Govindarajan Mohan, Jayakumar Yogesh, George Nittu, Thekke Thumbath Shameer, Sulekha Jameela Backer, Subramani Nandhini, Balasundaram Ramakrishnan, Manikkiri Jyothi, Raveendranathanpillai Sanil

Factors influencing survival of tiger and leopard in the high-altitude ecosystem of the Nilgiris, India

Abstract Tiger conservation is a global initiative, and data on distribution, prey dynamics, competition, and range extension are critical factors in sustaining its fragile populations. We concentrated on evaluating the data pertaining to these variables in order to designate the high-altitude Nilgiri forest division as a tiger conservation unit. We gathered secondary data on animal density, mortality, and conflicts. We also conducted a people perception survey, a systematic grid-based prey species survey, and a tiger and leopard scat survey to assess the prey-predator relationship and understand human attitudes toward carnivore conservation. According to the findings, the Nilgiri forest division has a healthy prey base with positive or random prey-predator associations and a significant correlation between mammalian assemblages. Because the niche overlap between the tiger and the leopard is high, the latter broadens its niche and relies on wild prey in the shola fringes and tea estates. The tiger avoids human-dominated areas and prefers to stay in the shola, rarely venturing into tea estates. In contrast to previous considerations, we believe the Nilgiri forest division is an ideal tiger habitat. We specify that instead of being considered a connective corridor, the Nilgiri forest division may be merged with Mukkurthi National Park to form a high-altitude tiger reserve.


Keywords Tiger conservation; people perception; shola grasslands; tiger mortality; prey-predator relationship

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