Pampadum Shola has significant population of evasive Nilgiri Marten

A pair of Nilgiri marten photographed by researcher Navaneeth Kishor at Pampadum Shola National Park, Kerala.

A pair of Nilgiri marten photographed by researcher Navaneeth Kishor at Pampadum Shola National Park, Kerala.

Pampadum Shola National Park located on the southern portion of Western Ghats is a safe haven of rare and most elusive Nilgiri Marten and the proposed eco-tourism activities there require careful planning and regular review, says a set of researchers who spent about three years chasing the vulnerable and little known animal.

The January 26 issue of Journal of Threatened Taxa has carried findings of their research which involved 148 days of field study. They had 42 independent sightings of the elusive animals in this period. Endemic to the Western Ghats, Nilgiri Marten looks like a civet or a mongoose and it most prefers higher altitudes.

"The earlier information was that Nilgiri Matrten was a solitary animal. However, our Pampadum Shola experience proves that they can be spotted as pairs and triplets as well. We were able to gather information on the dietary habits of the carnivorous animal. The elusive species requires more research and focus,’’ said Naseer Oommer from Attappady, who was part of the research team. G Anil, Navaneeth Kishor, Naseef Gafoor and P O Nameer were the other members of the team, arguably the first collective attempt to understand the elusive animal.

With the 42 independent sightings in Pampadum Shola, the researchers feel the area and its extended forest stretches in Kerala and Tamil Nadu constitute the largest haven of the elusive mustelids. The number is vital as the global population of the Nilgiri Marten is estimated below 1000. Though not much studies were undertaken on Nilgiri marten, it found place in schedule 2 of the part 2 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection ) Act 1972.

"Coming under Munnar Wildlife Division, Pampadum Shola enjoys proximity of Kurunjimala Wildlife Sanctuary and Palani hills of Tamil Nadu. The shoal grass lands in this region must have significant presence of Nilgiri Marten,’’ said Mr Naseer.

The team had also recorded their sounds and also their hunting patterns. The Nilgiri Martens often engage in allo-grooming and resting on fallen tree trunks. During day time, they remain restless and active. ``Interestingly, the endangered animal was spotted in the close proximity of the now non-operational Munnar-Kodaikanal Road. That is a blessing in disguise,’’ said Mr Naseer.

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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 10:19:37 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/pampadum-shola-has-significant-population-of-evasive-nilgiri-marten/article22597494.ece