The first look at an hispid hare in 34 years.
The first look at an hispid hare in 34 years. Courtesy of Bed Khadka

The population of the South Asian hispid hare has declined since it was placed on IUCN’s endangered red list in 1986. Human migration into the hare’s low-grasslands habitat and controlled grassland burning to develop healthy grazing areas are partly to blame. In Nepal, scientists last spotted the furry creature in 1984 at Chitwan National Park and believed the mammal was long gone. However, a new photo of a baby hare proves the hispid hare hasn’t left us.

Bed Khadka, a Chitwan National park conservation officer, captured on camera the youngling nestled in low grasslands and recently published details of his rediscovery in Conservation Science. In a press release he said “the fact that the hispid hare was a baby indicates that there are also parents and both male and female.”

Current conservation efforts in Chitwan focus on protecting larger endangered animals such as the tiger and rhino. The rationale is that saving larger animals could conserve the entire ecosystem, including tinier critters like the hare.

“Now I see a need of some programmes to protect some of these small animals too,” said Khadka.

Further research needs to be conducted to build such programs, but for now, the rare sighting is a win.