Four mammal species identified in India tiger reserve for the first time
Uncovering Valmiki's treasures: Four more species added to the Tiger Reserve baseline
The crab-eating mongoose, listed in Schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972, is a mongoose species found in a variety of habitats across northeast India and South-east Asia. Hunting affects localised parts of the global population. It is generally grey in colour, with a broad white stripe on its neck extending from its cheeks to its chest.
August 2013: A once neglected tiger reserve has proved that a wealth of smaller mammals have survived and are now benefitting from the recent efforts to revive the reserve. Three species, previously unrecorded in the once-neglected Valmiki Tiger Reserve have been spotted in the past two months.
A crab-eating mongoose (Herpestes urva), a yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula) and a Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar) were all captured in camera traps placed by the Bihar Forest Department and NGOs WWF-India and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
A 4th new species, a hoary-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus pygerythrus) was also photographed recently by WTI's Regional Head for Bihar, Dr Samir Kumar Sinha.
Dr Sinha said; "We are excited by these discoveries. Valmiki has excellent potential for tiger recovery and given its contiguity with the Chitwan National Park in Nepal, it will be a critical site for undertaking transboundary tiger conservation. WWF will strengthen its partnership with the management of Valmiki and intensify conservation efforts," said Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscapes, WWF-India.
These species have all been previously recorded in the neighbouring Chitwan National Park in Nepal, which forms the northern boundary of Valmiki Reserve. ZSI has recorded 10 species of amphibians, 27 species of reptiles and 75 species of insects in Valmiki, including the gaur (Bos gaurus) and the Indian wild dog (Cuon alpinus), which are not found in rest of the Terai region in India.
The yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula) has a wide distribution, and evidently relatively stable population, across Asia. Also called honey dog for its fondness for sweet food, this mammal has a brown coat that darkens toward and on the tail, and its throat and chin are yellowish orange. It is listed in the CITES III appendix in India.
The Himalayan Serow is a goat-antelope native to the Himalayas and Bangladesh, listed as ‘near threatened' by the IUCN red list, due to hunting for food and habitat loss. Accounts from throughout the species' range report that it inhabits rugged steep hills and rocky places, but its population is on a steep decline. In appearance, the serow has a goat-like body with short limbs, and its coat is coarse and varies in colour from red to black with some white on the chest.