Do conservation strategies that increase tiger populations have consequences for other wild carnivores like leopards?

Published on : October 11, 2019

Authors : Ujjwal Kumar, NehaAwasthi, QamarQureshi and Yadvendradev Jhala


Most large carnivore populations are declining across their global range except in some well managed protected areas (PA’s). Investments for conserving charismatic apex carnivores are often justifed due to their umbrella efect on biodiversity. We evaluate population trends of two large sympatric carnivores, the tiger and leopard through spatially-explicit-capture-recapture models from camera trap data in Kanha PA, India, from 2011 to 2016. Our results show that the overall density (100km−2) of tigers ranged between 4.82±0.33 to 5.21±0.55SE and of leopards between 6.63±0.71 to 8.64±0.75SE, with no detectable trends at the PA scale. When evaluated at the catchment scale, Banjar catchment that had higher prey density and higher conservation investments, recorded signifcant growth of both carnivores. While Halon catchment, that had lower prey and conservation investments, populations of both carnivores remained stable. Sex ratio of both carnivores was female biased. As is typical with large carnivores, movement parameter sigma (an index for range size), was larger for males than for females. However, sigma was surprisingly similar for the same genders in both carnivores. At home-range scale, leopards achieved high densities and positive growth rates in areas that had low, medium or declining tiger density. Our results suggest that umbrella-species conservation value of tigers is likely to be compromised at very high densities and therefore should not be artifcially infated through targeted management.

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