ResearchPad - leopards https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Digestibility of black soldier fly larvae (<i>Hermetia illucens</i>) fed to leopard geckos (<i>Eublepharis macularius</i>)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7714 Black soldier fly (BSF) larvae have been marketed as an excellent choice for providing calcium to reptiles without the need of dusting or gut loading. However, previous studies have indicated that they have limited calcium digestibility and are deficient in fat soluble vitamins (A, D3, and E). In this feeding and digestibility trial, 24 adult male leopard geckos were fed one of three diets for 4 months: 1) whole, vitamin A gut loaded larvae; 2) needle pierced, vitamin A gut loaded larvae; or 3) whole, non-gut loaded larvae. Fecal output from the geckos was collected daily and apparent digestibility was calculated for dry matter, protein, fat, and minerals. There were no differences in digestibility coefficients among groups. Most nutrients were well digested by the leopard geckos when compared to previous studies, with the exception of calcium (digestibility co-efficient 43%), as the calcium-rich exoskeleton usually remained intact after passage through the GI tract. Biochemistry profiles revealed possible deficits occurring over time for calcium, sodium, and total protein. In regards to vitamin A digestibility, plasma and liver vitamin A concentrations were significantly higher in the supplemented groups (plasma- gut loaded groups: 33.38 ± 7.11 ng/ml, control group: 25.8 ± 6.72 ng/ml, t = 1.906, p = 0.04; liver- gut loaded groups: 28.67 ± 18.90 μg/g, control group: 14.13 ± 7.41 μg/g, t = 1.951, p = 0.03). While leopard geckos are able to digest most of the nutrients provided by BSF larvae, including those that have been gut loaded, more research needs to be performed to assess whether or not they provide adequate calcium in their non-supplemented form.

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<![CDATA[Modelling potential habitat for snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in Ladakh, India]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59febcd5eed0c484135369

The snow leopard Panthera uncia is an elusive species inhabiting some of the most remote and inaccessible tracts of Central and South Asia. It is difficult to determine its distribution and density pattern, which are crucial for developing conservation strategies. Several techniques for species detection combining camera traps with remote sensing and geographic information systems have been developed to model the habitat of such cryptic and low-density species in challenging terrains. Utilising presence-only data from camera traps and direct observations, alongside six environmental variables (elevation, aspect, ruggedness, distance to water, land cover, and prey habitat suitability), we assessed snow leopard habitat suitability across Ladakh in northern India. This is the first study to model snow leopard distribution both in India and utilising direct observation data. Results suggested that elevation and ruggedness are the two most influential environmental variables for snow leopard habitat suitability, with highly suitable habitat having an elevation range of 2,800 m to 4,600 m and ruggedness of 450 m to 1,800 m. Our habitat suitability map estimated approximately 12% of Ladakh's geographical area (c. 90,000 km2) as highly suitable and 18% as medium suitability. We found that 62.5% of recorded livestock depredation along with over half of all livestock corrals (54%) and homestays (58%) occurred within highly suitable snow leopard habitat. Our habitat suitability model can be used to assist in allocation of conservation resources by targeting construction of livestock corrals to areas of high habitat suitability and promoting ecotourism programs in villages in highly suitable snow leopard habitat.

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<![CDATA[Responses of snow leopards, wolves and wild ungulates to livestock grazing in the Zorkul Strictly Protected Area, Tajikistan]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0ae479d5eed0c484589c89

Long recognized as a threat to wildlife, livestock grazing in protected areas has the potential to undermine conservation goals, via competition, habitat degradation, human-carnivore conflict and disruption of predator-prey relationships. In the Strictly Protected Area Zorkul in Tajikistan (Zorkul Reserve), grazing is commonplace despite official prohibition, with potentially detrimental effects on local fauna, in particular, snow leopard Panthera uncia, wolf Canis lupus, brown bear Ursus arctos, argali sheep Ovis ammon, Asiatic ibex Capra sibirica, and long-tailed marmot Marmota caudata. To understand the impacts of grazing and associated human pastoralism on the large mammal community in Zorkul Reserve we used data from camera traps to build models of ungulate and carnivore site use intensity, and we investigated carnivore summer diets using microscopic scat analysis. While sample sizes limited our inference for several species, we found that site use of the most common ungulate, argali, decreased with proximity to herder’s camps, indicating possible displacement into sub-optimal habitats. However, no such pattern was present in carnivore site use. For wolf and snow leopard, the most frequently encountered prey items were argali and marmot, while bear depended almost exclusively on marmot. While current pastoralist practices in the reserve may not be incompatible with wildlife presence, our findings suggest that pastoralism may negatively impact ungulates by displacing them from otherwise suitable habitats, with unknown fitness consequences for ungulates or the predators that depend upon them. Managing Zorkul Reserve and other actively grazed protected areas to meet potentially competing demands of local pastoralist communities and conservation will require careful consideration of such interactions to minimize the risk of cascading negative impacts on wildlife.

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<![CDATA[Identifying priority conservation landscapes and actions for the Critically Endangered Javan leopard in Indonesia: Conserving the last large carnivore in Java Island]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b49f0b1463d7e3adec7b97c

With the extirpation of tigers from the Indonesian island of Java in the 1980s, the endemic and Critically Endangered Javan leopard is the island’s last remaining large carnivore. Yet despite this, it has received little conservation attention and its population status and distribution remains poorly known. Using Maxent modeling, we predicted the locations of suitable leopard landscapes throughout the island of Java based on 228 verified Javan leopard samples and as a function of seven environmental variables. The identified landscapes covered over 1 million hectares, representing less than 9% of the island. Direct evidence of Javan leopard was confirmed from 22 of the 29 identified landscapes and included all national parks, which our analysis revealed as the single most important land type. Our study also emphasized the importance of maintaining connectivity between protected areas and human-modified landscapes because adjacent production forests and secondary forests were found to provide vital extensions for several Javan leopard subpopulations. Our predictive map greatly improves those previously produced by the Government of Indonesia’s Javan Leopard Action Plan and the IUCN global leopard distribution assessment. It shares only a 32% overlap with the IUCN range predictions, adds six new priority landscapes, all with confirmed presence of Javan leopard, and reveals an island-wide leopard population that occurs in several highly fragmented landscapes, which are far more isolated than previously thought. Our study provides reliable information on where conservation efforts must be prioritized both inside and outside of the protected area network to safeguard Java’s last remaining large carnivore.

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<![CDATA[Impact of Six Years Community Directed Treatment with Ivermectin in the Control of Onchocerciasis, Western Ethiopia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f6ab0ee8fa60b7015f

Background

The African Program for Onchocerciais Control (APOC) with a main strategy of community directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) was established with the aim of eliminating Onchocerciasis as a disease of public health and socio-economic importance. The study area was a hyper endemic area just before the implementation of CDTI. It has been implemented for six years in this district but yet not been evaluated. So, the objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of six years CDTI on parasitological and clinical indices of Onchocerciasis

Methods

This study employed a pre-post impact evaluation design. The minimum sample size for this study was 1318; the respondents were selected by multi-stage sampling technique. Data on socio-demographic characteristics using a semi-structured questionnaire, clinical examination for skin signs and symptoms of Onchocerciasis and two bloodless skin snips from each side of the gluteal fold were taken from the entire study participants. SPSS version 16.0 and Medcalc version 12.2.1.0 were used for analysis.

Result

The microfilaridermia reduced from the pre-intervention value of 74.8% to 40.7%, indicating a 45.6% reduction, mean intensity from 32.1(SD = 61.5) mf/mg skin snip to 18.7(SD = 28.7)indicating 41.75% reduction, CMFL from 19.6 mf/mg skin snip to 4.7 indicating 76% reduction. The result also showed that microfilaridermia and mean intensity decreased as the number of treatment taken increased. Pruritis, leopard skin, onchocercomata and hanging groin reduced by 54.4%, 61.3%, 77.7% and 88.5% respectively.

Conclusions

The implementation of CDTI significantly reduced the parasitological and clinical indices of Onchocerciasis, so, efforts should be made to improve the annual treatment coverage and sustainability of CDTI to drastically reduce the micro filarial load to the level the disease would no longer be a public health problem.

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<![CDATA[Leopard in a tea-cup: A study of leopard habitat-use and human-leopard interactions in north-eastern India]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5aab0ee8fa60bdf708

There is increasing evidence of the importance of multi-use landscapes for the conservation of large carnivores. However, when carnivore ranges overlap with high density of humans, there are often serious conservation challenges. This is especially true in countries like India where loss of peoples’ lives and property to large wildlife are not uncommon. The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a large felid that is widespread in India, often sharing landscapes with high human densities. In order to understand the ecology of leopards in a human use landscape and the nature of human-leopard interactions, we studied (i) the spatial and temporal distribution and the characteristics of leopard attacks on people, (ii) the spatial variability in the pattern of habitat use by the leopard, and (iii) the spatial relationship between attack locations and habitat use by leopards. The study site, located in northern West Bengal, India, is a densely populated mixed-use landscape of 630 km2, comprising of forests, tea plantations, agriculture fields, and human settlements. A total of 171 leopard attacks on humans were reported between January 2009 and March 2016, most of which occurred within the tea-gardens. None of the attacks was fatal. We found significant spatial clustering of locations of leopard attacks on humans. However, most of the attacks were restricted to certain tea estates and occurred mostly between January and May. Analysis of habitat use by leopards showed that the probability of use of areas with more ground vegetation cover was high while that of areas with high density of buildings was low. However, locations of leopard attacks on people did not coincide with areas that showed a higher probability of use by leopards. This indicates that an increased use of an area by leopards, by itself, does not necessarily imply an increase in attacks on people. The spatial and temporal clustering of attack locations allowed us to use this information to prioritize areas to focus mitigation activities in order reduce negative encounters between people and leopards in this landscape which has had a long history of conflict.

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<![CDATA[Scent Lure Effect on Camera-Trap Based Leopard Density Estimates]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da64ab0ee8fa60b919e0

Density estimates for large carnivores derived from camera surveys often have wide confidence intervals due to low detection rates. Such estimates are of limited value to authorities, which require precise population estimates to inform conservation strategies. Using lures can potentially increase detection, improving the precision of estimates. However, by altering the spatio-temporal patterning of individuals across the camera array, lures may violate closure, a fundamental assumption of capture-recapture. Here, we test the effect of scent lures on the precision and veracity of density estimates derived from camera-trap surveys of a protected African leopard population. We undertook two surveys (a ‘control’ and ‘treatment’ survey) on Phinda Game Reserve, South Africa. Survey design remained consistent except a scent lure was applied at camera-trap stations during the treatment survey. Lures did not affect the maximum movement distances (p = 0.96) or temporal activity of female (p = 0.12) or male leopards (p = 0.79), and the assumption of geographic closure was met for both surveys (p >0.05). The numbers of photographic captures were also similar for control and treatment surveys (p = 0.90). Accordingly, density estimates were comparable between surveys (although estimates derived using non-spatial methods (7.28–9.28 leopards/100km2) were considerably higher than estimates from spatially-explicit methods (3.40–3.65 leopards/100km2). The precision of estimates from the control and treatment surveys, were also comparable and this applied to both non-spatial and spatial methods of estimation. Our findings suggest that at least in the context of leopard research in productive habitats, the use of lures is not warranted.

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<![CDATA[Effects of Ambient Environmental Factors on the Stereotypic Behaviors of Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdce1d

Stereotypies are commonly observed in zoo animals, and it is necessary to better understand whether ambient environmental factors contribute to stereotypy and how to affect animal welfare in zoo settings. This study investigated the relationships between stereotypic behaviors and environmental factors including ambient temperatures, humidity, light intensity, sound intensity and number of visitors. Seven giant pandas were observed in three indoor enclosures and three outdoor enclosures. Environmental factors were measured for both indoor and outdoor enclosures and the effect they had on stereotypical behaviors was investigated. Our research found that light intensity significantly correlated with all stereotypies behaviors. Higher environmental temperature reduced the duration of pacing but increased the frequency of pacing, the duration and frequency of door-directed, meanwhile the duration of head-toss. However, we found no noticeable effect of humidity on stereotypic behaviors except for the frequency of head-toss. We also found that sound intensity was not correlated with stereotypies. Finally, the growth of visitors was negatively associated with the duration of door-directed. These results demonstrated that various environmental factors can have significant effects on stereotypic behaviors causing the expression of various stereotypies. Thus, stereotypies in zoo animals may not simply represent suboptimal welfare, but rather might be adopted as a means of coping with an aversive environment.

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<![CDATA[Effects of Hand-Rearing on Reproductive Success in Captive Large Cats Panthera tigris altaica, Uncia uncia, Acinonyx jubatus and Neofelis nebulosa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae6ab0ee8fa60bbdb3e

Species Survival Plans and European Endangered Species Programmes have been developed for several species of endangered felids in order to build up captive reserve populations and support their conservation in the wild. The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), snow leopard (Uncia uncia), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) are managed in such ex situ conservation programmes. Many zoological institutions hand-rear offspring if rearing by the mother fails. Hand-rearing can cause behavioural problems, resulting in decreased copulation and lower breeding success in some species. In this study, studbook data subsets were examined: from 1901 to 2011; and 2000 to 2011. We analysed records from 4273 Siberian tigers, 2045 snow leopards, 3435 cheetahs, and 804 clouded leopards. We assessed the number of offspring produced, litter size, age at first reproduction, longevity, infant mortality and generational rearing of hand-reared versus parent-reared individuals. Hand-reared Siberian tigers (p<0.01; p = 0.0113), snow leopards (p<0.01), male cheetahs (p<0.01) and female clouded leopards (p<0.01) produced fewer offspring than parent-reared individuals. Hand-reared snow leopard breeding pairs had larger litters than parent-reared pairs (p = 0.0404). Hand-reared snow leopard females reproduced later in life (p<0.01). Hand-reared female Siberian tigers lived shorter lives, while hand-reared cheetahs lived longer (p<0.01; p = 0.0107). Infant mortality was higher in hand-reared snow leopards (p<0.01) and male cheetahs (p = 0.0395) in the 1901–2011 dataset and lower in hand-reared female Siberian tiger and male snow leopard cubs (p = 0.0404; p = 0.0349) in the 2000–2011 dataset. The rearing of the mother and subsequent rearing of offspring showed a significant relationship for all species (p<0.01 for Siberian tiger and snow leopard cubs; p<0.001 for cheetah and snow leopard cubs). Taking into account the limited carrying capacity of zoos, the results of this study highlight that careful consideration should be taken when deciding whether or not to hand-rear individuals that are part of Species Survival Plans and European Endangered Species Programmes.

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<![CDATA[Human Perceptions Mirror Realities of Carnivore Attack Risk for Livestock: Implications for Mitigating Human-Carnivore Conflict]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da4dab0ee8fa60b8d388

Human-carnivore conflict is challenging to quantify because it is shaped by both the realities and people’s perceptions of carnivore threats. Whether perceptions align with realities can have implications for conflict mitigation: misalignments can lead to heightened and indiscriminant persecution of carnivores whereas alignments can offer deeper insights into human-carnivore interactions. We applied a landscape-scale spatial analysis of livestock killed by tigers and leopards in India to model and map observed attack risk, and surveyed owners of livestock killed by tigers and leopards for their rankings of threats across habitats to map perceived attack risk. Observed tiger risk to livestock was greatest near dense forests and at moderate distances from human activity while leopard risk was greatest near open vegetation. People accurately perceived spatial differences between tiger and leopard hunting patterns, expected greater threat in areas with high values of observed risk for both carnivores. Owners’ perception of threats largely did not depend on environmental conditions surrounding their village (spatial location, dominant land-use or observed carnivore risk). Surveys revealed that owners who previously lost livestock to carnivores used more livestock protection methods than those who had no prior losses, and that owners who had recently lost livestock for the first time expressed greater interest in changing their protection methods than those who experienced prior losses. Our findings suggest that in systems where realities and perceptions of carnivore risk align, conservation programs and policies can optimize conservation outcomes by (1) improving the effectiveness of livestock protection methods and (2) working with owners who have recently lost livestock and are most willing to invest effort in adapting protection strategies to mitigate human-carnivore conflict.

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<![CDATA[Local structure preserving sparse coding for infrared target recognition]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbfbf

Sparse coding performs well in image classification. However, robust target recognition requires a lot of comprehensive template images and the sparse learning process is complex. We incorporate sparsity into a template matching concept to construct a local sparse structure matching (LSSM) model for general infrared target recognition. A local structure preserving sparse coding (LSPSc) formulation is proposed to simultaneously preserve the local sparse and structural information of objects. By adding a spatial local structure constraint into the classical sparse coding algorithm, LSPSc can improve the stability of sparse representation for targets and inhibit background interference in infrared images. Furthermore, a kernel LSPSc (K-LSPSc) formulation is proposed, which extends LSPSc to the kernel space to weaken the influence of the linear structure constraint in nonlinear natural data. Because of the anti-interference and fault-tolerant capabilities, both LSPSc- and K-LSPSc-based LSSM can implement target identification based on a simple template set, which just needs several images containing enough local sparse structures to learn a sufficient sparse structure dictionary of a target class. Specifically, this LSSM approach has stable performance in the target detection with scene, shape and occlusions variations. High performance is demonstrated on several datasets, indicating robust infrared target recognition in diverse environments and imaging conditions.

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<![CDATA[Lions as Bone Accumulators? Paleontological and Ecological Implications of a Modern Bone Assemblage from Olduvai Gorge]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db38ab0ee8fa60bd3d3e

Analytic models have been developed to reconstruct early hominin behaviour, especially their subsistence patterns, revealed mainly through taphonomic analyses of archaeofaunal assemblages. Taphonomic research is used to discern which agents (carnivores, humans or both) generate the bone assemblages recovered at archaeological sites. Taphonomic frameworks developed during the last decades show that the only large-sized carnivores in African biomes able to create bone assemblages are leopards and hyenas. A carnivore-made bone assemblage located in the short-grassland ecological unit of the Serengeti (within Olduvai Gorge) was studied. Taphonomic analyses of this assemblage including skeletal part representation, bone density, breakage patterns and anatomical distribution of tooth marks, along with an ecological approach to the prey selection made by large carnivores of the Serengeti, were carried out. The results show that this bone assemblage may be the first lion-accumulated assemblage documented, although other carnivores (namely spotted hyenas) may have also intervened through postdepositional ravaging. This first faunal assemblage potentially created by lions constitutes a new framework for neotaphonomic studies. Since lions may accumulate carcasses under exceptional circumstances, such as those documented at the site reported here, this finding may have important consequences for interpretations of early archaeological and paleontological sites, which provide key information about human evolution.

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<![CDATA[Assessing the Role of Livestock in Big Cat Prey Choice Using Spatiotemporal Availability Patterns]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dabeab0ee8fa60bafda3

Livestock is represented in big cat diets throughout the world. Husbandry approaches aim to reduce depredation, which may influence patterns of prey choice, but whether felids have a preference for livestock or not often remains unclear as most studies ignore livestock availability. We assessed prey choice of the endangered Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in Golestan National Park, Iran, where conflict over livestock depredation occurs. We analyzed leopard diet (77 scats) and assessed wild and domestic prey abundance by line transect sampling (186 km), camera-trapping (2777 camera days), double-observer point-counts (64 scans) and questionnaire surveys (136 respondents). Based on interviews with 18 shepherds, we estimated monthly grazing time outside six villages with 96 conflict cases to obtain a small livestock (domestic sheep and goat) availability coefficient. Using this coefficient, which ranged between 0.40 and 0.63 for different villages, we estimated the numbers of sheep and goats available to leopard depredation. Leopard diet consisted mainly of wild boar (Sus scrofa) (50.2% biomass consumed), but bezoar goat (Capra aegagrus) was the most preferred prey species (Ij = 0.73), whereas sheep and goats were avoided (Ij = -0.54). When absolute sheep and goat numbers (~11250) were used instead of the corrected ones (~6392), avoidance of small livestock appeared to be even stronger (Ij = -0.71). We suggest that future assessments of livestock choice by felids should incorporate such case-specific corrections for spatiotemporal patterns of availability, which may vary with husbandry methods. Such an approach increases our understanding of human-felid conflict dynamics and the role of livestock in felid diets.

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<![CDATA[Patterns of Snow Leopard Site Use in an Increasingly Human-Dominated Landscape]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da61ab0ee8fa60b90ff6

Human population growth and concomitant increases in demand for natural resources pose threats to many wildlife populations. The landscapes used by the endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and their prey is increasingly subject to major changes in land use. We aimed to assess the influence of 1) key human activities, as indicated by the presence of mining and livestock herding, and 2) the presence of a key prey species, the blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), on probability of snow leopard site use across the landscape. In Gansu Province, China, we conducted sign surveys in 49 grid cells, each of 16 km2 in size, within a larger area of 3392 km2. We analysed the data using likelihood-based habitat occupancy models that explicitly account for imperfect detection and spatial auto-correlation between survey transect segments. The model-averaged estimate of snow leopard occupancy was high [0.75 (SE 0.10)], but only marginally higher than the naïve estimate (0.67). Snow leopard segment-level probability of detection, given occupancy on a 500 m spatial replicate, was also high [0.68 (SE 0.08)]. Prey presence was the main determinant of snow leopard site use, while human disturbances, in the form of mining and herding, had low predictive power. These findings suggest that snow leopards continue to use areas very close to such disturbances, as long as there is sufficient prey. Improved knowledge about the effect of human activity on large carnivores, which require large areas and intact prey populations, is urgently needed for conservation planning at the local and global levels. We highlight a number of methodological considerations that should guide the design of such research.

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<![CDATA[Prevalence and determinants of stereotypic behaviours and physiological stress among tigers and leopards in Indian zoos]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc817

India’s charismatic wildlife species are facing immense pressure from anthropogenic-induced environmental perturbations. Zoos play a major role in the conservation of threatened species, but their adaptation in captivity is posing a major challenge globally. Stress from inadequate adaptation could lead to suppression of cognitive functioning and increased display of stereotypic behaviour. It is thus necessary to measure biological traits like behaviour, stress physiology, and contextual factors driving the animals maintained at zoos. In this study, we assessed stereotypic behaviour and stress physiology employing standard behaviour scoring, non-invasive stress monitoring, and their contextual drivers in a sub-population of two large felid species managed in six Indian zoos. The prevalence and intensity of stereotypic behaviours and levels of faecal corticosterone metabolites (FCM) were ascertained among 41 Royal Bengal tigers Panthera tigris tigris and 21 Indian leopards Panthera pardus fusca between April 2014 and March 2015. Behavioural observations showed that tigers spent more time stereotyping (12%) than leopards (7%) during daylight hours. Stress levels assessed using FCM revealed that tigers (23.6 ± 1.62 ng/g) had marginally lower level of corticosterone metabolites than leopards (27.2 ±1.36 ng/g). Stereotypic behaviour increased significantly with FCM level when the effect of heath status was controlled in tigers, and the effects tree cover, stone, den and keeper attitude controlled in leopards. Comparison of stereotypes of tigers with various biological and environmental factors using binary logistic regression revealed that stereotypic prevalence decreased with increased enclosure size, and enclosure enrichments like presence of pools and stones, when managed socially with conspecifics, and with positive keeper attitude, these factors accounting for 43% of variations in stereotypic prevalence among tigers. Stereotype among leopards was significantly absent when associated with increased tree cover and presence of pool, and den in the enclosure, age and among zoo-born than wild-born ones. These factors explain 81% of variations in stereotypic prevalence in them. A comparison of FCM levels with context-dependent factors revealed that stress levels among tigers decreased significantly with enclosure size and with individuals from nil to low, and severity of health issues. These factors explain 64% of variations in FCM levels. In leopards, the presence of stones in the enclosure and keepers with positive attitude resulted in significant decrease in FCM levels, these factors together accounting for 94% of variations. Multiple regressions on selected variables based on Factor Analysis of Mixed Data showed that in tigers the intensity of stereotype decreased significantly with enclosure size, sociality and positive keeper attitude and FCM level with health problems. Similarly, analyses in leopards revealed that intensity of stereotype decreased significantly with tree cover, age and FCM level with positive keeper attitude. Overall, our study suggests that to reduce stereotypes and stress level, tigers in captivity should be managed in larger enclosures enriched with pool, and stones, and in appropriate social conditions with adequate veterinary care. Leopards should be managed in enclosures with dense tree cover, pool, stones and den. Positive keeper attitude plays a crucial role in the welfare of both the species in captivity. Our study is promising and is comparable with their natural behaviour in the wild; for example, tigers require larger natural habitats, while leopards can manage even with smaller isolated patches but with dense vegetation cover.

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<![CDATA[Earliest “Domestic” Cats in China Identified as Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dabcab0ee8fa60baf248

The ancestor of all modern domestic cats is the wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica, with archaeological evidence indicating it was domesticated as early as 10,000 years ago in South-West Asia. A recent study, however, claims that cat domestication also occurred in China some 5,000 years ago and involved the same wildcat ancestor (F. silvestris). The application of geometric morphometric analyses to ancient small felid bones from China dating between 5,500 to 4,900 BP, instead reveal these and other remains to be that of the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). These data clearly indicate that the origins of a human-cat ‘domestic’ relationship in Neolithic China began independently from South-West Asia and involved a different wild felid species altogether. The leopard cat’s ‘domestic’ status, however, appears to have been short-lived—its apparent subsequent replacement shown by the fact that today all domestic cats in China are genetically related to F. silvestris.

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<![CDATA[Contemporary Drought and Future Effects of Climate Change on the Endangered Blunt-Nosed Leopard Lizard, Gambelia sila]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db43ab0ee8fa60bd79b3

Extreme weather events can provide unique opportunities for testing models that predict the effect of climate change. Droughts of increasing severity have been predicted under numerous models, thus contemporary droughts may allow us to test these models prior to the onset of the more extreme effects predicted with a changing climate. In the third year of an ongoing severe drought, surveys failed to detect neonate endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizards in a subset of previously surveyed populations where we expected to see them. By conducting surveys at a large number of sites across the range of the species over a short time span, we were able to establish a strong positive correlation between winter precipitation and the presence of neonate leopard lizards over geographic space. Our results are consistent with those of numerous longitudinal studies and are in accordance with predictive climate change models. We suggest that scientists can take immediate advantage of droughts while they are still in progress to test patterns of occurrence in other drought-sensitive species and thus provide for more robust models of climate change effects on biodiversity.

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<![CDATA[Spatial Co-Occurrence and Activity Patterns of Mesocarnivores in the Temperate Forests of Southwest China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dad5ab0ee8fa60bb7878

Understanding the interactions between species and their coexistence mechanisms will help explain biodiversity maintenance and enable managers to make sound conservation decisions. Mesocarnivores are abundant and diverse mid-sized carnivores and can have profound impacts on the function, structure and dynamics of ecosystem after the extirpation of apex predators in many ecosystems. The moist temperate forests of Southwest China harbor a diverse community of mesocarnivores in the absence of apex predators. Sympatric species tend to partition limited resources along time, diet and space to facilitate coexistence. We determined the spatial and temporal patterns for five species of mesocarnivores. We used detection histories from a large camera-trap dataset collected from 2004–2015 with an extensive effort of 23,313 camera-days from 495 camera locations. The five mesocarnivore species included masked palm civet Paguma larvata, leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis, hog badger Arctonyx collaris, yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula, and Siberian weasel Mustela sibirica. Only the masked palm civet and hog badger tended to avoid each other; while for other pairs of species, they occurred independently of each other, or no clear pattern observed. With regard to seasonal activity, yellow-throated marten was most active in winter, opposite the pattern observed for masked palm civet, leopard cat and hog badger. For diel activity, masked palm civet, leopard cat and hog badger were primarily nocturnal and crepuscular; yellow-throated marten was diurnal, and Siberian weasel had no clear pattern for most of the year (March to November), but was nocturnal in the winter (December to February). The seasonal shift of the Siberian weasel may be due to the high diet overlap among species in winter. Our results provided new facts and insights into this unique community of mesocarnivores of southwest China, and will facilitate future studies on the mechanism determining coexistence of animal species within complex system.

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<![CDATA[Human-Wildlife Conflicts in Nepal: Patterns of Human Fatalities and Injuries Caused by Large Mammals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dabdab0ee8fa60baf64b

Injury and death from wildlife attacks often result in people feeling violent resentment and hostility against the wildlife involved and, therefore, may undermine public support for conservation. Although Nepal, with rich biodiversity, is doing well in its conservation efforts, human-wildlife conflicts have been a major challenge in recent years. The lack of detailed information on the spatial and temporal patterns of human-wildlife conflicts at the national level impedes the development of effective conflict mitigation plans. We examined patterns of human injury and death caused by large mammals using data from attack events and their spatiotemporal dimensions collected from a national survey of data available in Nepal over five years (2010–2014). Data were analyzed using logistic regression and chi-square or Fisher's exact tests. The results show that Asiatic elephants and common leopards are most commonly involved in attacks on people in terms of attack frequency and fatalities. Although one-horned rhinoceros and bears had a higher frequency of attacks than Bengal tigers, tigers caused more fatalities than each of these two species. Attacks by elephants peaked in winter and most frequently occurred outside protected areas in human settlements. Leopard attacks occurred almost entirely outside protected areas, and a significantly greater number of attacks occurred in human settlements. Attacks by one-horned rhinoceros and tigers were higher in the winter, mainly in forests inside protected areas; similarly, attacks by bears occurred mostly within protected areas. We found that human settlements are increasingly becoming conflict hotspots, with burgeoning incidents involving elephants and leopards. We conclude that species-specific conservation strategies are urgently needed, particularly for leopards and elephants. The implications of our findings for minimizing conflicts and conserving these imperiled species are discussed.

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<![CDATA[Mapping black panthers: Macroecological modeling of melanism in leopards (Panthera pardus)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db51ab0ee8fa60bdc246

The geographic distribution and habitat association of most mammalian polymorphic phenotypes are still poorly known, hampering assessments of their adaptive significance. Even in the case of the black panther, an iconic melanistic variant of the leopard (Panthera pardus), no map exists describing its distribution. We constructed a large database of verified records sampled across the species’ range, and used it to map the geographic occurrence of melanism. We then estimated the potential distribution of melanistic and non-melanistic leopards using niche-modeling algorithms. The overall frequency of melanism was ca. 11%, with a significantly non-random spatial distribution. Distinct habitat types presented significantly different frequencies of melanism, which increased in Asian moist forests and approached zero across most open/dry biomes. Niche modeling indicated that the potential distributions of the two phenotypes were distinct, with significant differences in habitat suitability and rejection of niche equivalency between them. We conclude that melanism in leopards is strongly affected by natural selection, likely driven by efficacy of camouflage and/or thermoregulation in different habitats, along with an effect of moisture that goes beyond its influence on vegetation type. Our results support classical hypotheses of adaptive coloration in animals (e.g. Gloger’s rule), and open up new avenues for in-depth evolutionary analyses of melanism in mammals.

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