Acta Univ. Agric. Silvic. Mendelianae Brun. 2019, 67, 25-39
Published online 2019-02-28

Distribution of Western Hoolock Gibbons and Nutritional Status of Food Plants in Cachar District of Assam, India: Reaching Out to Local Communities for Conservation

Mitrajit Deb1, Shubhadeep Roychoudhury1, Parimal C. Bhattacharjee2, Indu Sharma3, Sunil Nautiyal4, Petr Sláma5

1Department of Life Science and Bioinformatics, Assam University, Silchar 788011, India
2Wildlife Trust of India, Guwahati 781012, Assam, India
3Department of Microbiology, Assam University, Silchar 788011, India
4Centre for Ecological Economics and Natural Resources, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru 560072, India
5Department of Animal Morphology, Physiology and Genetics, Mendel University in Brno, 61300 Brno, Czech Republic

Received October 6, 2018
Accepted January 10, 2019

Western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) is listed as an endangered mammal in IUCN Red List. It is also listed in CITES Appendix I and in the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. In the present work the status and distribution of Western hoolock gibbons in Cachar district of Assam, India was explored by conducting field studies from September 2012 to August 2013 using line transect and call count methods. Group composition, group size and adult sex ratio of nine gibbon groups and one solitary male were recorded. Groups comprised 36 % adult males, 32 % adult females, 10 % sub‑adult males, 11 % juveniles and 11 % infants and the encounter rate was 0.17. Group size ranged from 2 to 5 and mean group size was 2.8 ± 1.1. Nutritional status of food plants consumed by Western hoolock gibbons were analyzed and chemical composition was determined. Proximate analysis revealed that the mean value of crude protein (9.73 ± 0.4), crude fibre (16.1 ± 0.6), ether extract (1.07 ± 0.06), NFE (66.24 ± 0.43) and ash (7.03 ± 0.27) in plant samples. A moderate positive correlation was noted between higher protein content and higher crude fibre content in food plants (r = 0.48), which is likely to influence food selection and feeding pattern. Timber felling, fuel‑wood collection, agriculture and expansion of tea estates were identified as major threats to conservation of Western hoolock gibbons. The present study recommends taking up awareness programmes and formulation of policy interventions involving the local communities to arrive at a participatory biodiversity conservation plan at local levels particularly involving the village councils (gram panchayats).


The authors thank Dr. Kashmira Kakati, wildlife biologist and Dr. Kuladip Sarma, wildlife researcher for their help in the preparation of the manuscript. The authors also thank Udayan Borthakur of Aaranyak, Guwahati, India for support. Thanks are due to Arup Das of Aaranyak for help in preparation of map. The cooperation from tea garden officials, Gram Panchayats and local villagers from the study areas are thankfully acknowledged. Mitrajit Deb was supported by UGC BSR fellowship from the Government of India.


52 live references