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Wild Life

The first fossil of Pakicetus was discovered at Kuldana in 20th Century (thus named after Pakistan). Consisted of an incomplete skull and a broken jaw. The fossil rests at “Nature History Museum of London. Pakicetus lived along the estuaries and islands of a large shallow ocean, the “Tethys Ocean” (which existed before the opening of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans). Living some 50 million years ago; Pakicetus may be the oldest known ancestor to whales and dolphins. It had the body of land animal, its head had the distinctive long skull shape of a whale’s. The wolf-sized animal had characteristics of a crocodile and was a meat eater, that sometimes ate fish. Unlike cetaceans (marine mammals) it had four legs, a long snout, complete complement of teeth that included incisors, canines, premolars, and molars; a distinct and flexible neck; and a long robust tail.

Kuldana, a British era mini cantonment teems with rare species of Indian leopard alongwith families are often seen and reported; however, species of Black Panther have got vanished. An interesting story from 1920s is often told about a time when the guards entered the battalion commander’s office after hearing some sounds, to find a black panther sitting on commanding officer’s chair. As quoted in a book, Mystique of Murree: “Two pairs of red eyes glowing in the dark were unnerving to say the least. But when the panther leapt over the heads of the stunned guards in a glaring show of rippling muscles and strength and disappeared through the open door into the dark night, the guards half-fainted with relief”. Till recent months, sighting of few leopards are often reported /seen where they allowed be viewing / photographing.

Kuldana is home to variety of rare species of birds, pheasant including Plum Head Parakeet , Black Crested Tit, Himalayan Woodpecker and rarely seen Mountain Eagle (Shikra). A favourite bird is “Yellow Billed Blue Magpie”. It is indigenous to the Kuldana forest. The local environment adapts well to its nesting and breeding habits. The nest is built in a fork of a tree, usually of moderate size but with dense foliage, and is difficult to find. Its breeding zone is from 5000 ft to 9,800 ft. The blue magpies are identified from their handsome tails. They frequently feed on the ground and then adopt a curious hopping gait, with the tail held high to prevent it from coming into contact with the ground. They live in parties of six to eight birds and are fond of particular localities. These birds are ranked amongst some of the cleverest in the bird kingdom. They are famous for their long tails, over active nature and nonstop chirping. It is indeed a noisy bird; the ordinary call is harsh and grating, but at certain times it can be intoxicatingly melodious.

Sit and wait in summer evenings to watch “Flying squirrels” glide from one tree to another (over 100 ft). The Kashmir Flying Squirrel is one of the 44 species of squirrels found in the world. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests like Kuldana. Flying squirrels are omnivorous, and eat whatever kinds of food they can find at night (like fruits, nuts, fungi, and bird eggs) with their highly developed sense of smell.