June 29, 2012

Striped rabbit surprise

sumatranstripedrabbitlr2.jpgStriped rabbit surprises scientists in Sumatran rainforests

A little known rabbit with almost tiger like stripes, and listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, has come to the attention of science in recent research.  Living in dense montane rainforest, the Sumatran striped rabbit has avoided scientists and cameras for many decades until now.


One of the only things known about the Sumatran striped rabbit is that it is almost certainly threatened with extinction.  Even local people in Sumatra barely know this attractive looking creature (Nesolagus netscheri) lives wild close by.  Known to science since 1880, it was a forgotten species until Jennifer McCarthy, a biologist from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst caught its’ image recently in a camera-trap.

“We don’t know anything about the ecology, habitat preference, population status of the species, or threats that the species faces,” says McCarthy …. “our present study tried to gather all available occurrence data on the striped rabbit in Sumatra, and we believe we were fairly successful, but even so we are only able to really identify two areas (Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park and Kerinci Seblat National Park) that we are positive still harbor the species….. basically, we know that the species exists and persists, and not much else.”

McCarthy’s research shows that while active at night it has also been seen recently in the daytime.  This rabbit was previously thought to have dwelled only above 600m, but the new research suggests different.

McCarthy says that this species really needs a champion to ensure their survival.  One place to start would be ensuring that the two national park areas where they have been found are properly protected from road and logging threats.

Source: Mongabay


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