Animals have been a very important factor in the progress of mankind. You know that, right? How did man make boats? How did he catch fish? How did he build homes in difficult places? How did he fly? All of that came from keen observation of animals. Birds have taught pilots to fly in formation. It is not just what animals can do physically, there is a lot to leam from their emotional behaviour, says Dr. Vint Virga, a vet.

"Late one November evening a dog [brought to my clinic] in an unconscious haze forever changed the course of my life as a vet." he said. "Pongo, a two-year-old retriever struck by a [speeding] pick-up lay before me on a blanket." He was badly hurt. There was nothing modern medicines and the vets training could do for him. The doctor did all he could and then put his arm around him and sat down, frustrated and exhausted. "Yet, from this simple act of caring, in less than an hour, I watched him recover in body and spirit." Moved by the animal's will to live and his response to care, Dr. Virga researched into animal behaviour and wrote the book The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human.

Dr. Virga has listed 10 lessons we can all leam from animals

1. Savour the moment

Animals live focussed on the moment. Their thoughts do not wander about the past and future. By noticing more of each moment, we can fully appreciate what is happening right now in our lives.

2. Pay attention to your instincts

Animals are alerted by their senses. They respond to cues about the world around them by trusting their instincts and acting on them. As we attend to our senses and acknowledge our instincts, we open ourselves to new choices and opportunities.

3. Keep focussed on what's most important

On those days when it seems everything has gone wrong, when we feel down and out, our animal companions greet us with unfailing love and affection. They do not judge us on our success and failure. Even when we speak harshly to them or ignore them completely, they wait for the right moment to come to us. And in their patient devotion, they serve as reminders of how vital it is to connect with others and share our thoughts.

4. Don't get bogged down in words

Don't you feel comforted when your dog trustingly puts its muzzle on your lap? As we communicate with family and friends, most often we think of relying on words. The tone of our voice, our facial expressions, our posture, our movements, can all communicate our thoughts, emotions, and intentions. They're often more reliable than the words we choose. How about a hug?

5. Take time to rest

In the hurried pace of our daily routines, it's easy to fill our days with a steady stream of activities. Take a hint from our dogs and cats, the panda in the zoo, a hawk perched on a tree. We need those quiet moments to rest for a bit and give ourselves time to relax and reflect.

6. Remember to play

When we feel pressured by work or at home, a well-deserved break-even for just a few moments from the task at hand can lighten our load. From Labradors to Bengal tigers and timberwolves to leopards, creatures around us routinely play to invent, discover, and bring joy to their day.

7. Don't take yourself so seriously

Whether chasing their tails or pouncing on strings, our cats are fully absorbed in their game. They do not worry about how they may appear to others. When our dogs chase a ball, sniff at lampposts, or gnaw a bone, they relish their pastimes without concern for how they may look to passers-by. Ignore the judgments of others, and enjoy those playtimes.

8. Let go of attachment to being right or wrong

Evolution favours those creatures that focus on what matters most: finding food, remaining healthy, resting, caring for the young. When we keep thinking of our sense of pride and self-importance, we risk losing the outcomes and results we want most. Letting go of our attachment to personal pride frees us to align ourselves with what we value most.

9. Love unconditionally

In the silent presence of the creatures around us-all alone on the sofa with our dog by our side or cat resting cosily curled in our lap-we sense their regard for our thoughts and feelings, and we feel comforted. We too can do this for others.

10. Forget and forgive

Animals do suffer grief, misfortune, and misery. But unlike humans, animals have an incredible ability to forgive. Despite extreme trauma they may have experienced in the past, they manage to remain optimistic and not hold on to grudges. There are any number of stories of animals becoming ambassadors of hope and forgiveness even after being subjected to unspeakable cruelty. Continuity of life is more important to them than reliving the past.

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Which is the tallest animal?

No prizes for guessing the tallest animal in the world. The giraffe - with its incredible long neck - is quite literally ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest.

If you thought LeBron James, the famous basketball player was tall, think again. Male giraffes grow up to 14 feet in height. The legs of a giraffe alone are 6 feet long. This means that a basketball player would be able to walk easily under a giraffe! Additionally its neck also measures an additional 6 feet. If you can picture two LeBron James’ standing one upon the other – that’s how tall a giraffe is!

They can run at speeds of 56 km/h, but these sleepy-eyed giants are peaceful by nature. They spend their days browsing on acacia leaves, tall shrubs and hanging fruits. They use their long blue tongues to pluck off leaves and buds from trees. They do not eat short grasses. Can you guess why?                                                                  

This is because bending its head is not an easy job for the giraffe. It will only drink water once in a few days due to this. It must spread its legs and bend its long neck down to get at the water which makes it vulnerable to predators. However, it's not just being vulnerable from predator that makes drinking water a tricky business for the giraffe. Its body must also regulate its blood pressure so that the act of bending does not cause its head to explode. Why? Keep reading…

A giraffe’s heart has to pump blood so that it reaches its brain - which is very far away! For this, the giraffe's heart (which weighs about 11 kg) has to pump a powerful beat to keep sending blood into the brain. Consequently a giraffe’s blood pressure is very high - nearly twice as high as a human’s.

With such a high blood pressure when the giraffe lowers its head the sudden change in blood pressure would cause its head to explode! The giraffe prevents this by regulating the blood flow into its brain (and heart) while lowering its head and lifting it back up again with the help of ‘elastic’ veins and thick heart muscles. These unique adaptations have been studied by NASA to design space suits. Looks like science still has a long way to go to catch up with nature!

These incredible and gentle animals are threatened by poaching, climate change and habitat loss. They are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List but are already extinct in many countries in Africa.

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The Kharai camels of Kutch, Gujarat, are the only camels in the world that swim. Their name is derived from the word khara, meaning 'saline'. They can survive on both dry land and in the sea, making it an ecotonal breed. During the rainy season, they swim upto 3 kms along the Gulf of Kutch grazing on mangroves and other saline loving plants. Because of the salt content in the plants, the camels need to drink water immediately after grazing. Locals believe that the milk of kharai camels is beneficial in the treatment of tuberculosis, diabetes and cancer. There were more than 10,000 kharai camels in Gujarat about a decade ago, but now there are fewer than 4,500. Rapid industrialisation in the mangrove swamps and erratic rainfall are destroying the habitat they rely on for food, pushing this unique breed to extinction. In 2015, the kharai camels were declared as endangered by the Indian government. After the major earthquake of Gujarat, the mining, cement, and windmill industries, among others, intensified their operations in a bid to rebuild Kutch. This disturbed the ecosystem wherein Kharai camels were thriving. Their routes changed and food intake decreased considerably. To save the Kharai camels, we must save their natural habitat. Since it is clear that they can only survive on mangroves, preserving their ecosystem is the need of the hour. Fortunately, the large-scale benefits of mangrove are being understood and the government is taking significant steps to conserve them. Several mangrove forests in the area have been designated as protected areas, where they are undergoing special care to continue sustained growth.

Credit : Financial express

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How are baby elephants similar to human babies?

Baby elephants suck their trucks just like human babies suck their thumbs. And they do it for the same reason - comfort. Trunk sucking also helps young elephants master the use of their trunks for feeding.

Aside from the comfort it provides, trunk sucking helps an elephant calf learn how to use and control this lengthy appendage. With more than 50,000 individual muscles in the trunk, you can imagine how complicated it is to get it to do what you want it to do at any given time. Sucking on the trunk helps a young elephant learn how to control and manipulate the muscles in the trunk so that it can fine-tune its use.

Elephants also suck their trunks as a means of advanced "smelling." They can taste the pheromones of other elephants by touching their trunks to urine or feces and then popping the trunk in their mouths to get a closer whiff.

While trunk sucking is primarily a mannerism found in young elephants, older elephants—even mature bulls—have been seen sucking their trunks when they are nervous or upset.

Credit :  Tree Hugger

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Are bats blind?

There are about 1.300 species of bat and they largely differ in their hunting and eating habits. More than 450 species use echolocation while foraging for food. While some produce sound by contracting their voice box, others use their tongue and nostrils. The sound bouncing off objects in their way, producing an echo, helps the mammals navigate their way through the night. They can vocalise a low-pitch (10 kHz) to a high-pitch call (up to 200 kHz), which is often outside the human range of hearing. Bats also use their sense of sight to hunt, depending on the circumstances. Visual acuity may vary among bats, but they are not at all blind.

In fact, bats can see three times better than humans. Since our understanding of their sense of hearing for navigation is too well documented, their power of sight is often taken for granted. Most fruit bats, which feed on nectar, don't echolocate at all. They have a sharp vision that exceeds the visual spectrum of humans. They can even distinguish colours.

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