Land animals: India C-F

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Contents

Land animals: India C-F

CARACAL

It is one of the large animals among the lesser cat group. Caracal is a very graceful animal with its long legs and has an overall bright fulvous brown colour. Its long ears with long ear tufts are distinguishing identification marks. It is an animal of the drier regions and inhabits deciduous forests, scrublands, and grasslands. Pea-fowls, Cranes, and Wild hare are their preferred food, but also predates on birds and small animals. Caracal is a very shy animal and its overall disturbance in their habitat has affected their population. Gir Wildlife Sanctuary offers you an opportunity to see them.

CAPPED LANGUR

Capped Langurs, beautifully coloured are comparatively much smaller than the Common Langur. They are shy and hence keep distance from human habitation. Commonly seen in Kaziranga and Manas National Parks, they feed on fruits, flowers and tender leaves. Typical caplike hair pattern on the head gives Capped Langur, it's name.

CHITAL (SPOTTED DEER)

With golden brown skin, spotted with white and dark brown spots. Chital is one of the most beautiful species. Pair of antlers makes stag a very handsome animal. The desire to possess this most beautiful animal was instrumental for the war between Lord Rama and demon king Ravana as depicted in the famous epic of Ramayana. Its beauty was noticed by the primitive people of Paleolithic age also, as we find their presence in the prehistoric cave paintings at Bhimbetka near Bhopal.

Chital graze on grass and browse tender leaves and shoots, in the process they play the role of seed disperses besides being an important food base for higher predators like tiger.

They are gregarious species and live in herds. One can come across large herds of more than few hundred animals. During non breeding seasons males live as a separate group called stag-parties. They are not on endangered list but habitat destruction has reduced their numbers considerably.

CHINKARA OR INDIAN GAZELLE

See also Chinkara (Indian Gazelle)

Chinkara is an animal of open dry scrubland forest and is comparable to Thomson's gazelle. They are fast runners but the open forest which they inhabit, makes them vulnerable to hunting. They were very common in their distribution zones, but fell prey to modern hunters. They can be seen in Desert National Park, Bandhavgarh, and Gir Wildlife Sanctuary.

CLOUDED LEOPARD

Smallest among big cats, Clouded Leopard is more or less an arboreal animal, inhabiting thick canopy of tropical forests of northeastern Indian. Long tail helps them in balancing in their arboreal way of life. The unique cloudy pattern is infact helpful in camouflaging when the need arises. It is almost difficult to spot them among densely covered tree trunks and branches. It feeds mainly on small and medium size mammals and birds. Its sharp and comparatively long canines help in making quick kill.

It is the victim of its own beautiful colour pattern as its coat has immense value in the fur market. Wanton killing and large-scale disturbance in their habitat has pushed this species to the brink of extinction. Fortunately, they are being protected in number of sanctuaries of northeast including Kaziranga National Park.

COMMON LANGUR OR HANUMAN BANDAR

This robust animal, with an overall gray with black face, feet, and hands, is commonly found throughout the country. They are gregarious and live in large troops with clearly defined hierarchy, where the large Alpha male lords over the whole community.

As it is identified with Lord Hanuman, it has a religious sanctity. Invariably, at every religious place, you are likely to come across this very aggressive and demanding animal. As people often feed them, they have become bold and will not hesitate to snatch things from the hands. Hence one should be more cautious if they are around.

In the forest ecosystem, they are very noisy but are a sure signal for the presence of a large predator like a tiger or a leopard, which may be lurking around. They will never give alarm call unless they have sighted the predator itself and hence the forest communities always rely on them.

ESTUARINE CROCODILE

Estuarine Crocodile inhabits estuaries and coastal mangrove swamps, and is at home in sea waters. Among crocodiles found in this country, it is very large in size and can attain upto 10 meters length. It looks very formidable and menacing with its powerful large teeth which are exposed even when the mouth is shut. It feeds upon fish, birds and small mammals but is known to attack large mammals also and man eaters are not uncommon.

Estuarine Crocodile's legs are very strong and help it in raising its body and walk freely on land, though it is a clumsy walk. Its body is covered with tough plates and powerful muscular tail helps it in attaining speed when in water.

Nests are sand pits, where eggs are buried, and female is known to guard and help newly hatched babies to the safety of water, as on land they are helpless. Parental care is in the form of security and young ones have to be on their own for food.

These animals were extensively killed for their tough skin, which is used for making durable fancy items like bags, shoes, wallets etc. Being highest predators in estuarine habitat, their absence creates ecological imbalance of the eco-system. Artificial rearing, protection of their habitat and total ban on their trade has ensured their survival.

FOUR-HORNED ANTELOPE

It is the only mammal with four horns, the front pair is small and the hind pair is long and pointed. They are confined to the Indian subcontinent only. They are solitary and prefer grassy patches amidst open dry deciduous forest within the close proximity to water bodies.

Being very shy and small, they are always a difficult target for a wildlife photographer. Gir, Sariska, Melaghat, are some of the places where one can see this unique animal.

FLYING SQUIRREL

They are unique, nocturnal animals confined to the close canopy forests. They rest in tree hollows during the day and come out to feed on fruits, flowers, and tender shoots during dusk. A wide connecting membrane between their fore and hind limbs helps them to glide. Their long furry tail also helps them while they are airborne.

There are a number of species confined to moist deciduous and tropical forests. Being nocturnal by habit they are difficult to spot, but one can observe them when they come out of their hideouts at dusk. If you happen to be in Melghat, you can observe them at ease near the Kolkar forest rest house.

FISHING CAT

Fishing cat derives its name from its ability to fish in fast flowing shallow streams. Its toes are webbed to make it an effective scooping device. Compared to its size, it is very ferocious and can kill even medium size mammals. Its cryptic colouration help it to merge in the rocky, sandy stream banks where it waits for the fish to come within its range and scoops it our of water with the help of webbed paws.

A flourishing for trade is mainly responsible for their dwindling population.

FLYING FOX OR FOX BAT

Flying foxes are found throughout the country. One cannot miss them roosting on the large trees. Being gregarious, hundreds of them stick together during the day, and at sunset move out in search of food, travelling considerable distances. They mainly feed on fruits and berries. Neem, figs, jamun, besides fruit orchards are their favourite haunts.

Virtually, every major city has some roosting sites. But if you happen to be at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary near Mysore, you have a good opportunity to see them roosting on tall trees within the sanctuary itself.

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