Faunal Diversity

FAUNAL DIVERSITY NO OF GENERA NO OF SPECIES
VERTEBRATE 451 958
    Mammals 83 139
    Aves 232 540
    Reptilia 51 94
    Amphibia 11 33
    Pisces 74 152
INVERTEBRATE 2094 4580
TOTAL 2545 5538

Mammals Diversity

Diversity of mammals in Meghalaya is well represented with about 139 species and sub-species belonging to 83 genera and 27 families.

Primates

The primates are well represented in Meghalaya with about 7 species.

The Western Hoolock Gibbon Hoolock hoolock, one of the only two true ape species found in India, is still found in the state where tropical evergreen forests are still intact. (The other one being the Eastern Hoolock Gibbon Hoolock leuconedys which is known to be distributed in Myanmar and China and sparsely in India (Arunachal Pradesh and Assam) as well. The main spanholds however are in Jaintia Hills, Ri-BHoi, West Khasi Hills, East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills. Rapid loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation and hunting are the major threats to the Hoolock gibbons across their entire distribution range in India. The hoolock gibbon is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List, listed on Appendix I of CITES and is a Schedule I animal in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The Bengal Slow Loris Nycticebus bengalensis is the only nocturnal primate in the North Eastern states and is the largest of the slow loris species. Little is known about its behaviour or ecology, and less information is available on its distribution and population status in the state. The species has been recorded in Balpakram and Nokrek national parks, Nongkhyllem and Siju Wildlife sanctuaries, and some key reserved forests including Baghmara RF(South Garo Hills District).The Bengal Slow Loris is listed under Vulnerable category by IUCN. It is a Schedule I animal of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and is also in Appendix I of CITES.

The Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus with its bright golden-yellow front is also found in dense forests as well as light woodlands in the state. Meghalaya’s capped langurs are often mistaken for golden langurs.

The state has four more primates, all macaques – Northern Pig tailed macaque Macaca leonina, Rheus macaque Macaca mulatta, Assamese macaque Macaca assamensis and Stumped tail macaque Macaca arctoides. The stump-tailed Macaca is the rarest but is still seen in Narpuh, Nokrek and Balpakram areas.

Carnivores

The state of Meghalaya has three of the six largest cats recorded in the world - the Tiger (Panthera tigrss), Leopard (Panthera pardus), and the Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa). Meghalaya’s pride is its state animal, the beautiful and rare Clouded Leopard; protected under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and listed in Appendix 1 of CITES and as Vulnerable, by IUCN. Tiger has become a very rare animal in the State. Other small cats include Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), Marbled cat ( Pardofelis marmorata), Asiatic Golden Cat (Catopuma temmincki), Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).

The state is also home to three species of bears, the Asiactic black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), Malayan sun bear (Helartos malayanus) and the sloth bear (Melursus ursinus).

The red panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) called by the Garos as Mitchebel and by the Khasis as Dkhan-bah is confined to Nokrek and Balpakram in the Garo Hills and the adjacent forests of the West Khasi Hills. It is also found it farther east in Trongpleng in the Mawsynram area of the East Khasi Hills district. Red Panda is protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and listed in Appendix I of CITES and as Endangered, by IUCN.

Smaller carnivores include Asiatic Jackal (Canis aureus), Bengal fox (Vulpes bengalensis), the Dhole or Indian Wild dog or Red dog (Cuon alpines), Yellow throated Marten (Martes flavigula flavigula), Yellow bellied weasel (Mustela kathiah), Burmese Ferret Badger (Melogale personata nipalensis), Hog-badger (Arctonux collaris), Common Otter (Lutra lutra monticola), Smooth-coated Indian Otter (Lutra perspicillata perspicillata), Oriental small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea concolor), Large Indian Civet (Viverra zibetha zibetha), Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica), Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphrodites), Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata neglecta), Binturong (Arctictis binturong), Small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus), Indian Grey Mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi) and Crab eating mongoose (Herpestes urva).

Pangolins

There is only one species of pangolin in the State.

The Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is listed under Endangered category according to IUCN and is also a Schedule I animal of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. It is also listed in Appendix II of CITES.

Elephants

The State of Meghalaya supports a large population of Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus). The elephant population in Meghalaya is about 1811 according to the 2007 estimate.

The globally endangered Indian Wild Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee) is still found in small groups of 10 to 20 in the Balpakram-Siju-Baghmara belt and adjacent areas including parts of the West Khasi Hills.

Ungulates

Ungulates that have become threatened and rare include the Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar), The Garol (Naemorhedus goral), Gaur-Indian Bison ( Bos gaurus), Hog Deer (Axis porcinus), Sambar (Rusa unicolor) and four horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis). Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak) and Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) and still found in plenty. Swamp Deer (Rucervus duvaucelii) is not found any more in the state.

Threatened Faunal Species in Meghalaya

Download a list of Threatened Faunal Species in Meghalaya

Aves

India is rich in bird’s diversity with a total of 1167 species including 80 globally threatened birds and 49 endemics. The country has 465 Important Bird Areas and is a part of 12 Endemic Birds Areas.

Despite its relatively small size, Meghalaya is rich in bird life hosting about 659 species of birds. 34 species of the birds found in our forests are globally threatened species. Meghalaya lies in the Eastern Himalayas (Endemic Bird Area 130) (Statterfield et al. 1998). The region is important for many globally threatened, near threatened and restricted range species. Five restricted range species from this EBA have been reported from the state (Table 1)

Table 1: Endemic Bird Area 130 (Eastern Himalayas)

Endemism Common Name Scientific Name
Endemic Bird Area 130-Eastern Himalayas Grey Sibia Heterophasia gracilis
Dark-rumped Swift Apus acuticauda
Tawny-breasted Wren Babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus
White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri
Black-browed Leaf- Warbler Phylloscopus cantator

Table2: Threat status of Birds in Meghalaya

Status Common name Scientific name
Critically Endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris
Endangered White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata
Vulnerable Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga
Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola
Dark-rumped Swift Apus acuticauda
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis
Tawny-breasted Wren-Babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus
Near Threatened Darter Anhinga melanogaster
Lesser Grey-headed Fish-Eagle Ichthyophaga humilis
Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus
White-cheeked Hill-Partridge Arborophila atrogularis
Blyth’s Kingfisher Alcedo hercules
Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis
Brown Hornbill Anorrhinus tickelli

Reptiles

The reptile fauna of Meghalaya is greatly influence by the Indo-Chinese elements. The diversity of reptiles comprises of 12 species of turtles and tortoises, 26 species of lizards and 56 species of snakes.

The Assam roofed turtle Pangshura sylhetensis was first reported from the Khasi Hills and is one of Asia’s Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles (IUCN) 2007. Most of the turtles and tortoises in Meghalaya are threatened with 5 species listed under the Endangered, 1 species Near Threatened, 4 species Vulnerable and 2 species Least Concern categories. (IUCN Category 2014)

26 species of lizards have so far been recorded from the state. All the 3 species of monitor lizard found in the state are protected under Schedule I (Part II) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko is one of the largest Geckos alive today and is also found in the state. Another rare lizard is the Calotes maria found only in Mizoram and Meghalaya. (Annual Report 2011-2012). Other species of the genus Calotes includes C. jerdoni, C. emma and C. versicolor. Skink includes Sphenomorphus courcyanum, S. indicus, S. maculatus, Eutropis carinata and E. multifasciata. Recently in 2013 a new species of skink Sphenomorphus apalpebratus was describe from the sacred forest of Mawphlang. (DATTA-ROY et al. 2013). This shows the huge diversity of lizards in the state.

Meghalaya is also rich in snake’s diversity with about 56 species. Some of the common snakes are Brahminy Blind snake Indotyphlops braminus, Assam snail Eater Pareas monticola, Copperhead Rat Head Coelognathus radiatus and Indian-Chinese Rat Snake Ptyas korros. Etc. The world longest venomous snake 'The King Cobra' Ophiophagus hannah is also found in the state. Other venomous snakes include kraits like the rare Himalayan krait Bungarus bungaroides, Black Krait B. niger, Banded Krait B. fasciatus and vipers like the Green Pit vipers Trimeresurus albolabris, Jerdon’s Pit Viper T. jerdoni etc. Some of the very elusive and rare snakes of Meghalaya are striped neck snake Liopeltis frenatus, Chinese Many-tooth Snake Sibynophis chinensis, Khasi Keelback Amphiesma khasiensis, Gunther’s Keelback Amphiesma modestum, Mountain Keelback Amphiesma platyceps, Cherrapunji Keelback Amphiesma xenura, and Khasi Earth Snake Stoliczkaia khasiensis.

Amphibians

The richest expression in diversity and abundance of amphibians of the North East India is met with in Meghalaya with about 33 species. Bufoides meghalayanus and Philautus shillongensis are two frog species that are endemic, rare and threatened, found in Meghalaya. Some of the very rare and elusive frogs found in the state are Philautus cherrapunjiae, Rana mawlyndipi, Rana mawphlangensis, Hyla annectans and Microhyla berdmorei etc.

Pisces

Meghalaya exhibits a twin drainage system namely the Brahmaputra in the North and Barak in the South. Because of the topography of the region and its water shed pattern the state of Meghalaya is rich in fish diversity with about 152 species reported so far.

Neolissochilus hexagonolepis and Tor spp. are the important sport fishes inhabiting the fast flowing rivers and streams of the state. 29 species of the fish found in the state are threatened in one way or the other.

Mollusca

A total of 223 species of land and freshwater molluscs spread over 67 genera and 28 families are known from Meghalaya.

Fresh water molluscs are represented by 35 species, 15 genera and 10 families. The genus Paludomus is abundantly represented in the hill streams and two of the species, namely Paludomus regulate and P. stephanus are endemic to Meghalaya.

Land dwelling molluscs flourish and abound in the moist hill forests of the state. Some of the species are restricted and endemic to Meghalaya. Of the species endemic to the state, include five species each belonging to the genus Alycaeus and Diplommatina, two of Cyclophourus, one each of Pupina and Gastroptychia, three of Macrochlamys, two of Oxytes, one each of Khasiella, Kaliella, Taphrospira, Amphidromus and Lamellaxis.

The fresh water molluscs that occur in streams and other aquatic bodies also serve as food for the local people. Seven species are used for human consumption. eg: Bellamya bengalensis f. typica, B. dissimilis, Pila theobaldi etc.

A. Fresh Water Molluscs   B. Land Molluscs Total
Family 10 18 28
Genera 15 52 67
Species 35 188 223