On our rainy morning safari in Bandipur, we came across a Stripe-necked Mongoose very close to the safari track. Unmindful of our presence, it was moving around busily looking for a quick morsel. It came across this plastic water bottle lying in the grass. And it took to it as a kid takes to a new toy. The mongoose cuddled with the bottle and rolled around for a few minutes.
What explains this behavior? Probably, as our naturalist said, the mongoose was looking to relieve an itch. Seemingly satisfied, the mongoose moved ahead and climbed a nearby rock where some rice was scattered.
The park was otherwise clear of plastic. Then where did the bottle and rice come from? They must’ve been left behind by the people hired to clear the lantana growth near the safari track. Of course, the ever-dependable naturalist from Jungle Lodges and Resorts picked up the bottle once the mongoose left the place.
Cute as the above series may look, the bottle (thankfully) didn’t do any harm to the mongoose. Imagine a broken beer bottle in its place….
Littering is a serious problem in and around our wildlife sanctuaries. Driving on a road that cuts through any of these sanctuaries will show up water bottles, plastic covers and other trash. A light wind can blow them deeper into our sanctuaries. Not only do they harm the herbivores that feed on them, plastics leach chemicals into the soil causing damage to the eco-system in the long run. A few do’s and don’ts around wildlife sanctuaries:
- Don’t throw your trash in and around wildlife sanctuaries.
- Discourage others from doing so as well.
- Dispose of trash only in designated dust-bins.
- Even better, carry your trash back with you to the city.
About the Stripe-necked Mongoose (Herpestes vitticolis):
- It is the largest of the Asiatic mongooses.
- The Stripe-necked Mongoose is largely rufous to greyish in colour (there are 2 subspecies). The dark stripe that runs behind the ears on both sides of the mongoose is the distinguishing feature of this species.
- It is endemic to South India and Sri Lanka.
- It is diurnal (active during the day) and feeds on small mammals, birds, birds’ eggs, reptiles, fish, insects, grubs and roots (Van Rompaey and Jayakumar 2003).