Functional corridors for wildlife conservation in human dominated landscape of Western Ghats, India
Ashoka Trust For Research In Ecology And The Environment
Wildlife corridors in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve are severed due to forest fragmentation leading to frequent human-wildlife conflicts. The functional status and habitat quality of corridors have not been understood properly which is critical in wildlife management. My research work evaluates these aspects by assessing the habitat quality and spatiotemporal usage of the forest-corridor landscape by wildlife as well as local people.
I assessed the vegetation cover of the habitat through 116 ‘belt transects’ (0.1 ha). Animal usage and occupancy were estimated through camera traps (540 trap days) and site occupancy survey (58 search trials) in the forest-corridor landscape. The Focus Group Discussion (n=6) and household questionnaire survey (n=100) has been carried out to assess the intensity of human-wildlife conflicts, socio-economic status and also conservation attitude of the local people.
Diverse taxa of wild large mammals (15 species) are using these corridors regularly. The highest captured animals were Axis axis (40.6%) followed by Rusa unicolor (13.9%), Elephas maximus (13.5%), Muntiacus muntjak (7.7%), Bos gaurus (6.1%), Susscrofa cristatus (9.6%) and Lepus nigricollis (4.2%). There is no significant difference in species richness between corridors and seasons but there is a significant difference in species abundance between the seasons.
The complete set of data on vegetation, corridors used by wild animals in different season, cause and consequences of human-wildlife conflict and socio-economic status of local people in the corridor landscape are very useful to develop interventions through interdisciplinary approaches. This could provide an opportunity to improve the quality and restore the corridors for safe migration of animals to reduce the human-wildlife conflicts in this area.