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POLITICAL DIVISIONS]
381
INDIA


(O. nahura), and the markhor and tahr (both wild goats), also inhabit the Himalayas. A variety of the ibex is also found there, as well as in the highest ranges of southern India. The sarau (Nemorhaedus bubalinus), allied to the chamois, has a wide range in the mountains of the north, from the Himalayas to Assam and Burma.

The antelope tribe is represented by comparatively few species, as compared with the great number peculiar to Africa. The antelope proper (Antilope), the “black buck” of sportsmen, is very generally distributed. Its special habitat is salt plains, Antelopes. as on the coast-line of Gujarat and Orissa, where herds of fifty does may be seen, accompanied by a single buck. The doe is of a light fawn colour and has no horns. The colour of the buck is a deep brown-black above, sharply marked off from the white of the belly. His spiral horns, twisted for three or four turns like a corkscrew, often reach the length of 30 in. The flesh is dry and unsavoury, but is permitted meat for Hindus, even of the Brahman caste. The nílgai, or blue cow (Boselaephus tragocamelus) is also widely distributed, but specially abounds in Hindustan Proper and Gujarat. As with the antelope, the male alone has the dark-blue colour. The nílgai is held peculiarly sacred by Hindus, from its fancied kinship to the cow, and on this account its destructive inroads upon the crops are tolerated. The four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis) and the gazelle (Gazella bennetti), the chinkara or “ravine deer” of sportsmen, are also found in India.

The king of the deer tribe is the sámbhar or jarau (Cervus unicolor), erroneously called “elk” by sportsmen. It is found on the forest-clad hills in all parts of the country. It is of a deep-brown Deer. colour, with hair on its neck almost like a mane; and it stands nearly 5 ft. high, with spreading antlers nearly 3 ft. in length. Next in size is the swamp deer or bara-singha, signifying “twelve points” (C. duvauceli), which is common in Lower Bengal and Assam. The chitál or spotted deer (C. axis) is generally admitted to be the most beautiful inhabitant of the Indian jungles. Other species include the hog deer (C. porcinus), the barking deer or muntjac (Cervulus muntjac), and the chevrotain or mouse deer (Tragulus meminna). The musk deer (Moschus moschiferus) is confined to Tibet.

The ox tribe is represented in India by some of its noblest species. The gaur (Bos gaurus), the “bison” of sportsmen, is found in all the hill jungles of the country, in the Western Ghats, in Central India, in Assam, and in Burma. This animal sometimes attains the Bison.height of 20 hands (close on 7 ft.), measuring from the hump above the shoulder. Its short curved horns and skull are enormously massive. Its colour is dark chestnut, or coffee-brown. From the difficult nature of its habitat, and from the ferocity with which it charges an enemy, the pursuit of the bison is no less dangerous and no less exciting than that of the tiger or the elephant. Akin to the gaur, though not identical, are the gayál or mithun (B. frontalis), confined to the hills of the north-east frontier, where it is domesticated for sacrificial purposes by the aboriginal tribes, and the tsine or banting (B. sondaicus), found in Burma. The wild buffalo (Bos bubalus) differs from the tame buffalo only in being larger Buffalo. and more fierce. The finest specimens come from Assam and Burma. The horns of the bull are thicker than those of the cow, but the horns of the cow are larger. A head has been known to measure 13 ft. 6 in. in circumference, and 6 ft. 6 in. between the tips. The greatest height is 6 ft. The colour is a slaty black; the hide is immensely thick, with scanty hairs. Alone perhaps of all wild animals in India, the buffalo will charge unprovoked. Even tame buffaloes seem to have an inveterate dislike to Europeans.

The rat and mouse family is only too numerous. Conspicuous in it is the loathsome bandicoot (Nesocia bandicota), which sometimes measures 2 ft. in length, including its tail, and weighs 3 ℔. It burrows under houses, and is very destructive to plants, fruit and even poultry. Rat tribe.More interesting is the tree mouse (Vandeleusia), about 7 in. long, which makes its nest in palms and bamboos. The field rats (Mus mettada) occasionally multiply so exceedingly as to diminish the out-turn of the local harvest, and to require special measures for their destruction.

Birds.—The ornithology of India, though it is not considered so rich in specimens of gorgeous and variegated plumage as that of other tropical regions, contains many splendid and curious varieties. Some are clothed in nature’s gay attire, Birds. others distinguished by strength, size and fierceness. The parrot tribe is the most remarkable for beauty. Among birds of prey, four vultures are found, including the common scavengers (Gyps indicus and G. bengalensis). The eagles comprise many species, but none to surpass the golden eagle of Europe. Of falcons, there are the peregrine (F. peregrinus), the shain (F. peregrinator), and the lagar (F. jugger), which are all trained by the natives for hawking; of hawks, the shikara (Astur badius), the goshawk (A. palumbarius), and the sparrow-hawk (Accipiter nisus). Kingfishers of various kinds and herons are sought for their plumage. No bird is more popular with natives than the maina (Acridotheres tristis), a member of the starling family, which lives contentedly in a cage, and can be taught to pronounce words, especially the name of the god Rama. Water-fowl are especially numerous. Of game-birds, the floriken (Sypheotis aurita) is valued as much for its rarity as for the delicacy of its flesh. Snipe (Gallinago coelestis) abound at certain seasons, in such numbers that one gun has been known to make a bag of one hundred brace in a day. Pigeons, partridges, quail, plover, duck, teal, sheldrake, widgeon—all of many varieties—complete the list of small game. The red jungle fowl (Gallus ferrugineus), supposed to be the ancestor of our own poultry, is not good eating; and the same may be said of the peacock (Pavo cristatus), except when young. The pheasant does not occur in India Proper, though a white variety is found in Burma.

Reptiles.—The serpent tribe in India is numerous; they swarm in all the gardens, and intrude into the dwellings of the inhabitants, especially in the rainy season. Most are comparatively harmless, but the bite of others is speedily fatal. The Reptiles. cobra di capello (Naia tripudians)—the name given to it by the Portuguese, from the appearance of a hood which it produces by the expanded skin about the neck—is the most dreaded. It seldom exceeds 3 or 4 ft. in length, and is about 11/4 in. thick, with a small head, covered on the forepart with large smooth scales; it is of a pale brown colour above, and the belly is of a bluish-white tinged with pale brown or yellow. The Russelian snake (Vipera russellii), about 4 ft. in length, is of a pale yellowish-brown, beautifully variegated with large oval spots of deep brown, with a white edging. Its bite is extremely fatal. Itinerant showmen carry about these serpents, and cause them to assume a dancing motion for the amusement of the spectators. They also give out that they render snakes harmless by the use of charms or music,—in reality it is by extracting the venomous fangs. But, judging from the frequent accidents which occur, they sometimes dispense with this precaution. All the salt-water snakes in India are poisonous, while the freshwater forms are wholly innocuous.

The other reptiles include two species of crocodile (C. porosus and C. palustris) and the ghariyal (Gavialis gangeticus). These are more ugly in appearance than destructive to human life. Scorpions also abound.

Fishes.—All the waters of India—the sea, the rivers and the tanks—swarm with a great variety of fishes, which are caught in every conceivable way, and furnish a considerable proportion of the food of the poorer classes. They are eaten fresh, or Fishes. as nearly fresh as may be, for the art of curing them is not generally practised, owing to the exigencies of the salt monopoly. In Burma the favourite relish of nga-pi is prepared from fish; and at Goalanda, at the junction of the Brahmaputra with the Ganges, and along the Madras coast many establishments exist for salting fish in bond. The indiscriminate slaughter of fry, and the obstacles opposed by irrigation dams to breeding fish, are said to be causing a sensible diminution in the supply in certain rivers. Measures of conservancy have been suggested, but their execution would be almost impracticable. Among Indian fishes, the Cyprinidae or carp family and the Siluridae or cat-fishes are best represented. From the angler’s point of view, by far the finest fish is the mahseer (Barbustor), found in all hill streams, whether in Assam, the Punjab or the South. One has been caught weighing 60 ℔, which gave play for more than seven hours. Though called the salmon of India, the mahseer is really a species of barbel. One of the richest and most delicious of Indian fishes is the hilsa (Clupea ilisha), which tastes and looks like a fat white salmon. But the enhanced price of fish and the decreased supply throughout the country are matters of grave concern both to the government and the people.

Insects.—The insect tribes in India may be truly said to be innumerable. The heat and the rains give incredible activity to noxious or troublesome insects, and to others of a more showy class, whose large wings surpass in brilliancy the most splendid colours of art. Mosquitoes are innumerable, and moths and ants of the most destructive kind, as well as others equally noxious and disagreeable. Amongst those which are useful are the bee, the silk-worm, and the insect that produces lac. Clouds of locusts occasionally appear, which leave no trace of green behind them, and give the country over which they pass the appearance of a desert. Their size is about that of a man’s finger, and their colour reddish. They are swept north by the wind till they strike upon the outer ranges of the Himalayas.

Political Divisions

India (including Burma) has a total area of 1,766,597 sq. m., and a population (1901) of 294,361,056. Of this total, 1,087,204 sq. m., with a population of 231,899,515, consists of British territory, administered directly by British officers; while the remaining 679,393 sq. m., with a population of 62,461,549, is divided up among various native states, all of which acknowledge the suzerainty of the paramount power, but are directly administered by semi-independent rulers, usually assisted by a British resident.

The British possessions are distributed into thirteen provinces of varying size, each with a separate head, but all under the supreme control of the governor-general in council. These thirteen provinces or local governments are British India. Ajmer-Merwara, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, British Baluchistan, Bengal, Bombay, Burma, Central Provinces