Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Patterns of carnivore distributions and human-carnivore conflicts: Sympatric wild canids in India as a case study (#152)

Arjun Srivathsa , Mahi Puri , Imran Patel , Krithi K Karanth , N. Samba Kumar

Protected areas constitute a mere 4% of India’s land area. Many species of carnivores inhabit unprotected human-dominated landscapes. Wild canids in India exemplify this issue, but are among the least-studied carnivores, globally. We conducted sign and questionnaire surveys in 2015-2016 across c.7,000 km2 of the Kanha-Pench forest corridor in central India. Using an array of 128 52 km2 grid cells, we examined distribution of wild canids, and human-canid interactions in the region. We focused on the dhole, Indian fox, Indian jackal and Indian wolf. We also included the striped hyena, because of similarities in their ecological requirements. Results from sign surveys and occupancy models indicated that wild canids occupied large parts of the landscape, ranging from 16% for dholes to 82% for jackals. Combining interview surveys of 675 local people and multi-state occupancy models, we estimated probability of conflict ranging from 33% for dholes to 87% for wolves. In general, scrub forests and terrain heterogeneity were important for canid occurrence. Presence of free-ranging/feral dogs and agricultural lands also influenced occupancy patterns of these carnivores. We further explored the influence of land-use, anthropogenic factors, and livestock-holding by households on patterns of conflict. Results from our study provide insights on the ecology of these five data-deficient carnivores in human-dominated landscapes. We propose that prioritisation and zoning of areas could facilitate persistence of carnivores in this multi-use landscape. Based on our results, we provide (1) species-specific management recommendations and (2) innovative methods of communicating such results with local people, wildlife managers, and popular media.