Maneater at night | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Maneater at night

An adult female leopard, which is suspected to have killed two children on February 13 and 24 in the Nankhari area of Shimla tehsil and had been declared a man-eater, has been trapped alive by the Himachal Pradesh Forest department on the night of April 2 and 3. Vikram Jit Singh writes

chandigarh Updated: Apr 05, 2014 23:46 IST
VIKRAM JIT SINGH

MANEATER AT NIGHThttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/4/leopard%201_compressed.jpg

* An adult female leopard, which is suspected to have killed two children on February 13 and 24 in the Nankhari area of Shimla tehsil and had been declared a man-eater, has been trapped alive by the Himachal Pradesh Forest department on the night of April 2 and 3. A very rare picture of the man-eater --- captured by a night-vision camera on March 20 (see photo) --- has also been obtained. "We had set two traps and also sought help from professional hunters, Ashish Dasgupta and Ramesh Chauhan. Though the leopard did not fall to their bullets, the two hunters gave us valuable guidance on big cat behaviour and we managed to trap the leopard. The trap had been placed in the Jahoo panchayat area and just 50 m away from one of the child kills of the leopard. A live dog had been placed as a bait in the trap. The female leopard we trapped is a fine specimen with no apparent injury or infirmity. But she did have a cub as indicated by pugmarks, and maybe she resorted to human killings to feed the cub,'' said DFO, Rampur Bushair, Amit Sharma. The leopard has been sent to the Tutikandi Rescue Centre, Shimla, and will not ever be freed in the wild. Photo: Amit SharmaTIPTOES ON AIR

* When we describe birds as ethereal spirits of the air, there is one whose black crest and flowing white robes crown it the emperor of our gardens in spring. A bird, who like no other, conquers insistent gravity with such inhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/4/subram%201_compressed.jpgfinite grace; weaving, darting and tiptoeing on the airwaves. Were we to imagine a Bolshoi Ballet ballerina taking wing --- her stage being underneath the verdant trees of Leisure Valley, Sukhna lake, Bamboo garden, some blessed bungalow gardens etc --- and perform to the musical whirr of insect wings, we would be ushered into the presence of a male Asian Paradise flycatcher. A passage migrant to the tricity in March-end or April, the flycatcher triggers a rush of wildlife photographers eager to frame its beauty aided by powerful lenses and some suitable manipulations later on Photoshop! Though the male is the venerated creature, the rufous-coloured female is herself no drab attendant: she is a pretty young thing though very much eclipsed by the glories of `pati dev ji'. But most such photographs of the male, though exceedingly lovely, are of it perched on some bough glancing back over its shoulder at the lensman with a look of regal disdain. It is images of the male in flight that truly reveal its danseuse grace. The legendary Dr Salim Ali had once put it thus: ``The agile fairy-like movements of the male as he twists and turns in the air after flies (and other insects), with his tail-ribbons looping or trailing behind, is a spectacle of exquisite charm.'' Photo: Subramanniyan ManiSNAKE IN THE NESThttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/4/dayal%201_compressed.jpg

* If Nek Chand could fashion an isle of art out of junk at the Rock Garden, birds are not far behind. My imagination was stirred by a photograph taken by young researcher, Dhairyasheel Dayal, showing scraps of skin shed by snakes and deployed by three Indian robin couples to line their nests. So, snakes sometimes facilitate bird-breeding. Otherwise, cobras, rat snakes etc are notorious robbers of bird eggs and chicks. Dayal informs that the robins had built nests in spaces between stored bricks and these nests and eggs were destroyed once workers pulled out bricks to build a bungalow. Dayal cites research in North America to argue that snake skin deters mammalian predators from poaching on bird eggs/chicks. I asked herpetologist Rom Whitaker if it would hold true in India, and he came up with a wry reply. ``Once, long ago, we saw a bit of shed skin in a sunbird nest and while one (sunbird) was working on a nest we put pieces of King cobra shed skin all over for them to use (so we could film it!) but alas, they (sunbirds) did not touch the skin. I don't know if they would use it to deter predators, somehow doubt that though. At the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, we saw discarded tickets being used as nest material and I have seen bits of plastic string and other bits of garbage used by birds for nests. Sorry not to be more helpful"! CAPTION: Red circle shows snake skin in nest with eggs. Dhairyasheel Dayal photo


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