Apr 18

Arkive and Wildscreen Exchange photographer James Warwick recently visited the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which is located in the Central Indian Highlands. This name may not mean much to you but it is, in fact, the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ and is home to the tigers, sloth bears and Indian leopards that are featured in the story.

We asked James to tell us about the places he’d been to in India and share his fantastic images with us – and you!

James: To date, I’ve worked in four National Parks in India; Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Kaziranga all of which are all classed as Tiger Reserves by the Indian government’s Project Tiger. As well as providing vital habitat for the surviving Bengal tiger, they are also home to a vast array of other mammals and birds some of which are shown in this selection.

Ruddy mongoose (Herpestes smithii) on rock, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Ruddy mongoose, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Ranthambhore National Park in south western Rajasthan is famous for its wild tiger population and was once a private hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur. Its name comes from the vast fort that stands in the middle of the forest which is thought to date back to 1110. At 392 km2, Ranthambhore is one of the smallest 47 Project Tiger reserves in India.

Bengal tigress (Panthera tigris tigris) swimming across Lake Rajbagh, Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

Bengal tigress swimming across Lake Rajbagh, Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

Bandhavgarh National Park, situated in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, is one of India’s most popular wildlife reserves and at 438 km2 covers a similar area to Ranthambhore. Bandhavgarh’s tiger population density is one of the highest in India but it is also rich in other wildlife including large populations of Indian leopards and sloth bears.

Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) resting in sal forest (Shorea robusta), Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Sloth bear resting in sal forest, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Kanha National Park also lies in Madhya Pradesh in the Central Indian Highlands about 160 km southeast of Jabalpur. The reserve consists of a core area of 940 km2 which is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,005 km2. In the 1890s, this region was the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ stories.

Tiger sleeping on rock in forest (Panthera tigris tigris), Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

Bengal tiger sleeping on rock in forest, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

Finally, Kaziranga National Park lies in the floodplain of the mighty Brahmaputra River in the north-eastern state of Assam and is home to around 75% (1800) of the remaining world population of the Indian or great one-horned rhinoceros. There is also a healthy population of Bengal tigers (around 100) but their shy nature and the region‘s tall ‘elephant‘ grasses make them very difficult to see.

Indian rhinoceros wallowing (Rhinoceros unicornis), Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

Indian rhinoceros wallowing, Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

The Bengal tiger is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies but there are fewer than 2,500 left in the wild with poaching to fuel the illegal trade in body parts in Asia being the largest immediate threat to their remaining population.

Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) cub, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Bengal tiger cub, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Find out about the work that the Wildlife Protection Society of India are doing with tigers on their website

Visit James’s website to see more of his wonderful images

If you are from a conservation organisation, James has very kindly made these images and many others from around the world available to you. If you’d like to get access to the images, join the Wildscreen Exchange, or email us at exchange.info@wildscreen.org.uk for more information.

Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Sloth bear

Nominated by: IUCN Bear Specialist Group

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Why do you love it? This is the rebel bear: instead of a sleek shiny coat of a “normal” bear, the sloth bear has opted for a dishevelled, dull, shaggy look. Sloth bears mooch around in a zig-zag path, bowlegged, eyes fixed to the ground, like sulky teenagers.  Two sloth bears can be feeding near each other, and never look at each other.  Almost as a sign of being rebellious, a sloth bear will frequently have grass or leaves clinging to its coarse coat (it has no underfur).  Also clinging to its long coat, riding on its back are its cubs – it is the only bear that carries them around like this, to keep them safe from tigers.

This bear makes a living eating termites, sucking them up through the space where its two upper front teeth are missing.  It has very large protrusible lips that are used to create suction to extract termites from their colony, and long straight claws to dig into their hard mounds.  Often they can be heard, digging, blowing, huffing, and sucking well before they are seen.  They aren’t cute, but they are certainly a very unique bear and “Baloo” from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is a sloth bear!

What are the threats to the sloth bear? This bear is restricted to India (over 90 percent of its range), Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It can also live in scrubby habitats, and as such, can live close to people.  This is both good and bad:  As the habitat becomes degraded from cutting, grazing, and general overuse, sloth bears can still live there – as long as they can find termites and shade during the heat of the day.  But it is also bad because it brings them very close to people.  This is an aggressive bear (more aggressive than a grizzly bear), so attacks on people are common.  Therefore, most people living around sloth bears don’t like them.  As human populations have grown dramatically in India, habitat has become increasingly degraded, sloth bears and people have been forced to live near each other, attacks have become more frequent, and attitudes towards this species have become worse, leading to bears being killed more and more often.

What are you doing to save it? We have recently learned that this species has disappeared from Bangladesh.  It looks somewhat like an Asiatic black bear, so the continued existence of black bears in Bangladesh masked the disappearance of the sloth bear.  We then looked in Bhutan, where sloth bears also existed historically.  But, despite many reports of sloth bears, we found that they are extremely rare there.  We do not know if they were always rare, or if this is a new occurrence, because again, they are often confused with Asiatic black bears in places where these two species overlap.

Find out more about the work of the Bear SG

Discover more bear species on Arkive

 

VOTE NOW!

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