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Mustela strigidorsa 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Mustela strigidorsa
Species Authority: Gray, 1853
Common Name(s):
English Stripe-backed Weasel, Back-striped Weasel

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-03
Assessor(s): Roberton, S., Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., Abramov, A.V., Chutipong, W., Choudhury, A., Willcox, D.H.A. & Dinets, V.
Reviewer(s): Schipper, J.
Contributor(s): Yonzon, P., Coudrat, C.N.Z. & Thapa, S.
Stripe-backed Weasel is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, occurrence in many protected areas, and apparent tolerance to high levels of habitat modification and hunting pressure. Although forest clearance rate are heavy in South-east Asia, they are considerably lower in hill forests (the main habitat of this species) than in the level lowlands (where it is rare); similarly, trade-driven hunting is least pervasive in such habitats. Because of these factors, it is unlikely to be declining at the rate required for listing even as Near Threatened.
Previously published Red List assessments:
  • 2008 – Least Concern (LC)
  • 1996 – Vulnerable (VU)
  • 1994 – Insufficiently Known (K)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Stripe-backed Weasel is found from Sikkim (India) east through southern China (Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces), North-east India and north and central South-east Asia to Viet Nam (Abramov et al. 2008). Formerly thought to be restricted in South-east Asia to the north and centre, a recent record from Thailand is from far to the south, near Kuiburi National Park at 12°06′N, 99°44′E (Chutipong et al. 2014). It presumably occurs also in Bhutan, although Abramov et al. (2008) traced no records from the country. As of late 2014, there are no records from Bangladesh (Hasan Rahman pers comm. 2014), although it seems likely to occur in the evergreen forests of the north-east. There are two old specimens catalogued as from ‘Nepal’ (i.e., west of the validated world range), but they probably did not come from within the boundaries of the modern country (Hinton and Fry 1923). Thapa (2014) listed the species for Nepal without caveat, but confirmed subsequently that he knows of no specific records from the country (S. Thapa pers. comm. 2014). This species has a wide recorded altitudinal range of 90 to 2,500 m (Abramov et al. 2008).
Countries occurrence:
China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Thailand; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):90
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In view of the overall rather limited survey effort in much of its range, the number of recent records of Stripe-backed Weasel indicates that it is less rare than previously believed (Abramov et al. 2008). Globally, there are several dozen historical specimens, their number significantly under-estimated in various 1960s-1990s texts thereby giving a misleading impression of rarity. Recent sight-records strongly support the notion that it was previously much overlooked (e.g. Abramov et al. 2008, Chutipong et al. 2014). Notably, in Lao PDR, this species was historically found only once, at Phongsali (Delacour 1940), but by contrast there are recent records from all but a couple of the blocks of hill semi-evergreen and evergreen forest which have had wildlife surveys exceeding a few weeks and using appropriate methodology (Duckworth et al. 1999, Tizard 2003, Abramov et al. 2008, Streicher et al. 2010, Coudrat et al. 2014).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Stripe-backed Weasel probably lives mainly in evergreen forests in hills and mountains, but has been recorded from other biotopes including dense scrub, secondary forest, grassland and farmland (Abramov et al. 2008). Most records come from in or near larger extents of high elevation (1,000 m+) terrain. It sometimes occurs well below 1,000 m in such areas (down almost to sea-level in Viet Nam), but there are no records, except in Viet Nam, from lower elevations in areas away from high altitude terrain (Abramov et al. 2008). It is probably diurnal and mostly solitary. Conventional camera-trapping is not particularly efficient at finding it even when it is known by other methods to be present (Than Zaw et al. 2008, Chutipong et al. 2014).
Generation Length (years):6.4
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: About 3,000 to 4,000 Stripe-backed Weasel pelts were harvested annually in China in the 1970s, with 50 skins were purchased in Nanning, Guangxi, in 1973 (Sheng 1998). The skins/dried corpses were seen “2-5 times” (the middle class of frequency) in a survey of wildlife trade along the Yunnan-Viet Nam border in June-August 1997; the source was said to be Yunnan (Li and Wang 1999). Outside China, the species is sold at least occasionally in Lao PDR (Hansel and Tizard 2006) and Viet Nam. Outside China, the only occasional records of Stripe-backed Weasel in trade, or hunted and destined for local use. all indicate that across most of its range this weasel lacks high economic value and is not specifically sought.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Although Stripe-backed Weasel was usually perceived as a species under threat, this stems from the limited relevant survey effort for most of the 20th century across most of its range. Even though this weasel lacks high economic value, and villagers in at least central Lao PDR say it has a bad taste and smell (C.N.Z. Coudrat pers. comm. 2014), hunting could in theory drive declines because many harvest methods (notably snares) used widely in its range are non-selective. As remaining natural habitats are yet further encroached, the proportion of the species’s occupied area in which it faces such threats will increase. However, the number of records from areas with already high hunting pressure indicate a resilience to such activities (Abramov et al. 2008, Willcox et al. 2014: Table SOM3). This does not mean that hunting-driven declines might not be occurring locally; this is most likely to be so in Viet Nam, looking at patterns of ground-level snaring pressure. Even in this case, the paucity of salvage records from snare lines suggests that weasels are only rarely caught: plausibly they move through the brush-wood drift fences (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2014) and, given that the snare-lines usually run across relatively open understorey, weasels perhaps avoid these areas anyway (D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). Ongoing forest encroachment is fairly heavy across the species's range, but the locations of records suggest the species is fairly tolerant to degradation and fragmentation. While there are no records from entirely deforested landscapes, because this seems to be primarily a species of hill evergreen forest, range-wide total forest clearance rates are low.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no obvious conservation needs for Stripe-backed Weasel. Habitat-driven decline rates are fairly low, given its presence in degraded and fragmented forests and the high proportion of its population in hill and mountain areas with relatively low rates of forest conversion. Moreover, except possibly for pelts in China, it is not a targeted quarry species (Abramov et al. 2008). It has been recorded in many protected areas across its range and it is likely that it occurs, as yet undetected, in many of those so far remaining little surveyed (Abramov et al. 2008, Chutipong et al. 2014). Many of these protected areas have little real protection from hunting and small-scale habitat loss and in the long term, the species's chief conservation concern is probably the risk of insufficient real security of declared protected areas. It is listed as Endangered on the China Red List (Wang and Xie 2004) and is protected in Thailand.

Citation: Roberton, S., Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., Abramov, A.V., Chutipong, W., Choudhury, A., Willcox, D.H.A. & Dinets, V. 2016. Mustela strigidorsa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T14027A45201218. . Downloaded on 25 July 2016.
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