About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

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jonathan
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About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by jonathan » September 28th, 2016, 4:33 am

I head out at 8:15pm to herp a trail which I’d already scouted/herped from 4-7:30pm earlier in the day. Though the trailhead starts right on the edge of the mountain town I’d been exploring for two days, it gives a feeling of remoteness almost immediately. The next day I will hear that a foreign tourist headed out on this trail last year and was never seen again, and that the trail had been completely removed from the area maps handed out to tourists. Even before I heard that story, I had the distinct feeling it could happen, with landscapes that look like they could hide a lot

Image

Image



and a “main trail” which appeared not to have been used for weeks, perhaps months.

Image



My uneasy feelings about the scantiness of the trail and the possible dangers that lurked there led me to make a much less ambitious plan for night herping than I had in the evening scout. Instead, I would just focus on the first section of trail, scanning bushes for cat snakes, the ground for green keelbacks, and streams for stream frogs.

As I hike up the road in the dark to my target area, I’m stopped at least three times.


“Aage mat jao, katernak hai.” (Don’t go further, it’s dangerous.)

“Kuu?” (Why?)

“Janwar bahut hai.” (There are many animals.)


Or just a minute later from another guy.

“Roko, mat jao.” (Stop, don’t go.)

“Kuu nahi?” (Why not?)

“Baloo bahut hai.” (There are many bears.)

“Accha!” (Good!)




The thing that was killing me about these warnings is that they came while I was still in town. Was it really so dangerous that even walking in town alone at night on the wrong road was risky? Or did my headlamp lead them to assume I was hitting a trail?

Confidently, arrogantly, I brushed off the warnings like I had the myriad previous warnings I had gotten the previous night and earlier this day. This time, however, when I got to the trail all the fear in their voices began to get to me. Last night’s hike had been on a paved road with a temple at the end, and a motorcycle passed me every 15-20 minutes. The morning’s hike, where I had seen my first sloth bear, was on a berry bush-covered trail like this one, but that trail was 5 meters wide and that had been in broad daylight.


Blurry picture of a sloth bear as it disappears into bushes.

Image



Today’s trail is not only through berry bushes in the dark, but at many points the bushes are brushing my shoulders at either side or even touching. Occasionally playing in my mind is the video I saw earlier this year of a sloth bear eating an Indian man’s face while he was still alive. I began a search pattern – take three steps forward focused on looking for snakes on the ground, the peer ahead as far as possible for eyeshine of dangerous game, slowly scan the brush for cat snakes, then take three steps forward again. Often I added an extra check behind me, and a repeat look ahead before I took more steps. I kept reconsidering the bravado with which I had answered the last naysayer – do I even want to see a bear right now? Daytime bears are great. In the dark on this narrow trail? I realize that I hadn’t seen any bear sign yet (while my earlier sighting had followed copious sign) and thought a good test would be what I would do if I found fresh sign now. And I knew for certain that I would turn around and head back straight the way I’d came.

So those were the thoughts in my mind that led me through the next hour of somewhat adrenaline-heavy/heartbeat-accelerated herping. With my slow pace I covered less than a kilometer. I managed to find a stream frog I hadn’t gotten yet, but no snakes to compliment the Ptyas mucosa and blind snake I’d found on my evening run-through. Just past 9pm, as the trail continued to wind further up into the mountains, I decided there were no snakes ahead and practically ran back down.

At the trailhead I encountered three Indian guys having a drink next to their parked motorcycle. They were shocked to see me come down.


“Bahut katernak janwar hai – aapko dar nahi lagte hai?” (There are many dangerous animals – aren’t you scared?”

“Nahi, yh mere addat hai, mere papa chiriya ghar me caam karte te or mere puri zindigi ye cheez kiya he.” (No, it’s my habit, my dad worked in a zoo and I’ve been doing this my whole life.)


Safely off the trail, my bravado is back. One of the men tells me that he is a guide, and we make a little small talk. I tell them about the sloth bear this morning, and they were surprised I was alone.

“Aapko dar nahi laga ta?” (Weren’t you scared?)

“Nahi, veh mujhse dar lagte hai, na?” (No, they’re scared of me, aren’t they?)


At their skeptical laughter I push further.

“Jab humko dekte hai veh humse baag jate hai, na?” (They run from us when they see us, no?)

I don’t think I’ve made a good enough case in their eyes. I bid farewell and head back to my hotel.



As I walk back those outskirt streets I came in on, I scan my lights on every tree I find. I can’t believe that I haven’t seen a civet or flying squirrel at least on this trip – all the tree scanning I’ve done has resulted in nothing bigger than a dove. Sure enough, I soon spot a Common Palm Civet well up in a tree. Despite my new camera and a powerful headlamp, I can barely reach him for a good shot. I back up to the edge of the road, my back to the dark hill behind me, and take shot after shot trying to get a decent pic. My headlamp isn’t hitting full power anymore, so I sit cross-legged on the side of the road and switch out the batteries. My camera dies from all the flashes, so I switch out that battery as well.

On the ground, my back to the bushes on the dark hill behind me.

My camera shows that I spent a good ten minutes photographing that civet.

As I photograph it, I notice four wild hogs gathering in a marsh on the side of the road to my back, about 50 meters or so further down the road. Once I ID them I pay them no more mind.


Here’s the best pic I could get of that civet.

Image



The more relevant thing is the 10+ minutes it took me to get it.

Ten minutes with my back to the dark brush behind me.

I finally stop photographing the civet, pack my camera, and head on. But I’ve barely gone 25 meters when I see more eyeshine on the pig-side of the road. It’s something little, on the ground, just behind the bushes less than 20 meters off the road right where the marsh begins. I can’t see anything but eyeshine but I get the impression it might be a small cat (perhaps biased from having seen a jungle cat in the dark on a hike in another city just four days earlier). I can’t see anything but eyeshine though. I step off the road and head towards it. It moves, but I pick up the eyes again just a bit further away. The brush in front of it is still keeping me from seeing anything but eyeshine. I cut the original distance in half, and am now only 10 meters away, but I still can’t see what it is. I consider taking a shot with the flash just to see if it shows anything.

Suddenly a second set of eyes appear, 2-3 meters to the left of the first and slightly closer to me.

There’s two! I pan from the first to the second, and the second set of eyes bursts into action with far more noise than I expected. It goes to the left and slightly towards me, and with no time to think I instinctively track its motion with my headlamp. A fraction of a second after it started moving, it passes through a gap in the brush, and for a fraction of a second I see the gorgeous coat of a full-grown adult leopard less than 10 meters in front of me.


The only sensible thing to do at this moment was to walk backwards carefully until I was back on the road, keeping the headlamp in front of me. I get back to the middle of the road, and am surprised to see that the cub’s eyes (for I am now certain that’s what it must be) haven’t moved. Those little eyes continue to look at me, 25 meters away. I scan up, and find mom’s eyes about 30 meters away, a few meters higher up on the hill than before and at least 10-15 meters away from the cub now.

I had been stalking a leopard cub with mom nearby.

I had just spent 10 minutes photographing a civet with a leopard family behind me.

But I don’t have a photo of the leopard. I consider what to do, and decide quickly that you don’t fool around too much with leopard families. So I retreat to the nearest house, about 100 meters further down the road on the opposite side. A man is walking around to the front of the house and I shout,


“Hey, leopard vahe hai!” (There’s a leopard over there!)


He doesn’t seem to believe me, so I give more details.

“Look, there are pigs down over there, and there is a leopard over there,” shining my headlamp to lay out the scene. From about a hundred meters away though, I can’t make out the eyeshine anymore.

He calls some people out, and soon the whole extended family is standing outside the house. In my mind the men were going to come down and join me on the road, and with safety in numbers I would be able to get close enough to at least attempt a photo. But despite their skepticism, no one is even stepping away from the house to come down to the road, much less getting any closer to the potential leopard. They keep asking questions, and I keep laying out what I saw (omitting the cub detail for now because I’m afraid it will make them even more incredulous) and pointing out where I think the leopard is right now.

“No, no, look to the right.”

I pan my headlamp to the right.

“Look, it’s just pigs.”

“No, I told you about the pigs already. The pigs are there, the leopard is there. I saw its spots and everything.”

“No, no, it’s just pigs.”


I’m now standing on a half-meter retaining wall that defines the edge of their side of the road. I walk along the wall another 20 meters back the way I’d come (slight additional feeling of security on it because it makes me bigger) and soon enough can catch the eyeshine again, a bit higher up than before. I rush back.

“Look, it’s right there! You see that tree? 10 meters higher up and 10 meters to the left! I see the eyes right now!”

“No, it’s just pigs.”

“No, the pigs are down there, the leopard is up there!”

“No, it’s pigs.”

“Look at how all the pigs are looking over there! They’re not looking at us even though we’re right here, they’re looking over at the leopard!”



In fact, the pigs are rigidly standing all in identical positions, facing the leopard a good 60-70 meters away from them.

An SUV comes down the road with a family inside, the first car to pass since the incident began. They stop (much closer to the leopard than the house) to ask what I am looking at.


“There’s a leopard up there, I just saw it.”

“You saw it now?”

“Yes!”



The driver gets out. The car’s presence makes me bold enough to step back down onto the road. The driver stands next to his door on what happens to be on the leopard-side of the road, while I step in front of the car’s headlights. I scan the hill and find the eyes again, 40 meters away. The moment my light hits them, the leopard bursts through the brush with a loud growl.

I have no idea which direction it went.


The driver flees back into the car with a speed I have never seen a middle-aged Indian man reach. I quick-step to put the SUV between the leopard and myself. I have no idea where it’s gone. I wait hopefully for an invitation to join the family in the car. It doesn’t come. At this moment fear has nearly caught exhilaration – maybe I’m only 60-40 in favor of being happy about being out there at this moment. I grew up reading Man is the Prey over and over again, and have plenty of statistics about leopard attacks and man-eating leopards memorized.


“Was that a bear?” the driver’s wife asks.

“No, that was a leopard, that was a leopard,” he repeats with a shakiness in his voice.

I scan the hill but can’t find the eyes. I get up on the retaining wall again and rush back to the house.


“Did you hear that? Did you hear that? I told you it was a leopard!”

“What?”

“The leopard growled just now! They heard it too!”

“What did he say?”


At first I thought they were making fun of me and asking what the leopard said. Then I realize they’re asking what the driver said. I understand that not knowing my background, they don’t trust the crazy foreigner, and would rather know what the local had to say about the whole thing.

“He said it was a leopard. Pakka (for certain), it was a leopard.”

The SUV goes up and down the road, turning its headlights to try to spot the leopard again. Eventually he comes back.

“It’s gone. It ran away.”

He urges me to go home. He’s right. I walk back in total disbelief over what has happened. As I get back to my hotel, I think of both my early-morning hike tomorrow, but more importantly my planned 7km night-hike for herping through a remote area where I’m certain to see no one.

Can I do that?

Seriously starting to think it might not be a good idea.



Here’s a little diagram of the spot it happened at, in the bright light of day.


Photo from where I was standing:

Image


Whole scene:

Image

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jonathan
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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by jonathan » September 28th, 2016, 4:35 am

note – I omitted a detail because I wanted the appearance of the leopard to be as sudden and surprising as it had been to me. But the night before, on a night-hike on a different trail about 4km from this spot, I had heard what sounded like a leopard roar from over 100m away. I stopped for a bit to listen for more and scan the hillside above me, but heard nothing other than dogs barking aggressively about 50 meters further away, so I eventually continued down the road. I decided to dismiss it as an unidentified sound…though maybe the dogs are barking at a leopard? Only 40-50 seconds later, a motorcycle pulls up and asks me:

“Did you see that leopard just now?”

“No, what leopard, where?” I don’t tell him about hearing the roar because I’m afraid he might be playing a joke.

“Just now a leopard crossed the road.”

“Where??”

“He went down there.” The motorcyclist points to a spot on the road about 80 meters behind us, roughly the place I was standing when I heard the noise.

“Oh.”

I walked back down the well-lit road and light up the trees and fields below us, but see nothing. Though the road is 3+ meters above the downhill side, the trees and bushes there are too thick, and I decide not to linger.

So that means that in the first 30 hours after I had gotten here, I had a moderately close encounter with a leopard at night, a close encounter with a sloth bear in the morning, and a very close encounter with a leopard family at night. That’s what got me wondering about maybe no more hight-herping in the boonies.

(I wrote this at night right after it all happened, but the next morning I would encounter two more sloth bears.

Image



Knowing it would be stupid to hike any more at night alone, I talked a villager into accompanying me on my more remote hike for a guide fee. Even after we agreed on the price, he insisted on bringing two other guys, because he said that they never travel there at night with just two people. So we ended up being 4 guys with 2 axes…and unfortunately saw nothing much besides some frogs, geckos, and a lot of fruit bats.)

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by Fieldnotes » September 28th, 2016, 7:30 am



Interesting story, reminds me of this video from youtube... :beer:

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by NACairns » September 28th, 2016, 11:01 am

Great story, glad you are OK. Sounds like weird mix of mega fauna and dense human habitation. I have heard many old school stories of sloth bears as dangerous, looks like they are pretty common in that area. How do you find their temperament compared to North American black bears or grizzlies (if you have any experience with them)?
Thanks for sharing,
Nick

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by jonathan » September 28th, 2016, 11:18 am

NACairns wrote:Great story, glad you are OK. Sounds like weird mix of mega fauna and dense human habitation. I have heard many old school stories of sloth bears as dangerous, looks like they are pretty common in that area. How do you find their temperament compared to North American black bears or grizzlies (if you have any experience with them)?
Thanks for sharing,
Nick
The human habitation isn't actually dense - it's a small town covering a relatively small area surrounded by long stretches of rather nice habitat on all sides. The town wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for the resort/tourism aspect (up on a mountain, one of the few places in the area to get coolish in the hot season). It's just that the megafauna come all the way to the edge of the town...in part, I'm told, because dogs are good eating.


So working with a small sample size (3 sloth bears in 2 encounters, 7 black bears in 8 encounters), I found them to fall into the same set of behavior range. The first sloth bear was parallel to me eating berries when I first saw him from 60 meters away, turned towards me seemingly by accident a second later, noticed me and turned around and ambled up into the hillside pretty quickly, then continued up the hillside as I hurried to within 20-25 meters to get that photo. The second two sloth bears were also about 60 meters away when I first saw them, just wandered around doing their business eating berries completely unaware of me for 2.5 minutes while I snapped photos, then one saw me and immediately ambled off, followed by the other.

The black bears I've seen all acted pretty much the same, other than one repeat camp-raider (4 interactions in a week) who was a little too accustomed to humans and had to be driven off with more urgency.

I've been told about several sloth bear attacks that have occurred in recent years in the town, but they seem to fall into the same range as black bear attacks - someone stumbling into a bear unawares and both parties getting surprised, or a sloth bear coming around looking for food and finding a person where it thinks it might find food.

Then again, I did some internet searching right now, and found that Mount Abu has around 10 attacks/year, which seems really high for a single town and definitely FAR higher than any Black Bear numbers I've ever heard. No killings that I can find though, just a lot of maulings. I suspect that the people who have disappeared were more likely to have been taken by leopards, or lost/fallen in remote areas, than killed by sloth bears. Still, killings have occurred in other parts of India. The higher rate of attacks could be more to do with different human patterns (people living in villages and farming in bear territory, walking everywhere they go, etc.) than different bear behavior.

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by NACairns » October 3rd, 2016, 7:34 pm

Interesting insight, sloth bears and their reputation as maulers has always intrigued me. They always seemed to have this fierce reputation while American black bears were overshadowed by their larger congeners. Having had a my own experiences with black bears that were w far more unnerving than those with grizzlies or polar bears, I had always put it on the differences in the species completely neglecting the different land use patterns and number of people. I could see how this would go double in India. Really interesting post and discussion. Thanks for sharing.
Nick

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by Chaitanya » October 3rd, 2016, 7:59 pm

NACairns wrote:Interesting insight, sloth bears and their reputation as maulers has always intrigued me. They always seemed to have this fierce reputation while American black bears were overshadowed by their larger congeners. Having had a my own experiences with black bears that were w far more unnerving than those with grizzlies or polar bears, I had always put it on the differences in the species completely neglecting the different land use patterns and number of people. I could see how this would go double in India. Really interesting post and discussion. Thanks for sharing.
Nick
Of the 4 species of bear found in India 2 bears: Sloth bears and Himalayan black bears are really dangerous. Through my years of trekking in Himalayas I have seen bear traps set just outside villages. Whenever I used to talk with villagers in Himalayas they told me to be careful of bears and there are regular attacks on humans in that area. In rest of India its sloth bear that causes a lot of harm out of curiosity. Sloth bears have poor eyesight and are driven by their nose. So out of curiosity they approach humans to check them out and then get startled on getting close. Personally for me place where I herp on outskirts of my city, striped hyenas and leopards are threat and I have to watch out for those two animals constantly.

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by jonathan » October 3rd, 2016, 8:32 pm

Chaitanya wrote:Personally for me place where I herp on outskirts of my city, striped hyenas and leopards are threat and I have to watch out for those two animals constantly.

Do you herp alone at night in any bear/leopard territory? If not, what do you consider a minimum? What precautions do you take?

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by BillMcGighan » October 4th, 2016, 5:14 am

Great story, jonathan.
One you can hold for years and years.

I do wonder if you met Shere Khan instead, if it would have turned out differently?


A serious question:
Would it permitted for you to carry Bear Spray?
We carry it always in grizzly country, and sometime Black Bear country. It doesn't shoot your wimpy pepper stream like for dogs or people. It fires a 15 - 20 foot narrow cone and quickly and thoroughly turns back man or beast!

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by jonathan » October 4th, 2016, 5:30 am

BillMcGighan wrote:Great story, jonathan.
One you can hold for years and years.

I do wonder if you met Shere Khan instead, if it would have turned out differently?
No tigers in this area. In the one place I've dealt with that's tiger-heavy, which happens to contain probably the most consistently man-eating tigers on the planet, we were extremely wary at all times, only traveling with gunmen on land during the day (though that was probably unnecessary in the one spot we were), and barely even touching land at night, and only then while shining lots of lights into the forest and making a lot of noise.


BillMcGighan wrote:A serious question:
Would it permitted for you to carry Bear Spray?
We carry it always in grizzly country, and sometime Black Bear country. It doesn't shoot your wimpy pepper stream like for dogs or people. It fires a 15 - 20 foot narrow cone and quickly and thoroughly turns back man or beast!
As I was out there, I was wishing I had bear spray. I've never had it myself, but the things I've heard make me trust it as the best thing to take in grizzly territory, and probably worth bringing in sloth bear territory too. I doubt it's available here, but it might be worth having someone bring some on a flight the next time they come in. (It wouldn't blow up on a flight, would it?)

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by BillMcGighan » October 4th, 2016, 5:46 am

Long talks with Yellowstone back country guides and rangers made me a believer of its effectiveness.

http://www.backcountry.com/counter-assa ... 0.2oz?rr=t
https://www.amazon.com/Udap-12HP-UDAP-B ... B001QGYH7Y
http://www.bearspray.com/specification-chart/

but it might be worth having someone bring some on a flight the next time they come in. (It wouldn't blow up on a flight, would it?)
No. It's safe on planes in baggage.

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by jonathan » October 4th, 2016, 6:05 am

BillMcGighan wrote:Long talks with Yellowstone back country guides and rangers made me a believer of its effectiveness.

http://www.backcountry.com/counter-assa ... 0.2oz?rr=t
https://www.amazon.com/Udap-12HP-UDAP-B ... B001QGYH7Y
http://www.bearspray.com/specification-chart/

but it might be worth having someone bring some on a flight the next time they come in. (It wouldn't blow up on a flight, would it?)
No. It's safe on planes in baggage.

It's good to know it's safe on planes. I've heard great things about it from Alaskan sources too. It's considered more effective than a gun at close range, both because it has greater margin of error and greater actual stopping power on a bear.

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by Chaitanya » October 4th, 2016, 7:47 am

jonathan wrote:
Chaitanya wrote:Personally for me place where I herp on outskirts of my city, striped hyenas and leopards are threat and I have to watch out for those two animals constantly.

Do you herp alone at night in any bear/leopard territory? If not, what do you consider a minimum? What precautions do you take?
In leopard/bear territory I never herp alone(other than those two carnivores there is constant presence of Dholes, Gaurs, Tigers and elephants(southern ghats)) it's always advisable to travel with a small group. On grasslands where Hyenas/Wolves are found I do herp alone, and prefer to carry pepper spray/bear spray as it seems to work in irritating the hyenas to run away.

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by Jimi » October 4th, 2016, 9:04 am

I doubt it's available here
Is there not a FedEx or some such, that would be happy to take your money and deliver the goods? For decades now, I have been impressed - and greatly served - by logistics enterprises in far-flung locales. They can find you. Seek them out and give them a chance?

Safe hunting

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by narrowfellow » October 4th, 2016, 12:01 pm

edited

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by BillMcGighan » October 4th, 2016, 1:49 pm

I stand corrected. You're right >4 oz is a no-no.

(I knew 4 fishermen who all successfully carried it in their luggage to Yellowstone, but apparently that is prohibited by TSA.)



Jonathan, There may be a source in India or contact the major manufacturers to see if they have a way. Jimi's right about FEDEX.

It sounds like you're really at risk without it.

Of course, if it's not available in India, you has a golden, entrepreneurial opportunity to provide it!!! :) ;)

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by Chaitanya » October 4th, 2016, 8:06 pm

BillMcGighan wrote:I stand corrected. You're right >4 oz is a no-no.

(I knew 4 fishermen who all successfully carried it in their luggage to Yellowstone, but apparently that is prohibited by TSA.)



Jonathan, There may be a source in India or contact the major manufacturers to see if they have a way. Jimi's right about FEDEX.

It sounds like you're really at risk without it.

Of course, if it's not available in India, you has a golden, entrepreneurial opportunity to provide it!!! :) ;)
Pepper spray is readily available in India, bear spray needs to be imported. I have tried Pepper spray once on hyena and it seems to work dont know well it will work on sloth bears.

here is link for pepper spray:
https://www.snapdeal.com/product/cobra- ... ray/597223

Edit: Just checked amazon India and there is bear spray available for sale though its an import option from US.
here is the link for bear spray:
http://www.amazon.in/Bear-Cozy-Spray-Bo ... ear+sprays

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by jonathan » October 4th, 2016, 8:49 pm

Thanks, all of you have been really helpful!

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by NACairns » October 5th, 2016, 7:05 pm

Really interesting discussion. Chaitanya, pepper spraying a hyena sounds like a harrowing experience. Sounds like a very complicated (but rewarding) place to herp. Hopefully one day.
I've heard of the effectiveness of some of the capsicum sprays but I've heard many accidents where people spray themselves. I've had good luck with "bear bangers" with North American black bears and cracker shells from a shotgun for polars but I've also had a black bear that was very insistent despite my attempts drive it off including a lucky rock to the head. He stalked me for 5 km. That was my scariest experience with megafuana.

This guy came to check us out when I got a quad stuck.
ImageUrsus maritimus by N Cairns, on Flickr

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by Reptiluvr » October 6th, 2016, 5:45 am

I've had a few good ones and heard quite a few better. You definitely win. Glad you came out of it with just the story and no injury.

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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by jonathan » October 6th, 2016, 9:24 pm

Reptiluvr wrote:I've had a few good ones and heard quite a few better. You definitely win. Glad you came out of it with just the story and no injury.

Haha - thanks.


That being said, my dad (who spent 30 years working in zoos) had this interesting note:

"I'd worry more about the bears than the leopard. Although certainly dangerous, leopards are so high strung that unless already a man eater or cornered I think they would avoid you."


Which was interesting because it was different than my fears, but his matches the warnings of the people in the area.

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Chaitanya
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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by Chaitanya » October 8th, 2016, 7:44 am

NACairns wrote:Really interesting discussion. Chaitanya, pepper spraying a hyena sounds like a harrowing experience. Sounds like a very complicated (but rewarding) place to herp. Hopefully one day.
I've heard of the effectiveness of some of the capsicum sprays but I've heard many accidents where people spray themselves. I've had good luck with "bear bangers" with North American black bears and cracker shells from a shotgun for polars but I've also had a black bear that was very insistent despite my attempts drive it off including a lucky rock to the head. He stalked me for 5 km. That was my scariest experience with megafuana.

This guy came to check us out when I got a quad stuck.
ImageUrsus maritimus by N Cairns, on Flickr
Grasslands is home to some of the rare skinks and snakes from India, including one of my favourite lizards Western leopard gecko:
ImageEublepharis fuscus by Chaitanya Shukla, on Flickr

Hyenas are part of that ecosystem and though they are beautiful animals, sometimes they get too close for comfort. Once I had taken shelter in abandoned hyena den due to passing thunder storm.

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Calfirecap
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Re: About as exhilarating/terrifying as a herping story gets

Post by Calfirecap » October 10th, 2016, 4:58 am

Great story and follow up Jonathan, one you will be glad you recorded 20 years from now.

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