Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Rigth Answer to Quiz on Parks Sanctuaries of India

Correct answers to last month's quiz on National Parks and Sanctuaries, are given below. No one could get all ten answers correct. MKS Pasha- Email scored nine out of ten. Congratulations to Pasha!

1. The first man made bird sanctuary is
O Kaladeo Ghana O Vedanthangal O Ranganthitoo
2. The first marine national park is in
O Gujarat O Maharashtra O Bengal
3. In its number of mammals threatened with extinction India ranks
O 4th in the world O 6th in the world O 3rd in the world
4. India's oldest national park is
O Kaziranga O Corbett O Kanha
5. India has ------------number of tiger reserves
O 50 O 23 O 14
6. The Indian Wildlife Protection act was promulgated in the year
O 1947 O 1966 O 1972
7. About 70% of the total raptor species found in the country are, harboured in
O Nagarhole O Dudhwa O Corbett
8. Official name of Borivli National Park is
O Sanjay Gandhi N.P O Indira Gandhi N.P O Rajiv Gandhi N.P
9. Bandhavgarh N.P is situated in
O Uttar Pradesh O Maharashtra O Madhya Pradesh
10. India's oldest zoo was established in the year
O 1920 O 1827 O 1859

Please attempt this month's quiz on 'Nature Spots of India'.

Did You Know ?

Did You Know?


(Collected from Limca Book of Records by Prashant Mahajan, CEC, BNHS)

  • Maximum Plant Species: The family of angiosperms (flowering plants group) represent 867 out of total 30,0000 species of plants known.
  • Oldest Tree of the country: A Shaitoot tree at Joshimath in the Chamoli District of Uttar Pradesh is believed to be about 12000 years old. Another is the Deodar tree at Balcha, Garhwal is said to be 704 years old.
  • Longest-lived tree species: The Banyan tree found in most parts of India lives over 250 years.
  • Tallest trees: Fir and Deodar grow to an average height of 76.2 m (250 ft.)
  • Fast Maturing Trees: The Eucalyptus and the Subabul trees mature very fast. They are both ready for cutting in just 6 to 7 years.
  • News and Views



    'Times Of India' reported two separate incidents which were shocking revelations of a wildlife trade going unabated despite regulations and laws.

     The first one was about an Air-India employee being arrested by the customs department along with 100 kg peacock feathers while attempting to smuggle them into HongKong.

    The second, equally shocking, was the seizure of feathers of 105 birds from four packages bound for the US and Japan.  These belonged to the grey jungle fowl ( Gallus Sonneratti).

    This is the first time that customs department has seized feathers from postal packets.

    It seemed apt that World Pheasants Association (WPA)  should hold a workshop on 'Saving the National Bird' at India International Centre on 29th July 2002.   The program began with the screening of 'Sarang the Peacock' a short film by Dr. Susan Sharma, founder of  The distinguished panel consisted of Shri Samar Singh, President, WPA India, Shri S.C Sharma, DG (Wildlife), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Prof. A H Musavi, General Secretary WPA India and Dr. P.C Chowdhury, Scientist, Wildlife Institute of India.

    Dr. Musavi: Stressed on the ecological role of peafowl-its importance in pest control, droppings as manure, flora growth by digging etc. Compared to, say a green pigeon  which feeds only on wild seeds, the peafowl with its wider eating habits has a more complex role in the health of the eco system. 

    Dr. P.C. Chowdhhury: Lamented the lack of research papers on the peafowl. Commercial exploitation of feathers of the male of the species is the bane of the bird. Since the bird is polygamous, there is bound to be a decline in genetic viability.

    Mr.S.C Sharma: The attitudinal change in people, viz. non tolerance of birds and animals is a growing threat. He suggested the film on peacock should be made available in villages too to revive the age old harmony of nature and people which has been the secret of wildlife conservation in India. Enforcement of wildlife laws are important.  He felt that protecting by benign neglect is the best form of conservation-domestication/farms etc are not the answers. 


    Our first attempt at  online chat on 17th July 2002 marks  a great step forward for another step towards 'adapting the  latest technologies to spread the message of conservation and environmental education'..

     A transcript of the session is given alongside.  Do log on to this month's chat on 18th August. 

    Susan: Hello This is Susan. Anyone out there?

    kunaal: Hello this is kunaal

    kunaal: What is going to be the focus of today's discussion?

    Susan: The focus will be environmental issues in our country.

    Susan: But you can ask general questions about wildlife/national parks etc too.

    kunaal: What is going to be the effect of poor monsoons in the northern part of India, if any, on the wildlife in these sanctuaries?

    kunaal: I wonder at the sad state of affairs in our so called 'National Parks' and 'Wildlife Sanctuaries'. Do our laws ever get implemented?

    kunaal: Is Mr Mahendra Vyas online?

    Susan: yes, he is sending the replies to your questions.soon.

    Susan: Sorry about the delay. Hope we will improve next time. Thanks anyway for coming.

    kunaal: Don't worry. It is a commendable first effort... Best Wishes to you, Mr Mahendra Vyas and all members of your club...

    Mahendra Vyas: Welcome all of you. Shoot! Thank you. I am waiting for questions. Pl. shoot! Thank you Susan. Are you reading me???? Kunaal do you have any questions ? Thank you again Susan. I am waiting for some questions !! Kunaal we have a very large man and cattle population in this country yet we have more than 500 national parks and sanctuaries to boast. Some of them are truly spectacular. We do have some problems - many of our national parks are not fully notified. The rights of the people have not been acquired even after 30 years of their first notification. These areas are full of timber which is very valuable. The mafia are united - the resources are limited yet there are many dedicated officers and staff battling it out to save our precious natural heritage.

    I am right here. If monosson fails - I hope it does'nt- the Proteceted Aeas (PA's) worst affected will be in North Western Regions. Sariska, Ranthambhore, Wildlife found in Western Rajasthan eg. Chinkara, Balck Buck etc. I am reading you now Susan.

    Susan: Sorry for interruption, the server is ok now .

    Susan: Looks like monsoon has arrived in Rajasthan finally. That is good news.

    Mahendra Vyas: If the rains fail- Wetland /bird PA's would be the worst affected in the North and North Western region. If it fails elsewhere the wildlife in these regions will have a tough time.

    Mahendra Vyas: I am happy - my state which gets the least of the rains has got some.

    Mahendra Vyas: The prey  species such as the sambar and cheetal may skip  breeding and there will be very few fawns born.

    Mahendra Vyas: If the population of prey species fluctuates it can have some effect on the predators such as th tiger. But nature has its way of controlling and balancing.

    Susan: Birds can always fly off to a place where there is rain. But animals which do not migrate will suffer I think.

    Mahendra Vyas: They can fly to some other place - but not all the birds do that- many are territorial and do not leave their home range and continue to face the challenges. Other birds such as the storks, herons, ducks and teals, cranes, great Indian bustards migrate to greener or wetter areas for breeding.

    Mahendra Vyas: Then one has to look at the regeneration of the forest, grassland and vegetation in general. Without rains this will not take place.

    Mahendra Vyas: We must also remember that only the fittest will survive. In adverse conditions the weak will perish and the fit and the strong will survive and leave behind stronger and resilient individuals in any population.

    Susan: Thank you very much for the stimulating views, Mahendra Vyas. I wish more people had logged in.

    r-agarwala: Hi this is Rajyashree

    r-agarwala: is the chat still on?

    Susan: Hi welcome Rajyashree. MVyas will be happy to field your questions.

    Mahendra Vyas: Hi r-agarwala! Hi Rajyashree!Welcome. Shoot!

    Susan: I think we will wait for ten more minutes before calling it a day. MV, please stay online.

    r-agarwala: sorry I disconnected..

    Susan: Thanks for coming back.

    r-agarwala: I was recently in Leh and was charmed by whatever wildlife I saw there...

    r-agarwala: Are we doing something to maintain this region and its fauna?

    Mahendra Vyas: Ladhak region has a few protected areas where the wildlife and its habitat are protected.

    r-agarwala: okay

    Susan: What are the endangered animals of this area?

    Mahendra Vyas: r-agrwala-let me inform you that the Wildlife Institute Of India, Dehra Dun is doing lot of surveys and research in this areas - on snow leopard, bharal or blue sheep, Himalayan tahr, tibetan wild dog and T. Wolf.

    Mahendra Vyas: More PA's would be set up after completing the surveys in this area.

    r-agarwala: I see...the aim of the surveys being?

    Mahendra Vyas: Yes. Tibetan antelope or chiru is one susan.

    Mahendra Vyas: All other animals I mentioned earlier are also rare.

    r-agarwala: there is very wide variety of birds there too.

    Mahendra Vyas: Yes! The most spectacular is the black necked crane. The Brahminy Ducks breed in the Himalayan lakes such as Mansarovar. The Great Crested Grebe is another large interesting bird. Tibetan snowcock , pigeons, seed eating birds such as buntings and larks abound. The highest flyers- the yellow billed chough (crow family) has been seen almost on top of the Everest. The large bar headed and the great lag geese also migrate thru this region and breeds in some lakes there.

    Mahendra Vyas:  Shall we sign off?

    Susan: I think we have exceeded time already. Thanks a lot.

    Susan: Rajyashree thanks a lot. Leh discussion was really interesting.

    Mahendra Vyas: Thanks friends. I am signing off. Till we meet again. Bye.


    A healthy civilization can only be one that harmonizes with and integrates into the totality of life, enhancing not demolishing it.

    -José Lutzenberger, late Brazilian environment minister and agronomist


    At The Table

    By Jayant Deshpande

    One sunny day in the Leea bush,
    Fluttering butterflies were on a rush.

    The Brown king crows,
    Feeding in rows.

    Common Silver line settled without haste,
    Whilst the Common Jay had no time to waste.

    Tailed Jay took a sip on the wing,
    Kept on flying in a ring.

    A florescent Blue Bottle flew past
    As if it was on a self imposed fast

    There came a common Rose
    Who wouldn't care for a pose

    Of the pieridae
    Gulls & Emigrants were the representee

    The common Nawab not to be left behind
    Found himself a dead crab hind

    The vain male Daniad egg fly
    Kept chasing away every other butterfly

    It was one Leea bush they all share
    Taking turns at every ware

    Man(un)kind has a lot to learn
    From these lovely lepidopterans

    ( Picture of Common Crow Butterfly was taken by Jayant Deshpande)

    Understand The Animals

    The Gaur Or Indian Bison

     M.K.S.PASHA, Wildlife Conservation Biologist

    The Gaur (Bos gaurus), wild cattle, belongs to the group of wild oxen. In total there are 21 subspecies of wild oxen, which belong to nine species, constituting four genera. These include the Asiatic buffalo, African buffalo, true cattle and bison. The ancestors of which are known to have evolved in Asia some 20 million years ago. Gaur commonly referred as the Indian bison belongs to the sub-family Bovinae of the order Artiodactyla, and is the largest living bovine, confined to the Oriental bio- geographic region of the world. Bos gaurus gaurus (India and Nepal), Bos gaurus readei (Myanmar-Burma and Indo-china) and Bos gaurus hubbacki (Thailand south of the isthmus Kra and West Malaysia) are the commonly recognized three subspecies of gaur.

    The gaur population in India occurs in more or less isolated pockets largely corresponding to the major mountain systems of the Western Ghats, the Central Indian highlands and the north-eastern Himalayas. Apart from this gaur are also found in forests of South Bihar and West Bengal and Southeastern Peninsula. As diverse as their distribution their habitats are diverse too. Their habitats range from Tropical Wet, Semi-Wet Evergreen and bamboo forests in the Northeast to Tropical Moist Deciduous in the Western Ghats to Tropical Dry Deciduous forests in Central India to Shola forests and Tropical Thron forests on the eastern slopes in the Western Ghats. In these areas gaur are known to occur, in relatively undisturbed habitats, up to elevations of 2500m.

    Gaur bulls are large in stature as compared to the cows. Bulls weigh 600-1000kg and stand 1.6 to 1.9m at shoulder whereas cows are relatively shorter and weigh about one fourth less than the males. These animals are known to have acute sense of smell and good hearing but the visual senses are relatively less developed. One of the most striking features among gaur is the muscular ridge upon its shoulders, which slopes down to the middle of the back where it ends in an abrupt dip. This is often referred to as the dorsal ridge and is the result of the extension of the dorsal vertebrae. Both sexes have horns, in the males especially are larger at base with more outward swath and the incurving at the tips is less. There is high bulging forehead ridge between the horns referred as bos.

    The old males have two prominent skin folds (dewlap), one small at the chin and a long hanging below throat. At the time of the birth the newly born calf is light golden yellow which slowly changes colour with the age. The younger bulls and females have brown pelage but the older males are almost jet black. The forehead is ashy and both hind and fore legs are white or slightly yellowish colour unto the knees, forming stockings.

    Gaur is a gregarious animal and  is shy by nature. The group structure is very fluid and dynamic. The group size may range from 2-16 animals or, in rare cases, more than 20 animals. A large group usually consists of  cows and few calves, one to two adult bulls and sub adults.  Younger bulls may sometime join to form a bachelor herd. Old males are generally solitary in nature and only join the herds during the rut. Adult cows generally lead the herd. Cows and young usually stay in-groups. The strongest bond is of mother and the calf.

    Gaur diet chiefly includes, shoots, foliage, buds, fruits like of Diospyros melanoxylon and Aegale marmalos, tender seeds of bamboo, herbs, grasses and bark of trees like Adina cordifolia, Tectona grandis, Hollrhina antidysyntrica, and Mytragyna parviflora. Gaur is a generalist feeder but prefers to browse in dry season and predominantly graze in monsoon. They visit salt licks especially during the rains. Being an obligatory drinker, gaur needs water every day and may visit water bodies twice a day during the hottest periods. During the hot hours of the day gaur retire to the shelter and seclusion of the forest and ruminate. Feeding, predominantly is more during the early morning and evening hours. On an average they feed for 15-18 hours a day. The bulls do rarely fight, mostly they exhibit their massive body in form of lateral display. If fights do occur they are at times fierce and may end up in the injury of one. They snort and give phoo calls when alert. During the rut the males are known to exhibit 'moo' call which is of very high pitch and can be heard at long distances. The time of mating or rut varies but has definite peaks. But some animals do breed throughout the year. Cows give birth to a singe calf after a gestation period of eight to nine months. Twins are unknown. The cow moves away from the herd before giving birth and remains with the calf for few days and rejoining again into the herd.  The newly born calf becomes active after few minutes of birth and stays with the cow. For almost 5-8months the young suckles milk and then switches over to green feed.

    Are gaurs and bisons same? Are they different from American 'Red Ox' ? Are wild buffaloes are related to bisons?

    Susan Answer: The GAUR though called as BISON is not the true BISON. It is actually a wild cattle. Genetically gaur is related to the cattle than to buffalo. The American Bison is the TRUE BISON but it is commonly called as the American Buffalo. M.K.S Pasha

    Gaur is an Endangered animal as per the Schedule – I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and is included in the Appendix I of the Conservation on International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). IUCN has categorized gaur as Vulnerable.  The present estimated population of gaur in India is approximately 23,500. Habitat loss and occurrence of epidemics like foot and mouth disease, rinderpest and anthrax due to live stock grazing in forest have caused a decline in the population of gaur. This has resulted in their extermination from areas where they were already in low numbers and elsewhere have isolated them into small fragmented units resulting in confinement in its areas of present distribution in India.


    The rains came down and the floods came up.

    Toby Ninan retired from Delhi Zoo about two years back. With his varied experiences with the wild animals in the zoo, he is the right person to direct your queries to. Hear what Ninan has to say about his life and chosen career!

    It is not every one who reaches office to find that floods have stopped his work ! Even zoo folk who face all sorts of strange and funny situations would hardly expect to find flooded animal enclosures.

    I however worked for Delhi zoo where we had a catchment area around the monkey enclosures where a few heavy showers were sufficient to cause the area to be flooded making the monkey houses ,barking deer and the American bison enclosures to be covered with water. These animals would have to be shifted to higher land to save them from drowning or keep them from escaping.

    One day it rained continuously and the night saw it raining cats and dogs rather "tigers and hyenas in zoo language". Morning saw the lands around the monkey enclosure really flooded as all the water had collected there- There was nothing much to think about - the head keeper and other animal staff went fully clothed into the floods to rescue the trapped animals. We were glared upon by zoo visitors. We would first wade and then swim to catch these monkeys to transport them to safety. They were all perched up on dead trees in their enclosures and since their regular doors were under water we would have to cut open the top of their pens to catch ., and bring them to safety. We approached the monkeys with some trepidation but since they had taken such a terrible soaking , they greeted us like long lost brethren and even the fiercest tamely entered their transport boxes.

    The prospect of carrying heavy monkeys in shifting boxes was not very cheering so we called our elephant mahouts to come to our rescue and soon enough, we and the monkeys were swaying atop the elephant backs to safety. There was another danger which the elephants had saved us from and this was from snakes who had been driven out of their holes by the swirling waters. While in the water we could hear hissings of angry cobras, vipers and their like swimming furiously onto safety. Since we both had to face the fury of the floods they did not harm us in any way. We noticed that they reached the safety of high ground and left us in peace to rescue our animals.

    Another victim of the rising water was the barking deer who had taken refuge on top of hillocks in their enclosures and though these are very excitable animals who could dash and kill themselves if disturbed- they came tamely into the transport crates. The presence of elephants did not unnerve them! They had had enough of drenchings in cold muddy waters and were ready to leave these wet surroundings as early as possible.

    The toughest shiftings were those of the American bison and it was nearly impossible to get heavy crates into flooded enclosures to catch and shift these animals. A mad plan however hatched in my head and I decided to noose these huge cattle with ropes around their horns- both male and female possessed a good pair- and could be noosed and led to the safety of high ground into the nearest safe place which happened to be the Brow antlered deer enclosure.

    Buffalo who would otherwise charge and grind we poor humans to pulp stood calmly on high ground to allow us to noose them around their horns and allowed us to lead them swimming through the enclosure over the overflowing moat and road finally getting on to the terra-firma of the emptied deer enclosure. It certainly was a moving experience to lead these huge bulls thundering on high ground, tethered at one end of a cotton rope being led by a puny human at the other end.

    All things good and bad finally come to an end and so did this tiring day and one could retire at the end of the day exhausted but satisfied that inspite of a number of odds, coming close to being trampled, bitten or poisoned one could sleep in a dry warm bed ready to face any challenge the next day would bring.

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