ANI Photo | How Tiger dung helps researchers identify its prey selection patterns in Terai region

Representative image

New Delhi [India], August 28 (ANI) Tiger dung have enabled researchers to understand the prey selection patterns of the big cats as well as gather information about hotspots of conflicts related to livestock predation in the Terai region in northern India and southern Nepal.
The study by scientists at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) showed that large-bodied animals like the Sambar Deer, chital and farm animals comprised 94 per cent of tigers’ diet.
The research was published in the peer-reviewed, Journal of Mammology early this month.
The study has suggested that protected and non-protected areas in the Terai region were more prone to livestock predation-related conflict.
The authors of the study are Suvankar Biswas, Shrewshree Kumar, Meghna Bandhopadhyay, Shiv Kumar Patel, Salvador Lyngdoh, Bivas Pandab and Samrat Mondol.
For the study, tiger food habits were investigated across the Indian part of the Terai-Arc Landscape (TAL), a globally important Tiger conservation landscape.
The researchers studied 510 genetically confirmed Tiger faeces that were collected across the landscape and 10 wild ungulates and livestock as prey species were identified.
“Large-bodied species (Sambar, Swamp Deer, Nilgai, Chital, Wild Pig, and livestock) comprised nearly 94 per cent of the diet, with Sambar, Chital, and livestock having the highest relative proportions,” the study showed. 
India retains the majority of the global tiger population, with a substantial number occurring outside protected areas where they are prone to conflict through livestock predation and injury or death to people and tigers, the researchers said.

Habitat-specific (Shivalik-Bhabar and Terai) analyses indicated that prey selection is driven by prey abundance and body weight but not determined by protection status–protected areas vs. non-protected areas (PAs and non-PAs)–, according to researchers
“Results also suggest that PAs and non-PAs in the Terai region were more prone to livestock predation-related conflict,” the researchers showed.
The Terai Arc Landscape may support as many as 1,000 wild tigers, with some of the highest densities in the world.
The transboundary Terai Arc belt stretches from Nepal’s Bagmati River in the east to India’s Yamuna River in the west covering an area of 51,000 sq. km.
It is home to around 86 species of mammals, 600 species of birds, and over 2,100 species of flowering plants.
As apex predators, tigers have large home range requirements for sustenance. This often leads to conflict with people.
The researchers have suggested careful management interventions with community involvement to reduce such threats.
In the study, the researchers suggested long-term conservation plans, including prey abundance estimation outside protected areas, reduction of grazing pressures, and detailed records of Tiger mortalities with causal investigations to ensure future conflict-free Tiger persistence across the region

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