Ecology of Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca Meyer) in Dry Tropical Forests of Gir National Park and Sanctuary, Gujarat, India

Nazneen Zehra, Rohit Chaudhary, Jamal A. Khan

Abstract


We studied ecology of leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) in dry tropical forests of GNPS, Gujarat, India from 2009 to 2012. We used direct counts of leopard, direct homing of collared individuals, road transect counts, detection and monitoring of kills for assessing leopard abundance, habitat use, home range size, prey availability and utilization in the intensive study area (ISA) of ca.  200 km2. The mean leopard sighting produced to be 0.65 ± 0.197 (95% LL 0.249698 – UL 1.050302) per site (2x2 km). Ninety percent certainty produced upper limit of finding one leopard per site satisfactory. Among the available wild prey species, chital was abundant Nd (Ni) =  2388 (12050)  followed by langur 334 (3968) and peafowl 1858 (3788) . Age-wise, detection rate was high for chital of adult age, whereas chital fawn and sub-adults were detected with almost similar rates (2.11 and  2.06 km-1).  Sambar of sub-adult age, yearlings and fawn were detected with slightly decreasing rates (0.13, 0.11 and  0.10 km-1). Detection rates of nilgai and wild pig were found almost similar. Large MGS found for chital adults (3.12 ± 0.03). A total of 328 leopards kills were searched and monitored which were comprising chital (ca. 78.53%) of adult age to maxima. However sambar (ca. 2.09%), nilgai (ca.  1.05%), wild pig ca. 0.52%), peafowl ca. 8.38%) and langur (ca. 7.85%) were also found. The sex ratio of leopard kills was 1 male:1.58 females. The overall kill rate was 3.7 days/kill. Leopards killed chital and langur in proportions to their availabilities. The lion Panthera leo persica overtook ca.  41% of leopard kills in the study area. The overall mean home range size of male leopard was estimated to be ca.  28.15 km2 with significant random point patterns. The activity pattern of the leopard was crepuscular diurnal as well as nocturnal. Among available habitats, Teak Mixed Forest  (TMF) was intensively used by leopards from direct sightings while Riverine Forest (RF) was used for kill protection purpose. Leopards also used TMF and RF extensively while resting close to water sources.

Keywords


Feeding Ecology; GNPS; Home Range; Leopard Population Size; Radio Collaring; Habitat Use.

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