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Thread: Country notebook:m.krishnan

  1. #161
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    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : Stag parties in Kanha : The Sunday Statesman : 18 November 2018
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    STAG PARTIES IN KANHA
    ( CHITAL)

    " I looked for Stag-parties of Chital in the Kanha National Park. Here, as in places in Uttar Pradesh, the deer can be seen in large herds in comparatively open country, and on somewhat similar ground. In the Masinagudi area of the Mudumalai Sanctuary of Madras, I have repeatedly observed large Stag parties in September- October.

    In other gregarious deer, such as Swamp Deer, such seasonal schools of adult males are well known.

    Chital are highly gregarious, particularly when living not in tree forests, but in open scrub jungles; but so far as I know, no one before me has reported regular herds of Stags among them. I have watched such Stag-parties in the Masinagudi area over many years -- in September-October herds consisting only of Stags, at times over 150 in strength, can be seen here; some of the Stags are in hard horn, some in velvet and quite a few have polled heads, having just shed their antlers, so that from a distance (and it is hard to get close to these deer in the open country) they look like big hinds.

    However, by watching them through glasses as they crossed a ridge in a line, silhouetted against the I had satisfied myself that there were only adult Stags in the herd. Sometimes (and this is true of Swamp deer, too) an old or sub-adult hind or two may be found with a school of Stags, but this does not make it any less of Stag-party.

    In Kanha, I was not able to see any large school of Chital Stags. But I was there in May; may be in the cold weather, after the rains, there are big herds of Stags to be seen here too, though the grass and herbage will be obscuringly tall then. However, I did see quite a few small parties,from 3 to 9, consisting entirely of stags. These were in hard horn, and among them were some superb animals, with magnificent antlers. Many of them were limping, and carried flesh wounds.

    There is no definite rut, confined to a particular season or part of the year, among Chital, even in North India; Stags in velvet and in hard horn, and very young fawns, may be seen at all seasons. Moreover, the courtship is a rather prolonged process as among most herbivores, though the climatic act of mating is quick, a fact little appreciated by most naturalists and unknown to quite a few of them. As in most deer, Chital stags, when they engage in combat, attack each other from close quarters and with savage fury. The brunt of the sudden forward thrust, with the head lowered and the entire body weight behind it, is usually borne by the clashing, interlocking antlers, one of the combatants gets pushed back after awhile, and disengaging its locked antlers, turns quickly round and runs away, but it does not always escape unscathed; a glancing thrust from the antlers of the opponent, following up, often inflicts a nasty flesh wound. Apparently the limping stags I saw were fellows in misfortune, suffering from such wounds."

    - M. Krishnan

    This was published on 6 April 1969.

    #The photograph of Chital stags in a herd not reproduced here.

  2. #162
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    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : The Slender Loris : The Sunday Statesman : 30 December 2018
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    SLENDER LORIS

    " By the time I was 41, I had to admit that I had lost my long fight with myself, and that what people euphemistically term the spread of middle age, and botanists more bluntly secondary thickening had overtaken me. And on my forty-first birthday I wrote these lines on the Slender Loris, in envy and regret.

    I wish I were a Slender Loris
    And not a massive human being.
    In such a change of course
    Much more is
    Lost that is gained, for though agreeing
    With men in lacking tail and manners,
    On evolution's path it lingers
    Bar back' we have reached the
    Destination
    All the days it sleeps with shaking Fingers
    Over sun-shy eyes, no fasination
    Lmoels its night; slow-limbed
    The stories
    Or trees it climbs for insect plunder.
    But still I wish I were a loris --
    Beyond all argument it's slender

    By no means an inspired verse, but factually very sound. The Slender Loris (and even the Slow Loris of north-east India, with its body and limbs much thicker) is a featherweight, the size of a kitten and slim, with a very narrow waist and hard, thin limbs; the great goggle eyes are set on by a patch of dark fur around each of them and as one might guess from its owl-face and big, round orbs, it is a creature of the night.

    It is highly arboreal, and spends the day in sleep, deep in the shady cover of a tree top, with its face buried in its chest, bird like and often with its hands over its eyes to shed them from the glare, especially when it is forced to keep awake by day. It is from its round face and its habit of shading its eyes with its hands that it gets its Hindi name, Sharmindi-billi (the bashful cat).

    Lorises are among the small creatures the are missed easily, and so are seldom seen.In fact I can recall seeing a loris only thrice-a pair of slow Lorises high up a tree in Bhutan,and a Slender Loris twice in the south, also up trees and on both occasions late in the evening. Unfortunately for it, the slender Loris is credited by superstition with the ability to bring one luck, and its gnomelike looks are so unusual the it is commonly kept in a cage and exhibited in zoos, and as a captive animal (usually exposed to much more glare that it can tolerate) it is by no mean unfamiliar.

    It is not only that they do not give it a cage large enough and deadly enough small in sleen in comfort through the day on some suitable perch -- they often give it the wrong diet as well, bread-and-milk and bananas. I do not know if a slender Loris is exclusively insectivorous when wild; perhaps it also eats eggs and even small tree-living lizards when it can find them, and soft fruits and other vegetarian fare. But I am quite sure that it dose need insect food or some suitable substitute.

    In fact, its dentition is hardly that of a fruit-eater and, as I learnt in the most unpleasant manner imaginable, it has sharp teeth. To get the picture reproduced here I had the two captive Lorises taken out of their cage and placed on a long length of tamarind bough, with one end planted into the earth. Somehow those Lorises did not want their picture taken. As soon as they were put on the bough, they climbed quickly down and made for the security of their cage, moving over the ground at an awkward, shambling shurie much faster than on the bough, I caught them both and gently redeposited them on the bough, and in the process got a sharp nip from one, which confirmed my views on its dentition.

    A man whom I know, who kept a Loris for a pet, told me that the animal once made a bid for liberty, and on being chased, entered a pool of water and swam across, using a rhythmic breast-stroke, only to be caught on reaching the farther bank. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this report, but believe it, for most animals can swim when they have to."

    - M.Krishnan

    This was published on 13 July 1969
    #The photograph of Lorises has not been reproduced here.

  3. #163
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    Sighting of a slender-loris is so difficult these days unless one is out in the night with torch. I would love to see one swim. Wonder how fast it can swim.

  4. #164
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    I have never seen a loris in India. I was fortunate to spot a slow loris last year when in the jungles of Borneo. There were 2 of them, large eyes, one had a brown coat and the other a greenish tinge in its coat, moving super slow but distinctly looking at our torch light.

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