DETERMINING THE FOOD HABITS OF INDIAN CRESTED PORCUPINE (HYSTRIX INDICA) IN THAL DESERT LANDS OF PUNJAB, PAKISTAN
Porcupine is an important vertebrate pest in majority of agro-ecosystems of Pakistan but little knowledge is available on the food habits of this pest in arid lands. To examine the food habits of the Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica), this study was conducted in Qaidabad Thal, Punjab, Pakistan. Analysis of the stomach contents of twenty animals and fecal pellets of sixty animals were carried out. Results revealed that the porcupine depended on plant material from both cultivated and non-cultivated lands. The porcupine diet varied seasonally and comprised of vegetative matter such as tubers, roots, leaves, stems and spikes of Triticum aestivum, Hordeum vulgare, Sorghum vulgare and Zea mays and racemes of Arachis hypogea and, Vigna mungo,. The pods of Prosopis juliflora also formed a significant part of their food. Relative frequency of occurrence of food items in the stomach and fecal pellet varied seasonally. The results exhibited that porcupine damaged the field crops as well as agroforestry trees.