~ by Amrita Neelakantan (coordinator NCCI)
Mahi Puri and colleagues have conducted extensive surveys to find out what leopards eat and how might leopard diets change in the future. The study focuses on the important corridor between Kanha and Pench national parks. Leopards live within and outside of forests, with some taking up residence in the agricultural matrix. Wildlife outside the bounds of protected areas interact much more often with humans over a range of human activities – grazing cattle, growing crops and collecting non-timber forest produce to name a few. Understanding how our human lives affect and in turn change the behavior of wild species is important for a future where humans and big cats might continue to live side by side in one of the world’s more populated places that remains vital for global wildlife conservation goals. In addition, the knowledge of benefits provided by carnivore presence can help offset the negative perceptions around these species. Mahi Puri and her team extensively surveyed forest and households across the corridor to make sense of drivers of leopard distribution, conflict, and current patterns of their diet to showcase what might change in the future.
The big takeaway from this paper is that within the surveyed sites leopards predominantly ate wild prey (langur and ungulates) – an important consideration for human-wildlife conflict in the region. Occupancy statistics also highlight that leopards are more likely to be in spots with ample wild-prey confirming that leopards still prefer wild-prey and are not preferentially moving into human dominated areas for non-wild prey (signified by cattle and dog icons in the figures).
"In central India, the value of tigers is undeniable – culturally, ecologically, and economically. Kanha National Park (KNP) typifies the central Indian tiger landscape with high densities of tribal local populations, a globally recognized node for tiger conservation and ecotourism within a rapidly urbanizing countryside. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) set out a policy that has resulted in largely tribal human communities moving out of core tiger habitat (1). Around 850 households moved out of KNP (from 2011- to 2014) with monetary compensation, providing an opportunity to explore what happens after."
Amrita Neelakantan summarizes a recent paper for Science Trends. Read more here!
~ by Archita Sharma (University of Delhi)
Nested in Satpura-Mikal range lies the Kanha-Pench forest landscape, spanning over an area of 10,000 square kilometers. It connects two well-known tiger reserves: Kanha and Pench. This landscape is a mosaic of dry deciduous forests, rippling grasslands, and tanned scrublands, with almost 400 villages. Although protected reserves play a crucial role in conserving wildlife, many species of wild carnivores also depend on being able to occupy human-dominated spaces. There is little understanding of human-carnivore interactions in such shared spaces.
A new study published in Royal Society Open Science revealed habitat preferences, livestock predation, and conservation requirements for five lesser-known carnivores in the Kanha-Pench forest landscape. The results offer a framework for assessing human-carnivore interactions in other regions as well.
The study focused on four wild canid species - Indian grey wolf, Dhole, Indian jackal, and Indian fox. Striped hyena, which is closely related to wild canids in terms of behavior and ecology, was also included in the assessment. The research team used a unique socio-ecological framework for assessing carnivore occupancy and livestock depredation patterns by combining field data gathered from 1600 kilometers of indirect sign survey (scats and tracks) with 700 interview surveys of local residents. 10,000 square kilometers of the landscape was divided into 128 cells of 52 square kilometers each, and this grid-network was then used for data collection. Data on the distribution of free-ranging dogs in the study area was also included in the assessment.
Photo credits as on photo and Centre for Wildlife Studies (https://cwsindia.org/)
The buffer zones, created around the protected areas, acts not only as the insulator and keep away the anthropogenic pressures of local communities from the core zone or ‘critical habitat’ but also provide the habitat to the spill over tigers and other wildlife species from core zones.
The wild animals disperse from their core breeding areas to buffer areas or to further in
corridor areas to establish their territory or to move to other protected areas. Therefore
buffer zones play important role in long-term conservation of animals. The information on dispersal routes, status of wildlife and their habitat in buffer zone is crucial to tailor the management strategies for buffer areas. Therefore a 2-year study in buffer zone of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve was initiated by The Corbett Foundation to study the dispersal routes of tigers and other wildlife species. Click here for the full report.
The findings of the study indicated that tigers and leopards not only using the buffer zone for dispersal but also establishing their territories in buffer zone. The study recorded 29 mammalian species out of 35 listed species in Bandhavgarh. Asiatic wildcat (Felis silvestris ornata) and smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) were recorded for the first time in Bandhavgarh during this study.
The Corbett Foundation (TCF) has been working in Bandhavgarh-Sanjay Dubri Corridor (BSDC), an important forested landscape that connects Bandhavgarh and Sanjay tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh. Despite being an important connecting corridor of these tiger reserves, awareness about tiger and overall biodiversity conservation in quite low among the villages of BSDC. Community dependence on the forest in BSDC for cattle grazing, firewood collection and collection of minor forest products is very high. There have also been cases of tiger deaths from BSDC in the past raising suspicions about poaching. All this has a direct link to a lack of awareness about the need to conserve the forests and wildlife among the local communities.
Unless the level awareness is raised, it is difficult to expect success in conservation and protection of flora-fauna. Therefore, TCF felt a pressing need to spread environmental awareness among the student community to make them realize the seriousness of the issues at hand.
To bridge this gap, TCF has published a 116-page pictorial booklet titled Hamare Van, Hamare Gaon providing an overall insight about the local biodiversity of BSDC, its ecological values and the need for its conservation. The language of this first-of-its-kind publication purposefully has been kept as hindi so that the contents of the publication and the important conservation message therein reaches to as many schools in BSDC and in Bandhavgarh and Sanjay-Dubri tiger reserves.
Project Spotlight highlights our members' work in Central India.
|Network for Conserving Central India||