Lifescapes Gallery

25 / Jul / 2012
Beware of Pickpockets!
Brahminy Kite,Kabini Photograph: Sudhir Shivaram Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

Beware of Pickpockets!

Remember those mug shots at police stations and public gatherings, warning us to watch out for malcontents? Remember how each portrait oozed criminal intent, and made you clutch your wallet as a reflex action and look closer at your neighbor? The mug shots at Kabini, however, feature a rather distinguished visage that bespeaks an impeccable pedigree. While he sure is a handsome specimen of the venerable family of Raptors, the Brahminy Kite is proof that even the noblest families have a villain skulking in the family tree. This bird leads an interesting dual life, and prefers to exist as a Kite with no strings attached! His day job as an avian Hyena involves scavenging for food at garbage dumps, fish processing zones, and other places where carrion is plentiful and he doesn’t have to hunt for dinner. His inherent laziness, though, allows him to transition seamlessly from his ‘Jekyll’ self to a ‘Hyde’ avatar in the blink of an eye. He’s an opportunistic thief (he prefers the fashionable label, Klepto-parasite) who’s been known to steal from fishermen, and also from other birds’ nests. When such sources dry up, he turns mugger: it has been observed that he often targets River Terns who’ve just caught a fish. He swoops down on them from above and kicks out with his legs, making them drop their fish, which he then decamps with. Surprisingly for a bird bandit, he’s far from being a social outcast. Known as Elang Bondol in Indonesia, this bird is the official mascot of Jakarta. In fact, Langkawi in Malaysia, is also named after this member of the avian underworld. And in parts of India, he’s worshipped as the manifestation of Garuda, Vishnu’s divine chauffeur. Maybe it’s all this veneration that has gone to his head, and makes him believe he doesn’t have to work for a living anymore!

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 at 9:36 am and is filed under Birds . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Nagesh Amin says:

    Beautiful…………….thanks for sending information.

  2. Jash Karani says:

    Thank you for sending me nice pictures of animal, birds and insects.

  3. Jemcy L says:

    A very cool picture to admire 🙂

  4. sanjay says:

    I have visited Kabini and i saw the same bird. i saw so many other birds. I liked my stay at orange county also, really nice place,like to visit again…

  5. Richard Reilly says:

    I always enjoy receiving your emails – they brighten up my day! We enjoyed our stay two years ago and hope to come back sometime in the future.

  6. Thirumurugan C says:

    Excellent snap and content…:)

  7. Prahalad says:

    Very well written!!!!!! A good story for a good hunter. Pls conyey my regards to the one who clicked tis pic,to the writer & finally to Orange county resorts for providing this wonderful activity to find different birds and get to know about them. Thanks OCR!!!!!

  8. Anitha Shankar says:

    Haha. I have always enjoyed ur newsletters. Wonderful and thank you. Kindly convey to the writer and the photographer.

  9. Verena Gerber says:

    I just want to let you know that I enjoy every time the “Lifescape” with it’s beautiful pictures and the interesting and worth knowing information to the topic of the picture! Carry on with this nice tradition and care for your beautiful nature! Thank you and best regards from Switzerland.

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