Report

2019

Sanjay GubbiN S HarishShravan SutharAmrita Madhukumar Menon
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Monitoring of leopards at Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve in Karnataka

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is an elusive, solitary species that is found over a broad geographic range and has also adapted to human-dominated landscapes. They inhabit a variety of habitats and their diet constitutes a wide range of prey species. They are also one of the most conflict-prone species due to these reasons. The main threats that are contributing to their declining population include habitat loss and fragmentation, retaliatory killing, vehicular collisions, poaching, depletion of prey and others (Jacobson et al. 2016; Gubbi et al. 2017). Currently, the leopard has been listed as Vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (Stein et al. 2016). In India, under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, they are listed as a Schedule 1 species which provides them with the highest level of protection. There is a need for reliable and systematic collection of data to estimate the abundance and density of these cats, and establish a population trend in order to implement necessary management measures. This needs to be done across protected areas, and other leopard habitats outside protected areas. In Karnataka, studies have previously documented the occurrences of leopards in protected areas and human-dominated habitats (Gubbi et al. 2017). In 2017, Gubbi et al. (2017) estimated a mean abundance of ~ 300 (SD ± 15.2) leopards in a ~3,170 km2 area comprising of protected areas and multiple use forests in Karnataka. In continuation of the previous study, this report provides the first estimates of abundance and density of leopards in BRT.