Endangered Hispid Hare (Caprolagus hispidus – Pearson 1839) in the Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan
Author Tshering Nidup
The endangered hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus – Pearson 1839) has only been sighted in a few isolated pockets in the tropical grassland ecosystems of southern Asia. Knowledge of the current status and distribution of the species is limited. Historical samples, anecdotal sources, and sign surveys have suggested that the hispid hare could occur along the southern foothills of Bhutan. This is the first study to systematically assess its presence in the region. To optimize the detection of this elusive animal, camera traps were set up in the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP), Bhutan, spread over three different grassland areas. To maximize the probability of capturing images of the hispid hare, camera traps were randomly placed in batches in three different grassland areas chosen based on the preliminary sign survey. Over the survey period from March through May of 2015, 11 images of hispid hare were captured from a single camera trap station, confirming the presence of this poorly known species in RMNP. Furthermore, the confirmed presence of this endangered species suggests that sustainable management of this grassland habitat could be important for its future survival since the condition of grasslands has been waned over the years due to uncontrolled burning of grasslands, invasion of grassland by woody plants, and weed species.