Wildlife Occupancy Study and Conservation Status Assessment in the buffer zone of Sahyadri Tiger Reserve
Shashikiran Hegde, Jayant Kulkarni, Prachi Mehta
Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?
The study area was the buffer zone of Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. This region consists of reserved forests, uncultivatable private land, agriculture and human habitation with with fairly good wildlife presence. A wildlife occupancy survey and threat study was carried out in this region. The study will help determine wildlife occupancy and threat status and help in conservation planning for the tiger reserve.
Methods: What were the main research methods you used?
The study area was divided into logical units by beat boundaries.Walks were conducted in trails passing through these units,ensuring coverage in each unit in proportion to its area.Wildlife signs such as direct sighting,call,dropping,track,scrape;and threats such as tree cutting,cattle grazing,forest fires,human presence,developmental pressures such as mining,tourism,construction,wind mills,electrical lines and roads,were recorded.Other independent parameters recorded were land use and habitat.Occupancy analysis for each wildlife species will be done using the software PRESENCE.Threat intensity will be determined in terms of encounter rate.Data will be compiled to create a status report of wildlife with focus on tiger and assessment of threats.Recommendations will be made for mitigation of threats and recommendations will be made for mitigation of threats and recommend actions for wildlife conservation.
Results: What are your most important results?
Analysis of the data is in progress. Tiger and wild dog signs were very rare. Leopard signs were common. Herbivore species commonly occuring were sambar, muntjac, gaur, wild boar. In general wildlife densities were low in the study area.In spite of presence of tree cutting, tree cover was fairly good in reserved forest. The vegetation on private land was mostly scrub.Tree cutting and grazing were common in reserved forest and private land. Fire was common on private land.
Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?
The low wildlife presence may be partially attributed to natural factors. However human pressures, including poaching are likely to be a major factor. The territorial staff is poorly sensitized to wildlife conservation. Implementation of wildlife conservation activities in the buffer zone under the Tiger Conservation Plan will help in increasing awareness. A comprehensive strategy needs to be implemented to ensure wildlife conservation in the buffer zone.