FAUNA OF THE DEOSAI NATIONAL PARK

1. Brown Bear

Common name: Brown bear
Scientific name: Ursus arctos
Conservation status: Critical endangered (IUCN Red list of mammals of Pakistan)
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Body weight: 70- 135 kg
Body length: 1 to 2.8 m (3.28 to 9.19 ft.)
Life span: 20 to 30 years

Physical characteristics:
Brown bear has furry coats in shades of blonde, brown, black, or a combination of these colors. The longer outer guard hairs of the brown bear are often tipped with white or silver, giving a ‘grizzled’ appearance. Their heads are large and round with a concave facial profile, a characteristic used to distinguish them from other bears. Like all bears, brown bears are plantigrades and can stand up on their hind legs for extended periods of time. Males are 40-50% larger than females. Brown bear is extremely strong and have good endurance; they can kill a cow with one blow, outswim an Olympian, and drag a dead elk uphill.

Habitat and Ecology:
The Himalayan brown bear, a subspecies that represents an ancient lineage of the brown bear, is distributed over the Great Himalaya region. Seven populations of brown bears may exist in Himalaya-KarakoramHindu Kush ranges. All of these populations are small and declining, except for the Deosai population which is growing. The DNP has long been recognized as the main stronghold of brown bears in the country. Brown bears occupy a variety of habitats, from desert edges to high mountain forests and ice fields. The main habitat requirement is some area with dense cover in which it can shelter by day.

Threats: Recreational activities, Garbage and solid waste, illegal hunting, human disturbance, habitat loss, and competition for forage with domestic livestock.

2. Himalayan Ibex / Siberian Ibex

Common name: Himalayan Ibex / Siberian Ibex
Scientific name: Capra sibirica
Conservation status: Least concern
Order: Cetartiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Body weight: 30 to 100 kg (66.08 to 220.26 lbs.)
Body length: 130 to 165 cm (51.18 to 64.96 in.)
Life span: 16 to 17 years

Physical characteristics:
The coat coloration varies widely across the Ibex’s range. The general color of the pelage is a light tan, with the undersides lighter. In winter, mature males become much darker, with varying patches of white on the neck and back. Males have beards. Both sexes have horns. Female show slender, shorter, backward curving horns, while males have massive horns, flattened on their front edge and roughly triangular in cross section.

Habitat and Ecology:
Ibex mainly occupies rocky mountainous regions, both open meadows and cliffs, tracking out to low elevations during winter. In summers or hot days crave for shaded areas under rocks or plants, live and remain near steep and escape terrain. Its diet consists of alpine grasses and herbs, and it feeds in early the morning and evenings. Ibex are preyed upon by the snow leopard, the wolf, the fox and the lynx. Ibex live in small groups that vary considerably in size, sometimes forming herds of over 100 animals, but more typically averaging 6-30 animals, depending on the region. Females gestate for 170-180 days and usually give birth to one, sometimes two, kids in the spring. The animals reach sexual maturity at 24 months for females and 18 months for males.

Threats: Illegal hunting, human disturbance, habitat loss, and competition for forage with domestic livestock

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3. Lynx

Common name: Lynx
Scientific name: Lynx lynx
Conservation status: Least concern
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Body weight: 16-22 kg (40-50 Ib.)
Body length: 70-130 cm (2.3- 4.3 ft.)
Tail length: 20-25 cm (7.9-9.8 in.)
Life span: Up to 17 years

Physical characteristics:
The lynx has a short body, very short tails, long powerful legs and large paws. The short tail has a thick black tip, but no black rings above. Their ears terminate in long, black hair tufts, and their cheeks are framed by longer white and black hair. Lynx overall body color is silvery grey, with a reddish tone in summer coat. Immature lynxes have black spots all over the body, which fade with age, although some adults still show faint spots on the outside of the upper limbs and forehead.

Habitat and Ecology:
In Central Asia, Lynx occur in more open, thinly wooded areas and steppe habitats. The species probably occurs throughout the northern slopes of the Himalayas, and has been reported both from thick scrub woodland and barren, rocky areas above the tree line. Lynx occur sporadically throughout the Tibetan plateau, and are found throughout the rocky hills and mountains of the Central Asian desert regions. The Lynx has well-developed senses of vision, smell and hearing. They use their sense of smell to detect scents left by other lynxes and predators in its range while they depend on their senses of vision and hearing to locate potential prey. Its eyes provide good overall day-and-night vision, but when a potential prey can’t be seen, they rely on their sense of hearing. Lynx hunt mostly in the late afternoon and evening, becoming active again with the first light of dawn. The Lynx is a solitary predator and prey on hares, rodents, grouse, ungulates and foxes.

Threats: Habitat loss and illegal hunting

4. Snow Leopard

Common name: Snow leopard
Scientific name: Panthera uncial
Conservation status: Vulnerable
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Body weight: 35-70 kg (77- 154 Ib.)
Body length: 75- 130 cm (2.5-4.3 ft.)
Tail length: 80-100 cm (2.6-3.3 ft.)
Life span: 15 to 18 years

Physical characteristics:
Snow Leopards are large cats, most active at dawn and dusk. They have white fur coat with brownish/yellow tinges that is covered with rings of brown/black rosette/spots. The markings help camouflage it from prey. Their fur is long and woolly and helps protect the cat from extreme cold. Snow Leopards have heavy fur on their tail and the bottoms of their paws are covered with fur for protection against the cold snow. The Snow Leopard’s head, which has small ears and a distinctive heavy brow, is rounded and comparatively small for their body size. Their long tail helps the cat’s balance as they move over rugged and often snowy terrain. The powerful limbs of the snow leopard are relatively short for their body size and are supported by large, powerful paws.

Habitat and Ecology:
Steep, rocky and broken terrain are the preferred bedding areas for Snow Leopards, specifically on or nearby to a landform edge close to natural vegetation. Cliffs and major ridgelines are preferred for daytime resting. Snow leopards live in alpine and subalpine zones. During the summer, the snow leopard inhabits mountainous meadows above the tree line in rocky alpine regions at an altitude of 2,700 to 6,000 m (7500- 17000 ft.). In winter, moves down after its prey to an altitude of around 2000m (5600 ft.). Snow Leopards are opportunists when it comes to feeding. They are strictly carnivores and their prey includes the Ibex, Markhor, Bharal, Marmots and small rodents. Commonly, the cat is a solitary hunter; however, it may share the task with its mate during breeding season. Snow leopards are apex predators, meaning they play a key role in maintaining the biodiversity in an ecosystem. Through population dynamics and trophic cascades, snow leopards are an important indicator of the health of the environment and help regulate the populations of species lower on the food chain.

Threats: Poaching, habitat loss, climate change and severe weather conditions, human intrusion and disturbance

5. Golden Marmot

Common name: Golden Marmot
Scientific name: Marmota caudata
Conservation status: Least concern
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Body weight: 8-9 kg (18-20 Ib.)
Body length: 30-60 cm (11.8-23.6 in.)
Tail length: 10-25 cm (3.9-9.8 in.)
Life span: 13 to 15 years
Breeding season: Late winter
Litter size: 2-11

Physical characteristics:
Marmots are the second largest rodents (after beavers) in the Palearctic Region. The body shape and size of these animals reflect their fossorial, or partly subterranean, life. Marmots are solid and boxshaped, with the legs apart. The hind legs are shorter than the forelegs. Their bodies are streamlined and flexible, and marmots are capable of pushing their way through narrow holes. They can change direction during sharp turns. All four feet have five digits with sturdy, blunt claws. Pads on the digits are very well developed. These pads function to help rake up earth and compensate to some extent for the complete or partial reduction of the fifth digit. Other digits are long, flexible, and capable of holding thin plant stems. The head of marmots is flattened, and the neck is short. The large eyes are close to the top of the head, allowing the animal to see the terrain above ground while remaining inside the burrow. Ears are small and barely extend beyond the fur. Long whiskers are located on checks, lower jaw, around the nose, and eyes.

Habitat and Ecology:
Marmot’s area adapted to alpine meadows, grassland and desert conditions with very low rainfall, being quite common in the mountain meadows which are often grazed by livestock. They are found from elevations of 1,400 to 5,500 m in the Himalayan region. Marmots are true burrowers, with a complex underground system of tunnels and dens. Even during the summer, marmots generally spend 16 to 20 hours a day in dens. The marmot is the largest mammal that exhibits true hibernation. During winter, when they become dormant, and quite often they do not emerge from hibernation for six months or longer. Marmots choose optimal sites for digging the winter burrow where persistent snow cover prevents the soil from freezing deeply. They usually dig deep burrows, which are shared by the colony members during hibernation.

Threats: Habitat loss, overgrazing, agriculture, and trapped for the fur trade.

6. Grey Wolf

Common name: Grey wolf
Scientific name: Canis lupus
Conservation status: Least concern
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Body weight: 23-80 kg (50.66-176.21 Ib.)
Body length: 87-130 cm (2.8-4.3 ft.)
Tail length: 30-70 cm (1-2 ft.)
Life span: 5 to 6 years
Breeding season: Late winter (January- April)
Litter size: 5-14

Physical characteristics:
Grey wolves are canines with long bushy tails that are often black-tipped. Their coat color is typically a mix of grey and brown with buff facial markings and undersides, but the color can vary from solid white to brown or black. Grey wolves look somewhat like a large German shepherd. The distance between the canines is around 4 cm. Gray wolves have a dense under fur layer, providing them with excellent insulation against cold conditions. Gray wolves can be distinguished from red wolves (Canis rufus) by their larger size, broader snout, and shorter ears. They are distinguished from coyotes (Canis latrans) by being 50 to 100% larger and having a broader snout and larger feet.

Habitat and Ecology:
Grey Wolves occupy a wide range of habitats, including steppe, open woodlands, forests, grasslands and arid landscapes. They are highly social and they live in packs of 2 – 36 individuals, but more commonly a pack will consist of a family group of 8 – 12 wolves. Within the pack there will be an alpha pair and their offspring, and they form a tightly knit, organized group. Grey Wolves are carnivores and their prey depend upon their geographic location, availability and if they are hunting alone or together as a pack.

Threats: Conflict with human, habitat loss

7. Red Fox

Common name: Red fox
Scientific name: Vulpes vulpes
Conservation status: Least concern
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Body weight: 2-10 kg (5-22 Ib.)
Body length: 53-60 cm (1.73-1.96 ft.)
Tail length: 35-40 cm (13.77-15.74 ft.)
Life span: 2 to 5 years
Breeding season: Late winter (January- April)
Litter size: 6-8 pups

Physical characteristics:
Red Fox is also called Common Fox. It is the largest and well-known species of Fox. The Red Fox has a coat of long guard hairs and soft, fine underfur that is typically a rich reddish brown. Its tail is often white-tipped, and it has pointed black ears and short legs. During the autumn and winter, the Red Fox will grow more fur. This so called ‘winter fur’ keeps the animal warm in colder environments. The fox sheds this fur at the beginning of spring, reverting back to the short fur for the duration of the summer.

Habitat and Ecology:
Red foxes live in a wide range in the Northern Hemisphere. They live in grasslands, deserts, mountains, forests, and even suburban areas. They adapt very well to different environments, but prefer wooded areas the most. When it is breeding season, foxes will build dens and stay in them. When it is not breeding season, foxes sleep in the open. Red foxes prefer rodents and rabbits, but they will also eat birds, amphibians, and fruit. The Red Fox is mostly nocturnal, although it will sometimes venture out in the day. The Red Fox, unlike other mammals, hears low-frequency sounds very well. It can hear small animals digging underground and will frequently dig in the dirt or snow to catch prey.

Threats: Conflict with human, habitat loss, hunting, fragmentation

8. Mountain Weasel

Common name: Mountain weasel
Scientific name: Mustela altaica
Conservation status: Near threatened
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Body weight: 122 to 350 g
Body length: 217 to 287 mm (8.54 to 11.30 in.)
Tail length: 100 to 150 mm (4-6 in.)
Life span: 7 to 10 years
Breeding season: Late winter (February- March)
Litter size: 1-8

Physical characteristics:
The Mountain Weasel is a species of weasel that prefers to live at high altitudes, usually over 11,500 feet (3,505 meters). This species is sometimes referred to as the Pale Weasel or Altai Weasel, as well. Mountain weasel undergoes spring and autumn molts. The winter coat is dark yellowish to a ruddy brown on the back, with pale yellow to creamy white on throat and belly. The upper head between the muzzle and ears is usually darker gray-brown. The tail may be more rufous than the back. The summer fur is gray to gray-brown with some light yellow. The lips of these weasels are white, and the chin has grayish-brown to whitish vibrissae.

Habitat and Ecology:
The mountain weasel lives chiefly in the mountain at elevations up to 3,500 m or more. It may be found in mixed taiga, highland steppes, or above timberline among heaps of stones. This species maybe able to live in a larger range of habitats (sand dunes, among reeds, etc.). It may live near human habitations and nests in rock crevices, among tree roots, or in burrow of rodents. Mountain weasels arechiefly nocturnal, but occasionally hunt during the day. They are very quick and agile, able to swim and climb as well as run. When faced with danger, these animals may make loud chirring sounds and eject a strong-smelling secretion from their anal glands.

Threats: Habitat loss, over grazing, trapped for fur trade, climate change and severe weathers.

9. Cape Hare

Common name: Cape Hare
Scientific name: Lepus capensis
Conservation status: Least concern
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae
Body weight: 4-5 kg
Body length: 520-595 mm (20.47-23.43 in.)
Life span: 5-12 years
Breeding season: January – Junes
Litter size: 1-6

Physical characteristics:
Cape hares have a slender body with a bushy tail. The oval-shaped head has very long (12 to 14 cm), black-tipped ears and large, reddish-brown eyes. This species also has very long and powerful hind legs. It has ginger-brown fur with shades of black on the upper parts, a more ginger-colored breast and sides, with white inner sides of the legs and belly, and reddish-gray hair on the nape of the neck.

Habitat and ecology:
This species is found in open land, such as meadows, pastures, cultivated fields, sandy moors, and marshes, close to hedges, thickets, and forests. Depending on availability of grass or shrubs it may either graze or browse. Hares re-ingest soft faecal pellets directly from the anus during their rest periods in the day, and excrete hard pellets during nocturnal feeding. Cape hares are primarily herbivorous. Their diet includes herbaceous plants, cereals, berries, vegetables, and some fungi, such as mushrooms.

Threats: Agricultural activities, roads, recreational activities, illegal hunting

Deosai

National

Park