Giant Pandas Anywhere in the World are the sole property of China!!

Giant pandas are found only in China. 99% of  their diet consists of bamboo shoots. China doesn’t sell or gift giant Pandas but loans them to desiring Zoos all over the world. All giant pandas in the world, barring two ageing animals in a Mexico zoo, are the property of the Chinese government.

China loans them to friendly countries as ‘ambassadors’ at very high rates, and on very strict terms. Each year, it gets millions of dollars for its loaned pandas. Renting a giant panda costs 1 million $  per year. When cubs are born outside the country, it charges a royalty on them. It charges roughly $400,000 per live birth in custody. Cubs born in foreign zoos have to be returned just after 2 year.
What’s more, the loaned pandas and the cubs born abroad have to be returned to China at the end of the contract period.
The length of a panda loan is 10 years after which all animals have to be returned.
Feeding the giant pandas bamboo shoots can cost

panda
Photo by Cesar Aguilar on Pexels.com

$500,000 to western countries every year.
Since 1941, China has loaned 64 giant pandas to other countries.

 

Thanks to Pexels.com for the picture.

Baya Weavers

Baya Weavers are small birds of house sparrow size. The scientific name is Ploceus philippinus. What separates them from other birds is the beautiful nests they weave from the grass stalks, mud blobs.

The name weaver itself justifies the mastery is weaving very elaborate and elegant nests hanging from the branches of very high palm trees, thorny acacia trees. Usually these trees are near the water pools, scrub grasses where they are safe from predators.

It is male domain entirely to make the nest. When it is in the almost halfway stage, they invite the females by flapping their wings and if the female approves the nest, it means that she will reside with the particular male, mate and raise the new chicks. If she doesn’t approve, the structure will be abandoned and weaver will feel dejected and sometimes tore away the nest. It starts making newer one.

These birds come to our area in North India, at the peak of summers and by the onset of monsoon rains, have their nests completed. They visit the fields for foraging the seeds both raw and fallen after ripening.

After monsoons, and winter coming, they migrate to slightly warmer areas like western India where food is available and weather is not harsh.

The birds are gregarious and live in flocks. They can be located from the noises they make.

 

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Black Breasted Weaver

Weaver Birds visit our area when summers are at peak. They stay here, make beautiful nests using the grass stalks and mate and raise the chicks for new generation. Most common are Baya Weavers which make nests on the acacia, palm trees which are difficult for predators to approach.

Birds choose the places to nest in the area where food and water is available and safe from disturbances.

But there is another variety called Black Breasted Weaver. It is master strategist in the choice of the area fulfilling all three criteria. They make different kind of nests and use the long grasses to hang the nests. I accidentally discovered the nest while stopping on the scooter near a roundabout near Ghaggar river bridge in Panchkula Haryana of India.

On the side of road are trenches and crests and a water pool, I saw the nest last year. This year also I saw these nest almost in the same spot. Area is very difficult to approach. I somehow approached at not so favourable distant but still very far for better pictures of this small beautiful bird. It makes nest if the tall reed grass and so much camouflaged that you cannot see it clearly. Only once or twice it sat on the top of dry grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are living in the Meghalayan Age

Scientists have marked the time since the Earth began its life. They have divided it into different Epochs, Periods, Eras and Eons progressively in increasing time groups.

 

We are living in the following division of time.

Eon: Phanerozoic

Era: Cenozoic

Period: Quaternary

Epoch: Holocene

Holocene epoch began roughly 11700 years back and continues till present. United States Geological Survey (USGS) has divided this time into three ages namely

Greenlandian: 11700 to 8326 years ago

Northgrippian: 8326 to 4250 years ago

MEGHALAYAN: 4250 to present date

MEGHALAYAN age marks the time when a mega drought devastated civilizations across the world, including those in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, The indus Valley and the Yangtze valley. Drought lasted some 209 years and supposed to be prompted by shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation.

Geologists chose the name “Meghalayan” as a nod to a rock sample they analyzed from Meghalaya, a northeastern state in India, whose name means “the abode of clouds” in Sanskrit. By analyzing a stalagmite growing on the ground of Mawmluh Cave, geologists found that each of the stalagmite layers had different levels of oxygen isotopes, or versions of oxygen with different numbers of neutrons. This change marked the weakening of monsoon conditions from that time.

Mango : The King of Fruits

Hiuen Tsang, after being in India is going back. Time AD 627-643, on the fabled Silk Route. Apart from his knowledge of Buddhism, his rucksack contains an extraordinary fruit called Mango.

The name in hindi AAM is derived from Sanskrit word AMRA which seems to be the loan from Dravidian and is related to Tamil words for Mango like “mamaram”. Portuguese were responsible for transferring the name to the West. It is growing in India since 4000 years at least.

Moguls were great connoisseurs of the fruit. Akbar got 100000 mango trees in Lakhi Bagh near Darbhanga Bihar. Others who relished the fruit were Shahjahan and Noor Jehan, Aurangzeb, Sher Shah Suri. Raghunath Peshwa got large numbers all over Maharashtra.

Main Constituents:

Citric acid and related compounds are responsible for sour taste. Several terpenes have been found in unripe fruit..

Ripe mango contains volatile compounds like alpha terpineol, ocimene, limonene, 3-carene etc. Yellow colour is due to beta Carotene.

Nutrients

Mangoes are rich in potassium, about 8% carbohydrate with 1.6 % dietary fibre. Very rich in vitamin A , C, B-6, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Some famous Indian Varieties:

1: Alphonso or Hapoos
King among the mangoes. Named after Portugal admiral D Afonso de Albuquerque. Deogad in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra has got the GI tag of genuineness.

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2: Dasehri
It is birth place is Malihabad in Lucknow. Soft, succulent and mild.

3: Banarasi Langda
It was born in an orchard belonging to a Langda (lame) fellow and thus got this name.

4: Himsagar
Fibre less, creamy and full of pulp. Pride of Murshidabad in West Bengal.

5: Fazli
Quite big in size, famous in Malda of West Bengal. Late maturing.

6: Chaunsa:
From Bihar. Full of Flavour. It is pressed into mouth and juice is sucked.

7: Gulab Khaas
Native of Jharkhand. It is graceful mango

8: Kesar

Aromatic fruit of Junagadh Gujarat. Giving a tough fight to Hapoos. Plantations are on foothills of mount Girnar.

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9: Bedmi: Taste depends upon the plucking time.

10. Totapuri: it is abundant in southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka.

11: Sindoori: it gets its name from the vermillion colour of the skin.

12: Banganapalli/ Bagan Phali/ Safeda
From Andhra’s small town Banganapalli. Sweet, yellow and fibre less.

13: Himam Pasand/ Humayun Pasand
A cross made from Banganapalli and Malgoa. It is very popular in Deccan.

14: Chandrakaran: it is delicacy from Kerala. Sweet and sour. Quite costly.

Peacock: The National Bird of India 

Not for nothing is peacock called the king of birds. It is one of the most beautiful birds. India has chosen it as its National bird.

It is big bird. Females don’t have the beautiful train of tailed feathers. They look drab in comparison. Every part of the body of the peacock is full of beauty except its feet.

There are many myths and fables connected to this bird in India. It is said that Krishna adorns a small peacock feather in his hair because more is most pious and devoid of any sex. It produces ear drops while dancing and the drop is lapped up by the female and she lays eggs.

Of course these are all stories. It is illogical to think that lord Krishna who had innumerable women as his consorts will consider such a choice.

In India peacocks are in plenty. In earlier times, they were commonly found in the villages roaming in the courtyards and sitting perched on the roofs and tree branches. They are commonly found in the plains areas jutting the hills.

There is a forest near my home where they are in plenty. During summer when they dance , it is sign of impending rains.

Here are some photos..

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Little or Small Pratincoles: Beauty in small packets 

There is a river near Panchkula city of Haryana. It is called Ghaggar. Once a mighty river, now it has become a mere shadow of its past. A thin stream of water flows through the large bed made of sand, pebbles and small amounts of clay. Bushes and different grasses like bulrushes grow in its bed.

Here in the beds near running water one can spot these little cute birds only if you look very carefully on the ground because there colour camouflage them in the sand. They keep standing at a given spot for long time. They become quite fearless and allow you to approach quite nearer.

It is called Small pratincole, little pratincole, or small Indian pratincole (Glareola lactea), is a small wader in the pratincole family, Glareolidae. The birds arrived here about three months ago. They have laid the eggs and raised the new generation They lay eggs in the gravel and sand.

Here are some pictures I have taken

Standing still
Chick with mom
Feeding

Squatting