THE MAMMALS - CORBETT TIGER RESERVE

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» North India
» Uttranchal
Main Attractions: Rhesus Macaques, Common Grey Lungur, Tiger, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, Fishing Cat, Dhole, Jackal, Red Fox, Sloth Bear, Black Bear, Small Indian Civet, Indian Grey Mongoose.




THE MONKEYS

All Indian Monkeys are of two main classes; they bare either Macaques or else Langurs. The macaques have cheek-pouches and are smaller sized than the Langurs; they are usually short tailed and thickset in build. The Langurs have no cheek pouches, they are tall and have long tails. Both the Rhesus Macaque and the Common Langur are normally found in the Corbett Tiger Reserve and are widely distributed.

Rhesus Macaque:
Langoor in Jim Corbett Park - Uttar PradeshThe Rhesus (Macaca Mulatta) is the best-known Monkey in the world. It is familiar 'red Monkey' of northern India, an olive brown in coat with the pelage on the lowerback distinctively reddish, a pink face and short tail. It does not seem to attain the size in the Corbett reserve that it does elsewhere in its wide range over north India, and her it does not frequent the outskirts of human habitations and even enter them, but it is purely a forest Monkey. It is common along the Ramganga in The Sheesham forests flanking the river, and uncommonly shy - on sighting men it drops quickly down from the tree and scuttles away into bush cover.

Common Grey Langur:
The Common Grey Langur (Presbytis Entellus) is the only Monkey with an all India distribution in several regional races, which are very similar to one another. It is the well-known 'Hanuman Langur' of the north, a grey all-over with a flat black face and black hands and feet. There is also a mystery behind why is called 'Hanuman', for the Puranic Hanuman belonged very much to south India and in the south it is invariably the bonnet Monkey (a Macque and no Langur) that is depicted as the Monkey-God! Langurs, too, are remarkably shy of men here.

ELEPHANTS

Wild Elephants in the reserve used to be seasonal visitors rather than residents, but with the construction of the dam and the submersion of their established routes a population seems to have turned resident. These Elephants wander all over the tree forests and frequently come on to the open clearings to graze or to get to the river to drink and bathe.

Elephants in Jim Corbett Park - Uttranchal In spite of the cover readily available to them they do not, as a rule, retreat at once from human presence and may, on occasion, be aggressive; they are also given to pushing down and uprooting small trees wastefully when feeding in the forests. It has been said that they are restive and unsettled because, with their age old trek routes now blocked by the submersion of a part of the reserve, they feel insecure and confined. But their apprehensiveness is mainly due to too frequent disturbance by men.

Want To See An Elephant!

However that might be, two things should always be kept in mind with regard to wild Elephants here; the difficulty of judging their size in the cast, open settings of the Corbett reserve, and the need to take care not to disturb or provoke them. The same elephant seen among trees close by the road seem much larger than when seen on open ground near water, because in the vast arena of the 'Chuars' size is hard to judge, and big as the elephant undoubtedly is, the foothills of the Himalayas providing the backdrop to the setting are bigger!

People in a van or other motor vehicle, or on elephant back are comparatively safe when encountering wild Elephants unexpectedly, but when on foot it is essential to avoid being too close to them. Do not be misled into a feeling of security by the peaceful indifference of grazing Elephants, seemingly unaware of your presence; unlike almost all other wild animals, Elephants at times attack without any previous signal of hostile intent and they can be incredibly swift in their movements, both upslope and down, they can cover ground much faster than a man can. Deers in Jim Corbett Park - Uttranchal

ANTELOPES AND DEER

Except for the Nilgai reported only from Bijrani, there are no Antelopes in the reserve. Goral, which are Goat Antelopes, are not uncommon on the high ridges north of the Ramganga.

Chital:
Chital and Para belonging to the same genus though very unlike in appearance are both features of the reserve. A large stag party seen on open ground at Dhikala or elsewhere presents a remarkable sight, a regular forest of antlers! In the recent past Chital have lost much ground here owing to the inundation of the 'Chuars', but they are among the most adaptable of Indian animals and no doubt will continue to be a major feature of the reserve; incidentally, they are dominantly Indian. In the vast spaciousness of the open Maidan their size may not be apparent, but they come as big here as they do anywhere else.

Para:
The Para is also called the Hog Deer; from its supposed resemblance to a hog in its gait and carriage and in its thick bodied, low to ground build. It has been said that Para do not bound along as other deer do, and that in this it is Pig-like. It is true that it does not jump high in its getaway as the Muntjac usually do, but it can and does gallop, and in fact its gait and run are very much like that of a Deer. Para are both browsers and grazers and favour grassy clearings. They have been more affected by the inundation of such open ground than most other mammals here.

Sambar in Jim Corbett Park - Uttranchal Sambar:
Sambar in the reserve do attain a fair bodily size, but also like riverine scrub, and are not at all uncommon in the tree forests and along the streams of the river. The reason for the poor antlers of the stags seems to be mainly genetic and not environmental for Chital living in the same area and feeding on much the same vegetation has quite sizeable antlers. They may be commonly encountered in the reverine forests at Dhilkala during an elephant-back ride. At nightfall Sambar usually move up to some safe hilltop clearing to lie up and chew the cud, and the ease with which they can swarm up almost vertical banks on limber legs is astonishing.

Muntjac:
The Muntjac is a diminutive Deer of tree forests, especially notable for its loud alarm call, its physical peculiarities, and its aliases. It is also called the Barking Deer and the rib faced Deer and sometimes in the south, the Jungle Sheep! It is small and usually solitary, and though a bright brown in colour, is not easily seen in the bush cover it keeps to. Its call, however, is unmistakable, strident and extraordinarily loud coming from such a small animal, a reiterated, hoarse long drawn bark, typically like the bark of a very large dog with a very bad sore throat, but differing in pitch and duration from individual to individual to some extent.

This alarm call is sounded at the least hint of danger, on becoming aware of the presence of a Tiger or a Leopard or even a man close by and is widely understood by all denizens of the forest as a reliable indication of danger in the offing.

Wild Pig:
The Wild Pigs are found in the uneven terrain of the upper slopes of the Himalayan region, especially nearby Nullahs and shallow streams. They much fancy eating Tubers, Snouts and underground Fungi's, but they also like to eat meat when they can find it, tough they do not normally hunt for prey. Wild Pigs usually go about in small parties, or in regular sounders, and these are rather small in bodily size, but some quite enormous lone boars are also seen on occasion.

THE PREDATORS AT CORBETT TIGER RESERVE

Tigers: Corbett Tiger Park
Tiger in Jim Corbett Park - Uttar PradeshThe Corbett tiger reserve has always been known for its Tigers. It offers them an exceptionally congenial environment; there is no dearth of varied prey to suit all stages of their age and condition with the abundance of four kinds of Deer, Pig and lesser animals; Tiger stands the cold very well, and alone among the great Cats of Asia they like to lie up in water and are excellent swimmers; even in midsummer, they find shelter from the scorching sun in the shallow pools along the stream beds fed by subterranean springs (locally called 'Sots'), overhung with dense, shading vegetation, and the spreads of tall grass in the 'Chuars' provide cover to lurk in and to stalk the wary prey.

Protection Of The Tigers
Following the policy of Project Tiger, the barbarous practice of tying out live baits so as to display the Tiger to visitors has been discontinued, so that it is purely by chance that one may see a Tiger here and since the Tiger is shy of men and prefers to stay within cover by day, being out mainly when it is dark or dim, this is not a likely chance, but it does come to pass in the comparatively open valley bed much favoured by Tigers here.

There are quite a few of them moving about the Corbett tiger reserve is proved by their fresh footprints on the sands of the Ramganga and its many streams. Since these pugs are adequately individualistic to divulge the age and sex of the animal leaving them behind, the experienced observer can compute the numbers and favourite beats of the Tigers in an area by studying them, and it is largely by such pug counts that the Tiger population of a reserve is reckoned.

With the strict protection from human intrusions into their lives accorded by the project, Tigers here have already shown welcome signs of increase-from 44 in 1972 to 90 in 1984, no doubt this increase is partly due to Tigers from outside the reserve moving into its more congenial terrain. Incidentally, Tigers all over the country belong to the same sub species; the Indian Tiger- there is no such animal as the Royal Bengal Tiger.

Leopard:
Leapord in Jim Corbett Park - Uttar Pradesh Being much smaller more nocturnal and having a beautifully spotted coat that blends so effectively with the ground vegetation, the Leopards keep mainly to the forested ridges, though when hunting at night they do come into the valley. They are the most versatile of the great Cats, and much the most varied in size.

They are superbly athletic and can jump high, climb trees with ease and crouch so low to ground behind some small clump of grass that they become almost invisible! They hunt all manner of prey, from Monkeys and Chital down to ground birds, the Monitor Lizard and River Tortoises, though they do not take readily to water as Tigers do. Leopards avoid their much Tiger cousins, which will not hesitate to attack and kill them if opportunity offers.

Wild Cats:
The lesser Cats of the reserve are the Jungle Cat and the Leopard-Cat, both seldom seen being comparatively small, nocturnal and shy, distinctive in their looks. The Jungle Cat is noticeably larger than the Domestic Cat, an overall grey in colour with a comparatively short tail whose tip is ringed in black and erect, acutely pointed ears with a thin pencil of black hair to their tips.

The Leopard Cat is beautifully marked with spots, streaks and Ocelli, somewhat like a Leopard in miniature, and is smaller than the Jungle Cat, though powerfully built. Although not listed by the team that studied the mammals of the reserve, the most powerful of the smaller Cats, the Fishing Cat also occurs here, but is uncommon, unlike the Jungle Cat and the Leopard Cat.

Wild Dog:
The 'Dhole', the so-called Wild Dog, 'Jungli Kutta' (Cuaon Alphinus) is completely rare in the reserve and has been reported, occasionally, only from Bijrani.

Jackal:
Jackal in Jim Corbett Park - Uttar PradeshThe Jackal is common, especially around the campus and human settlements, and is often seen in pairs, sometimes in small parties.

Red Fox:
The Red Fox, virtually the same as the English Reynard, may be seen occasionally at dusk or dawn.

Sloth Bear & Himalayan Black Bear:
The resident Bear is the Sloth Bear but it is definitely uncommon being found, mostly in the ridge north of the Ramganga. Rarely, the Himalayan Black Bear may stray in during winter from higher altitudes.

Other Predatory Animals
The smaller predators include the highly Arboreal Yellow Throated Marten which is uncommon, the Common Otter along the river, usually seen in a pack, the Small Indian Civet and the Common Palm Civet both of which are common but little seen because of their nocturnal habit, and the larger and handsomer Himalayan Palm Civet, which is also nocturnal. The Mongoose of the area is the Indian Grey Mongoose, which is diurnal and keeps to the more open areas of the park.

OTHERS SMALL MAMMALS

The only Hedgehog recorded here is the long eared Hedgehog, occasionally found near Bijrani in dry scrub. Two shrews are seen occasionally near human habitations, one of which is the familiar 'Chuchindar' or Common Musk Shrew. Eight kind of Bats been listed, among them the Flying Fox or Giant Fruit Bat (Gadal Badur) which, being nocturnal, is not often seen. The Indian Pangolin 9Bajra Kit) is quite rare and reported only from Garjia.

The Northern Blacknaped Hare (Khargosh) is quite common in the open scrub, but is out only early in the mornings, late in the evenings and by night and so seldom seen. The Northern Palm Squirrel (Ghilheri) is there near Bijrani. Apart from the Bandicoot and the Indian Gerbille and Indian Field Mouse there are half a dozen other rats and field mice, all nocturnal and so seldom seen.

The Indian Porcupine is also very much a creature of the night and so not often seen, but is quite a feature of the reserve; it lives in subterranean burrows, and has been much affected by the flooding of its homes by the water spread of the Ramnaganga; all predators are fond of this plump rodent, but its armour of barbed, backwardly directed quills and vigilance often save it.


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