TitleLarge anthropogenic impacts on a charismatic small carnivore: Insights from distribution surveys of red panda Ailurus fulgens in Nepal.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsPanthi S, Khanal G, Acharya KPrasad, Aryal A, Srivathsa A
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2017

Protected areas are key to preserving biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem services. However, their ability to ensure long-term survival of threatened andendangered species varies across countries, regions and landscapes. Distribution surveys can beparticularly important for assessing the value of protected areas, and gauging their efficacy incatering to species-specific requirements. We assessed the conservation value of one such reserve for a charismatic yet globally endangered species, the red panda Ailurus fulgens,in the light of on-going land-use transformation in Nepal. We conducted field surveys forindirect signs of red pandas along forest trails in 25-km2 sampling grid cells (n = 54) of Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, and confronted a set of ecological hypotheses to the data using hierarchical occupancy models. We estimated overall occupancy at Ψ(SE) = 0.41 (0.007), with relatively high site-level detectability [p = 0.93 (SE = 0.001)]. Our results show that despitebeing a subsistence form of small-scale resource use, extraction of bamboo and livestock grazing negatively affected panda occurrence, albeit at different intensities. The amount of bamboo cover,rather than the overall proportion of forest cover, had greater influence on the panda occurrence. Despite availability of bamboo cover, areas with bamboo extraction and anthropogenic disturbances were less likely to be occupied by pandas. Together, these results suggest that long-term persistence of red pandas in this reserve and elsewhere across the species' range will require preventing commercial extractionof bamboo, coupled with case-specific regulation of anthropogenic exploitation of red panda habitats.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID28708881