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Chitwan to Kathmandu

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October 6th Chitwan, Kathmandu

We were woken early again by the monkeys clattering over our roof, but by the time we’d got up they had gone, to be replaced by some beautiful birds and butterflies. We headed for a lazy breakfast before commencing our drive to Kathmandu (which was surprisingly non-trafficy and we arrived at a reasonable time).
Some fauna
Although we didn’t see these (well, we saw some), they are resident in the park.
A tiny mammal called the hispid hare may have just won the world’s longest game of hide and seek. We did see this, but it was running at great speed, hence no photo! Native to South Asia, these shy animals haven’t been spotted in Chitwan Park since 1984. For the past decade, conservationists were convinced they’d gone extinct in the area.
The sloth bear is an insectivorous bear native to the Indian subcontinent. No, sadly, we did not see this. It is listed as Vulnerable. It has been called labiated bear because of its long lower lip and palate used for sucking insects. Compared to brown and black bears, the sloth bear is lankier, has a long, shaggy fur and a mane around the face, and long, sickle-shaped claws. It evolved from the ancestral brown bear during the Pleistocene and through convergent evolution shares features found in insect- eating mammals. Sloth bears feed on termites, honeybee colonies, and fruits. Sloth bears sometimes attack humans who encroach on their territories. Humans have reduced their habitat and diminished their population by hunting them for food and products (from their bacula and claws), or even as performing animals.a286a440-dda4-11eb-8b9f-6d0f241828f9.jpg
The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) or “cloudies” is a wild cat occurring from the Himalayan foothills to China. Yep, it would have been AMAZING to see this, but there are only 1 or 2 in the area, so pretty unlikely, and they prefer higher altitudes anyway (see Bhutan entry). It is listed as Vulnerable. Its total population is suspected fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, and no single population numbering more 1000. It is also known as the mainland clouded leopard, to distinguish it from the Sunda clouded leopard. The clouded leopard is considered an evolutionary link betwen the Pantherinae and the small cats. It represents the smallest of the big cats, but despite its name, is not closely related to the leopard. It is part of the lineage that comprises Panthera (tiger, leopard, jaguar, lion, snow leopard) and Neofelis (clouded leopard). Neofelis is thought to have diverged first from Panthera. Its hyoid bone is ossified, making it possible to purr (like domestic cats, to whom it is related). In fact only
this group of cats can purr (ie the lion/tiger/jaguar group can’t), whilst only the big cats can roar (ie. cloudies and tabbies can’t). Melanistic clouded leopards are uncommon. It has short limbs compared to other big cats. Its hind limbs are longer than its front for increased jumping and leaping capabilities. Its ulnae and radii are not fused, giving a greater range of motion when climbing trees. In Nepal, the clouded leopard was thought to be extinct, but in 1988, four individuals were found in Chitwan National Park and Pokhara Valley. It is the most talented climber among the cats; they can climb down vertical tree trunks head first, and hang on to branches with their hind paws bent around branches. They can hang down from branches by bending their hind paws and their tail around them. When jumping down, they hang on to a branch until the very last moment.
The gaur (Bos gaurus), or Indian bison, is the largest bovine. We saw these in the fields as we were leaving, but had packed our cameras, so just enjoyed watching for a change. This species is native to Asia. It has been listed as Vulnerable but population trends are rebuilding. The gaur is the tallest of wild cattle species. It is a strong and massively built species with a high convex ridge on the forehead between the horns. There is a prominent ridge on the back. The ears are very large; the tail short, and in old bulls the hair is very thin on the back. They have a distinct ridge running from the shoulders to the middle of the back, caused by the great length of the spine’s vertebrae at the fore-part of the trunk as compared with those of the loins. The hair is short, fine and glossy; the hooves are narrow and pointed. Gaurs do not have a dewlap on the throat and chest. Both sexes have horns up to 115 cm. Between the horns is a high convex ridge on the forehead. Gaurs are among the largest living land animals. Only elephants, rhinos, hippopotami and giraffe are heavier. In Bhutan, they live in the southern foothills. In Nepal, the gaur population is c500, with the majority in Chitwan National Park.
The Irrawaddy or hoary-bellied Himalayan squirrel (Callosciurus pygerythrus) is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae. It is found in Bangladesh, China, India, and Nepal, where we saw it in the forest trees. The particoloured flying squirrel (Hylopetes alboniger) is in the family Sciuridae. It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal down to Cambodia and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The white-winged duck or white-winged wood duck, seen by us over several days, is a large species of duck, formerly in the genus Cairina and allied with the dabbling ducks. However, DNA sequence analysis indicate that the anatomical similarity to the Muscovy duck is deceiving, and this species might more appropriately be placed in a monotypic genus, as Asarcornis scutulata, unrelated to the Muscovy duck but closer to the diving ducks.

Posted by PetersF 15:28 Archived in Nepal Tagged animals nepal chitwan

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