Distribution, abundance and diet of the Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata)

in Animal Biology
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Endangered species often inhabit specific habitats and are dependent on specific prey. The Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) is an “endangered”, inimitable mammal currently in jeopardy in Pakistan. Very little data are available about its ecology that could serve as baseline for its conservation. In the current study, we investigated the Indian pangolin’s distribution, abundance and diet in four districts of Potohar Plateau. The species was found evenly distributed in two study districts, while it showed patchy distribution in the remaining two districts, and it occurred up to a maximum elevation of 862 m a.s.l. Population density showed a sharp and significant decline over a period of three years from 2010 to 2013. Faecal matter of the species was found to contain remains of ants (head, abdominal parts, legs) as the second-most voluminous component of the droppings, following soil or clay. Remains of other food sources, like termites, bugs, wood and grasses, were found in minor percentages. Our study reveals that the main prey items of Indian pangolins include two species of black ants (Camponotus confucii and Camponotus compressus), and one species of termite (Odontotermis obesus). The recorded population decline indicates that conservation measures may be needed.

Distribution, abundance and diet of the Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata)

in Animal Biology



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    (A) Map of Pakistan showing Potohar Plateau (shaded area) as the study area located in the north of the country. (B) GIS-based map of Indian pangolin distribution in four districts of the Potohar Plateau. Dots represent location points where the Indian pangolin or its signs were recorded. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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    (A) Faecal samples at the entrance of a burrow of an Indian pangolin at a Chakri site (Mehra Kallan). (B) Faecal sample near a dead body of an Indian pangolin at Sihal site (Chakri). (C) A faecal sample collected, showing that it is composed of ants. (D) A segregated faecal sample collected from a study site in district Rawalpindi. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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    Box plots showing a decline in population density of Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) in the Potohar Plateau during three years of the study period from 2010 to 2012.

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    Linear Regression analysis of decline in population density (per km2) of Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) in four districts of the Potohar Plateau from 2010 to 2012; (A) Chakwal, (B) Rawalpindi, (C) Attock, (D) Jhelum. Population density of the species is expressed as average density per km2.

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    Photographs of the prey species of the Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) in the Potohar Plateau, Pakistan: two species (one small and one large) of black ants, Camponotus confucii (A) and C. compressus (B), and one termite species Odontotermis obesus (C). This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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