19. The District is indebted to the wide difference in
character which separates the Melghat
from the plains for its great variety of
wild animals, those of the forest and open country being alike met with. The commonest are described below, the vernacular names being those in use locally. In the case of Korku where two or more names are given the first is that supplied by Mr. H. E. Bartlett, the remainder have been taken from various old Korku vocabularies by Forsyth, Hislop and others, kindly lent by the Rev. A. Voss of the Korku mission. The local Urdu and Hindi are the same.
1. The Hanuman monkey or Bengal Langur, SemnopithecusvelPresbytesEntelus, Hindi langur,
Marathi vanar, Korku fulamsara, or sara. This sacred monkey of the Hindus is met with in all parts of the District in fairly large numbers, and causes considerable damage to crops and fruit trees.
On occasion the larger males have been known to attack villagers when in fear of bodily hurt or when scared away from fields or gardens.
2. The Bengal or red Monkey, MacacusRhesus, Hindi bandar,
Marathi makad, Korku dugi. Very common throughout the plains and on the Chikalda plateau of the Melghat. When caught and tamed it is a very intelligent pet, and beggars use it locally like the organ grinder's monkey in England as a performirg animal.
3. The Tiger, FellsTigris, Hindi bagh,sher,
Marathi wagh, Korku khatkula,kula and koda (?), is not found in the plains except as an occasional wanderer from the neighbouring highlands of Betul and Melghat. Cases are on record of its being shot in the Mehdari reserve and also at Salbardi. But in the Bairagarh and Gugumal reserves tigers are numerous. Shikar however is very difficult, for owing to the precipitous ravines and
hill sides beating is almost impossible, while game is so plentiful that tigers can with difficulty be induced to take tied up baits. They are great wanderers, seldom being found to haunt any particular locality for long; man-eating is rare, no case having been recorded for several years. Both these facts are probably to be attributed to the profusion of game just mentioned; water also can be found almost anywhere below the higher plateaux.
4. The Hunting Leopard, FelisJubata, is generally known in Hindi as chita and in Marathl chitla, though these words which mean spotted are frequently applied also to the Pard and Panther. Sterndale says that the chita catchers know it as yuz, calling the other kinds bibla. It differs from the ordinary Pard in being marked with single spots, not rosettes of black; is longer in the body and legs and of a thinner build; the claws only partially retractile; has a distinct ruff round the neck, and Sterndale says that the name Leopard originates from this, the animal being supposed to be a cross of lion and pard. It seems doubtful whether it is to be found in this District. The passes taken out by the Nizam's shikaris, to trap leopards for his Highness's pack, are valid for all Berar, though their operations for many years have been in practice confined to the taluks of the old Basim district. Probably, however, a few still exist in the north of the Province. The animal is of a very shy and inoffensive nature and his presence might go long undetected, or he might be mistaken for the ordinary pard.
5A. The Pard, FelisPardus, Hindi chitabagh or occasionally chita (the tiger being
Marathi tendwa; Korku sanikulasonora.
5B. The Panther,FelisPanthera, Hindi bhorbachcha,
Marathi bibat or biwat, Korku kairea. It is still a more or less disputed point whether these are separate species or merely larger and smaller varieties of the same breed. The most striking difference is one of size, the
biwat being comparatively a small animal; but the tendwa besides being larger is of a heavier and more powerful build, its skin is shorter-haired and the markings are larger and more distinct. Neither species shows very much fear of man; they will walk into villages and pick out their prey with complete unconcern. One was killed in the summer of 1908 almost in the Amraoti civil station, having lifted cattle from Wadali village; at Ghatang dogs have been carried off from the veranda of the dak bungalow and in Chikalda a panther has been seen asleep in the middle of the road in broad daylight. The Korkus tell stories of the animals coming into their huts and lying down by the fire. They are but rarely man-eaters though a pard in Chaurakund in the famine year 1898-99 took to this method of livelihood and killed some 20 or 30 people including full grown men before he was disposed of; in the same year one in Katkumbh accounted for several children. The Pardhis, a tribe of hunters, trap both species in snares made of antelope tendons, and beat them to death.
6. The Common Jungle Cat, FelisChaus, Hindi jungli
Marathi ranmanjar, Korku dongarmanjar is fairly common chiefly in grass land and scrub forest and lives upon small game. The true jungle cat has a fulvous coat, but owing to
village cats growing wild and inter-breeding, specimens of all colours are met with.
7. The Indian Lynx, FelisCaracal, Marathi jhuva or jhua, Hindi siagosh. Very rare and very shy.
8. The HyŠna, HyŠnaStriata, Hindi lakra, Marathi taras, Korku dhopre or tarsa, a cowardly beast but an excellent scavenger; has been known sometimes to carry off a dog or goat or even a small child; when it develops rabies, as it occasionally does, is particularly dangerous by reason of its enormously powerful jaws.
9. The Lesser Civet Cat, ViverravelViverriculaMalaccensis Hindi and
Marathi locally udbilao, which is strictly the name for the otter (Videinfra).Billi and manjar are words used indiscriminately of all small cat-like animals.
10. The Wolf, CanisPallipes, Hindi bheria, Marathi landgai,
Korku lendya, found in small packs of four upwards in the plain
11. The Jackal, CanisAureus,. Hindi siar, Marathi aolha, Korku
12. The Red Dog, CanisvelCuonRutilans, Hindi junglikutta,
Marathi rankutra, Korku dongarsita and bansita, though not found in the plain taluks is common in the hills. The jungle tribes are said to regard it as a useful friend, for when a pack has pulled down a sambhar or other large game, they beat off the dogs with sticks and appropriate the carcase. Hence even the high reward offered will not tempt them to kill it.
13. The Fox, VulpesBengalensis, Hindi lomri, Marathi khokad, Korku panmangha and kakri.
14. The Indian Sloth Bear, UrsusvelMelursusUrsinus, Hindi
Marathi aswal, Korku buna, is extremely common in the hill country and has a great reputation for stubborn combativeness, a reputation which he yearly upholds by causing the death of many who disturb him,
15. The Badger or Ratel, MellivoraIndica, Hindi bijju, Korku otebana, is found especially in the neighbourhood of Bairat in the Melghat.
16. The Wild Pig, SusScrofavelCristatus, Hindi suar, and among Muhammadans bura or badjanwar,
Marathi and Korku dukar also Korku shukadi,chukadi or sukdi, is common everywhere, and in old days before the troops were moved from Ellichpur, the local hunt obtained very good pigsticking.
17. The Common Indian Hare, LepusRuficaudatus, Hindi khargosh,
Marathi sasa, Korku koati.
18. The Porcupine, Hindi sei, Marathi sayal or shayalu, Korku jekra.
19a and b. Two kinds of Mongoose, HerpestesPallidusvelGriscus, and HerpeticsJerdoni are found, the latter in the neighbourhood of Chikalda. Hindi newala,
20. The Otter, LutraNain, Hindi pankutta, Marathi pankutra, both meaning the water dog, Korku bua, is found on the Sipna river,
21. Of horned game the most important is the bison, BosvelGavaeusGaurus, Hindi gaur,
Marathi gawa, Korku goha or gowa. This magnificent beast is, gradually recovering under protection from the effects of an epidemic disease which nearly exterminated the herds in 1900. It is found in the Gugumal hills, the highlands below Bairat and sometimes north of Raipur.
The District contains three species of deer and four of antelope.
22. The Sambhar, RusaAristotelis, Hindi and Marathi sambhar, Korku dhak,dhakar. The
Marathi word rohi or rui which strictlymeans afemale nilgai is applied indiscriminately by both
Marathi andKorku speakers to the male and femaleof this Species as well as the chital and nilgai. The sambharis found in the Melghat and is also an occasional wandererfrom Betul into the Morsi taluk reserves.
23. The Chltal,AxisMaculatus, Hindi and Marathi chttal, Korkuchitli anddhakar. This spotted deerwas at one timeplentiful in theDistrict, butthe Chirodi herd is now carefully preserved. There are also a few at Mehdari.
24. The Jungle Sheep or Barking Deer, CervulusMuntjac, Hindi junglibakri,
Marathi bekra or baikar, Korku ghotars (a name applied also to the chinkara and the four-horned antelope) kakar. The last word is obviously taken from the animal's peculiar bark.
25. The Blue Bull, PortaxPictusvelBoselephasTrago-camelus. Hindi and
Marathi nilgai and rohi (see sambhar), Korku mi. Plentiful in the Amraoti hills.
26. The Black Buck AntilopeBezoartica, Hindi male karan, female harni,
Marathi male kalwit, female haran or harni also him; Korku kutsar; is extremely common all over the plains of the District, particularly in the Chandur taluk, but is unknown in the Melghat save as an occasional wanderer from the plains. The horns are not generally very long, though heads up to 23Ż inches have been recently obtained.
27. The Chinkara, GazellaBennettii, Hindi chinkara,
Marathi kalsipi, Korku ghotari and mendha, fairly common all over the District. The misnomer 'Ravine Deer' though not correct as to genus is a fairly accurate description of its habits, the rocky slopes of nullahs and valleys in hilly country being its especial haunt.
28. The Four-horned Antelope, Hindi chausingha, Korku ghotari,bherki, very common round Chikalda.
29. There may also be mentioned the common grey squirrel, SciurusPalmarum, Hindi gilehri,
Marathi khar, Korku tur, to be seen in myriads all over the District; 30, the flying squirrel PteromysOralvelpetaurista, seen in the Melghat and known by the Korkus as Orar;31, the common flying-fox,
Marathi watawaghul, whose flesh when boiled is supposed locally to be a good cure for rheumatism; and a variety of other small animals too numerous to, detail. To this list may perhaps be added a herd of domestic cattle in the Chirodi reserve which have now become completely wild.
There are numerous kinds of lizards including in the Melghat the smaller Biscobra or Iguana,
Marathi ghorpod. The
legend runs that it was used by soldiers in old time in the attack on walled fortresses. Rope ladders were affixed to it and it was trained to run up walls. When it arrived at the top its grip was so firm that a man could climb the ladder after it. Most of the ordinary varieties of snakes are found, including the cobra (nag), krait and the Indian python. In the Tapti the alligator is fairly common, but on the upper waters of the Purna in this District it is not found.
The following note on fishes written forty years ago by Mr.
Nicholetts for Akola is equally true to-day of this District;
the best fish, however, are found in the big rivers on the
borders, and in the interior fish are scarce. ' We have the
hohoe, a species of carp; the marral, the best-eating fish in our rivers. He is shaped like the ball-head of England, and
has the habits of the pyke, is a smooth fish of a dark colour.
The com, the pupta, the bam, a first-rate eating fish; the
chilwa, the sangara or dog fish. The fish fit for table are the
hohoe,marral and bam. [It should be added that the chilwa, if obtainable in sufficient quantities, makes a passable imitation of whitebait.]
The first is well known in India, is of a delicate flavour,
but bony. The flesh of the marral is like that of the cod
fish, white, and very firm; the bam is more of the lamprey
The fishermen are very great adepts at netting. They drag
with great precision; sometimes they meet with an active
old stager but by signals they indicate his course to each
other and will make a capture of a large fish that had
passed four or five of them in a regular hunt.'
In respect to nets Mr. Nicholetts enumerates:—
The large stationary net, to which the fish are driven down by a number of men getting in the water and advancing towards the net.
The drag net used by men, enclosing gradually any pool where fishes are known to stop.
A peculiar kind of large shrimping net which is placed at the mouth of a rapid where there is little water; the mouth of the net is kept
open by means of a small stick three feet long which falls and lets it shut when the fish move it.
' The cast net, similar to the English one.
' The shrimping net, a kind of a bag-like net, fixed to three sticks forming a triangle. The fishermen are principally Bhois.
' The marral is constantly shot during the heat of the day; they come to the surface and skim about for hours; a tree overhanging a pool is the best place to shoot from.'
20. The birds of the District include most of the
gaily plumaged varieties common.,
elsewhere, such as the golden oriole,
the blue roller (or jay), the king fisher and the little
green fly-catchers. They also include the 'painted ' and
rock ' sand grouse (PteroclesFasciatus and P. Exustus), the peacock (PavoCristatus), the grey partridge (Ortygornis Ponticerianus), the Jungle quail (PerdiculaAsiatica), the
large grey and rain quails (CoturnixCommunis and C. Coromaudelicus), and the button quail (TurnixDussumieri). Of water birds the kulum,kulin or kunja, (Demoiselle crane),
known locally as karkunj or kar, is rare, but we have most of
the ordinary varieties of duck and teal, as well as a varied
assortment of cranes and other shore birds. In the Melghat,
as might be expected, are many varieties not common
in these parts of India, the following having been noted
by the well known naturalist, Lieut.-Col. McMaster, in
OchromelaNigrorufa, the black and orange fly-catcher, otherwise only found on the Nilgiris and in Ceylon.
CyornisTickellia, Tickell's blue redbreast common in Central India.
MyiophonusHorsfieldii, the Malabar whistling thrush, found near Chikalda.
HypsipetesGaneesa, the Ghat Black Bulbul.
OriolusCeylonensis, the southern black headed oriole.
CorvusCulminatus, the Indian corby, (the familiar social pest of the plains is CorvusSplendens, the grey crow).
Both varieties of green pigeon CrocopusPhoenicopteryx and C.Chlorigaster, and both the grey and red jungle fowls, GallusSonneratii and GallusFerrugimus.