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Research Article

Monitoring of reintroduced tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Western India: preliminary findings on home range, prey selection and food habits [ 301-318 ]

K. Sankar, Qamar Qureshi, Parag Nigam, P.K. Malik, P.R. Sinha, R.N. Mehrotra, Rajesh Gopal, Subhadeep Bhattacharjee, Krishnendu Mondal and Shilpi Gupta

Abstract
Home range and food habits of tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) were studied in Sariska Tiger Reserve from July 2008 to June 2009. Three tigers (one male and two females) were radio-collared and reintroduced in Sariska Tiger Reserve from Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Western India during 2008-2009. The reintroduced tigers were monitored periodically through ground tracking using “triangulation and homing in techniques.” The estimated annual home ranges were 168.6 km2 and 181.4 km2 for tiger and tigress-1 respectively. The estimated summer home range of tigress-2 was 223.4 km2. In total, 115 kills and 103 scats of tigers were collected to study the food habits. The line transect method was used to estimate the prey availability. The density of peafowl (Pavo cristatus) was found to be highest (125.2 ± 15.3/ km2) in Sariska followed by livestock (Bubalis bubalis and Bos indicus) (59.9 ± 22.3/ km2), chital (Axis axis) (46.7 ± 9.5/ km2), sambar (Rusa unicolor) (26.2 ± 4.9/ km2), common langur (Semnopithecus entellus) (22.8 ± 6.5/ km2), nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) (19.5 ± 3.3/ km2) and wild pig (Sus scrofa) (15.4 ± 4.4/ km2). Tigers fed on seven prey species as shown by kill data. Tigers’ scat analysis revealed the presence of five prey species. Prey selection by tigers based on scat analysis was in the following order: sambar> chital> nilgai> livestock> common langur. It is proposed to restock the tiger population initially with five tigers in Sariska and subsequent supplementation of two tigers every three years for a period of six years, which will allow the population to achieve demographic viability. Removal of anthropogenic pressure from the national park will be crucial for the long term survival of tigers in Sariska.


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General interest summaries (when available)
    English: Reintroductions have proved to be a valuable tool for the recovery of the species that have become either globally or locally extinct in the wild. After local extermination of tigers from Sariska Tiger Reserve, three tigers (one male and two females) were re-introduced during the period June 2008 to February 2009. These radio-collared tigers were periodically monitored to study their ranging pattern and food habits. ‘Triangulation’ and ‘homing in’ techniques were used to obtain their radio-locations. The estimated annual home ranges for tiger and tigress-1 were 168.6 km2 and 181.4 km2 respectively. The summer home range of tigress-2 was estimated as 223.4 km2. In total, 115 kills and 103 scats of tigers were collected to study the prey selection and food habits. Tigers utilized seven prey species. Sambar was found to be the most consumed prey species as shown by kill and scat data. Line transect method was used to estimate the prey availability. The density of peafowl and livestock were found higher than wild ungulates. The prey selection of tigers showed preference for sambar and chital and avoidance for nilgai, common langur and livestock. It is proposed to restock the tiger population initially with five tigers in Sariska and subsequent supplementation of two tigers in every three years for a period of six years will allow the population to achieve demographic viability. Removal of anthropogenic pressure from the national park will be crucial for the long term survival of tigers in Sariska.

    Español: La reintroducción de fauna en peligro es una herramiento importante para la recuperación de especies que se han extinguido localmente. Este es el caso de los tigres en la Reserva de los tigres Sariska en el oeste de la India. Así, en el 2008 se reintrodujeron tres tigres (un macho y dos hembras) en la reserva. A estos se les colocaron radio-collares y fueron monitoreados para determinar el uso del hábitat y estudiar sus hábitos alimenticios. Los datos indicaron que las áreas de suministro de los tigres variaron por individuo de 168.6 km2 a 223.4 km2 . The summer home range of tigress-2 was estimated as 223.4 km2. Asi mismo, se detectaron 115 restos de animales cazados por los tigres y se colectaron 103 excretas para evaluar aspectos de la selección de presas y dieta. Se descubrió que los tigres utilizaron siete especies de animales como presas, siendo estas principalmente nativas a la selva, ignorando en gran medida, animales domésticos. El éxito de la reintroducción sugiere un programa subsecuente de dos tigres por año, por un periodo de seis años, de modo que se logre tener una población demográficamente viable.

    Português: Reintroduções tem provado serem ferramentas valorosas para a recuperação de espécies que se tornaram localmente ou globalmente extintas na natureza. O artigo de Sankar e co-autores sobre a reintrodução de tigres na Reserva Sariska Tiger, Índia ocidental, é um exemplo excelente de esforços conservacionistas locais envolvendo planejamento em larga escala por cientista e administradores de recursos naturais em conjunto com a comunidade local rural e os governantes. O estudo ilustra a situação terrível em que para salvar os tigres da extinção local, adaptações, afetando sua subsistência e persistência dos assentamentos, são feitas pela população local. O projeto irá reabastecer a população de tigres inicialmente com cinco tigres e a suplementação posterior de dois tigres a cada três anos por um período de seis anos permitirá que a população atinja uma viabilidade demográfica. Remoção da pressão antropogênica dos parques nacionais será crucial para a sobrevivência em longo prazo dos tigres em Sariska.

    Français: Les réintroductions sont considérées en tant qu'un outil précieux pour le rétablissement des espèces qui sont devenues soit globalement ou localement éteintes dans la nature. L'article de Sankar et ses coauteurs sur la réintroduction de tigres dans la réserve de Sariska Tiger, dans l’Inde de l’ouest, est un excellent exemple des efforts de la conservation impliquant une planification à grande échelle par des scientifiques et des gestionnaires de ressources naturelles ensemble avec des communautés rurales locales et des gouvernements. Cette étude illustre la situation extrême où, pour sauver le tigre d'extinction, c’est la population locale qui s’ajuste en modifiant leur façon de subsister et la persistance de leurs villages. Ce projet consistera dans le renforcement de la population de tigre par cinq tigres dans un premier temps puis par le renforcement de deux tigres tous les trois ans pendant six ans. Il permettra à la population d’assurer sa viabilité démographique. La disparition de la pression anthropique du parc national sera cruciale pour la survie à long terme des tigres dans Sariska.
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   Tropical Conservation Science is an open-access e-journal that publishes research relating to conservation of tropical forests and other tropical ecosystems.

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