Mammals of the high altitudes of western Arunachal Pradesh, eastern Himalaya: an assessment of threats and conservation needs
The high altitudes of Arunachal Pradesh, India, located in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, remain zoologically unexplored and unprotected. We report results of recent mammal surveys in the high altitude habitats of western Arunachal Pradesh. A total of 35 mammal species (including 12 carnivores, 10 ungulates and 5 primates) were recorded, of which 13 are categorized as Endangered or Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. One species of primate, the Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala, is new to science and the Chinese goral Nemorhaedus caudatus is a new addition to the ungulate fauna of the Indian subcontinent. We documented peoples' dependence on natural resources for grazing and extraction of timber and medicinal plants. The region's mammals are threatened by widespread hunting. The snow leopard Uncia uncia and dhole Cuon alpinus are also persecuted in retaliation for livestock depredation. The tiger Panthera tigris, earlier reported from the lower valleys, is now apparently extinct there, and range reductions over the last two decades are reported for bharal Pseudois nayaur and musk deer Moschus sp.. Based on mammal species richness, extent of high altitude habitat, and levels of anthropogenic disturbance, we identified a potential site for the creation of Arunachal's first high altitude wildlife reserve (815 km2). Community-based efforts that provide incentives for conservation-friendly practices could work in this area, and conservation awareness programmes are required, not just amongst the local communities and schools but for politicians, bureaucrats and the army.(Published Online January 19 2006)
(Received June 29 2004)
(Revised November 9 2004)
(Accepted April 19 2005)
Key Words: Dhole; Eastern Himalaya; human-wildlife conflict; hunting; India; Macaca munzala; snow leopard.
c1 Correspondence: Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, 4th Cross Gokulam Park, Mysore 570002, India. E-mail [email protected]
p1 Also at: International Snow Leopard Trust, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue N., Suite 325, Seattle, Washington 98103, USA