Jeypore Rainforest

Fauna-Mammals

The magnificent dipterocarp forests of Jeypore are a mosaic of undisturbed patches where ancient trees of huge girth and height tower above the canopy, heavy with lianas and climbers; dense secondary growth areas are seen at sites that are recovering from logging and other disturbances; and open patches pan out near treefalls or the streams and rivers which flood during the monsoon and form thick, tangled undergrowth. The terrain ranges from flat areas ca. 100 m asl to parallel ridges upto 450 m asl. Everywhere, rocky or sandy streams and rivers criss-cross the forest. India, with its predominantly tropical climate and diverse habitats has 1,306 species of birds, which forms more than 13% of the world's bird assemblage with 57 or 4.4% being endemic species. Of these, 953 species have been recorded in the north-eastern region of which 19 species are endemic. So far, 46 species of mammals have been documented here. The lush, humid and undisturbed forest is a refuge for at least 6 endangered mammal species including the wild dog and capped langur. Mid-mornings in Jeypore ring out with the loud calls of the hoolock gibbon, a globally critically endangered species for which this is one of the most secure sites in its range. It is part of the range also of some 200 elephants that roam in the landscape, within the Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve and represents India's eastern-most viable population of this endangered National Heritage animal at present. The live capture of one animal and camera-trap photos of a tigress make Jeypore a critical focus site for this highly endangered species in the eastern-most part of Northeast India, where tigers are feared to have been poached out from most other sites. Another endangered species in the landscape is the Gangetic river dolphin, of which a small group swims up the Buridehing river along Jeypore and stays for a few weeks during the monsoon high waters. There are 9 Vulnerable species in Jeypore including rare carnivores like the clouded leopard, marbled cat, Malayan sun bear, binturong and Asian small-clawed otter; primates such as slow loris and pig-tailed macaque; and ungulates such as sambar and gaur. In the list of 6 Near Threatened species are 4 carnivores viz. leopard, golden cat, large Indian civet and hog badger; one primate - the Assamese macaque and one rodent - the Malayan giant squirrel. Recently, the Jeypore and adjacent Dehing landscape has been found to have one of South Asia's highest diversity of carnivores (19 species) confirmed mostly through camera-trap photographs and two species through direct sightings. This landscape also has the highest diversity of wild cat species confirmed by photos from any single, contiguous landscape in the world, making it all the more special and deserving of immediate conservation attention. The mammals occupy all the three tiers of the Jeypore rainforest. Elephants blaze numerous trails through the vegetation for numerous terrestrial mammals to follow, including the deer and pig, behind which again come the large predators such as tiger and wild dog. Clouded leopards and marbled cats are believed to be able to hunt in the trees, living a partly arboreal existence; while the palm civets and binturong are mainly arboreal feeding on fruits and sometimes on small mammalian or bird prey. The primates and squirrels occupy the middle and top canopies, rarely coming to the forest floor where they are more vulnerable to predation The otters occupy the aquatic niche, while the crab-eating mongoose and hog badger seem to prefer soft, wet ground where they can dig out worms and other small prey. The social systems are diverse as well among the mammals, with group-living species like elephants, wild dogs, otters and primates; and solitary species like the cats, civets and bear; and pairs or threes often seen among the squirrels and mongooses. During the say, it is possible to track down calling hoolock gibbons and see and photograph the squirrels and other primates. The nocturnal animals are very difficult to see, although night-walks may turn up a flying squirrel or two, a slow loris or civet and very rarely, one of the cats.