Journal of Threatened Taxa | www.threatenedtaxa.org | 26 December 2019 | 11(15): 14955–14970

 

 

 

A review on status of mammals in Meghalaya, India

 

Adrian Wansaindor Lyngdoh 1, Honnavalli Nagaraj Kumara 2, P.V. Karunakaran 3 & Santhanakrishnan Babu 4

 

1,2,3,4 Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Anaikatty Post, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641108, India.

1 adrian.lyngdoh@gmail.com, 2 honnavallik@gmail.com (corresponding author), 3 karunakaran.pv@gmail.com, 

4 sanbabs@gmail.com

 

 

 

Abstract: In this paper we present an updated checklist of mammals found in Meghalaya.  Using online databases and search engines for available literature, we provide the scientific names, accepted English names, conservation status as per IUCN Red List, Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act schedules, appendices in CITES, local distribution status, endemism, last reported sighting, an account of previous studies carried out relative to mammals and a tentative bibliography of the mammalian species found in Meghalaya.  A total of 162 species were found to be existing in the state with Chiropterans forming the largest group and 27 species found to be threatened, seven Near Threatened and seven Data Deficient.

 

Keywords: Checklist, CITES, Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, IUCN, mammalian species, northeastern India.

 

Abbreviation: BBL—Balpakram Baghmara Landscape; CEPF—Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund; CITES—Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Appendix I, II and III); EGH—East Garo Hills; EJH—East Jaintia Hills; EKH—East Khasi Hills; GBIF—Global Biodiversity Information Facility; GH—Garo Hills; ISFR—Indian State Forest Report; IUCN—International Union for Conservation of Nature; IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Categories (CR—Critically Endangered; EN—Endangered; VU—Vulnerable; NT—Near Threatened; LC—Least Concern; NA—Not Assessed); IWPA—Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (Schedule I, II, III, IV, and V); JH—Jaintia Hills; KH—Khasi Hills; MBSAP—The Meghalaya State Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan; NP—National Park; RB—Ri-Bhoi; RF—Reserved Forest; SGH—South Garo Hills; WGH—West Garo Hills; WJH—West Jaintia Hills; WKH—West Khasi Hills; WS—Wildlife Sanctuary; WWF—World Wide Fund for Nature; ZSI—Zoological Survey of India.

 

 

 

doi: https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.5192.11.15.14955-14970  |  ZooBank: urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:CD7F14D9-F322-44D3-85D6-6273EF22D40D

 

Editor: L.A.K. Singh, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. Date of publication: 26 December 2019 (online & print)

 

Manuscript details: #5192 | Received 26 June 2019 | Final received 30 November 2019 | Finally accepted 05 December 2019

 

Citation: Lyngdoh, A.W., H.N. Kumara, P.V. Karunakaran & S. Babu (2019). A review on status of mammals in Meghalaya, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 11(15): 14955–14970. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.5192.11.15.14955-14970

 

Copyright: © Lyngdoh et al. 2019. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.

 

Funding: Implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Nodal and Serving hub with G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment & Sustainable Development (GBPNI/NMHS-2017-18/MG 32, dated: 28.03.2018).

 

Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.

 

Author details: Adrian W. Lingdoh was a research biologist in the project which was exploring the biodiversity and its importance in the community conservation reserves of Meghalaya. Now he is an independent researcher studying Slow Loris and its conservation in Meghalaya.  Honnavalli N. Kumara is a Principal Scientist in SACON. His research focuses on various aspects of conservation. P.V. Karunakaran is a Principal Scientist in SACON. His research focuses on vegetation science and landscape ecology. Santhanakrishnan Babu is Senior Scientist at Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Tamil Nadu. His research focuses on ornithology, landscape ecology, and Remote Sensing & GIS.

 

Author contribution:  Conceptualization: Honnavalli Nagaraj Kumara.  Data compilation: Adrian W Lyngdoh. Manuscript writing: Adrian W Lyngdoh and Honnavalli Nagaraj Kumara.  Mentoring, supervision, and editing: Honnavalli Nagaraj Kumara, P. V. Karunakaran and Santhanakrishnan Babu

 

Acknowledgements: This communication is part of a project on the characterization and assessment of Conservation Values of Community Reserves in Meghalaya.  We are thankful to the National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India for funding this study (GBPNI/NMHS-2017-18/MG 32, dated: 28 March 2018).  Dr. Kireet Kumar, Scientist and Nodal Officer and his team of scientists and other staff at the Project Management Unit (PMU-NMHS), at the GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development (GBPNIHESD) are acknowledged for their logistic support and timely actions for the smooth conduct of the project.  Our sincere thanks are due to Shri H.C. Chaudhary IFS, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) & Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW), Government of Meghalaya, and his subordinate officers of the Forest and Environment Department, Government of Meghalaya for facilitating to get the permission from the Community Reserve Management Committee of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills for carrying out the study.  We are indebted to the Management Committees of each of the Community Reserves who  gave us permission for this work.  At SACON, we thank Dr. K. Sankar, Director, for his constant encouragement and the support he extended to this project since its inception.

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The global mammalian fauna is represented by 6,495 species, of which 6,399 are extant and 96 are extinct (Mammal Diversity Database 2019).  India has a total of 423 species, which accounts for 7.81% of the global mammalian species (Sharma et al. 2015).  A majority of these species are distributed in the four biodiversity hotspots of India—the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka, the Himalaya, Indo-Burma, and Sundalands biodiversity hotspots (Myers et al. 2000; CEPF 2016).  The state of Meghalaya (25–26oN, 89.5–93oE; Figure 1) is part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot along with other parts of northeastern India south of the Brahmaputra River. This hotspot also includes parts of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos PDR, southern China and touches a small portion of peninsular Malaysia and extends over two million square kilometers (Myers et al. 2000; Mittermeier et al. 2004).  The Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot has been considered to be one of the most important regions in the world and is ranked among the top 10 hotspots for irreplaceability due to high species diversity and endemism (Myers et al. 2000; Mittermeier et al. 2004).  Its forests, freshwater and coastal ecosystems not only support many globally threatened species but also the region’s human population.  It houses about 430 mammalian species of which 73 species are endemic to the hotspot.  Its natural habitat has been reduced to about 5% of its original extent due to human activities such as shifting cultivation, conversion to farmland, plantations, logging, deliberate forest fires, mining, damming and poaching (Tordoff et al. 2012).  This has earned the hotspot a rank in the top five for most threatened (Mittermeier et al. 2004; Tordoff et al. 2012).

Meghalaya, nestled in the northeastern India biogeographic zone is a conflux of the Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese biogeographic realms (Palni et al. 2011) and as such is considered one of the richest habitats of Asia with a high diversity of mammals, birds, and plants (Rodgers & Panwar 1988, as cited in WWF 2019).  Its diverse landscapes with gentle slopes in the north, steep slopes in the south forming deep valleys and a central plateau (Mani 1974; MBSAP 2017) has resulted in a diversification of its forests and wildlife.  About 76.45% of its total geographic area is under forest cover (ISFR 2017) and is composed of tropical evergreen forests, tropical semi-evergreen forests, tropical moist and deciduous forests, grasslands and savanna, temperate forests and subtropical pine forests (Haridasan & Rao 1985).  Meghalaya is also a part of the Meghalaya subtropical forests ecoregion and has been described as the gateway to the Malayan fauna and as such houses closely related species with different distributional ranges such as the Indian and Chinese pangolins (WWF 2019).  In recognition of its important position of harbouring diverse mammalian species, we attempt to update the list of mammalian species found in the region.

One of the earliest accounts of mammals in the state of Meghalaya dates back to the 19th century surveys that covered British India and other neighbouring regions (Harlan & Burrough 1834; McClelland 1841; Blyth 1852; Dobson 1874; Jerdon 1874; Sterndale 1884; Blanford-- -1888–91).  Between 1847 and 1875, numerous collectors had also visited the region and documented the mammals found in the state (Alfred 1995).  During the early decades of the 20th century, many mammalian specimens were collected from various parts of the state and a description of some of the species was done (Allen 1906; Kemp 1924; Hinton & Lindsay 1926).  From the second half of the century, the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has also published numerous works on the fauna of the state (Alfred 1995).  Apart from the work done by ZSI, other authors have also compiled lists of mammals found in Meghalaya as part of a wider effort to document mammals of the entire Indian subcontinent (Pocock 1939, 1941; Ellerman & Morrison-Scott 1951; Ellerman 1961; Prater 1965; Corbett & Hill 1992).

Between 1989–94, ZSI conducted a systematic survey of all fauna in the state including mammals through specimens available in its repository and secondary literature, and published a checklist of mammals (Das et al. 1995).  A total of 139 mammal species were reported, representing 83 genera and 27 families in the state.  This list, however, had also erroneously cited species that were not historically found in the region.  Since then, many mammalian species have been discovered and an updated checklist is warranted. Recently, Choudhury (2013) compiled a comprehensive checklist and systematic review of all mammals found in northeastern India including Meghalaya based on primary as well as secondary sources, which serves as an important source of information for the mammals of northeastern India.  Kakati and Kabra (2015) reported 51 mammalian species in Balpakram-Baghmara Landscape, Garo Hills, while Goswami (2015) documented 20 mammalian species in Jaintia Hills.  Meghalaya’s extensive karst topography provided the ideal settings for the diversification of bats with a tentative list of about 65 bat species having been reported from the state (Saikia et al. 2018).  Considering all the new additions to the  state in recent years by surveys and records from all available literature, we provide an updated checklist of mammals for Meghalaya along with their distribution, conservation and management status.

 

 

METHODS

 

We collected all published and gray literature available about the mammals of Meghalaya and thoroughly reviewed them to prepare a comprehensive list of mammals that have been reported to occur in Meghalaya.  Online databases, web portals, websites and sites such as Google Scholar, ResearchGate, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Shodhganga, GBIF, and IUCN Red List were accessed for collecting the literature.  Technical Reports and unpublished literature were also collected from the authors through personal communication.  Conservation status as per IUCN Red List, schedule category in Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 (IWPA), Appendices in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and last reported sighting in the state were compiled to highlight the importance of the landscape for mammal conservation (Image 1).  The taxonomic arrangement of the species follows Wilson & Reeder (2005) and Wilson & Mittermeier (2009).

 

 

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

 

A total of 162 species of mammals belonging to 31 families were reported from the state of Meghalaya (Table 1; Figure 2).  Chiropterans formed the largest group of mammals with 65 species (40%).  This was followed by rodents with 35 (22%) and carnivores with 34 species (22%).  The rest of the groups constituted less than 20% of the total mammal diversity in the state (Figure 3).  Evening bats formed the largest group at 35 species, followed by murids at 21, sciurid and mustelids at 10 each.  Among the 162 species, 27 are threatened (one Critically Endangered, nine Endangered, 17 Vulnerable) and seven species each as Near Threatened and Data Deficient (Figure 2, Table 2).  None of the species, however, are endemic to Meghalaya.

 

Mammals excluded from the Meghalaya list

A few species have been excluded from this list because they could be locally extinct, erroneously mentioned in the literature or have not been formally recognized as a separate species.  A description of their past and current distribution in northeastern India is also summarized here in support of their exclusion from this list.

Barasingha Rucervus duvaucelii was stated to be present in East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya (Das et al. 1995) although no record of its existence is available except for a hunting report in 1894 on three Barasinghas shot on the border of East Garo Hills of Meghalaya and Goalpara District of Assam (Choudhury 2001; Choudhury 2013).  In northeastern India, the species’ past range extended along the foothills of the Himalaya from upper Assam and were common in the Brahmaputra Valley with many having still existed in a few districts of Assam till as late as 1934 (Blanford 1888–91; Lydekker 1915; Bhadian 1934; Schaller 1967).  Since then, however, their numbers have drastically dwindled and their current distribution in northeastern India is now restricted to only a few pockets of Assam in Kaziranga NP and Manas NP (Schaller 1967; Choudhury 2001a; Srinivasulu et al. 2012; IUCN 2019).

Chital Axis axis was stated to be present in Ri-Bhoi and East Khasi Hills districts of Meghalaya (Das et al. 1995).  It is, however, unlikely to have occurred as there is no historical record of the species occurring south of the Brahmaputra River (Choudhury 2001a).  In northeastern India, Chital is restricted to the western part of Assam, north of the Brahmaputra River (Choudhury 2001a; IUCN 2019) with its most recent record at Manas NP (Bhatt et al. 2018).  Its easternmost record was at Dhunsiri River in Darrang District reported in 1935 by A.J.W. Milroy (De 1935).

Chousingha Tetracerus quadricornis was reported to be present in West Garo Hills although it could be a misidentified Naemorhedus goral (Das et al. 1995).  This species is endemic to peninsular India and parts of lowland Nepal (Leslie et al. 2009; Srinivasulu et al. 2012; IUCN 2019).

Himalayan Serow Capricornis thar in this paper is reported as Capricornis rubidus.  Due to the lack of information on the taxonomic status of the Capricornis sp. in northeastern India, some reports have considered them as C. thar (Srinivasulu et al. 2012; IUCN 2019) although others have reported it as C. rubidus (Choudhury 2013; Kakati et al. 2015).

Indian Crested Porcupine Hystrix indica was reported from Meghalaya (Goswami 2015); however, this species is not distributed in northeastern India (IUCN 2019).

Dormer’s Bat Scotozous dormeri was reported by Sinha (1995) based on a damaged male specimen from Shillong but examination of its teeth and external characteristics suggested it to be of another species, Hypsugo cadornae (Saikia et al. 2018).

Dusky Leaf-nosed Bat Hipposideros ater reported in Meghalaya from a single record that is doubtful, and is excluded from this list (Kurup 1968; Choudhury 2013; Saikia et al. 2018).

A new species of bat, Hipposideros khasiana was reported in Meghalaya based on the differences in call frequencies of the bats from their closely related species H. larvatus (Thabah et al. 2006).  Due to the lack of type material, however, this species has not yet been formally recognized as a distinct species from H. larvatus (Saikia 2018; Saikia et al. 2018).

Specimens collected from Siju Cave in Meghalaya and identified as the Eastern Bent-winged Bat (Miniopterus fuliginosus) (Sinha 1999) were found to be that of M. magnater (Saikia et al. 2018).  M. fuliginosus although likely to be found in the state is yet to be formally identified (Saikia et al. 2018).

 

A note on natural history of other species

Elephants: Numerous studies on Asian Elephants Elephas maximus have been carried out in Meghalaya (Johnsingh 1996a,b; Choudhury 1999, 2004, 2007; Johnsingh & Williams 1999; Williams & Johnsingh 2004; Datta-Roy et al. 2008, 2009; Marak 2009; Kaul et al. 2010; Marcot et al. 2011; Goswami et al. 2014).  Meghalaya is known to have one of the largest and densest populations of Elephants in India with a population of 1,811 as per 2008 records (Datta-Roy et al. 2008; Marcot 2011).  The State Forest Department conducted the first Elephant census in and around Balpakram National Park (NP) in 1981.  The number of Elephants was estimated to be 2,333 (Gogoi & Choudhury, as cited in Williams & Johnsingh 1996a).  The first state-wide Elephant census was conducted in 1993 which estimated Elephants to be numbering 1,850 (William & Johnsingh 1996a; Choudhury 1999).  The number increased slightly to 1,868 Elephants in 2002 (Marcot 2011).  Fourteen distinct populations of Elephants were identified throughout northeastern India (Choudhury 1999).  Two of the populations are shared between Assam and Meghalaya.  These two populations form a sizeable portion of the estimated 11,000 Elephants found in northeastern India (> 50%).  One large population was found in Ri-Bhoi and Jaintia Hills districts and another in West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi, and Garo Hills districts.  Populations in western Khasi Hills are around more than 800 and in Garo Hills around 1,800, with the latter having a density of 0.74 km-2.  A smaller population of Elephants exist in some parts of Jaintia Hills (Choudhury 1999).  Areas in and around Nokrek NP and Balpakram-Baghmara Landscape in Garo Hills have been reported to have the highest potential for long term conservation of Elephants in the region (William & Johnsingh 1996a) and as such warrant greater conservation efforts.  Three critical Elephant corridors were identified in Garo Hills, one of them faced tremendous anthropogenic pressure and another one was at risk of being overexploited for timber and coal as most of the corridor is private or community owned land and does not come under the control of the Forest Department (William & Johnsingh 1996b).  In 2003, six corridors (five in Garo Hills and one in Jaintia Hills) were identified by the Wildlife Trust of India for the long-term conservation of Elephants in the state (Kaul et al. 2010).

Human-Elephant interaction is intense in some parts of Garo Hills.  This is mainly attributed to disturbances caused by ‘jhum’ (slash and burn regime) and coal mining (William & Johnsingh 1996a).  Retaliatory killing due to crops being raided and poaching of Elephants has also increased over the years (Johnsingh & William 2004).  The presence of Elephants in human-occupied areas and intensity of conflicts with humans varies highly across the landscape.  Various factors such as sowing and harvesting season of crops and availability of wild forage had an influence on the Elephant visits (Datta-Roy et al. 2008, 2009); however, in most cases, these Elephant visits were not negative in nature.  Elephants have also been observed to use sites close to PAs more intensely than sites away from the PAs.  The presence of humans further augmented this trend (Goswami et al. 2014).  A few Elephants (40–50) from South Garo Hills have been reported to cross the border annually to Bangladesh and lone males in Jaintia Hills have also been observed to cross the International boundary occasionally (Choudhury 2007).

Primates: The distribution and status of different primate species were mapped, and the forest status and human pressures in northeastern India were assessed by Srivastava (2006).  Extensive surveys were carried out throughout the region between 1994 and 1999.  The survey reported the presence of Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, Assamese Macaque Macaca assamensis, Northern Pig-Tailed Macaque Macaca leonina, Stump-Tailed Macaque Macaca arctoides, Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus, Western Hoolock Gibbon Hoolock hoolock, and Bengal Slow Loris Nycticebus bengalensis in Meghalaya. All the species were observed to occur in very low densities.  Habitat loss and hunting were reported to be the main threats to the primates.  In some cases, indiscriminate hunting had extirpated local populations despite the availability of large tracts of primary forest.  Interactions with humans due to crop raiding have led to retaliatory killing of macaques and langurs (Srivastava 2006).

Stump-Tailed Macaque was reported to occur in Mawsynram area of the Khasi Hills, Balpakram NP and Nokrek RF while Pig-Tailed Macaque were reported in all districts including Mawsynram area of East Khasi Hills, West Garo Hills, and West Khasi Hills (Biswas 1977; Sati & Alfred 1990; Molur et al. 2003).  Rhesus Macaque was reported to occur in Garo and Khasi hills, Assamese Macaque in Balpakram NP, Songsek Tasek RF and Siju WS, and Capped Langur in Garo Hills (Molur et al. 2003).  Habitat destruction and hunting were stated to be the main threats for all the species.

Preliminary investigations have reported the occurrence of the Bengal Slow Loris in Meghalaya (Radhakrishna et al. 2006; Nandini et al. 2009; Radhakrishna et al. 2010).  The species occurs in very low numbers and its population may have reduced over the years owing to threats such as forest fragmentation, vehicle collision, and hunting (Radhakrishna et al. 2006).  Other major threats to the species were hunting for bushmeat, capture for pets, man-made fires, mining and conversion of forests to plantations (Radhakrishna et al. 2010).  The species has been sighted in Nongkhyllem WS, Narpuh RF, Baghmara RF, Balpakram NP, and Nokrek NP although its density is very low (Molur et al. 2003; Kakati et al. 2009; Radhakrishna et al. 2010).

The occurrence of Western Hoolock Gibbons has been reported in East Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, Ri-Bhoi, and Khasi Hill districts (Baskaran 1975; Molur et al. 2003).  Hoolock Gibbon also occurs in 32 localities in West Garo Hills (Alfred & Sati 1990).  Hoolock Gibbon populations in West Garo Hills had declined between 2007 and 1985–87 by 26.2% owing to human disturbances such as tree felling, jhum, livestock grazing, and poaching (Alfred & Sati 1990; Sati 2011).  It was observed that the rate of survival might have been severely affected and establishment of new colonies was not happening.

Rodents: Rodents have hardly been studied in Meghalaya, except for a couple of studies that reported on the partial albinism of White-Bellied Rat Rattus niviventer (Rajagopal & Mandal 1965).  A faunal account of all rodent species found in India was provided through an extensive collection available at the British Museum (Ellerman 1961).  Accounts of all mammalian species including a few rodent species found in the Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo hills region was also provided by Hinton & Lindsay (1926).

Chiropterans: Bats have been well documented in Meghalaya.  About 65 species have been reported in the state (Saikia et al. 2018).  One of the first scientific records of bats in Meghalaya was of the description of Scotomanes ornatus done by Blyth in 1851 (Saikia et al. 2018).  Since then bats have been documented throughout the Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo hills (Dobson 1871, 1872, 1874; Thomas 1921; Kemp 1924; Hinton & Lindsay 1926; Topal 1970; Lal 1977; Sinha 1990, 1994, 1995, 1999; Thabah & Bates 2002; Thabah et al. 2006, 2007; Ruedi et al. 2012a,b, 2014; Thong et al. 2017; Saikia et al. 2017, 2018; Korad 2018).  Most of the studies reported only the taxonomic status and distribution of the bat species.  One of the few studies that focused on the ecology of bats (Thabah et al. 2007) reported on the feeding and echolocation behavior of the Great Evening Bat Ia io.  The authors found that the species preyed on birds, although coleopterans formed the main constituent of their diet.

Unregulated mining activities for limestone and coal near cave systems pose a threat to the caves and the fauna they harbour (Saikia 2018).  Expansion of plantations, demand for firewood and deforestation associated with mining activities threaten the survival of bat species as well as all other forest-dwelling species (Ruedi et al. 2012a, 2014).  Hunting of bats for a supplementary source of protein is another threat.  Improvised techniques are employed for their capture from caves by locals, and the number of captured bats has been reported to go as high as 100 on a single night.  Some of the bat meat is sold in local markets (Ruedi et al. 2012b; Saikia et al. 2018).  This overharvesting has led to a decline in the bat population, with some colonies retreating to inaccessible cliffs and caverns (Saikia et al. 2018).

Dhole: A questionnaire-based survey reported that Dhole Cuon alpinus was still common in Garo Hills although throughout the state it had become very rare (Johnsingh 1985).  The species was last sighted in Garo Hills (Kakati & Kabra 2015).

Bears: A few studies have reported the occurrence of three bear species in Meghalaya, viz., Asian Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, and Malayan Sun Bear Helarctus malayanus (Blanford 1888–91; Hinton & Lindsay 1926; Sathyakumar 2001; Johnsingh 2003; Sathyakumar & Choudhury 2007; Choudhury 2011; Kakati & Kabra 2015).  An Asian Black Bear was photo-captured in Balpakram-Baghmara Landscape in Garo Hills (Kakati & Kabra 2015).  The occurrence of Sloth Bear in Meghalaya was confirmed through a specimen acquired from Khasi Hills and preserved at the Zoological Survey of India as well as by local hunters who were familiar with all three species (Choudhury 2011).  Choudhury (2011) also reported the sighting of a Malayan Sun Bear pelt from Balpakram NP in the early 1980s; however, no systematic study has been carried out till date for any of the bear species.

The major threats faced by these species are habitat loss, construction of linear infrastructure and dams, coal mining and shortening of jhum cultivation cycles (Sathyakumar 2001; Choudhury 2011).  Asiatic Black Bear also faces pressure from poaching for its bile (Choudhury 2011).

Mustelids: Specimens of Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah and skins of Burmese Ferret-badger Melogale personata were acquired from Khasi and Jaintia hills (Pillai & Biswas 1971).  The authors stated that the Khasis ascribed magical properties to the teeth of the weasel and used it to remove fish bone stuck in the throat.  The Burmese Ferret-badger and Small-toothed Palm Civet Arctogalida trivirgata were camera-trapped for the first time by Kakati et al. (2014a, 2014b) in Garo Hills.  The Burmese Ferret-badger had earlier only been recorded in Khasi Hills (Choudhury 2013).

Red Panda: A disjunct population of Red Panda Ailurus fulgens, locally known as Matchibel, was reported in Meghalaya through four skins of the species collected from Nokrek and Balpakram in Garo Hills in the 1960s and 1980s (Choudhury 1997, 2000a,b).  The largest known specimen was shot in the early 1960s in Nokrek NP (Choudhury 2000a).  This was the first record of the species in a tropical forest.  It also holds the record for the lowest elevation reported for the species at 200m.  This population was thought to have migrated through the Patkai and Naga ranges to the Garo Hills.  It was also stated to be found in the Khasi Hills (Choudhury 2000b) although no evidence was provided.

Ungulates: Populations of Wild Water Buffalo Bubalus arnee- have declined in Meghalaya as well as in the whole of northeastern India owing to the destruction of habitat through the conversion of elephant-grass jungles to farmland, hunting pressure and transmission of diseases by livestock.  In Meghalaya, there currently exists only a small population in Balpakram NP (Choudhury 1994).

The Gaur Bos gaurus is mainly found in South Garo Hills and West Khasi Hills although a small population is also found in Ri-Bhoi District (Choudhury 2002).

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Meghalaya being part of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot and also hosting a diverse array of Indo-Malayan species is an important landscape for the conservation of many of the mammalian species that exist in the subcontinent.  With about 38% of all Indian mammals found in the state, it is worthwhile to emphasize the need for greater conservation efforts in this region.  Although a decent number of studies have been conducted, most have focused only on Asian Elephants and only in the Garo Hills region while hardly a handful of studies have focused their attention on other species and in other parts of the state; most of the studies on other species have been limited to preliminary investigations and provide only a synoptic view of species distribution, occurrences and threats.  Certain taxa such as the chiropterans have in recent years been well documented, but are restricted only to the taxonomic field.  Other taxa such as the rodents, although representing the second largest group in the state, have hardly been studied.  A wider concerted effort in conducting additional studies on other lesser appreciated groups and lesser known species and tackling both ecological as well as human-wildlife questions would provide a firm foundation for undertaking holistic conservation actions to ensure the persistence of the mammalian fauna in the state.

 

 

Table 1. Checklist of mammals found in Meghalaya, India.

 

Taxa

Common name

IUCN Red List status

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 schedule/ status

CITES

Distribution

Source

 

Order Proboscidea: Elephants

 

 

 

 

 

Family Elephantidae: Elephants

 

 

 

 

1

Elephas maximus

Asian Elephant

EN

Sch I (Part I)

I

WGH, EGH, SGH, RB, WKH, JH

1,2,3,4,5

 

Order Scandentia: Tree Shrews

 

 

 

 

 

Family Tupaiidae: Tree Shrew

 

 

 

 

2

Tupaia belangeri

Common Tree Shrew

LC

Sch II (Part I)

II

WGH, EGH, EKH

1,2,3,4

 

Order Primates: Primates

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Lorisidae: Lorises

 

 

 

 

3

Nycticebus bengalensis

Bengal Slow Loris

VU

Sch I (Part I)

I

WGH, EGH, EKH

1,2,3,4

 

Family Cercopithecidae: Old World Monkeys

 

 

 

4

Macaca arctoides

Stump-tailed Macaque

VU

Sch II (Part I)

II

All districts

1,2,3,4

5

Macaca assamensis

Assamese Macaque

VU

Sch II (Part I)

II

All districts

1,2,3,4

6

Macaca leonina

Northern Pig-Tailed Macaque

VU

Sch II (Part I)

II

All districts

1,2,3,4

7

Macaca mulatta

Rhesus Macaque

LC

Sch II (Part I)

II

All districts

1,2,3,4,5

8

Trachypithecus pileatus

Capped Langur

VU

Sch I (Part I)

I

All districts

1,2,3,4,5

 

Family Hylobatidae: Gibbons

 

 

 

 

 

9

Hoolock hoolock

Western Hoolock Gibbon

EN

Sch I (Part I)

I

WGH, EGH, SGH, RB, WKH

1,2,3,4,5

 

Order Rodentia: Rodents

 

 

Family Muridae: Rats and Mice

 

 

 

10

Bandicota bengalensis

Lesser Bandicoot Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

EKH, JH, GH

1,2,3

11

Bandicota indica

Large Bandicoot Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

EKH, JH, GH

1,2,3

12

Berylmys bowersi

Bower's Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

Mawphlang

1,3,9

13

Berylmys mackenziei

Kenneth's White-toothed Rat

DD

Sch V

NA

Shillong

1,2,3

14

Chiropodomys gliroides

Pencil-tailed Tree Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

EKH, JH

1,2,3

15

Leopoldamys edwardsi

Long-tailed Giant Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

WGH, EGH, RB, JH

1,2,3

16

Micromys minutus

Harvest Mouse

LC

Sch V

NA

EKH

1,2,3

17

Mus booduga

Little Indian

Field Mouse

LC

Sch V

NA

WGH, EGH, EKH, JH

1,2,3

18

Mus cervicolor

Fawn-coloured Mouse

LC

Sch V

NA

EKH, GH, JH

1,2,3

19

Mus cookii

Cooke's Mouse

LC

Sch V

NA

Khonshnon, Shangpung

1,3,9

20

Mus musculus

House Mouse

LC

Sch V

NA

All districts

1,2,3

21

Mus pahari

Sikkim Mouse

LC

Sch V

NA

WGH, EKH, JH

1,2,3

22

Niviventer fulvescens

Chestnut Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

WGH, EKH, RB, JH

1,2,3

23

Niviventer confucianus

Chinese White-bellied Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

WGH, EKH, RB, JH

3

24

Niviventer niviventer

White-bellied Rat

LC

Sch IV

NA

EKH, RB, JH

1,2,3,4

25

Rattus andamanensis

Indo-Chinese Forest Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

WGH, EKH, RB, JH

1,3,9

26

Rattus nitidus

White-footed Himalayan Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

WGH, EGH, SGH, EKH, RB, JB

1,2,3

27

Rattus rattus

House Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

All districts

1,2,3

28

Rattus norvegicus

Brown Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

EKH

2,3

29

Rattus tanezumi

Oriental House Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

All districts

1,3

30

Vandeleuria oleracea

Indian Long-tailed Tree Mouse

LC

Sch V

NA

EKH, JH

1,2,3

 

Family Sciuridae: Squirrels

 

 

 

 

 

31

Ratufa bicolor

Malayan Giant Squirrel

NT

Sch II (Part I)

II

All districts

1,2,3,4,5

32

Belomys pearsonii

Hairy-footed Flying Squirrel

DD

Sch II (Part I)

NA

GH

2,3

33

Hylopetes alboniger

Parti-coloured Flying Squirrel

LC

Sch II (Part I)

NA

EKH, JH

1,2,3

34

Petaurista petaurista

Red Giant Flying Squirrel

LC

Sch II (Part I)

NA

All districts

1,2,3

35

Petaurista philippensis

Indian Giant Flying Squirrel

LC

Sch II (Part I)

NA

GH, KH

1,2,3

36

Callosciurus erythraeus

Red-bellied Squirrel

LC

No mention of this in WPA

NA

All districts

2,3,4

37

Callosciurus pygerythrus

Hoary-bellied Squirrel

LC

Sch II (Part I)

NA

All districts

1,2,3,4,5

38

Dremomys lokriah

Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel

LC

Sch II (Part I)

NA

All districts

1,2,3

39

Funambulus pennanti

Himalayan Five-striped Palm Squirrel

LC

Sch IV

NA

KH, JH

2,3

40

Tamiops macclellandii

Himalayan Striped Squirrel

LC

No mention of this in WPA

NA

EKH

1,2,3,4

 

Family Spalacidae: Bomboo Rats

 

 

 

 

 

41

Cannomys badius

Bay Bamboo Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

EGH, EKH, JH

1,2,3

42

Rhizomys pruinosus

Hoary Bamboo Rat

LC

Sch V

NA

All districts

1,2,3

 

Family Hystricidae: Old-World Porcupines

 

 

 

43

Atherurus macrourus

Asiatic Brush-Tailed Porcupine

LC

Sch II (Part I)

NA

All districts

1,2,3,4

44

Hystrix brachyura

Himalayan Crestless Porcupine

LC

Sch II (Part I)

NA

All districts

1,2,3,4,5

 

Order Lagomorpha: Hares and Rabbits

 

 

 

 

 

Family Leporidae: Hares

 

 

 

 

 

45

Caprolagus hispidus

Hispid Hare

EN

Sch I (Part I)

I

Balpakram NP and Chenggni border SGH

3

46

Lepus nigricollis

Indian Hare

LC

Sch IV

NA

All districts

1,2,3,4

 

Order Eulipotyphla: Moles and Shrews

 

 

 

 

 

Family Soricidae: Shrews

 

 

 

 

 

47

Crocidura fuliginosa

Southeast Asian Shrew

LC

NA

NA

WGH, EKH

2,3

48

Crocidura attenuata

Asian Grey Shrew

LC

NA

NA

WGH, EKH, JH

1,2,3

49

Suncus etruscus nudipes

Pygmy White-toothed Shrew

LC

NA

NA

EKH, JH

1,2,3

50

Suncus murinus

Asian House Shrew

LC

NA

NA

EKH, WGH, JH

1,2,3

51

Anourosorex assamensis

Assam Mole Shrew

LC

NA

NA

EKH, JH

1,2,3

 

Family Talpidae: Moles

 

 

 

 

 

52

Euroscaptor micrura

Indian Short-tailed Mole

LC

NA

NA

EKH, JH, GH

1,2,3

53

Parascaptor leucura

White-tailed Mole

LC

NA

NA

EKH, JH

1,2,3

 

Order Chiroptera: Bats

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Miniopteridae: Long-fingered Bats

 

 

 

 

54

Miniopterus pusillus

Lesser Bent-winged Bat

LC

No mention of this in WPA 

NA

Umlyngsha, EJH

7

55

Miniopterus
magnater

Large Bent-winged Bat

LC

No mention of this in WPA 

NA

SGH, EJH, EKH, WKH, RB.

7

 

Family Pteropodidae: Old World Fruit Bats

 

 

 

56

Cynopterus brachyotis

Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bat

LC

Sch V

NA

EJH, WGH

1,3,7

57

Cynopterus sphinx

Greater Short-nosed Fruit Bat

LC

Sch V

NA

WGH, EGH, SGH, KH, EJH

1,2,3,7

58

Eonycteris spelaea

Lesser Dawn Bat

LC

Sch IV

NA

SGH, EKH, JH

1,2,3,7

59

Macroglossus sobrinus

Hill Long-tongued Fruit Bat

LC

Sch IV

NA

EKH, JH

1,2,3,7

60

Megaerops niphanae

Northern Tailless
Fruit Bat

LC

Sch V

NA

WKH, EJH

1,2,3,7

61

Pteropus giganteus

Indian Flying Fox

LC

Sch V

II

EKH, RB, WGH

1,2,3,4,7

62

Rousettus leschenaultii

Leschenault's Rousette

LC

No mention of this in WPA 

NA

WGH, EGH, SGH, EKH, JH

1,2,3,7

 

Family Rhinolophidae: Horseshoe Bats

 

 

 

63

Rhinolophus affinis

Intermediate Horseshoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH, JH

1,2,3,7

64

Rhinolophus lepidus

Blyth's Horseshoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH, JH, SGH

1,2,3,7

65

 Rhinolophus luctus

Great Woolly Horseshoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH, JH

1,2,3,7

66

 Rhinolophus macrotis

Big-eared Horseshoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH, EJH

1,3,7

67

Rhinolophus pearsonii

Pearson's Horsehsoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH, JH, GH

1,2,3,7

68

Rhinolophus pusillus

Least Horseshoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH, SGH, WGH, JH

1,2,3,7

69

Rhinolophus siamensis

Thai Horseshoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

EJH

7

70

Rhinolophus sinicus

Chinese Horseshoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH, EJH

7

71

Rhinolophus subbadius

Little Nepalese Horseshoe Bat

LC

NA

NA

GH, EKH

1,2,3,7

 

Family Hipposideridae: Old-World Leaf-Nosed Bats

 

 

 

72

Coelops frithii

Tailless Leaf-nosed Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH

1,2,3,7

73

Hipposideros armiger

Great Himalayan Leaf-nosed Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH, JH, GH

1,2,3,7

74

Hipposideros cineraceus

Least Leaf-nosed Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH, JH, RB

1,2,3,7

75

Hipposideros larvatus

Horsfield's Leaf-nosed Bat

LC

NA

NA

WGH, KH, EJH, RB

1,2,3,7

76

Hipposideros pomona

Anderson's Leaf-nosed Bat

LC

NA

NA

SGH, EKH, RB, EJH

1,2,3,7

77

Hipposideros
lankadiva

Indian Leaf-nosed Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH, RB, EJH, SGH

2,3,7

 

Family Megadermatidae: False Vampire Bats

 

 

 

78

Megaderma lyra

Greater False Vampire

LC

NA

NA

WGH, RB, EKH, EJH

1,2,3,7

79

Megaderma spasma

Lesser False Vampire

LC

NA

NA

BBL, RB, EKH

1,3,4,7

 

Family Emballonuridae: Sheathtail Bats

 

 

 

 

80

Saccolaimus saccolaimus

Bare-rumped
Sheathtail Bat

LC

NA

NA

Phulbari, WGH

1,3,7

81

Taphozous melanopogon

Black-bearded Tomb Bat

LC

NA

NA

WKH

1,7

 

Family Molossidae: Free-Tailed Bats

 

 

 

 

82

Chaerephon plicatus

Wrinkle-lipped Free-tailed Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH, WGH

1,2,3,7

83

Otomops wroughtoni

Wroughton's Free-tailed Bat

DD

Sch I (Part I)

NA

EKH, JH

1,3,7

 

Family Vespertilionidae: Evening Bats

 

 

 

 

84

Arielulus circumdatus

Black-gilded Pipistrelle

LC

NA

NA

EKH

1,2,3,7

85

Eptesicus pachyotis

Thick-eared Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH

1,2,3,7

86

Scotomanes ornatus

Harlequin Bat

LC

NA

NA

EGH, EKH, JH

1,2,3,7

87

Scotophilus heathii

Asiatic Greater Yellow House Bat

LC

NA

NA

WGH, EKH

1,2,3,7

88

Scotophilus kuhlii

Lesser Asiatic Yellow House Bat

LC

NA

NA

GH, EKH

1,2,3,7

89

Pipistrellus ceylonicus*

Kelaart's Pipistrelle

LC

NA

NA

EJK

1,7

90

Pipistrellus coromandra

Indian Pipistrelle

LC

NA

NA

JH, EKH, RB, GH

1,2,3,7

91

Pipistrellus javanicus

Javan Pipistrelle

LC

NA

NA

KH

1,7

92

Pipistrellus paterculus

Mount Popa Pipistrelle

LC

NA

NA

EJH

1,7

93

Pipistrellus mimus

Least Pipistrelle

LC

NA

NA

WGH, EKH

1,2,3,7

94

Pipistrellus
kuhlii

Kuhl's Pipistrelle

LC

NA

NA

EKH

3,7

95

Barbastella leucomelas

Eastern Barbastelle

LC

NA

NA

JH, KH

1,2,3,7

96

Plecotus  homochrous

Long-eared Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH

1,2,7

97

Hypsugo joffrei

Joffre's Pipistrelle

DD

NA

NA

EKH

7

98

Hypsugo savii

Savi's Pipistrelle

LC

NA

NA

EKH

1,2,3,7

99

Ia io

Great Evening Bat

LC

NA

NA

KH, EJH

1,2,3,7

100

Tylonycteris malayana

Greater Bamboo Bat

LC

NA

NA

EJH

7

101

Tylonycteris pachypus

Lesser Bamboo Bat

LC

NA

NA

WGH, EKH

1,2,3,7

102

Myotis altarium

Szechwan
Myotis

LC

NA

NA

EKH, EJH

7

103

Myotis formosus

Hodgson's Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH

1,2,3,7

104

Myotis horsfieldii

Horsfield's Myotis

LC

NA

NA

JH

1,2,3,7

105

Myotis laniger

Chinese Water Myotis

LC

NA

NA

EKH

1,2,3,7

106

Myotis longipes

Kashmir Cave Bat

DD

NA

NA

SGH, EJH, EKH, WKH

1,2,3,7

107

Myotis muricola

Nepalese Whiskered Bat

LC

NA

NA

WJH, EKH

1,3,7

108

Myotis pilosus

Rickett’s
Big-Footed
Myotis

NT

NA

NA

EKH

7

109

Myotis siligorensis

Himalayan
Whiskered Bat

LC

NA

NA

JH, KH

1,2,3,7

110

Harpiocephalus harpia

Lesser Hairy-winged Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH

1,2,3,7

111

Murina aurata

Little Tube-nosed Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH

1,3,7

112

Murina cyclotis

Round-eared Tube-nosed Bat

LC

NA

NA

EKH, JH