Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Mustela kathiah
Species Authority: Hodgson, 1835
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-bellied Weasel
French Cataquil

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., Roberton, S., Choudhury, A. & Lau, M.W.N.
Reviewer(s): Belant, J. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, occurrence in a number of protected areas, and lack of any plausible identified threats to indicate that it could be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found in "Myanmar, southern and eastern China, the Indochinese peninsula, and Nepal" (Wozencraft, 2005) and in addition northern Thailand, India and Bhutan (Pocock 1941, Duckworth and Robichaud 2005, P. Yonzon pers. comm.). Corbet and Hill (1992) report a lower altitudinal limit of 1,000 m. In the Himalayas, this species is found between the altitude of 1,800 and 4,000 m ( In Bhutan to 3,800 m (Yonzon pers. comm.). In India found as low as 1,000 m (Choudhury pers. comm.). In Hong Kong, it is found from close to sea-level to over 200 m (Lau pers. comm. 2006). In Western Himalaya from 3,000-5,200 m in the cold deserts (Muddapa pers. comm.).

This species is little known in Lao PDR, where one recent sighting was in Fokienia forest at about 1,500 m in Nam Xam National Biodiversity Conservation Area (within 20°02' to 14' N and 104° 18' to 53' E) in January 1998 (Showler et al. 1998), though historical records came from Xiangkhouang town (19° 20' N and 103° 22' E) in 1926, Phongsaly town in 1929 (Osgood 1932, Delacour 1940), and the Bolaven Plateau (within 14° 42' to 15° 30' N and 106° 15' to 50' E) at about 1,200 to 1,400 m in 1932 (Tizard 2002, Legendre 1932). In 2004 and 2005 it was recorded in Phongsaly, the northernmost province in Lao, on Phou Fa (=Fa mountain, 21° 41' N and 102° 06' E, 1,550 m) and close to Ban Bakong (=Bakong village, 21° 37' N 102° 05' E, 1,200 m) (Duckworth and Robichaud 2005).

Historically, most of the records of this species in Southeast Asia come from the northern highlands of Viet Nam, though there are two recent records to the south, in the Annamite mountains of central Viet Nam (Duckworth and Robichaud, 2005), one was recorded in primary evergreen forest at 1,000 m in A Vuong proposed Nature Reserve, Tay Giang district, Quang Nam Province (16° 00' N and 107° 30' E) in 2003 (Long et al, 2004) and another in the Ngoc Linh highlands at about 15 degree N latitude in the late 1990s (J. C. Eames in litt. 1999). It may yet be found to extend even farther south in Indochina (Duckworth and Robichaud, 2005). In Thailand, there are no historical records, though it apparently occurs in the northern highlands (Duckworth and Robichaud, 2005), as Vikorn (2001) reported a roadkill specimen of Mustela nivalis from Doi Pha Luang station, which Duckworth later determined was Mustela katiah. (and not M. nivalis as it was previously identified). There are multiple skins of this species from Myanmar, all collected in the north (Pocock, 1941: 359, Than Zaw et al. in press.).
Countries occurrence:
Bhutan; China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Viet Nam
Lower elevation limit (metres): 1000
Upper elevation limit (metres): 5200
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is possible that the low number of records from Lao PDR may reflect generally low encounter rates of tropical weasels (Duckworth and Robichaud, 2005). There is no reason to assume that this species is rare, and the low number of species in collection may be a relict of collection and trapping techniques (Duckworth per comm.). Recent camera trap records suggest that this species is fairly common in forested areas in southern China (Lau pers. comm. 2006), where few other small carnivores survive in meaningful numbers.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is generally associated with large extents of high elevation (1,000 m+) terrain. It may occur well below 1,000 m in such areas, but unlikely that the species occurs at lower elevations in areas away from high altitude terrain (except in parts of China and Viet Nam). In Lao PDR, this little known species was sighted in Fokienia forest at about 1,500 m (Showler et al. 1998). In Lao PDR, this species was recorded from "relict and degraded montane evergreen forest, linked through extensive scrub and grassland to various other small and degraded forest patches (Duckworth and Robichaud, 2005)." It seems likely that this species is tolerant of quite severe habitat degradation, and it appears to persist in the face of heavy hunting (Duckworth and Robichaud, 2005), supporting findings in heeavily disturbed areas of southern China (M. W. N. Lau pers. comm. 2006). It was recorded in primary evergreen forest in Viet Nam in 2003 (Long et al. 2004). It probably occurs at lower elevations in the northeast the country (Timmins pers. comm.) and there is one record from the Ke Go lowlands (Roberton et al. in prep). In India, it is found from 1,800 to 2,200 m in temperate forests and cold deserts (Choudhury pers com).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): As with most other weasels, there are no major threats known or suspected to this species. In particular, the effects of the current high levels of forest degradation within much of its range cannot be assumed to be strongly negative, given the number of records from degraded and fragmented areas.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species was sighted in Nam Xam National Biodiversity Conservation Area in 1998 (Showler et al. 1998). It is listed in Schedule II part II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Appendix III of CITES ( More information is needed on this species in Lao PDR before a conservation status can be certainly determined (Duckworth and Robichaud, 2005). In Viet Nam, this species is protected in group 2b, because it is an enemy of rats (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006). This species is listed as Near Threatened on the China Red List (Wang and Xie, 2004).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable  
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability: Suitable  
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Marginal  
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
suitability: Marginal  
4. Grassland -> 4.7. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
suitability: Marginal  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability: Marginal  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability: Marginal  

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Wearing apparel, accessories
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Corbet, G.B. and Hill, J.E. 1992. Mammals of the Indo-Malayan Region: a Systematic Review. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Duckworth, J.W. and Robichaud, W.G. 2005. Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah sightings in Phongsaly province, Laos, with notes on the species' range in South-East Asia, and recent records of other small carnivores in the province. Small Carnivore Conservation 33: 17–20.

Pocock, R.I. 1941. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Taylor & Francis, Ltd., London, UK.

Than Zaw, Saw Htun, Saw Htoo Tha Po, Myint Maung, Lynam, A.J., Kyaw Thinn Latt and Duckworth, J.W. 2008. Status and distribution of small carnivores in Myanmar. Small Carnivore Conservation 38: 2–28.

Tizard, R. 2002. Records of little known small carnivores from Thailand, Lao PDR and southern China. Small Carnivore Conservation 26: 3.

Citation: Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., Roberton, S., Choudhury, A. & Lau, M.W.N. 2008. Mustela kathiah. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41655A10530081. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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