Animals Are in Danger in India

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MAJESTIC Bengal tigers, wild dogs, sarus cranes, ancient turtles, and Asian elephants—these are just some of India’s animal species in danger of extinction. Consider the largest land mammal, the elephant. The elephant’s ivory tusks are very much in demand. Japan is one of the largest users of ivory, and there is similar demand in China, where ivory chopsticks are still popular. How has the demand for ivory had an especially adverse affect on the Asian elephant? Some time ago The Times of India explained: “Unlike African elephants, only males among the Asian pachyderms, and just a few of them, have tusks. So adult tuskers are the main targets. According to the official figures, about a hundred [males] are killed each year in India, leaving the male-female ratio skewed.” Such killings have threatened the very existence of this species. For a Compact Mass of Hair

Consider also the rhinoceros, the second-largest land mammal alive today. India and Nepal are the last areas of protection for the one-horned rhino. Yet, Pobitara Wildlife Sanctuary in the northeastern Indian state of Assam is only some 15 square miles [38 sq km] in size, a relatively small area to hold rhino. So the animals tend to wander into the agricultural lands nearby, where they may be shot or poisoned. Man has invented a clever way of felling a rhino. Above the Pobitara Sanctuary run two high-voltage cables. The poacher hooks a wire on these cables using a long bamboo pole, and the wire hangs down close to the ground. Wildlife biologist Vivek Menon explains what happened when a rhino came in contact with the wire: “As the massive bolt of electricity charged through its body, it wheezed twice and with an amazing hastiness crumpled . . . The huge beast lay on its side, dead in less than a second.” Sadly, the giant animal is killed for its relatively little horn, which weighs a mere two pounds! The enormous commercial value of the horn—a compact mass of hair much like human nails—has placed the rhino...
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