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07 November 2006 @ 07:29 pm
Camouflage  
The tropical jungles are full of deceit: Prey hiding from predators, predators hiding for prey. While camouflage plays an important role for survival, so does aposematism in some cases. One question that I've never really found a good answer to is the camouflage capabilities of an elephant. The big bulls have no natural enemies and the others live in family groups. Their food is sedentary. They don't need to hide from anyone and yet, they blend so well in the jungles. Here's an example:








It was a massive tusker indeed. One of the largest I've seen. In a flash, he was completely invisible - travelling quickly through thick forest. We only heard him moving effortlessly, breaking twigs and branches that grew in his path.






 
 
 
depontideponti on November 7th, 2006 02:53 pm (UTC)
What a co-incidence, I posted about camouflage today too! Lovely pics, and it is difficult to realize how such massive creatures can hide themselves, unless one sees for oneself in the jungle.
Prasanna Vprasannav on November 7th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
"The tropical jungles are full of deceit:"
Very true...i mistook the first one to be a hippo :D
Praveen Garlapatipraveenkumarg on November 7th, 2006 04:01 pm (UTC)
close... :P
Praveen Garlapatipraveenkumarg on November 7th, 2006 04:01 pm (UTC)
Yay for the mighty creature :)

The big bulls have no natural enemies
The others are more frightening !
(Anonymous) on November 7th, 2006 04:07 pm (UTC)
About aposematism
Hey,

i always had this query about aposematism. It can be an evolutionary trait, which a species developes to warn its predators. And there are, invariably, mimic species (other species / sub-species which closely resemble the original) to the aposematic species. I have never understood how the mimic species evolved. Do you have any idea about this?

~Anirudh
Yathinyathin on November 8th, 2006 05:20 am (UTC)
Re: About aposematism
> Do you have any idea about this?

Nopes.
bipinbipin on November 8th, 2006 06:13 am (UTC)
Re: About aposematism
I'm not an expert here, but I could imagine a way how it could. Let's say that yellow stripes on a model organism warned its predators to stay away from it.
A mutant in another species (the mimic) could start off having stripes, which might give it a slight advantage over the others in the same species. Slowly then, the change to yellow stripes could also be accumulated, completing the trick.

You might want to look up 'Batesian mimicry' somewhere. I found this on the subject interesting too.
Yathinyathin on November 8th, 2006 06:47 am (UTC)
Re: About aposematism
While we tend to relate colors to Aposematism, there are several physical changes which an animal can go through and color alone may not help, for the mimic should look at least superficially similar to the mimicked. For example, the young of many species of Praying Mantis mimick ants in structure and color since ants are known terrors of the undergrowth and predators stay away from them. In another weirder case, there are species of ant-eating spiders which look like ants and live with the ants (for protection) and feed on them. And coming to think of it, some plants grow moth/butterfly egg like things on their leaves to keep away butterflies and moths from laying eggs on them. This is a very interesting subject to dive into, but not easy to get answers all the time.
t3rmin4t0r on November 7th, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC)
An assumption ...
You do make an important assumption that bull elephants have never had any predators in their evolutionary past. They might have needed to hide from the big cats (no, not any alive today) in the past and might have evolved such superb camouflage.

Evolution is a very real force. The occurances of mozha (congentially tusk-less males) elephants have also started to increase after the ivory poaching reached its peak in the last century.

Of course, what you probably cannot capture on camera is the absolute silence with which these creatures move. A group of 3-5 elephants can move through forest paths with less noise than a single human.
Yathinyathin on November 7th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC)
Re: An assumption ...
> You do make an important assumption that bull elephants have...

Nopes. Elephants evolved from much smaller creatures and they were predator targets for sure. However, evolution into larger (and safer) creatures mean they can lose some of their camouflage/defense skills - somewhat like flightless birds in remote islands! But elephants have kept on the camouflage colors but evolved to have bigger brains/noses/teeth... Maybe it's because they don't attach too much importance to their skin color and that remained unchanged. ;)


> The occurances of mozha...

It's called Makhna in these parts. So, when there are no tuskers left - the tuskless males take over. Sri Lanka and Kerala are well known examples for this - but I can't call it real evolution since female elephants are not choosing tuskless males - but they are just accepting what's left from man's destruction.


> ... can move through forest paths with less noise than a single human.

Yep. I've seen that several times and that's mostly when they are aware of some danger and want to go away or want to investigate something. However, most elephants are noisy otherwise while feeding and making through the thick forests.
justbecos on November 9th, 2006 07:01 am (UTC)
Re: An assumption ...
"so, when there are no tuskers left - the tuskless males take over. Sri Lanka and Kerala are well known examples for this - but I can't call it real evolution since female elephants are not choosing tuskless males - but they are just accepting what's left from man's destruction."

You would call it adaptation if a hypothetical new predator has a preference for tuskers and killed all the tuskers, leading to non-tuskers taking over, right?

And how is it any different if man does it? I'd call it adaptation(behavioural evolution too)
Yathinyathin on November 9th, 2006 08:00 am (UTC)
Re: An assumption ...
> And how is it any different if man does it?

Not too different and that's why I said "I can't call it *real* evolution" because for me man-made things are not natural. Also, it does not mean that calfs born of tuskless males will always be tuskless and calfs born from tuskers will go on and have tusks - so how can it be called "evolution." Besides, hyphothetically, tuskers can move in from the northern parts of Kerala to the central/southern parts to fill up the void anytime.
(Anonymous) on November 9th, 2006 01:00 pm (UTC)
Re: An assumption ...
or maybe they needed that skin color for protection from the sun? and maybe they can't help being quiet becoz of their padded feet. looking at it from another angle, they are not bothered about startling any animal, somewhat like predators (who do it deliberately).

Madhu (from JLRNTP-1 yahoo group)
Ed Bookedbook on November 7th, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC)
beautiful catch... compared to my squirrel images... on my recent three weeks in the mountains, the only 'big' animals I saw were at a gas station in a little town... I was pumping gas and heard something behind me-turned to see a cow elk and her friends standing beside my van... cool... they knew where they'd be safe (it's elk hunting season right now)


Peace
Yathinyathin on November 8th, 2006 05:13 am (UTC)
Thanks. I've been following those wonderful squirrel images.


> they knew where they'd be safe

It is very interesting about that particular behaviour of animals. In India, in one of my favourite forests - Bandipur - thousands of spotted deer gather at dusk around a bunch of houses inside the forest where people live. They know that predators like Tiger, Leopard and Wild dogs, most of which usually hunt at night, don't like to come near human areas. :)
ajatajat on November 8th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)
Wow ! Big boy there ! He's missing one tusk, innit ? Feels like a loner, though. The kunki mature males seem to like human company ...
Yathinyathin on November 8th, 2006 05:15 am (UTC)
> He's missing one tusk, innit ?

Yep. Must have lost it in one his many battles.

Amoghavarshaamoghavarsha on November 8th, 2006 08:03 am (UTC)
Your pic looks highly saturated. Probably your monitor profile is wrong.
Yathinyathin on November 8th, 2006 08:06 am (UTC)
Yep. The laptop display is not properly calibrated.
velvetinkvelvetink on November 10th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
Awesome creatures - we don't have anything that big in Australia (except in zoo's) and I pity the poor Thai elephants that just arrived here....

I've added you if that's ok. Your photography is beautiful. :)
Yathinyathin on November 10th, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
> I pity the poor Thai elephants that just arrived here....

They'll probably be better off in Australia than in Thailand. I've seen sad documentaries where elephants are made to beg on the streets of Bangkok illegally and not even being fed properly by their (very) poor owners. In south east asia working elephants lead miserable lives - overworked, underfed, abuse. Zoos are a much much better place.

velvetinkvelvetink on November 10th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
Oh yes I do agree, and they will be fed well here but the space they are in
is quite small.....http://www.zoo.nsw.gov.au/
Yathinyathin on November 10th, 2006 04:33 pm (UTC)
The enclosure looks bigger than what I've seen in the Indian zoos! But yeah, it's sad that a free roaming animal has to be put in an enclosure.
Yathinyathin on November 10th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
> I've added you if that's ok

Added you back as well
velvetinkvelvetink on November 10th, 2006 03:59 pm (UTC)
:) thanks.
(Anonymous) on August 15th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
Awesome photos.

I'm planning to visit wither Kabini or BRT in November for 2 days. In you
opinion where will I have a better chance of seeing more wildlife ?

I'll probably have to stay with either the Jungle Lodge in Kabini or in BRT.

Your inputs will be helpful. BTW, u should consider publishing a wildlife book with such photos and some info of accommodations, directions, history and wildlife and it be awesome. Atleast I'll buy your book.

Thanks
Sunil.
Yathinyathin on August 16th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
> In you opinion where will I have a better chance of seeing more wildlife ?


It really depends on what you want to see. Your sightings will definitely be better in Kabini because the forest is more open, flat and you have exapansive views in the backwaters. BRT is much more dense, hilly and sightings could be difficult since it's easy for animals and birds to stay in cover - but BRT would give you a lot more feel of the jungle. But if you are going for just two days, Kabini will perhaps be a lot more fruitful in terms of sightings I guess.