March 18, 2013
Gaur bull in Nagarahole National Park, India.
As local populations of guar vanish, conservationists have taken to re-introducing the species, such as in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in 2011. A new paper in mongabay.com's open access journal Tropical Conservation Science examines the outcome of the reintroduction program. The last small population of gaur (30 to 32 individuals) migrated out of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in 1995. This population was considered to be the only population north of the Narmada River, in Central India.
"As ecosystem landscapers, gaur play an important role in the moist and dry deciduous forests in India, as they have a major impact on the physical structure of habitats, rates of ecosystem processes and the diversity of communities," the researchers write in the paper. "Since the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve also has a considerable population of tigers, it was important to have gaur in the park as a prey species of tiger."
Nineteen gaur (14 females, 5 males) were captured from Kanha Tiger Reserve and translocated to the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in 2011. Of these, 12 were fitted with radio collars, allowing researchers to study the home range, habitat use and food habits of individuals.
The estimated summer, monsoon and winter home ranges of the gaur were 290, 137.1 and 155 square kilometers respectively. The overall individual male home ranges varied from 135 to 142 square kilometers, and overall individual female home ranges varied from 32 to 169 square kilometers. Radio collared locations were also plotted on a classified habitat map of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve to evaluate the habitat use and availability in each season. In summer, gaur largely preferred grassland, whereas in monsoon and winter, gaur preferred bamboo mixed forest. They avoided open mixed forest and agricultural land in all three seasons. Interestingly, it was observed that the relocated gaur initially utilized an area of 290 square kilometers but subsequently reduced their ranges to 160 square kilometers. This was attributed to the exploration of new areas.
The known extinction of gaur from three protected areas in India (Thattakad Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and Kanger Valley National Park,) in the last two decades shows the plight of this species and the urgent need for measures to stem further losses.
"The present study takes a successful step towards the conservation of this large bovid, providing first-time information on ranging patterns of gaur and their degree of preferences for different vegetation and terrain types in different seasons," the scientists write.
With such information now at the park administration disposal scientists were able to release a further 31 gaur taking with the estimated viable population to 50 individuals.
CITATION: Sankar, K. Pabla, H. S., Patil C. K., Nigam P., Qureshi, Q., Navaneethan B., Manjrekar,M., Virkar, P. S., and Mondal, K . 2013. Home range, habitat use and food habits of re-introduced gaur (Bos gaurus gaurus) in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Central India. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 6(1):50-69.
Burning coal may be killing over 100,000 people in India every year
(03/13/2013) India's dependence on coal-fired power plants for energy may be leading directly to the deaths of 80,000 to 115,000 of its citizens every year, according to the first ever report on the health impacts of coal in the country. The report, commissioned by the Conservation Action Trust and Greenpeace-India, deals only with the direct health impact of coal and not climate change. But even ignoring the rising pain of global warming, the bleak report outlines that coal consumption in India is causing over 20 million asthma attacks, nearly a million emergency room visits, and killing some 10,000 children under five annually.
Photographers threatening the already-abused slender loris
(03/12/2013) Caught in a beam of torchlight, the eyes of the slender loris reflect back a striking glow. In an effort to better understand these shy, nocturnal primates, a team of researchers set out to the Western Ghats of India. The resulting paper: Moolah, Misfortune or Spinsterhood? The Plight of the Slender Loris (Loris lydekkerianus) in Southern India was published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa in January of 2013. Forest walks and interviews with the Kani people, who live in close proximity to the lorises, supported evidence of a surprising new threat to the lorises: photographers.
Tigers gobble up 49 percent of India's wildlife conservation funds, more imperiled species get nothing
(02/12/2013) Nearly half of India's wildlife budget goes to one species: the tiger, reports a recent article in Live Mint. India has devoted around $63 million to wildlife conservation for 2013-2013, of which Project Tiger receives $31 million. The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List; however India is also home to 132 species currently considered Critically Endangered, the highest rating before extinction.
Claim of human and tiger 'coexistence' lacks perspective
(01/29/2013) Nepal's Chitwan National Park was the site of a study, published in September 2012 by Carter and others, which concluded that, tigers coexist with humans at fine spatial scales. This paper has ignited a scientific debate regarding its implications for large carnivore conservation worldwide, with scientists at institutions worldwide questioning the validity of claims of coexistence. At the foundation of this debate, perhaps, is the unresolved question, "what is coexistence?"
Living beside a tiger reserve: scientists study compensation for human-wildlife conflict in India
(01/21/2013) During an average year, 87% of households surrounding Kanha Tiger Reserve in Central India report experiencing some kind of conflict with wild animals, according to a new paper in the open-access journal PLOS One. Co-existence with protected, free-roaming wildlife can be a challenge when living at the edge of a tiger reserve. "Local residents most often directly bear the costs of living alongside wildlife and may have limited ability to cope with losses" wrote the authors of the new paper.