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Great Pied Hornbill (Buceros bicornis)
Chital (Axis axis)
Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus)
Guar (Bos gauras)
Dhole (Cuon alpinus)
Nilgiri Langur (Presbytis johni)

Great Pied Hornbill (Buceros bicornis)

The largest of the nine hornbill species found on the Indian subcontinent, the Great Pied hornbill also has one of the widest ranges, living everywhere from sea level to heights of nearly 5,000 feet. Doing justice to its name, the Great Pied hornbill can have wingspans of nearly five feet, with tails that can measure three feet. It is an incredibly beautiful bird as well, covered in black plumage, with a yellow bill that curves downward. Most distinctively, the hornbill's head is topped with an ivory formation, also known as a casque.

The Great Pied hornbill's diet consists mostly of fruit, which it collects inside its beak during feedings. Incredibly, the hornbill has reportedly been able to consume as many as 150 figs within one meal. This is invaluable for Great Pied hornbill pairs, which mate for life. A male hornbill will collect as much food as it can, swallow it, and then return to its mate, and regurgitate the meal into her mouth. It isn't pretty, but it's very effective for a hornbill mother, who is unable to leave her young.

The female Great Pied hornbill's inability to leave her young is a story unto itself. She seals herself inside the hollow of a tree using her own feces (males help with the process from the outside), and stays there until her young are born.

Did you know? The wing beat of a Great Pied hornbill can be heard more than a half mile away.
Chital (Axis axis)

Hindi for "spotted," chital -- with their sleek, reddish-brown coats, dappled with white spots -- are arguably the most beautiful of all deer. To wander upon a herd of chital is an unbelievable sight, since they congregate in herds ranging from 10 to more than 100 animals. Each group is headed by dominant stags, which have magnificent, branching antlers. Full grown adults are about three feet high at the shoulders.

Chital are grazers, and spend a good portion of the average day feeding on grasses. At times, chital can be what scientists call secondary feeders, meaning that they eat their meals in the wake of other animals, such as monkeys and elephants. (Chital native to Anamalai have ample secondary feeding time.) Moreover, chital are known to have something of a more symbiotic relationship with certain monkeys. Monkeys have been reported riding the backs of chital as if the latter were horses.

Did you know? Chital live both in grasslands and forests.
Lion-tailed Macaque
Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus)

Of the many macaque species, none is more in danger of extinction than the lion-tailed macaque. Scant numbers of these are scattered across rainforests like Anamalai in southern India. Two things have put the lion-tailed macaque at risk. First, they seem unable to adapt to the encroachment of human populations. Second, they have extremely low reproductive rates. As its home ranges shrink, diminished by deforestation, the lion-tailed macaque continues to struggle for its survival. Less than 4,000 may remain in the wild today.

The decline of lion-tailed macaques is especially tragic when one considers how unique these forest monkeys are. Groups of macaques make an eye-stopping impression, with their distinctive manes of gray or brown hair, and shiny black coats. Typically, those groups range in size from four to 24 animals, though on average, they number somewhere from 10 to 20, and include one to three adult males.

Actually seeing a lion-tailed macaque, however, is an entirely separate story. They tend to be extremely reclusive, and hide in the tops of trees whenever predators or humans approach. The trees also provide most of food for these rainforest dwellers -- particularly jack fruit and cullenia (pronounced CULL-LEAN-YAH), lion-tailed macaque favorites. Hearing a lion-tailed macaque is bit more likely than seeing one; the animals are quite noisy, and males have a distinctive cry that, at times, can sound like a man.

Did you know? The tail of the lion-tailed macaque can measure nearly two feet in length!
Guar (Bos gauras)

Also known as the Indian bison and the wild ox, the guar (notwithstanding the elephant) is one of the largest animals in Anamalai. A massive creature, the guar has an enormous head and thick, muscular body, with males sometimes standing over six feet tall at the shoulders. At birth, the guar has a golden yellow coat, which deepens to a brown or copper color during adulthood. The skin of old guar turns completely black. Both male and female guar have horns, though the horns of the bulls are significantly larger than those of the cows.

Usually, guar congregate in herds of eight to 12 animals, and spend most of their time in the hills, ranging from hilltops to altitudes around 6,000 feet. A herbivore, the guar prefers grass; it is not uncommon to see guar grazing on grasses and leaves. At times, guar will also munch on the bark of select trees.

For most of the year, guar bulls stay in herds together without conflict. But around mating season, males exhibit competitive behavior. To attract mates, bulls will roam through the rainforest, making what some scientists describe as a musical call. Herds return the call, and bull makes its way to the herd. After fighting off other males, a male guar will then mate with a female.

Did you know? The guar is the world's largest bovine animal.
Dhole (Cuon alpinus)

Although slightly built, the dhole -- the wild dog of Indian -- has acute senses of smell and hearing that make it a fierce hunter. A single dhole can bring down an animal as large as a barking deer. They become even more formidable when they hunt in packs, which is often the case. A dhole pack can number 20 animals; the larger the pack, the larger and more dangerous the prey. In fact, packs of the dogs have been known to take down animals as big as guar.

Dholes trail their prey by scent, and once they've sighted their intended victim, pursue it in a long, steady canter, eventually outpacing their target. Once they've reached their prey, dholes strive to halt it, attacking the animal's hindquarters and exposed stomach, intent on disemboweling it. During an assault, dholes will bark and yip to each other, changing their strategy at every moment until their prey is caught.

Male and female dhole pairs make up the core of every family unit, and researchers believe that the pairs stay together for some time before mating. Once a female is pregnant, about 70 days pass before she gives birth. Litters vary in size from four to eight pups, which are unable to see, and totally reliant on their mother. For the first few months, the pups fight among themselves, establishing a hierarchy that lasts until they become adults.

Did you know? Packs of dholes have killed tigers in struggles for territory.
Nilgiri Langur
Nilgiri Langur (Presbytis johni)

Like its primate cousin, the lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri langur is an endangered species. Its distinctive whooping cry was a frequent sound in the langur's natural habitant before man crept in. Today, because of their skin (which is used for drums), the alleged medicinal value of their blood and organs, the value of their stunning fur, and deforestation, Nilgiri langurs have been reduced to frighteningly low numbers.

Nilgiri langurs live in environments between 3,000 and 7,000 feet, and spend most of their lives in trees. They move in troops of three to 25 members, with each troop run by a single dominant male, and with the rest of the troop a roughly even split of males and females. A nilgiri langur day consists of a morning of feeding, an afternoon of rest, and feeding in the early hours of the evening.

Did you know? The Nilgiri langur is named for the Nilgiris, a region of hills located in southwest India, not far from Anamalai.

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