Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Knowledge of the distribution of C. hispidus has always been limited. The historic range of the species extended along the foothill region of the southern Himalayas from Uttar Pradesh through southern Nepal, the northern region of West Bengal to Assam, and into Bangladesh as far south as Dacca (Bell et al. 1990). The current distribution in South Asia is sporadic, including the countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and possibly Bhutan (Jordan et al. 2005). The extent of occurrence of C. hispidus is estimated to be between 5,000 and 20,000 km², and the area of occupancy is estimated to be between 11 and 500 km², in highly fragmented populations (Jordan et al. 2005). It occurs at elevations ranging from 100-250 m (Jordan et al. 2005).
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Geographic Range

Caprolagus hispidus has previously been recorded along the southern foothills of the Himalayan mountain chain, in the area from Uttar Pradesh, through Nepal, Sikkim, Bengal, and Bhutan, to Assam. Hispid hares are currently very rare, and are extinct over most of this area. They are now confined to northwestern Assam, and a few areas in Nepal.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )

  • Oliver, W. L. R. 1980. The Pygmy Hog: The Biology and Conservation of the Pigmy Hog and the Hispid Hare. Les Augres Manor, Trinity, Jersey, Channel Islands: Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.
  • Burton, J., V. Burton. 1988. The Collins Guide to Rare Mammals of the World. Lexington, Massachusetts: The Stephen Greene Press.
  • Ghose, R. K. 1978. Observations on the Ecology and Status of the hispid Hare in Rajagarh Forest, Darrang District, Assam, in 1975 and 1976. Bombay Naturaly History Society Journal, Vol. 75: 206-209.
  • Oliver, W. L. R. 1978. The Doubtful Future of the Pigmy Hog and the Hispid Hare. Bombay Natural History Society Journal, Vol. 75: 341-372.
  • Massicot, P. 2003. "Animal Info-Information on Rare, Threatened and Endangered Mammals" (On-line ). Animal Info- Hispid Hare. Accessed 03/02/03 at http://www.animalinfo.org/species/caprhisp.htm.
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Historic Range:
India, Nepal, Bhutan

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Mass avererages 2500 grams, and length ranges from 405 to 538 mm. C. hispidus have short, broad ears, and small eyes. This species has strong claws and large teeth. The hind legs of C. hispidus are short and stout, not often exceeding the length of the forelimbs. There are two layers of fur: a coarse, bristly, outer layer, and an under layer which is shorter and finer. The top layer of pelage is dark brown in color due to a mixture of black and brownish-white hairs, whereas the bottom layer consists of hair that is strictly brownish white. The tail also has two layers of pelage, both of which are brown; the top layer is darkest.

Average mass: 2.5 kg.

Range length: 405 to 538 mm.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
C. hispidus primarily occupies tracts of early successional tall grasslands, locally termed elephant grass (Bell et al. 1990). During the dry season, most grassy areas are subject to burning, and the rabbits take refuge in marshy areas or grasses adjacent to river banks that are not susceptible to burning (Bell et al. 1990).

The limited information available on reproduction indicates that C. hispidus probably has a small average litter size (Bell et al. 1990). It exhibits crepuscular behaviour (Jordan et al. 2005).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Generally, hispid hares live in areas with tall-grass savannah. They enjoy habitats that are essentially flat, well drained, and thinly forested. Since hispid hares are dependent on the roots and shoots of thatch for food, they are associated with areas that have a high amount of thatch, commonly referred to as thatchland or elephant grass. This vegetation grows up to 3.5 meters in height (during the monsoon).

In the early months of the year (January through April), the grassland and nearby forests are set on fire in an attempt to control the faunal composition of the region. Hispid hares move to cultivated fields and shelter on the banks of dried up streams. Once the monsoon reaches its peak, the thatch becomes waterlogged and C. hispidus moves to the forested areas of nearby foothills.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Bristly Rabbit, or Hispid "Hare". Pp. 1731-1732 in Walkers Mammals of the World, Vol. 2, 6th Edition. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

C. hispidus is an herbivorous animal. The diet of C. hispidus consists mainly of bark, shoots and roots of grasses (including thatch species), and crops on occasion. Although hispid hares feed in a preferred locale (specific to each animal), they choose to feed in different sites within this locale.

Plant Foods: leaves; roots and tubers; wood, bark, or stems

Primary Diet: herbivore (Lignivore)

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

This animal is believed to be prey for dogs as well as humans. Other information is unknown.

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Predation

There are no known anti-predator adaptations among C. hispidus. Dogs and humans are apparently the greatest predators of these hares.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Not much is known about the communication of C. hispidus. It is known that all rabbits and hares (members of the family Leoporidae) secrete scent from glands in the groin area and under the chin. The scent is apparently used in sexual communication. Many rabbits and hares use foot drumming as a means of communication.

Because C. hispidus is a mammal, we can infer that they use some visual signals. Also, there is probably tactile communication between mates, as well as between mothers and their offspring, although most lagomorph mothers do not provide extensive parental care.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Since hispid hares are hard to find, not much is known about their natural lifespan. In captivity, these animals do not survive very long. There were four or five hispid hares captured for the Gauhati Zoo during 1975, but they all died during transport. Another pair was captured in 1976 and was kept for two to three months until one escaped and the other was released. One captured hare wanted to avoid humans so much that he fractured his skull by dashing his head against the wire enclosure.

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Reproduction

There is no available information about the mating systems of C. hispidus. Because this species is the only one in the genus Caprolagus, we are not able to make any generalizations about reproduction in this species based on close relatives.

Little is known about the reproduction of C. hispidus. However, locals have reported catching young from January to March. Two out of three females captured in the months of January and February were pregnant.

Members of the family Leporidae are known to have a gestation of 25 to 50 days. Within the family, females usually give birth to between two and eight young, although there can be as many as 15 young per litter in some species. Females are typically polyestrous, and can give birth to several litters per year.

Breeding interval: Hispid hares breed once or twice per year.

Breeding season: Based on capture of pregnant females, breeding apparently occurs in late winter or early spring.

Range number of offspring: 2 to 5.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

There is little information available about the parental care habits of C. hispidus. It is assumed that this species is similar to other members of the order Lagomorpha. Most lagomorphs exhibit little or no parental care. Males have never exhibited any form of parental care, but females feed the young for about 5 minutes every 24 hours. This is the only contact between the mother and young.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female)

  • Oliver, W. L. R. 1980. The Pygmy Hog: The Biology and Conservation of the Pigmy Hog and the Hispid Hare. Les Augres Manor, Trinity, Jersey, Channel Islands: Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Bristly Rabbit, or Hispid "Hare". Pp. 1731-1732 in Walkers Mammals of the World, Vol. 2, 6th Edition. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • MacDonald, D. 2001. Rabbits and Hares. Pp. 693-702 in The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Vol. 3. New York, NY: Facts On File, Inc.
  • Ghose, R. K. 1978. Observations on the Ecology and Status of the hispid Hare in Rajagarh Forest, Darrang District, Assam, in 1975 and 1976. Bombay Naturaly History Society Journal, Vol. 75: 206-209.
  • Oliver, W. L. R. 1978. The Doubtful Future of the Pigmy Hog and the Hispid Hare. Bombay Natural History Society Journal, Vol. 75: 341-372.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Hares and Rabbits. Pp. 1720-1721 in Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 2, 6th Edition. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Massicot, P. 2003. "Animal Info-Information on Rare, Threatened and Endangered Mammals" (On-line ). Animal Info- Hispid Hare. Accessed 03/02/03 at http://www.animalinfo.org/species/caprhisp.htm.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
B2ab(ii,iii,v)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Maheswaran, G. & Smith, A.T.

Reviewer/s
Boyer, A.F. & Johnston, C.H. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Caprolagus hispidus exists in an area of occupancy of less than 500 km², in highly fragmented habitats. The species is experiencing continuing decline in suitable habitat area due to increasing agriculture, flood control, and human development (Bell et al. 1990, Maheswaran 2002, Jordan et al. 2005).

History
  • 1996
    Endangered
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 06/14/1976
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10) 
Where Listed: India, Nepal, Bhutan


Population detail:

Population location: India, Nepal, Bhutan
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Caprolagus hispidus , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Hispid hares are one of the worlds rarest mammals. This animal was feared extinct in 1964, but in 1966, one was spotted. The range of this animal is much smaller than it once was. There were an estimated 110 hispid hares worldwide in 2001. Due to rapid habitat destruction, lack of success in captivity, and hunting, their numbers continue to shrink. As a result of their rarity, little is known about hispid hares. These animals are threatened mainly due to conversion of their habitat to agriculture and grassland burning. They are often confused with the more common Lepus nigricollis and are therefore hunted for food. They are also preyed on by dogs.

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: appendix i

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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Population

Population
During the mid-1960s there was speculation that C. hispidus had gone extinct, however, the capture of a live specimen in 1971 in the Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary, northwest Assam, confirmed that the species was persisting (Maheswaran 2002). Though there is no information available on exact number of individuals in any areas of the range of C. hispidus, little doubt exists that the species has experienced a dramatic decline due to habitat loss in recent years (Bell et al. 1990).

Nowhere within the range is the population of C. hispidus well above satisfactory levels, but in some places, such as Dudwa National Park in northern Uttar Pradesh and Jaldapara Wildlife sanctuary in northern Wets Bengal, fresh as well as old fecal pellets of C. hispidus can be found in abundance (Maheswaran 2002). Taking into consideration the degree of habitat (tall and wet grassland habitat in places) fragmentation, chances are very remote that the species can disperse freely, especially during flooding and grassland burning during the dry season (Maheswaran pers. comm.). The number of individuals occurring in these two areas is currently unknown.

Density of C. hispidus in suitable habitat (unburned tall grassland) is 1/1,470 m² (Bell et al. 1990).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The primary threat to C. hispidus populations is habitat loss, caused by encroaching agriculture, logging, flood control, and human development (Bell et al. 1990). The natural spatial and temporal dynamics of the tall grassland habitat, particularly the fire cycles, are key important to the conservation of this species (Bell et al. 1990, Maheswaran 2002).

The natural process of succession of grassland into woodlands reduces suitable habitat for grassland specialists such as C. hispidus. Thus, the elephant grass habitat occupied by the species is highly fragmented, and often intersected by forests, streams, and rivers (Maheswaran 2002).

The decline (quantitative and qualitative) of 20-50% in suitable habitat has occurred since 1994 and is expected to continue at this rate through 2014 (Jordan et al. 2005).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
C. hispidus is listed in CITES Appendix I, in India it is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and in Nepal it is listed in Schedule I of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Measures Act of 1973 (Bell et al. 1990, Jordan et al. 2005). It has been nationally listed in India as Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,iv) due to restricted area of occupancy, few and fragmented locations, with major threats affecting habitat area and quality (Jordan et al. 2005). In Nepal, it has been nationally listed as Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,iv)+2ab(ii,iii,iv) due to restricted extent of occurrence and area of occupancy, single location with major threats affecting habitat area and quality (Jordan et al. 2005).

C. hispidus has records of occurring in several protected areas, including Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, Royal Bardia Wildlife Reserve, Dudwa National Park, Royal Chitwan National Park, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Kahna National Park, and Barnodi Wildlife Sanctuary (Maheswaran 2002, Jordan et al. 2005). A survey conducted in 2001 found no evidence of the presence of C. hispidus in Buxa Tiger Reserve, where it had been reported as occurring it the 1980s (Maheswaran 2002).

Long term research is needed to examine effects of threats such as burning, harvesting, and livestock grazing, as well as studies of ecology, reproduction, and movement patterns during flood and burning seasons (Bell et al. 1990, Maheswaran 2002). Control of the burning season within the range of C. hispidus is needed to ensure that suitable habitat is available throughout the year, as well as the development of management plans for the remaining areas of suitable grassland habitat (Bell et al. 1990). Forest managers should be encouraged in the fostering of local species of grass and avoid the introduction of alien species for use by camp elephants (Maheswaran 2002). A return to the natural system would help prevent the extirpation of C. hispidus, as well as other native species (Maheswaran 2002). Local education regarding the status of C. hispidus is necessary, including educating staff of reserves where C. hispidus occurs (Maheswaran 2002). Forest guards are often only aware of Lepus nigricollis and should be educated in the areas of active preservation of the threatened species (Maheswaran 2002)
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Hispid hares are believed to be crop pests.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans hunt these animals for food.

Positive Impacts: food

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Wikipedia

Hispid hare

The hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus), also called Assam rabbit is a leporid native to South Asia, whose historic range extended along the southern foothills of the Himalayas. Today, the habitat of hispid hares is highly fragmented with an area of occupancy of less than 500 km2 (190 sq mi) extending over an estimated area of 5,000 to 20,000 km2 (1,900 to 7,700 sq mi). Populations experience a continuing decline in suitable habitat due to increasing agriculture, flood control, and human development.[2]

Structure of the palate[3]

Characteristics[edit]

The hispid hare has a harsh and bristly coat. The ears are very short and do not project beyond the fur.[4] The coat is dark brown on the back due to a mixture of black and brown hairs; brown on the chest and whitish on the abdomen. The tail is brown and about 30 mm (1.2 in) long. In body weight males range from 1,810 to 2,610 g (3.99 to 5.75 lb) with a mean of 2,248 g (4.956 lb). Females weigh in average 2,518 g (5.551 lb), including a heavily pregnant female weighing 3,210 g (7.08 lb) in this statistical mean weight.[5]

The frontal bones are very wide. The occipito-nasal length generally exceeds 85 mm (3.3 in). There is no clear notch in front of postorbital processes.[6]

In average, this hare is 476 mm (18.7 in) long from head to tail.[7]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The historic range of hispid hares extended from Uttar Pradesh through southern Nepal, the northern region of West Bengal to Assam and into Bangladesh. Today, distribution is sporadic in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and possibly Bhutan. They occupy tracts of early successional tall grasslands and take refuge in marshy areas or grasses adjacent to river banks during the dry season, when these areas are susceptible to burning.[5]

The population in the extensive grasslands of Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve may be of international significance.[8] Researchers camera trapped the first hispid hares in an area of 38 km2 (15 sq mi) in the reserve in April 2010.[9]

Ecology[edit]

Hispid hares are most active at dawn and dusk. The limited information available on reproduction indicates that their average litter size is small.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hoffman, R. S.; Smith, A. T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 194–195. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b Maheswaran, G. Smith, A.T. (2011). "Caprolagus hispidus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  3. ^ Blyth, E. (1845). "Description of Caprolagus, a new genus of leporine Mammalia.". Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal 14: 247–249. 
  4. ^ Pearson, J. T. (October 22, 1839). "18. Lepus hispidus". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London VII: 152. 
  5. ^ a b c Bell, D. J.; Oliver, W. L. R.; Ghose, R. K. (1990). "Chapter 9: The Hispid Hare Caprolagus Hispidus". In Chapman, J. A.; Flux, J. E. C. Rabbits, Hares, and Pikas: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. pp. 128–137. ISBN 2831700191. 
  6. ^ Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946 (2nd ed.). London: British Museum of Natural History. p. 424. 
  7. ^ Macdonald, D. W. (2009). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-956799-9. 
  8. ^ Baral, H.S.; Inskipp, C. (2009). "The Birds of Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve, Nepal". Our Nature 7: 56–81. doi:10.3126/on.v7i1.2554. 
  9. ^ Aryal, A.; Yadav, H. K. (2010). "First Cameras Trap Sighting of Critically Endangered Hispid Hare (Caprolagus hispidus) in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve – Nepal". World Applied Sciences Journal 9 (4): 367–371. 
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