Camera-traps shed light on Asiatic wild dogs range of movement

Kolkata, Feb 27 (IANS) Researchers have for the first time estimated the range of movement of Asiatic wild dogs using camera-trap surveys in the forests of the Western Ghats.

A new study led by scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-India Programme, Centre for Wildlife Studies (Bangalore), and the University of Florida, USA, was conducted in Nagarahole and Wayanad wildlife reserves in the Western Ghats India.

It was part of a long-term project on tiger population dynamics in the region, a WCS statement said on Monday.

For the first time in India, their home-range size (roughly 85 sq. km) has been estimated based on non-invasive camera-trap surveys.

From November 2014 to January 2015 (45 days), the researchers set-up and monitored camera traps which yielded incidental photographic captures of dholes.

“Unlike tigers or leopards, individual dholes cannot be uniquely identified from camera-trap photographs because they do not have pelage patterns or natural body markings,” the statement said.

Yet the experts were able to identify two individuals in a pack of five animals, based on distinct markings on their pelage, enabling them to map locations of the pack during the survey period.

The study appears in the January issue of the international journal Canid Biology and Conservation.

“Typically, radio-telemetry is used to obtain information on home-range sizes of large carnivores such as dhole. This is expensive and requires careful handling of animals. In contrast, our estimates are generated through innovative use of non-invasive and relatively inexpensive camera-trap pictures,” said Arjun Srivathsa, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at the University of Florida.

–IANS

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