We continue our trip looking for the Indian Rhinoceros. Now we are in the Light Forest, in which grass is able to grow on the ground. It is the perfect place for the ungulates, a paradise for deer.
We traveled to the border of India with Nepal, where began the legend of a creature able to attract people from around the world: The Indian Unicorn.
An incredible animal with a horn on its forehead, which can cure the ills of poor people who share ground with him.
We follow the traces of this myth built 20 centuries ago crossing a jungle inhabited by wild creatures among which stands out one, the unicorn and is now known as the Indian rhinoceros, a unique species with enormous power on his forehead.
The fact that certain species burn and others don’t, favours the growth of the so-called “secondary forest”, different from the original jungle, clearer and with more light, in which grass is able to grow on the ground. It is the perfect place for the ungulates, a paradise for deer, who here form herds, unlike their solitary relatives in the “primary forests”.
This is also home to a bird which, for three thousand years now, has been an aesthetic symbol for man. This is the land of the peacock, the place in which evolution created such a strange creature. It is the national bird of India, sacred for Hindus and Buddhists alike, the destroyer of snakes and, according to popular belief, capable of hypnotising them.
The characteristic territorial cry of the males warns rivals that this territory is occupied. Then, the suitor displays his feathers, one metre sixty centimetres long, in the hope of sufficiently impressing one of these visiting females that she will agree to be the mother of his eggs. The females prefer the males with most peacock eyes, and these continue to grow throughout their lifetime. So, the older the male, the larger his tail, and the more females he is able to attract.
The langurs, however, like the good primates they are, do have a long, close family life. The baby langurs spend a lot of time playing and learning from the adults the tricks of life up in the treetops.
On the ground or up in the highest branches, the little ones jump and wave their arms, developing their binocular vision which gives them extraordinary spatial balance. In their young brains, the neuronal connections are established which some day will save their lives when they have to flee from danger, swinging from branch to branch.
But the jungle floor is where the organic material collects, and the micro-organisms and invertebrates that feed on it. Simian societies can be just as complex as ours, but when it comes to organisation, none is as perfect as this one – the termites.
There are so many species of termite in these jungles that no one knows the precise number. Their fortresses are intelligent buildings, with their own air-conditioning. But this doesn’t prevent them from being constantly attacked.
These are sloth bears. Their characteristic thick, long lips are designed to literally suck up the termites from their holes. Their sight is poor, their smell worse, and they are renowned for their bad temper. They are among the strangest bears in the world, and local stories speak of them as fierce beasts.