GETTING 2 HORNY | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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GETTING 2 HORNY

chandigarh Updated: Jan 18, 2014 23:37 IST

GETTING 2 HORNY

In the West, the debate between trophy hunters and the animal rights lobby is a fierce one. But nothing can rival the violence embedded in the internet duel over the auction of the rights to hunt a critically endangered Black rhino in Namibia. This species of rhino has two horns. Of the five permits to hunt this rhino, one was — for the first time — auctioned outside Namibia at the Dallas Safari Club where an American hunter, Corey Knowlton, grabbed it for $3,50,000. The auction was expected to fetch $1 million had it not been for the death threats issued to the families of the club’s executive director, Ben Carter, and Knowlton.



http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2014/1/Wildbuzz%20Corey%20Knowlton_compressed.jpgOne lobby argues that hunting is no way to conserve a wild animal and that it will encourage poaching for the Asian ornamental and medicine market where rhino horns sell for $65,000 a kg as these are believed to hold aphrodisiac values. The club says auction proceeds will go to the Namibian Government’s Game Products Trust Fund that channels hunting fee into anti-poaching patrols. The auction is supported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, whose Rhino Specialist Group and Sustainable Uses and Livelihoods Group chairpersons, Mike Knight and Rosie Cooney, state that killing an old, non-breeding male rhino boosts reproduction as such males kill younger males. (Corey Knowlton)

But the animal rights lobby is unfazed, and some of its members are engaged in an emotional, violently abusive tirade with the hunters’ lobby on social media. Activists even question Knowlton’s manhood. One way out of the nasty impasse is to collect $3,50,000 and pay Namibia to cancel the hunt.



THE PYTHON SHELTER

Vehicle commuters on the Chandigarh-Nawanshahr highway, just beyond Rupnagar, would never have imagined what creatures were sheltered under a bridge near Rain Majra village.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2014/1/wildbuzz%20Photo%20credits%20Nikhil%20Sanger_compressed.jpgThanks to the incompetence of the irrigation department, silt had piled up over the years between the pillars and reached the full height of the bridge. Finally, the department got down to excavating silt.

As female labourers cleared the last wall of silt between the pillars, they encountered pythons — seven in all, some as big as 12 feet, and cramped together like the poor in an urban night shelter.

Workers refused to proceed and the department summoned rescue expert Nikhil Sanger’s team.

The pythons had brilliantly improvised on a winter burrow. The cavities between the silt and the bridge were suitable for pythons as it shielded them from rain, wind and cold. The sand outside in the seasonal river bed would warm up quickly to afford safe basking for them.

As the rescue team dug a tunnel into the silt, the air got suffocating and there was danger of encountering scorpions and venomous snakes.

Sanger had to slide in like a snake into the horizontal tunnel to catch hold of the pythons. Another team member, Kuljeet Singh, would slide in behind Sanger.

After Sanger had got hold of a python, Kuljeet would grip Sanger’s feet. The men outside would then pull Kuljeet’s legs and Sanger and the python would slowly come in tow. It took them two days to pull out the pythons. (Nikhil Sanger)


SPLENDID ISOLATION

There is a shy leopard that haunts the Siswan dam jungles. Evidence of its shadowy presence surfaces by way of pugmarks and animal kills. There are plenty of birds, including rare migratory birds that settle in the waters.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2014/1/wildbuzz%20photo%20credits%20amrit%20singh_compressed.jpg



There are even endangered vultures that flock to this rich biodiversity area apart from sambars and wild boars. But what caught the eye after an afternoon of rambling through the jungles was this young plant with exotic, maroonish leaves.

The plant seemed entirely out of place in Siswan’s drab green and brown setting: a maroon beauty, flashy and fleshy in a barren bed. At a casual glance, the leaves could even have been likened to those of Canada’s Maple tree or Kashmir’s Chinars that flame in autumn. This plant stood in splendid isolation in the dry bed of a seasonal rivulet that services the dam. I had no clue as to the plant’s identity.

On seeking guidance from the renowned group of botanists, efloraofindia, I learnt it was a wild Castor oil (Ricinus communis) plant. To be fair, the plant can be confused by even those well versed in botany with the Jatropha gossypifolia or “Belly ache bush’’. Castor seeds contain ricin, which is toxic to livestock and humans, though leaves are less toxic. (A castor oil plant. Photo Credit Amrit Singh)

Typically, symptoms of Castor poisoning in animals usually do not appear for a few hours or several days.

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