Arefa Tehsin

Birds Too Can Assess The Magnitude Of Danger

Due to draught the water become so scarce in Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary that Wildlife department had to replenish artificial water holes with tankers during the summer of 2004.

To take the stock of situation we took an extensive tour of the sanctuary from 29th May to 3rd June 2004. Our base camp was at Sumer Rest House.

There is a water hole near this rest house. On 30th May at about 2 o’ clock in the afternoon we were sitting near the water hole in a hide for observations. [..]

Fauna of Mewar from Copper Age to Iron Age

Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past, – T. S. Eliot

Dating around 4000 years back, Ahar is one of the earliest known civilizations in India, contemporary to the Harrappan civilization. The only archaeological museum on the excavation site in Rajasthan stands in Udaipur city, on one of the long buried settlements of the ancient civilization of Ahar.

The first evidence of Ahar civilization determined by Carbon Dating dates back to 2000 BC. Romance of the past led to the discovery of some 90 sites of this archaic civilization on the banks of Banas River and its tributaries. First excavation took place in mid 1950s by R. Agrawal (Director of Archaeology, Rajasthan). Later it led to a series of excavations on different sites of this riverine settlement, revealing layer after layer of surprises and disclosures.

The first age of this civilization is known as the Copper Age that dates back from 2000 BC to 1200 BC. The period from 1200 BC to 300 BC is known as the Dark Age in which no evidence of civilization has been found.

Then is the Iron Age that dates from 300 BC to 200 AD when there was a marked change by iron coming into use.

Ahar site in Udaipur is situated on the banks of the river of the same name, Ahar, which is a tributary of Banas. A comprehensive excavation and study was undertaken in 1961-62 on the Udaipur site under H. D. Sakalia and a total area of 8700 sq. ft. was excavated. [..]

Association Between Alexandrine Parakeets & Brahmini Mynas

On 5 September 1982 at 9am I was taking a round of the courtyard of my house at Panchwati, Udaipur. I saw two alexandrine parakeets perched over a pomegranate tree. Three brahmini mynas were also sitting under the tree.

The parakeets slowly crept towards the fruits, dug their beaks in the pomegranates and started eating. As per the habit of parakeets, pieces of fruits started falling on the ground. To take the titbits mynas darted here and there and quarrelled for the spoils of the parakeets. [..]

Three Books by Razia Tehsin Released Posthumously

Udaipur lamented the loss of her beloved Razia Tehsin this year (The Woman With a Golden Heart) Social activist, author, editor, educationist – Razia wore many caps, but there is not a single one that does entire justice to a life spent for others. She passed away on 30th Jan 2012 after a long battle with cancer.

Born on 12th July 1936, Razia was greatly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and became a follower of Indian Socialist philosophy. Instrumental in the formation and running of many institutions and organisations, Razia never accepted any paid post nor married due to her devotion to the cause. [..]

Ecological Imbalance Causing Manifold Increase in Vector Borne Diseases

The untimely demise of the iconic Yash Chopra by dengue came as a shock to the whole nation. When even the elite in India are becoming victims to vector borne diseases, what is to become of the common-man?

The reasons for the increase in vector borne diseases are ecological imbalance and global warming. The increasing human population and its fooding habits are playing are adding to it.

Frogs are almost wiped out from our subcontinent. The government has allowed frog farmers to export frog legs but under the pretext of this, frogs from other water bodies are also captured for export. In 1984 Raza H. Tehsin raised his voice against the export of frog legs from India to control the increasing malaria. Many newspapers across the world covered this news. Banswara district in Rajasthan alone exported 200 tonnes of frog legs annually. The government took the required step and curbed the export of frog legs then. Today, we’ve again reached the same situation. [..]

Painted Snipe Protects its Chicks in Panchwati nullah

By Dr. Raza H. Tehsin & Arefa Tehsin

Our hometown, the city of lakes, Udaipur, has nullahs that carry the excess water of the lakes of the city.  Our house is situated near one such nullah, which carries the excess water of Pichola and Fatehsagar lakes.  Nowadays this nullah has been converted into sewerage.  It returns to its previous glory once in a year when it rains and the lakes overflow.

We have been watching aquatic birds and waders in this nullah in our spare time for decades.  On 13 September 2003 we were watching a Painted Snipe skulking at the edge of the water taking advantage of every bit of cover.

Two small chicks were following the snipe in the same manner. It approached a small bush just near the water’s edge when a pig from the opposite bank waded in the direction of the snipe. The snipe froze where it was. Both the chicks came towards its legs, one on the right side and the other on the left. [..]

Biological Clock Disturbed

By Dr. Raza H. Tehsin and Arefa Tehsin

Observations on the changes in animal behaviour due to global warming this year.

The effects of changes in animal life cycles due to global warming are becoming clearly visible in air, land and water creatures. It has caused changes in their biological clock, which are unnatural and unlike than their usual activities of reproduction and habitation.

Vinod Singh of Neemdi had also contributed in our observations and study of the behavioural changes in birds, snakes and fish.

For example, four species of murrel (Chenna species) are found in Udaipur district. Murrel is a kind of fish which can breathe in water as well as take air directly from the atmosphere.

A remarkable trait in murrel is that it makes its nest in underwater weeds, plants or some sheltered corner and lays eggs there. [..]

Dry Nose? Try What the Jackal Did!

By Raza H. Tehsin & Arefa Tehsin

In Sumer forest of Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary of Rajasthan, the summer is very severe and the day temperature is unbearably high. During May end, hot and dry winds blow constantly all day long.

On May 29, 1999, we were sitting near a waterhole in a hide in Sumer. At 2.25 pm, a jackal waded into the water in the waterhole and started lapping it. After drinking, it looked around, wetted its tongue in water and inserted the dripping tongue into its right nostril. It repeated the process four times. Then it wetted its left nostril by inserting the wet tongue into it thrice. After this it trotted away.

Due to severe heat and dry wind, the nostrils probably became dry and hard causing discomfort and the jackal inserted its tongue into the nostril to moisten the inner side of its nose. A photograph was taken of the jackal wetting its nostril.

The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately.

One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous; and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again. - Thomas Paine

Published in Journal of Bombay Natural History Society: Tehsin, R. H. (2000) Wetting Of Nostril By Jackal Canis aureus Linn., Carnivora, Family Canidae. J. Bom. Nat. Hist. Soc. 98(1): 97

The Clever Fish of Swaroop Sagar

By Raza H. Tehsin & Arefa Tehsin

Udaipur city in India is known as the city of lakes. The three lakes inside the premise of the city are – Pichola, Swaroop Sagar and Fatehsagar. All the three lakes are connected to each other. Pichola is directly connected to Swaroop Sagar and Swaroop Sagar is connected to Fatehsagar by a canal that has two sluice gates to regulate the excess water.

Prior to 1989, there were scanty rains for five consecutive seasons. For the years 1987-88 there was no exchange of water between Fatehsagar and Swaroop Sagar. In 1989 there were good rains and all the lakes overflowed.

During this season Swaroop Sagar received plenty of water. By opening the gates the excess water of Swaroop Sagar was taken into Fatehsagar. When both the lakes were full the gates were closed. Because the level of water in both the lakes was the same, there was no seepage from the gates. When the gates are closed, a portion of the gates remains about 4 feet above the water level.

On 7th Sep 1989, we were standing near the two sluice gates of the canal. At about quarter to six in the evening, suddenly a Rohu (Labeo rohita) broke the surface of the water about 9 feet from the gates and cleared the first gate. The height of the gates above the surface of the water was 4 feet.

Now it was trapped in the water of the canal between the two gates. After a lapse of 5 minutes, it took yet another jump which was very high and cleared the next sluice gate. It landed squarely into Fatehsagar and went off. This time during the jump it grazed to the channel of the gate before landing into Fatehsagar. [..]

Jungle Cat and Grey Jungle Fowl

Ladan lies in a hilly tract about 125km west of Udaipur in Rajasthan. On 2 June 1988, at about 8.30 in the morning, we were crossing a ravine in Ladan forests when we came across a group of four grey jungle fowls, consisting of a cock and three hens, feeding about 90 meters away.

Taking advantage of the bushes between the birds and us, we reduced this distance to about 55 meters without disturbing them.

The birds were feeding, gradually moving away from us. Suddenly they stopped feeding and looked intently towards a bush about 20 meters away from them on a slightly raised ground. [..]