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CHAPTER VIII

BEASTS, BIRDS, FISHES, AND INSECTS

Fauna.— With the spread of cultivation and drainage the Pan jab plains have ceased to be to anything like the old extent the haunt of wild beasts and wild fowl. The lion has long been extinct and the tiger has practically disappeared. Leopards are to be found in low hills, and sometimes stray into the plains. Wolves are seen occasionally, and jackals are very common. The black buck (Antilope cerricapra) can still be shot in many places. The graceful little chinkdra or ravine deer (Gazella Bennetti) is found in sandy tracts, and the hogdeer or pdrha (Cervus porcinus) near rivers. The nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) is less common. Monkeys abound in the hills and in canal-irrigated tracts in the Eastern districts, where their sacred character protects them from destruction, though they do much damage to crops Peafowl are to be seen in certain tracts, especially in the eastern Panjab. They should not be shot where the people are Hindus or anywhere near a Hindu shrine. The great and lesser bustards and several kinds of sand grouse are to be found in sandy districts. The grey partridge is everywhere, and the black can be got near the rivers. The sisi and the chikor are the partridges of the hills, which are also the home of fine varieties of pheasants including the mondl. Quail frequent the ripening fields in April and late in September. Duck of various kinds abound where there are jhils, and snipe are to be got in marshy ground. The green parrots, crows, and vultures are familiar sights. Both the sharp-nosed (Garialis Gangetica, vern. gharidl) and the blunt-nosed (Crocodilus palustris, vern. magar) crocodiles haunt the rivers. The fish are tasteless; the rohu and mahseer are the best. Poisonous snakes are the karait, the cobra, and Russell's viper. The first is sometimes an intruder into houses. Lizards and mongooses are less unwelcome visitors. White ants attack timber and ruin books, and mosquitoes and sand-flies add to the unpleasant features of the hot weather. The best known insect pest is the locust, but visitations on a large scale are rare. Of late years much more damage has been done by an insect which harbours in the cotton bolls.

Game of the Mountains.—If sport in the plains has ceased to be first rate, it is otherwise in the hills. Some areas and the heights at which the game is to be found are noted below :

(a) Goats and goat-antelopes:
1. Ibex (Capra Sibirica) 10,000-14,000 ft. Kashmir, Lahul, Bashahr.
2. Markhor (Capra Falconeri). Kashmir, Astor, Gilgit, Suliman hills.
3. Thar (Hemitragus jemlaicus), 9000-14,000 ft. Kashmir, Chamba.
4. Gural (Cemas goral), 3000-8000 ft. Kashmir, Chamba, Simla hills, Bashahr.
5. Serow (Nemorhaedusbubalinus), 6000-12,000 ft. From Kashmir eastwards.
(b) Sheep:
1. Bharal (Ovis nahura), 10,000-12,000 ft. and over. Ladakh, Bashahr.
2. Argali (Ovis Ammon). Ladakh.
3. Urial (Ovis Vignei) Salt Range, Suliman hills.
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Fig. 24. Big game in Ladákh.
Key: 1, 3, 7, 9, Chiru or Tibetan Antelope. 2, Argalí or Ovis Ammon. 4, 6, 8, Bharal or Ovis nahura. 5, Yák or Bos grunniens. 10, 11, 12, Uriál or Ovis Vignei. 13, Bear skin.

(c) Antelopes:
1. Chiru or Tibetan Antelope (Pantholops hodgsoni). Ladákh.
(d) Oxen—Yák (Bos grunniens). Ladákh. The domesticated yák is invaluable as a beast of burden in the Trans-Himalayan tract The royal fly whisk or chaurí is made from pure white yák tails .
Provincial Geographies of India Volume 1 0113.jpg

Fig. 25. Yáks.

(e) Stag:
1. Bárasingha (Cervus Duvanceli). Foot of Himálaya in Kashmír.
(f) Bears:
1. Red or Brown (Ursus Arctos), 10,000-13,000 ft. Kashmír, Chamba, Bashahr, etc.

2. Black (Ursus torquatus), 6000-12,000 ft. Same regions, but at lower elevations. The small bear of the southern Suliman hills known as mam is now considered a variety of the black bear.
(g) Leopards:
1. Snow Leopard (Felis Uncia), 9000-15,000 ft. Kashmir, Chamba, Bashahr.
2. Ordinary Leopard (Felis Pardus). Lower hills.

Shooting in Hills

Shooting in Hills.—The finest shooting in the north-west Himalaya is probably to be got in Ladakh and Baltistan, but the trip is somewhat expensive and requires more time than may be available. In many areas licenses have to be obtained, and the conditions limit the number of certain animals, and the size of heads, that may be shot. For example, the permit in Chamba may allow the shooting of two red bear and two thar, and when these have been got the sportsman must turn his attention to black bear and gural. Any one contemplating a shooting expedition in the Himalaya should get from one who has the necessary experience very complete instructions as to weapons, tents, clothing, stores, etc.

Sport in the Plains

(a) Black Buck Shooting.—To get a good idea of what shooting in the plains is like Major Glasford's Rifle and Romance in the Indian Jungle may be consulted. As regards larger game the favourite sport is black buck shooting. A high velocity cordite rifle is dangerous to the country people, and some rifle firing black powder should be used. It is well to reach the home of the herd soon after sunrise while it is still in the open, and not among the crops. There will usually be one old buck in each herd. He himself is not watchful, but his does are, and the herd gallops off with great leaps at the first scent of danger, the does leading and their lord and master bringing up the rear. If by dint of careful and patient stalking you get to some point of vantage, say 100 yards from the big buck, it is worth while to shoot. Even if the bullet finds its mark the quarry may gallop 50 yards before it drops. Good heads vary from 20" to 24" or even more.

(b) Small game in Plains.— The cold weather shooting begins with the advent of the quail in the end of September and ends when they reappear among the ripening wheat in April. The duck arrive from the Central Asian lakes in November and duck and snipe shooting lasts till February in districts where there are jhils and swampy land. For a decent shot 30 couple of snipe is a fair bag. To get duck the jhil should be visited at dawn and again in the evening, and it is well to post several guns in favourable positions in the probable line of flight. 40 or 50 birds would be a good morning's bag. In drier tracts the bag will consist of partridges and a hare or two, or, if the country is sandy, some sand-grouse and perhaps a bustard.