Let's travel to meet the The Jungle Book animals in real, from the brave Bagheera to the conniving Kaa!
There could be no one who haven't heard about 'The Jungle Book ' or the vibrant and endearing mancub, Mowgli. 'The Jungle book', a collection of stories written by the English author Rudyard Kipling has made our childhood amazing. Is there anyone who hasn't dreamt of being in amity with Baloo, Akela and Bagheera ? Haven't you pictured yourselves tossing in the forest with those creepers and climbers in childhood? Well, we all owe our childhood to Rudyard Kipling who made these stories and characters
Rudyard Kipling set the story of Mowgli in the jungles of India, the Kanha National Forests in Madhya Pradesh to be more precise. The lush Sal and Bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Kipling who was born in India.The Jungle Book remains as a favourite for children since generations and it's pretty much sure that it would maintain it's echelon in the future as well.
All of Kipling's characters in the book are a mixture of imaginary types and real animals. Let's have a look at the real life counterparts of those characters and where we could possibly find them in India!
Bagheera, the Black Panther
"Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody dared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than dawn."
- Rudyard Kipling , The Jungle Book
A Black Panther
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A Black panther is a melanistic colour variant of any Panthera species. Their presence is reported mainly in the densely forested areas of South India, mostly from the state of Karnataka. Known as the ghost of forest , they are found in dense tropical rain forests of Karnataka , Kerala and Assam.
Most famous Wildlife Sanctuaries to spot Black panther in India : Anshi-Dandeli Tiger Reserve and Kabini wildlife sanctuary. They were also spotted in Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, Kaziranga and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary ,Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary and Assam.
Baloo, the Sloth Bear
A Sloth Bear
Who can forget Kipling's "sleepy brown bear"? The true identity of Baloo is a bit of an enigma. Though there are contradictions regarding his tastes with that of a sloth bear, most scholars agree that Baloo is one.
Sloth bear is a nocturnal insectivorous bear species native to the Indian subcontinent. Unlike brown and black bears, sloth bears have lankier builds, long, shaggy coats that form a mane around the face, long, sickle-shaped claws, and a specially adapted lower lip and palate used for sucking insects. Unlike Baloo, who is bubbly and friendly, sloth bears sometimes attack humans who encroach on their territories. The species is listed as vulnerable by the Internnational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and poaching.
Where they are spotted : Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary in Karnataka , Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary in Gujarath and Agra Bear Rescue Facility. Sloth bear densities are greatest in protected areas and areas with dense or deciduous forest cover. While the animals also occupy barren areas and scrub-lands, cultivated landscapes seem to repel sloth bears.
Shere Khan , The Royal Bengal Tiger
A Bengal Tiger
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The very thought of Shere Khan used to send chills down our spine. Only the imposing look of The Bengal Tiger could match the pride and arrogance in Shere Khan's character. Mowgli's jungle foe, Shere Khan is the most imperilled of Kipling's characters.
The Bengal tiger is the most numerous tiger subspecies. Classified as endangered by the IUCN, India is home to nearly half of the remaining tiger population in the world. Over the past century tiger numbers have fallen drastically, with a decreasing population trend. Habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching are serious threats to the species' survival. The global campaign by World Wildlife Fund for Nature - partnered with Leonardo Dicaprio and Project Tiger launched by Indian govt. are all trying to reverse this despairing state.
Where they are found: Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Ranthambore National Park in Jaipur, Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh , Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand , Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh
Akela and Raksha, The Indian Wolves
Akela, the great grey Lone Wolf, who led all the Pack by strength and cunning, lay out at full length on his rock, and below him sat forty or more wolves of every size and colour.
- Rudyard Kipling, Jungle Book
PC: Katerine Hlavata
Mowgli's adoptive canine parents are Indian wolves, Akela and Raksha. Kipling calls Akela 'The lone wolf'. The leader of a group of the famous Scouting Organisation, the Cubs, is called Akela after this character. The cubs usually chant in their pack meetings, "Akela, we will do our best".
The Indian wolf is a subspecies of grey wolf that ranges from Israel to Indian sub continent. Listed as 'least concern' by the IUCN wolves are doing all right in India. They live scattered across more rural areas of the country though they are not raising any human babies.
Where they are found: Wolves are mainly spotted in the states of Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Mayureswar Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra, Melukote Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka , Maidenahalli in Tumkur district of Karnataka , Keladevi Sanctuary to name a few.
Kaa, The Indian rock python
An Indian rock python
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The conspiring Kaa is an Indian rock python, a nonvenomous serpent that can grow up to 21 feet (6.4 meters) long. Kipling describes Kaa as an exceptionally long, yellowish Indian rock python. Despite his polite, unhurried demeanour, animals seem to have a fearful respect for Kaa.
They occurs in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, swamps, marshes, rocky foothills, woodlands, "open" jungle and river valleys.
Where they are found: They are found in most of the Indian mainland excluding North-east region after North-Bengal and Indian Islands. Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, Sunderbans Tiger Reserve in West Bengal, Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary in Telangana are a few sanctuaries where Indian rock python is spotted.
King Louie , A Gigantopithecus
The entry of King Louie to the Jungle Book series is through a Wild card. There was no such character in Kipling's book. Later Disney introduced King Louie as a vine swinging jazzy Orangutan . Since the Orangutans don't live in India, they made him a Gigantopithecus, a massive ape genus that once lived in forests throughout southern China, Southeast Asia, and India.
They are an extinct species and experts know little about what the creatures actually looked like, because they have only jaw bones and enamel teeth caps to go on. All we know is Gigantopithecus was pretty darn big.
Go, see and click pictures of all of them. And when you recite 'Jungle Book' for your kids in the future, don't forget to boast on how you met each one of them!