A Hostile Takeover

_MG_2491It is beginning October again and the National Parks all over the country start opening for tourism. Like each year I explore a park or two in different regions to see what changes the monsoons have brought with them. This year took me to Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve & Pench Tiger Reserve. Monsoons impacted both the parks quite differently this year – Ranthambhore received a very poor monsoon this year which led to very little swelling of water bodies, most of the park is still quite dry and with cubs in_MG_0838 most zones within the park this should turn out to be a year of difficulties (in terms of water supplies) for the wildlife, however, very fruitful in terms of wildlife sightings for the park visitors. Though my visit to the park was short (just 1 day) I managed to sight 6 tigers with sightings for 3 hours of the tiger, I saw a sloth bear as he climbed up a tree to pick off the colony of ants, a desert fox, Indian gazelle, blue bulls, sambar deer, axis deer and a whole diversity of summer birds such as the paradise flycatcher and the Indian Pitta. Overall a more than fruitful day in the park.

Pench however, was quite a contrast to Ranthambhore. The monsoon rains had_MG_9199 transformed the dry teak forest into an ocean of green. Everywhere you looked it was just green. The ground which is usually brown from the fallen dry leaves and dried out grass was covered in weeds. Lantana as usual had taken over part of the forest and with this much foliage I did not see the big cat. Those who were lucky caught a glimpse of ‘Collarwali’ tigress with her cubs at a distance too far to be covered even by a 600mm prime (not that I had one handy 😉. But my highlight during the couple of days that I was in Pench was the dhole (Asiatic wild dogs) sighting. For those of you who do not know these whistling dogs are perhaps the most successful hunters in the Indian jungles with a 75% success rate on their hunts – much higher than that of any big cat. What made this sighting exciting was that this was the first time that I got a chance to study a hostile takeover of one packs territory by the other. Pench has two popular packs within the main tourist zones – A pack of 11 dogs whose territory ranges south of Kalapahad area to Turia gate and the other a pack of 5 dogs that range from Sita ghat down to Alikatta grasslands and close to Joda Munara to the east. The territory over which this fight took place was the Alikatta grasslands a prime prey area next to the Pench river.

20171001_0858301Since Kalapahad and almost the entire territory of the pack of 11 was closed for_MG_2596 tourists as the road network was still damaged from this year’s monsoons, I spent most of my time with the pack of 5 dogs. We spent hours observing their social behaviour, how they communicated with one another through yelps and whistles and when on a strong trail they spread out and through the thick foliage and coordinated their efforts to find prey. Till last year this pack was a strong pack of 7 dogs. It stands today at 5 as one dog was cast out of the pack as he reached maturity and wanted to mate with the females of the pack a right remains entirely with the Alpha male within the wild dog society – thus he was cast out of the pack. The second dog was killed last season by Collarwali tigress who is raising another litter – probably her last one. She is still formidable and probably has the record for raising the largest number of litters and cubs. Her last few litters were raised in record time of 15-18 months where most cubs stay under their mother’s care and protection till they are about 2-2.5 years old.

_MG_2195Day 2 we found the pack early morning and somehow, they seemed more excited / nervous. 2 members of the pack constantly were sniffing and were on some sort of the scent trail whereas the other three kept a lookout on all sides and trailed behind. Even the large number of tourist vehicles that were looking out for the tiger and had settled for wild dog sightings did not bother them or get in their way as they weaved through the jeeps completely focussed on the scent trail. I thought I will get be the unlucky one to witness a gruesome murder of an axis deer as dogs, who are not the top predator in the forest often start eating their prey even before they have killed it as tigers and leopards often steal their prey from them. Yet I could sense some tension /excitement amongst the pack and continued to follow them as most fell away after hearing some alarm calls on the other side of Alikatta grasslands which seemed_MG_2268 most likely for a tiger. With just a couple of jeeps we stayed with the pack that seemed to cover ground at a relatively fast clip. The chase took us towards Joda Munara cross section where the dogs stopped tracking and fanned out for what seemed to be a long silence without much communication. Just the Alpha came close to the track and then within seconds we saw 11 wild dogs attack from the other side. More than 4 km north of their territory this pack wanted to take over the grasslands where visibility and prey base was too much of a temptation. In the next couple of minutes, the Alpha dogs of both packs commanded their soldiers who chased and fought each other. 16 dogs running, chasing and biting each other amongst yelps and shrieks in all directions. Then as soon as it started it was over – there was no dog in sight, you could only hear a couple of painful yelps from either side of the road. For close to forty minutes we looked for the dogs but none could be seen then we saw two emerge on the side of the road. They seemed to be searching for others, I thought it was the pack of 5 that got scattered and were looking for their companions. The Alpha – darker in colour with beautiful white marking on the neck was nowhere to be seen. Even though survival of the fittest is the norm of the jungle I was hoping not to find any dogs dead or fatally injured. These search dogs made no sounds they made no attempts to communicating _MG_2606verbally with their packs making us doubt that this was the same pack. We drove further east and found 5 dogs by the roadside along with the Alpha and very skittish. Although most of them seemed to have no injuries the Alpha had a nasty gash around the collar area. He went around checking the pack for injuries but every sound, even that of our jeeps made him jump around. After spending a few minutes with them we left the pack resting by the roadside not wanting to stress them any further. Unfortunately, the pack that I spent the last few days with and somehow managed to bond enough to get close to lay there defeated.

I will probably have to visit Pench a couple of time during the season to see how they fare, but as of now I am happy that they all made it even though their pride was severely hurt having lost one of the best hunting grounds within the park. This was one of my most memorable wild dog experience in the Indian jungles. There was literally no disappointment about the fact that I didn’t see a tiger or a leopard as what I witnessed was something truly rare and not witnessed by many.

The Remarkable Yet Unknown Species of India – The Slow Loris

bengal-slow-loris-adultLast month while researching for a primate tour in India I came across a unique primate – The Slow Loris. Not only are these one of 10 smallest primates in the world, they are also the only venomous primate in the world. Yes! Venomous primate!

With my interest piqued, I started studying more about this close cousin of ours. The Slow Loris comes from the genus Nycticebus which consists of four species: Pygmy Slow Loris, Javan Slow Loris, Sunda Slow Loris and our very own Bengal Slow Loris. The Bengal Slow Loris has the largest distribution of all the slow lorises and can be found in Bangladesh, Cambodia, southern China, Northeast India, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam.

bengal-slow-loris-feedingIt is nocturnal and arboreal, occurring in both evergreen and deciduous forests. It prefers rainforests with dense canopies, and its presence in its native habitat indicates a healthy ecosystem. It is a seed disperser and pollinator, as well as a prey item for carnivores such as Pythons and Hawk eagles. Its diet primarily consists of fruit, but also includes insects, tree gum, snails, and small vertebrates. The species lives in small family groups, marks its territory with urine, and sleeps during the day by curling up in dense vegetation or in tree holes. It is a seasonal breeder, reproducing once every 12–18 months and usually giving birth to a single offspring. For the first three months, mothers carry their offspring, which reach sexual maturity at around 20 months. The Bengal Slow Loris can live up to 20 years.

Now since we have already told you that this is a venomous primate let us understand a couple of things: How does the ‘venom’ work? Are they venomous or poisonous? And what’s the difference between the two.

slowlorisbrachialgland-helgaschulzeTo begin let us first understand “brachial glands”. The flexor surface or the ventral side of the elbow has a slightly raised but barely visible swelling termed the brachial gland. Observations from captive slow lorises show that when the animal is disturbed during handling, they secrete about 10 microliters of clear, strong-smelling fluid in the form of an apocrine sweat (exudate) from their brachial gland. Usually, male and female slow lorises assume a defensive stance when disturbed. They bend their heads downwards between uplifted forelegs, rubbing the brachial gland exudate onto their head and neck. Slow lorises frequently lick their own brachial gland regions and wipe their brachial gland against their head. The brachial gland is active in lorises as young as 6 weeks old.

 The main difference a venomous and a poisonous animal is that a venomous animal injects toxins into its victim’s body by bite or sting. A poisonous animal, on the other hand, produces toxins that are poisonous once inhaled or ingested like a Puffer Fish. Medical literature shows that human – Slow Loris injuries come from Slow Loris bites and not from ingesting their toxins. So, are slow lorises venomous? Well, not quite….

teeth_bite_slowlorisLorises have got strong jaw muscles and pointed teeth with cutting edges easily piercing human skin or thin gloves. Health problems after Slow Loris bites may be either due to presence of a toxin produced by the animals, due to bacteria and viruses transferred by bites or due to an anaphylactic shock (extreme allergic reaction). Loris brachial gland secretion includes two toxins, made inactive by inhibitors; when mixed with saliva, after licking of the brachial glands, the enzymes from the saliva break down the inhibitors and make the saliva-secretion mixture toxic.

Anaphylactic shock: in people, regularly in contact with slow lorises, saliva may repeatedly come into the body through tiny, maybe invisible wounds. If the Loris keeper develops an allergy against this saliva, an allergic shock is possible (independent from the quantity of substance causing it, within seconds to minutes, in one case described lasting two hours), although this is a rare disease. Symptoms of anaphylactic shock may be: initially burning tongue and throat, a sensation of heat, red, itching skin, wheals, very low blood pressure, shock, convulsions of muscles (pain), pain in the heart and kidney region, respiratory problems (constriction of airways), heart problems, and possibly unconsciousness. Occurrence would make an immediate call for medicinal help necessary; first aid: measures against shock such as lying posture with legs a bit higher, assuring sufficient blood supply for necessary organs.

Slow lorises have needle-like teeth called dental combs or tooth combs on their lower jaw. Paired with the constant licking of the brachial gland, it is not surprising that one would assume the dental comb plays a part in injecting brachial gland exudate into unsuspecting victims. However, this is not the case, based on these published reports, it seems that Slow Loris bites are not venomous the reaction is largely to the exudate’s allergen secreted by the brachial glands which is like the Fel d 1 allergen in domestic cats… just more potent I guess.

The biggest challenge that these beautiful creatures face today is the meat and pet trade. People will often buy Loris as pets as they look adorable however, as in the case of all exotic pets most of these pet owners do little to no research about the species and have no clue about how to raise one in a home environment often unknowingly creating an environment or a situation harmful for the species. bengal-slow-loris-sitting-on-branch

The Remarkable Yet Unknown Species of India – The Ganges Shark

ganges-sharkMany of us who know sharks largely know them from the various movies that have been made on them be it the “Jaws” series or “Deep Blue Sea”. A lot of us often feel the fear of coming across one of these predators of the oceans when we go snorkelling or swimming in the sea, but not many realize that there are sharks lurking in our rivers as well. In fact, there are very few who are aware of this fact. Of the 440 species of sharks known to man there are only 6 species that are known as “River Sharks” or are of the “Glyphis” genus. India with its ever surprising bio-diversity is home of an endemic river shark known as “The Ganges Shark”.

The Ganges shark inhabits the River Hoogly in West Bengal, as well as the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi in the states of Bihar, Assam and Orissa. While some of the other river sharks are also known to inhabit saltwater, the Ganges shark is only found in rivers and possibly estuaries, with no confirmed records from oceans or seas. It is amongst the 20 most threatened shark species and is listed as a Critically Endangered species in the IUCN Redlist.

Ganges sharks are extremely rare species known from only three museum specimens, all collected in the 19th century from fresh water in the lower reaches of the Ganges-Hooghly river system. There were no records between 1867 until 1996, although 1996 records have not been confirmed as Ganges shark. Ganges shark was lastly reported in 2001 from the upstream of the mouth of Hooghly River at Mahishadal in West Bengal.240px-carcharias_gangeticus_by_muller_and_henle

Although very little is known about it, the Ganges shark has a grey to brownish colouration without any discernible pattern or markings. It is stocky with a short, broadly rounded snout and a small wide spaced nostril. The eyes are small and dark. Ganges shark has broad, serrated upper teeth. Cusps of lower teeth protrude prominently when mouth is closed. The small eyes and teeth of Ganges shark suggest that they are primarily fish-eaters that have adapted to hunting in turbid water of rivers and estuaries. The eyes of Ganges shark are tilted upward rather than laterally or ventrally as in most requiem sharks indicating that this species may swim along the bottom and scan the water above it for potential prey back-lit by the sun.

The Remarkable Yet Unknown Species of India – The Red Panda

Portrait of a Red Panda

Portrait of a Red Panda

As some of you who follow this blog know I have started this series to showcase that when we talk about wildlife in the Indian Subcontinent we are referring to a diversity beyond tiger, leopard, lion, elephant and the one horned rhino. I’ve had endless discussions with so many on this subject that I decided it might be more effective to showcase how cool each of these lesser sought after species are and why one should actually be traveling just to catch a glimpse of these marvelous creatures that are just as important to our eco-system as the tiger. Today I would like to showcase a real cutie-pie – The Red Panda.

giant-panda-at-national-zoo

Parti-Coloured Bear (Giant Panda)

I think for most people when you say panda literally everyone thinks of the Giant Panda, but did you know that the only true ‘Panda’ is the Red Panda. Confused? Well here goes the story:

The red panda was discovered in the 1820s; at the time it was just called the Panda. The name Panda has its origin in Nepal where it is known by many names – The Lepcha people call it sak nam, it is also called bhalu biralo (a bear-cat) and habre. The Sherpa people of Nepal and Sikkim call it ye niglva ponya and wah donka. In 1821, the English Naturalist Major General Thomas Hardwicke made a presentation on the creature at the Linnean Society in London. That is typically regarded as the moment the red panda became known in Western science. In his presentation, titled “Description of a new Genus of the Class Mammalia, from the Himalaya Chain of Hills Between Nepaul and the Snowy Mountains,” he argued that the animal be called a “wha,” explaining, “It is frequently discovered by its loud cry or call, resembling the word ‘Wha’, often repeating the same: hence is derived

raccoon-grass

Raccoon

one of the local names by which it is known. Unfortunately, Hardwicke’s paper wasn’t published until 1827, by which time the French zoologist Frédéric Cuvier had already published a description of the species along with a drawing. Naming rights, therefore, went to Cuvier. He named the species Panda derived most likely from its local name Ponya meaning a bamboo eating animal. But the giant panda is not the only species that red panda has given scientists taxonomic fits, they have also been compared extensively with raccoons because

19910261_xl Binturong panda3800

Binturong

of its ringed tail and to Binturong (Bear-cats) that are found in similar habitat.

In the late 19th century, scientists noticed that the parti-coloured bear (that’s what giant panda was called initially as it had two colourations) and the red panda were very similar. Their jaws were more like each other than they were like any other animal, they lived near each other, they both had false thumbs, and their diets were similar. The decision was made to officially consider the (red) panda as a type of bear. By the early 20th century, that decision was reversed: Parti-coloured bears were declared bears, and (red) pandas were classified as cousins of the raccoon. Then, in the 1910s, it was decided that parti-coloured bears weren’t actually bears at all, but were actually large pandas, and also distant relatives of the raccoon. But because parti-coloured bears weren’t classed as bears anymore, they had to have a name change. They became giant pandas, while the one true panda was renamed the red or lesser panda. By the 1980s, genetic evidence indicated that giant pandas actually were a type of bear, and red pandas belonged in their own family, the Ailuridae. They might seem similar, but they’re not related.

Although they are different from Giant Pandas The red panda shares the giant panda’s rainy, high-altitude forest habitat, but has a wider range. Red pandas live in Eastern Himalayas – mountains of Nepal, eastern India, Bhutan and northern Myanmar, as well as in central China. They spend most of their lives in trees and even sleep aloft. When foraging, they are most active at night as well as in the gloaming hours of dusk and dawn.

4416473_xl Red Panda colette2Red pandas have a taste for bamboo but, unlike their larger relatives, they eat many other foods as well—fruit, acorns, roots, and sometimes eggs and insects. Talking about their diet they are often categorized as vegetarian carnivores. Confused again?  🙂

Don’t worry all of us do when we first hear it. Carnivore is a biological order that includes groups like bears, dogs, and cats, and while these animals are generally carnivores, some are omnivores, and some are vegetarians. Red pandas are classified as carnivores because they’re descended from the same ancestors as the other carnivores, but they rarely eat anything other than bamboo and a few insects. And while giant pandas eat all of the bamboo plant, red pandas eat only the young leaves. Because this is nutritionally poor food source, they need to spend 13 hours a day eating and looking for food and can lose upwards of 15 percent of their body weight in winter.

As for temperament and nature Red Pandas are shy and solitary except when mating. Females give birth in the spring and summer, typically to one to four young. Young red pandas remain in their nests for about 90 days, during which time their mother cares for them. Males take little or no interest in their offspring.

Although not sought after or as popular as the giant panda that today is the inspiration of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as their logo and is the star of the movie series Kung-Fu panda, Red Panda too has been the inspiration of a brand that a lot of us use on a daily basis – any guesses?

Mozilla-Firefox-logo-1024x625It’s Mozilla’s flagship browser – Firefox. Yup, it’s not the red fox as most people think. Originally, Mozilla wanted to name the browser Fire-bird, but found that another open source project was using that name. Not wanting to upset anyone, they decided to go with Firefox, another name for the red panda. And in 2010 Mozilla adopted two baby red pandas that had been born at Tennessee’s Knoxville Zoo. In fact, in Chinese, “fire fox” is another name for the red panda.

Po_Kung_Fu_PandaShifu2Oh! Hey before I end this, for all you Kung Fu Panda fans, don’t be disappointed that ‘Po’ is not a real Panda…. the movie does have a real panda as well and it is none other than ‘Master Shifu’

 

I hope this inspires you enough to travel in search for the beautiful Red Panda.

The Great Migrations – Indian Subcontinent

20160619-20160619-IMG_4739Its that time of the year when the “Great Migration” takes place. Anyone interested in wildlife and wildlife photography can be heard talking about the same. This is what everyone thinks about when one says the words – Migration. Millions of Wildebeest and Zebras cross Serengeti to Masai Mara with the great crossing at the Mara River. But did you know some of the craziest wildlife migrations involve different species to migrate from / to / across India.

But let us begin with what is a migration and why does it take place?
Well migration is a relative long distance movement of species. This migration is not exclusive to wildebeests and zebras alone. In fact all major animal groups, including birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and crustaceans migrate on a regular basis. The trigger for the migration is usually one of the following:

o Local climate or Season of the year
o Local availability of food
o Breeding – Spreading the gene pool.

Some interesting migrations that one usually do not know about are:

The largest insect migration in the world:Globe-skimmer-migration-pathway-by-Charles-Anderson

How many of you have seen a dragonfly – small aren’t they? But did you know that there are 2 species in the insect group that migrate all the way from Africa to India. This is an 11,000 – 14,000 miles or 17700 – 20,000 km long round trip migration over the Indian Ocean. This is the migration is of the Globe Skimmer dragonfly. It includes a visit to Seychelles and Maldives on route and back from India. So each year in October you will find millions of these in Maldives and from April to August they can be found in Peninsular & Southern India before WanderingGliderAug2011Kouchmediumlowthey start their journey back to East Africa. What is interesting is that it takes four generations to make the full round trip each year. What makes this physically possible is the ability of this dragonfly to fly at high altitudes (6300m above sea level) on monsoon winds that carry them across with tail winds reaching as high as 10m per second.

 

Bird Migrations: Although each year for a large number of birds, India is wintering grounds, however I will write about a few of those that I find interesting:

20079346044e38ca86acd95Jacobin / Pied Cuckoo: The pied cuckoo flies /migrates to India from Africa on the
monsoon winds. This migration of course is a result of the dragonfly migration as they follow this food source across the Indian Ocean. The pied cuckoo in India for a long time has been considered a harbinger of the monsoons and very much the part of folklore and poetry where it is referred to as ‘Chatak’ – one who live on drops of rain.

bar-headed-goose-sandeep-somasekharanBar-headed Geese: The migration of this bird is amazing because they achieve physiological feats that seem impossible – flying at extreme altitude, where there is less than 10% the oxygen found at sea level. With the help of a GPS tracker, researchers recorded one bird flying at 24,000 ft. The implanted devices also measured the acceleration, body temperature and heart rate of seven geese, caught in central Mongolia. Lead researcher Dr. Charles Bishop, from Bangor University in Gwynedd, said that the geese also appeared to take advantage of deflections of wind off ridges to gain extra lift. Even more remarkable, Dr. Bishop says, is that the birds do not seem to benefit from any tail winds, and they do not soar. “They never stop flapping their wings,” he said. “And one or two [of the flights we tracked] were up to 17 hours long.” He also added that these geese might represent “the limit” of what birds are capable of. “They have found a way to cross the world’s longest and highest land mass – over 1,500 km [930 miles] – relatively easily.” “They don’t train or acclimatize,” he said. “They could walk on the top of Everest and have no problem at all.” This migration takes place from Mongolia to India and back each year.

bird 1Amur Falcon: This is a small bird of prey and is a long distance, trans-equatorial migrant. This migration has been researched recently and great efforts are being made to protect this species, as these falcons were being hunted and killed in thousands as they pass through the Indian state of Nagaland. The migration starts from Russia and China, which are the breeding grounds for these birds to Africa that is the wintering grounds. On route they pass through India. Towards the mid of November each year thousands of falcons arrive in Wokha district of Nagaland. This is perhaps one of the top 10 longest bird migrations in the world.

Marine Migrations: This migration too is amazing and literally no one really talks about it. The best place in the Indian subcontinent to observe this migration is in Sri Lanka. This is where the whales migrate from the west coast to the eastern coast and back as monsoon hits the coast. Traveling or occasionally diving to observe these huge mammal pods move is as mesmerizing as watching the wildebeest cross the Mara River.

13906721_1214346328610777_3463135195465277546_nElephant Migration: As mentioned before most herbivores migrate in search for food, however, we are talking about elephant migration not because its really long migration or there is something spectacular to see but only to use this gentle giant to showcase mammal migration. Although there are many parts of the country where it takes place but for me this migration is always something to look forward to between Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Corbett Tiger Reserve (being in the state I hail from ;)). Each year elephant will migrate between March & April to Corbett and will head back to Rajaji in September / October. What is interesting is that about 50-100 years ago these forests were connected with forest corridors that today have given way to villages, towns and even cities and the animals today face great challenges completing this migration – an essential part of their survival. A large number of challenges today can largely be contributed to disturbance by man be it man-animal conflict, cutting down forest corridors and road accidents as they need to cross national highways to complete the same. As our forest shrink into pockets of unconnected protected areas it is not only the herbivores but also magnificent predators such as tigers, lions, leopards and many others that face this challenge. Parks today are overpopulated and the younger sub adults need to venture out to find their own territory. Another more gave problem is that of in-breeding which will definitely become a huge cause for concern in times to come, however, if not addressed today it will be a problem too big to overcome in the future.

In the meantime we can enjoy these amazing migration, spend time with a herd and observe them as they make this journey each year. Hopefully in the due process also list the challenges and suggest solutions to the concerned authorities. It is only be our intervention can these beautiful species continue to survive today.

This blog is just a teaser to showcase that unique migrations are taking place all over and round the year and are an essential part of survival for these species and we can all preserve dwindling numbers of these species by creating awareness, observing and taking necessary steps to reduce the number of hurdles that these species face in their journey for survival.

The Honey Badger – The Remarkable Yet Unknown Species of India

Honey badger (Mellivora capensis)

There are so many of us who are attracted to fierce animals and for lot of people there is no better wildlife high than “the chase & the hunt”. This article might interest at all those people who are seeking this high coz I think there is nothing fiercer than the Honey Badger in our jungles. These tough animals can quite easily put tigers, leopards, poisonous snakes, scorpions, predatory birds and even humans to shame when it comes to toughness.

Honey Badgers or Ratel belong to the weasel family. They have a stocky build and they are silver grey on the top of their head, back and tail and black elsewhere. They have a body length between 23.5 – 30 inches, a tail length between 8 – 12 inches and they weigh between 7 and 13 kg. Though there are 15 subspecies, Honey Badgers can be found in the dry grasslands and moist deciduous forests of Africa and western and southern Asia.honey_badger_range

These guys are seriously tough. They have no natural predators. They have a reputation of being fearless and few animals will enter into a fight with a fully grown Honey Badger. Because of the toughness and looseness of their skin, honey badgers are very difficult to kill. Their skin is hard to penetrate, and its looseness allows them to twist and turn on their attackers when held. The only safe grip on a honey badger is on the back of the neck. The skin is also tough enough to resist several machete blows. However, they are not aggressive towards humans and they retaliate fiercely only when attacked.

Next to the wolverine, the honey badger has the least specialized diet of the weasel family. They are fierce predators and they feed on snakes, porcupines, hares, scorpions, termites, earthworms, tortoises, amphibians, lizards, fruits, berries, honey and carrion. Honey badgers are able to feed on tortoises without difficulty, due to their powerful jaws. They kill and eat snakes, even highly venomous or large ones, such as cobras. They devour all parts of their prey, including skin, hair, feathers, flesh and even bones.  Honey badgers have even been known to chase away young lions in Africa and take their kills.

Honey Badger subspecies that is found in India is Mellivora capensis indica and these can be found throughout western, central and south India. This amazing animal should definitely be on your list of species to lookout for next time you visit a national park.