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| Last Updated:: 14/02/2016


Wild Life of Nagaland

The state of Nagaland is almost entirely hilly and is located on the Indo-Myanmarese border in north-eastern India. The total area of the state is 16,626 sq. km. Barail and Patkai are the main hill ranges. Mt Saramati (3841) is the highest peak of Nagaland, while Mt Japfü (3043) is the second highest. The forest type is mostly tropical semi-evergreen with evergreens in the valleys and gorges. Sub-tropical broadleaf and sub-tropical pine forest occurs in the higher areas. Sub-alpine vegetation is found on Mt Saramati which also remains under snow in winter.


At least 106 species of mammals are likely to occur in Nagaland, these includes nine insectivores, 34 bats, seven primates, one pan­golin, 34 carnivores, one elephant, seven ungulates, one hare and at least 12 rodents. Nagaland is rich in primate-diversity with the Slow loris (Nyctic­ebus coucang),Pigtailed macaque (Macaca nemestrin), Rhesus macaque (M. mulatto), Assamese macaque (M. assamensis),Stumptailed macaque (M. arctoides), Capped langur (Presby tis pileatus)and the Hoolock gibbon (Hylobates hoolock). Five species of lesser cats are found of which three, i.e., Marbled cat (Felis marmorata), Golden cat (F. temmincki) and the Fishing cat (F. viverrina) are extremely rare. Among the big cats, the Tiger (Panthe tigris) has not only become extremely rare, its survival is in grave danger due to unreported poaching for its bone and loss of prey-base.

Other big cats found in Nagaland are the Leopard (P. pardus) and the Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa). The Elephant (Elephas maximus)occurs in small numbers in the foot­ hills forest bordering Assam.Poaching for meat and ivory as well as habitat loss are the major factors for decline of the species. Although the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is officially extinct in India, straying of a few individuals to eastern Nagaland from Tamanthi Wild­life Reserve of Myanmar cannot be ruled out.There were unconfirmed reports of occurrence of the Pigmy hog (Sus Salvanius) from Nagaland. One animal dealer had even claimed to have obtained a few of this rare animal from some Nagas of Mon district in the eighties (Mohd. Moosa, pers.comm.). The Gaur or Indian ‘bison’ (Bos gaurus) has become extremely rare in recent years mainly due to poaching. Small populations are found in Intanki Sanctuary and near Assam-Nagaland border in Mon with some possible animals on the Indo-Myanmarese border. The Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis) and the Goral (Nemorhaedus goral) are also found but in depleted numbers.

Among other species of mammals, some notable are the Northern tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri), Dhole or Wild dog (Cuon alpinus), Sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), Binturong (Arctictis binturong), and the Malayan giant squirrel (Ratufa bicolor).


A very rich diversity of birdlife occurs in Nagaland whose exact number of species is not yet determined, however, it will be more than 400 species. Some notable rare species recorded from the area includes the White-bellied heron (Ardea imperialis)(Abdulali 1968), White-winged wood duck (Cairina scutulata)(Godwin-Austen, 1874; Hume 1890), Blyth's tragopan (Tragopan blythii), Mrs Hume's bartailed pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae), Brown-backed hornbill (Ptilolaemus tickelli), Rufous-necked hornbill (Aceros nipalen­sis)Wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulates), Great pied hornbill (Buceros bicornis), Orange-rumped honeyguide (Indicatos xanthornotus),Bank myna (Acridotheres ginginianus) (very scarce ,in north-eastern In­dia but common in other parts of India; only one record in Nagaland from near Dimapur) , Yellow-throated laughing thrush (Garrulax galbanus)and the Forest wagtail (Motacilla indica). The extremely rare Green peafowl (Pavo muticus) may occur in southern Tuensang and Phek.


The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), various species of snakes, turtles and lizards represent the reptiles of Nagaland. The gharial is almost extinct now while the Monitor lizards (Varanus spp.) and various turtles are in grave danger due to over-exploitation.So far only three species of turtles have been definitely recorded from Nagaland, these are the Asian brown or Brown hill tortoise (Man­ouria emys) (Smith 1931), Malayan box turtle (Cuora amboinensis) and the Assam roofed turtle (Kachuga sylhetensis). No doubt many more spe­cies are found but are yet to be specifically recorded. A new species of frog (Anura ranidae) have been described from Nagaland (Kiyasetuo & Khare, 1986).


Habitat destruction by legal and illegal tree felling for commercial use and jhum cultivation, and poaching for meat are the major threats to the wildlife of Nagaland. All the major species of mammals as well as birds are seriously threatened and if concrete measures are not taken, many species are going to be locally extinct within the next few decades.

According to NRSA (National Remote Sensing Agency), in 1980-82, the total forest cover in Nagaland was 49 % of the total geographical area  of which actual good quality (closed) forest was only 29.8 % (Choudhury, 1986)­ considering the rapid destruction of forest throughout the north-east, the good quality forest in Nagaland may now be less than 20 %, that too fragmen­ted. One more problem is that the Government controlled reserved forest accounts for only.7 % of the total area of the state while the rema­ining areas belong to the people. Hence, for any successful conservation, active participation of the villagers is a must.

Since most of the animals are considered edible, hunting and poaching for meat is a serious threat to the survival of wildlife especially the endangered ones. Decrease of habitat and improvement of fire-arms have worsened the situation. 

So far four wildlife sanctuaries have been created, Intanki (202 sq km), Fakim (6.4 sq km), Pulie Badge (9.2) and Rangapahar (4.7 sq km). However, enforcement is inadequate and three sanctuaries are too small to be viable for long-term conservation.

Creation of more protected areas including a larger one in Tuensang district, especially encompassing Saramati within it, a massive aware­ness campaign with the help of Church leaders and NGOs, ban on logging in steep slopes as well as remaining patches of primary forest, and better enforcement in the existing protected areas are recommended.

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Source: The Wildlife Wing ( Department of Forest, Ecology, Environment and Wildlife, Government of Nagaland)


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Source: Annual Administrative Report 2014-15 (Department of Forests, Ecology, Environment & Wildlife, Nagland, Kohima)

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