A Col­lec­tion of News by Moos


India’s big cats and dogs are get­ting along fine

pub­lished 18 Feb­ru­ary 2017 | mod­i­fied 18 Feb­ru­ary 2017

A new Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety (WCS) study in India shows that three car­ni­vores – tigers, leop­ards, and dholes (Asian wild dog) – seem­ingly in direct com­pe­ti­tion with one other, are liv­ing side by side with sur­pris­ingly lit­tle con­flict. Usu­ally, big cats and wild canids live in dif­fer­ent loca­tions to avoid each other.

Yet in four rel­a­tively small reserves in India’s wildlife-​rich West­ern Ghats region, WCS researchers have found that they are co-​existing, despite com­pet­ing for much of the same prey, includ­ing sam­bar deer, chi­tal, and pigs.

The study
Using dozens of non-​invasive cam­era traps for sam­pling entire pop­u­la­tions, rather than track a hand­ful of indi­vid­u­als, the research team recorded some 2,500 images of the three preda­tors in action. The study results are pub­lished on 8 Feb­ru­ary in the jour­nal Pro­ceed­ings of the Royal Soci­ety of Lon­don B: Bio­log­i­cal Sci­ences.

Bengal TigerDholeLeopard

The results
The authors found that in reserves with an abun­dance of prey, dholes, which are active dur­ing the day, did not come in much con­tact with the more noc­tur­nal tigers and leop­ards. But in Bhadra Reserve where prey was scarcer, their active times over­lapped, yet dholes still man­aged to avoid the big cats. In Nagara­hole, a park teem­ing with all three car­ni­vores and their prey, leop­ards actively avoided tigers.

Over­all, the authors say that these car­ni­vores have devel­oped smart adap­ta­tions to coex­ist, even while they exploit the same prey base. How­ever, these mech­a­nisms vary depend­ing on den­sity of prey resources and pos­si­bly other habi­tat features.

Tigers, leop­ards, and dholes are doing a del­i­cate dance in these pro­tected areas, and all are man­ag­ing to survive
Ullas Karanth, lead author, Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety Direc­tor for Sci­ence in Asia »

Karanth added: “We were sur­prised to see how each species has remark­ably dif­fer­ent adap­ta­tions to prey on dif­fer­ent prey sizes, use dif­fer­ent habi­tat types and be active at dif­fer­ent times. Because of small and iso­lated nature of these high prey den­si­ties in these reserves, such adap­tions are help­ful for con­ser­va­tion­ists try­ing to save all three.”

Con­ser­va­tion Sta­tus
Both tigers and dholes are listed as Endan­gered by the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species, while leop­ards are con­sid­ered Vulnerable.

Under­stand­ing these sep­a­rate yet over­lap­ping species’ needs is crit­i­cal to man­ag­ing preda­tors and prey in small reserves, which is increas­ingly the sce­nario of the future. The authors say that by man­ag­ing pop­u­la­tions of flag­ship preda­tors, like tigers, care­fully over­all bio­di­ver­sity can also be conserved.

(Source: WCS news release, 16.02.2017)

UN Biodiversity decade

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.


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