Herpestes fuscus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Herpestidae

Scientific Name: Herpestes fuscus
Species Authority: Waterhouse, 1838
Common Name(s):
English Brown Mongoose, Indian Brown Mongoose
Urva fusca Waterhouse, 1838
Taxonomic Notes: The Sri Lankan and Indian populations may be separate subspecies; Corbet and Hill (1992) recognised four subspecies, fuscus, phillipsi, siccatus and rubidor), across the range. There is no recent taxonomic revision.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-03-03
Assessor(s): Mudappa, D. & Jathanna, D.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. & Schipper, J.
Contributor(s): Choudhury, A., Wozencraft, C & Yonzon, P.
Brown Mongoose, previously categorised as Vulnerable, is listed as Least Concern because of a better understanding of its status based on increased camera-trap records and frequent sightings in some locations within the Western Ghats, India. It seems to be quite adaptable to modified habitats and not very specialised in its habits. Although there is no field-based population estimate for the species in any part of its range, current data indicate that it is relatively cryptic, but can be locally common, even in human-modified habitats (forests converted to commercial plantations of tea and coffee) as in the Anamalai hills (D. Mudappa pers. comm. 2014) and Coorg (D. Jathanna pers. comm. 2014) in India; the same has been reported for this species in Sri Lanka (Prater 1971). Further information on density, population trend and its specific use of habitat might indicate the species to qualify as Near Threatened under criterion C2a(i), but as presently understood this would be over-precautionary.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Vulnerable (VU)
2000 Data Deficient (DD)
1996 Not Evaluated (NE)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Brown Mongoose occurs in southern India and Sri Lanka (Mudappa 2013). In South India it is found from about 450 m asl to over 2,000 m asl, including evergreen forests along the western border of Kodagu (Coorg) district, Virajpet in south Kodagu and Ooty in the Nilgiri hills, Tiger Shola in the Palni hills, the High Wavy Mountains in Madurai, Kalakad-Mundanthura Tiger Reserve in in Agasthyamalai hills, the Valparai plateau in the Anamalai hills in Tamil Nadu, and Eravikulam National Park, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve and Peeramedu in Kerala (Pocock 1939, Prater 1971, Corbet and Hill 1992, Mudappa 1998, Mudappa 2001, Mudappa 2013, Sreehari et al. 2013, D. Jathanna pers. comm. 2014). A thriving population has been discovered on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji. This is the first known introduction of this species and may derive from a pair brought from an unknown source to a private zoo in the late 1970s (Veron et al. 2009).
Countries occurrence:
India; Sri Lanka
Continuing decline in number of locations: No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Lower elevation limit (metres): 450
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In recent years there have been many sightings of Brown Mongoose and it seems to be locally common and widespread in evergreen forest (D. Mudappa pers. comm. 2014, D. Jathanna pers. comm. 2014.). Preliminary radio-tracking of one individual shows surprisingly large movements for an animal of this body size, suggesting the possibility that population densities are low (or home ranges are much overlapping; D. Jathanna pers. comm. 2014). In most areas it is rarely sighted, reflecting its crepuscular or nocturnal habits; and the often fleeting glimpses render its identification difficult. Until recently it has been believed to be apparently naturally rare to uncommon, as it was recorded only four times between 1996 and 1999 in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in India (Mudappa 2002). In the tea and coffee plantation dominated Valparai plateau (800-1,500 m asl) in the Anamalai hills, it is relatively more common than in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (Mudappa et al. 2007). It has also been recorded in the shola-grassland ecosystems of the Nilgiris and in southern Western Ghats, and within and adjacent to coffee plantations in Coorg (D. Jathanna pers. comm. 2014, D. Mudappa pers. comm. 2014). Based on relative habitat stability, the relatively low levels of hunting and the ongoing presence close to settlements, the population is believed to be stable, but the confidence of this assessment is low.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: No
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Brown Mongoose has been recorded within dense evergreen forest and in adjacent human-modified areas (Mudappa 2002) but there seem to be no records far from native forest. All D. Jathana's (pers. comm. 2014) records of this species in modified habitats have been within one kilometre of forest areas. It remains unclear whether it can persist in a fully modified landscape. In India, it has been observed inside or adjacent to rainforests in the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (Mudappa 2002), in the Anamalai hills (Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve and Eravikulam National Park, Kerala) and along the western border of Kodagu district; and within rainforest fragments and adjacent to them in tea and coffee plantations in the Anamalai hills (Mudappa 2001, D. Muddapa pers. comm. 2014, D. Jathanna pers. comm. 2014) and in Coorg. This species occurs in coffee plantations and mid-elevation tropical forests and shola-grasslands in parts of Sri Lanka (Prater 1971). Records seem to be more frequent at medium and high than at low elevations in the Western Ghats, although how much of this reflects habitat selection and how much the lower observer effort in the smaller areas under remnant low-elevation forests is unclear (D. Jathanna pers. comm. 2014).

Animals come to rubbish dumps in various places including at buildings amid plantations on the Valparai plateau. It has been seen scavenging on carcases of large mammals like Gaur Bos gaurus in the Anamalais (D. Mudappa pers. comm. 2014).

It is likely to be mostly crepuscular to nocturnal in habit, but with significant day-time activity (Mudappa 1998, 2002, 2013). It has been observed as single individuals or, less frequently, duos or small groups. Preliminary radio-tracking data on one individual show very large movements for a 2.6 kg animal (D. Jathanna pers. comm. 2014).
Systems: Terrestrial
Generation Length (years): 5
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is not used.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Specific threats to Brown Mongoose are not well known, but habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation potentially have some impacts on populations (D. Mudappa pers. comm. 2014). The wide occurrence in agricultural land suggests that agrochemical usage might be a threat - plausibly more than that of the agriculture itself. There is some level of incidental trapping and other forms of hunting. Further research would clarify the impacts of the various potential threats to which the species is exposed; but localities of recent sightings amid coffee and tea plantations amid a landscape of highly fragmented forest, the relative habitat stability, and the lack of any specific hunting for this species suggest that, overall, threats are low.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Indian population is listed on CITES Appendix III. Brown Mongoose has been recorded in a few protected areas in the southern Western Ghats, India (Mudappa 2002). A better understanding of the species’ natural history would allow a more confident assessment of its conservation status and needs. Compilation of recent records, which are highly dispersed and mostly unpublished, would be valuable, with particular attention to each localities' habitat and distance from forest; the extent to which the animals living outside forest might depend on forest needs particular attention.

Citation: Mudappa, D. & Jathanna, D. 2015. Herpestes fuscus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41612A45207051. . Downloaded on 29 November 2015.
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