KANNUR: The endangered mammal Nilgiri marten was spotted at Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary last week, by a group of ornithologists led by Assistant Warden V. Madhusoodanan. The group spotted two of the mammals at Ambalappara inside the sanctuary, while on their project to make a Bird Atlas. “Nilgiri marten is rarely photographed and was spotted only after 1990. It is the only species of marten found in South India,” said Aralam wildlife warden V. Sajikumar. Endemic to the Western Ghats, the Nilgiri marten is a carnivore that looks like a civet or a mongoose. Though it was in the animal records of the sanctuary, no photograph was available till now.
The mammal is marked by its pelage (soft covering of a mammal) of deep brown from head to rump, with the forequarters being almost reddish and has a bright throat ranging in colour from yellow to orange. It is commonly found in the Nilgiris and in Kodagu in the Western Ghats section. According to ‘The Book of Indian Animals’, published in 1948 by S.H. Prater, former curator of the Bombay Natural History Society, the Nilgiri marten, keeps to the higher hill ranges and is rarely found below 3,000 feet. “All martens are restless. They hunt both day and night on the ground but more commonly on trees.” The marten is called ‘Maranai’ in Malayalam. The ornithologist-photographer team included Manoj Iritty, Ravi Mundayamparambu, Yadhu and Sushanth.