Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Caught on Film: Carnivores in India


CEPF grant recipient Kashmira Kakati shares a report and photos from her camera-trap survey of carnivores in Assam, India.

Clouded leopardThe sub-tropical evergreen Hollong-Nahor forests of Jeypore-Upper Dehing-Kakojan (ca. 570 km²) are located in eastern Assam. These are among the last remaining lowland rain forests in northeast India.

Although fragmented and highly disturbed, they are the refuge of several Endangered species such as the elephant, hoolock gibbon, tiger, white-winged wood duck and the tree Vatica lanceaefolia (globally Critically Endangered). The wildlife is poorly documented, and only 111 km² of the entire area is protected as the Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.

I am carrying out a camera-trapping survey to assess species richness of the carnivore community in these forests. Surveys in Jeypore and Upper-Dehing East Block have been completed, confirming the presence of 26 species of mammals*.

This CEPF-Eastern Himalaya, WCS-India Program and Rufford Foundation supported effort has yielded the first ever camera-trap photographs of the clouded leopard, golden cat, marbled cat and Malayan sun bear from Assam. This is also the first time that tiger and wild dog have been confirmed in these forests from photographs.

VIEW PHOTOS: Caught on film: carnivores in India

With five large carnivores (tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, wild dog and Malayan sun bear) and three species of elusive small cats (golden cat, marbled cat and leopard cat), the Jeypore Reserve Forest now holds the distinction of being the only location in northeast India where the sympatric presence all of these eight charismatic carnivores have been confirmed with photographs.

It is also only the third location in northeast India, after Manas and Namdapha national parks, where the increasingly rare wild dog has been photographed.

The other 15 species of mammals recorded on the camera traps are large Indian civet, small Indian civet, common palm civet, yellow-throated marten, crab-eating mongoose (small carnivores); sambar, barking deer, wild pig, elephant (ungulates); brush-tailed porcupine, Malayan porcupine and an unidentified species of flying squirrel (rodents); pig-tailed macaque, Assamese macaque and capped langur (primates).

Additionally, two rodent and one bat species photographed are awaiting identification.

It has been gratifying to find all these animals still surviving in such disturbed habitat. Several of our cameras have been stolen by hunters or smashed by elephants. I can bear no grudge against the elephants, but the hunters worry me.

I hope my findings will convince the Forest Department of Assam to upgrade the protection status of this crucial wildlife habitat and watershed.

*The Upper Dehing East Reserve Forest is a CEPF priority site (outside priority corridors). Four of the animals photographed (tiger, clouded leopard, elephant and capped langur) are CEPF priority species.

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