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Dietary Habits of Altai Weasel (Mustela altaica) in Bunjosa Game Reserve Rawalakot, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan

Dietary Habits of Altai Weasel (Mustela altaica) in Bunjosa Game Reserve Rawalakot, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan

Nausheen Irshad1, Maria Akhter1, Tariq Mahmood2*, Faraz Akrim3, Muhammad Rafique Khan1 and Muhammad Sajid Nadeem4

1Department of Zoology, The University of Poonch, Rawalakot, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan.
2Department of Wildlife Management, PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi 46300, Pakistan.
3Department of Zoology, University of Kotli, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan
4Zoology Department, PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi 46300, Pakistan.
 
* Corresponding author: tariqjajua75@uaar.edu.pk

ABSTRACT

We investigated the occurrence and diet of the Altai weasel (Mustela altaica), a “Near Threatened” mammal, in Bunjosa Game Reserve, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. The species occurrence was confirmed by direct field sightings (live and kill), and indirect signs (pugmarks, burrows, fecal droppings, and reported sightings by local community). During one-year study period (September 2015-August 2016), a total of 28 individuals of the species were sighted in the field including 18 live and 10 dead specimens. In addition, 93 fecal samples of the species were collected and analyzed for investigating its diet composition and identification of its prey species. Analysis of scats revealed its diet comprising of both vertebrates and invertebrates along with some proportion of vegetation. The weasel most frequently consumed arthropods (26%), followed by mammals (21%), birds (9 %) and least reptiles (2 %), along with consuming vegetation (23 %). The prey species in the overall diet of the species were five different orders of arthropods, two species of mammals (rodents) and birds (domestic hen and pigeon), while among plant food it consumed seeds and twigs of wild mulberry, Japanese fruit, wild fig and cucumber. The study concludes that Altai weasel in Bunjosa Game Reserve occurs at an elevation range between 1773 m to 1875 m, and consumes most frequently insects, followed by small mammals, birds and reptiles, along with seeds and twigs of some wild plant species.

 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

August

Vol. 54, Iss. 4, Pages 1501-2001

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