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Mammals of the high altitudes of western Arunachal Pradesh, eastern Himalaya: an assessment of threats and conservation needs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2006

Charudutt Mishra
Affiliation:
Also at: International Snow Leopard Trust, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue N., Suite 325, Seattle, Washington 98103, USA Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, 4th Cross Gokulam Park, Mysore 570002, India
M.D. Madhusudan
Affiliation:
Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, 4th Cross Gokulam Park, Mysore 570002, India
Aparajita Datta
Affiliation:
Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, 4th Cross Gokulam Park, Mysore 570002, India
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Abstract

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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.

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© 2006 Fauna & Flora International
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