Journal Article
2008
Empty forests: Large carnivore and prey abundance in Namdapha National Park, north-east India
Biological Conservation 141: 1429-1435.
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Illegal hunting poses a dual threat to large carnivores through direct removal of individuals and by prey depletion. We conducted a camera-trapping survey in the Namdapha National Park, north-east India, conducted as part of a programme to evaluate carnivore and prey species abundance. Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) was the only large carnivore detected by camera-trapping. Indirect evidences indicated the presence of the wild dog (Cuon alpinus) and leopard (Panthera pardus), however, there was no evidence of tigers (Panthera tigris), suggesting their possible extinction from the lower elevation forests. Of the major ungulate prey species, sambar (Cervus unicolor) and wild pig (Sus scrofa) were the only large prey detected, while the Indian muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) was the only small prey species detected. Relative abundances of all species were appreciably lower than estimates from other tropical forests in south-east Asia. We suspect that illegal hunting may be the cause for the low carnivore and prey species abundance. An ongoing community-based conservation programme presents an opportunity to reduce local people’s dependence on hunting by addressing their socio-economic needs and for using their skills and knowl- edge of the landscape for wildlife conservation. However, long-term wildlife monitoring is essential to assess the efficacy of the socio-economic interventions in bringing about wild- life recovery.

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