Author(s): Raj Kumar Baniya, Chitra Bahadur Baniya, Pu Mou, Jianping Ge
Predator-prey relationship indicates the status of wildlife conservation. Identifying preys and their contribution to the diets of tigers are important for making conservation meaningful. The main objective of this research was to investigate the distribution pattern of tigers and availability of their preys in the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (SWR), Far west Nepal. This research mainly focused on distribution and identification of scats, determination of prey species and factors affecting their selection. This study was conducted in SWR of 305 km2 area in Kanchanpur district, lowland, Far west Nepal. It was gazatted as Royal Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve in 1973. Data were collected through direct field observations and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method. Relationship between tigers and preys was determined through scats analysis. Data were analyzed with the help of Scatman and vegan through R Software. Prey and habitat selection analysis showed that chital (Axis axis) preferred sal (Shorea robusta) forests while barking (Muntiacus muntjak) and swamp (Rucervus duvauceli) deer were abundant in river sides and fireline/mixed forests respectively. Then, identified eight prey species from 65 scats of which six percent had double preys and 94% single preys. Chital constituted 30% and swamp deer 17% of the total tiger’s diet. The population density of chital was the highest (54.10 animals/km2) followed by common langur (25.27 animals/km2), swamp deer (21.50 animals/km2) and hog deer (16.30 animals/km2). Chital, hog deer and langur were preyed significantly (P ≤ 0) higher by tigers indicating positive selection of these species. Swamp deer was preyed significantly low (P > 0) indicating negative selection probably due to its large size. Tigers prefer medium to slightly large prey species like chital of about 55 kg body weight compared to large sized swamp deer and sambar weighing more than 150 and 210 kg respectively in SWR. Since, both tigers and preys are endangered due to poaching and habitat loss, regular monitoring of them is essential to develop the tiger conservation plan.
food habitat, Panthera tigris tigris, prey selection, scat analysis
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