Two fishes and a frog

As the frog said, “the one with thousand tricks sat on the head of the fisherman, the one with hundred tricks is hanging by the fisherman’s arm and I with only one trick am happily swimming in the water.”

Two fish named Sahasrabuddhi and Satabuddhi made a lake their home. They had a frog as a friend whose name was Ekabuddhi. Every day, they used to meet on the bank of the lake and discuss everything under the sun and disperse at sunset. One day, they saw some fishermen equipped with nets and each carrying a basket full of fish came that way and saw the lake and noticed that it was full of good fish. They told themselves that they should come early the next morning and bait the fish.

The fish heard their conversation and were very worried. Then the frog asked Satabuddhi for advice.

“O Satabuddhi, you have heard what the fishermen were planning. Now tell us what we should do. Should we remain in the lake or go somewhere else.”

Sahasrabuddhi answered the question, “Don’t worry. You should not be scared by just words. 

The learned have said “The world is still safe because the dreams of snakes and wicked men never come true.” 

The fishermen may not even come tomorrow. If they come, I am here to save you.”

Satabuddhi said, “You are a genius. What you say is correct. There is nothing that accomplished men cannot conquer. Remember how Chanakya had killed all the armed Nandas.

“Where one cannot pierce sun and wind, the wits of a resourceful man enter.
One should not leave motherland, for, nothing is happier than one’s own land.”

Then, Ekabuddhi, the frog, said, “Friends, flight is the only thing I know. So, I and my wife will leave this place tonight itself.”

Accordingly, the frog left the lake immediately. Next day, the fishermen came and netted lot of fish, frogs, crabs, turtles etc. and also Satabuddhi and Sahasrabuddhi and killed all of them. 

One of them carried Sahasrabuddhi on his head because he was heavier and slung Satabuddhi to his arm because he was long.

Ekabuddhi showed this scene to his wife and said, “Didn’t I tell you what the fishermen will do? Now, see the plight of Satabuddhi and Sahasrabuddhi. The one with thousand tricks (Sahasrabuddhi) sat on the head of the fisherman, the one with hundred tricks (Satabuddhi) is hanging by the fisherman’s arm and I with only one trick am happily swimming in the water.”

The wise indeed say:
Wisdom is superior to knowledge

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A world without Giraffes

The giraffe population worldwide has fallen 30 percent in the past few decades, and very few people have seemed to notice. “Giraffes are all over the place in popular culture,” says the Atlantic staff writer Ed Yong. “I think because of that, we forget that, actually, they are endangered.” In a new episode of The Idea File, Yong explains why it’s crucial to channel our reverence for these beloved animals into tangible conservation efforts.

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Jewel of Vidharba

Tadoba Tiger reserve

The TADOBA ANDHARI TIGER PROJECT is a Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra State.  It is notable as Maharashtra’s oldest and largest National Park.  It is one of India’s 43 PROJECT TIGER  —— Tiger Reserves.

The name TADOBA is the name of the God TADOBA or TARU, praised by the tribal people who live in the dense forests of the TADOBA & ANDHARI region, while the ANDHARI river that meanders through the forest gives the ANDHARI name.
Legend holds that TARU was a village chief who was killed in a mythological encounter with a tiger.  A shrine, dedicated to God Taru, now exists beneath a huge tree, on the banks of the TADOBA LAKE.  The Temple is frequented by Adivasis, especially during the fair held every year in the Hindu month of PAUSHA between December and January.

Tadoba tiger

The GOND Kings once ruled these forests I the vicinity of the CHIMUR hills.  Hunting was completely banned in 1935.  Two decades later, in 1955, was declared a National Park.  ANDHARI Wildlife Sanctuary was created in the adjacent forests in 1986, and, in 1995, both the Park and the Sanctuary were merged to establish the present Tiger Reserve. ——– TADOBA ANDHARI Reserve is the largest and oldest National Park in Maharashtra.  The total area of the Reserve is 1,  This includes TADOBA National Park, created in 1955.

There are about 43 Tigers in the Reserve, one of the highest in India.  Densely forested hills form the northern and western boundary of the Tiger Reserve.  The elevation of the hills ranges from 660ft — 1,150ft.  To the southwest is the 300acres Tadoba Lake, which acts as a buffer between the park’s forest and the extensive farmland which extends up to IRAI Water Reservoir.  This lake is  a perennial water source which offers a good habitat for MUGGAR CROCODILES to thrive.

Tadoba tiger reserve India

Other wetland areas, within the Reserve, include the KOLSA LAKE & ANDHARI River.  The Tadoba Reserve covers the CHIMUR HILLS and the Andhari Sanctuary covers MOHARLI & KOLSA Ranges.  There are thick forests, which are relieved by smooth meadows and deep valleys as the terrain slopes from north to south.  Cliffs and caves provide refuge for several animals.  The 2 “forested triangles” are formed of Tadoba and Andhari range.  The south part of the park is less hilly.  Tadoba Reserve is predominantly a southern tropical dry deciduous forest with dense woodlands comprising 87% of the protected area.  Teak is the predominant tree species.  Other deciduous trees include AIN(Crocodile bark), BIJA, DHAUDA, HALDU, SALAI & TENDU.  The PALAS or Flame of the Forest adds vibrant colour to the forest.  Black plum trees grow in the RIPARIAN habitat around the lake.  At the waterhole at PANCHADHARA, huge ARJUN trees are seen. Bamboo thickets and patches of grass are found throughout the reserve.  The climber KACH KUJALI (velvet bean) found here is a medicinal plant used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Tadoba tiger reserve

Aside   from around 65 of the keystone species of Bengal Tiger, TADOBA TIGER RESERVE is home to other mammals like spotted deer, sloth bears, gaur, nilgai, dhole, striped hyena, small Indian civet, jungle cats, sambar, barking deer and CHAUSINGHA.  The Tadoba Lake is an ornithologist’s paradise, with a diversity of water birds and raptors.  195 species of birds have been recorded, including 3 endangered species.  The Grey-Headed Fish-Eagle eagle, the Crested-Serpent Eagle and Changeable Hawk-Eagle are some of the raptors.

Other interesting species included the Orange-headed thrush, Indian PITTA, Crested Tree-swift, Stole Curlew, Crested Honey Buzzard, Bronze-winged Jacana and Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker.  The call of the Peacock is often heard.  74 species of butterflies have been recorded and that include the Monarch, Mormons and Swordtails.  Other insects located in the reserve are Praying Mantis, Dragonflies, Stick Insects and Jewel Beetles.  Spiders like the Wolf spiders, Crab spiders and Lynx spiders are common.


Niihau island

NIIHAU is the westernmost and seventh largest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands in the US state of Hawaii.  The Island is about 4.9 million years old, making it, geologically, younger than the 5-million-year-old neighbouring island of KAUA’I.  NIIHAU consists of one extinct volcano that had a large landslide to the east.


The Island is relatively arid and because it lies in the rain shadow of Kaua’i and lacks the elevation needed to catch significant amounts of trade wind rainfall, Niihau therefore, depends for its rain on winter KONA storms, when more northerly weather systems intrude into the region.  As such, the Island is subject to long periods of drought.  Historical droughts have been recorded several times, one in 1792 by Captain James Cook’s former junior officer George Vancouver, who had been told that the people of Niihau had abandoned the island because of a severe drought and had moved to Kaua’i to escape famine.

Niihau island

As an arid island, Niihau was barren of trees for centuries  ——– Captain James Cook reported it ‘treeless’ in 1778.  Aubrey Robinson, grandfather of current owners Bruce and Keith Robinson, planted 10,000 trees per year during much of his ownership of the island.  Robinson’s afforestation efforts increased rainfall in the dry climate.  Island co-owner, Keith Robinson, a noted conservationist, preserved and documented many of Niihau’s natural plant resources.  The Island is designated as a critical habitat for the OLULU, an endemic and endangered species of Hawaiian LOBELIOID.  AYLMER ROBINSON, a Pritchard palm tree, named for Keith’s uncle Aylmer Robinson, is an endangered  species native to Niihau.


Several bird species thrive on Niihau.  Intermittent PLAYA lakes on the Island provide the KOLOA MAOLI (Hawaiian duck).  The critically endangered MONACHUS SCHAUINSLANDI (Hawaiian monk seal) is found in high numbers on Niihau’s shores.  Niihau’s secluded shoreline offers them a safe haven from habitat encroachments.  “Conditions here are better than the Government refuges of the North western Hawaiian Islands,” according to Robinson.  When the Robinsons originally purchased Niihau, no monk seals were present, because they lived in the north-western part of the Hawaiian Island Chain (NECKER & MIDWAY Islands).  They have been relocated to the main Hawaiian Island Chain by NOAA Fisheries over the past 30 years, and some have found homes on Niihau.

Big game herds, imported from stock on MOLOKA’I RANCH in recent years, roam Niihau’s forests and flatlands.  Eland and Aoudad are abundant, along with Oryxes, wild boars and feral sheep.  These big game herds provide income from Hunting Safari Tourism.

Niihau island Hawaiian seal

Approximately 80% of Niihau’s income comes from a small Navy Installation atop 1,300ft-high cliffs.  Remote-controlled tracking devices are used for testing and training with Kaua’i’s Pacific missile Range Facility.  Modern missile defence tests are conducted at the site for the US and its Allies.  The Installation brings in millions of dollars a year and provides the Island with a stable economic base, without the complexity of tourism or industrial development.  The sale of shells and shell jewellery is an additional source of income.  Niihau’s beaches are known for their PUPU (tiny shells) that wash onto shore during winter months.

Niihau island ranch sheep

Species used for shell leis include Momi, Laiki or rice shells and Kahelelani.  The shells and jewellery are so popular that Governor linda Lingle signed a Bill in 2004, to protect Lei POPO O NIIHAU from counterfeiting.  A single intricate Niihau shell lei can sell for 1000s of dollars.

Many residents of Niihau were once employees of Niihau Ranch, farming cattle and sheep until the Robinsons shut down the operation in 1999.  It had not been profitable for most of the 20th century.  Honey cultivation was also no longer viable by 1999.  KIAWE Charcoal was once a large-scale export, but aggressive Mexican price competition ended that as well.  Mullet Farming has been popular in Niihau, with ponds and lakes stocked with baby mullet which reach 9 to 10 pound apiece before being harvested and sold on Kaua’i and O’ahu.
Niihau’s owners have offered half-day helicopter and beach tours of the Island since 1987, although contact with residents is avoided and no accommodations exist.  Since 1992, Hunting Safaris provide income via tourists who pay to visit the Island to hunt eland, aoudad and oryx, as well as wild sheep and boars.  Any meat the hunters do not take with them is given to the village.



KODAGU, also known as COORG, is an administrative district in Karnataka.  It occupies an area of 4,102 sq.kms in the Western Ghats of south-western Karnataka.  It is the least populous of the 30 districts in Karnataka.


Kodagu is a hilly district, the lowest elevation of which is 3,000 ft. above sea-level.  The highest peak, TADIANMOL, rises to 5.740ft, with PUSHPAGIRI, the 2nd highest at 5,627ft.  The main river in KODAGU is the KAVERI (Cauvery), which originates at TALAKAVERI located on the eastern side of the Western Ghats, and with its tributaries, drains the greater part of KODAGU.

coorg bridge

In July and August, rainfall is intense and there are often showers into November.  In jungle tracts, the rainfall reaches 3,000-3,800 millimetres and 1,500-2,500 millimetres in the “bamboo district” to the west.  KODAGU has an average temperature of 15 degrees, with the highest temperatures occurring in April and May.  The principal town and district capital is MADIKERI or MERCARA.


KODAVU was the native name of KODAGU.  The Kodavas were the earliest agriculturists in KODAGU, having lived there for centuries.  Being a “warrior community”, as well,  they carried arms during times of war and had their own chieftans.  The HALERI DYNASTY ruled KODAGU between 1600 and 1834.  Later, the British ruled KODAGU from 1834. after the Coorg War, until India’s Independence in 1947.  A separate state (called COORG STATE) until then, in 1956 KODAGU was merged with the Mysore State (now Karnataka). The KODAVAS are the dominant community of KODAGU.  KODAVA oral traditions are very rich.  They revere ancestors, arms and worship a number of deities.


KODAGU is rated as one of the top hill station destinations in India.  Some of the most popular tourist attractions in KODAGU include TALAKAVERI.  It is the place where the River Kaveri originates.  The Temple, on the river banks, is dedicated to Lord Brahma, and is one of only two Temples dedicated to Brahma in India and Southeast Asia..

coorg 103

BHAGAMANDALA is situated at the SANGAM (confluence) of two rivers —- the KAVERI & the KANIKA.  A third river, the SUJYOTHI, is said to join from underground, and, hence this spot is called the TRIVENI SANGAM.


IRUPPU FALLS is a sacred Kodagu Hindu spot in the Brahmagiri hill range.  The KAKSHMANA TIRTHA river, with the waterfalls, flows nearby and has a Rameshwara Temple on its banks.

Iruppu falls

Omkeshava temple Coorg

OMKARESHWARA TEMPLE is a beautiful Temple built in the Indo-Sarcenic style in KODAGU.  A legend is associated with the Temple built by Laingrajendra — 2 in 1820 CE.  The King put to death a pious Brahmin who dared to protest against his misdeeds.  The spirit of the dead man began to plague the King day and night.  On the advice of wise men, the King built this Temple and installed a “Shivlinga” procured from Kashi in North India.


DUBARE is mainly an elephant-capturing and training camp of the Forest Department at the edge of the Dubare Forest, on the bank of the River Kaveri.  NAGARHOLE is a national park and wildlife resort.  NISARGADHAMA, is a man-made island and picnic spot near Kushalanagar, formed by the River Kaveri.

Abbey falls madikeri

Coorg view

ABBEY FALLS is a scenic waterfall, 5km from Madikeri.  MALLALLI FALLS is 25km from Somwarpet.  The TIBETAN BUDDHIST GOLDEN TEMPLE is at Bylakuppe, near Kushalanagar, in the Tibetan Refuge Settlement.

Dubare elephant camp



KODAGU is considered rich with wildlife and has 3 Wildlife Sanctuaries —– the BRAHMAGIRI, the TALAKAVERI and the PUSHPAGIRI, and I National Park —— the NAGARHOLE NATIONAL PARK, also known as RAJIV GANDHI NATIONAL PARK.


The flora of the jungle includes ironwood, ebony, Indian mahogany, Poon spar, Black Dammar and rose.  In the undergrowth, are found cardamom, areca, plantains, canes and wild black pepper.

mallalli falls madikeri

In the forest of the less thickly-wooded bamboo country in the west of KODAGU, the most common trees are blackwood, Kino tree, Matthi, Benteak, Dindul  and several species of acacia.  Teak and sandalwood also grow in the eastern part of the district.



Coorg tibetian temple

Then here there is the Asian elephant, tiger, leopard, dhole, gaur, boar and several species of deer.  KODAGU also has a wide variety of birds, roughly around 300 birds have been sighted and reported over the years.

Mountain imperial pigeon

mountain imperial pigeon

MOUNTAIN IMPERIAL PIGEON also known as Maroon-backed Imperial Pigeon or Hodgson’s Imperial Pigeon is the largest pigeon species in its range at 17-20 inches long.
It has a fairly long tail, broad rounded wings and slow wing-beats.  The head, neck and under parts are vinous-grey with a contrasting white throat and brownish-maroon upper parts and wings, though the upper part of the body can be duller.  The under-wing is slate-grey and the tail is blackish with a grey horizontal line.  The combination of the maroon back with the large size, give this species a distinctive appearance.  Its call consists of a deep, resonant boom that is only detectable at close range.
mountain imperial pigeonsThough usually solitary, this species has been seen in groups numbering up to 20, especially when going to roost or flying up or down in mountains.  They can be difficult to see, since they spend their time usually in high canopy or fly fairly high over the canopy.
During the breeding display, calling birds “puff up their throats” considerably while singing and bow to potential mates.  Then the displaying bird engages in a “vertical flight” up from the perch, up 20-26ft in the air, and then glides back down with wings and tail “widely spread”.  In the northern stretches of the species’ range, breeding is from March to August, while in the southern parts of India and south-east Asia, they breed from January to May.  The nest is usually in a mountain imperial pigeon_fairly small tree, about 16-26ft off the ground and is a flimsy platform.  One or, rarely, two eggs are laid and both parents incubate.  They only leave the nest if highly pressed.
They feed on fruits and berries, especially figs and nutmeg, which are plucked and swallowed whole.  They will, occasionally, come to the ground to drink, as in the mangroves of Borneo, where up to 200 or 300 of them have been flushed at once.
It has a wide range in south-eastern Asia, where it occurs in Bhutan, Cambodia, India, China Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.  It may be found from sea level to elevation of 8,370ft in the Himalayas and 7,200ft on Sumatra.  Being mainly a “foothill” bird, it probably only breeds above an elevation of 1,600ft, although feeding flocks below this height are common.  It is usually found in old-growth forests.  The species is generally fairly common where extensive stands of forest remain.



WESTFJORDS is the name of a large peninsula in north-western Iceland and an administrative district.  It is connected to the rest of Iceland by a 7km wide “isthmus” between GILSFJOROUR & BITRUFJOROUR.  The WESTFJORDS is very mountainous, the coastline is heavily indented by dozens of “fjords” surrounded by steep hills.  These indentations make roads very “circuitous” and communication by land very difficult.  In addition, many of the roads are closed by ice and snow for several months of the year.


The VESTFTAROAGONG road  tunnel from 1996 has improved that situation.  The cliffs at LATRABJARG comprise the longest “bird cliff” in the Northern Atlantic Ocean and are at the uttermost point in Iceland.  The DRANGAJOKULL glacier is located in the north of the peninsula and is the 5th largest of the country, but the only glacier of the region.


The lack of flat lowlands, in the area, limits the potential for agriculture, which is mostly restricted to low-intensity sheep grazing near the “fjords”.  Good natural harbours in many of the fjords and their proximity to fishing areas are vital for the local economy.  The WESTFJORDS are very sparsely populated : the total population in 2007 was 7,380.  The district capital and by far the largest settlement is ISAFJOROUR (population around 4,000).  WESTFJORDS is generally the coldest area at sea level in Iceland, because of the East Greenland Current.


Here are a few stunning places to see (recommendations from the locals)  Nature rules the WESTFJORDS.  Sure, humans have built their settlements here and there, but this remains a “wild, untamed landscape”.  But it is also a landscape that “enjoys being discovered and enjoyed.


 (1) LATRABJARG  ——The “CLIFFS OF ALL CLIFFS”, home to several birds in “unfathomable numbers”.  This is really a “line of cliffs”  14k long and up to 441m high..  And, it is as steep as it gets. dizzyingly so.  Safe from foxes, the birds are fearless and provide stunning photographic opportunities from close range.  The puffins are particularly tame.  But, look out, the edges of the cliffs are fragile and loose and the fall is high.   LATRABJARG is thus, deservedly, the most visited tourist attraction in the WESTFJORDS.  The cliffs are easily accessible by car and when you are there, a walk along the cliffs awaits.  The “whirling” sensation will not fade, and neither will the memories.



(2) DYNJANDI ——– It is the WESTFJORDS’ simply enthralling and favourite “front-page model” for decades, and is never short of “breath-taking”.  The biggest and widest part of the waterfall is one that gets all the attention and the photos, even though there are impressive, albeit smaller, waterfalls further down the river.  In fact, one is formed in such a way that the brave can walk behind it, relatively dry.  There is a camping place at the site with basic services.  To enjoy, follow this simple step-by-step manual :  (a) Stop your car at the parking lot  (b) Walk all the way t the widest part of the waterfall, it takes about 15mins.  (c) Take a deep breath and enjoy.  (d) Whenever ready, go back down to the car.

Samuel Jonsson art farm

Jonsson art farm iceland

(3) SAMUEL’S SCULPTURES in SELARDALUR  ———- Samuel Jonsson’s outstanding naïve sculptures and buildings in SELARDALUR Valley in ARNARFJORDUR had been rapidly decaying, when a society for its restoration was founded in 1998.  The society is a non-profit organisation and has had collaboration with the German sculptor —— Gerhard Konig and some others to work on the restoration during the past years in co-operation with the landowner, the ministry of agriculture.  Groups of volunteers, from Germany, have been working together with Gerhard during the past summers.  In the summer of 2008, Samuel’s living house was pulled down and a new house was built to serve as a guesthouse for artists and scholars.


WESTFJORDS is also known as the “Wild West of Iceland”, and the reasons to visit include the million of sea birds which use its high cliffs to nest.  Places like VIGUR ISLAND are also home to (alarmingly rare) stocks of breeding puffins.  The region is an excellent place to encounter Gyrfalcons and Sea Eagles, as well as Snowy Owls.  There is also no shortage of breeding land-birds like the Golden Plover, Whimbrel and redshank.  Ever seen Whales breaching beside the road as you drive along ?  Thanks to the coastal road along deep fjords, the WESTFJORDS might be one of the only places this a regular occurrence.  The same goes for Seals casually basking on rocks, totally unconcerned to being watched.  The WESTFJORDS is the land of the Arctic Fox.  These cute-but-shy mam wild across Iceland, but your best chance of seeing them in the WESTFJORDS ———– especially in the HORNSTRANDIR NATURE RESERVE, where they are protected from hunting and are relatively tame as a result.


Nature is no more evident in the WESTFJORDS than in the landscape itself.  The sheltered, crystal-clear sea which fills the fjords is full of fish, and is great for diving, kayaking and sailing.  In fact, taking a boat-trip may actually be quicker than driving to some places.  The mountains are everywhere.  Coated in lush green summer grass and myriad wild herbs and meadow flowers, they provide the ultimate viewing platform atop the world.  Between the sea and mountains, you’ll find seemingly endless coast, varying from precarious cliffs to beaches of sand or boulders:  VARIETY IS THE KEY-WORD.

arctic fox

WESTFJORDS beaches are an easy walk and an unbeatable place to relax the mind and invigorate the body.  And, don’t forget to keep an eye open for interesting shells, stones, glass and pottery.  The closest WESTFJORDS gets to flat land is often the many valleys with a warm micro-climate, an abandoned farmhouse or two and no other sign of human interference.


Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta is Africa’s “natural oasis”  The Okavango Delta or as it is known a the Okavango Grassland, in Botswana, is a very large inland of found where the Okavango River reaches a “tectonic trough” in the central part of the “endorheic” basin of the Kalahari.

Okavango Delta

All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired and does not flow into any sea or ocean.  Each year approximately 11 cubic kilometres of water spreads over the 6,000 — 15,000 area.  Some of the flood water drains into Lake Ngami.  The Moremi Game Reserve, a National Park, is on the eastern side of the Delta.  This statistical significance helped the Okavango Delta secure a position as one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, which were officially declared on February 11, 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania and on 22nd June, 2014 the Okavango Delta became the 1000th Site to be officially inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Okavango Delta elephants

The area was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that almost dried up by the early Halocene.  Although the Okavango Delta is widely believed to be the world’s largest inland delta, it is not.  In Africa alone, there are two larger similar geological features —— the SUDD on the Nile in South Sudan, and the INNER NIGER DELTA in Mali.

Okavango Delta wildlife

The Okavango Delta is produced by seasonal flooding.  The Okavango River drains the summer rainfall (Jan-Feb) from the Angola Highlands and the surge flows over the 250km by 150km area of the Delta over the next four months (March-June).  The high temperature of the Delta causes rapid transpiration and evaporation, resulting in a cycle of rising and falling water level.  The flood peaks between June and August, during Botswana’s dry winter months, when the Delta swells to three times its permanent size, attracting animals from kilometres around and creating one of Africa’s “greatest concentrations of wildlife”.  The Delta is very flat, with less than 2mts variation in height all across it.

Okavango Delta wildlife

Of the water that flows into the Delta, approximately 60% is consumed through transpiration by plants, 36% by evaporation, 2% percolates in the “aquifer system” and 2% flows into Lake Ngami.  The delta’s profuse greenery is not the result of a wet climate, rather, it is “an oasis in an arid country”.

Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is both a permanent and seasonal home to a variety of wildlife, and thus the Okavango Delta is now a popular tourist attraction.  Species include African bush elephant, African buffalo, lechwe, hippos, sitatunga, blue wildebeest, cheetah, hyena, springbok, sable antelope and chacma baboon.  The endangered African wild dog still survives within the Okavango Delta, exhibiting one of the richest densities in Africa.  The Delta also includes over 400 species of birds like the African fish-eagle, Pel’s fishing-owl, crested crane, lilac-breasted roller, hammerkop, ostrich and sacred ibis.  The majority of the estimated 200,000 large mammals, in and around the Delta, are not year-round residents.  They leave with the summer rains to find renewed fields of grass to graze on and trees to browse, then make their way back as winter approaches.  Large herds of buffalo and elephant total about 30,000 beasts.

Okavango Delta lion

 The Okavango Delta is home to 71 fish species, including tiger fish, tilapia and various species of catfish.  Fish sizes range from 1.4m (African sharp-tooth catfish) to 3.2cms (sickle barb).  The same species are to be found in the Zambezi River, indicating a historical link  between the two river systems.


The most populous large mammal is the LECHWE ANTELOPE, that are more than 60,000 in number.   The LECHWE is a little larger than an Impala with elongated hooves and a water-repellent substance on their legs that enables rapid movement through knee-deep water. They graze on aquatic plants and, like the waterbuck, take to water when threatened by predators.  Only the males have horns.

Okavango Delta

Papyrus and reed rafts make up a large part of the Okavango Delta vegetation.  In the Delta, because of the clean waters of the Okavango, there is almost no mud and the river’s load consists almost entirely of sand.  The plants capture the sand, acting as the glue and making up for the lack of mud and in the process creating further islands on which more plants can take root.

Elephants of the Okavango Delta

The Namibian Government has presented plans to build a Hydropower Station in the Zambezi region, which would regulate the Okavango’s flow to some extent.  While proponents argue that the effect would be minimal, environmentalists argue that this project could destroy most of the rich animal and plant life in the Okavango Delta.  Other threats include human encroachment and regional extraction of water in both Angola and Namibia.

Tibetan Gazelle


The Tibetan Gazelle also called Goa is a species of antelope that inhabits the Tibetan Plateau.
Tibetan Gazelles are relatively small antelopes , slender and graceful bodies.  Both males and females stand 21-26 inches tall at the shoulder, measure 36-41 inches in head-to-body length and weigh 13-16kg.  Males have long tapering, ridged horns, reaching lengths of 10-13 inches.  The horns are positioned close together on the forehead, and rise more or less vertically until they suddenly diverge towards the tips.  The females do not have horns, and neither sex has distinct facial markings.
They are greyish-brown over most of their bodies, with their summer coats being noticeably greyer, in colour, than their winter ones.  They have short black-tipped tails in the centre of the heart-shaped rump patch.  Their fur lacks an undercoat, consisting of long guard-hairs only.  They appear to have excellent senses, including eye-sight an hearing.  Their thin and long legs enhance their running skills, which is required to escape from predators.

tibetan gazelle Goa

The Tibetan Gazelles are native to the Tibetan Plateau and are widely spread throughout the region, inhabiting terrain between 3,000 and 5,700 metres in elevation.  They are almost restricted to the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Xinjiang, Tibet and Qinghai.
Unlike other ungulates, they do not form large herds and are typically found in small family groups.  Most groups contain no more than 10 individuals and many are solitary.  They have been noted to give short “cries” and “calls” to alert the herd on approach of a predator or other perceived threat.  Their main local threat is the wolf.  They feed on a range of local vegetation, primarily legumes, supplemented by relatively small amounts of grasses and sedges.
For much of the year the sexes remain separated, with the females grazing in the higher altitude terrain than the males.  The females descend from their high pasture around September, prior to the mating season in December.  Gestation lasts around 6 months, with a single young being born between July and August.  The infants remain hidden with their mother  for the 1st two weeks of life, before joining the herd again.  Tibetan Gazelles have lived up to 5 years and 7 months in captivity.

tibetan gazelle goa 1

Although their population has declined over recent years, they do not inhabit regions of high human population and do not significantly compete with local livestock.  Because of their small size, they are not popular targets for hunting and they are classified as Class –2 Protected Species in China.
In Ladakh, they live at high altitudes (15,580-16,570ft), but prefer relatively flat areas with an affinity for warmer south-facing slopes.  They co-exist with domestic yaks and kiang, but are competitive with domestic goats and sheep and avoid herders and their dogs.

The Peregrine

The Peregrine or the Peregrine Falcon, also known, historically known as, Duck Hawk, is the ‘world’s most widespread raptor’.
It is a large crow-sized falcon.  The back and the long pointed wings, of the adult, are usually bluish-black to slate-grey The white to rusty under-parts are barred with clean bands of  dark brow or black.  The top of the head and a “moustache” along the cheeks are black, contrasting sharply with the pale sides of the neck and white throat.  The ‘cere’ is yellow, as are the feet and the beak and the talons are black.  The upper beak is ‘notched’ near the tip, an adaptation which enables falcons to kill prey by severing the spinal column at the neck.  It has a body length of 34-58 cm and a wing span from 74-120 cm.  The female is 30% larger than the male.  Males weigh 330-1000gm and females weigh 513-1,500 gm.
Its breeding range includes land regions from the Arctic Tundra to the Tropics.  It can be found nearly everywhere on Earth, except extreme polar regions, very high mountains and most tropical rainforests, the only major ice-free land mass, from which it is entirely absent, is New Zealand.  This make sit the WORLD’S MOST WIDESPREAD RAPTOR.
Peregrine-falcon-talonsThe “courtship flight” includes a mix of aerial acrobatics precise spirals and steep dives..  The male passes prey, it has caught, to the female in ‘mid-air.  To make this possible, the female actually flies ‘upside-down’ to receive the food from the male’s talons.  During the breeding season, the peregrine falcon is territorial ; nesting pairs are usually more than 1 km apart.  The peregrine falcon nests in a “scrape”, normally on cliff edges.  The female chooses a nest site, where she “scrapes” a shallow hollow in the loose soil, sand, gravel or dead vegetation, in which she lays eggs, usually about 3 to 4.  Cliff nests are generally located under an overhang, or ledges with vegetation.  South-facing sites are favoured.  In many parts of its range, peregrines now also nest regularly on tall buildings or bridges, these human-made structures, used for breeding,  closely resemble  the natural cliff ledges that the peregrine prefers for its nesting locations.  The pair defends the chosen nest-site against ravens, herons and gulls, and, if ground-nesting, also mammals like foxes, wolves, bears and mountain lions (puma).
Peregrines, defending their nests, have managed to kill raptors as large as golden eagles and bald eagles, that have come too close to the nest by ambushing them in a ‘FULL STOOP’ (high speed dive).  In one instance, when a snowy owl killed a newly-fledged peregrine, the larger owl was, in turn, killed by a STOOPING PEREGRINE PARENT.
Peregrine-Falcon-PortraitThe Peregrine Falcon is a highly admired ‘falconry’ bird, because of its athleticism and eagerness to hunt.  It also has an equitable disposition  and is one of the easier falcons to train.  It has the additional advantage of a natural style of circling above the ‘falconer’ (waiting on) for game to be flushed, and then performing an effective and exciting high speed  ‘diving stoop”, to take the quarry.  The speed and energy of the “stoop” allows the falcon to catch fast-flying birds, and to deliver a “KNOCK-OUT” blow with a fist-like clenched talon against game that may be mush larger than itself.
While its diet consists exclusively of medium-sized birds, the peregrine will, occasionally, hunt small mammals, small reptiles or even insects.  The Peregrine Falcon became an endangered species in many areas, because of the widespread use of insecticides, especially DDT.  Since the ban on DDT, from the early 1970s , populations have recovered , supported by large-scale protection of nesting places and releases to the wild.
Both the English and scientific names of this species mean “WANDERING FALCON’.  The Peregrine Falcon is the national bird of the UAE.  Since 1927,  it has been the official mascot of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.  It has been designated the official city bird of Chicago.