Yellow – Throated Marten Spotted In Manali Jungle

Manali: The yellow-throated marten was spotted in jungle Dhamsu in Manali by animal lover Assem Singhal who lives in Karajan village of Manali

The yellow-throated marten (Martens flavigula) is a marten species native to Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List due to its wide distribution, evidently relatively stable population, occurrence in a number of protected areas, and lack of major threats

The yellow-throated marten is also known as the kharza and chuthraul, and is the largest marten in the Old World, with the tail making up more than half its length. Its fur is brightly colored, consisting of a unique blend of black, white, golden-yellow and brown. It is an omnivore, whose sources of food range from fruit and nectar to small deer. The yellow-throated marten is a fearless animal with few natural predators, because of its powerful build, its bright coloration and unpleasant odor. It shows little fear of humans or dogs, and is easily tamed.

The yellow-throated marten has relatively short fur which lacks the fluffiness of the pine marten, sable and beech marten. The winter fur differs from that of other martens by its relative shortness, its harshness and its luster. It is also not as dense, fluffy and compact as that of other martens. The hairs on the tail are short and of equal length over the whole tail. The summer fur is shorter, sparser, less compact and lustrous. The color of the pelage is unique among martens, being bright and variegated.

The top of the head is blackish-brown with shiny brown highlights, while the cheeks are somewhat more reddish, with a mixture of white hair tips. The back of the ears are black, while the inner portions are covered with yellowish gray. The fur is a shiny brownish-yellow color with a golden tone from the occiput along the surface of the back. The color becomes browner on the hindquarters. The flanks and belly are bright yellowish in tone. The chest and lower part of the throat are a brighter, orange-golden color than the back and belly. The chin and lower lips are pure white. The front paws and lower forelimbs are pure black, while the upper parts of the limbs are the same color as the front of the back. The tail is of a shiny pure black color, though the tip has a light, violet wash. The base of the tail is grayish brown. The contrasting marks of the head and throat are likely recognition marks.

Yellow-throated Marten

The yellow-throated marten holds extensive, but not permanent, home ranges. It actively patrols its territory, having been known to cover over 10 to 20 km in a single day and night. It primarily hunts on the ground but can climb trees proficiently, being capable of making jumps up to 8 to 9 meters in distance between branches. After March snowfalls, the yellow-throated marten restricts its activities up treetops. Estrus occurs twice a year, from mid-February to late March and from late June to early August. During these periods, the males fight each other for access to females. Litters typically consist of two or three kits and rarely four.

The yellow-throated marten is a diurnal hunter, which usually hunts in pairs, but may also hunt in packs of three or more. It preys on rats, mice, hares, snakes, lizards, eggs and ground-nesting birds such as pheasants and francolins.

In the Himalayas and Burma, it is reported to frequently kill muntjac fawns. The young of larger ungulate species are also taken but within a weight range of 10 to 12 kg. In winter, the yellow-throated marten hunts musk deer by driving them onto the ice. Two or three yellow-throated martens can consume a musk deer carcass in 2 to 3 days.

Other ungulate species preyed upon by the yellow-throated marten include young wapiti, spotted deer, roe deer and goral. Wild boar piglets are also taken on occasion. It may prey on panda cubs and smaller marten species, such as sables. In areas where it is sympatric with tigers; the yellow-throated marten may trail them and feed on their kills. Like other martens, it supplements its diet with nectar and fruit, and is therefore considered to be an important seed disperser. The yellow-throated marten has few predators, but occasionally may fall foul of much larger carnivores; remains of sporadic individuals have turned up in the scat or stomachs of Siberian tigers and Asian black bears.

In northeastern India, it has been reported in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Himalayan West Bengal and Assam. In the Sunda Shelf, it occurs in Borneo, Sumatra, and Java. In Pakistan, it has been reported in different valleys of Gilgit Baltistan, Deosai National Park, Shandur National Park, Phander Valley, Ghizer Valley and Danyor Valley.

In Nepal’s Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, it has been recorded up to 4,510 m (14,800 ft) elevation in an alpine meadow.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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