Nilgiri Marten, Anamalai Tiger Reserve

by Divya Mudappa
Srikanth Sarathy
This picture was shot in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in April 2012 on the main road between Pollachi and Valparai.

Chosen as Picture of the Week

There has been no scientific study of the Nilgiri Marten till date, and whatever we know of their distribution or habits are from anecdotal information of chance encounters. This picture was shot in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in April 2012.

Only a handful of biologists and naturalists have had the good fortune of having sighted one of the most elusive and fascinating species of small carnivores of the Western Ghats — the Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii). The Nilgiri Marten is a small carnivorous mammal endemic to moist and wet evergreen forests of the Western Ghats—occurring at altitudes ranging from about 150 – 2200 m. It is similar to the more commonly seen and more widely distributed Yellow-throated Marten (M. flavigula), and belongs to the same family (Mustelidae) as the otters and weasels. Although it is a species active during the day (diurnal), the Nilgiri Marten is rarely seen. They are likely to be naturally rare and wide-ranging due to their more carnivorous diet. They are arboreal and agile in the canopy of forests and often seen on trees. However, they have been observed on the ground, sometimes hunting animals such as monitor lizard or mouse deer. Most sightings have been either of a single individual or a pair.

There has been no scientific study of the species till date, and whatever we know of their distribution or habits are from anecdotal information of chance encounters. They have been reported to occur from the Agasthyamalai hills (8°N; Mudappa 2002) in the south to Sampaje, Karnataka (12°N; Karanth 1985) in the north. For a collation of past and recent sightings of the species refer to Krishna and Karnad 2010. The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Schedule II, Part 2 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

This picture was shot in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve on the morning of 18th April 2012 by Mumbai-based wildlife photographer Srikanth Sarathy. It was observed on a tree by the main road between Pollachi and Valparai.

About the author

Divya Mudappa

Divya Mudappa works as a Wildlife Biologist with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Mysore. Her research and conservation interests include tropical rainforests, small carnivores, hornbills, and plant-animal interactions.

Comments


Older Comments
  1. wow, what a sight!
    they hunt monitor lizards and mouse deer !?! aren’t they too big for them?

  2. Brinda  Dubey

    Loved the photograph! I have seen pine martens up in Mukhteshwar and Jeolikote, but this is the first time I have seen a photograph of a Nilgiri Marten.
    Thanks for posting.

  3. Excellent sighting and a lovely photo as well. I go often to Valparai and will certainly be on the look out for this elusive creature on my next visit.

    I had seen a Nilgiri Marten in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in May 2008, got some photos but not clear ones, though suffices for recording the moment.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/snonymous2/3588376312/

  4. Udiyaman  Shukla

    Good sighting of this rare animal. I had seen a pair in Munnar, Kerala in 2010, in a Euclayptus plantation but couldn’t manage a photo.