Population Ecology

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 373–381 | Cite as

Monitoring tiger populations using intensive search in a capture–recapture framework

Original Article

Abstract

Tigers (Panthera tigris) today face multiple threats to their survival in the form of habitat loss, poaching, depletion of wild prey through illegal hunting and loss of connectivity between populations. Monitoring of tigers is crucial to evaluate their status and react adaptively to management problems. Though camera traps are becoming increasingly popular with researchers enumerating cryptic and elusive animals, they have not been embedded in the regular management activities of tiger reserves. Tiger monitoring, though an important part of the management, is usually implemented using the unreliable pugmark approach. Camera trap-based studies are few, usually of short duration, and are generally conducted by individual scientists and organizations. In this study, we integrate photographic mark–recapture with the routine activity of searching and locating tigers for tourist viewing by the park management in meadows of Kanha Tiger Reserve which form a part of the tourism zone. We validate the density estimates from “tiger search approach” against those obtained from camera trapping and radio-telemetry conducted in conjunction in the same area. Tiger density (\( \hat{D} \) (SE [\( \hat{D} \)]) per 100 km2 for camera traps and tiger search, respectively, was estimated at 12.0 (1.95) and 12.0 (1.76) when effective trapping area was estimated using the half mean maximum distance moved (½ MMDM), 7.6 (1.94) and 7.5 (1.97) using the home range radius, 7.3 (1.49) and 7.5 (1.97) with the full MMDM, and 8.0 (3.0) and 6.88 (2.39) with the spatial likelihood method in Program DENSITY 4.1. Camera trapping, however, was five times more expensive than the tiger search method. Our study suggests that “tiger search approach” can be used as a regular monitoring tool in the tourism zones of tiger reserves, where often most of the source populations are located.

Keywords

Camera traps Mark–recapture Panthera tigris Population monitoring Source populations Spatially explicit capture–recapture 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Rishi would like to thank elephant mahouts, forest guards, park guides and naturalists for their cooperation in detecting and photographing tigers. Our sincere thanks to MD Madhusudan, Abishek Harihar, Kulbushan Suryawanshi, Chandrima Home and Koustubh Sharma for useful suggestions on the earlier versions of this manuscript. We would like to thank Madhya Pradesh Forest Department for permissions for this research and Director, Wildlife Institute of India, for support. We are thankful to the two anonymous referees for their critical comments that greatly helped to improve the quality of the manuscript. We thank Nilanjana Roy and R Raghunath for GIS analysis and Mapping. This project was funded by the Wildlife Institute of India as a part of first author’s Masters Dissertation. Dr. Rajesh Gopal, Director, National Tiger Conservation Authority is thanked for partial funding support for the project.

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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wildlife Institute of IndiaDehradunIndia
  2. 2.Nature Conservation FoundationMysoreIndia

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