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Prep Before Cheetahs Become Free Ranging In Kuno National Park

  When another male cheetah, Obaan,joined the two rock stars – Freddie and Elton -- in yet another bigger enclosure of Kuno national park on November 18, only five female cheetahs remained in smaller bomas in the park where they were released on September 17. Like the three males, the five female spotted cats will also be released soon in larger bomas to run and chase their prey to kill. India’s  wildlife authorities accompanied by the experts from the cheetah conservation fund (CCF) from Namibia   have been taking utmost care and caution  before the  cheetahs in Kuno are ultimately made “free -ranging” meaning released in open to move around the entire length and breadth of the park. “Free ranging cheetahs and their monitoring  will be like a grand finale of the Project Cheetah to be played in Kuno for a longer  period in the coming years'", said a senior official of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFC&C).  Apprehensions, Concerns  on Chee

Rumble In The Jungle:Bear Takes On Tiger

 

Bear Takes On Tiger

Tiger may be the king of jungle but occasional images coming out from Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve and Ranthambore national park also display dominance of sloth bear over the big cats. On World Bear Day-March 23, we highlight the strength of our Indian Bhaloo or the sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) , a myrmecophagous bear species native to the Indian subcontinent. When the bhaloo stands on its rear feet and growls loudly, the tiger beats a retreat. 

Epic Battles Shot On Camera

Bear Takes On Tiger

Both bear and tiger are apex predators and would always battle to their last breath in case of a face off. In February 2020, Aditya  Singh,a wildlife photographer  and conservationist  who is also a safari operator in Ranthambore national park tweeted some pictures   depicting, frame by frame, an epic  battle between a bear and a tiger. It all started when a female bear was carrying two cubs over her back when  she was confronted by a pair of  big cats - popularly  known as Ustad and Noor respectively . “We thought that the bear was in serious danger”, he later tweeted, " Soon, the tigress started stalking the bear." “The mother bear got the scent of tigers. She raised her head and saw the approaching tigress. She called out to the babies and they instantly buried their pale snout in the mother's fur. Then she charged at the tigress”, Aditya writes   “ Big Cats like tigers have no real competition in the wild and they are not used to other animals charging at them. The tigress decided to retreat, hoping that the bear would just go. This was definitely not supposed to be”, he explained his eyewitness account on the  micro blogging platform.


 “ When the tigress realized that the bear was not going to let her get away from what was now a messy situation for the tigress, she decided to confront the aggressive mama. She turned to face a very angry bear that was by now standing on her rear legs with the babies clinging on. The bear then went down on all four legs and bowed her head low, challenging the tigress – a sign of extreme agitation”, he writes. The photographer explained that when black and the striped females clashed, Ustad, the king, watched and decided to charge when Noor was losing the battle with the bear. “But the bear charged him and Ustad  also decided to retreat too”. The fight ended with the pair of the big cats leaving the spot and so did the mama bear with her cubs. Few days ago, another tiger got the taste of bear’s strength. Shot by Naman Agrawal, a wildlife photographer, in Tadoba, the picture was self explanatory showing the terror in the eyes of the king of jungle.  A similar brawl between the jungle giants was captured  on film in 2018 by a tour guide in Tadoba.

Bear is As Threatened As Tiger

Bear Takes On Tiger

Can a bear kill a tiger?  Experts’ instant reply is always “NO”.   The tiger occasionally prey on bears depending on its size and weight. But they add, “ a bear always gives a tough fight and the tiger, being the king of the jungle, would never give up. Fiercely fought fights may end in a draw as we have seen on numerous occasions including the one in Ranthambore national park and Tadoba tiger reserve. But others differ. There are few cases of the fight between the two and resulted in the death of the tiger. If it has not happened during the fight, the bear leaves the tiger so battered that it dies after sustaining severe injuries from the long deadly bear claws.

Also readTiger Corridor : Now Satpuda Melghat National Parks Connectivity At Risk 

The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) is a myrmecophagous bear species native to the Indian subcontinent. It feeds on fruits, ants and termites. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, mainly because of habitat loss and degradation .Bear paws are disproportionately large, and have highly developed, sickle-shaped, blunt claws which measure 10 cm ( 4 inches) in length.  The tiger claws are also of the same size  and can grow upto 4 inches (10 centimeters) long, and are used to grab and hold onto their prey. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) estimates that fewer than 20,000 sloth bears survive in the wilds of the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. The sloth bear is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides for their legal protection. Commercial international trade of the sloth bear (including parts and derivatives) is prohibited as it is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Bear Against Tiger 

Bear Takes On Tiger

Tigers’ main strengths are their sense of sight, stalking and hearing rather than smell when hunting prey. They cautiously stalk their prey from the rear in an attempt to get as close as possible to their unsuspecting prey. Then they attempt to take down their prey with a powerful bite to the neck or throat. Bengal tigers occasionally prey on sloth bears. It is not uncommon to find sloth bear fur in tiger scats. Tigers typically hunt sloth bears by waiting for them near termite mounds, then creeping behind them and seizing them by the back of their necks and forcing them to the ground with their weight. Tigers are capable of knocking down larger prey like adult gaur ( 450 kg to  1000 kg) and wild water buffalo but will also opportunistically kill and eat much smaller prey, such as monkeys, peafowl and other ground-based birds, hares, porcupines, and  even fish.  

Also read:Bhopal's Urban Tigers Need Tiger Reserve Not Chain-Links Mr Chief Minister 

 The big cat also deceives its prey and are known to mimic the calls of sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) to attract them, sloth bears react fearfully even to the sounds made by deer themselves.  Like other animals it can surprise a bear from the back but when it comes to   facing a bear head on, the tiger avoids confrontation. When confronted face to face by a tiger , sloth bears many  times stand and stretch their front feet displaying deadly claws.  And while doing so , a threatened bear roars and growls loudly. Tiger usually retreats from an assertive sloth bear, as the bear's claws can inflict serious wounds, and most tigers end the hunt if the bears become aware of the tiger's presence before the pounce. Occasionally sloth bears may scavenge on tiger kills.

Cover image courtsey Naman Agrawal (@naman289). Other Three pictures courtsey  Aditya Dicky Singh(@adityadickysin)

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