Mustelids, Viverrids and Herpestids of India: Species Profile and Conservation Status

- S.A. Hussain

| Introduction | Mustelids | Viverrids | Herpestids
| Conservation Significance | References |

Nilgiri marten Martes gwatkinsii Horsfield, 1851


The Nilgiri marten is endemic to Western Ghats. Historically it was recorded from Nilgiri hills, south Coorg and Travancore (Pocock 1941) and possibly from Dharwad in Karnataka (Wroughton 1919). Recently it has been reported from Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (Yoganand & Kumar 1995) and Rajmala in Eravikulum National Park in Kerala (Madhusudan 1995), Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary and Silent Valley National Park (Christopher & Jayson 1996), from upper Bhavani (Gokula & Ramachandran 1996) and from Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (Mudappa 1998).


The Nilgiri marten is almost similar to yellow-throated marten in size . However, from a recent sighting, Madhusudan (1995) feels that it may be a little larger than the latter. It is distinguished from the yellow-throated marten mainly by the structure of the skull, especially the brain case, which is very flattened above with a prominent frontal concavity, and by the baculum (Pocock 1941). The pelage in Nilgiri marten is also similar to yellow-throated marten except that the entire dorsum is dark. The head to body length varies from 550 to 650 mm, tail length 400-450 mm and weight is around 2.1 kg (Riely 1913, Pocock 1941).

Corbet and Hill (1992) consider it as a subspecies of the yellow-throated marten M. flavigula gwatkinsii.


Very little is known about the behaviour and ecology of Nilgiri marten. It is believed to be diurnal and arboreal (this was also evident from the recent sighting), like other marten species it possibly descends to the ground for hunting. There is a report of it preying on crows in the High Ranges of Kerala (Gouldsbury 1949) and Malabar giant squirrel in the High Wavy Mountains of Kerala (Hutton 1944) and on insects (cicadas) (Pocock 1941).

Conservation status

It is listed in Schedule II part II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Appendix III of CITES, VUB1 2c in IUCN Red List and VUB12bc during the CAMP Workshop.

| Introduction | Mustelids | Viverrids | Herpestids
| Conservation Significance | References |