Archive | April, 2012

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Sangai: Gem On A Floating Heaven

Posted on 30 April 2012 by RE Team

In the north east state of Manipur in India lies a true floating heaven, Loktak lake. The only lake in the world to house a floating bio-diversity and the only floating national-park  in the world, Keibul Lamjao National Park. In this heaven on earth resides a magnificent and beautiful deer, named Sangai. It is one of the most localized and endangered mammal species of the current time. Sangai with its unique characteristics make this heaven lively and more beautiful. But such a blessing of nature on the threat of destruction due to we humans today! Let’s find out more this unique species first.


'Loktak Lake - The Floating Heaven' - Courtesy Kishalaya Namaram @flickr


Sangai is the local name of the beautiful deer, the official English name is Manipur Brow-antlered Deer. The scientific name of the species is Rucervus eldi eldi McClelland. It is the a sub-species of the Eld’s Deer, found only and only in the floating lake of Manipur.

‘Sangai’ is derived from Manipur’s local language. ‘Sa’ means animal and ‘ngai’ means ‘waiting while looking on’. This name is given to the animal for the posture adopted by the animal while running. The deer, mainly the males, stops momentarily and suddenly after running some distance and again begins running as if the animal is eagerly waiting for someone. For this peculiar running style, the deer is also known as ‘Dancing Deer’, coined by famous naturalist E.P. Gee. The offiicial name Brow-antlered Deer is derived from the deer’s very distinctive antler.  The antlers normally grows over a meter in length with extremely long brow tine, hence the name.

Sangai has an important role in Manipur’s local tribes residing around the loktak lake. Till just a few decades back, the hunters took pride in adorning the heads with magnificent antlers in their village houses to signify the skill and accomplishment of the tribe. Though known locally before, the deer species was officially discovered by British officer, Lt. Percy eld in the year 1839. The scientific name of deer was later coined in honour of the officer in 1844.


Sangai - The Brow-Antlered Deer of Manipur


The marshy wetland in the Keibul Lamjao National Park is the only habitat of the Sangai in this world.  It is small park covering an area of 40 sq km. But the Sangai’s range is even smaller covering only 15-20 sq km of the park, making it one of the most localized sub-species in the world.

Because of Sangai’s traditional value, the deer was very zealously protected by the kings of Manipur till 20th century. But once British took over the regime, local and british hunters killed the elegant deer mercilessly. During few decades, it almost vanished from the loktak lake. In 1950, the brow-antlered deer was regarded as extinct. But in 1953, E.P. Gee  took pain to locate the deer at Keibul Lamjao. Some serious efforts were taken to revive the rare species. In 1954, an area of around 20 sq miles was declared as sanctuary to save the Sangai. In i977 the sanctuary was declared as a National Park.

In 1959 E. P. Gee first conducted a survey on the ‘Dancing Deer’, as he named. Taking various samples, he estimated the total population of the species as around 100. A devastating flood in 1966 wiped away many deer lives bringing the Sangai population even lower. In 1972 a rough survery done by naturalist M. K. Ranjitsinh, the population was estimated as just 50. Ranjitsinh again did a more sophisticated survey in 1975. At the height of the dry season, he surveyed the whole Keibul Lamjao park with a helicopter. Flying at just 100 to 300 feet high from the ground, the aerial survey provided a surprising number, 14. 5 stags, 6 hinds and 3 fawns, probably the rarest mamal of that time. In 1977, Ranjitsinh did another aerial survey to find a number of 18. These records were shock to the authorities and strict measurements were taken after 1977, also declaring the area as national park.  Census conducted by the Forest Department later times in 1990, 2000 and 2003 revealed the population as 76, 162 and 180 respectively. This shows an encouraging number, but the beautiful Sangai is still not out of the extinction danger.

We will discuss more about the Sangai in our future articles.

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Mount Sanqingshan

Posted on 30 April 2012 by RE Team

Mount Sanqingshan National Park


The Mount Sanqing, located in the east of central China known for it’s scenic quality, marked by the concentration of fantastically shaped pillars and peaks. There are 48 granite peaks and 89 granite pillars in the mountain range, many of which resemble human or animal silhouettes. “San Qing” literally mean ‘three distinct’ in Mandarin as the San Qing Mountain is made up of three main summits: the “Yujing Mountain”, “Yushui Mountain” and “Yuhua Mountain”.

Geographical Details

Mount Sanqingshan National Park displays a unique array of forested, fantastically shaped granite pillars and peaks concentrated in a relatively small area. The looming, intricate rock formations intermixed with delicate forest cover and combined with ever-shifting weather patterns create a landscape of arresting beauty. The total area of the National Park, 2200 square km, also features numerous water falls, some of them 60 meters in height, lakes and springs.

The property has effective legal protection, a sound planning framework and is currently well managed. The park benefits from strong government support and funding. The park’s natural resources are in good condition and threats are considered manageable. There is an effective management regime in place for the park. The key requirement is to manage the property to retain its aesthetic values, and a delicate balance will need to be maintained with the provision of visitor access. The most significant threat relates to the future increase in tourism, and careful and sensitive planning of the related infrastructure and access development is required.

Mount Sanqingshan courtesy Fan Wang@flickr


It is a famous honeypot in mainland China as well as a shelter for animals and plants. It contains about 1000 species of flora and 800 types of fauna.

Mount Sanqingshan National Park was added to the World Heritage List as a cultural site during the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in Quebec of Canada.

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Chocolate Hills of Phillippines

Posted on 30 April 2012 by RE Team

The Bohol Province of Phillipines is home a true natural wonder, popularly known as Chocolate Hills. The name may sound delicious, but this name is given due to the unique color and shape of the hills found in the region.

Nature's Wonder - Chocolate Hills of Philippines

Chocolate Hills are groups hills spread across an area of around 50 square kilometer. These are perfectly shaped domes of short height, the highest being around 400 feet and the average is at 160 feet. It is hard to believe that these are natural structures but not man made landscape. The hills are beautifully covered with green grass during the rainy season and during dry season the grass get a brown color. These brown color hills look like cookies of chocolate and hence the name.

There is no unanimous geological explanation on these wonderful hills. The most widely accepted theory explains these conical karst hills as formations created ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion. A recent theory explains that an ancient sub-oceanic volcano self-destructed and chunks of it were dispersed over the region.

The vegetation of the Chocolate Hills are is unique, covered with various hard grass species, ferns and compositae. It is also home to the unique primate species Tarsier. Unfortunately the flora and fauna of the Chocolate Hills are recently threatened by local querying.

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The Rarest Palm Tree Survives

Posted on 30 April 2012 by RE Team

In 1919, Scotish Botanist William Roxburgh, who is considered as the father of Indian botany, discovered a very rare palm tree endemic to the Bengal region of India. The palm tree grows around 40 feet tall and the most interesting fact is that is seeds only once in it’s lifetime. It flowers only at around the age of 80 and after seeding it dies. Roxburgh idetified this species as very rare as very few instances of this tree was found in wild. It was also found that the flower structure is extraordinarilly large when it flowers. The palm tree was scientifically named as “Corypha Taliera“. Locally it is known as Tali Palm in the bengal region.

The Talipalm is solitary in nature, gorws moderately but becomes massive in size. It gorws till 80 years without producing a flower. At the end of it’s life, the flowers grow at the top of this tree and the leaves below it slowly dries out. Finally the trunk with millions of golf-ball sized seeds lives on for sometime. The seeds rains down for months producing thousands of saplings. With further studies it revealed this palm tree is really extra-ordinary. It currently hold two records in world’s botanical world. It holds the record of the largest flower structure in the world along with another palm species “Corypha umbraculifera”. The other record is of the largest palmate leaf which is 6 m. (20 ft.) wide.

The Largest Flower Structure in the world on the top of the Last Tali Palm in Wild

Due to the Tali Palm’s (Corypha taliera) rare nature, it was not known the local people of Bengal much. In 1979, a Tali Palm tree , located in a village in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, had begun flowering. The locals fearing that it was a ‘ghost palm tree’ due to its horn-like flowers. Botanist Shamal Kumar Basu came to know about its existence and tried to motivate local people but failed. Local fearful people chopped it down before the flower could set seed. It was the last known wild specimen of the Palm tree reported in last 30 years. Fortunately, there are some specimens of the tree preserved in the Howrah botanic garden in India.

Shamal Kumar Basu visited Bangladesh in 2001, when he saw the Tali Palm tree in the Dhaka University campus. This tree was identified as of the genus “Corypha” in 1950 by Professor Md. Salar Khan from the Department of Botany,Dhaka University. At that time he failed identify the exact species of the plant but realized it to be a rare species. There were construction going on the University campus, so Khan appealed to the higher autority to take special steps to preserve this tree and not to cut down. Since then the tree was preserved well in the Vice-Chancellor residential quarter. When Botanists visited the campus, he immediately identified it as “Corypha Taliera”. This Tali Palm in the campus became legend as it was the only naturally grown Tali Palm tree known in the world.

The last naturally Grown Tali Palm(Corypha taliera) In Dhaka

In 2010 January, the Tali Palm in the Dhaka University finally flowered and dried out naturally. Some of the seeds were preserved and let others plant naturally. Thousands of tali palm sapling grew naturally under the mother tree and around 500 grown artificially. The effort by various organizations to save this rarest Plam tree brought fruits. Now the saplings are planted in various locations and maintained properly. Some of the seeds from the mother tree were also put on research to find any medicinal value of it. The primary results are exciting as it can be used for the treatment of can be used in curing diseases like typhoid and diarrhoea. It also may be used as anti-ageing but needs to be confirmed yet.

The “IUCN Red List” has listed “Corypha Taliera” as “Extinct from Wild”. But the botanists in Bangladesh and in India are doing good to preserve the saplings. Currently there a number of grown Tali Palm in the Howrah Botanical Garden of India and we will have to wait till these tress become around 80 years old to flower.

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Nature Lovers’ Calendar for 2012

Posted on 29 April 2012 by RE Team

Do you love nature and want to do something for it? Then it’s time to mark your calendar for the rest of  2012 and pay tribute to Nature on this days.


The Beauty of our planet is in our hands


  • April 22 : Earth Day

One of the largest celebrated Environment event on Earth. It was initiated by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 in Philadelphia. This day falls in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. It is now celebrated in 175 countries across the globe.

  • May 3 : International Migratory Bird Day:

Started in 1993, International Migratory Bird Day aims on the conservation of birds. Currently observed in more than 500 sites mostly in western hemisphere, the event has been able to attract millions of youths to adults. Want  to pay tribute to the beautiful birds around your home on this day?

  • May 18 : Bike- to- work Day :

Celebrated in the spring of Northern hemisphere, this annual event promotes the eco-friendly and pollution free commute, bicycling.  Don’t forget to take your bicycle out to office on this day.

  • May 22 : International Day for Biological Diversity (World Biodiversity Day)

Observed on 22nd of May every year. It was first observed on 1993. During the period from 1993 to 2000, WBD also known as “International Day for Biological Diversity”, was observed on 29 December. This day is organized by United Nations for the promotion of biodiversity issues. This year it will be a salute to the wonderful marine biodiversity.

  • June 5 : Environment Day

Observered on 5th of June every year, World Environment Day is one of the most widely celebrated eco-event on Earth. This day is in summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. It was the day on which United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began in 1972. World Environmental Day stimulates awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and public action and organized by United Nations.

  • July 9 : International Tiger Day:

A day to save to last remaining tigers in the world. The King of the Jungle now require so much attention from the humans. Saving tigers mean saving the eco-system, so don’t forget this day!

  • September 21 : Zero Emission Day:

Declare a holiday from fossil fuels on 21st September, in the fifth annual celebration of ZeDay. We have done enough poisonous emission to our mother earth, lets give her a break for a day!

  • September 30 : World Rivers Day:

Celebrated on last Sunday of September since 2005. A tribute to the lifeline of human society and wildlife.

  • December 11 : International Mountain Day:

First designated by United Nations in 2003, the International Mountain Day focuses on the sustainable living in the mountain regions of the world. It’s important to preserve the culture and eco-system of the mountain region which are hit by climatic changes the most.

These are a few tribute to the grandest creations of beautiful Nature. If we really want the save Nature, we need to consider every day as an event to think about nature that surrounds us.

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Posted on 29 April 2012 by RE Team

The largest of all the “big cats” in the jungle, the Tiger has been the symbol of power and strength in the human civilization across the planet. But the KING of the jungle is facing severe threat from human and in the verse of extinction.
The Scientific Name: Panthera Tigris

Where is it found?

Once widely spread across Asia, the Tiger has shrunk in size dangerously in recent times. Its estimated as only 7% of the former population is now surviving in the wild.
Once the tiger ranged from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to Siberia and Indonesia. During the 19th century, these cats completely vanished from western Asia, and became restricted to isolated pockets in the remaining parts of their range. Today, their range is fragmented, and extends from India in the west to China and Southeast Asia in the east. The northern limit is close to the Amur River in south eastern Siberia. The only large island inhabited by tigers today is Sumatra. Tigers vanished from Java and Bali during the 20th century, and in Borneo are known only from fossil remains.

How does it live?

Tigers are essentially solitary and territorial animals. The size of a tiger’s home range mainly depends on prey abundance, and, in the case of male tigers, on access to females. A tigress may have a territory of 20 square kilometers while the territories of males are much larger, covering 60–100 km2. The ranges of males tend to overlap those of several females.
In the wild, tigers mostly feed on larger and medium sized animals. Sambar, gaur, chital, barasingha, wild boar, nilgai and both water buffalo and domestic buffalo are the tiger’s favoured prey in India. Sometimes, they also prey on leopards, pythons, sloth bears and crocodiles. In Siberia the main prey species are manchurian wapiti, wild boar, sika deer, moose, roe deer, and musk deer.

Mating can occur all year round, but is generally more common between November and April. A female is only receptive for a few days and mating is frequent during that time period. A pair will copulate frequently and noisily, like other cats. The gestation period is 16 weeks. The litter size usually consists of around 3–4 cubs of about 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) each, which are born blind and helpless. The females rear them alone, sheltering them in dens such as thickets and rocky crevices. The father of the cubs generally takes no part in rearing them.

How does it look?

The size of the tiger varies from subspecies to subspecies. Siberian Tiger that is supposed to be the largest among all the subspecies, can grow 3.5 meter in length and more than 300 KG in weight. The males normally weigh 1.5 times more than the females. Similar to the size, the color alo depends upon the subspecies. Typically they have rusty-reddish to brown-rusty coats, a whitish medial and ventral area, a white \”fringe\” that surrounds the face, and stripes that vary from brown or gray to pure black. The form and density of stripes differs among subspecies.

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Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

Posted on 29 April 2012 by RE Team

Kashmir Stag. also popularly known as Hangul, is the only surviving sub-species of the Red Deer family in Europe in Indian Subcontinent. Once found in high altitude regions of Northern India and Pakistan, the Kashmir Stag is now confined to only Dachigam National Park in Kashmir. It has been considered as one of rarest mammal int he subcontinent since 1950s.

The Scientific Name: Cervus elaphus hanglu

Where is it found?

Hangul or the Kashmir Stag was once available in large number in the Kashmir valley across present day India and Pakistan. The initial surveys done in before 1950s revealed the Hangul population to be more than 5000. But a shocking survey published by E. P. Gee in 1957 revealed that only 400 specimens of the Kashmir Stag is surviving in the region. The species immediately got attention and considered as one of the rarest mammal in Indian subcontinent. Despite various efforts, the Hangul population still stands at alarming 220 according to 2011 survey. The current political imbalance of Kashmir, overgrazing of cattle into Hangul’s territory, loss of habitat are attributed for the Endangered status of the animal. It is currently confined to only Dachigam National Park located on foothills of Zabarwan range of Kashmir.

The Hangul prefers dense riverine forests, high valleys, and mountains of the Kashmir valley as their habitat. Dachigam National Park has been serving refuge for last 50 years now. Their territory is very limited now, no new territory available to expand.

How does it live?

Hangul is a social animal and found in group of 2 to 18. Their society is matriarchal. The rutting season for the Hangul is in autumn, from mid September to mid October. They come down to the Lower Dachigam region during this time and stay there for the winter season and till the calves are born. The arrival of the rutting season is heralded by the loud roar of the male stag in challenge to any other stag and establishment of its territory with its harem of hinds. These stags desert the hinds at the end of the rutting season and the calves are born in Spring, late May or early June. The calves reach maturity at the age of three years. The herd migrates to the higher Dachigam region with the coming summer season. The main diet for Kashmir stag consists of leaves, twigs and grasses. The deer can live upto 15-18 years.

How does it look?

The Kashmir Stag is a very handsome member of the Red deer species. It has a light rump patch without including the tail. Hanguls coat color is brown with a speckling to the hairs. The inner sides of the buttocks are grayish white, followed by a line on the inner sides of the thighs and black on the upper side of the tail. Each antler consists of five tines. The beam is strongly curved inward, while the brow and bez tines are usually close together and above the burr.

The Hangul can grow upto 120-140 cm in height to the shoulder and weigh upto 150-180 kg (330-400 lb).

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Iberian Lynx

Posted on 29 April 2012 by RE Team

The Scientific Name: Lynx pardinus

Where is it found?

This Iiberian lynx was distributed over the entire Iberian Peninsula as recently as the mid nineteenth century. It was found throughout Spain and Portugal and likely in the French Pyrenees. Numbers declined in the first half of the 20th century due to the decline of goat-herding (which helped maintain habitat for rabbit, the main food source of the Iberian lynx) and its replacement by grain cultivation. The decline accelerated in the 1950s because myxomatosis, a disease which decimated rabbit populations, spread into Spain from France, where it was introduced in 1952.

What is the population?

In 1970s, the estimated population was just couple of thousands found in isolated pockets of southern Iiberian Penninsula. By 2002, the population reduced to just 300. Despite efforts the population kept on reducing and in 2007 the figure stood at just around 100 in the wild. But after rigorous efforts by conservationists the population is slightly up now at around 200. It is now restricted to very small areas, with breeding only confirmed in two areas of Andalucía, southern Spain. The decline of the Iberian lynx in the second half of this century has been mainly due to the decline of its main prey, the rabbit , hunting and loss of the lynx’s habitat. The hunting is made illegal now. But its critical status now is mainly due to habitat loss, poisoning, road casualties, feral dogs and poaching.

How does it live?

The Iiberian Lynx is predominantly nocturnal and is an excellent tree climber. It uses a variety of locations for breeding lairs, even including old stork nests as much as 9 – 12 m above the ground. The typical gestation period is about two months; the cubs are born between March and September, with a peak of births in March and April. A litter consists of two or three kittens weighing between 200 to 250 grams. Home ranges of males and females generally do not overlap other ranges of the same sex. Male ranges overlap one or more female ranges.

Iiberian Lynx hunts mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians at twilight, but the European rabbit is its main prey. A male requires one rabbit per day; a female bringing up cubs will eat three rabbits per day.

How does it look?

The Iiberian Lynx is a small wild cat, smaller than its relatives in the northern part of Europe, Eurasian Lynx. It weighs 9 – 13 kg (20 – 30 lb) , male being heavier and larger than the female. The head and body length is 85 to 110 centimetres (33 to 43 in), with the short tail an additional 12 to 30 centimetres (4.7 to 12 in). It has very distinctive Leopard like marks with a light grey or light brownish-yellow coat.

Conservation Efforts

Iberian Lynx has got very good attention from both government and other wildlife organizations over the past decades. In 1970, the hunting of Iberian Lynx was made illegal. Lynx became legally protected in 1973 in Spain and 1974 in Portugal. In 1996, IUCN identified Iberian Lynx as the most endangered among all the wild cat species in the world. In 2002, IUCN Cat Specialist Group initiated the first International Conference on the Conservation of the Iberian Lynx in Andujar, Spain. This brought a huge change to the conservation efforts of the species. In 2004, the Cat Specialist Group co-organized the second conference in Córdoba, Spain, in partnership with the Government of Andalusia and the WorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF). WWF has also contributed to Iberian lynx conservation through the creation and sponsorship of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE). SOS Lynx is another organization that helps raising public awareness and education regarding protection of the Iberian Lynx. In the recent years, the LIFE-Lince project has been concentrating on minimizing both threats and the limiting factors in the Iberian lynx conservation. The project has been also working on the reintroduction of captive individuals into wild to strengthen wild population.

Captive breeding is another hope for the survival of the Iberian Lynx. The captive breeding program failed for initial few years, but on March 29, 2005, A Lynx named Saliega bred successfully in captivity, giving birth to three healthy kittens at the El Acebuche Breeding Center, Spain. Over these years, the Iberian Lynx captive breeding centers in Spain have created a captive breeding population of around 100 individuals, spread across three facilities. In 2009, an additional center was opened in Silves, Portugal too. In March, 2012, seven Iberian Lynx cubs were born to two adult females at this Iberian Lynx reproduction center. These are very encouraging news for the survival of the species. All these captive reproduction centers aim to reintroduce captive individuals into wild to reinforce the wild population. The first reintroductions of Iberian Lynx into a new area were carried out in December 2009 with six individuals. Though this reintroduction was not very successful as the individuals didn’t survive for more than a years in the wild, yet continued efforts have been made to reintroduce into wild. In first half of 2012, 15 individuals have been released into the wild.

A documentary on Iberian Lynx by National Geographic – Spain’s Last Lynx

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Mekong Giant Catfish

Posted on 29 April 2012 by RE Team

Mekong Giant Catfish, also known as Thailand Giant Catfish, is the largest fresh water catfish in the world. Once abundant in the grand Mekong river, the giant catfish population has reduced drastically in last few decades. Now this species is considered as Critically Endangered.

Where is it found?

Mekong giant catfish is endemic to the middle and lower basin region of Mekong. Originally the fish had a natural range that reached from the lower Mekong in Vietnam all the way to the northern reaches of the river in the Yunnan province of China, spanning almost the entire 4,800 km length of the river. Due to threats, this species no longer inhabits the majority of its original habitat; it is now believed to only exist are small, isolated populations in the middle Mekong region. It is a migratory species and can only thrive in fresh water. Each year from October to December, this fish moves out of the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia into the mainstream of the Mekong River. From there, it is believed to migrate upstream into northeastern Cambodia and possibly Laos, or Thailand to spawn. The Mekong giant catfish can also be seen occasionally in the Chao Phaya River. When feeding fish at the Bangkok temples along the river, the fish will be seen at times.

The quality of the water in the Mekong basin has been reduced due to development and upstream damming by China. Fishing has been banned in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia but the ban has helped little.But in Thailand it is allowed fishing for private stocks of Mekong giant catfish. This helps save the species as lakes purchase the small fry from the government breeding program, generating extra income that allows the breeding program to function.

How does it live?

Presently research projects are ongoing, but relatively little is known about the Mekong Giant Catfish. The infant catfish feeds on zoo plankton in the river and is known to be cannibalistic too. After reaching one year of age, the fish becomes herbivorous, feeding on filamentous algae, probably ingesting larvae and periphyton. The fish likely obtains its food from algae growing on submerged rocky surfaces, as it does not have any sort of dentition. Very little is known about its reproductive behavior. Fish congregate during the beginning of the rainy season and migrate upstream to spawn.

How does it look?

The Mekong Giant Catfish is the largest fresh water fish in the world. Adults can reach over 9.8 feet in length and can weigh over 300 kg(650 lb). The species also has one of the fastest growth rates of any fish in the world and can reach up to 200kg by its sixth year. The skin of the giant catfish is gray to white in color with no stripes, and this fish is distinguished from other large catfish in the Mekong by its lack of teeth and the almost complete absence of barbels.
The largest ever recorded Giant catifish caught in Mekong is nearly nine feet long (2.7 meters) and 293 kg (646 lb). This was caught in 2005 by a team of fisherman in Northern Thailand.

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Red Panda

Posted on 29 April 2012 by RE Team

Red Panda is a very rare arboreal mammal found only in China and India. Its much smaller than the black-and-white giant Panda which is popular and known to the world.

The Scientific Name: Ailurus fulgens

Where is it found?

There are two subspecies of Red Panda. One subspecies is found only in China, while the other subspecies found in both China and India. They live in high altitude, so found in the sub Himalayan having an altitude of 1500 to 4000 meters.

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