• Shatakshi Gawade

Is the mongoose endangered?

Everyday, we see a mongoose pair scampering around the garden of our ground-floor neighbours in the office building. I’m sure you’ve seen such mongoose in your area too, rushing across the street, ducking behind a bush, or running across the grass.


Video by Sampada Gaidhane Joshi


IUCN says that the Indian grey mongoose has a stable population and it is of “least concern” as far as the survival of the species is concerned. But WWF notes that there is no accurate population data available. Due to this, the current level of harvesting could open them up to extinction. Mongoose hair is used to make paint and makeup brushes. These are usually sold as sable brushes or badge brushes. All species of the mongoose are part of Schedule II (Part II) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which prohibits its trade. Even then, about 1,00,000 mongoose are killed each year for their hair.


Mongabay reported that in 2019, 54,352 brushes and 113 kgs of raw mongoose hair was recovered and 49 people arrested. Twenty seven raids were made in centres in Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.


How to recognize a mongoose hair/paint brush? (via WWF)

  • Mongoose hair is stiff and therefore points steadily upwards in a brush.

  • The hair has a shaded gradation of grey, brown and dark brown.

  • The tips of the brush are dark brown in colour with cream or greyish centre and again dark colours near the roots.


Six species of mongoose (Herpestidae family) are found in India. The Indian grey mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii) is a resident from the Arabian peninsula east to India, Bhutan and Bangladesh (no concerns of citizenship here). They play a crucial role in the ecosystem due to their predatory diet of rats, snakes, lizards, mice and other insects, especially in farms.


When was the last time you saw a mongoose?

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