Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
Like many other smaller creatures, hedgehogs too have also been largely ignored in India by Forest Departments, naturalists, biologists and conservationists. Shy and secretive, they are more often seen dead as a result of being run over by vehicles on roads.
The Madras hedgehog (Parachinus nudiventris, Horsfield 1851) also known as the bare-bellied hedgehog, is a small-sized insectivorous mammal endemic to the dry scrub forests and grasslands of southeastern India. It is one of the 17 species of hedgehogs found in the world.
Although locally common in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, very little is known about the Madras hedgehog’s ecology and population status. Hedgehogs are hunted for medicinal purposes and traded in the illegal pet trade. At the same time, they face habitat loss due to the collection of fuel wood, logging, agriculture, and urbanization. the Madras hedgehog is not a protected species in India, and is listed as of ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN (although the Indian hedgehog (Paraechinus micropus) is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972).
Due to the lack of awareness about the species, educational programs were held in schools and colleges in Tenkasi, Erode, Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Kanyakumari, and Sivagangai districts of Tamil Nadu from October 2021 to April 2022 to inform people about their ecological role and the threats faced by these species. We also conducted questionnaire surveys to gain firsthand knowledge about the distribution of this species. We hope these activities will help shed light on the conservation of this elusive species.