|Biodiversity in the Western Ghats: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1994, 224 p.)|
|8. Reptiles, birds and mammals|
The forests of the Western Ghats harbour many different mammals. There are about 60 species, including various endemic and endangered types.
Seven species of mammals are endemic to the Western Ghats. Two primates, the Liontailed Macaque and the Nilgiri Langur, are found only in a few forested patches in the Nilgiri area. The Nilgiri Marten (a weasel) and Nilgiri Tahr (a wild goat) are also found in these areas. The other endemic species are the Malabar Civet and the Grizzled Giant Squirrel, which are restricted to a few patches of the Western Ghats. The Small Travancore Flying Squirrel, a highly endangered species, inhabits the forests of Kerala. Porpoises (marine mammals) occur along the west coast.
Causes of decline
Animals such as the Lion-Tailed Macaque and Nilgiri Tahr are in danger because of expanding grazing grounds, road construction in the primary forests, and destruction of forest cover.
Poaching and smuggling
Various endangered animals in the Western Ghats are hunted for various parts of their anatomy. Tigers and elephants are poached for their ivory, bones and fur. The Slender Loris is hunted for its eyes- due to a misconception that medicine prepared from the eyes can cure certain eye diseases.
Despite legal bans, poaching and smuggling of skin, fur, bones and ivory is still rampant. The Delhi police seized 162 kg of tiger bones and six skins in one raid in 1993.
· Cattle grazing in the buffer zones around the forests spreads disease to wild animals like the gaur.
· Human settlements are encroaching on the forests.
· Vehicles, garbage and effluent discharges pollute the habitat.
· Mining in and near forested areas damages the ecosystem.
· Timber contractors clear large areas of forest.
Heavy tourist pressure in and around the forested areas may disturb the animals
What is a mammal?
· are warm blooded
· breathe air using lungs
· have body hair
· produce milk and suckle their young
There are 370 species of mammals in India.
What is a mammal?
Mammals play an important role in the ecosystem. Predators like the tiger, leopard and wild dog occupy the highest level in the food pyramid. The destruction of a single carnivore like the tiger would upset the balance of the entire forest ecosystem.
· The Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 as amended in 1991 defines and restricts hunting, trading or capture of wildlife.
· Alternate sources of income and other appropriate activities should be encouraged to prevent cattle grazing.
· More viable wild areas should be protected by forming biosphere reserves.
· Pollution control laws should be effectively implemented.
· Effective buffer zones should be created wherever activities detrimental to forests are carried out, especially near sanctuaries and national parks.
· Research is needed on the habits and habitats of animals in the Western Ghats.
· Public awareness should be raised through films, lectures, talks, discussions, nature trails and other methods. Interpretation centres could help orient tourists towards conservation.
· Education programmes such as field trips, camps and treks should be organized for students.
· Awareness programmes should be arranged for local villagers to depict how their ancestors co-existed harmoniously with the forest and to show the dangers to their own survival if they upset the delicate natural balance.
Deliberate or accidental?
In Nagerhole National Park, world-renowned as a wildlife habitat, a massive forest fire in 1993 devastated several hectares of primary forest. It seems the fire was deliberately caused by local villagers to spite an overzealous forest officer who was strictly enforcing the wildlife laws.
Deliberate or accidental?
Endangered, endemic mammals of the Western Ghats
Macaque Macaca silenus
Black, shy, canopy dweller;
has cheek pouches; moves in
troops; endangered due to habitat loss.
Macaque Macaca silenus
Grey with black markings;
ringed tail; nocturnal;
restricted to coastal areas;
Black faced monkey;
long tail; leaf eater; most hunted
for medicine due to misconception.
Grizzled Giant Squirrel
shy, canopy dweller; restricted to few areas
of Western Ghats;
endangered due to habitat loss.
Nocturnal; restricted to tropical
was feared extinct;
recently rediscovered in Kerala.
Looks like an otter;
hunts on trees;
predatory in habit;
restricted to Nilgiri Hills.
prefers rocky terrain;
found at higher elevations;
hunted for flesh.
Mammals found in the Western Ghats
Liontailed Macaque Macaca silenus Ed,En
Bonnet Macaque Macaca rediata
Common Langur Presbytis entellus
Nilgiri Langur Presbytis johni Ed,En
Slender Loris Loris tardigradus En
Tiger Panthera tigris En
Leopard Panthera pardus En
Leopard Cat Felis bengalensis En
Rustyspotted Cat Felis rubiginosa En
Fishing Cat Felis viverrina En
Jungle Cat Felis chaus En
Malabar Civet Virerra megaspila En,Ed
Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica
Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus
Brown Palm Civet Paradoxurus jerdoni
Common Mongoose Herpestes edwardsi
Ruddy Mongoose Herpestes smith)
Stripednecked Mongoose Herpestes vitticollis
Brown Mongoose Herpestes fuscus
Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena
Jackal Canis aureus
Indian Wild Dog Cuon alpinus En
Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus En
Common Otter Lutra lutra
Smooth Indian Otter Lutra perspicillata
Clawless Otter Aonyx cineria En
Nilgiri Marten Martes gwatkinsi En,Ed
Indian Tree Shrew Anathana ellioti
Grey Musk Shrew Suncus murinus
Flying Fox Pteropus giganteus
Fulvous Fruit Bat Rouseltus leschenaulti
Shortnosed Fruit Bat Cynopterus sphinx
Bearded Sheath Tailed Bat Taphozous melanopogon
Indian False Vampire Megaderma Iyra
Great Eastern Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus luctus
Salim Ali Bat Latidens salim alii En
Indian Pipistrelle Pipistrellus coromandra
Painted Bat Kerivoula picta
Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica
Grizzled Giant Squirrel Ratufa macroura En,Ed
Common Giant Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista
Dustystriped Squirrel Funambulus sublineatus
Small Travancore Flying Squirrel Petinomys fuscocapillus En,Ed
Threestriped Palm Squirrel Funambulus palmarum
Indian Gerbille Tatera indica
Indian Field Mouse Mos booduga
Whitetailed Wood Rat Ratus blanfordi
Longtailed Tree Mouse Vandeluria oleracea
Common House Rat Rattus rattus
Bandicoot Rat Bandicota indica
Indian Porcupine Hystrix indica
Blacknaped Hare Lepus nigricollis
Indian Elephant Elephas maximus
Gaur Bos gaurus
Nilgiri Tahr En,Ed Hemitragus hylourius
Fourhorned Antelope Tetracerus quadricornis
Chital Axis axis
Sambar Cervus unicolor
Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak
Mouse Deer Tragulus meminna
Indian Wild Boar Sus scrofa
Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata
Porpoise Neomeris Ph ocoenoides
Prepared by R. Bhanumathi