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Capturing India's fascinating wildlife

Staff Reporter
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Animal Planet launches a new month-long series to take viewers on an exploration spree

Into the wild:Zoologist Dave Salmoni in episode “Menacing Elephants”, to be aired on February 8.
Into the wild:Zoologist Dave Salmoni in episode “Menacing Elephants”, to be aired on February 8.

Animal Planet channel has produced a month-long TV series focusing on the country's enchanting wildlife.

For the 52-week special “India: Wild Encounters” that was premiered on Republic Day, the channel has roped in internationally-acclaimed wildlife explorers -- Jeff Corwin, Austin Stevens, Dave Salmoni and Steve Backshall -- as they set out on their mission to explore different parts of the country.

During their explorations, the curious experts tried to understand the behaviour of unpredictable wild animals and explain them in their inimitable way for the benefit of viewers.

Besides offering a glimpse of unique and rich wildlife, the series captures enthralling stories like a rhino's journey from infancy to adolescence, Ranthambhore National Park's big cats, the elephants of North-East India and tigers of Sunderbans.

Commenting on the Indian content line-up, Rahul Johri of Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific (South Asia) says the main purpose behind airing “India: Wild Encounters” across the country is to showcase never-seen before wildlife encounters.

“We are featuring global personalities to make episodes more enjoyable. With their vast knowledge about wild animals, they would be able to explain all that goes in our jungles. Hopefully, ‘India: Wild Encounters' will generate interest among viewers,” he adds.

In “Rhino Journey”, aired on Thursday, an individual female Nepalese rhino, Bachada, is shown growing up from infancy to adolescence. The Chitwan Valley in Nepal -- home of the tiger, peacock, langurs and macaques, land of changing river courses and permanent lakes -- is the backdrop for the story of the biology and social behaviour of the one-horned rhinoceros.

“Crocodile Blues”, to be aired this Friday, highlights the fact that two of the strangest and most endangered creatures live on the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range and in the chilly waters of the Girwa River. The gharial is a weird-looking crocodile with a narrow, tooth-studded snout, while the Ganges river dolphin is a small blue-grey cetacean with an almost identical narrow jaw.

In “In Search of the King Cobra”, which goes on the air on Saturday, Austin Stevens -- photographer, herpetologist and adventurer -- journeys to the remote jungles of Southern India to discover the world's largest venomous snake. The 18-foot-long king cobra has a head as big as a hand and stands tall enough to look a grown man straight in the eye.

Those who are curious to see the biggest big cats in the Indian jungles can watch “Tigers of the Sunderbans” on January 30. The Sundarbans is one of the last places on Earth where tigers still thrive. But there is trouble brewing as the tigers are increasingly becoming man-eaters. Elsewhere in India, tigers rarely kill people and those that do are usually sick and weak. However, the tigers patrolling the wet mangrove forests are perfectly healthy, and the reason for them starting to attack humans is still shrouded in a mystery.

Zoologist and predator expert Dave Salmoni is no stranger to danger. But in “Menacing Elephants”, airing on February 8, Dave for the first time watches a battle between humans and elephants. Joining forces with an armed elephant squad, Dave helps defend the villages of North East India from rampaging elephants in the dead of night.

The month-long series will be aired daily.

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