Two new mammalian species added to Kaziranga's fauna

News Excerpt:

Two new mammalian species have been added to the list of fauna in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve taking the mammalian count in the 1,302 sq. km tiger reserve to 37.

  • Both are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

The elusive binturong (Arctictis binturong): 

  • It is the largest civet in India also known as the bearcat.
  • An arboreal mammal native to South and Southeast Asia, the binturong is not easily found due to its nocturnal and arboreal habits. It is also uncommon in much of its range and is known to have a distribution exclusive to the northeast of India.

The small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus):

  • The small-clawed otter was spotted after a short training programme for the officers and frontline staff conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India in collaboration with the Assam Forest Department.
  • Also known as the Asian small-clawed otter, the mammal has a wide distribution range extending through India eastwards to Southeast Asia and southern China. 
    • In India, it is found mostly in the protected areas of West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and some parts of Kerala in the Western Ghats region.
  • Small-clawed otters have partially webbed feet with short claws, which make them skilled hunters in aquatic environments. 
    • They are primarily found in freshwater habitats where they feed on a diet of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks.
  • The small-clawed otter was previously reported from the western Himalayas and parts of Odisha. There are no recent records of its presence in these two regions.

About Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR):

  • It is located in Golaghat, Nagaon and Sonitpur districts of Assam.
  • It is the oldest park in Assam and covers an area of 430 sq km along the river Brahmaputra in the north and the Karbi Anglong hills in the south.
  • National Highway 37 passes through the park area and tea estates, hemmed by table-top tea bushes.
  • It is inhabited by the world's largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses (2,613 according to 2023 Census).
  • It is also known for the "BIG FIVE" mammals: one-horned rhinos, tigers, elephants, Asiatic wild buffalos, and eastern swamp deer.
  • The list of mammals in Kaziranga, is topped by the Big Five:
    • The great Indian one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis).
    • Indian elephant (Elephas maximus).
    • Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris).
    • Wild water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis).
    • The eastern swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli).
  • It was declared a National Park in 1974.
  • In 1985, UNESCO declared Kaziranga National Park a World Heritage Site.
  • Over time, the tiger population also increased in Kaziranga, and that’s the reason Kaziranga was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.

Related news - 84,839 birds in Assam's Kaziranga, new census finds

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