Diet Selection of Leopards (Panthera pardus) in a Human-Use Landscape in North-Eastern India
|Title||Diet Selection of Leopards (Panthera pardus) in a Human-Use Landscape in North-Eastern India|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2018|
|Authors||Kshettry A, Vaidyanathan S., Athreya V|
|Journal||Tropical Conservation Science|
There is increasing evidence of large carnivores using human-use areas, but our understanding of their ecology in such landscapes is limited. The role of wild and domestic prey in sustaining populations of carnivores in human-use landscapes could be significant but is currently poorly documented. We studied the prey composition and diet selection of leopards (Panthera pardus) in a forest and tea-garden landscape in north-eastern India where the population density is greater than 700 people per km2 and average domestic animal density is 340 animals per km2. Wild prey density in the landscape was 56 animals per km2. Both wild and domestic prey were used by leopards in proportion to their availability with no selectivity toward either (χ2 = 87.17, p = .99, SE = 0.001). Among wild prey, Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) was found in high densities (24 animals per km2) and was preyed by leopards more frequently that the proportional availability. High use of domestic prey by leopard, with 60% of the prey biomass comprising cattle and goats has the potential for negative impact on conservation support for the species. While on one hand, there is great scope for the persistence of large cats in dense human-use landscapes due to the availability of domestic prey, on the other hand, the study highlights the problems of livestock loss especially to poorer sections of the society which need to be reconciled for achieving long-term and sustainable conservation goals.