Saturday, May 16, 2009
We were on a hike. The group was mixed. Had children and older people. The kids were running ahead. Nila was in that group and she was pretty excited that she was the first to spot this big animal with a few companions. They were blocking the path somewhat. There was a bit of nervousness in the group.
We just stood quietly and watched. The animals went away after a few minutes. Just melted into the forest. I had just enough time for a few shots after making sure things were going to be okay. This one was wild but behaved gentle.
Read more about this gentle giant in the other page.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Chennai is one of the few beaches Olive Ridley turtles like. They come every year. Though the mass nestings don't happen in Chennai (Orissa in India sees it every few years) the Turtle Walkers in Chennai see about 100 nests every year.
These people patrol the beaches in the night, pick up the eggs, keep them safely in a hatchery and release the young ones into the sea.
It is said that the females come to the same beach every time they lay eggs. The fast-growing city with posh seafront properties (many of them illegal as per Indian Law) and powerful fishing trawlers (which need to have a Turtle Excluder Device but don't) is seeing fewer numbers of nests every year.
Turtle Walkers gamely carry on. Interestingly many are young students. Perhaps turtles will survive.
Uploaded by Pandiyan on 14 May 08, 11.24PM IST.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Luckily for them all humans are not their adversaries. Thoughtful among them are finding ways and means of coexistence after fully realising the interconnectedness.
These muggers are testy during the nesting season. They don't readily back off for Arun or his bamboo pole. They seem to have some primal instinct which triggers maternal feelings to guard the nest. They stand down eventually as self-preservation and fear of humans take over.
I understand that only in very isolated breeding grounds where they don't encounter humans crocs defend the nests very aggressively. In all other places over time they succumb to fear and rightly so. People who hunt crocodile nests for eggs usually kill the defending crocodile. Crocs learn to live to fight another day.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Stick it out for survival
Originally uploaded by Pandiyan.
This would be pretty rude and crude for humans but for this snake it is a matter of survival. These darting tongue feeds tiny chemical particles in the air to what is called a Jacobson's organ located in the roof of its mouth which helps interpret that information.
The pythons just like some other snakes have the ability to sense heat as well. You can see the heat sensing pits on its face. They are clearer in the larger size.
This photo was a heck of a challenge though it looks pretty simple. The snake was animated than a teenager lost to rap music. Wont stay still for a second. And his tongue movement were pretty erratic and it took some time for me to sense the rhythm and predict it. Then I had to train the camera which has quite a shutter lag. The battery was low adding to the suspense. And I had a real teenager, Arun, to contend with. He was very irritable as I was taking a lot of time. He kept making annoying comments.
In all this tension, I could not get the snake positioned properly against the one on Arun's T-Shirt totally ruining the basic idea I had! I should have cropped that print out.
Incidentally, the T-Shirt was a payment for Arun for helping out with the shooting of a BBC documentary on turtles. I thought acting was pretty remunerative but then a T-Shirt is better than nothing for non-speaking part!. If you watch BBC nature programmes, you may catch Arun. But you will only see his fingers, hands and chest holding turtles and tortoises but not his face!
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Originally uploaded by Pandiyan.
Among the largest of Asian river turtles, it is also the most endangered of all. This can grow upto 60 cms in length. Some places it is called Mangrove Terrapin as mangroves are the favourite haunt of these creatures.
Funny thing with Asian Turtles is that more they become rare, more they go up in value making survival even more difficult. Many fareastern societies use them in tradition medicine and these terrapins especially are a gourmet item fit for a king. In consolation it is also called the Royal Terrapin.
Peculiar features of this turtle include an upturned snout (which I have managed to catch) and four toes against five for other turtles (which I could not catch.)
Critically endangered in Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India; extinct in the wild in Thailand; presumed extinct in Myanmar and Vietnam. Main threats include diappearing mangroves, hunting for meat and eggs, indiscriminate fishing, loss of nesting beaches and so on.
Though there are efforts under way to revive the species, they are continuing to decline. For this species and many others, China and Hong Kong proves to be huge market where these species are not found at all. The turtle trade route from China extends all over Asia reaching all poorer and smaller nations and turtle trade flourishes regardless of restrictions.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Arun's advice against rock
Originally uploaded by Pandiyan.
Here is an instance, for a change, Arun cautioned me against going closer to his face! I wanted to get down to get to see if I could catch the heat sensing pits of this python but was told it can charge if irritated. So I had to contend with a top down shot.
Pythons are not venomous but can deliver a painful bite. Along with reticulates and boas these are very popular in giant pet trade. And their skin too fetches a good price. So they are becoming rarer in the wild and their current status is near threatened.
These pythons are smaller than Reticulated Pythons and also their cousins African Rock pythons. They grow upto 18 feet. Unlike us they don't spend much time finding and eating food. If they eat a good meal, say, their own weight they can go on for a full year before the next meal! Imagine if we had it like that.
I have talked to experts and searched all over the net. There has been no authentic record of pythons killing humans. Biggest meal they have taken is a small mammal and nothing more. But still the myth of pythons crushing humans and cows and such persists.
And they don't actually crush their prey. They constrict them to suffocate. Then they swallow the prey whole. Unlike many other snakes they move in a straight line. Snake scholars call it rectilinear progression.