asian animals

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Young baby jacanas are known as “downies” and are capable of walking and swimming as soon as they’ve hatched.  Their father will not feed them, instead guiding them to feed and demonstrating how to hunt and uncover prey.  He will also keep a close eye on them; shortly after hatching, the father will clear the eggshells out of the nest, possibly to deter predators, and will coo at and brood his new family.  If he cannot find one of his chicks, the father will call loudly to try and attract it, and if a predator is detected, he will scream to summon the chicks’ larger and more powerful mother.  He will guard and nurture his little family for 40 to 70 days.

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The sun bear’s powerful claws are built for tearing into termite mounds and rotten wood in search of grubs and insects to eat.  But this bear also has a sweet tooth; in Indonesian and Malay they’re also called “beruang madu”, literally meaning “honey bear”.  Sun bears are known to love honey, and will fearlessly tear open bee hives to get it.  They have an exceptionally long tongue, up to 25 centimetres in length, meant for lapping honey and grubs out of crevices and insect nests.

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The slow loris’ huge eyes and soft fur make it incredibly cute and appealing to humans, but these features also cause people to think the slow loris makes a tempting pet.  The exotic pet trade in slow lorises is now one of the biggest reasons behind their decline.  The little primates are popular pets in Indonesia, and are frequently smuggled out to Japan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Russia, and even as far as the US to be purchased by unwitting owners.  Many of these “pet” slow lorises have their teeth clipped or pulled in order to neutralise their toxic bites, which risks infection and death for the animal.  It is also difficult for the average person to replicate the loris’ complex diet, meaning that these “pet” lorises are often malnourished and/or obese.  They are also very prone to stress and shock, as well as sensitive to light.  And finally, as slow lorises do not breed well in captivity, almost all of the animals purchased as pets have been taken from the wild.  As many as 95% of these hapless animals will die of infection or improper care.

It should also be noticed that many “cute” behaviours displayed by “pet” slow lorises are actually misinterpretations by humans; the popular video of the slow loris raising its arms to be tickled, for example, most likely is actually a frightened loris displaying its venom glands as a form of defense, not a pet enjoying human attention.

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The word “jacana” comes from the Brazilian Portuguese name for the bird,  jaçanã, which in turn comes from the bird’s Tupi name, ñaha'nã.   Jacanas are also known as “lotusbirds” or “lilytrotters” in Asia, and “Jesus bird” in the Americas because it appears to walk on water.  In fact, the jacana is so light and its huge, widespread feet distribute its weight so evenly that it is able to walk on aquatic plants such as water-lilies and water hyacinth.

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Baby sun bears are born blind, hairless, and helpless, and are completely dependent on their mothers for their first three months.  Their mothers will carry them in their mouths or, unusually, by cradling them in their arms while they walk on their hind legs, a behaviour seen in no other bear species.  The cubs nurse from their mother for around 18 months, and will stay with her until they are two years old.  Females are ready to find a mate of their own by the time they are three, and males reach sexual maturity at around four.

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Like most bears, sun bears are generally solitary when not seeking a mate.  When in breeding condition, however, mating pairs seem quite affectionate with each other, with the two bears hugging, play-fighting, and nuzzling.  Little is known about mate selection or habits, especially since there is no set breeding season, but there are some researchers who believe the sun bear is monogamous.  Adult pairs, possibly mates, have been observed travelling with litters of cubs, which is extremely unusual for bears.  However, this has yet to be confirmed.

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Elephant - Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan elephant is one of 3 recognised sub-species of Asian Elephant. Since 1986 the Sri Lankan elephant has been listed as endangered. During the 1990′s, many elephants were killed by landmines that were left during the countries armed conflict. Today, the main cause of the decline in elephant numbers is due to an increasing human population, and the resulting expansion of infrastructure into previously un-occupied land. While the ivory trade is not a large industry in Sri Lanka, some trade still occurs. 

Sri Lanka has set up safety zones for elephants, by creating protected areas for elephants to live, and working with local communities to learn to live alongside the elephants. 

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Asian Golden Cat by gillianjack

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The sun bear, as was mentioned before, is the smallest species of bear in the world, but don’t let their small size fool you.  Sun bears are known for being exceptionally aggressive, and there are stories of them attacking humans without provocation.  With their powerful foreclaws, jaw muscles, and massive teeth, they are formidable animals, and are considered one of the Asian rainforest’s most dangerous animals.  This ferocity is not limited to humans, either; most male bears caught in the wild show bite marks and scars on their hides, clearly from vicious fights with other bears.

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The sun bear gets its name from the distinctive creamy-orange patch of fur on its chest, which is believed to resemble the setting or rising sun.  This patch can also be used to identify individual bears, as no two bears have exactly the same shape or colour patch.  Ironically, given their name, the sun bear is almost completely nocturnal, and in fact has very poor eyesight in the daytime, navigating primarily by scent.