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Food habits and prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India

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Food habits and prey selection of tiger (Panthera tigris) and leopard (Panthera pardus) in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu were assessed from January to August 2008. Chital, Axis axis was the most common prey species in the study area with a density of 55.3 ± 6.28 animals/km2 followed by common langur Presbytis entellus with 25.9 ± 3.59 animals/ km2 and gaur Bos gaurus with 11.4 ± 2.14 animals/km2.The estimated mean biomass of the potential prey species was 8365.02 kg/km2. A total of 179 tiger scats and 108 leopard scats were collected and the prey remains were analyzed. Sambar and chital were the principle prey species for tiger and leopard, respectively, as inferred from the relative biomass consumption of prey remains in tiger and leopard scats. The preferred prey species of leopard and tiger were sambar, common langur, wild pig and cattle. The dietary overlap between these two predators was 82% in terms of percentage frequency of occurrence of prey remains in the scats. In terms of biomass consumed, the estimated dietary overlap between tiger and leopard was 72%.
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Food habits and prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai Tiger Re-
serve, Tamil Nadu, India
T. Ramesh, V. Snehalatha, K. Sankar* and Qamar Qureshi
Wildlife Institute of India, P.O. Box # 18, Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand, India.
Abstract
Food habits and prey selection of tiger (Panthera tigris) and leopard (Panthera pardus) in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil
Nadu were assessed from January to August 2008. Chital, Axis axis was the most common prey species in the study
area with a density of 55.3 ± 6.28 animals/km2 followed by common langur Presbytis entellus with 25.9 ± 3.59 animals/
km2 and gaur Bos gaurus with 11.4 ± 2.14 animals/km2.The estimated mean biomass of the potential prey species was
8365.02 kg/km2. A total of 179 tiger scats and 108 leopard scats were collected and the prey remains were analyzed. Sambar
and chital were the principle prey species for tiger and leopard, respectively, as inferred from the relative biomass con-
sumption of prey remains in tiger and leopard scats. The preferred prey species of leopard and tiger were sambar, common
langur, wild pig and cattle. The dietary overlap between these two predators was 82% in terms of percentage frequency
of occurrence of prey remains in the scats. In terms of biomass consumed, the estimated dietary overlap between tiger and
leopard was 72%.
Keywords : food habits, line transect, Panthera pardus, Panthera tigris, prey availability, scat analysis, sympatric carnivores,
vehicle transect
J. Sci. Trans. Environ. Technov. 2009, 2(3): 170-181
*Corresponding Author
email: sankark@wii.gov.in
INTRODUCTION
Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) and leopard (Panthera par-
dus fusca) are the two large felids found in Mudumalai
Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, South India. Tiger is the
largest of all the felids and is found in diverse habitat
types including dry deciduous, moist deciduous, semi
evergreen, wet evergreen, riverine, swamp and man-
grove forests. They are socially dominant over other
sympatric carnivores (Karanth et al., 2004). Both felids
are territorial and wide ranging, but the effective size
of the territory is the function of density and biomass of
larger prey species in its habitat (Sunquist 1981; Kara-
nth, 1991). They show remarkable tolerance to variation
in altitude, temperature and rainfall regimes (Sunquist
et al., 1999). Tigers prey upon the large ungulates in all
the ecosystems in which they occur (Seidensticker 1997;
Karanth, 2003). They can potentially hunt prey varying
from small mammals to the largest of the bovids with
the mean weight of the species hunted is reported to
be 60 kg (Biswas and Sankar, 2002). Although tiger
do kill smaller prey, ranging from peafowl to prawns,
they cannot survive and reproduce if a habitat does not
support ungulates with adequate densities (Sunquist
and Sunquist, 1989).
The leopard is the most adaptable and widely dis-
tributed among all the big cats (Bailey 1993; Nowell
and Jackson, 1996). According to Hamilton (1976) the
leopard had the reputation of being one of the least
studied of the large carnivores despite being the most
abundant. This species is known for its use of habitat
edges and its ability to live in close to human habitation
(Seidensticker et al., 1990). Leopard shows plasticity
in changing behaviour as conditions changes (Daniel,
1996). Leopard’s ability to feed on a broad spectrum of
prey makes them the most successful predator among
big cats and its size gives the ability to feed on a va-
riety of prey species ranging in size from the smallest
rodent to a young buffalo (Eisenberg and Lockhart 1972;
Santiapillai et al.; 1982, Johnsingh, 1983, Rabinowitz
1989; Seidensticker et al. 1990, Bailey 1993; Karanth and
Sunquist, 1995; Daniel 1996; Edgaonkar and Chellam
1998; Sankar and Johnsingh 2002; Goyal and Chauhan
2006; Qureshi and Advait 2006; Andheria et al. 2007;
Arivazhagan et al. 2007; Ahmed and Khan, 2008). Ti-
ger and leopard co-exist by feeding large to small size
animals (Johnsingh 1983; Karanth and Sunquist, 1995;
Sankar and Johnsingh 2002; Andheria et al. 2007). The
adaptations in the food habits of tiger and leopard are
the major indications for the successful co-existence of
these sympatric large carnivores (Sidensticker, 1976;
Johnsingh, 1983; Karantha and Sunquist, 2000).
STUDY AREA
Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) (110 32’ & 110 43’ N
and 76022’& 76045’ E) is a newly created Tiger Reserve
in the country (established in April 2007) and situ-
ated at the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and
Kerala states. It is contiguous with Wayanad Wildlife
Sanctuary on the west, Bandipur Tiger Reserve on the
north and in south and east with the Singara and Sigur
Reserved Forests which forms the boundary of Nilgiri
North Division. The MTR is located within the Nilgiri
Biosphere Reserve. The area of the reserve is 321 km2.
170
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171
The Core Zone of this Sanctuary (100 km2) has been
notified as National Park. The intensive study area (107
km2) constituted central area of the park including some
parts of the Core Zone. The general terrain of this Tiger
Reserve is gentle undulating. The elevation ranges from
960 m to 1266 m.
The vegetation types (Champion and Seth, 1968) found
in Mudumalai are: Southern Tropical Dry Thorn for-
est, Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous forest, Southern
Tropical Moist Deciduous forest, Southern Tropical
Semi-Evergreen forest, Moist Bamboo Brakes and
Riparian forest. The climate of the Mudumalai is mod-
erate. There is a decreasing rainfall gradient from the
west and south to the east and north (Venkataraman et
al., 2005). Mudumalai experiences cold weather during
the month of December or the beginning of January
and hot weather during March and April. The average
maximum and minimum temperature is 32°C and 8°C,
respectively.
Tiger , leopard and dhole (Cuon alpinus) are the three
major carnivores present in the study area. The poten-
tial ungulate prey species of the tiger and leopard in
the Tiger Reserve are chital (Axis axis), sambar (Cervus
unicolor), muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak), wild pig (Sus
scrofa), Indian chevrotain (Tragulus meminna) and gaur
(Bos gaurus). Asian elephants (Elephus maximus) are dis-
tributed throughout the park. Black naped hare (Lepus
nigricollis), bonnet macaque (Macaca radiate), common
langur (Presbytis entellus), Indian porcupine (Hysterix
indica), Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) and pea-
fowl (Pavo cristatus) are the other prey species found.
Domestic livestock (cattle, buffalo and goat) occur in
the village areas present inside the Sanctuary.
METHODS
Estimation of prey availability
Transect method (Burnham et al. 1980, Buckland et al.,
1993, Sunquist and Sunquist 1989) was used to estimate
densities of prey species in the study area. This method
has been widely applied to estimate densities of prey
species in tropical forests (Karanth and Sunquist 1992,
1995; Khan et al., 1996; Biswas and Sankar 2002; Bagchi
et al., 2003; Jathanna et al., 2003; Karanth et al., 2004).
Twenty foot transects varying in length from 2 to 3 km
were laid in the study area covering all major vegetation
types (Figure 1). The total transect length of 82.82 km
was monitored two times during the beginning of the
day and late after noon resulting in 165.64 km of total
effort. For each prey species sighting on a transect, the
following were recorded: (1) total number of individu-
als, (2) animal bearing and (3) angular sighting distance.
In addition to foot transects, five vehicle transects rang-
ing from 15 to 23 km were monitored in the study area
(Figure 1). The total length of 93.5 km was monitored
by a four-wheel drive vehicle twice during the begin-
ning of the day and late afternoon, resulting in 187 km
of total effort. On each sighting of prey species along
the vehicle transects, the following were recorded:
(1) total number of individuals and (2) perpendicular
sighting distance.
The density of all prey species was calculated using
the Distance program Version 5.0 (Laake et al. 1994)
by pooling the line and vehicle transect data. The best
model was selected on basis of the lowest Akaike Infor-
mation Criteria (AIC) (Burnham et al. 1980; Buckland et
al. 1993). All the density estimates were done after 1%
truncation of the farthest sighting data from transect.
While estimating the density of prey species for the
study area, half normal key function with cosine adjust-
ment gave the best fit for all the prey species.
Reconstruction of diet
Tiger and leopard scats were collected where ever
encountered in the intensive study area. A total of 179
scats of tiger and 108 scats of leopard were collected
and analyzed. Tiger and leopard prefer to use roads or
animal trails as travel routes and are likely to leave scats
and tracks on such routes (Smith et al., 1989; Karanth
and Nichols, 2000). To maximize overall capture effort,
tiger scats were collected by walking on predetermined
forest roads once in a month. Total length walked was
908 km. In addition to this, animal trails were also
sampled for scat collection. Tiger and leopard scats
were distinguished from one another by the size of the
scats and the presence of ancillary signs like pugmarks
(Sunquist 1981; Karanth and Sunquist 1995; and Biswas
and Sankar, 2002), and other supplementary evidences
such as the diameter of scat, scrapes, claw marks etc.,
Tiger scats are found to be less coiled and having larger
distance between two successive constrictions within a
single piece of scat, when compared to leopard which
were mostly coiled and have similar distance between
constrictions (Johnsingh pers.comm.).
The hair of the prey is relatively undamaged in car-
nivore scat and can thus be used to identify the prey
species eaten (Mukherjee et al., 1994a; Ramakrishnan
et al., 1999). Thus these undigested prey hairs which
remain in the scat after washing were used for the
identification of prey species. At least, 20 hairs were
picked up randomly from each scat for the prepara-
tion of the slides. A combination of hair characteristics
like hair width, medullary structure, and the ratio of
medulla width to hair width (Mukherjee et al., 1994b)
of the prey hairs of each scat collected were observed
microscopically and were compared with the reference
slides available in the laboratory of Wildlife institute
of India, Dehra Dun.
Estimation of biomass and number of prey consumed
by tiger and leopard from scat analysis, using a cor-
rection factor
Food habits and prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai
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The biomass and the number of individuals of the prey
consumed by tiger and leopard was estimated using the
following Ackerman’s equation (Ackerman et al., 1984)
to get a more accurate estimate of prey consumption.
Y= 1.980+0.035X
X= Average weight of a particular prey type
Y=Kg of prey consumed per field collectable scat (Ack-
erman et al., 1984).
This method has already been used in various stud-
ies for the estimation of prey consumption by tigers
(Karanth and Sunquist 1995; Biswas and Sankar 2002;
Sankar and Johnsingh 2002) and leopard (Henschel et
al., 2005; Sankar and Johnsingh, 2002; Andheria et al.,
2007). The assumption for extrapolation of the above
equation is that the tigers and cougars have similar
utilization and digestibility (Karanth and Sunquist,
1995). We also presume that the scats containing various
prey items have similar decay rate and their detection
is equally probable.
Estimation of prey selectivity
Prey selectivity by tiger and leopard was estimated for
each species by comparing the proportion of the prey
species utilized from scats with the expected number
of scats in the environment for each of the prey species
consumed.
The expected proportion of scats in the environment
(i.e. availability) was calculated using the following
equation (Karanth and Sunquist, 1995):
fi={(di/di * λi/ Σ {(di/ Σ di—dn) * λi}, where
fi= expected scat proportion in the environment.
di= density of i th species
Σ di—dn= sum of the density of all species.
λi= X/Y = the average number of collectable scats
produced by tiger from an individual of i th prey spe-
cies.
X = Average Body weight of the species
Y = Ackerman’s equation
The prey selection was measured by using Ivelev’s
index (Ivelev, 1961)
E = (U – A) / (U + A), where
U = relative frequency occurrence of prey items in
predator scats.
A = expected scat proportion in the environment.
and multinomial likelihood ratio test (Chesson 1978;
Reynolds and Aebischer 1991; Link and Karanth 1994;
Karanth and Sunquist, 1995). The exact variability of
prey items in scats is not known and in order to account
for that sensitivity analysis was done by changing coef-
ficient of variance from 10% to 40% (Link and Karanth,
1994). Program SCATMAN (Link and Karanth, 1994)
Figure 1. Study area showing the location of line and vehicle transects utilized for the present study
T. Ramesh et al.
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173
was used for this analysis and sensitivity analysis was
done by bootstrapping data 1000 times.
Dietary overlap index
To asses the similarity of food composition between
tiger and leopard, the Pianka’s niche overlap index was
used (Pianka, 1973). Where:
Σpij * pik
Pianka index = ————————
Σi (pij) 2 * Σi (pik)2
Pij = percentage of prey items i of predator j.
Pik = percentage of prey items i of predator k.
The index distributes between 0 & 1; the similarity is
higher as the index is close to 1.
RESULTS
Availability of prey species
The individual prey densities were estimated for all
prey animals (Table 1). The estimated mean biomass of
the potential prey species was 8365.02 kg/km2.
Composition of tiger and leopard diet
The analysis of 179 tiger scats and 108 leopard scats
revealed the remains of eleven and ten prey species,
respectively, with a high predominance of medium to
large sized ungulates in both tiger and leopard diets
(Table 2 and 3). Ninety five percent of tiger and leopard
scats contained single prey species and 5% contained
two prey species. No scat had remains of multiple prey
species (> 2). Of the prey species identified from the
tiger scats, sambar constituted 59.79%, chital 22.75%,
common langur 5.29%, wild pig 4.23%, gaur 2.65%,
cattle 2.12%, buffalo 1.06%, hare 0.53%, sloth bear
0.53%, porcupine 0.53% and unknown bird species
0.53% (Table 2). The leopard diet comprised of 37.72%
of chital, 28.95% of sambar, 17.54% of common langur,
3.51% of wild pig, 3.51% of cattle, 2.63% of gaur, 2.63%
of unknown snake species, 1.75 % of hare, 0.88 % of
buffalo, and 0.88 % of mouse deer as inferred from the
prey remains (Table 3). The total available prey biomass
in the study area was estimated to be 8365.02 kg. The
estimated mean biomass/sq.km of different prey spe-
cies in the study area was chital 2488.5 kg, gaur 5130
kg, sambar 350 kg, common langur 207.2 kg, wild pig
15.2 kg and cattle 167.4 kg. The dietary overlap between
these predators was 82% in terms of percentage of fre-
quency occurrence of prey remain in the diet. In terms of
percentage of biomass consumed, the estimated dietary
over lap between tiger and leopard was 72%.
Estimation of prey selectivity
Sambar and wild pig were consumed by tiger more than
the availability of individuals (Table 4 and Figure 2).
Cattle were consumed in proportion to their availability.
Common langur, chital and gaur were consumed less
Figure 2: Prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu (January to August
Food habits and prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai
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174 T. Ramesh et al.
Table 1. Density of prey species in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu (January to August 2008)
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Table 2. Composition of tiger diet (n=179) and relative biomass contribution of different prey species in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu (January to
August 2008)
A) Percent frequency of occurrence
B) Estimated mean live weight (kg) of individuals consumed
C) Estimated weight of prey consumed per collectable scat produced, when such prey is the only item in a scat
D) = (A*C)/Σ(A*C)
E) = (D/B)/Σ(D/B)
Food habits and prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai
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Table 3. Composition of leopard diet (n =108) and relative biomass contribution of different prey species in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu (January
to August 2008)
A) Percent frequency of occurrence
B) Estimated mean live weight (kg) of individuals consumed
C) Estimated weight of prey consumed per collectable scat produced, when such prey is the only item in a scat
D) = (A*C)/Σ(A*C)
E) = (D/B)/Σ(D/B)
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in comparison to their availability. The index of prey
selection by tiger at individual species level was in the
following order: sambar > wild pig > cattle > chital >
gaur > common langur (Table 4).
For leopard, common langur, sambar, wild pig and cat-
tle were preferred more than their availability (Table
5 and Figure 2). Chital and gaur were consumed less
than their availability. The index of prey selection by
leopard at individual species level was in the following
order: wild pig > sambar > common langur > cattle >
gaur > chital (Table 5).
DISCUSSION
Availability of prey species
The high abundance of different prey species in the
present study may be attributed to the availability of
variety of vegetation types ranging from dry thorn
forests to semi evergreen forests, availability of food
plants, water resources and forest protection. Chital,
which were observed to be the most abundant prey
species in the study area, were largely found in forest
edges having palatable grass species as undergrowth.
The study area has good network of roads and fire lines
creating a mosaic of openings, an optimal habitat for
chital. Chital is known to prefer ecotone or forest edges
(Schaller 1967; Johnsingh and Sankar, 1991). The densi-
ties of chital in the study area are comparable with sites
such as Kanha (Schaller, 1967) and Pench (Biswas and
Sankar, 2002) and Nagarahole (Karanth and Sunquist,
1992) Tiger Reserves (Table 1 and 6). The common
langur had the second highest abundance in the study
area (25.9 individuals/ km2) and this may be attributed
to the canopy continuity of the forest types and avail-
ability of food plants through out the year. The densities
of common langur in the study area are comparable
with Nagerhole (Karanth and Sunquist, 1992) (Table 1
and 6). The barking deer is a shy animal and occurs in
low densities across its present distributional ranges
(Schaller 1967; Barrette, 2004). Though peafowl and
Indian giant squirrel were distributed throughout the
study area, their density was 3.7 individuals/km2 and
1.6 individuals/km2, respectively, on transects. The do-
Table 4. Prey selection by tiger in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve based on availability of individuals and utilization
based on scat data (January to August 2008)
Table 5. Prey selection by leopard in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve based on availability of individuals and utiliza-
tion based on scat data (January to August 2008)
Food habits and prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai
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Table 6. Comparison of densities (individuals/km2) of prey species from different areas in India
PS - present study area; MTR (Mudumalai) - Varman and Sukumar 1995; NGH (Nagarahole) - Karanth and Sunquist 1992; BDP (Bandipur) - Johnsingh
1983; PNCH (Pench) - Biswas and Sankar 2002; KNP (Kanha) - Schaller 1967; STR (Sariska) - Avinandan 2003
T. Ramesh et al.
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mestic livestock were not seen inside the National Park
area but encountered only in Sanctuary. Since sloth bear
is nocturnal (Schaller, 1967) the two sightings obtained
on sloth bear during the study period may be a chance
encounter. Though the overall prey species density re-
corded in the study area was one of the highest in the
Indian sub-continent, the estimated overall biomass of
the prey species in the study area (8365.02 kg/km2) was
high as compared to Kanha (Schaller, 1967), Bandipur
(Johnsingh, 1983), Nagarahole (Karanth and Sunquist,
1992) and Pench (Biswas and Sankar, 2002).
Prey selection by tiger and leopard
Sambar was observed to be the principle prey species
for tigers as inferred from the percentage occurrence of
prey remains in tiger scats (Table 2). Sambar also con-
tributed to highest biomass of prey consumed by the
tiger and was consumed more than the availability of
individuals (Table 5 and Figure 2). Sambar’s preference
by tiger could be attributed to the larger body weight
and wide distribution of sambar across the study area
and hence there could have been higher frequencies
of encounter since both the species are crepuscular in
habits (Johnsingh, 1983). Similar results were obtained
by other studies in the country (Schaller 1967; Karanth
and Sunquist 1995; Biswas and Sankar, 2002). Chital
constituted 22.75% of the tiger diet during the present
study which is less than that was reported from other
areas i.e., Pench- 53.01% (Biswas and Sankar, 2002),
Kanha-52.2% (Schaller, 1967), Nagarahole- 31.2% (Ka-
ranth and Sunquist, 1995) and Bandipur- 39% (Johns-
ingh, 1983).
Leopard in the study area fed on 10 different prey spe-
cies. Chital, sambar and common langur constituted
84.2% of leopard’s diet (Table 3) which is similar to
the findings reported from Nagarahole (Karanth and
Sunquist, 1995). In Sariska (Sankar and Johnsingh,
2002), chital, sambar and common langur constituted
only 47.2% of the leopard’s diet. However in Sariska,
Sankar and Johnsingh, (2002) reported a high percent-
age of (45.6%) rodent remains in leopard scats and the
reason for the same was attributed to the high rodent
availability. On the contrary, during the present study
no rodent remains were recorded in the leopard scats.
The leopard preferred common langur, sambar and wild
pig in the study area (Figure 2). It was observed that
both tiger and leopard showed preference for sambar
in the study area. Since leopard is nocturnal and tiger
is crepuscular in habits (Prater, 1980) they may show
preference for the same prey species but their utilization
might be in different times (hours) of a day.
The observed high dietary overlap (>72%) for the uti-
lized prey species in terms of percentage of frequency
occurrence of prey remain in the diet and percentage
of biomass consumed by tiger and leopard may be at-
tributed to high prey availability in the study area.
Conservation of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai
In Mudumalai tiger and leopard are found in very
high densities (Jhala et al., 2008). These two species
co-exist in areas where there is a high prey base avail-
ability (Sankar and Johnsingh, 2002). However, the
ecological separation between tiger and leopard lies
in leopard’s ability to survive on multiple prey spe-
cies as well as small bodied prey. The high density of
tiger and leopard in Mudumalai may be due to the
availability of high prey base, continued forest cover
(in the west with Wynad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala,
Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka in the north and
in south with Nilgiri North forest division) and forest
protection. Thus, protection of the habitat along with
regular monitoring of these large carnivores and their
prey population using comparable scientific methods is
essential for Mudumalai to emerge as one of the most
important areas for tiger and leopard conservation in
Western Ghats.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
We thank Tamil Nadu Forest Department for granting
permission to work in Mudumalai, as part of ‘Sympatric
carnivore studies’ conducted by Wildlife Institute of In-
dia (WII). We thank the Director and Dean, WII for their
encouragement and support provided for the study.
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Food habits and prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai
... It revealed that Sariska notified National Park area harbored moderate densities of chital, sambar, nilgai and wild pig (Table 3.5). The estimated densities of nilgai and wild pig were found higher than any other available studies in the Indian sub-continent (Khan et al., 1995;Karanth and Nichols, 1998;Chundawat et al., 1999;Bagchi et al., 2003;Ramesh et al., 2008;Harihar et al., 2009;Majumder, 2011 andJhala et al., 2012). It was evident that the density of nilgai rose gradually over the years in last decade which was an indicator of increase in anthropogenic pressure on the available habitat and also represented the health of the natural forests getting converted from dense to open scrubland. ...
... These values were used to estimate the percent biomass and number contribution of different prey species to the reintroduced tigers' diet in the study area. Prey selection of tigers was estimated for each species by comparing the proportion of the prey species utilized from scats with the expected number of scats available in the environment for each of the prey species consumed (Ramesh et al., 2008). The expected proportion of scats in the environment (i.e. ...
... where U = relative frequency occurrence of prey items in predator scats; A = expected scat proportion in the environment. The exact variability of prey items in scats was not known and in order to account for that sensitivity analysis was done by changing coefficient of variance from 10% to 40% (Link and Karanth, 1994;Ramesh et al., 2008). The data was bootstrapped 1000 times and analyzed in program SCATMAN (Link and Karanth, 1994). ...
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In a forest ecosystem, large felids are generally the top predators in almost every food chain influencing the structure and dynamics of the subsequent descending trophic levels. Evaluation of last fifty years’ presence and absence status of large felids in Protected Areas (PAs) of Indian subcontinent revealed that local extinction was highest in the dry deciduous habitat. Tiger, among all large felids had already become locally extinct from 70% of semi-arid dry thorn and 35% of dry deciduous forest areas. Tigers in dry semi-arid forests with its global western most limit, survive in small isolated populations. The present study assessed the movements and ranging patterns, prey availability, prey utilization and resource selection of reintroduced tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve from July 2008 to June 2012.
... The diet of apex carnivores is greatly influenced by the availability and densities of different sizes of their prey species [16]. Ungulate density in the Similipal Tiger Reserve estimated in this study was low in comparison to other tropical forests of India [24,32,34,48,49]. The result of the study reveals that the common species of prey are common langur, followed by sambar, wild pig, barking deer, chital and mouse deer ( Table 1). ...
... The diet of tigers in the Similipal tiger reserve consisted largely on sambar, similar to those other areas in its range [24,34,35,48,52]. However, several studies reported medium-sized ungulate chital was the principal prey in the tiger diet [23,32,53,54]. ...
Article
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... Interspecific interactions.-Predation is the major mortality source for all age classes of Axis axis, with disease and accidents (e.g., vehicular strike and conspecific goring) also reported (Johnsingh 1983). A. axis is a preferred prey of tiger (Panthera tigris- Karanth and Sunquist 2000;Biswas and Sankar 2002;Ramesh et al. 2009;Roy et al. 2016), leopard (Panthera pardus- Eisenberg and Lockhart 1972;Karanth and Sunquist 2000;Odden and Wegge 2009;Ramesh et al. 2009), and dhole (Cuon alpinus- Karanth and Sunquist 2000;Andheria et al. 2007) in southwestern India (Sharatchandra and Gadgil 1978;Karanth and Sunquist 1995;Andheria et al. 2007). The percent composition of A. axis in diets of tigers in India ranges from 31.2% in Nagarhole (Karanth and Sunquist 1995) to 77.7% in Bardia (Stoen and Wegge 1996). ...
... Interspecific interactions.-Predation is the major mortality source for all age classes of Axis axis, with disease and accidents (e.g., vehicular strike and conspecific goring) also reported (Johnsingh 1983). A. axis is a preferred prey of tiger (Panthera tigris- Karanth and Sunquist 2000;Biswas and Sankar 2002;Ramesh et al. 2009;Roy et al. 2016), leopard (Panthera pardus- Eisenberg and Lockhart 1972;Karanth and Sunquist 2000;Odden and Wegge 2009;Ramesh et al. 2009), and dhole (Cuon alpinus- Karanth and Sunquist 2000;Andheria et al. 2007) in southwestern India (Sharatchandra and Gadgil 1978;Karanth and Sunquist 1995;Andheria et al. 2007). The percent composition of A. axis in diets of tigers in India ranges from 31.2% in Nagarhole (Karanth and Sunquist 1995) to 77.7% in Bardia (Stoen and Wegge 1996). ...
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Axis axis (Erxleben, 1777) is an Old World deer commonly known as chital, Indian spotted deer, or axis deer. It is one of five species in the genus Axis and is native to the Indian subcontinent, occurring in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Free-ranging and confined populations of A. axis have been established in Europe, Australia, and both North and South America. Globally, it is considered “Least Concern” (LC) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
... The high RAI values of ungulates; spotted deer, sambar, barking deer and wild pig are in line with the values as reported by Anwar et al. (2014) from Kosi Forest Range of Ramnagar FD. These ungulate species are among the preferred prey of tiger and leopard (Andheria et al. 2007;Ramesh et al. 2009;Mondal et al. 2011) thus Ramnagar FD has a crucial prey base for supporting the two large felid species in the Terai-Arc Landscape. The reason of low RAI values of the Himalayan goral and Himalayan serow is due to their preference of rugged and steep hill slopes (Menon 2014), restricted only to a smaller area towards the northern periphery of Ramnagar FD. ...
... Thus both the predators have their own spatially segregated niches implying that there is no competition for resources. Empirical studies on the dietary composition of tiger and leopard also suggest that leopard's dietary spectrum includes more domesticated animals as compared to tiger (Ramesh et al. 2009). The low abundance of leopard as compared to tiger in Ramnagar FD seems to be a result of interference competition rather than the competition for food as also observed by Odden et al. (2010). ...
Article
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We assessed the status and distribution of mammals using camera traps in Ramnagar Forest Division between February and June 2017. A total of 2656 independent photographs representing herbivores (57.2%), carnivores (7%), omnivores (6.8%), birds (2.0%), cattle (5.6%), humans (18.7%) and free-ranging stray dogs (2.7%) were recorded from 96 trap stations. Tiger (Panthera tigris) was trapped more often than other carnivores. Spotted deer (Axis axis) stood first among the herbivores and rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) among the omnivores. The Relative Abundance Index (RAI) for spotted deer was highest at low anthropogenic disturbance sites, while for other members of cervidae (barking deer Muntiacus muntjac; sambar Rusa unicolor and Himalayan goral Naemorhedus goral), it was highest at sites free from the disturbance. Tiger was most abundant at low while leopard (Panthera pardus) at high anthropogenic disturbance sites. Except for leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), other small carnivores including Jungle cat (Felis chaus), small Indian civet (Viverricula indica) and yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula) and omnivore; golden jackal (Canis aureus) was photo captured mostly at medium human anthropogenic disturbance sites. The current information is expected to help in the formulation of management strategies for long-term conservation of mammals outside the protected areas in Terai-Arc Landscape.
... It can also be useful in identifying new or rare species that have yet to be well documented (Smithsonian, 2017). Camera trapping has been proved to be an effective method in monitoring elusive and nocturnal species along with population estimation of naturally marked individuals using spatially explicit capture-recapture models (Karanth and Nichols, 1998;Ramesh et al., 2009;Harihar et al., 2014). Alternatively, for indistinguishable individuals of species such as ungulates, bears and other small mammals, generally photo capture rate (photographs/ trapping effort) has been widely used to estimate the relative abundance (Datta et al., 2008;Sathyakumar et al., 2011;Lahanker et al., 2018). ...
Article
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Survey was undertaken for large and medium-sized mammals in Hadgarh Wildlife sanctuary using 60 camera traps during 20th October 2020 to 15th November 2020. There were 2049 independent captures of 19 large and medium-sized mammal species, including herbivores (35.8%), carnivores (5.4%), omnivores (6.4%), birds (5.6%), human traffic (20.3%), and free-ranging feral dogs (7.6%) recorded from 60 camera trap station. Out of 2049 photographs captured, 977 photographs of mammals belong to 13 families. The spotted deer, Axis axis, was the most frequently captured species which represented high relative abundance (RAI =16.13) and the rusty spotted cats (RAI=0.13) were represented by a relatively low abundance. Frequency of various anthropogenic activities were captured; movement of human being 27.67, with location 75%, livestock (RAI=25.80), with location 91.67% and feral dogs 10.40, with locations 50% and found to be negatively correlated with mammalian relative abundance. During the study, anthropogenic pressure such as conversion of natural habitats, encroachment, hunting, cattle grazing, tourism and fishing were observed which must have affected the distribution of mammals in Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The current camera traps survey will give an insight to the researchers to help in formulating the management strategies for long-term conservation of mammalian species in Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in future.
... Sambar is also a critical determinant of predator population density (Carbone and Gittleman 2002). In most of the distributional range of tiger, the Sambar is the preferred food of tiger (Karanth and Nichols 2000;Karanth and Sunquist 1992;Ramesh et al. 2009) and Pench Tiger Reserve is one of the protected areas with the maximum number of Tigers (Jhala et al. 2019). ...
Article
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Variation in the foraging strategies of Sambar deer ( Rusa unicolor ) with changing plant availability has received little attention. The pellet group density and seasonal vegetation availability in tropical climatic conditions of dry deciduous forest of Pench Tiger Reserve, were assessed through indirect evidences (pellet group density). Stratified random sampling was used in different habitats from 2012 to 2015 on a seasonal basis. The Sambar deer ( R. unicolor ) is one of the largest deer species distributed throughout the Indian subcontinent. Pellet group data were collected on 10 m radius permanent plots at every 200 m intervals on line transects. Teak forest, teak mixed and bamboo forest was the preferred habitat during summer (89.87 ± 88.36), and winter (98.19 ± 94.59) seasons respectively. Microhistological study was conducted to understand the feeding preferences of Sambar through pellet groups. A total of 57 plant species were identified in summer diet. While 51 species of plants were identified in winter diet. Sambar is predominantly a browser and for the conservation of the declining population of Sambar, long undisturbed tract should be protected with preferred browse and grass species.
... Third, not all of an animal's mass is edible meat. In reality, no more than 70% of its mass can be considered a food resource (62,69,71). Fourth, we did not account for the age structure of the animal populations, which was partly compensated for by a simulated variation in body mass. ...
Article
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African swine fever (ASF) is an emerging viral contagious disease affecting domestic pigs (DP) and wild boar (WB). ASF causes significant economic damage to the pig industry worldwide due to nearly 100% mortality and the absence of medical treatments. Since 2019, an intensive spread of ASF has been observed in the Russian Far East region. This spread raises concerns for epidemiologists and ecologists given the potential threat to the WB population, which is an essential member of the region's wild ungulates and provides a notable share of food resources for predatory species. This study aims to determine the genotype of ASF virus circulating in the region, reveal the spatio-temporal patterns of the ASF outbreaks' emergence, and assess the potential reduction of the regional fauna because of expected depopulation of WB. The first historical case of ASF in the study region was caused by an African swine fever virus (ASFV) isolated from DPs and belonging to Genotype 2, CVR1; IGR-2 (TRS +). Sequencing results showed no significant differences among ASFV strains currently circulating in the Russian Federation, Europe, and China. The spatiotemporal analysis with the space-time permutations model demonstrated the presence of six statistically significant clusters of ASF outbreaks with three clusters in DPs and one cluster in WBs. DP outbreaks prevail in the north-west regions of the study area, while northern regions demonstrate a mixture of DP and WB outbreaks. Colocation analysis did not reveal a statistically significant pattern of grouping of one category of outbreaks around the others. The possible damage to the region's fauna was assessed by modeling the total body mass of wild ungulates before and after the wild boars' depopulation, considering a threshold density of WB population of 0.025 head/km ² , according to the currently in force National Plan on the ASF Eradication in Russia. The results suggest the total mass of ungulates of the entire study region will likely decrease by 8.4% (95% CI: 4.1–13.0%), while it may decrease by 33.6% (19.3–46.1%) in the Primorsky Krai, thereby posing an undeniable threat to the predatory species of the region.
... It was observed that leopards showed highest degree of temporal overlap with chital (Δ4=0.87) because chital constitutes 37.72% of its diet(Ramesh et al. 2009) followed by wild boar (Δ4=0.83), sambar (Δ4=0.81), ...
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The ecology of leopard (Panthera pardus) was studied from 5 January to 5 April 2020 in Kalesar National Park (KNP), India. Population size and density of leopard were estimated using mark-recapture framework and maximum likelihood (ML) based on spatial explicit capture-recapture model. Activity patterns and temporal overlap of leopard and its prey species were assessed from camera trap data. The relative abundance indices (RAI) were calculated for prey species of leopard and assessed the group size, composition, sex ratio, and fawn/100 female ratio of chital and sambar by using photo capture data from camera traps. I evaluated the habitat use of leopard by taking a 10 m radius circular plot at every used (leopard present) and available locations to collect habitat data. The 10 habitat variables were recorded at every sampling plot: tree height (m), canopy cover (%), GBH (cm), canopy height (m), the total number of shrubs and trees in each plot, shrub height (m), shrub cover (%), distance from water (km) and distance from road (km). A sampling effort of 1150 trap nights over 92 days yields 93 photo captures of 22 unique leopards (based on individual markings and visual identification); the estimated population size was 27.3 ± 4.2 leopards while the density of leopard was estimated at 19.31 ±5.10 individuals/100 km2 using the maximum likelihood (ML) based spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) model. Leopards were active throughout the day and night and showed the bimodal peak of activities. The highest degree of activity overlap was observed between leopard and chital Δ4= 0.87 (±0.02) followed by wild boar Δ4= 0.83 (±0.03). Relative abundance indices were calculated highest for sambar (43.4) and chital (28.83) followed by wild boar (20.86). The mean group size for chital and sambar was 4.52 ±0.29 and 1.98 ±0.98 respectively. Among chital and sambar, the largest group observed has 16 and 10 individuals respectively. The sex ratio for chital was 58.76 males/100 females and 78.87 males/100 females for sambar. The fawn/100 female ratio for chital and sambar was 59 fawn/100 females and 37.95 fawn/100 females respectively. The results for habitat use of leopard in KNP was strongly associated with canopy cover. Canopy cover (P=0.025) was the only habitat variable found to be statistically significant which influence the habitat use of leopard.
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Home range size for an adult female Panthera pardus in the park was 7 km2, and 6 and 13 km2 for 2 females residing outside the Park. The composition of leopard prey killed inside the Park was predominately non-refuging species <50kg in size. Domestic stock <50 kg made up the bulk of the diet of leopards living outside the Park. Interbirth intervals were 20-21 months. Estimated mean litter size using two methods was 2.3 and 1.3. Only one of three radiotracked dispersing young lived to 23 months of age, (age at first reproduction). Assuming an equal sex ratio for dispersing young, it took a female on average 46 months to produce 1 female to replace herself. Mortality of adult leopards is high and the population is probably not replacing itself. -from Authors
Article
Behavioural factors that are likely to contribute to the coexistence of tiger Panthera tigris, leopard P. pardus and dhole Cuon alpinus, were investigated in the tropical forests of Nagarahole, southern India, during 1986-1992. Examination of predator scats and kills were combined with radiotracking of four tigers, three leopards, and visual observations of a pack of dhole. The three predators selectively killed different prey types in terms of species, size and age-sex classes, facilitating their coexistence through ecological separation. There was no temporal separation of predatory activities between tigers and leopards. Hunting activities of dholes were temporally separated from those of the two felids to some extent. Rate of movement per unit time was higher for leopards compared to tigers during day and night. In general, the activity patterns of predators appeared to be largely related to the activities of their principal prey, rather than to mutual avoidance. The three predator species used the same areas and hunted in similar habitats, although tigers attacked their prey in slightly denser cover than leopards. Both cats attacked their prey close to habitat features that attracted ungulates. There was no evidence for interspecific spatial exclusion among predators, resulting either from habitat specificity or social dominance behaviours. Our results suggest that ecological factors, such as adequate availability of appropriate-sized prey, dense cover and high tree densities may be the primary factors in structuring the predator communities of tropical forests. Behavioural factors such as differential habitat selection or inter-specific social dominance, which are of crucial importance in savanna habitats, might play a relatively minor role in shaping the predator communities of tropical forests.
Chapter
The evolutionary fitness of any predator, whether it is a spider catching insects or a lion hunting buffalo, depends largely on the quality and quantity of its diet. Predatory strategies are shaped and refined by natural selection to maximize nutrient intake within the bounds of a wide range of ecological constraints (e.g., prey density, habitat) that may differ dramatically for the same species at the extremes of its geographical distribution. The basic task of finding and gathering food under these constraints fundamentally affects a species’ spacing patterns and the structure of its social systems.