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Getting to know our wildlife better

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GET RIGHT: Your wildlife facts! Get to know more about animals like the Ant Eater
GET RIGHT: Your wildlife facts! Get to know more about animals like the Ant Eater

MALEEHA RAGHAVIAH

Now a great resource to know more about the wildlife of the state.

KOZHIKODEDid you know that Kerala accounts for scores of mammal species inhabiting in the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats, besides the scores of sub species all of which have been placed under 12 categories? Some of them are on the verge of extinction, and need protection. There are dolphin species for instance that are under threat of disappearing altogether. You would do well to have a copy of the Mammal's of Kerala published by the Kozhikode-based Malabar Natural History Society in your library, especially if you are a nature lover, and a conservationist at heart.Here is an attempt to familiarise the reader with rare species such as Indian Pangolin or anteater, the mammal which has its body covered with thick scales. With its long tongue, it can reach out to the nest of ants, on which it feeds. And interestingly, this mammal carries its offspring on its tail. And did you hear of the fishing cat (Felis viverrina Bennett), which has webbed front feet? This mammal lives on the riverbed, and can catch fish with ease and skill.

Interesting facts

Yet another rare species is the Malabar Civet (Viverra civettina (Blyth). The civet species is almost a metre long. This mammal was considered extinct, but was found in Malappuram District in 1987. The book would be of immense use to children and adults alike to familiarise oneself with those species of the fauna that scientists have classified as `mammals'. Few books of this kind have been published, and are available for reference. The authors are noted authorities in their field Dineshan Cheruvat, C.Radhakrishnan, and Mohammed Jaffer Pallot. Priced at Rs.120, the book is easy to browse, with illustrations of the different rodent, bat, civet, otter and other mammals by Satyan Meppayur, and some provided by the Centre for Environmental Education, Ahmedabad. As the foreword by John C. Jacob, noted environmentalist explains, the Mammal's of Kerala is not only informative, but it is a highly valuable reference book. A former Zoology teacher, Mr.Jacob remembers that the only reference book available to students on the subject was `The book of Indian Animals` of S.H.Prater.

Knowledge bank

Our knowledge of mammals of the State is abysmally low. Except for those animals which are domesticated, or those which we view in zoos or wildlife sanctuaries, we are in the dark about scores of others, some herbivorous, others carnivorous.With urbanisation human beings have lost the moorings on community living. The book throws light on how other mammals collect food, and share the same with others. There are also lessons to be learnt from these animals on how to provide protection to members of one's community members, bring up the young, and how to avoid or ease tensions. Above all, animals live and vibe with Nature, and are in totality with their environment, the book highlights. The spontaneous response and appreciation to the earlier publications of the Malabar Natural History Society such as `Butterflies of Kerala', ` Observing Nature and interpreting it', and `Bryophytes of Wayanad', have prompted the organisers to publish the work on Mammals of Kerala.

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