Retreating wild mammals of Pune Urban Area

Sanjeev B Nalavade

Department Of Geography, Fergusson College, Shivaji Nagar, Pune, 411 005.

Email: nalawade123@vsnl.net


Introduction

Despite hosting most wildlife lovers, urban wild life is hardly explored unlike remote areas. The first notable mammal study in Pune area (Adams, 1858) was by a medical officer in the British Army Station. Later, the Gazetteer (Keyser, 1885) briefly describes wild life in the district with few references of those from around the city. About two dozen different mammal species were collected from Pune environs during the mammal survey of the Bombay Natural History Society during Jan.-May 1918. Trevenen (1922) while describing game birds around Pune, makes passing remarks on few game animals. Darkness prevailed during the middle of this century until the establishment here of the western regional station (WRS) of the Zoological survey of India (ZSI) around 1960. During 1960-70, the ZSI(WRS) made wide spread collection especially of rodents and bats. Dr. H. R.Bhat of the National Institute of Virology, Pune, has been monitoring bats from the region since the early sixties. Dr. Mrs. Korad of the Fergusson College has so far enumerated 12 bat species from the city. Bastwade and Mahabal (1976) described the roosting behaviour, seasonal population changes and local migration of the Flying fox. New species descriptions include rodents belonging to genus Millardia (Mishra, 1975) from Sinhagad. Dr. R. V. Ranade of the Garware College studied shrews, especially the Grey musk shrews. The pest-control department of Pune Municipal Corporation has enormous population collection data for trapped rat and mice, stratified by species and wards. Write-ups by many shikaris i.e. hunters throw light on the past status of game animal. Notable accounts include those by Phadtare (1945), Chavan (1968,1978), Tilak (1970) and Phamse (1971,1985). This has benefited Nalawade (1987) who enumerated 79 mammals species for the district, 60 of them recorded from the urban area.

Methodology

The study is based on observations from field visits to many localities across seasons since 1973. The evidences and clues employed to detect presence of mammals include tracks and trails i.e. footprints, plant feeding signs of herbivores, animal (carcass) feeding signs of carnivores, droppings, bones, nests and horns, calls, dead specimen as well as hair entangled in the wire fence etc. While most of the clues were photographed, most of the droppings, hairs etc. were brought back and analysed. Farmers, sheperds, tribals, amateur wildlifers and shikaris were interviewed with a focus on the changing status. The records and collection at the ZSI(WRS) were also inspected. Unpublished thesis and dissertations added as much information as printed sources such as scientific and popular articles and books.

Results

Annexure depicts the habitat wise distribution and ongoing changes of the 64 mammal species recorded till date from the area, including a few extinct ones. Table 1 depicts that the forests constitute the richest habitat, sheltering over half the total species, grasslands and plantation being poorest, hosting a mere sixth while habitations harbour a fifth. Wilderness zone harbours over two third the species while impacted zone of habitation and cultivation hosts over a half. A third of the total species are confined to forests while a sixth nearly confined to agricultural landscape. Grasslands hardly host any species exclusively. Wilderness zone exclusively hosts a little less than half the total species while impacted zone nearly a third. The ten commonest mammal species for the area include House rat, House mouse, Bandicoot rat, Three-striped palm squirrels, Kelaort’s pipistrelle bat, Yellow house bat, the three fruit bat species, Grey musk shrew and Blacknaped hare. The seven rarest species include Blackbuck, Mouse deer, Leopard cat, Smooth-coated Otter and Painted bat, besides Tiger and Gaur that are locally extinct.

Table 2 depicts the eight major urban environmental factors affecting the mammals in decreasing order of relative impact. Habitat loss due to urbanisation has significantly affected about a third of the species. In contrast, electrocution has affected only a handful. While pollution has probably affected most species, its precise impact is remains unexplored. Table 3 depicts the rate of retreat of a dozen important species pushed away from the city. While sensitive species such as black buck and tiger are retreating fastest, nearly a kilometer per annum; the most tolerant species such as civets and hare are pushed barely a twentieth of that. Table 4 compares the species richness of various mammal groups of Pune with that of Bangalore.

Discussion

Notwithstanding the hostilities that characterise most cities, Pune urban area hosts 65 species, ranking highest amongst India metropolis. Despite the extinction of few species and general population decline or retreat, rodents, particularly rats and mice appear flourishing. Squirrels can be spotted aplenty during the day, unlike most other species. Fruit bats have benefited most due to urbanisation, where home gardens bear many fruit trees. Habitat loss along the city outskirts entails that staying of wild animals into the city may increase in the future, such as the inexplicable leopard captured earlier this year. Besides carnivores, herbivores inhibiting hills but foraging on crops in the plains are main sufferers hill deforestation. Until two decades ago, thickets along the Katraj and Pashan lake were the favourite haunt of Jungle Cat that has disappeared today, as housing colonies have enveloped the lake. At Pashan,  the cat is only rarely sighted due to slightly better habitat. Habitat loss includes replacement of old wadas and bungalows with modern apartments and skyscrapers, virtually pushing out even the palm civets. The effect of growth of electrified lighting in pushing out the nocturnal animals needs study. Urbanisation at the cost of agriculture has constrained the wild boar population and movement, forced their shifting from the urbanised Mula-Mutha valley to the less impacted shivganga basin across the Katraj hills (Giri, pers.comm.). Besides habitat loss, urbanisation entails habitat degradation or disturbance. Multiplied human activities along the fringe areas such as hill forests have forced the essentially secretive and nocturnal animals to come out daylight or desert the area. Spotting a barking deer at the waterhole in Katraj valley even at moon time has become thing of the past. Morning walkers or fuelwood collectors often disturb hare resting in the hills. Stray dogs and even unchained pet dogs chase and even pray upon such hare. At Parvati-Pachegaon over five dozen such dogs roam at any time, few of them rarely chasing even four horned antelope. Many wild mammals especially hyena, jackal, fox are run over by heavy traffic while crossing the highway bypass, that cuts across their traditional migration corridor. Even a a leopard cub was run over at the Katraj Ghat section about two year. Numerous rats and mice killed on roads especially on the outskirts. Scavengers such as crows and kites spend busy morning clearing the roads. Among the diurnal animals, mongooses and squirrels are the main traffic victims. The dense network of overhead electric wires poles and transformers in the city has become hazardous for some mammals. Flying foxes are the most vulnerable given their 1 m wingspan. Everyyear about 50-70 of tehm die due to electrocution, which is nearly 2% of their city population, estimated about 3000 individuals.

Other driving forces pale in comparison to urbanisation. Pune always hosted many shikaris i.e. hunters who even cycled or walked to the hunting grounds such as hills, especially Sinhagad. Wild boar is the most heavily persecuted animal, having been shot, poisoned and even bombed! No wonder that the average herd size of wild boar has come down from 15-20 individual six decades ago to 8-10 individuals two decades ago (Phanse, D. S, pers.comm.). Five most hunted animals (with percentage share in parenthesis) by Phanse from around Pune from 1930 to 1980 include Wild boar (35%), Hare (23%), Barking dear (15%), Fourhorned antelope (15%) and Porcupine (12%). This resembles perceptions of other hunters. Permitted hunting was driven by desire for choice meat and in part, pelt or trophies such as Leopard skin. Disappearance of Black buck from around Pune is largely due to military camps during the Second World War that enjoyed the hunting spree. Further, many local farmers possessed guns earlier under the guise of crop protection but freely used them for game hunting. Though permitted hunting is presently halted, poaching still unabatedly persecutes favourite species. Trapping of wildlife has hardly contributed to wildlife decline, given its small scale, practiced mostly be specialist including the resident tribes such as Katkaris and nomadic tribes such as Phase-Pharadhis. Their traditional practices of catching, trapping, hunting techniques turn out sustainable (Kailash Malhotra, pers. comm.). Superstitions prevail even today take a toll of wildlife. For instance, Palm civets and Small Indian civets are still stoned to death, fearing that they attack children or exhume buried corpses. In contrast, despite beingnuisance to poultry, the Mongoose is spared, being considered sacred. Flying foxes are hunted to fetch their fat used for harvesting a medicinal oil. Hundreds of wolves have already been poisoned through their kills whenever they have become a menace to the sheep herds. A few cattle lifter leopards have also faced similar fate (Tilak 1970). Wildlife is also destroyed as vermin. For instance, the municipal Corporation periodically captures numerous rats and mice. Privately, thousands of them are trapped to death. However, their population seems to be unaffected or may even be flourishing. Civets and Jungle cat are also killed whenever chanced upon especially for their menace to poultry. Pune shikaris always shot many Jackals, Hyenas and wolves as vermin (Phanse, D. S., pers. comm.)

A comparison between the wild mammals of Pune with Bangalore (Table 3) is interesting and educative, given that these are situated on the same i.e. Deccan plateau, and inherit similar climate and the dry deciduous forest biome and have similar human population. One may expect Bangalore to boast higher species diversity owing to its proximity of southern Western Ghats and greater tree cover. However, reorded species richness of Pune city (64) far exceeds Bangalore (41, Karthikeyam, 1999). Table 4 depicts that both the cities share 37 species. The Bangalore exclusively hosts Slender loris, Rustyspotted cat, Sloth bear and Elephant. The first three had been recorded in the past century from Pune ghats. Pune hosts 24 exclusive specuies including the Bonnet monkey, Desert cat, Leopard-cat, Tiger, Wolf, Indian fox Pigmy shrew Five striped and Jungle striped squirrels, 3 rodent species, 7 bat species, Black buck, Mouse deer, Hyaena and Smooth-coated otter. Many of these species may exist around Bangalore but not recorded yet. Pune has the geographical advantage, being situated between the moist Western Ghat hills to the west and the semi-arid Deccan plains to the east. Hence, Pune shares mammals typical of both biogeographic zones. The Western Ghats elements include Leopard cat, Barking deer, Mouse-deer, Jungle stripped squirrels while the Deccan elements include Wolf, Fox, Black buck etc. Secondly, hills envelop Pune city and connect it to Western Ghats, unlike remotely and poorly connected Bangalore. Pune hills, especially the western ones have numerous ancient man-made caves locally termed `Lene’ that offer roosting habitats to many bats that visits the city. This explains the higher bat diversity at Pune. Larger proportion of area under canal irrigation along the eastern outskirts explains the higher diversity of rodents. While these trends may remain, greater mammal exploration at Bangalore might add some species to the present list.

Acknowledgements

I was greatly encouraged into these studies by the Friends of Animal Society (FAS) since way back in 1980s. RANWA colleagues, especially Utkarsh Ghate constantly persuaded me into this `Pune Alive’ project. Dr. M. S. Pradhan and colleagues at ZSI (WRS) for identification of some bat specimens, making available their records and for sharing their valuable information on species distribution. Perceptions of several 'old-time' shikaris greatly enriched this understanding. Kapil Sahsrabuddhe helped secretarially. I am indebted to them all.

Bibliography

Ali,Salim (1985) The Fall of a sparrow. Oxford Press, New Delhi.Pp.52.

Bastwade, D. B. and Mahabal, A. (1976) Some behavioural aspects of Indian Flying fox, Pteropus giganteus giganteus. Biovigyanam 2:209-212.

Chavan, V.M. (1968) Paradh (Marathi). Kesari Publ., Pune.

Chavan V.M. (1978) Sawaj (Marathi). Vora and Co., Mumbai.

Deshpande M.V. and Ghormade V. (2000) Flora and fauna of NCL Pune.

Gay, Thomas (1977) Poona. Imprint. (Dec.) 1977.

Kartikayan S. (1999) The vertebrate and butterfly fauna of Bangalore: A checklist. WWF -India, Karnataka State Office. Bangalore.

Keyser, A. (1985) Wild Animals. In `The Gazetter of the Bombay Presidency-Poona District, Part 1.

Khaire, N. (1998): Maitr Jeevache (Marathi). Indian Herpetological Society, Pune.

Nalawade, S,B. (1987): Mammalian Fauna of Pune District. Friends of Animal Society, Pune.

Mishra, Phadtre, R.V. (1945) Mrigaya (Marathi). Suyog Prakashan (1993 ed.), Pune.

Phanse, D. S. (1971) Shikaritil Jamati-Gamati (Marathi), Pune.

Phanse, D.S. (1985) Shikar- Katha (Marathi). Prasad publ., Pune.

Ranade, R.V. ( ) Anatomy of Indian House Shrew. Poona University Press, Pune.

Ranade R.V. (1989) A note on Pigmy Shrew (Suncus etruscus) JBNHS 86 (2) :238 -39

Ranade, R.V. ( ) Ph. D. Thesis , University Of Pune.

Tilak, Jayantrao (1970) Shikar (Marathi). Prestige Publ., Pune.

Trevenen, W.B. (1922) Shikar near and around Poona. JBNHS 28 (4) : 1075-81.


ANNEXURE: Distribution Status Of Mammls In Pune Urban Area

CODE: A- Abundant, ABD- Abundance, C- Common, CHG- Change, CS- Cause, D- Decline,  F- Forest, G- Grassland, H- Housing, HH- Harvest, HL- Habitat loss, I- Increase, K- Katraj, O- Occassional, P- Plantation, R- Rare, S- Scrub, Shgd- Sinhgad, W- Waterbodies

SCIENTIFIC NAME

COMMON NAME

HABITAT

ABD

CHG

CS

REMARK

Order Insectivora

           

Suncus etruscus

Indian pigmy shrew

HFS

O

     

Suncus murinus

Grey musk shrew

H

A

     

Order Scandentia

           

Anathana ellioti

Common/Madras tree shrew

F

O

   

K, Shgd

Order -Chiroptera

           

Rousettus leschenauti

Fulvous fruit bat

HFS

C

I

 

Suburbs

Pteropus giganteus

Indian flying fox

HFS

C

   

Sangam bridge

Cyanopterus spinx

Short nose fruit bat

HFS

C

I

 

Suburbs

Taphozous logimaus

Longwinged Tombbats

         

Megaderma lyra

Great false vampire bat

HF

     

Suburbs

Rhinolophus rouxii

Rufous horse shoe bat

         

Hipposiderosspeoris

Schneider leaf nosed bat

HF

R

     

Myotic horsefieldii

Horsefields bat

H

R

   

Peshwa Bat!

Pipistrellus ceylonicus

Kelaarts pipistrelle

HPAF

C

     

Pipisterllus coromandra

Indian pipistrelle

HPASF

C

     

Pipisterllus tenuis

Indian pigmy pipistrelle

HPASF

C

     

Hesperoptenus tickelli

Tickells bat

 

R

     

Scotophilus heathll

Great yellow house -bat

HPASF

C

     

Scotophilus kunlii

Lesser yellow house bat

HPASF

C

     

Kerivoula picta

Painted bat

 

R

     

Tadarida aegyptiaca

Egyptian free tailed bat

 

R

     

Order Primates

           

Macaca radiata

Bonnet monkey

HPASF

C

     

Presbytis entellus

Hanuman Langur

HPASF

C

   

Summer

Order Carnivora

           

Canis aureus

Jackal

A(W)

O

D

   

Canis lupus pallipes

Wolf

SG

R

 

HL

Summer emigrant

Vulpes benghalensis

Indian fox

HAFG(W)

 

D

HL

eastern Fringes

Lutra perspicillata

Smooth-coated otter

F(W)

R

D

 

Parvati canal

Viverriculla indica

Small Indian civet

HASF

     

Dhayari

Paradoxurus hermaphroditus

Common palm civet

HPASF

C

D

   

Herpestes edwardsi

Common mongoose

FSGPA

C

D

 

Suburbs

Herpestes smithi

Ruddy mongoose

F

O

     

Hyaena hyaena

Striped Hyaena

FS

O

 

HL

Fringes

Felis silvestris

Desert cat

A

?

     

Felis chaus

Jungle cat

SG

O

D

HL

K, Pashan

Felis bengalensis

Leopard cat

       

not city

Panthana pardus

Leopard or Panther

F

O

   

Winter, K, Shgd

Panthan tigris

Tiger

F

O

Ex

 

NDA, 1930

Order Artiodactyla

           

Sus scrofa cristatus

Wild boar

SA

O

D

HH,HL

Mula canal

Tragulus memmina

mouse deer

F

R

   

NDA

Muntiacus muntjak

Muntjac or barking deer

F

O

   

K, Shgd

Axis axis axis

Cheetal or Spotted deer

F

C

I

 

NDA, Introduced

Tetracerrus quadricornis

Four horned antelope

S

O

     

Bos gaurus

Gaur

F

S

?

 

K

Antilope cervicapra

Black buck/Indian antelope

G

O

Ex

HH

Agakhan Palace

Gazella gazella benneti

Chinkara or Indian gazelle

FS

O

D

HH

 

Order Pholidota

           

Manis crassicaudata

Indian pangolin

FS

R

     

Order Rodenta

           

Funambulus palmarum

Three striped palm squirrel

FPA

A

     

Funambulus pennanti

Five striped palm squirrel

PH

A

     

Funambulus tristriatus

Jungle striped squirrel

F

R

   

Shgd

Tatera indica

Indian gerbil

A

       

Vandeleuria oleracea

Long tailed tree mouse

F

S?

   

Erandawana, Bhat

Golunda elliota

Indian Bushrat

S

C

     

Millardia kondana

Kondana field-rat

F

R

   

Mishra, 1976

Millardia meltada

Soft-furred field-rat

A

       

Rattus blanfordi

Blandfords rat

F

F

     

Rattus rattus

Common house rat

H

A

   

Grainary

Mus booduga

Little Indian field-mouse

A

     

Fringes

Mus musculus

Common house-rat

H

C

   

Wadas, Grainary

Mus platythrix

Indian brown spine-mouse

A

     

Fringes

Bandicota bengalensis

Indian mole-rat

A

       

Bandicota indica

Bandicoot rat

H

A

I

 

Drainage

Hystrix indica indica

Indian crested porcupine

FS

O

D

HH

 

Order Logomorpha

           

Lepus nigricollis

Indian blacknaped hare

FSAG

 

D

HL

NDA

 

TABLE 1: Species Richness of Pune habitats

Habitat Type

No. of Total Species

% of Unique Species

Forest

38

30

Scrub

20

10

Grassland

10

6

Plantation

12

-

Agriculture

22

-

Habitation

15

6

Low impact zone (Forest, Scrub, Grassland)

42

30

Impacted zone (Plantation, Agriculture, Habitation)

36

6

 

TABLE 2: Impact factors and levels regarding mammals of Pune urban area

Influencing Factor

Critically Affected Species

Marginally Affected Species

Habitat Destruction Or Habitat Change

Barking Deer , Porcupine Jackal, Indian Fox, Common Palm Civet, Black Buck

Hyaena, Jungal Cat, Leopard, Wild boar , Four-horned Antelope, Blacknaped Hare, Wolf , Small Indian Civet, Indian Bush Rat

Habitat Distrurbance

Jackal, Indian Fox, Hyaena, Jungle Cat , Four-Horned Antelope, Otter

Blacknaped Horn

Vehicular Traffic

Leopard, Common Mangoose, Most Rhodents Including Striped Squirrels

Grey Musk Shrew, Hyaena, Hanuman Langur, Bonnet Monkey

Hunting, Poaching, Poising

Wild Boar, Hare ,Four-Horned Antelope, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Indian Gazelle, Black Buck

Wolf , Otter, Pangolin, Hyaena, Jackal

Killing Out Of Fear/ Ignerance/Blind/ Medicine

Common Palm Civet, Small Indian Civet

Flying Fox

Killing as Pest/Vermin

Most Of Rodents Except Striped Squirrels

Jungle Cat , Common Palm Civet , Small Indian Civet, Hyaena, Jackal

Electrocution

Flying Fox

Hanuman Langur, Bonnet Monkey

Pollution (Air, Water, Sound, Soil, Etc.)

No precise knowledge, but most species may be affected.

 

TABLE 3 Retreat of mammals of Pune urban area

CODES: C- common, F- frequent, O- occasional, R- rare

Past status compiled from various sources, present status based on first hand observations

Distance is measured as crow’s flight i.e. straight line from the center i.e. city post office

Mammal species

Past situation

Present situation (1990 )

Ret-reat m/yr

 

Years

Nearest locality

Distance km

Status

Nearest locality

Distan-ce km

Status

 

Wolf

1940's

Vadgao (s), Nagar rd.

7.0

F

Koregaon Bhima

30

R

475

Smooth otter

1950's

Parvati Canal

2.0

O

Khadak-wasla

18

R

375

Palm civet

1950's

City core

0.0

C

Fergusson Agri. Coll. Empress

2.0 2.5 4.0

O

50

Common mongoose

Late 1980's

Budhwar peth

0.0

O/R

Madiwale colony

1.0

O

100

Hyaena

1950's

Navi peth

2.0

C

Vetal hill Panchgao

4.0

O

50

Tiger

1930's

NDA hills

15

S

Bhima-shankar

75

S

900

Wild boar

1930's

Ganjwewadi (Navipeth)

1.5

O

Katraj, Ch. Chowk

8.0

R

100

Four-horned antelope

1960's

Fergusson college hill

3.0

O

Chandni-chowk

8.0

R

175

Black buck

1940's

Natubag (Sadhashiv)

7.0

O

Supe (Sola-pur Road)

50

R

850

Indian Pangolin

1920's

 

0.6

O

Panchgao NCL

4.0 5.5

R

70

Indian porcupine

1940's

Parvati-Panchgaon

4.0

O

Katraj-valley

8.0

O

80

Blackna-ped hare

1930's

Natubaug

0.6

C

Fergusion , Panchgaon

3.0 4.0

F

40

TABLE 4- Pune and Bangalore urban area

Mammal diversity at group level

Mammal group

No. of species

Common Species

 

Pune

Bangalore

 

Primates

2

2

1

Cats

5

3

2

Civets

2

2

2

Mongoose

2

2

2

Dogs

3

1

1

Sloth Bear

-

1

-

True shrews

2

1

1

Tree shrews

1

-

-

Bats

16

09

09

Rodents

16

10

10

Porcupine

1

1

1

Hare

1

1

1

Elephant

-

1

-

Gaur

1

1

1

Antelope

1

1

1

Deer

4

3

3

Wild Boar

1

1

1

Pangolin

1

1

1

Smoth otter

1

-

-

Hyaena

1

-

-


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