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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 13, pp 3383–3394 | Cite as

Home range and habitat preference of female lions (Panthera leo persica) in Gir forests, India

  • Yadvendradev V. Jhala
  • Shomen Mukherjee
  • Nita Shah
  • Kartikeya S. Chauhan
  • Chittranjan V. Dave
  • V. Meena
  • Kausik Banerjee
Original Paper

Abstract

The social organization of Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) differs from African lions (P. l. leo) in that breeding lionesses defend resource based territories while male coalitions maximize coverage of female groups. Thus, lion density in the Gir forests of India is dictated by female territory size. We studied the home range and habitat preference of lions using radio telemetry on seven lionesses spaced throughout the Gir between 2002 and 2005. Radio locations obtained by homing in were plotted on a classified (LISS III FCC) habitat map of Gir to obtain habitat use and availability. Habitat preference was computed using compositional analysis and Ivlev’s index. Average (±SE) 100% Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP) range of six lionesses was 48.2 ± 10.6 km2, 95% MCP was 34.7 ± 7.8 km2 and 95% fixed kernel range size was 32.5 ± 8.2 km2. Breeding female group density and group size was about 3 per 100 km2 and 1.3 (0.5 SD, n = 45) respectively. Lions were observed to show a habitat preference (\( \chi_{(6df)}^{2} = 11. 4 \), P = 0.08), the order of preference was Moist Mixed forests > Mixed forests > Savanna habitats > Teak-Acacia-Zizyphus-Anogeissus forests > Acacia-Lannea-Boswellia forests > Thorn and Scrub forests > Agriculture areas. Habitat preference during the day was for dense vegetation (\( \chi_{(6df)}^{2} = 35 \), P < 0.001). At night lions even ventured into agricultural fields. Our data suggests that dense habitats are preferred by lions in Gir to escape the heat of the day and to be in good cover when human activity was likely to be at its peak within forested areas.

Keywords

Asiatic lion Compositional analysis Group Size Ivlev’s index Lion density Radio telemetry 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Gujarat Forest Department for providing a GEF grant under the India Ecodevelopment Project, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun and US Fish and Wildlife Service for funding this research. We acknowledge the Director, Dean and Research Coordinator, Wildlife Institute of India for logistic support. Qamar Qureshi is acknowledged for assistance with data analysis. Gir Management Unit is acknowledged for facilitation, assistance and logistic support, including lion captures. Special thanks are due to Bharat Pathak, B. Pati, K. S. Randhawa, Ramkumar, C. S. Bhuva and R. K Hirpara. We are grateful to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, New Delhi and the Chief Wildlife Warden, Gujarat state for permissions to capture and radio collar lions. We thank our field assistants Taj, Osman, Bhupat and Bhola for their sincere efforts. Special thanks to Santanu Basu, Parabita Basu and Nilanjana Roy for assistance with remote sensing and GIS analysis.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yadvendradev V. Jhala
    • 1
  • Shomen Mukherjee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nita Shah
    • 1
    • 3
  • Kartikeya S. Chauhan
    • 1
    • 4
  • Chittranjan V. Dave
    • 1
  • V. Meena
    • 1
  • Kausik Banerjee
    • 1
  1. 1.Wildlife Institute of IndiaDehradunIndia
  2. 2.Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen Gurion University of the NegevSede BokerIsrael
  3. 3.Bombay Natural History SocietyMumbaiIndia
  4. 4.Taj Safaris, Mahua Kothi, Bandhavgarh Tiger ReserveTala, UmariaIndia

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