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Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Department of Forests October, 2009
1 1 3 4 1 4 Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. R. M. B. .Copyright © 2009. Shrestha. B. Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Department of Forests Authors: Karki. NTNC Member: Country Representative. DNPWC Members: MoFSC. M. Government of Nepal. DoF Member: Member Secretary. . . Gurung. . S. Department of Forests National Trust for Nature Conservation. DNPWC . Thapa 2 (Karki). DoF . Jnawali. R. G. J. . Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.BZs Commanders of respective PA protection units . DNPWC Member: Director General. WWF Nepal Central Level Technical Committee Coordinator: Director General. 4 2 3 Central Level Steering Committee Coordinator: Director General. Pandey. WWF Nepal Field Level Committees Coordination: Chief Conservation Officer of the respective PAs Members: Field Office in-charges of NTNC of respective PAs TAL Coordinator and Project Co managers DFOs of corresponding District Forest Officers Chairpersons of respective PA . NTNC. WWF Nepal Program.
a reliable ecological knowledge to undertake the scientific management of tiger populations (GoN 2008). As an indicator of ecosystem health. Conservation initiatives here require. 1999) however. more than ever before. making the application of biostatistics to estimate. 2004. They have been serving as a flagship species to derive worldwide conservation attention not only to benefit them but also to facilitate the survival of other associated species.1). show that TAL alluvial grasslands are among the highly threatened tiger habitats in the world (Figure 1). securing the future of tigers in wild has far-reaching biodiversity implications. In an attempt to save the remaining tiger populations. Ironically. Bardia National Park and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (Figure 1. Chitwan National Park. tiger (Panthera tigeris) populations are fragmented and are distributed mainly in four PAs .1) is recognized as one of the global priority landscapes for tigers (Wikramanayake et al.. animal abundance very relevant in the field of wildlife management. available tiger population estimates mostly come from Chitwan National Park. tigers have now become unsafe for their numbers are rapidly declining. Smith et al. and has great cultural esteem. These are based on either radio-telemetry (Sunquist 1981. Although they provide a starting point. 1999) or claims of being able to recognize a small number of individual tigers from their tracks (McDougal 1999). 1998). The design of TAL essentially follows the tiger dispersal model and the TAL region (Figure 1. In Nepal. It is now clearly recognized that population sampling approaches that explicitly deal with these two problems by employing .A brief report on estimating abundance of tiger and its prey base in the Terai Arc Landscape of Nepal Background The tiger is an icon of Asia’s natural heritage and ecological integrity. In Nepal. Ecological studies of tigers (Sunquist 1981. the Government of Nepal (GoN) devised landscape scale conservation strategies for Nepal under the framework of the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) program in 2004 (GoN 2004).Parsa Wildlife Reserve. such methods do not explicitly deal with the two key issues of animal population estimation: incomplete spatial sampling of the area of interest and incomplete detection of animals even within the area that is sampled. The current global tiger population is believed to comprise only 5 per cent of what was there just a century ago. Smith 1993. 1999. Knowledge about population parameters plays a pivotal role in virtually all aspects of conservation and management of the concerned species. Smith 1993) and regional-scale conservation maps (Wikramanayake et al. Smith et al.
Our attempt here has been to establish reliable landscape scale benchmark data on the population status and distribution of the tiger and its prey base by employing cutting-edge science. WWF-UK. 2002). development of a sound data base management system was also an outcome of this work.appropriate statistical models are essential for robust estimation of animal abundance (Seber 1982. We also envisaged establishing permanent monitoring systems by following a standardized protocol. . World Wildlife Fund (WWF) US. US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS). The specific objectives were as follows. Chitwan NP. Such data will serve as a basis for future management. 2.Nepal. Assessment of tiger distribution both inside and outside of the PAs 3. Population estimation of tiger and their prey in Parsa WR. Thus. WWFInternational. Bardia NP and Shuklaphanta WR. The information generated through monitoring activities needed to be stored systematically to ensure the effective data retrieval as and when required. The field implementation of the program was jointly implemented by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC). Williams et al. DOF and NTNC personnel on technical skills and scientific knowledge of tiger monitoring. As the efficient implementation of a monitoring protocol depends on the knowledge and skill of field personnel. The funding support for this project has been provided by the Save the Tiger Fund (STF). 1. Development of a database system for tiger conservation in the TAL of Nepal 4. the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and WWF. we created a pool of highly trained wildlife technicians amongst stakeholder and decision-making groups through capacity building activities. Department of Forests (DOF). facilitate objective assessment of the effectiveness of conservation interventions and help establish a body of empirical and theoretical knowledge to enhance the predictive capacity to deal with new situations (Karanth & Nichols. 2002. Thompson 2004). Capacity building of DNPWC.
NTNC and WWF Nepal. and Shuklaphanta WR. Chitwan NP. The survey followed three contemporary approaches of assessing animal abundance and distribution: 1. Habitat occupancy modelling to examine the tiger distribution patterns both inside and outside of the PAs. Camera trap surveys to estimate tiger populations in Parsa WR. and 3. Bardia NP.Figure 1: Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) of Nepal Implementation procedure and major findings Project implementation began by preparing the standardized tiger monitoring protocol and instituting an implementation mechanism under the leadership of DNPWC assisted by DoF. Line transect surveys to assess the prey abundance in the Pas. Prior to the field surveys. 2. extensive hands-on training sessions were organised to implement the monitoring protocol and thus to assess the abundance and distribution of tigers and their prey base in TAL of Nepal. .
Bardia NP . legs.72 8.76 3. df = 3.06 0.147 17 .5 1. t = 1. Density results were later cross verified with the Bayesian approach.. Table 1. With a total sampling effort of 10.538.29 8 -14 100 . we report the density estimates obtained through the former approach.60 . Chitwan NP .79 2. P=0.4.08 1. Tiger densities were obtained by deriving effectively sampled area through the 1/2MMDM (1/2 mean maximum distance moved) approach. Status of the tiger population in the Parsa WR.23 0. Bardia NP and Shuklaphanta WR Protected Areas N Estimated tiger numbers SE 95% Confidence Interval Parsa WR Chitwan NP Bardia NP Shuklaphanta WR Total 4 91 18 8 121 0.Figure 2. Chitwan NP.16 and Suklaphanta WR . we positively identified a total of 86 individual tigers (Parsa WR .22). Using closed capture-recapture sampling framework as provided by Program Capture.41 4-4 71 . Table 1 shows a summary of tiger population status in four PAs (Table 1). face and tail. excluding cubs and juveniles) in four PAs.305 trap nights in four PAs. Training on monitoring techniques Camera trap surveys were undertaken from December 2008 to March 2009 by systematically placing 150 pairs of passive cameras in designated blocks in all four PAs.7) on the basis of their unique stripe pattern on the body flanks.59.191 Density Tigers/ 100 km 0.23 2 SE 3.e.26 0.22 17. we estimated a total of 121 adult tigers (i. As both the methods gave similar results (paired t-test.
6 1.265 3.170 2.3 21.The abundance of tiger wild prey animals were estimated by employing line transects surveys within the Distance Sampling framework.248 12.6 43.29.2 3.6 .4.143 22.1 16.2 54.7.5 4.836 .0 1.9 7.818 3. We used software Distance Version 6 for survey design and data analysis.0 .90.044 .831 .678 16.6 .082 13.9 1. Status of the tiger’s wild prey in Parsa WR.70.682 .5 . The field work was conducted during May .11.0 5.120.0 .755 2.54.665 3.246 841 .2 40. etc.053 1.573 2.48.191 .2 2.June 2008. We analysed all wild prey first as one group in each PA and then.5 .6 0.128 .708 738 .4 1334 38.6 1.3 .631 16.3 .8.2 0.5 .169 .2 3. Chitwan NP.742 .42.801 1.7.682 1.5 8.1 11. Suboptimal preys. Table 2 summarizes the status of tiger’s prey status in four PAs. were excluded from the data analysis as were domestic livestock.8 61.0 14.4 86.3 2.654 505 .3 7.8 3.3. A total of 463 transects were systematically surveyed for wild prey animals.5 62.811 6.994 10.2. given the adequate number of observations. Bardia NP & Shuklaphanta WR.567 2.23.406 .8 55.0 1.5 .9 0.5 27. Table 2. such as hare and langurs.1.2 10.618 .79.5 .9 .24.319 26.720 Chitwan NP Bardia NP All Chital Wild boar Barking deer Samber Shuklaphanta WR All Chital Hog deer Swamp deer * Not enough observations to examine individual species .849 4.8 32.5 .5 1.23.7 5.310 421 794 16.0 9.1 0.2 2.3 3.6 .6.6 51.325 271.10.1 67.7 188.8.131.52 0.6 15. repeated the analyses by species.3.165 .6853 1.134 .4 4.89.2114 30.7 10.4.8 8.5.187 4.5 .124 18.8 2. Protected Area Wild prey type Animals 2 (km ) Density SE 95% CI Abundance Animals 95% CI Parsa WR * All All Chital Samber Wild boar Barking deer Hog deer 184.108.40.206 .
21 (SE = 0. the prey base possibly constitutes the most important criteria for predicting tiger occupancy. Program Presence Version 2 was used to model the habitat occupancy by fitting the detection/non-detection data.59. The later two variables served as covariates to model the habitat occupancy by tigers. 2008). Using the top model with !AIC = 0. the tiger habitat occupancy pattern in the TAL ranged from 0.06). their buffer zones and adjoining potential tiger habitats. Therefore. 2 Conclusion and recommendations This monitoring is a milestone for the tiger conservation initiatives in Nepal as it has established the benchmark data on population status of tigers. Otherwise suitable areas that have depleted prey bases should be managed with an important focus on increasing the prey base.05) to 0. Ninety-six grids (15 x 15 km ) were surveyed for evidence of tiger as well as tiger prey and human activities (Figure 3).06 (7% increase) in sites where the prey index was already med-high. Where prey were ranked low.4). we clearly demonstrated that the habitat occupancy by tigers was more affected by prey abundance than the human disturbance. 1999). and AIC weight (w) of 0.94 (SE = 0.05.07). The model .averaged estimate of the probability of detection for surveys with an observer expertise index of good was 0. the probability of occupancy was estimated at 0. Prey depletion has been recognized as the single most factor driving the current decline of wild tiger populations and hence a significant constraint on their recovery (Karanth & Stith. Our camera trap survey revealed the presence of 121 adult tigers in Nepal. Whether the prey index was low versus mediumhigh was highly influential in predicting tiger occupancy. their prey base and distribution.73 (SE = 0.06). The model-averaged estimate among top models of the probability of occupancy for a grid cell with prey index of medium-high was 0. The model incorporating prey index was the best performing model to describe habitat occupancy by tigers in the study area. . The effect of the human impacts index switching from high to low only increased the probability of occupancy by 0. habitat occupancy surveys were carried out across all four PAs.95 (SE = 0.During May – June 2009 after the burning. The 4 models containing the prey index covariate ranked as the top 4 based on AIC comparisons. This is especially true in the context that past attempts were made in different spatial and temporal scales and often with less statistical rigor.24 (SE = 0. human disturbance and prey availability. Our results from habitat occupancy surveys are consistent with this. Comparing the influence of two covariates. Table 5. tiger population in Chitwan NP increased substantially while there is drastic decline in Bardia NP and Shuklaphanta WR. Compared to records from 2005 (GON.
. K. there were additional human impacts not fully captured in the prey index covariate (i. UK: Cambridge University Press. it is essential that management to focus on managing wild prey base of tigers and curbing ongoing poaching and trade in their parts for effective recovery of tiger populations in Nepal. J. U. Nichols. U. Increased incidence of tiger poaching in Shuklaphanta WR and Bardia NP in the recent times indicated the poaching as the most plausible reason for the decline in tiger numbers. Tiger conservation action plan for Nepal. .06 relative to model 9). the impact of humans on vegetation. Kathmandu: Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. Stith. (2004). K.e. (1999). U.). References GoN (2008).However. This is particularly true in the case of Shuklaphanta WR and Bardia NP. Prey depletion as a critical determinant of tiger population viability. S. human impacts on tiger occupancy in ways beyond influencing the relative abundance of the tiger prey base) as suggested by model 10 having a !AIC of 0. McDougal 1999 In: Riding the tiger: Tiger conservation in human-dominated landscapes: 100-113.. Seidensticker. et al. abundance In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Karanth. M. Tigers and their prey: Predicting carnivore densities from prey 4854-4858. where the existing level of prey population appear to be adequate to support the viable tiger populations (Karanth et al. . J. managers and conservationists in tropical asia. (Eds. fires and evidence of poaching mitigating these factors should be considered to increase tiger occupancy even in areas where the prey base is already deemed sufficient. P. Jackson. K. D. (Eds. India. Cambridge.. Karanth. Centre for Wildlife Karanth. Christie. researchers. Thus. Because the human impacts covariate incorporated livestock presence.. .. USA.). Banglore.70 from the top model (and also note model 7 had a !AIC of 1.) (2002) Monitoring tigers and their prey: A manual for Studies. 2004).
.. McKnight.1981. Snquist. USA. Nepal. J. Nichols. 18: 839-844.Conservation Biology. L. M.1-98.D. “ Landscape Analysis of Tiger Distribution and Habitat Quality in Nepal.Ahearn and C. J. J.McDougal..(1998). 12: 865-878. 1982. D. Wikramanayake. G. Joshi. D. A. A. B. (2002). Behavior 124: 165-195. S. Smithsonian Contribution to Zoology.E.. and Smith. San Diego. 2004..1998: 1-9. California. Designing a conservation landscape for tigers in human-dominated environments. F. E. Gurung. L. An ecology-based method for defining priorities for large mammal conservation: The tiger as a case study. M. E.Seber. Thompson 2004 Wikramanayake et al.. (1998). New York. Smith. 336. K. The role of dispersal in structuring the Chitwan tiger population.1993..” Conservation Biology 12. B. USA: Academic Press. Dinerstein. J. . Conservation Biology. et al. NY.The social organization of tigers (Panthera tigris) in Royal Chitwan National Park. Analysis and management of animal populations. Smith.M. . Williams. E. Conroy. 1999 Wikramanayake. Macmillan.. D. The estimation of animal abundance and related parameters. D.C.
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