Home Flora & Fauna Spotted Linsang: The Mysterious Ambush Hunter

Spotted Linsang: The Mysterious Ambush Hunter

by Staff Correspondent
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Yadav Ghimirey | The TrickyScribe: Spotted linsang, a small and sleek carnivore, was recently photographed for the first time in more than 175 years in Nepal; first authentic evidence of the species in Nepal. Although there were reports of the species from Chitwan National Park during 1980s, convincing evidences of its presence were scarce. Interestingly enough, the species was documented for the first time for science by Brian Houghton Hodgson, who was stationed in Kathmandu as an acting British Resident. He carefully illustrated the animal with the help of a live animal he was brought and wrote a manuscript describing the features.

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Commoners including wildlife enthusiasts may surely assume, upon reading the above, that spotted linsang is an extremely rare species, probably the rarest in Nepal. Before concluding its status, however, it is important to understand it as a species, its habits and the pattern in which this species is captured.

Spotted Linsang


Spotted linsang is found in the south and south-east Asia and its presence has been recorded in primary forests, secondary forests and grasslands. It likes climbing trees still the extent of its arborealism is yet to be studied. Spotted Linsang has been found to use hollows in trees as resting; also dwelling accommodations. It is nocturnal and quite solitary. It hunts on both ground and trees; feeding mostly on small vertebrates.

Looking for Spotted Linsang

Different means are adopted for conducting studies on different species. For elusive and rare species, researchers use camera traps due to the hassles of observing them directly. Camera traps are just like the normal cameras with an added motion & heat sensor, programmed to take photographs whenever organisms move within their arc of influence. Sensor detects the body heat clicking photographs. The camera traps can be left open in the area where researchers suspect their target animal to live and can take picture when the motion of the animals trigger those cameras.

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Spotted linsang is quite an enigma, showing up very rarely even in camera traps. During the last survey carried by Friends of Nature in Annapurna Conservation Area back in 2017, two pictures of the species were captured for an effort of around 4,500 trap days. Putting this into context, one camera trap kept in the open for 24 hours is one trap day and one camera trap kept in the open for 10 days accounts to 10 trap days. Similarly, 10 trap days can also be achieved by keeping 10 camera traps for one day, two camera traps for five days or five camera traps for two days.

An effort of 4,500 trap days can be achieved in variety of ways i.e. by installing 45 camera traps for 100 days, 100 cameras for 45 days or other multitude of ways. The magnitude of the effort during research can be easily understood. Pretty expansive indeed! Spotted linsang rarely shows up even in the camera traps.

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This is the only conclusive study that has proved the existence of the species in Nepal after years of confusion on its status. There was no credible evidence of the species during the one and half years of search in Makalu-Barun National Park. Several other wildlife research efforts in the mid-hills have also failed to document this species prior to 2017.

Any interested observer would settle that the species is extremely rare in Nepal. Even photographs of this species are rare, after all. There are, however, other reasons too for its low capture rate than just its rarity. Small carnivore experts have different opinions on how Spotted Linsang shows up so rarely in camera traps. Will Duckworth of IUCN believes that it’s primarily an ambush hunter waiting for its prey from a strategic location and rarely travels long distances in search of food making it less likely to be shot by the camera traps installed. Many believe that this little carnivore occupies a very small area which often gets sandwiched between two camera traps set to study larger mammals like tiger and leopard resulting in this species being shot rarely.

Current status in Nepal

Classified as a Least Concern by IUCN Red List, Spotted Linsang is currently classified as a Data Deficient species. This means there’s much to study about the species as of now. This is unfortunate in a sense that people conserving wildlife should at least know the status of the species on the basis of which relevant conservation drives need to be planned meticulously.

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