50_G15_Arena

Global Issue 15

Himalaya. A recent World Wildlife Fund report records 353 new species discovered in the region between 1998 and 2008, including 61 invertebrates – among them, Nepal’s first scorpion – 16 reptiles, 14 frogs, 14 fishes, two birds and two mammals. Many remote ecosystems have yet to be fully surveyed. The state of Arunachal Pradesh, regarded as being among the richest places on Earth, has barely been explored. Similar regions exist on the borders of Myanmar. The Arunachal macaque was identified only a few years ago; the world’s smallest deer, the leaf muntjac, was first recorded in northern Myanmar in 1999. The Eastern Himalayas’ extraordinary biodiversity and shared evolution in remote valleys and mountain peaks has generated much of the cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity of its people. More than 200 distinct ethnic groups inhabit the region, speaking as many distinct languages and many more dialects. They have a common ecological heritage: they live in, on or under the Roof of the World, the third greatest Arena Himalayas Rhino on the tiger’s menu This is a unique picture. I had gone to Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, one of the few Asian locations that can match the best of Africa for density of wildlife, in search of the rare greater one-horned rhinoceros and the elusive royal Bengal tiger. I had not expected to picture them together. The discovery of a rhino that had recently died of old age created a rare opportunity. By legend: “The tiger is a gentleman – it will only eat what it kills.” Surely it would not stoop to the level of a hyena and scavenge rhino meat? My instincts told me differently: a tiger would not pass up on this free meal. I set up camera-traps from a canoe in the middle of the water. I checked the lighting, and infra-red beam, to be sure all was working – and crossed my fingers. Technology can be fickle, but that night I was in the right spot at the right time, with the right tools. Most importantly, the tiger decided to come for a midnight meal. It all came together. It was the first time a tiger feeding on a rhino carcass – a rare moment of hitherto undocumented animal behaviour– had been caught on camera. Sandesh Kadur  50 l www.global -br ief ing.org thi rd quar ter 2013 global


Global Issue 15
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