The lovable ‘Bandit’ ruled over Ashish Dasgupta’s head and heart.(Photo: Dr Sushil Sood)
The lovable ‘Bandit’ ruled over Ashish Dasgupta’s head and heart.(Photo: Dr Sushil Sood)

Wildbuzz: The lovable bandit

Veteran hunter of man-eating leopards and tigers, Parwanoo-based Ashish Dasgupta, can tell from the blood trail of a wounded big cat where the bullet has struck home.
By Vikram Jit Singh | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON APR 14, 2018 07:49 PM IST

Veteran hunter of man-eating leopards and tigers, Parwanoo-based Ashish Dasgupta, can tell from the blood trail of a wounded big cat where the bullet has struck home. A blackish, coagulated blood trail augurs a stomach wound while lipstick pink, ‘lassi-like’ frothy blood implies the rifle slug pierced the lungs. Only a flesh/muscle wound spews the ‘normal red’ blood.

A long-standing member of the Himachal Pradesh Wildlife Advisory Board and honorary wildlife warden for that state, Dasgupta was consulted on the ballistics of the rifle used by unknown poachers to kill a female leopard on Tuesday in Hoshiarpur’s Shahpur village. He conclusively refuted the opinion of Punjab wildlife department officers that a small-calibre .22 rifle had been fired. Instead, Dasgupta cited use of a .30 calibre rifle and that assessment was consistent with the gaping dimensions of the bullet’s entry and exit holes.

Dasgupta has been a member of expeditions that have brought down 50 man-eating leopards and seven tigers across India. He has tracked maneaters on foot, including wounded ones, but his steely heart melted during the course of a Kinnaur tour. He was in the high mountains to probe the poaching of a female leopard.

“Forest officers showed me the dead female while Kinnaur villagers told me that a ‘chhe-chhe’ sound kept coming from jungles. I examined the leopard’s inflated teats and realised she had littered and had left behind a cub, which was crying for help. It took me two days to locate the male cub but instant love and a protective feeling overwhelmed me. His fearlessness and naughty playfulness led me to christen him, ‘Bandit’. I brought him up, took him for walks at Parwanoo and handed him over to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at Tutikandi in Shimla, where he has settled down. Bandit promises to blossom into a handsome fellow studded with startling rosettes. His mother’s spirit rekindles in him,” Dasgupta told this writer.

Prisoner of love

The Indian Grey hornbill is a charismatic avian commonly observed paragliding between tall trees straddling the avenues while emitting a peculiar, squealing cry. This species is bestowed with the titular title of Chandigarh’s State Bird. In nature’s roll of honour, hornbills tilt towards monogamy and the male is unsurpassed when it comes to ‘patni sewa.’ In late spring, hornbill couples commence the build up to nesting in tree hollows. The female will erect a self-imposed barricade in the hollow with faecal matter, soil and mud pellets, leaving a slit for the male to deliver food. Once entrenched in the hollow, the female leaves herself entirely to the male’s mercy.

An Indian Grey hornbill lends grace to Jacaranda blooms at Leisure Valley, Chandigarh. (Photo: Dalvinder Singh)
An Indian Grey hornbill lends grace to Jacaranda blooms at Leisure Valley, Chandigarh. (Photo: Dalvinder Singh)

Since 2004, wildlife photographer Vinod Goel has spent many happy hours on breeding hornbills. “During courtship, a male is seen chasing a female and gifting her bark of a tree, petals of flowers or fruits to please her. They are in their own world and least bothered about anything else. The female was preening and loving the male as if she knew that on that day she would enter the cavity and remain there for more than two months. To me it appeared, on one occasion, as if she was kissing the eyes of the male. Both of them were trying to spend as much time together and then the female starts making efforts to enter the tree cavity. The male was watching her and helping her sometimes. Slowly, slowly the female entered the cavity as her tail outside shrunk continuously until it disappeared. The male made sure that his mate was comfortable and peeped inside to reassure himself. He brought a mulberry fruit to offer her as if to celebrate a big occasion in their life cycle,” wrote Goel.

Just how hard the male works can be gauged from a study conducted by E Santhoshkumar and P Balasubramanian. “During the 720 hours spent at 10 hornbill nests to monitor nesting behaviour over two breeding seasons, males visited nests 1,015 times to feed inmates, at an average of 17 times per day, and 13,680 food items were delivered,” the study revealed.

Surely, hornbills are a marriage made in heaven and worthy of poetic rapture! As hornbill field researcher, Ajay Gadikar, wryly remarked: “The female trusts the male blindly and the male does not commit breach of trust! A lesson to mankind!”

Moved by the above glowing accounts, some readers may wish to bestow ‘Pati Vishisht Sewa Medal’ on the male hornbill. However, wayward human hubbies may not relish wide publicity to such love stories.

vjswild1@gmail.com

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
At the Law college ground, Stadium Cricket Club defeated Sahamat Cricket Club by 24 runs in a group stage match. (Kalpesh Nukte/HT PHOTO)
At the Law college ground, Stadium Cricket Club defeated Sahamat Cricket Club by 24 runs in a group stage match. (Kalpesh Nukte/HT PHOTO)

Women’s T20 cricket league has NextGen female cricketers playing for keeps

By Jigar Hindocha
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:59 PM IST
Pune: The Girls Sadu Shinde Cricket League (T20), being played at the Law college ground has little fanfare, hype or buzz associated with the shortest form of international cricket
Close
After a 12-year long wait, within months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirements of the city forced the administration to upgrade the much-needed facility. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)
After a 12-year long wait, within months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirements of the city forced the administration to upgrade the much-needed facility. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

0-30 in no time: ventilators, that is... How Pune civic hospital infra revved up

By Steffy Thevar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:37 PM IST
Naidu hospital was the first-response hospital against Covid-19, but had to depend on Sassoon hospital for the treatment of critical Covid-19 patients, as it did not have a critical care unit
Close
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao gets blessings as he visits Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple, in Yadadri on Thursday. (ANI Photo)
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao gets blessings as he visits Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple, in Yadadri on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

'Budget 2021-22 will distribute 3 lack sheep units to families' : Telangana CM

ANI, Hyderabad
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 09:38 AM IST
The CM said the Centre appreciated the Sheep distribution policy and it also recognized that the Telangana state is progressing to become the most Sheep populated state and against this backdrop, the scheme would be continued.
Close
A Rohingya woman shows her UN-issued refugee card in Jammu on Saturday. (HT PHOTO)
A Rohingya woman shows her UN-issued refugee card in Jammu on Saturday. (HT PHOTO)

155 Rohingyas sent to ‘holding’ centre in Jammu as admin starts verification

UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 05:39 AM IST
The exercise of identifying more such immigrants is going on and the UT administration is collecting biometric and other details of Rohingyas staying here.
Close
Himachal CM Jai Ram Thakur before the budget presentation in Himachal Vidhan Sabha on Saturday. (DEEPAK SANSTA/HT)
Himachal CM Jai Ram Thakur before the budget presentation in Himachal Vidhan Sabha on Saturday. (DEEPAK SANSTA/HT)

Jai Ram presents 50,192 cr tax-free budget for Himachal

By Gaurav Bisht, Shimla
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 12:58 AM IST
At a time when the state’s economy has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented a 50,192-crore budget with no new taxes, on Saturday
Close
In the past six days, a total of 20,872 beneficiaries have been vaccinated, of which 3,376 are those in the age group of 45-59 with comorbidities; and 27,704 of those above the age of 60. (HT PHOTO)
In the past six days, a total of 20,872 beneficiaries have been vaccinated, of which 3,376 are those in the age group of 45-59 with comorbidities; and 27,704 of those above the age of 60. (HT PHOTO)

6 days of vaccinations with not a single adverse effect; 20K beneficiaries vaccinated in Pune dist

By Steffy Thevar
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:13 PM IST
The civic body has opened 69 vaccination centres in the city as of Saturday, which was only four on the first day of phase two of the vaccination drive
Close
HT Image
HT Image

PMC to use volunteers from NGOs to help smoothen vax drive

By HTC
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:15 PM IST
PUNE: The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will seek to take the help of non-government organisations and various other institutes to boost the vaccination numbers in the city
Close
Pune city reported 991 new cases, which takes the count to 2,14,029. Two new deaths took the death toll to 4,589. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Pune city reported 991 new cases, which takes the count to 2,14,029. Two new deaths took the death toll to 4,589. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Pune district’s active Covid cases nears 20K mark; 1,925 new cases on Saturday

By HTC
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:15 PM IST
The progressive count of the district currently stands at 4,19,162, of which, 3,91,411 have recovered
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Average positivity rate in Pune up from 5.8% in Jan to 15% in March

By Steffy Thevar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:52 PM IST
PUNE The rate of infection of Covid-19 in the district has been rising, evident from the positivity rate
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Blood banks unable to meet plasma demand with shortage of donors

By Jigar Hindocha
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:16 PM IST
PUNE With a rising demand for plasma in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, blood banks are facing a crunch, given shortage of plasma donors
Close
A case of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy, under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology Act was registered at Chaturshringi police station in August 2018. (HT PHOTO)
A case of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy, under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology Act was registered at Chaturshringi police station in August 2018. (HT PHOTO)

Cosmos Bank case: Pune police write to the UAE to hand over custody of Sumer Shaikh

By Shalaka Shinde
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:40 PM IST
Shaikh, a native of Mumbai, is one of the key accused in the case where multiple cards of Cosmos Bank were cloned and funds to the tune of 94 crore was withdrawn within a short period
Close
HT Image
HT Image

65,000 nails removed from trees in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad

By Jigar Hindocha
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 06:53 PM IST
PUNE ‘Don’t just plant a tree but protect and respect it’ – A short and strong message is being spread by Angolichi Goli, a city-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), which has removed 1
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Startup mantra: Women entrepreneurs who hacked the glass ceiling... and beyond

By Salil Urunkar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 01:13 PM IST
PUNE Stepping into business, managing personal life, scaling the business is easier said than done
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Lucky draw for farmers who gave land for airport

By Vinod Rajput, Greater Noida
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:31 PM IST
The Yamuna Expressway industrial development authority (Yeida) and the Gautam Budh Nagar district administration will hold a draw on Saturday to allot property to farmers who gave their land for the Noida International Airport project at Jewar
Close
Ludhiana woman posing as post office agent dupes 87-year-old of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>11.6 lakh
Ludhiana woman posing as post office agent dupes 87-year-old of 11.6 lakh

Ludhiana woman posing as post office agent dupes 87-year-old of 11.6 lakh

By HT Correspondent, Ludhiana
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 10:56 PM IST
After the family received no benefits, they checked with the post office and found there was no account in the name of the elderly woman
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP