Density of leopard in a moist-temperate forest of western Himalaya, India

Abstract

Widespread conversion of the biodiversity rich habitats into land for cultivation and human habitation has resulted in extensive habitat loss for wildlife including leopard. In order to prioritize investments and assess conservation intervention and effectiveness reliable estimates of population density are required. We carried out camera-trapping and line-transect surveys to estimate the predator and prey densities in moist-temperate forest of Dachigam National Park, north-western Himalaya. Density estimate for leopard (Panthera pardus) obtained from programme CAPTURE was 2.8 ± SE 1.18/100 km2 and the SECR density obtained from software SPACECAP was 0.744 ± SE 0.18/100 km2. Density estimate obtained using software DISTANCE for the two principal prey species was 5.11 ± 0.51/km2 and 16.32 ± 1.87/km2 for hangul (Cervus hanglu ssp. hanglu) and langur (Semnopithecus ajax), respectively. The leopard density estimates, which are a first record from the study area, turned out to be the lowest in the country. The low densities of prey represent an alarming status of the species as well as of forest ecosystems of the study area. Our baseline estimates for the leopard and prey species will help future research, conservation and management strategies.

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Acknowledgements

This work was part of larger study on the ecological aspects of the leopard in the Kashmir Valley and was supported and funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India. We are thankful to the Department of Wildlife Protection, Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir for granting us necessary permissions to conduct this research in the protected area. We also thank the Director and Dean of the Wildlife Institute of India for motivation and support. Thanks are due to the field assistants who assisted us in data collection.

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Correspondence to Bilal Habib.

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Noor, A., Mir, Z.R., Veeraswami, G.G. et al. Density of leopard in a moist-temperate forest of western Himalaya, India. Trop Ecol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42965-020-00090-w

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Keywords

  • Apex predator
  • Camera trapping
  • Dachigam National Park
  • Kashmir