Depleting wild prey compels common leopard (Panthera pardus) to sustain on livestock

in Animal Biology
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Abstract

The wide distribution of a predator can reflect its flexibility in adapting to various ecosystems. The common leopard (Panthera pardus) is “Critically Endangered” in Pakistan while the IUCN Red List categorizes it globally as “Vulnerable”. This study investigated the distribution of the common leopard and the contribution of livestock in its diet in District Sudhanoti of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. During the surveys, scats, pugmarks, prey remains, and dead bodies of the common leopard were recovered in a scanned area of approximately 262 km2. The scats were mostly found on tracks and trails in hilly terrain, and pugmarks in the riparian zone and nallas, while prey remains were found mostly in dense bushes and rocks. Dead common leopards were recovered within or around village areas. All signs of the species were found between 418 m and 2016 m elevation above sea level. Scat analysis revealed a total of ten prey species including seven domestic mammals and only three wild meso-mammals. Domestic animals were most frequently consumed while wild prey contributed significantly less. The consumption of domestic prey species was found not to differ between the summer and winter season. We conclude that the common leopard was sustaining mainly on livestock with a much smaller contribution from wild prey. This fact, along with the “Critically Endangered” status of the species in the country, demands effective conservation measures to be taken to save common leopards.

Depleting wild prey compels common leopard (Panthera pardus) to sustain on livestock

in Animal Biology

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Figures

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    Location of study area (inset; shaded), and the field locations where different signs of common leopard were recorded (modified from Google Earth).

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    Direct and indirect signs of common leopard recorded at different sampling sites.

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    Field signs of common leopard recorded from the various sampling sites of the study area. (A) Leopard scats in the field; (B) measuring scats in the lab; (C) pugmark; and (D) dead leopard killed by native people.

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    Percent frequency (F) and percent volume (V) occurrence of recovered food items from scats of common leopard.

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    Prey species consumed by common leopard.

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    Biomass of prey species consumed by common leopard.

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    Total biomass consumption by common leopard in the study area.

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    Seasonal variation in biomass consumption of domestic and wild prey by common leopard.

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    Seasonal variation in biomass of prey species consumed by common leopard.

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