A checklist of mammals of Nepal
Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal
Abstract: A review of the literature on the mammals of Nepal revealed a series of checklists improving in accuracy over time. However, there are contradictions in these checklists and there has been no checklist published since 1975. Here, I present a checklist based on a review of the literature on the mammals of Nepal. The Mammals of Nepal comprise 192 species within 37 families in 12 orders.
Keywords: Checklist, families, mammals, Nepal, orders, species.
There have been a series of mammal surveys in Nepal since the early 1820s. Studies of mammal collections can be found in Hodgson (1832, 1834, 1835, 1836a, 1836b, 1838, 1840, 1841a, 1841b, 1841c, 1841d, 1842, 1843, 1844a, 1844b, 1845, 1847, 1858a, 1858b), Gray (1846, 1863), Scully (1887), Hinton (1922a, 1922b), Hinton & Fry (1923), Thomas (1924), Fry (1925), Biswas & Khajuria (1955, 1957), Kawamichi (1968, 1971), Greuber (1969), Frick (1969), Weigel (1969), Worth & Shah (1969), Chesemore (1970), Agrawal & Chakraborty (1971), Abe (1971, 1977, 1982), Martens & Niethammer (1972), Niethammer & Martens (1975), Mitchell (1975, 1978a, 1978b, 1979, 1980), Mitchell & Punzo (1975, 1976, 1977), Mitchell & Derksen (1976), Gregori & Petrov (1976), Marshall (1977), Ingles et al. (1980), Johnson et al. (1980), Green (1981), Daniel & Hanzák (1985), Oliver (1985), Bell (1986), Newton et al. (1990), Sawada & Harada (1995), Kock (1996), Bates & Harrison (1997), Csorba et al. (1999), Myers et al. (2000), and Mekada et al. (2001).
Brian H. Hodgson collected 373 specimens of 70 genera and 114 species of mammals from Nepal (Mitchell 1975). Scully (1887) described 19 species of bats from Nepal based upon Hodgson’s and his own collections. Hinton (1922a) distinguished Soriculus nigrescens subspecies deposited in the British Museum in which he described the subspecies S.n. centralis from Nepal collected by N.A. Baptista. Hinton (1922b) described house rats of Nepal including four subspecies of Rattus rattus, R. rattoides and R. nitidus. Hinton & Fry (1923) published an annotated checklist of 81 genera and 119 species of mammals based on collections by Lt. Colonel R.L. Kennion and N.A. Baptista from August 1920 to March 1921. Hinton (1924) described a new field mouse Apodemus gurkha collected by N.A. Baptista from Laprak, Gorkha on 09 May 1923. Fry (1925) supplemented the annotated checklist of Hinton & Fry (1923). He described 44 species of mammals collected by N.A. Baptista. Lindsay (1929) described a new squirrel Sciuropterus gorkhali (now Petaurista elegans) from Nepal on the basis of eight specimens collected by N.A. Baptista from Gorkha listed in Hinton & Fry (1923). Biswas & Khajuria (1955) reported two new species Ochotona angdawai and Alticola bhatnagari and two new subspecies Rattus rattus khumbuensis and Mus musculus pygmaeus. Biswas & Khajuria (1957) described a collection of 52 specimens of 21 species and subspecies. They reported the first record of Beech Marten Martes foina intermedia from Nepal. Frick (1969) produced a checklist of 169 species and subspecies of mammals found in Nepal. Caughley (1969) listed 16 genera and 17 species of mammals from the Trishuli watershed. A German research expedition in 1961–62 visited the Khumbu region of the Nepalese Himalayas and collected 314 skins and skulls of insectivores and rodents. Greuber (1969) explained the occurrence of species in relation to biotope and altitude. Wiegel (1969) produced an annotated checklist of the species, discussed insectivores and rodents, reported a new species Soriculus gruberi and a new subspecies Sorex cylindricauda nipalensis, demonstrated Mus musculus pygmaeus reported previously by Biswas & Khajuria (1955) is a young of M.m. homourus and the species were discussed in relation to distribution in the zoo-geographic regions. Worth & Shah (1969) collected specimens of mammals from Nepal for ectoparasites studies. It included 27 specimens of five genera and three families of bats which were collected from Kathmandu, Pokhara and eastern Tarai by R.M. Mitchell (Mitchell 1978a). Chesemore (1970) noted 40 species of mammals mainly from southern Nepal. Agrawal & Chakraborty (1971) examined the collection of small mammals by R.M. Mitchell from Nepal. They published a note describing a new species Ochotona mitchelli. Abe (1971, 1977) described taxonomic and ecological data for 570 small terrestrial mammals comprising 28 species collected from 33 localities in central Nepal. Abe (1982) detailed the ecological distribution and the faunal structure of central Nepal’s small ground mammal fauna. Martens & Niethammer (1972) recorded a new species Apodemus sylvaticus wardi (currently considered a synonym of Apodemus pallipes) for Nepal and collected new material of A. gurkha. Also, they mentioned the distribution pattern of both species. Niethammer & Martens (1975) discussed the genera Rattus and Maxomys (now Niviventer) from Afghanistan and Nepal based upon the specimens collected by Martens from Nepal. Mitchell (1975) prepared a checklist of 145 species and subspecies of mammals (excluding bats) based upon 4,000 terrestrial mammal specimens representing 130 species collected by the Nepal Ectoparasite Program between 1967 and 1970. Mitchell & Punzo (1975) described a new species Ochotona lama (now O. nubrica) from Nepal. Mitchell & Punzo (1976) discussed five new records of mammals from Nepal namely, Ovis ammon hodgsoni, Tragulus meminna, Crocidura attenuata, Suncus stoliczkanus and S. estruscus pygmaeoides. Mitchell & Derksen (1976) reported mammals of nine species of four orders. Mitchell (1978a) prepared a checklist of 18 genera and 37 species of bats among which 15 genera and 17 species were collected from Nepal Health Survey, Nepal Ectoparasite Program and Arun Valley Wildlife Expedition. Six new records were listed in the checklist. Mitchell (1978b) described six species of pikas from Nepal based upon 155 specimens collected by the Nepal Ectoparasite Program. Mitchell (1979) provided accounts of 11 species of eight genera of sciurid rodents from Nepal. Mitchell (1980) reported new records of five species from Nepal.
Gregori & Petrov (1976) described six species based upon 46 specimens from Makalu-Barun collected by J. Gregori during the 1972 Yugoslav Himalayan Expedition. In 1977, Joe T. Marshall, Jr. published an erudite monograph on Asian species of the genus Mus, which included the collection locality of specimens of Mus cervicolor, M. cookii, and M. musculus collected by the author and Stephen C. Frantz from Tiger Tops in Royal Chitwan National Park, Hetauda, and Kathmandu. Jhonson et al.(1980) described 35 species of mammals with three new species namely, Tupaia glis (now T. belangeri), Vulpes bengalensis and Lepus grahami (now L. oiostolus) based upon 112 specimens collected by S.D. Ripley from 1948–1949. Ingles et al. (1980) reported the first record of Diomys crumpi and records of other three shrews based upon the specimens deposited in the British Museum of Natural History collected by the University of East Anglia Expedition to Nepal from 1978–1979.
Green (1981) published a checklist with notes on some mammals from Langtang National Park. Daniel & Hanzák (1985) examined taxonomic and ecological aspects of 139 specimens of six species of mammals from Makalu-Barun, which was collected by the Czechoslovakian Expedition from 26th March and 25th May, 1973. Oliver (1985) surveyed Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, and Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve and reported the presence of Caprolagus hispidus in all three protected areas, but evidence of Porcula salvania was not confirmed. Bell (1986) confirmed an occurrence of four male and three female C. hispidus at two sites in the Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve together with two Indian hares (Lepus nigricollis ruficaudatus) at the Reserve’s camp at Pipariya. Newton et al. (1990) described the collection of 71 specimens of 11 species of Muridae and Soricidae from nine localities in Nepal collected by the University of East Anglia Expedition to Nepal from 1978–1979. Suwal & Verheugt (1995) enumerated a checklist of 181 species of 39 families of 12 orders of mammals. Kock (1996) discussed a collection of 10 species of chiroptera from Nepal (Nine species were collected by Jochen Martens, of the University of Mainz, between December, 1969 and May, 1973 and one specimen of Pteropus giganteus presented by B.H. Hodgson). Bates & Harrison (1997) compiled detailed information on 49 bat species from Nepal. Information was gathered through museum visits, literature study and short field seasons, in which specimens of six species were collected and deposited in the Harrison Zoological Museum. Topal (1997) explained the Myotis longipes collected from Nepal to be different from collections at other locations. Csorba et al. (1999) reported recent records of chiroptera from Nepal, with remarks on their natural history based upon 23 bat species collected by Russian and Hungarian expeditions. They added first records of three species namely Ia io, Murina cyclotis, and Kerivoula hardwickii from Nepal. They also prepared a checklist of 51 species known as of that date from Nepal in an appendix. They focused on Myotis csorbai, which proved to be a new species. Myers et al. (2000) lately summarized their field work in and near Chitwan National Park during March 1990 based upon the collection of 143 specimens of 14 bat species. They reported first records of Eonycteris spelaea and Eptesicus dimissus as well as verified presence of Miniopterus pusillus and Kerivoula picta. Mekada et al. (2001) conducted a faunal survey and collected 131 specimens of insectivores and rodents from the Annapurna region and outskirts of Kathmandu City in 1996 and 1999. Majupuria & Kumar [Majupuria] (2006) published a book with a checklist of 187 species of mammals reported from Nepal including Yeti. Baral & Shah (2008) presented a checklist of 208 species of mammals including humans in the book “Wild Mammals of Nepal”.
Checklists on Nepalese mammals have been periodically refined since Hinton & Fry (1923). Fry (1925), Frick (1969), Mitchell (1975), Mitchell (1978a), Csorba et al. (1999), Yonzon (2004), and Majupuria & Kumar [Majupuria] (2006) were the primary publications of checklists of mammals. A checklist of mammals found in Nepal in Baral & Shah (2008) is the latest. However, there are contradictions in these checklists. There has been no attempt in updating a standard checklist on mammals from Nepal in a journal since Mitchell (1975). Thus I aim to fill this gap in knowledge.
Materials and Methods
I prepared a checklist based on a review of literature regarding mammals of Nepal. Abe (1971, 1977), Mitchell (1975), Johnson et al. (1980), Molur et al. (2002, 2005), Baral & Shah (2008), Acharya et al. (2010), Pearch (2011), Jnawali et al. (2011), and Thapa et al. (2012) were the major source of information on species. Similarly, Suwal & Verheugt (1995), Shrestha (1997) and Majupuria & Kumar [Majupuria] (2006) were additionally cited. Taxonomic updates are based on Wilson & Reeder (2005) and IUCN (2013).
Careful analysis and verification of the presence and absence of mammals confirmed occurrence of 192 species of mammals representing 37 families and 12 orders. It includes two endemic species; Apodemus gurkha and Myotis csorbai. Two species new to Nepal are added in this checklist namely; Mus pahari and Scotozous dormeri. A checklist of mammal species that are confirmed to occur in Nepal is given in Table 1.
Thomas & Hinton (1922) described the 52 specimens of 10 species deposited in the British Museum collected by A.F.R. Wollaston during the 1921 Mount Everest Expedition. All the collection localities fall in Tibet. Unfortunately, the species described in this paper were added to the Nepalese checklist. Therefore, some species have not yet been discovered from the country or they do not occur here (Table 2).
Pearch (2011) clearly updated the small mammals of Nepal enumerating 118 species; however, I disagree with some species inclusions and exclusions in his list until and unless a satisfactory field assessment of the fauna is undertaken. Therefore, with respect to Pearch (2011), I include Eptesicus gobiensis as a probable species of a small mammal of Nepal. Sorex thibetanus is included in Pearch (2011). However, this species is still subject to taxonomic controversy, with little conclusive information currently available for the species (Hutterer 2005) and it is considered endemic to China (Smith & Xie 2008). Agrawal & Chakraborty (1971) labeled a specimen Sorex araneus from Nepal. Hoffmann (1987) questioned the identity of the specimen, however, suggesting that it may be assignable to S. excelsus (Chakraborty et al. 2004; Pearch 2011). S. araneus is restricted to Europe according to IUCN (2013). Therefore, I include S. excelsus in this list for the specimen collected by Agrawal & Chakraborty (1971).
I doubt the presence of Sphaerias blanfordi in the country as Lekagul & McNeely (1977) mentioned no specific location other than eastern Nepal without any further details (Bates & Harrison 1997; Pearch 2011). Similarly, the taxonomy of Rhinolophus subbadius is controversial as the holotype of the species from Nepal could not be traced (Csorba et al. 2003; Pearch 2011). The locality for Myotis siligorensis listed as Siligori, Nepal is erroneous as Siligori is in India. This brings into question the occurrence of the species in Nepal. On this point, I agree with Pearch (2011), but the unconfirmed identification of a Myotis mystacinus siligorensis specimen in the collections of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University (MCZ 32977) hints further taxonomic research is required. Therefore, I keep M. siligorensis as a probable species for Nepal. Myotis mystacinus is confined to Europe and the specimens referred as M. mystacinus have been reassessed as M. nipalensis by Benda and Tystsulina (2000), therefore, I exclude M. mystacinus from the list of Pearch (2011).
With respect to Jnawali et al. 2011, I include Mus platythrix as a probable species of small mammal from Nepal. Ochotona himalayana is speculated to be distributed in Nepal; there is no record of this species. Hence, I do not include this species in the checklist. Ochotona thibetana perhaps can be found in Shey-Phoksundo National Park (SPNP) (Suwal & Verheugt 1995; Shrestha 1997; Majupuria & Kumar [Majupuria] 2006). However, Smith & Boyer (2008) show its distribution in high mountains near the Tibetan border in eastern Nepal (Thapa et al. 2011). Because there is no record of specimens of this species from Nepal I exclude it from the list. Semnopithecus ajax is restricted to India, however, Brandon-Jones (2004) claimed its occurrence from Nepal on the basis of a skin from Melamchi (Groves & Molur 2008). Hence, further confirming studies are necessary.
Corbet & Hill (1992) mapped the distribution of Scotophilus kuhlii from the Tarai region of Nepal, but, there had been no record of a voucher specimen. Two specimens of S. kuhlii (CDZ TU_BAT 030; CDZ TU_BAT 032) are deposited in the Museum of Central Department of Zoology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. Recently, Thapa et al. (2012) recorded Scotozous dormeri to Nepal.
The presence of Indian Chevrotain Moschiola indica is uncertain from Nepal (IUCN 2013), Baral et al. (2009) raised the need of additional survey. The Pygmy Hog Porcula salvania, Wild Yak Bos mutus and Chiru Pantholops hodgsonii appear to be extinct from Nepal (Harris & Leslie 2008; Mallon 2008; Narayan et al. 2008).
Previous checklists (Baral & Shah 2008; Jnawali et al. 2011) include 208 species. However, this checklist reduces the number to 192 on the basis of concrete evidence of occurrence of species through valid specimens and literature on specific records. The research aspect on small mammals and small cats of this country is poor which will be fostered in coming days. Many more new species of this category of mammals will be added to the current checklist.
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