dramatically over the water in a flurry of wings. There are varieties of storks and cranes and the local sarus crane is elegant in a livery of grey and red.
Every year Bharatpur waits with bated breath for the arrival of the Siberian cranes. There are only two wintering places for this rare species one in Iran and the other Bharatpur and these beautiful birds with their distinctive red beaks and facial patches, fly over 6400 km from their summer retreats in Siberia, to get to them. In 1996, there was great jubilation as a couple of Siberian cranes with young one made an appearance in Bharatpur after a lapse of three years. The forests around the lake at Bharatpur harbour the sambar, chital, nilgai, jackal, hyena, fox, mongoose and porcupine. Occasionally, a fishing cat can be seen scooping its prey from the water's edge. Pythons are also commonly seen sunning themselves along the edge of the paths or at Python Point.

General Information

Best time to visit :
Throughout the year.

Breeding season:

The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)

When you come across an elephant in the wild, or otherwise, you won’t need a book to tell you that it is the largest land mammal walking the earth in our era. Their height, weight and strength are almost legendary. Elephants were used by Asian Empires to gain battle superiority. The Kings used them as carriers of nobility. The common man used them for tasks requiring massive feats of strength, like transporting timber.

The elephant was, and to some extent still is, an integral part of this area, especially in India. Elephants have been around for almost 40 million years now. Although, their appearance has evolved to almost unrecognizable proportions in order to adapt to changing environment conditions. The original ancestor of the elephant, known to man, was the Moeritherium. It stood only around 3.5 feet tall and did not have a pronounced trunk like the one we immediately associate with the mention of an elephant. Due to migrations from one area, caused by adverse conditions created there, to other areas with more suitable but different conditions made the ancestors evolve over this long period of time to what we now recognize as the modern day elephant. In this transition stage, the more well known intermediate ascendants after the "little Moeritherium", were the mammoths and the mastodons. The main changes brought about in these species by evolution was in the over all size, the development of the proboscis (or trunk) and the increase in length of the seconds pair of teeth on the upper jaw (tusks). At this point of time, the elephant species is represented by two kinds. The Asian and The African.

The Asian and the African elephants are similar in general appearance but there are a few definite differences. A list of these differences is given below:

Asian Elephant

African Elephant


Average 2 feet shorter (9-10 feet)

Average 2 feet taller (11-12 feet)


Average 2000 pounds lighter

Average 2000 pounds heavier

(can weigh over 8 tons)


Rounded with slight hump in the middle

Have a dip in the middle



Larger and in the shape of the African continent. A pair can weigh up to 110 pounds


Consists of two domes

Consists of a single dome


Developed only in males. Female tusks too small to be visible outside

Developed in both male and female


Shorter and stockier



Has one "finger" at the tip

Has two "fingers" at the tip


Claimed to be stronger

Not as powerful as the Asian elephant, despite it’s larger size.

General Appearance

Shorter and rounder

Taller and slimmer

The elephant is unique in a couple of characteristics. It is an animal that lives longer in captivity and is also the only domesticated animal, which preferably is taken from the wild for sounder temperament. The average life expectancy of an elephant in the wild is 60 – 70 years, whereas it is around 70 – 80 years in domesticated ones. In the final stages of it’s life, the longevity of it’s life depends on it’s teeth. Elephants go through 6 sets of molars during their life span. The first set of teeth is pushed out by the new set at the age of 2. It is the fourth set at the age of 20 – 25 that is their first set of adult teeth. They get their last set around the age of 60. Once this last set wears out and the elephant can no longer eat, it dies.

Domesticating elephants is an expensive proposition because an elephant in the wild eats approximately 300 pounds of vegetation a day. It’s domesticated counter parts are known to eat even more. It consumes a whopping average of 300 liters of water a day, taking in approximately 60 to 80 liters in a single drink.

Another unique and amusing characteristic of elephants is that, despite their huge size and immense weight, their walk can be compared to the dance of a ballerina. Believe it or not but elephants walk on their toes! The heels are elevated with the five digits coming down at a steep angle. Under the heel is a larger cushioning pad of gristle, which other than relieving stress on the bones also allows the animal to be extremely surefooted and silent while walking. The entire "foot" is enclosed in a cylindrical shape and the external toenails are only superficial. It is possible for the number of nails to be different from the number of toes. It can also attain speeds up to 40 kilometers per hour on these feet.

The most prominent evolvement in elephants, except the increase in size, is the development of the trunk. The trunk other than being the nose is also the upper lip of the elephant’s mouth. The trunk is a highly efficient tool that consists of 40,000 muscles and tendons having the strength to tear down a tree and yet be nimble enough to pick up a matchbox. The "fingers" at the tip of the trunks enables them to grasp objects they need to left or break off. These trunks also make excellent snorkels for elephants while crossing deep rivers and lakes. Elephants are excellent swimmers. The other evolvement of a pair of teeth into tusks enables it to dig for water, roots, etc other than using them as weapons in a conflict.

The maximum weight is concentrated in the head
The tusks can grow extremely long and heavy. The record length of an African elephant’s tusks extended up to 11 feet 5.5 inches. The heaviest tusks recorded to date, also on an African elephant, weighed a total of 465 pounds. The left tusk was 10 feet 2.5 inches and weighed 240 pounds. The right tusk measured 10 feet 5.5 inches and weighed 225 pounds. The largest and tallest elephant records also come from Africa. The tallest measured 14.5 feet at the shoulders while in a reclining position and weighed 8.8 tons.

The largest measured 13.8 feet but weighed in at 13.5 tons! Some Asian elephants are close to these tusk dimensions but are definitely smaller and shorter by quite a margin.

Due to the size and strength of elephants, they obviously have very few natural enemies. There have been recorded instances of altercations between elephants and tigers but these are rare. One such famous incident is written about in Jim Corbett’s memoirs where two tigers took on the wrath of a tusker in a duel that lasted for many hours through the night. Another more recent incident is supposed to have occurred in Corbett National Park in India, where a crazed female elephant took on a fight with a tiger that had just killed it’s baby. The battle quite uniquely and amazingly ended in the death of all three animals. This lack of natural enemies is good for the elephant because of it’s life cycle. An elephant bears a child only once in approximately 3 – 4 years, although it can conceive from the age of 10 – 15 years till 60. The gestation period also is an extremely long 19 – 21 months, a record in itself. Due to these various factors, there can only be a very slow increase in the overall population, even if the species may be flourishing. The Asian elephant does have one advantage over it’s African cousin while facing one of it’s most dangerous enemies, Man. The absence of tusks of any consequence in female Asian elephants ensures that they are not targets for ivory poachers.

The presence of elephants in an area is a clear indication that the ecosystem there is flourishing. Due to their voracious appetites and large requirement of water to quench their thirst and also to bathe, elephants cannot live in desolate barren areas. Although an exception to this are some elephants living in desert surroundings close to the Skeleton Coast in Africa.

As elephants need to consume a lot of vegetation to satisfy their diet for a day, they are eating through most of it. They have a pretty fixed daily routine, which begins a couple of hours before sunrise. They begin by feeding at this time until the day begins to warm up, which is when they head for a shaded resting place. Elephants rest in a standing position or while reclining on their side. Once the heat of the day has passed by, they move out from these sheltered areas once again to feed. This meal continues till around midnight after which they move back to catch a few hours of sleep before repeating the cycle again.

Elephants live in a matriarchal society. The head of the family is usually an old female who is normally also the largest. Families usually consist of 3 –10 individuals, although many families come together during migrations to form very large herds. These herds sometimes number more than 60 animals. The families consist of cousin sisters, nieces, daughters, aunts, mothers, grandmothers and sub-adult males. The young are looked after and cared for by all the mature females and not just by the mother. The sub-adult males are expelled from the family when they are nearing adulthood. This is probably nature’s way of preventing inbreeding to keep a healthy race going. These expelled males mostly become solitary wanderers, although they have occasionally been known to congregate and form bachelor groups. These bull elephants are known for their more volatile temperament, especially at a time when a secretion is produced from their temporal glands. These are called "musth". In this phase, they have been known to cause a lot of damage to life and property. During the female mating cycle, bachelors join up with families and herds. They stay with them until the female’s cycle ends, which is usually a period of 10 – 15 days. During this period, face-offs and fights over females and territory are common among bulls in the same area. The breeding period is during the summer months.

Elephants make up for poor eyesight with excellent smelling and hearing powers
Elephants have poor eyesight but compensate for this with extremely good smelling and hearing powers. Their ears have another function other than hearing. This function is very similar to that of a radiator is a car. The ears are a maze of criss-crossing arteries carrying blood through them. Due to the thinner skin of the ears and the spread out surface area, they are more easily cooled, especially by fanning them.
This in turn also cools the blood passing through them, which brings down the temperature of the rest of the body. Elephants have a hide, which is more than an inch thick but is still extremely sensitive. It is to protect this skin that elephants have frequent baths, sometimes 3 –4 in a day, and then cover themselves with an armor of mud. This armor protects them from insects, skin diseases, sunburns and skin dehydration. This also helps keep their bodies cool in the warmer months. The brain of elephants is quite well developed and, although not as legendary as some tales claim it to be, they do have a good memory. It is due to this well developed brain and intelligence that elephants taken from the wild can be trained and domesticated.

The Asian elephant is found in India, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam and Kampuchea. The total population in this area is approximately 20,000. The Indian elephant is found in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam.

In India, the elephant is a revered animal. It is a part of Indian mythology and religion. For the protection of these magnificent animals, the government set up a project in 1991 – 92 called "Project Elephant". The main aims and objectives of this project are:

To create and implement policies and strategies to compensate for the livelihood lost of craftsmen involved earlier in the now banned trade of ivory products.
To educate people about the importance of the elephant in the ecosystem and to bring back the compassionate reverence for them.
To create policies and strategies for the protection of elephants from poaching and other threats.
To protect the habitat of the elephant which is under constant stress and threat from mankind invasion.
To protect, and if required create, transitional natural corridors used by elephants between habitats during their periods of migration.

To sort out man-elephant conflicts. Especially for people living in areas close to the natural habitats of these animals.
To ensure coordination at all levels in the effort to protect elephants and their habitats.
To create infrastructure and facilities, including manpower training for the purpose of this project. These trainings include specialisation required in the fields of veterinary, translocation and tranquilising methods.
To improve the welfare of elephants in domestic use.
In general, to ensure the survival and protection of the presently healthy population of Indian elephants.

The initially recognised reserves under this project :-

Silent Valley,
and Rajaji.

Buxa Tiger Reserve - [West Bengal]

Buxa Tiger Reserve was set up in the year of 1982-83 at the north eastern corner of West Bengal bordering Bhutan and Assam. This picturesque reserve with its prodigious Terai, Bhabar as well as Hilly landscape, is dissected by numerous rivulets. Its declared a National Park in January 1992.
The veritable flora and fauna of these wet forests having an annual downpour exceeding 5000 mm, attracts tourists and nature lovers every year. This part of the country is characterized by its high degree of plant & animal bio-diversity where 60% species are endemic to the area. The Generic diversity of mammals is second highest among all the tiger reserves of India. Astonishing bio-diversity of animals comprise of a reach avifauna of more than 230 identified species, 67 mammals (out of which 21 are endangered), 36 species of reptiles (10 numbers are endangered). Apart from Bengal Tiger the flagship species, there are plenty of Leopard, Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Indian Civet, Palm Civet, Wild Dogs, Malayan Giant Squirrels, Mangooses, Asian Elephant, Gaur, Small Claws Otter, Chital, Sambar, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Wild Buffalo, 3 varieties of Pythons, Monitor Lizard and a host of land tortoises. A number of animals like Chinese Pangolin. Regal Python (reticulate) Clouded Leopard are endemic to the region.
The Avifauna is rich in both endemic as well as migratory species. The swift rivers of Rydak and Jainti are visited by Trans Himalayan Migratory Goosanders, the beautiful Ibis Bill, resident Fork-tails, varieties of Red-stars, Wag-tails, the Narathali Lake is visited by migratory Common Teal, Gargani Teal, Large Whistling Teal, White Eyed Poachared etc. The Hornbills including greater Pied Hornbill abound the area. One of the rarest bird of India the Black-necked Crane has been sighted in the Reserve during the early winter. The migratory beautiful Black Stork is a visitor of the area. The monsoon ends and beautiful Minivets, Sultan tits arrive, during summer rare Ashyminivet is also sighted.

Wildlife Central

Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary: Madhya Pradesh

Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1975 Under Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and bio geographical province 4.8.4 (Indus-Ganges Monsoon Forest). Moreover the area of the sanctuary is 551.55 Mainly hilly state. Altitude ranges from 200-1000m.Mainly tropical Sal forests with other species at higher altitudes are the vegetation of this region.

Fauna: Leopard, Gaur, Chital, Wild Bear, Tiger, Leopard, Striped Hyaena, Jackal Sloth Bear, Indian Wild Dog, Chital Axis, Sambar, Nilgai, Four-Horned Antelope, Chinkara (mountain gazelle) Gazella, Blackbuck, Wild Boar And Others.

SOUTH AFRICA Cheetah and Kruger Park Adventure

This amazing 14-day trip combines the best of Africa!  Experience hands on conservation work in a Cheetah rehabilitation centre, journey through the wilds of the African savannah, assist researchers with wildlife monitoring and work with local African communities. This trip has it all!
In the Race Against Extinction program, you will help in daily care of many of the animals found at this 38 year old wildlife establishment as well as assisting with maintenance and educational activities. Animals you may encounter include cheetah, wild dog, brown hyena, serval, suni antelope, blue and red duiker and rare Egyptian vultures.  Duties will include daily care of the animals at the wildlife sanctuary, assisting in upgrading the enclosures and promoting conservation to local schools and underprivileged communities. 
The second week sees you flying across Southern African landscape to the wilds near Kruger National Park for the Conservation in Action program, where you will be based on 350 hectares of pristine bushveld at a private wildlife ranch.  The ranch is home to giraffe, wildebeest, kudu, impala, zebra, hyena, crocodiles and will soon be joined by cheetah.  The ranch is also surrounded by two large private wildlife reserves and home to the Big 5 – lions, elephants, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhino.  Assist in maintenance around the property, gain conservation training in animal track identification and anti-poaching work and help with important wildlife research on neighbouring reserves.  Get up close to animals on game drives throughout Kruger National Park and appreciate the majestic beauty of the South African wilderness.  There will also be the opportunity to assist local villages and communities, giving you a first-hand experience in African culture and lifestyle.
  • Volunteer work at a Cheetah and African Wild dog research and breeding centre
  • Safari drives in open game viewing vehicle in Kruger National Park
  • Work on a wildlife ranch with many different African species
  • Work on a Big 5 Wildlife reserve
  • Local community work
There will also be opportunities to visit other local attractions and national parks (at own expense).  Accommodation is in comfortable shared facilities at the rehabilitation centre and wildlife ranch.


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