Logo of Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm Farmstay Coonoor, Nilgiris India

Organic Cheesemaking Farmstay in Coonoor, Nilgiris, India.

Indian Gaur (Bison)

(Photos by Mansoor Khan at Acres Wild)

Gaurs (a relative of the Bison) roam freely and the population has gone up. They are indigenous to Coonoor and the Nilgiri region. They stay in the forest and jungle areas but come in early mornings into the town fringes for grazing. To attract them more we are keeping gaps in the fence and natural bodies of water to improve the habitat in Acres Wild.

Wild Life in Nilgiris

Elephants, Bison, Gaur, Panther, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Wild Hare, Indian Hare, Rat Snake, Snakes

Bird Watching in Nilgiris

Kingfisher, Brahmini Kite, Woodpecker, Shrike, Pied Bush Chat

Wild Elephants visit Acres Wild in July 2010 in Coonoor, Nilgiris

Elephants visit Acres Wild Fifth year in a row in 2010

(Photo by Mansoor Khan at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farmstay, Coonoor))

Elephants have started coming up to the Nilgiris since 2006.  Here are some photos of the family of elephants that made regular visits to Acres Wild over a period of 2 months, starting from August and September 2006. I had always known that elephants were there a bit lower down the Nilgiri hills but never seen them (except all the way down in the plains in Madhumalai jungle). When they first came to Acres Wild we were thrilled but later a bit worried looking at the destruction they did - breaking trees, our newly made adobe bricks and the pillars of new cottage.

Wild Life in Nilgiris

Elephants visit Acres Wild first time in 2006

(Photo by S. Gopalakrishnan, contractor for works at Acres Wild)

 

2 April 2007 - The elephants are back and earlier this year. This time there are 5 of them. They broke a lot of the bricks we had made locally on the land. Now it is becoming a pattern around this time of the year and it is very likely that they are coming for food and water as things dry up in the lower altitudes. Maybe some elephant corridor has been disturbed too.

Elephantsat Acres Wild Cheeesmaking Farmstay in Coonoor, India

Elephants Revisit us in April 2007.

25 June 2007 - We spent last night in our first cottage at Acres Wild. It was an on the spur of the moment plan to inaugurate the farm and we were greeted with news that elephants were around. As the sun was setting we could hear them trumpeting in the grove of trees in the neighbouring plot as in the photo on the right below. We kept an eye open for them but all was well for the night. Next day after we left the elephants came into the land again as we could see their foot prints and dung.

Elephants at Acres Wild Cheeesmaking Farmstay, Coonoor, India

Elephants return 3rd Year in 2008

16 July 2008 - Elephants visit third year in a row. After a few days visit a month back we thought the elephants had gone back down towards Burliyar where they hang out the rest of the year.  But few days back they returned and this time they are planning to stay for a long time.  Apart from keeping out of their way we have to hope that they will not rip up our fruit trees which for some strange reason they love doing.  That is the destructive part.  But they can do a lot more to our structures too.  Wonder what is going to be the long term outcome.  Of course it is exciting and that is why we call our place Acres Wild.

Here are some facts I collected about Asian elephants.

Statistics

Length: 5.5 - 6.40m,

Shoulder height: 2.5-3m,

Weight: Male: 5000kg, Female: 3000kg

Life Span

Life span is about 50-60 years. Asian elephants live for 70 years.

Physical Description

Asian elephants are smaller in size than African elephants. They also have smaller ears, more rounded back, and a fourth toenail on each of their hind feet. They have thick, dry skin with a small amount of stiff hair, and are gray to brown in colour. Female Asian elephants have rudimentary tusks.

Distribution

Asian elephants have an extensive range across India and Sri Lanka and also occur further south and east as far as Sumatra.

Habitat

Dense tropical forests and grassy plains up to 10,000 feet. Asian elephants are spread over areas where rainfall levels vary considerably. They can survive in dry places where less than 40cm of rain falls per year, and in wet areas where over 8m of rain can fall in a year.

Diet

Elephants are vegetarians and their varied diet, includes grasses, bamboo, legumes, bark, succulent climbers, creepers and palms. They have seasonal favourites such as fig leaves and fruits, tamarind, wood apple and mango. Soil is eaten for its mineral content.

Here at Acres Wild I have noticed they like the pears.

The Asian elephant requires less food than the African elephant because of the diversity and quality of food found in its more lush native habitat.

Behaviour

Asian elephants live in family units of one adult cow and her offspring. Daughters remain with their mothers, but sons leave at puberty, often joining bull groups or remaining solitary. Bull elephants associate with a family when a cow is in oestrus.

This species does not appear to be territorial. Males have home ranges of about 15 square km, and herds of females have ranges of about 30 square km, which increases in the dry season. Seasonal migration has been made virtually impossible, due to human development.

Reproduction

Females usually have one calf after a gestation period of 18-22 months and give birth every three to four years. The calves weigh about 100kg at birth and suckle for about 18 months. They can eat some vegetation after several months.

Conservation status

Asian elephants are classified as Endangered by the 2000 IUCN Red List. They have long since vanished from Southwest Asia and most of China. Sri Lanka was once recognised for its large elephant populations, but today the numbers are being reduced.

As the number of humans increases, the area of natural habitat that the elephants rely on is being depleted. Elephants are being forced onto farming areas, where they cause damage. It is estimated that 28,000 to 42,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild.

Interesting Facts.

  • Elephants normally walk about 4 mph
  • Elephants are able to swim for long distances
  • Elephants spend about 16 hours a day eating
  • Their tusks are of ivory and are actually enormously enlarged incisors
  • The Indian Elephant's eyes are small and its eyesight is poor
  • Elephants have the largest brains in the animal kingdom
  • It was always thought that there were two species of elephant in the world -- the African savanna elephant(Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). But now, through DNA testing, it has been discovered that there is a third elephant species -- the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis).
  • Most elephants found on Sri Lanka, male or female, have no tusks.
  • The trunk has no bones. Nearly 150,000 muscles and nerves provide flexibility.
  • Elephants trunks are an elongation of the nose and upper lip.
  • Tusks continued to grow throughout the elephant's life.
  • Elephants appear to have a dominant side and use one tusk more than the other in food gathering. As a result of this dominance, the preferred tusk usually has a blunter tip and a thicker diameter than the other tusk.
  • Elephants walk well-worn trails that have been used for centuries. These trail lead to favorite watering places. The ability to find water is critical to their survival.
  • When elephants charge, they fan out their ears and either roll up their trunk or hold it to the side to get it out of the way.
  • Elephants often take up to 18 quarts of water into their trunks at once.
  • When grasses are too short to be picked up with its trunk, the elephant scrapes the ground with its forefeet until a loose pile of grasses is formed, then sweeps the pile into its mouth with the "hand" of the trunk.
  • Elephants place their trunks in their mouths and blow water down their throats.
  • Elephants can also put their trunks into their mouths and extract water from their stomachs. They spray the water on themselves in order to cool off.
  • Patterns on the bottom of an elephant's foot are as individualistic as a human's fingerprints.
  • Older elephants rarely lie down. It is quite difficult for them to get up. Younger ellies frequently will lie down.
  • When elephants sit and then rise, they extend their front legs and rest their weight on their knees. They then tip forward and heave themselves up on hind feet.
  • Elephants often rest by raising one foot andcrossing it behind another.
  • Elephants have quite small eyes in relationship to their size. They have long stiff, eyelashes to protect their eyes.
  • Elephants sniff each other all over when they meet. By doing this, they are able to recognize one another individually.

Family Life

  • Family unit is herd.
  • A herd contains from 20 to 40 elephants of all ages . Males are called Bulls.
  • Females are called Cows.
  • Leader is usually an old cow called a Matriarch
  • Groups of 6 to 8 males, 10 to 12 years old - form separate bachelor herds.
  • Huge Patriarchs of bulls often end up living alone or forming clusters of 2 or 3 individuals.
  • Elephants show great deal of affection for each other in a family unit.
  • Mating involves foreplay of touching and caressing. This takes place during 'Rutting' season.
  • Cows are usually receptive during the rainy season and some scientists belive that females are Quasiperpetual Estrus
  • Males are in 'musth', as it is usually called during mating season. This sometimes causes bulls to go mad as they trample down everything that crosses their path.
  • Gestation period after mating is about 22 months.
  • The cow generally bear young no oftened than once every 4 to 5 years.
  • Cows usually give birth to a single calf weighing about 200 pounds and standing about 3 feet.
  • The calves are nursed by their mothers for about 2 years and stays with the mother for 2 years more for protection.
  • Elephants usually feed at night.
  • Elephants generally do not travel by dayligh except in cool, cloudy weather or when troubled by hunters (human or animal).

Elephants and Humans.

Elephants are regarded as among the most intelligent of mammals and can be trained to work and to perform. Indian elephants are extensively used as beasts of burden, especially in teak forests, where they carry logs with their trunks. They are not considered truly domesticated as they do not breed well in captivity. Young animals are captured from the wild. Training and handling take skill. Elephants have complex emotions and vary individually in temperament. African elephants are often said to be less tractable, but they too were formerly used for work, as well as for warfare. Hannibal's army crossed the Alps using African elephants, which were at that time probably found in the Atlas Mountains. Elephants seen in zoos and circuses are usually of the Indian species. Although the famous Jumbo, who toured the United States in the late 19th century giving rides to children, was an African elephant. In Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), albino elephants have long been held sacred. Elephants have been extensively hunted for food and for ivory. Their numbers are now greatly reduced. However, they are now afforded protection in certain areas.

The Threat to Elephants.

The diminishing number of elephants, to a large extent the result of wholesale slaughter for tusks, and the resulting increased cost of ivory have encouraged the making of imitations and the use of natural substitutes. One strategy for controlling the slaughter of elephants for their ivory is to permit a regulated trade that would reduce poaching and provide profit to Africans, but not deplete the elephant population. Most recently, however, countries that supply and consume ivory have enacted a complete ban on ivory trade. A new method of determining the origin of a tusk by using DNA or radio isotopes will help zoologists to fight poaching.

Leopard

They are around and have been spotted by several people including our neighbours, Neelu and Saraswati.   Sometime in 2006 they went for their early morning walk past our house into Tan Tea estate.  After sharing an eye-ball for a few seconds, during which the panther did not show any signs of running away or moving towards them, they decided to abandon their walk for that day and came straight home. We still have to see them ourselves.

In 2008 and 2009 the sighting became more frequent.  And Pablo saw one early morning on our farm and then later the forest department was called to deal with 2 panthers that were spotted at the entrance of Acres Wild.  Read about that in the wild section of our blog.

The panther is considered one of the rarest of all spotted leopards. This graceful, alert, athletic and cunning cat is a native of India and Southeast Asia.

Predominantly a meat eater, the Panther is a great hunter. It is a cat marked with amazing strengths, as evidenced by the sheer fact that it can lift carcasses of up to 150 pounds. This is particularly amazing for its size since it only weighs 75 - 160 pounds when fully grown!

Interestingly, the name "panther" is used loosely to describe a number of members of the larger 'cat' family. All over the world, 'panther' has been used when referring to leopards, pumas, cougars and even mountain lions! In fact, black panthers are simply spotted leopards with very dark brown hair and very sharp emerald eyes!

Sloth Bear

We have been hearing of bears spotted by others but until Pablo saw one in our neighbours compound and then Raja spotted a bear cub in our own compound, I did not want to say that there are bears around. After quizing Pable and showing him dozens of pictures on the net, I feel it was a sloth bear, something like the one in the photo below.

The honey that we have in our bee hives is another big attraction for them. Sometime back a hive was upset and we kind of suspected it was done by a bear. Now we are sure and have to be much more careful. Especially if there are bear cubs around.

Description

The body is 150–190 cm long, covered in long, shaggy fur, ranging from auburn to black, with a distinctive "V"-shaped white mark on the chest, a whitish snout and black nose. The snout is long with bare lips and a lack of upper incisors, adaptations for its insect-based diet. The front feet are turned inwards and have non-retractable, curved ivory claws that are adapted for digging. The males, weighing 80–140 kg, are larger than the females, which weigh only 55–95 kg. Its pugmarks are very similar to a human footprint.

Female Sloth Bears typically give birth to two cubs after a seven month gestation, although singleton and triplet births are also known. The cubs remain in the den for two to three months, and continue to accompany the mother for at least a further two years.

Because of their warm native habitat, Sloth Bears do not become dormant through the winter, as some more northerly species do.

Name

The Sloth Bear does not move as slowly as a sloth, and can easily outrun a human. One theory has it that early explorers saw these bears lying upside down in trees and gave them their common name for the similarity to the way a sloth hangs in trees. Another claims that the Sloth Bear gets its name because its normal walk is more of a meandering shuffle. The shaggy coat, light-coloured muzzle and long claws are common qualities of a sloth.

Diet

The Sloth Bear primarily eats ants and termites, breaking into termite mounds with large powerful claws and hoovering the occupants. It may also eat honey, eggs, birds, flowers, tubers, fruits, grains and meat.

The animal's fondness for honey has caused it to be nicknamed the Honey bear (a nickname also given to the sun bear); it has been known to scale the occasional tree to knock down a bee honycomb, which it will then enjoy on the ground below.

Habitat

It is found in a variety of habitats - from dry grassland to evergreen forests - but has a preference for tropical deciduous forests. Within that category, the Sloth Bear prefers dry deciduous forests and rocky outcrops to wet deciduous forests.

Conservation

Poaching and loss of this habitat and fragmentation of available habitat are the primary threats to the survival of the Sloth Bear on the Indian subcontinent. Predators such as the Leopard, wolves, and the Tiger may attempt to prey on the young, though the female Sloth Bear with young is exceptionally vicious regarding any threats to her young. Adults defend themselves quite well with their claws. Humans hunt the Sloth Bear primarily for its gall bladder, which is valued in eastern medicine. The Sloth Bear's current conservation status is Vulnerable.

Barking Deer in Coonoor, Ooty

Barking Deer at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farmstay, Coonoor.

This shy and elusive member of the deer family is spread across all the dense jungles of India. It has been named after its call, which bears a striking resemblance to the bark of dog.  Also known as Kakad or Muntjac
(Muntiacus muntjac).

I had seen this kind of deer a couple of times in Acres Wild but was not ready with a camera.  the first time I mistook it for one of our goats.

This photo was taken on 22 March 2010 at about 9 am.  There was a small baby following this deer.

These animals grow to a height of 50 - 75 cms and weigh 20 -30 kgs. They have a life expectancy of between 20 - 30 years. They mostly live in solitude and are only very rarely seen in numbers exceeding two.  Due to their low height and small stature, their main diet consists of grass and fallen fruits. They rarely venture out into open grasslands and are mostly seen feeding near the edge of dense forests. They can also be frequently seen at salt licks like the one shown in the picture below. They are mostly diurnal in habit but it is close to impossible to see them at night due to their dense habitat areas. Their alarm call, unless endlessly repeated, is not taken seriously as an indication of the presence of a predator. They are easily startled by any movement.

A definite identification mark to recognise a barking deer is from the two raised dark ridges on the forehead that extend into its antlers.

A unique trait of the Barking deer is that, unlike other members of the deer family, they possess a pair of antlers as well as overgrown canines known as tushes. Both these are used as weapons in combat but the tushes are used more effectively and frequently.

They are commonly found across the country and have fortunately not yet found their name on the endangered list.

Indian Mouse Deer

Indian Mouse Deer (photo not at Acres Wild)

The Indian Mouse Deer or Indian Chevrotain is the smallest deer.  It is very timid and basically a nocturnal animal so very hard to spot.  To add to it you can hardly imagine it is a deer if you were lucky enought to see one.  Which we were, one night, as we drove out of our Tiger hill house in Coonoor and there in headlight of the car were 2 little creatures like we had never seen before.  They kept running for a long time in front of our car.  We were able to observe them pretty well but could not figure out what kind of animal it was.

The brown coat we noticed were speckled with white markings.  The body is stocky, with rounded hindquarters and we felt was disproportionate to the legs. The legs were too thin it seemed.

I later found out that the feet are four-toed, but the outer toes are small.  It has 34 teeth.  The upper canines in the male are longer and more pointed than those of the female.  This animal grows to about twenty inches long, thirteen inches at the shoulder, and they weigh about six pounds. It is solitary, except for the mating period. Its diet is quite varied, and includes both plants and small animals.

This species has remained almost unchanged for millions of years.  Chevrotains have a four-chambered stomach to ferment tough plant foods. They lack upper incisors, and give birth to only a single young, rather than having pig-like litters.

The chevrotains have primitive features, closer to non-ruminants such as pigs.

 

Wild Boar in Coonoor Farm Acres Wild

Wild Boar as seen thru our fence at home.

The wild boar population has gone up ever since they have become a protected species in the Nilgiris. We mostly see wild boars late at night when they feel safer to come our of their hiding place. They have also ravaged our vegetable plot regularly. I have heard they are tasty Smiley but protected species so what to do men!

Description

Wild boars are large - sometimes 5 feet long, and weigh up to 300 pounds. They have stiff black fur and straight tails. The males (boys) have tusks that curl out of their mouth. They are not long tusks like an elephant’s, but they are still 2-5 inches long and can really hurt you! The babies will grow up to have black fur and straight tails, but they may have fat bellies and a white stripe on their foreheads.

Habitat and Feeding

Boars like to live in forests near streams or ponds. Since boars don’t have any sweat glands, they must wallow in the mud to cool off. They are fast runners and good swimmers. They really dig up the ground while looking for roots. Boars have tough noses, or snouts, which help them dig. They have an excellent sense of smell and can even find food underground. Their eyesight is not very good, but they hear very well. Their ears always stand up straight; they don’t flop down like a farm pig’s ears.

Reproduction

Boars have more babies each year than any other large mammal in North America. They can have 3 litters each year with up to 14 babies each time. After 3 months, the babies are weaned (can find their own food), but may still stay with the mother. The fathers live by themselves.

Wild Boar at Farm near Ooty, Acres Wild Farmstay

Wild Boar in our neighbours compound.

Although mother boars do not have tusks, they are still dangerous when protecting their babies. The mother builds a stick and grass nest on the ground. Her babies live there for 1 week until they are big enough to follow her around. They are born with light brown fur that has white stripes from head to tail. When they are 4- 6 months old, they turn a cinnamon brown color. At 1 year old, they are full-grown and have black fur.

Pest Value

They are called "pests" for many reasons. When they dig up the ground for roots, they kill many native plants. When they wallow near the edge of a pond, they tear up the water plants. This causes erosion (when the land washes away) because the plant roots can’t hold onto the dirt anymore. Wild boars get into gardens and eat all the vegetables. They kill and eat small native animals, including endangered species, like baby sea turtles. Also, they eat the acorns that deer and turkey need for food. Boars have very few natural predators. Because of this, boars are often hunted to keep them from damaging the environment around them. BUT here in India they are a protected species so don't think of killing one unless you do it with a spear. That is allowed...... or so I have heard. But who wants to get into trouble anyway.

 

Wild Cat

Asian Golden Cat / Temminck's Golden Cat.

I finally spotted a wild cat from a good distance but there was no mistaking.  It was a biggish cat with a red-brown bushy tail.  It has been getting our ducks, hens and geese.  Spotted by Mary who takes food for the ducks near our pond.  The photos on this page are not from Acres Wild.

I gather that it is about twice the size of a domestic cat, It was once believed to be an ancestor (through hybridisation) of the Siamese cat. An agile climber, it inhabits tropical and sub-tropical forest and deciduous woodlands in southeast Asia. They are usually golden brown, greyish, or reddish brown with brown stripes on their cheeks and black markings on their foreheads; not all have spots. Melanistic (black) forms also occur; one was exhibited at Basle zoo in Switzerland. They are opportunistic feeders and eat muntjac, rats and snakes.

The domestic cat of today has many of the features of their wild ancestry. Cats today, from the domestic cat to the big cats, are descendants of the Carnivorous known as the Miacids. (Some of the Miacids became cheetahs, lions and tigers.)

The Martelli's wild cat is believed to be the ancestor of the modern small cat, which resulted in the modern wild cat. The wild cat can be categorized into sub sections; the European Wild Cat, the Asiatic desert Cat and the African Wild Cat. Our much loved domestic cat is thought to be a descendant of the African Wild Cat.

There are many different species of wild cat, from the tiny black-footed cat of Southern Africa to the majestic cat of Africa. 'Cats in the Wild' Section will have a weekly feature on one of these magnificent creatures.

Wild cat: Felis sylvestris

Presence on the planet:

Highlands of Scotland; possibly a few in the Scottish borders and Northumberland. Also Spain, Germany, Poland, Asia, Africa and parts of southern Europe.

Habitat:

Wild cats inhabit remote forests, hill areas and grouse moors.

Description:

These resemble a domestic tabby but is slightly larger with longer, softer fur and broader head. Black or grey body stripes (a tabby is blotched). Bushy tail with a blunt, black, rounded tip (domestic cats' tails are longer and pointed).

Size:

Male measures about 90cm from nose to tail-tip; female slightly smaller.

Life-span:

About 12 years.

Food:

Rabbits, hares, small rodents, birds and insects form the main diet; sometimes squirrels and deer fawns are taken.

The wild cat was once common over most of the British Isles, but it is now mainly found in Scotland. Although it looks very much like a domestic tabby cat, it is very fierce and almost impossible to tame, even if brought up from a tiny kitten.

Asian Golden Cat

The Asian golden cat, also known as Temminck's cat, ranges from the southern edge of the Himalayas south to Malaya and Sumatra. It comes in a variety of colors, including red, gold, gray, or black. One subspecies is spotted, like a leopard cat. The golden cat feeds on small to medium sized mammals, including rabbits, deer, sheep, and goats. Although scientists know little about this cat, it figures prominently in Asian folklore. One legend says that a single hair from the golden cat will protect the bearer from tigers.

Found in southeast Asia from Nepal, Tibet, Sikkim, Assam, Sichuan, Yunnan, Thailand and Malaysia down to Sumatra, Temminck’s golden cat lives in deciduous and tropicalrain forests, and occasionally more open habitats. It is said to like wooded areas interspersed with rocky tracts. In parts of China it is known as “Shilului”, the Rock cat, and has been found as high as 2,000 metres.

Habitat :

The habitat of the golden cat is generally dense tropical and sub-tropical forest although in the Himalayas the cat can be found at altitudes up to 10,000 feet.

Reproduction and Offspring :

After a gestation of approximately 80 days, a litter of 1-3 kittens is born, with 1 being the average. Newborns weigh approximately 8.75 ounces at birth. Eyes open around 9 days and they are weaned at around 6 months. They reach sexual maturity around 18-24 months for females, and around 2 years for males.

The primary prey of this cat is small to mid-sized mammals consisting of tree hyraxes, large and small rodents, small antelope, and birds. It was also found that fallen, injured monkeys and scavenged eagle kills are an important part of this cats diet. It is mainly nocturnal and crepuscular, and hunts using the stalk and rush method.

The Asiatic golden cat is near threatened. The Asiatic golden cat is widely reported as uncommon and threatened by deforestation. Major threats also include hunting for their pelt and bones. Their meat is considered a delicacy and the whole animal is often roasted on a spit. The bones are then sometimes ground into a powder to be given to children for fevers. Livestock predation, which usually leads to persecution, has also been reported. Although they are reported to be decreasing in India and Indonesia, no factual information is known of their status in the wild.

Porcupine

We usually spot them when we are driving back to our land late at night.  Or sometimes in our car park.  So usually we have had a rear view of them as they run away in front of us.  But I hope to get them on camera one of these nights.

Indian Crested Porcupine (Hystrix indica), or Indian Porcupine, is a member of the Old World porcupines.  It is quite an adaptable rodent, found throughout southern Asia and the Middle East. It is tolerant of several different habitats: mountains, tropical and subtropical grasslands, scrublands, and forests.   This is a large rodent, growing more that three feet long and weighs 32 pounds.  It is covered in multiple layers of quills.  The longest quills grow from its shoulders to about a third of the animal's length. Its tail is covered in short, hollow quills that can rattle when threatened.  It has broad feet and long claws for digging. When attacked, the Indian Crested Porcupine raises its quills and rattles the hollow quills on its tail.  If the predator persists past these threats, the porcupine launches a backwards assault, hoping to stab its attacker with its quills.  It does this so effectively that most brushes between predators and the Indian porcupine end in death or severe injury.

Not much is known about the average life span of the Indian Crested Porcupine. Nevertheless it produces litters of variable size (four at the largest) each year.  The Indian Crested Porcupine is nocturnal and creates underground shelters.  It eats various plants: fruits, grains, and roots.  Its diet of plant matter makes it an agricultural pest to local farmers.  In addition, the Indian porcupine has been observed gnawing on bones to extract the minerals it contains.

Wild Hare

Wild hares are running all over but there is a particular spot on our road where we regualarly see them at night.

Lepus nigricollis is found in southern India. These hares range as far east as Godavari and west as far as Khandesh, Berar, and Madhya Pradesh. Lepus nigricollis are also native to Sri Lanka. They have been introduced into Java, Mauritius, and Seychelles.

Habitat

Lepus nigricollis are generally found in areas where large tracts of bush and jungle alternate with farmland. They are also commonly sighted in coastal herb communities. Hilly areas, particularly the depressions at the base of hills, are preferred habitats for L. nigricollis.

Physical Description

Lepus nigricollis are also called black-naped hares due to the patch of black fur that runs along the nape of the neck. The top of the tail is also black and the back and face are brown with black hairs scattered throughout. The underparts are white. Total length ranges from 40 to 70 cm and weight ranges from 1.35 to 7 kg.

Like all hares, they have long ears and large hind feet which are well furred. There is some evidence that hares that have been introduced to islands are smaller than those in mainland India. Regardless of location, female L. nigricollis tend to be larger than males.

Reproduction

During mating season, male L. nigricollis become aggressive, sparring with other males using their forepaws and "boxing" with their hind feet. Males will attempt to mate with as many females as they can.

Reproduction rates tend to be at their highest during the wet season, though L. nigricollis will generally breed year round. The increased rate of reproduction is likely the result of an increase in nutrient rich foods. On average, 69% of adult females are pregnant every year. In L. nigricollis dayanus, a subspecies of Indian hare, reproduction is also dependent on the length of the day. One to eight young are born after a gestation period of 41 to 47 days. Sexual maturity occurs in the year following birth.

Young L. nigricollis, called leverets, are precocial at birth. They are born well furred and with open eyes. The female gives birth in a "form", or hollow made in the grass. She will hide her young in dense vegetation and visit them for nursing, which lasts 2 to 3 weeks. Young hares are odorless and will remain very still while hidden. They will usually not breed until they are at least 1 year old.

Lifespan/Longevity

Longevity in L. nigricollis is unknown but other hare species tend to live 5 years in the wild and up to 7 years in captivity.

Behavior

Lepus nigricollis spend much of the daytime sleeping in "forms" or depressions made in the grass. Occasionally they will be seen stretched out on their sides, sunning themselves. They are primarily diurnal and solitary, though may aggregate somewhat for breeding.

Food Habits

Lepus nigricollis is herbivorous, though the types of vegetation it eats varies. Many of the areas these animals inhabit have wet and dry seasons and these play a large role in food availability. During the wet season, short grasses are abundant and they are the preferred food. During the dry season, when short grasses are scarce, more flowering plants are consumed. They also eat crops and germinating seeds. Like all hares, L. nigricollis practices coprophagy.

Ecosystem Roles

In many places, L. nigricollis are considered pests because of the damage they can do to young trees and to crops. On the island of Cousin, in the Seychilles chain, they have had an extreme impact on trees used by rare, endemic bird species. There are ongoing studies to determine the best way to deal with their impact.

Lepus nigricollis are also important prey for many carnivores. One study found them to be the second most commonly consumed species by wolves in the Velavadar National Park in Gujarat, India. Lepus nigricollis are also eaten by leopard and dhole, though they only make up around 1.3% of their diet.

Lepus nigricollis are locally abundant and are not currently a conservation concern.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Lepus nigricollis can destroy crops and young trees if other food sources are scarce.   This can be especially devastating on islands to which they have been introduced.  They also tend to be plentiful and can be a nuisance in areas where people are found.

Babbler - Bird Types in Nilgiris

Photo at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm by Srikanth of Vanashree Farms, Bangalore.

 

Brahmini Kite - Birds in Nilgiris

Brahmini Kite at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm, Coonoor.

Bulbul - Bird Watching in Coonoor

Bulbul at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm, Coonoor..

 Bird Watching in Nilgiris - Kingfisher

Kingfisher at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm, Coonoor.

 

Malabar Parakeet - Bird Watching in Ooty

Photo by a Farmstay Guest at Acres Wild Farmstay, Coonoor

A Malabar Parakeet in the foliage in the lower part of our farm Acres Wild.  This photo was taken by a guest who stayed here at our farmstay.  Excellent shot that got slightly hampered by the branch in front of the parakeets face.

 

Pied Bush Chat - Bird Species in Nilgiris

Pied Bush Chat at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm, Coonoor.

Pied Bush Chat (Saxicola caprata) is what we identified this bird as, with a little help from our friends.

 

Shrike - Bird in Coonoor

Shrike at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm, Coonoor..

 

Spotted Dove - Birds in Ooty

Photo at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm by Srikanth of Vanashree Farms, Bangalore.

 

Water Hen - Bird Watching in Nilgiris

Photo at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm by a Farmstay Guest .

 

Woodpecker - Type of Birds in Nilgiris

Woodpecker at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farm, Coonoor.

 

 

Moth

Huge Moth at Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farmstay.

Lizard

Lizard at Acres Wild.

Lizard

Lizard keeping eye on us.

Leaf Insect

Leaf Insect - This one is real. It moves on its tripod legs.

Orchid

Stingray butterflies! No, just orchids.

Snake

Snake - small one.

Snake

Small Snake Head Close Up.

Reptile

Looks like a snake but it is some other reptile.

Snake 5 ft long

5 Foot long snake that strayed a bit at Acres Wild.

Wild Life in Nilgiris

Elephants, Bison, Gaur, Panther, Cheetah, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Wild Hare, Indian Hare, Rat Snake, Snakes

Bird Watching in Nilgiris

Kingfisher, Brahmini Kite, Woodpecker, Shrike, Pied Bush Chat