Studies to determine presence or absence of the Indian tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) in Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary, India
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A decade back, almost 300,000 km2 of forests in India were estimated to be potential tiger habitat. But consistent degradation and unsustainable anthropogenic pressures have adversely affected tiger presence in most of the forests outside the better protected tiger reserves. Here we use Geographic Information System data to analyze the degree of vegetation loss and landscape changes over the last decade (1998–2006), and ascertain the presence of tigers in a degraded forest like the Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh, India, by non-invasive fecal DNA analysis. Vegetation cover maps show a clear degradation of the sanctuary within a decade. DNA analysis of scat samples reveals tiger presence in areas where closed dense forest canopy has persisted with minimal human disturbance during the last decade.
KeywordsGIS Tiger Fecal DNA Degraded forest
We gratefully acknowledge the GIS Cell of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department for providing detailed vegetation maps and georeferenced maps of Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary. We thank the Department of Biotechnology, India for financially supporting this study. We also thank the Chief Wildlife Warden, Andhra Pradesh, the Deputy Forest Officer of Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary, and all their field staff for facilitating this study.
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