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SAFARI MAGAZINE | ENGLISH EDITION

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Issue no. 101 | June 2021

Cover story

Tipsy Animalia:
Animals and birds that habitually go in for booze

Nature has many alcoholic and hallucinating offerings, and several animals and birds of ‘good times’ are just as ready to say cheers.

Some years back in North India, a village that houses about 200 odd residents and which is situated near the outskirts of the jungle in the valley of the Himalayas was disrupted totally by a herd of elephants. They destroyed the crops too. This happened consecutively for three years. The month was also March as always. This time in the second week of March, and the mahua (Bassia latifolia) tree had blossomed well.

The villagers had plucked heaps of these flowers and set them to dry and readied the furnaces where they were going to ferment the flowers to prepare liquor. The smell that arises from the liquor of this flower should by rights be called ‘a foul smell,’ but an elephant that detects this ‘aroma’ with its 1.5-metre long nose can in no way be controlled or held responsible for its actions. For this reason, the villagers prepared a smokescreen around the furnaces to suppress the ‘aroma’ of the liquor which would otherwise spread everywhere with the wind.

More interesting articles

Territorial behaviour in the animal kingdom

A territory is an area of space, whether of water or land or air, which on animal or group of animals defends as an exclusive preserve. There are mutually agreed borders as well as resources in the animal world. On the grassy floodplains of Africa, the antelope named kob are seen in abundance. Each has a different pattern of white markings surrounding the eyes, that is, just like humans no two kobs look alike. A robust adult male can weigh up to 100 kilograms. Moreover, it has a couple of sharp horns which are 50 centimetres long.

From snowflakes to flowers to starfish, the fascinating world of symmetry

Symmetry is defined as a perfectly balanced similarity that is found in two halves of an object. It has a timeless appeal in the human mind. Thankfully, we are surrounded by objects having finely balanced form, like flower petals, butterflies and leaves. Take the human body as another example. Not only is it bilaterally symmetric, but our hands are also almost perfect; the left is the reverse of the right. We are almost magnetically so much attracted to symmetry that in most cases, even Mehndi design in both hands/palms is found to be symmetrical.

Animals that change colour

The fascination with animal colour changes dates back to ancient times. Octopuses, Cuttlefishes and squids are known for changing their complexion. In an instant, waves of colour can flow across their bodies, and then they may change their entire hue from yellow to red and back again. If a dark coloured chameleon is put on a leafy branch, it will seem to disappear in about fifteen minutes. It is one of several animals that gain protection by changing their colours to blend in with the background. The colour change is a physiological process involving the redistribution of pigments in the skin.

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