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Survival of the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in Iran: Primary threats and human-leopard conflicts

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The frequencies of primary threats in previously identified Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor Pocock 1927) distribution range in Iran were estimated in this study conducted from 2002 to 2006 using interviews with local settlements and shepherds, hunters and rangers of the Iran Department of Environment (DoE). Habitat assessments were done to investigate prey availability, presence of human disturbance factors and presence of livestock as well as habitat suitability. Secondary data on human/livestock-leopard conflicts were obtained from records covering two years (2002-2003). The study showed that habitat disturbances followed by illegal hunting and excess of livestock are the main potential threats to the populations of Persian leopard in Iran. Most of the complaints made by local settlements in 2002-2003 were primarily regarding wolf (Canis lupus) infestation while Persian leopard was in the mere third and second level of complaints in 2002-2003, respectively. This study recommends that local awareness programs must be conducted particularly in the conflict regions reported in this study. These information-education programs could contribute to the decrease in leopard hunting and prey poaching hence, would substantially help the local settlements in successful management of their livestock industry.
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Survival of the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus
saxicolor) in Iran: Primary threats and human-leopard
conflicts
AREZOO SANEI1* and MOHAMED ZAKARIA2
The frequencies of primary threats in previously identified Persian leopard (Panthera
pardus saxicolor Pocock 1927) distribution range in Iran were estimated in this study conducted
from 2002 to 2006 using interviews with local settlements and shepherds, hunters and guards
of the Iran Department of Environment (DoE). Habitat assessments were done to investigate
prey availability, presence of human disturbance factors and presence of livestock as well as
habitat suitability. Secondary data on human/livestock-leopard conflicts were obtained from
records covering two years (2002-2003). The study showed that habitat disturbances followed
by illegal hunting and excess of livestock are the main potential threats to the populations of
Persian leopard in Iran. Most of the complaints made by local settlements in 2002-2003 were
primarily regarding wolf (Canis lupus) infestation while Persian leopard was in the mere third
and second level of complaints in 2002-2003, respectively. This study recommends that local
awareness programs must be conducted particularly in the conflict regions reported in this
study. These information-education programs could contribute to the decrease in leopard
hunting and prey poaching hence, would substantially help the local settlements in successful
management of their livestock industry.
Key words: Panthera pardus saxicolor, Persian leopard, threats, human-leopard conflicts,
distribution range, Iran
ASIA LIFE SCIENCES Supplement 7: 31-39, 2011
The Asian International Journal of Life Sciences
1Asian Leopard Specialist Society, Tehran, Iran. e-mail: arezoo.saneii@leopardspecialists.com &
arezoo.sanei@gmail.com Website: www.leopardspecialists.com
2Department of Forest Management, Faculty of Forestry, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400
UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. e-mail:mzakaria@putra.upm.edu.my
*Corresponding author: Asian Leopard Specialist Society, Tehran, Iran.
e-mail: arezoo.saneii@leopardspecialists.com & arezoo.sanei@gmail.com
Website: www.leopardspecialists.com
Received 22 January 2011; Accepted 15 August 2011.
© Rushing Water Publishers Ltd. 2011. Printed in the Philippines
Survival of the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus
saxicolor) in Iran: Primary threats and human-leopard
conflicts
AREZOO SANEI1* and MOHAMED ZAKARIA2
The frequencies of primary threats in previously identified Persian leopard (Panthera
pardus saxicolor Pocock 1927) distribution range in Iran were estimated in this study conducted
from 2002 to 2006 using interviews with local settlements and shepherds, hunters and guards
of the Iran Department of Environment (DoE). Habitat assessments were done to investigate
prey availability, presence of human disturbance factors and presence of livestock as well as
habitat suitability. Secondary data on human/livestock-leopard conflicts were obtained from
records covering two years (2002-2003). The study showed that habitat disturbances followed
by illegal hunting and excess of livestock are the main potential threats to the populations of
Persian leopard in Iran. Most of the complaints made by local settlements in 2002-2003 were
primarily regarding wolf (Canis lupus) infestation while Persian leopard was in the mere third
and second level of complaints in 2002-2003, respectively. This study recommends that local
awareness programs must be conducted particularly in the conflict regions reported in this
study. These information-education programs could contribute to the decrease in leopard
hunting and prey poaching hence, would substantially help the local settlements in successful
management of their livestock industry.
Key words: Panthera pardus saxicolor, Persian leopard, threats, human-leopard conflicts,
distribution range, Iran
ASIA LIFE SCIENCES Supplement 7: 31-39, 2011
The Asian International Journal of Life Sciences
1Asian Leopard Specialist Society, Tehran, Iran. e-mail: arezoo.saneii@leopardspecialists.com &
arezoo.sanei@gmail.com Website: www.leopardspecialists.com
2Department of Forest Management, Faculty of Forestry, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400
UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. e-mail:mzakaria@putra.upm.edu.my
*Corresponding author: Asian Leopard Specialist Society, Tehran, Iran.
e-mail: arezoo.saneii@leopardspecialists.com & arezoo.sanei@gmail.com
Website: www.leopardspecialists.com
Received 22 January 2011; Accepted 15 August 2011.
© Rushing Water Publishers Ltd. 2011. Printed in the Philippines
The frequencies of primary threats in previously identied Persian leopard (Panthera
pardus saxicolor Pocock 1927) distribution range in Iran were estimated in this study conducted
from 2002 to 2006 using interviews with local settlements and shepherds, hunters and rangers
of the Iran Department of Environment (DoE). Habitat assessments were done to investigate
prey availability, presence of human disturbance factors and presence of livestock as well as
habitat suitability. Secondary data on human/livestock-leopard conicts were obtained from
records covering two years (2002-2003). The study showed that habitat disturbances followed
by illegal hunting and excess of livestock are the main potential threats to the populations of
Persian leopard in Iran. Most of the complaints made by local settlements in 2002-2003 were
primarily regarding wolf (Canis lupus) infestation while Persian leopard was in the mere
third and second level of complaints in 2002-2003, respectively. This study recommends that
local awareness programs must be conducted particularly in the conict regions reported in
this study. These information-education programs could contribute to the decrease in leopard
hunting and prey poaching hence, would substantially help the local settlements in successful
management of their livestock industry.
Sanei & Zakaria 2011
32 Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011
INTRODUCTION
The Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor Pocock 1927) has a wide
distribution in the Middle East while the main population is known to be existed in
Iran (Kiabi et al. 2002, Khorozyan et al. 2005, Sanei 2007). Leopard is considered as a
protected species in Iran’s wildlife conservation law. After extinction of the Persian
lion (Panthera leo persica) and Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata), the Persian
leopard is the last member of the genus Panthera that remains in Iran.
Various studies indicated that the species is susceptible to survive in human
dominated habitats (Edgaonkar & Chellam 1998, Athreya et al. 2007, Sanei et al.
2011). However, being resistant to human pressure does not imply that a viable
population is existed in the region (Hunter et al. 2003).
Khorozyan et al. (2008) revealed that poaching, plant gathering, deforestation
and human caused wild fires are threatening the Persian leopard population in
Armenia. Although extinction of the species is strongly related to the destruction
and fragmentations of its habitat (Nowell et al. 2006), the quality of natural
environment in Iran is being degraded at a high rate (World Bank 2005). Habitat
destructions due to logging and plantation activities generally result in a new
community with different forms of population interactions. As a result of subdividing
habitats to smaller fragmented patches, both the contiguity and area of the available
habitat will decrease (Anderson 1999). Particularly in the case of wide-ranging wild
cats with requirement of large habitats of good quality, space limitations would reduce
their viability (Sunquist & Sunquist 2001, Khorozyan et al. 2010). In addition, reducing
actual size of the habitat following by farming, housing and construction activities
may increase the edges compare to the area of the habitat. Edge effects arising from
these projects can negatively affect behavior of large carnivores (Ngoprasert et al.
2007).
Uncertain reproduction status, modified by the sex and age structure of
population, and genetic depression following by successive inbreeding are some of
the consequences of habitat fragmentation. Moreover, when population is small it
may be extinct by a random probability because population survival would rely on
response of each individual to variation in environmental factors (Sinclair et al. 2006).
Conducting farming operations would result in eliminating specialized species and
encourage generalist ones and this would have substantial impact on predator prey
interactions (Anderson 1999). Commercial exploitation of leopards and their preys,
trophy hunting, planned or accidental killings outside protected areas (Joshi 2010,
Balme & Hunter 2004) have further threatened the species.
This study was conducted to bring an understanding to the primary threats
that are affecting the current populations of leopard in various provinces of Iran.
Data collection was started in 2002 and completed in December 2006. The study was
conducted concurrently with leopard distribution studies throughout the leopard
distribution range in the country. Seventy four protected and non-protected areas
reported by Sanei and Zakaria (2011) as the leopard distribution range in Iran have
been studied to identify the main threat factors to the leopard survival in these areas.
These include mountainous chains of Alborz and Zagros, Hyrcanian forests along
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Sanei & Zakaria 2011
32 Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011
INTRODUCTION
The Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor Pocock 1927) has a wide
distribution in the Middle East while the main population is known to be existed in
Iran (Kiabi et al. 2002, Khorozyan et al. 2005, Sanei 2007). Leopard is considered as a
protected species in Iran’s wildlife conservation law. After extinction of the Persian
lion (Panthera leo persica) and Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata), the Persian
leopard is the last member of the genus Panthera that remains in Iran.
Various studies indicated that the species is susceptible to survive in human
dominated habitats (Edgaonkar & Chellam 1998, Athreya et al. 2007, Sanei et al.
2011). However, being resistant to human pressure does not imply that a viable
population is existed in the region (Hunter et al. 2003).
Khorozyan et al. (2008) revealed that poaching, plant gathering, deforestation
and human caused wild fires are threatening the Persian leopard population in
Armenia. Although extinction of the species is strongly related to the destruction
and fragmentations of its habitat (Nowell et al. 2006), the quality of natural
environment in Iran is being degraded at a high rate (World Bank 2005). Habitat
destructions due to logging and plantation activities generally result in a new
community with different forms of population interactions. As a result of subdividing
habitats to smaller fragmented patches, both the contiguity and area of the available
habitat will decrease (Anderson 1999). Particularly in the case of wide-ranging wild
cats with requirement of large habitats of good quality, space limitations would reduce
their viability (Sunquist & Sunquist 2001, Khorozyan et al. 2010). In addition, reducing
actual size of the habitat following by farming, housing and construction activities
may increase the edges compare to the area of the habitat. Edge effects arising from
these projects can negatively affect behavior of large carnivores (Ngoprasert et al.
2007).
Uncertain reproduction status, modified by the sex and age structure of
population, and genetic depression following by successive inbreeding are some of
the consequences of habitat fragmentation. Moreover, when population is small it
may be extinct by a random probability because population survival would rely on
response of each individual to variation in environmental factors (Sinclair et al. 2006).
Conducting farming operations would result in eliminating specialized species and
encourage generalist ones and this would have substantial impact on predator prey
interactions (Anderson 1999). Commercial exploitation of leopards and their preys,
trophy hunting, planned or accidental killings outside protected areas (Joshi 2010,
Balme & Hunter 2004) have further threatened the species.
This study was conducted to bring an understanding to the primary threats
that are affecting the current populations of leopard in various provinces of Iran.
Data collection was started in 2002 and completed in December 2006. The study was
conducted concurrently with leopard distribution studies throughout the leopard
distribution range in the country. Seventy four protected and non-protected areas
reported by Sanei and Zakaria (2011) as the leopard distribution range in Iran have
been studied to identify the main threat factors to the leopard survival in these areas.
These include mountainous chains of Alborz and Zagros, Hyrcanian forests along
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Khorozyan et al. (2008) revealed that poaching, plant gathering, deforestation
and human caused wild res are threatening the Persian leopard population in
Armenia. Although extinction of the species is strongly related to the destruction and
fragmentations of its habitat (Nowell et al. 2006), the quality of natural environment
in Iran is being degraded at a high rate (World Bank 2005). Generally habitat
destructions caused by logging and plantation activities result in new communities
with different types of population interactions. As a result of subdividing habitats to
smaller fragmented patches, both the contiguity and area of the available habitat will
decrease (Anderson 1999). Particularly in the case of wide-ranging wild cats with
requirement of large habitats of good quality, space limitations would reduce their
viability (Sunquist & Sunquist 2001, Khorozyan et al. 2010). In addition, reducing
actual size of the habitat following by farming, housing and construction activities
may increase the edges compare to the area of the habitat. Edge effects arising from
these projects can negatively affect behavior of large carnivores (Ngoprasert et al.
2007).
Threats to Persian leopard in Iran
Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011 33
the Caspian Sea and hills and mountains in central and south of Iran. Therefore,
climatic factors are very variable in various regions. Sanei and Zakaria (2011) revealed
that temperature in leopard distribution range may vary from -23.10 to +49.40ºC.
Moreover, while the southeastern region may experience a dry condition, the average
rainfall in the north could be more than 1,200 mm per year.
The names and locations of study sites are listed in Table 1. Figure 1 shows the
leopard distribution range in Iran and the various levels of dry condition in the
leopard range in recent years.
Table 1. Leopard distribution range in Iran (i.e. study sites) as reported by Sanei and
Zakaria (2011, this issue).
Located in: 1Khorasan (North, Razavi & South Khorasan); 2Ma zan dar an Pro vin ce; 3 Tehr an
Province; 4East Azarbaijan Province; 5West Azarbaijan Province; 6Ghazvin Province; 7Lorestan
Pro vince; 8Ker man Province; 9Far s Province ; 10Semnan Province; 11Kermanshah Province;
12Zanjan Province; 12Kohgiluyeh & Boyer Ahmad Province; 13Khuzestan Province; 14Golestan
Province; 15Hamedan Province; 16Hormozgan Province;17Ilam Province; 18Kerman Prov ince;
19Kurdistan Province; 20Ardabil Province; 21Esfahan Province; 22Gilan Province; 23Yazd Province;
24Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari Province; 25Sistan & Baluchistan Province.
Sanei & Zakaria 2011
34 Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011
Figure 1. Status of the leopard habitats in terms of monthly rainfall average from
October 2009 to May 2010. Intensive dry condition = 45-60% decrease in the normal
rainfall trend; medium dry condition = 20-45% decrease in normal trend; low dry
condition = <20% decrease in normal trend; low abundance = <20% increase in
normal trend; medium abundance = 20-45% increase in normal trend. [Sources:
leopard distribution range (Sanei & Zakaria 2011, this issue); map of the dry condition
(Agriculture and Natural Resources Research Center, Section of Dry Condition Management
for Agriculture Purposes, Isfahan Province, Iran].
This study was conducted involving a large number of sites (Table 1). Therefore,
various methodologies were implemented in the collection of data from each region.
These included: (i) interviews with hunters, local settlements, local shepherds as well
as rangers of the Iran Department of Environment (DoE); (ii) habitat assessments in
terms of prey availability, presence of human disturbance factors, presence of cattle
and habitat quality; (iii) studying annual reports from local DoEs; (iv) reports of
environmental assessments for various habitats; (v) reports of human-wildlife conflicts
and (vi) complaints of local settlements concerning wildlife species infestations.
Conflicting reports of wild life species infestations weren verified by the study team
or wildlife experts of Iran DoE before being recorded.
Leopard threat factors recorded in various sites were classified into seven main
groups as follows:
(1) Habitat destructions mainly include altering operations of the lands and
changing the land uses, inappropriate farming methods, developing agriculture lands,
Threats to Persian leopard in Iran
Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011 35
developing residential areas near to wildlife habitats, construction activities inside
the wildlife habitats, deforestations, existence of villages inside the protected areas,
degradation of the habitats, habitat fragmentations, human population growth and
expansion of cities and rural areas, construction of highways passing through wildlife
habitats, developing access roads and pathways in villages, irregular industrial
exploitations of environmental resources, exploitation of mineral resources, pollutions
produced by factories and landfill sites around some wildlife habitats.
(2) Illegal hunting: killing and shooting of leopards and their preys, capturing
the lambs, kids and fawns; availability of illegal weapons among local settlements in
some areas; poisonous lures, trapping the mammals, trophy hunting and competitions
to get the trophy awards.
(3) Lack of conservation facilities: lack of guardsmen to secure the protected
areas, lack of facilities and appropriate protective sentry posts in some regions, small
number of waterholes in habitats that experience dry condition.
(4) Lack of knowledge by local people, shepherds and tribes about the ecological
issues and importance of predators in the health of ecosystems.
(5) Cattle and animal husbandries: irregular grazing of cattle, large number of
animal husbandries and livestock present in the habitats, transmission of disease to
native wildlife species, reducing habitat safety due to presence of herding dogs and
cattle in the habitats.
(6) Dry and unsuitable climatic conditions.
(7) Impacts of war between Iraq and Iran and availability of weapons among
local people.
Table 2 shows the frequency of threat factors detected in the various study
sites. The main threat factors are habitat destruction followed by illegal hunting and
excess of animal husbandries and cattle in the habitats. It is worth mentioning that
almost 9% of the habitat destruction was found to be a result of the construction of
highways and access routes to the habitats. Furthermore, solid wastes produced by
cities form almost 3% of habitat destruction.
Although vast areas of the country receive small amount of rainfall per year, it
is suggested that unsuitable cultivation programs by local settlements may have
further impacts on underwater routes. During the survey in a place called Kouh Siah
(meaning the black mountain) located in Fars Province, we found that several springs
in the mountain dried up in recent years. Local experts believe that this could be the
consequences of unsuitable cultivation programs conducted in the plain nearby
(Daryush Gholami, pers. comm.). However, more studies are required to investigate
this issue.
Potential threats associated with the presence of livestock in wildlife habitats
could be: (1) transmission of diseases to native wildlife species in the area and
(2) lack of safety and preventive measures in a particular habitat. It is known that
various disease-causing bacteria and viruses may survive for a long time in pond
water and waterholes hence, the probability that wildlife diseases could be transmitted
easily to wildlife species through these water sources is quite high.
Sanei & Zakaria 2011
36 Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011
Table 2. Frequency of threat factors detected in the Persian leopard study sites in
Iran.
No. Factor Percentage*
1 Habitat destruction 35
2 Illegal hunting 22
3 Cattle and animal husbandries 21
4 Lack of conservation facilities 9
5 Lack of knowledge about ecological issues 9
6 Dry and unsuitable climatic condition 2
7 Impacts of war between Iraq and Iran 2
*Percentages explain how much of the total detected threat factors in the study sites belong to
each specific threat factor. However, the percentages do not explain the impacts of each threat
factor on the leopard survival. Furthermore, there could be more threatening occasions that we
failed to detect (e.g. illegal hunting of leopards or their preys).
Solid wastes from cities that are dumped in landfill sites near and around wildlife
habitats would cause unnecessary increase in stray dog visits from nearby settlements.
Consequently, stray dogs may prey upon the lambs, kids and fawns and as such
would cause rapid decline in populations of prey species of Persian leopard.
Table 3 shows the ranks of wildlife species infestations based on the
complaints made by local settlements obtained during a supplementary study
involving conflicts/disturbances caused by various wildlife species conducted in
2002 and 2003. Table 4, on the other hand, provides a summary of complaints of local
settlements about leopard attacks recorded during the same study period (original
data extracted from Sanei 2007).
Based on the regulations of Iran DoE, any loss or disturbance caused by wildlife
species would be paid by the Department upon complaint of local settlements. Despite
this financial aid, direct shooting and killing of problematic animals as a control
measure is still a common practice in the affected settlements.
From 2001 to 2003, this study recorded five cases of leopard attacks on sheep,
goats and herding dogs and three cases of attacks on shepherds in a place called
Touran, located in Semnan Province. However, no official complaint was made. In
addition, seven cases of human or livestock-leopard conflicts were recorded during
the study in a place called Dargaz, located in Razavi Khorasan Provinces. In five out
of seven conflict cases, the problem individual (i.e. the Persian leopard) was outrightly
killed. Similarly, there were several reports of human-leopard conflicts from a village
located in Boushehr Province that led to killing of the problem individual. Awareness
programs for local settlements about spatial ecology of this territorial large cat and
the probability of occupying the area by a new leopard individual after successfully
removing the problem animal could be beneficial. Several reports of leopard hunting
or accidental kills were recorded in recent years. On various occasions, local settlements
use poison-laden lures to kill the wolves which are responsible for regular livestock
Sanei & Zakaria 2011
36 Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011
Table 2. Frequency of threat factors detected in the Persian leopard study sites in
Iran.
No. Factor Percentage*
1 Habitat destruction 35
2 Illegal hunting 22
3 Cattle and animal husbandries 21
4 Lack of conservation facilities 9
5 Lack of knowledge about ecological issues 9
6 Dry and unsuitable climatic condition 2
7 Impacts of war between Iraq and Iran 2
*Percentages explain how much of the total detected threat factors in the study sites belong to
each specific threat factor. However, the percentages do not explain the impacts of each threat
factor on the leopard survival. Furthermore, there could be more threatening occasions that we
failed to detect (e.g. illegal hunting of leopards or their preys).
Solid wastes from cities that are dumped in landfill sites near and around wildlife
habitats would cause unnecessary increase in stray dog visits from nearby settlements.
Consequently, stray dogs may prey upon the lambs, kids and fawns and as such
would cause rapid decline in populations of prey species of Persian leopard.
Table 3 shows the ranks of wildlife species infestations based on the
complaints made by local settlements obtained during a supplementary study
involving conflicts/disturbances caused by various wildlife species conducted in
2002 and 2003. Table 4, on the other hand, provides a summary of complaints of local
settlements about leopard attacks recorded during the same study period (original
data extracted from Sanei 2007).
Based on the regulations of Iran DoE, any loss or disturbance caused by wildlife
species would be paid by the Department upon complaint of local settlements. Despite
this financial aid, direct shooting and killing of problematic animals as a control
measure is still a common practice in the affected settlements.
From 2001 to 2003, this study recorded five cases of leopard attacks on sheep,
goats and herding dogs and three cases of attacks on shepherds in a place called
Touran, located in Semnan Province. However, no official complaint was made. In
addition, seven cases of human or livestock-leopard conflicts were recorded during
the study in a place called Dargaz, located in Razavi Khorasan Provinces. In five out
of seven conflict cases, the problem individual (i.e. the Persian leopard) was outrightly
killed. Similarly, there were several reports of human-leopard conflicts from a village
located in Boushehr Province that led to killing of the problem individual. Awareness
programs for local settlements about spatial ecology of this territorial large cat and
the probability of occupying the area by a new leopard individual after successfully
removing the problem animal could be beneficial. Several reports of leopard hunting
or accidental kills were recorded in recent years. On various occasions, local settlements
use poison-laden lures to kill the wolves which are responsible for regular livestock
From 2001 to 2003, this study recorded ve cases of leopard attacks on sheep,
goats and herding dogs and three cases of attacks on shepherds in a place called
Touran, located in Semnan Province. However, no ofcial complaint was made. In
addition, seven cases of human or livestock-leopard conicts were recorded during
the study in a place called Dargaz, located in Razavi Khorasan Province. In ve
out of seven conict cases, the problem individual (i.e. the Persian leopard) was
outrightly killed. Similarly, there were several reports of human-leopard conicts
from a village located in Boushehr Province that led to killing of the problem
individual. Awareness programs for local settlements about spatial ecology of this
territorial large cat and the probability of occupying the area by a new leopard
individual after successfully removing the problem animal could be benecial.
Several reports of leopard hunting or accidental kills were recorded in recent years.
On various occasions, local settlements use poison-laden lures to kill the wolves
Threats to Persian leopard in Iran
Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011 37
Table 3. Ranks of wildlife species infestations based on complaints from local
settlements in 2002 and 2003 study survey in Iran (Source of data: Sanei 2007).
2002 2003
Table 4. Records of complaints by local settlements in Iran regarding leopard attacks
in 2002 and 2003 (Source of data: Sanei 2007).
Sanei & Zakaria 2011
38 Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011
losses. However, in a number of cases, the leopards became the actual victims.
Furthermore, some poisons could remain effective for a long time in the food chain;
therefore, one poison-laden lure could kill several individuals of various wildlife
species. Education and awareness programs for local settlers could considerably
decrease hunting of the leopards and poaching of their preys in different provinces
of Iran. Further study on the range ecology and home range size of the Persian
leopards in Iran could help in the capture-and-release programs in cases of human-
leopard conflicts.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors acknowledge the kind assistance of various local settlements as well as
Staff of the Department of Environment, Iran, particularly Sehati Sabet, Daryush Gholami,
Soltani and Hosseini Tayefeh for their kind cooperation. The productive consultations with
the late Dr. H. Asadi, Mr.H. Ziaie (Islamic Azad University, North Tehran branch, Iran) and
Dr. B.H. Kiabi (University of Shahid Beheshtu, Tehran, Iran) as well as the generous financial
support of Gh. Sanei and Sh. Hermidas to this study are highly appreciated.
LITERATURE CITED
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Balme, G. and L. Hunter. 2004. Mortality in a protected leopard population, Phinda Private
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Armenia. Integrative Zoology 3: 322-332.
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Sanei & Zakaria 2011
38 Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011
losses. However, in a number of cases, the leopards became the actual victims.
Furthermore, some poisons could remain effective for a long time in the food chain;
therefore, one poison-laden lure could kill several individuals of various wildlife
species. Education and awareness programs for local settlers could considerably
decrease hunting of the leopards and poaching of their preys in different provinces
of Iran. Further study on the range ecology and home range size of the Persian
leopards in Iran could help in the capture-and-release programs in cases of human-
leopard conflicts.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors acknowledge the kind assistance of various local settlements as well as
Staff of the Department of Environment, Iran, particularly Sehati Sabet, Daryush Gholami,
Soltani and Hosseini Tayefeh for their kind cooperation. The productive consultations with
the late Dr. H. Asadi, Mr.H. Ziaie (Islamic Azad University, North Tehran branch, Iran) and
Dr. B.H. Kiabi (University of Shahid Beheshtu, Tehran, Iran) as well as the generous financial
support of Gh. Sanei and Sh. Hermidas to this study are highly appreciated.
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the leopards became the actual victims. Furthermore, some poisons could remain
effective for a long time in the food chain; therefore, one poison-laden lure could kill
several individuals of various wildlife species. Education and awareness programs
for local settlers could considerably decrease hunting of the leopards and poaching
of their preys in different provinces of Iran. Further study on the range ecology and
home range size of the Persian leopards in Iran could help in the capture-and-release
programs in cases of human-leopard conicts.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors acknowledge the kind assistance of various local settlements as well as
Staff of the Department of Environment, Iran, particularly Sehati Sabet, Daryush Gholami,
Soltani and Hosseini Tayefeh for their kind cooperation. The productive consultations with
the late Dr. H. Asadi, Mr.H. Ziaie (Islamic Azad University, North Tehran branch, Iran) and
Dr. B.H. Kiabi (University of Shahid Beheshti, Tehran, Iran) as well as the generous nancial
support of Gh. Sanei and Sh. Hermidas to this study are highly appreciated.
Threats to Persian leopard in Iran
Asia Life Sciences Suppl. 7, 2011 39
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... Therefore, we recommend camera trap studies to determine whether this is the case. Sanei and Zakaria (2011) We consider poaching and intentional poisoning, and roadkill, to be the main human-caused threats to the leopard in Iran. Naderi, Farashi, and Erdi (2018) concluded that poaching and intentional poisoning of food eaten by leopards were the main causes of leopard fatalities in Iran. ...
... stated that leopard distribution in Iran's Kurdistan Province had declined severely. Yusefi et al. (2019) mentioned Kurdistan's name as one of the five Iranian provinces in which there were unconfirmed evidences of leopard presence.When the Iran-Iraq war broke out in the 1980's, military activities and the availability of weapons among local people increased(Sanei & Zakaria, 2011), which might be contributed to the reduction or extermination of the leopard population in this area of Iran. ...
... and due to a lack of official conservation measures in the forms of wildlife rangers and equipment(Ilam University, 2006;Sanei, 2007;Sanei et al., 2016;Sanei & Zakaria, 2011), the presence of poachers within most of Iran's protected areas remains as a threat to leopards(Sanei et al., 2016) and their main prey species(Ghoddousi et al., 2019). However, research is needed to determine the extent of this threat. ...
Article
Full-text available
Gray literature and data from unpublished sources can provide important scientific information that has not been published scientifically. The Persian leopard (hereafter leopard) Panthera pardus saxicolor is classed as endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and also is one of the least‐studied subspecies of leopard. It occurs in the Caucasus and Central and Southwest Asia. Iran contains more than 75% of the leopard's extant range, and the leopard population in this country serves as a source for neighboring countries. In this study, we determined the distribution and human‐caused mortality of leopards in Iran, by reviewing unpublished data and Farsi gray literature (which includes government reports) between 1 January 2010 and 30 December 2018. We created the most recent distribution map of the leopard in Iran. Our data display that human‐caused mortality of leopard in Iran mostly includes poaching and intentional poisoning, and roadkill.
... According to human population estimates in the regions (Chislennost'…, 2019), the population density in the Central Caucasus (Ingushetia, North Ossetia- Alania, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia) is 81.7 people/km 2 , and in the Western Caucasus (Krasnodar Territory, Adygea) 66.5 people/km 2 . These data are comparable with those for the provinces of Iran, where the leopard is present (Sanei and Zakaria, 2011): the average density per province is 85.2 people/km, and the medial density is 62 people/km 2 (Provinces…, 2019). Thus, the difference in population density in the Western and Central Caucasus will probably not play a paramount role when leopards choose their future home range. ...
... По данным оценки численности населения в регионах (Численность…, 2019) плотность населения на Центральном Кавказе (Ингушетия, Северная Осетия, Кабардино-Балкария, Карачаево-Черкесия) составляет 81.7 чел./км 2 , а на Западном Кавказе (Краснодарский край, Адыгея) 66.5 чел./км 2 . Эти данные сопоставимы с таковыми для провинций Ирана, в которых отмечено присутствие леопарда (Sanei, Zakaria, 2011): средняя плотность на провинцию составляет 85.2 чел./км 2 , а медиальная -62 чел./км 2 (Provinces…, 2019). Таким образом, разница в плотности населения Западного и Центрального Кавказа, вероятно, не будет играть первостепенной роли при выборе леопардами участка обитания. ...
Article
The first leopards were released into Caucasus nature in 2016 and 2018 as result of the first step of Federal leopard restoration program. They were equipped with GPS collars with satellite transmitters. The data obtained from the collars was used to create and verify a mathematical model of the potential habitats of this species and evaluate the possibility of way choice made by leopards as they move. The modeling was performed by the maximum entropy method by using the MaxEnt program based on data on the movement of six leopards (four males and two females). A variety of basic habitat factors and characteristics is reflected in WorldClim bioclimatic indicators, data on surface radar imagery and indices calculated on the Landsat8 satellite image mosaic base. To describe and verify biotopes, field data collected in the Republics of North Ossetia-Alania, South Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria were used. Analysis of the modeling results confirmed high accuracy in determining the predicted points. The largest contribution to the common model of potential leopard habitats is organized by 10 main factors from the whole set of factors. That list includes the steepness of the slope, altitude, a number of climatic characteristics, bioclimatic indices and the vegetation index. According to the modeling results, the most preferred habitats for the leopard in the Caucasus are not very steep (up to 30°) slopes with grassy vegetation at altitudes of about 800–1500 m above sea level, independent of exposure, but with average meaning of snow indices. The probability of a leopard choice in area with such characteristics is higher. Keywords: leopards, habitats modeling, satellite monitoring, reintroduction to the wild, MaxEnt
... The main threats to leopards include habitat loss and degradation, developments close to protected areas, rapid depletion of the natural prey base, poaching, and conflicts with livestock causing revenge killing by the livestock owners (Fahrig 2003;Athreya and Belsare 2007;Mondol et al. 2009;Sanei and Zakaria 2011c;Sanei et al. 2012;Kabir et al. 2013;Qi et al. 2015). Isolation and fragmentation of habitats are further threatening the leopards within their remaining ranges by undermining the genetic health of the populations (Spong et al. 2000;O'Brien and Johnson 2005;Quaglietta et al. 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
The leopard Panthera pardus is thought to be sparsely distributed across Pakistan and there is limited understanding of the demographic structure and distribution of the species in this country. We conducted a study, from April to July 2017, and, from March to June 2018, in the northern Pakistan region to establish the presence and distribution of leopards, mindful at the outset of their abundance in that region. The presence of leopards was confirmed in the Swat, Dir and Margalla Hills region. The leopard population in Gallies and Murree Forest Division was preliminarily assessed via camera-trapping. As a result, a total of 63 potential areas of leopard population were identified initially. The leopard was photo captured at 27 locations (hotspots) with 34 capture events yielding 195 images over the course of 3,022 active trap-nights. Camera trap images were examined to identify leopard individuals using their rosette patterns on both the left and right flanks and the dorsal side of the tail. Ultimately, 15 leopard individuals were identified during the first survey period of the study and four individuals were recaptured in the second survey period, together with three new individuals. The detection probability of individual leopards from MARK varied from 0.10 and 0.20 with a population size (preliminarily estimated to be 16–25 (SE = 3.18) in 2107 and 7–13 (SE = 1.87) in 2018. This gave a density of 4.5 to 9.5 leopards/100 km ² , respectively. A home range of various individual leopards was found to extend from the Gallies Reserved Forest to the extended corridors of Guzara Forest. In general, this study suggests that the Guzara Forest is crucially important for the conservation of leopards in the region as this area allows them extended movement while searching for food and mates.
Chapter
Full-text available
Even though wildlife trafficking is considered as a serious wildlife threat worldwide, no concrete studies have been done so far on the severity of the illegal trade of the Iranian large carnivores. However, for the purpose of law enforcement aimed at prohibiting illegal trade of the specimens, readily recognizable part or derivate thereof, determination of conservation values of the target species is required. As such, an article in the first phase of the Persian Leopard National Conservation and Management Action Plan is dedicated to the relative valuation practices. Relatively, this study is to estimate Willingness to Pay (WTP) for leopard conservation in Iran and assessing the relative parameters according to a specialist conservation target group consisted of experts and staff of the Department of Environment across the leopard range in Iran. Subsequently, a study was conducted from May 2016 to February 2017 using contingent valuation method by applying dichotomous choice and two-dimensional questionnaires. In this regard, a total of 339 questionnaires were distributed among the target group across all provinces of Iran. The results demonstrated that WTP parameter was positive in 73% of the respondents. Yet, following by 1% increase in BID (maximum accepted proposed value), the probability of payment for leopard conservation is reduced up to 0.285%. According to the Logit model and maximum likelihood method and considering the sampling population (i.e., staff of the Department of Environment), the average WTP for annual leopard conservation is 136,263.5 IRR/per person equivalent to the annual total value of 887,893,454.9 IRR for the entire sampling population. The most important effective variables in this study include income and willingness to be a volunteer in non-governmental organizations. Conducting this research, the authors believe that conservation value of the Persian leopard is best evaluated only if a wide range of parameters and various sampling groups are involved in the assessment processes. Yet, the findings in this study suggest that the current penalty for illegal hunting of the leopards in Iran is less than the assessed value of WTP for leopard conservation as much as 87,893,454 IRR. Thus, results of this research could be used for the purpose of establishing appropriate penalties for illegal hunting and poisoning of the specimens as well as relative law enforcements concerning the cases of illegal trade.
Chapter
To study the Persian leopard potential habitats, to assess conservation needs and priorities, and also to conduct relative conservation and management programs, considering extensive variability of natural and socioeconomic characteristics across the leopard range in Iran is essential. Iran is a vast country with wide range of the Persian leopard across almost all provinces. Failing to closely concentrate on the notable variability of aforementioned characteristics in each part of the leopard range across the country may negatively affect the species distribution modelling practices as well as many other research, conservation, and management programs. Accordingly, this chapter is dedicated to a novel classification addressing the leopard putative range in Iran for further relative programs. Subsequently, a total of nine natural and human variables including climate, topography, dry condition, vegetation, and elevation, also protected areas, human population, land use, and human poverty index were used to classify the area into the groups with the most similarities. This is conducted by the means of extracting inherent clusters in the dataset of aforementioned variables in all provinces without prior tagging of the cases. Afterwards, topography and climatology in each region are briefly discussed. Conducting the large scale research, conservation, and management programs on a regional basis as introduced in this chapter is recommended not only for the leopard, but also for other wide ranging species in Iran when the program is affected by the variability of natural and socioeconomic characteristics.
Chapter
To ensure persistence of a viable population of the Persian leopard in its wide range across Iran wherein also supports trans-boundary movements of the leopards to adjacent areas, the Iranian Department of Environment together with the Asian Leopard Specialist Society embarked on preparation of a species specific conservation and management action plan. Therefore, relative need assessments, stakeholder analysis, and required studies were conducted since 2012. To address the actual status of the Persian leopard in Iran an appropriate participatory planning model has been developed and subsequently, planning activities were conducted during several workshops and sessions by involvement of a wide range of participants from all over the country. A total of 45 internal and external main categories of stakeholders were recognized which also include various governmental and non-governmental organizations. Relatively, questionnaire surveys have been sent out to 60 universities and 220 NGOs with relative field of activities to identify the potential capabilities for implementation of the operations. These five annual action plans cover main topics of awareness raising, training and empowerment; habitat, media, veterinary and disease, rehabilitation centers, trans-boundary habitats and international co-operation, genetic conservation, compensation and insurance program, Persian leopard national network; research, evaluation and monitoring, protection units and wildlife wardens together with relative laws and regulations. This chapter briefly introduces this national document which was officially endorsed in early 2016 for implementation.
Chapter
This chapter is dedicated to assessing the Persian leopard potential distribution in Iran on a regional basis that aims to address four objectives and a null hypothesis. Objectives are concerning (1) estimation of the leopard potential distribution, (2) possibility of a major fragmentation in the Persian leopard range in Iran as first mentioned by Sanei et al. (2016), (3) prediction of landscape corridors which can improve the distribution pattern connectivity and (4) the main environmental variables that contribute to assessing the predictive maps. The null hypothesis addresses the variability of permutation importance of the environmental factors in accordance with the regional variability of environmental characteristics. Due to the variability of the environmental characteristics across the country and the leopard putative range which includes almost 30 provinces out of 31, the area has been innovatively divided into five significantly dissimilar regions as discussed in the previous chapter. Subsequently, MaxEnt modelling is conducted in a regional context using a total of 17 variables including 12 natural and 5 human factors together with more than 550 well distributed leopard occurrence data in all regions. Environmental variables have been tested for possible correlation prior to the modelling procedures. Area under the curve (AUC) was used to test the model fit to the data set. Jackknife test was performed to assess the contribution of environmental variables to the MaxEnt models. Fifteen replications with test percentage of 20% were used for validation. Additional evaluation of the predictive models was conducted by assessing the potential habitat distribution maps via the expert/local knowledge of 150 individuals from all five regions. Findings support that the Persian leopard range in Iran is in the process of a major fragmentation to the northern and the southern parts. Accordingly, two landscape corridors providing vital linkages to connect leopard potential habitats in a metapopulation scale are identified. Developed predictive maps in this chapter are a basis for the researches presented in Chaps. 5, 6 and 7. Authors believe that MaxEnt modeling on a regional basis has considerably improved the accuracy of the predictive maps that eventually formed the countrywide potential distribution of the Persian leopard potential habitats in Iran.
Chapter
Even though the Persian leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor is an endangered subspecies with the main population inhabiting in Iran (Khorozyan and Abramov, Zool Middle East 41:11–24, 2007; Kiabi et al., Zool Middle East 26(1):41–47, 2002), earlier studies (Sanei et al., Assessment of the Persian leopard mortality rate in Iran. In: Proceedings from UMT 11th International Annual Symposium on Sustainability Science and Management (pp. 1458–1462, 2012). Terengganu, Malaysia: Universiti Malaysia Terengganu) demonstrated that the majority of leopard mortalities are recorded to be as a result of intentional hunting, revenge killing, and poisoning of the specimens. To mitigate livestock–carnivore conflicts and reduce the subsequent revenge killings, an innovative model including a medium and a long-term insurance schemes together with awareness raising, trust building, and participatory conservation strategies is designed. Accordingly, the medium term insurance scheme addresses three main subjects of (1) improving conservation practices in the areas of leopard mortality hot spots, (2) medical payments and wergild for possible human injuries/maim/death because of human–leopard conflicts and (3) recompensing livestock depredation. Also, since the wolf Canis lupus distribution is comparable with the leopard range in the country, because of conservation concerns, damages caused by wolf depredation are also planned to be recompensed partially in the first type (i.e. medium term) insurance scheme and fully recompensed in the long term (i.e. second type) insurance program. Introducing sessions about the relative regulations and instructions were conducted for provincial wildlife wardens and DoE staff who are well familiar with wildlife sign surveys and have a quick access to the habitats in each region. Subsequently, they took the responsibility for identification of wildlife species in livestock–carnivore conflicts. Improvements in husbandry practices, linking the payments to the acceptable husbandry enhancements and participation in reducing risk of damages by local people are some of the instructions considered in the model to improve the efficacy and outcomes. So far, Department of Environment of Iran together with a private insurance company has partially launched the short term insurance scheme since 2016 and launching other sections of this model is in progress.
Chapter
Similar to the other big cats of Iran (i.e., the Asiatic lion Panthera leo persica and the Caspian tiger Panthera tigris virgata that are extinct in the region), the Persian leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor has a unique importance in the Iranian art, history, and literature. Symbolization of these species over centuries to emphasize on strength, intelligence, and bravery of the kings and national heroes indicates the significance of the big cats including the leopard, for the Iranian society. The Persian leopard has been also the center of attention for several local and nationwide researches in Iran since 2002. Seeing this introductory chapter of the book mainly consisted of an overview to the prior knowledge about the subspecies, the cultural importance, results of an assessment to determine the leopard conservation requirements in various regions of Iran as well as problem trees addressing habitat-related issues (e.g., habitat destruction and degradation) and high leopard mortality rate.
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the causes and rates of mortality in a protected Leopard population in the Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Data from 16 radio-tagged Leopards and their cubs were used to determine the causes of mortality and annual mortality rates for various age and sex classes in the population. Intra-specific strife accounted for the greatest number of deaths followed by human-related mortality. Males died mainly as a result of human activity whereas females died from natural causes. The mortality rate for males was significantly higher than for females, and the annual mortality rate for the population was higher than any previously recorded in Leopards. Rapid turnover of adult males due to human persecution may have reduced recruitment into the population because social instability prevented females from raising cubs. If the present rates of mortality and recruitment are maintained, Phinda may represent a population sink for Leopards with poor conservation and tourism prospects.
Article
Full-text available
This study is a new attempt to identify the latest distribution pattern of the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor Pocock 1927) in its entire range in Iran. Furthermore, the paper aimed to analyse the climatic factors in the current range of the leopard in the country. The study was performed in 138 sites (56 protected areas, 34 non-protected areas and 48 meteorology stations) throughout the country for a duration of four years starting in 2002 using rapid survey techniques and collection of secondary data. A total of 74 protected and non-protected areas are reported here as the leopard detection sites in the country. Although leopards have a wide distribution in Iran, results indicate that 69% of them are found in the northern part where a large tract of forests is regarded as one of the most important habitats for leopards in the country. In general, the leopards are mostly found in habitats with 0 to 20 days per year of ice cover and 58% of its identified range in the country have 3,100-3,600 sunny hours per annum. Leopards inhabit a wide range of temperature, i.e. from -23.10 to +49.40°C however, they are more often found in areas with temperature of 13 to 18°C. The majority (66%) of leopard distribution areas receive more than 200 mm of rain per year. Findings of this research would help the researchers in conducting further regional studies in the leopard distribution range described in this paper. It is also recommended that occupancy modeling on a regional scale should be conducted where leopards are present.
Article
Full-text available
The Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) is endangered throughout its distribution area in the Middle East. In this article, we briefly describe its global range and then emphasize the status, distri-bution, and threats in Armenia. The principal factors jeopardizing the long-term survival of the Persian leopard in Armenia are disturbance, poaching, and wildfire. Currently, the work is underway to identify and describe the coarse-scale range, fine-scale range, and the Priority Leopard Conservation Areas (PLECAs) in the country. Because the leopard distribution is spatially exclusive of inhabited human settlements, the fine-scale range is defined as the coarse-scale one without villages and towns. The statistical information on both ranges is pre-sented. Its comparative analysis has shown that the fine-scale range contains, with statistical significance, a smaller area of the mountain meadows and much shorter lengths of the main asphalted roads than its coarse-scale counterpart. The PLECAs are areas of permanent presence of the predator, which therefore must be granted the highest priority for conservation. The first candidates for the status of PLECAs in Armenia are identified. Resumen El leopardo perso (Panthera pardus saxicolor) está en vías de extinción en toda de su distribución en el Oriente Medio. En éste artículo, describimos brevemente la distribución mundial y enfatizamos el estado, la distribución, y las amenazas en Armenia. Los factores principales que hacen peligrar a la supervivencia del leopardo perso en Armenia son los disturbios, el cazar, y el incendio fuera de con-trol. Ahora el trabajo está en progreso a identificar y describir la habitación de escala aproximada y la de escala precisa, y las Áreas Principales de la Conservación del Leopardo (PLECAs) en el país. La habitación de escala precisa se defina como la aproximada sin las pueblas y las aldeas, porque la distribución del leopardo no incluye espacialmente los asentamientos humanos. Se presenta la infor-mación estadística en ambas distribuciones. El análisis ha mostrado que la habitación de escala precisa contiene, con un significado estadístico, un parte más pequeño de los prados montañeses y unos tramos mucho más cortos de las calles principales que la habitación de escala aproximada. Las PLECAs son áreas de presencia permanente del depredador, y por eso se deben darlas la prioridad más alta por la conservación. Se identifican los primeros candidatos por el status de las PLECAs en Armenia.
Chapter
Full-text available
Space limitations arising from human activities affect demographic structure and performance of mammalian populations and thus reduce their viability. This is especially true for wide-ranging wild cats (family Felidae) which generally lead solitary lives and require large tracts of good-quality habitats for survival (Sunquist and Sunquist 2001). As human activities leave more and more mosaics of modified lands behind, felid populations become fragmented and further impaired by the small and often unviable size of patches necessitating more complicated dispersal of individuals between patches (Reed 2004).
Article
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The range of the Leopard is still known to include large areas of Iran. Data have been gathered mainly at nine sites since 1976. The results show that there are about 550–850 specimens in Iran, some 55% of which live in protected areas. Kurzfassung. Die Verbreitung des Leoparden schliesst weite Teile des Iran ein. Aktuelle Daten seit 1976 wurden vor allem in neun Gebieten gesammelt. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass im Iran noch etwa 550–850 Leoparden leben, 55% davon in Schutzgebieten.
Article
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It is important to predict how many individuals of a predator species can survive in a given area on the basis of prey sufficiency and to compare predictive estimates with actual numbers to understand whether or not key threats are related to prey availability. Rugged terrain and low detection probabilities do not allow for the use of traditional prey count techniques in mountain areas. We used presence–absence occupancy modeling and camera-trapping to estimate the abundance and densities of prey species and regression analysis to predict leopard (Panthera pardus) densities from estimated prey biomass in the mountains of the Nuvadi area, Meghri Ridge, southern Armenia. The prey densities were 12.94 ± 2.18 individuals km–2 for the bezoar goat (Capra aegagrus), 6.88 ± 1.56 for the wild boar (Sus scrofa) and 0.44 ± 0.20 for the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). The detection probability of the prey was a strong function of the activity patterns, and was highest in diurnal bezoar goats (0.59 ± 0.09). Based on robust regression, the estimated total ungulate prey biomass (720.37 ± 142.72 kg km–2) can support a leopard density of 7.18 ± 3.06 individuals 100 km–2. The actual leopard density is only 0.34 individuals 100 km–2 (i.e. one subadult male recorded over the 296.9 km2), estimated from tracking and camera-trapping. The most plausible explanation for this discrepancy between predicted and actual leopard density is that poaching and disturbance caused by livestock breeding, plant gathering, deforestation and human-induced wild fires are affecting the leopard population in Armenia.
Article
Full-text available
In the past decade, parts of many Indian states have reported an increase in leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) populations outside forests accompanied by large numbers of attacks on people. This high density was attributed to declining natural habitats and prey species, and the increased survival of leopards in croplands where they preyed on tended and feral domestic animals. That leopard cubs were frequently found in agricultural fields was thought to also indicate rising leopard populations. We use data from our human-leopard conflict study in Junnar, Maharashtra along with information from three other conflict sites in India to propose that the reason for this increase in leopard population and conflict is related to the sustained translocations of ‘problem’ leopards into nearby forests. That sustained releases could lead to population increases was never considered before, even though translocation is known to be a procedure aimed at increasing populations of species at or close to the site of release. Although scientists do not recommend translocations as a management strategy used in response to problem carnivores, it is currently the legally recommended method of dealing with ‘problem’ large cats in India. Such faulty policies will only further condemn the conservation of this species, which is hunted in large numbers for the illegal wildlife trade.
Article
The objective of this study was to estimate the population size of common leopard (Panthera pardus) in Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve in Selangor, Malaysia. Long term survival of leopard population in this area is threatened due to small size of the forest, isolation and presence of various disturbances in the habitat. However, no estimates are available on the number of leopard in the study area. We used unsupervised classification of pugmarks that allows clustering of the data sets based on their inherent similarities. Study was conducted during February to November 2008. Linear measurements of front and hind tracks and strides (n = 124) were classified using hierarchical cluster and discriminant analysis which indicated that at least four individuals of leopard were present in the study area of 1,411 ha. Despite the small size of the forest, the area is still rich in both fauna and flora. The leopard being the predator, has an important role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem. Therefore, the population size of the leopard could be used as indicator of sustainable conservation and management of the species in the area.