Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mammals of India and Sri Lanka

A collection of mammal shots here from our January-February 2013 visit to India (Gujarat in the north-west and Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south-west) and Sri Lanka. This Leopard was seen in Sri Lanka's Yala National Park. It appears to be a female. We watched as she stalked across a clearing in Acacia woodland. Several Peafowl moved ahead of her as a couple of jackals followed. The leopard's tail twtiched as she eyed a party of Wild Pigs containing several small piglets. She rushed at the pigs, which dispersed in all directions, before disappearing into dense vegetation. We were unable to determine if she snatched a piglet in the mayhem.

Jungle Cat
The other feline seen on the trip was Jungle Cat. Two individuals were seen stalking the Banni Grasslands of the Greater Rann of Kutch.

We spotted a single Wolf on the edge of the Tundi Wetlands in the Little Rann of Kutch. The animal disappeared into scrub as we approached. Indian wolves are much smaller than their cousins further north.

Golden Jackal
Golden Jackal was seen in several places in Gujarat and Yala National Park. A stand-out sighting on the trip was a single Dhole, or Asian Wild Dog, roadside at Thattekkad in Kerala. The animal was very close when I spotted it and although I enjoyed a superb view through binoculars, it disappeared into scrub before the camera was out.

Indian Elephant
We saw our first wild Indian Elephants in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. A group of three - an adult female and her young calf (above) accompanied by a sub-adult female (not pictured, probably the female's older daughter). Many more elephants were heard rumbling, trumpeting or feeding at various places in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and we had to be alert for them while out and about birding.

Indian Elephant
In Sri Lanka, we saw two adult males in Yala National Park. One was a big tusker, feeding close to the vehicle. Tuskers are scarce in Sri Lanka, accounting for just 5% of adult males.

Indian Wild Ass
Another nice ungulate was Indian Wild Ass. Seriously endangered, Little Rann of Kutch is the place for this animal. We saw quite a few during our jeep excursions to the reserve.

Niligir Tahr
A visit to Eravikulum National Park in Kerala is necessary to see the endangered Nilgiri Tahr, a species of wild goat. They are quite common in the highland grasslands above Munnar.

More numerous ungulates include Nilgai, the big Indian antelope. This one was near Mandvi, Gujarat.

Sambar deer were not uncommon in places. This one approached our vehicle in Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka.

Spotted Deer
Chittal or Spotted Deer were also common. These three in Yala National Park were decidedly nervous, stamping hooves as they stared into the undergrowth, where presumably a predator lurked.
Indian Muntjac
A single Indian Muntjac, or Barking Deer, was seen in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala.

Wild Pig
These Wild Pigs were in the Little Rann of Kutch; others were seen in Yala and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu. Other nice ungulates included a group of Blackbuck in Little Rann. A pair of adult male Guar was seen very early one morning in Mudumalai; I had long wanted to see these huge Asian wild cattle.

Commmon Langur
Primates included the widespread Common or Grey Langur. These two were in the Chinnar reserve.

Toque Macaque
Toque Macaque is endemic to Sri Lanka and we saw plenty, including this one in Kandy.

Bonnet Macaque
Its cousin, the Bonnet Macaque, was equally common in the western Ghats. This one was near Hornbill Camp, Kerala.

Purple-faced Leaf-Monkey
Purple-faced Langur, or Leaf-Monkey, is found only in the wet forests of south-west Sri Lanka. We saw several at Sinharaja.

Grey Mongoose
Grey Mongoose was common in Gujarat, with this one seen near the village of Fulay.

Ruddy Mongoose
Ruddy Mongoose was often encountered in south-west India and Sri Lanka. This one fed on elephant turds in Yala. A single Brown Mongoose was seen at Horton Plains.

Malabar Giant-Squirrel
Malabar Giant-Squirrel was seen often in south-west India; this one was in the hills south of Ooty, Tamil Nadu. Its cousin, the Sri Lanka Giant-Squirrel, was also encountered.

Indian Giant Flying-Squirrel
A surprise find was an Indian Giant Flying-Squirrel during the day at Thattekkad. This species is rarely out and about after sunrise.

Five-striped Palm-Squirrel
Smaller fare include Five-striped Palm-Squirrel, common in Gujarat. This one was at the CEDO base in the Greater Rann of Kutch.

Three-striped Palm-Squirrel
Its cousin, the Three-striped Palm-Squirrel, was equally numerous in south-west India and Sri Lanka. These were in Kandy.

Indian Flying-Fox
Indian Flying-Fox was common in Sri Lanka. These were in Kandy.

Blue Whale
The icing on this substantial mammalian cake was Blue Whale. At least six were seen at 1500m off the cost of Merissa, southern Sri Lanka, during a boat trip.

Blue Whale