The Effects of Land Use Change on Carnivore Use of Wildlife Dispersal Routes in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, India

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Urban, Dean

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Ranganathan, Priya

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2017-04-27T18:16:40Z

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2017-04-27T18:16:40Z

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2017-04-27

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Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences

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As the human population increases and climate change exacerbates resource scarcity, India’s wildlife faces the increasing threat of fragmentation and habitat loss in a human-centric landscape. The wild exists in small semi-isolated pockets, connected sparsely, if at all, by wildlife corridors. Such wildlife corridors may be the last hope for charismatic megafauna such as the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). This project assesses the impacts of encroachment and land use change on the use of two wildlife dispersal (corridors) connecting Ranthambhore National Park (RNP) to other intact forest patches in the larger Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve (RTR) by the tiger and other large carnivores. The research objectives are: (1) to quantify land use and land cover change between 2011 and 2016 in RTR; (2) to assess the effects of this change on the two major wildlife dispersal corridors; and (3) to better understand how this affects land cover preference and use by tigers. Field data collection of wildlife presence and human encroachment in the two corridors was carried out during May-June 2016, and geospatial analysis was used to generate maps for WWF-India, as well as to study the changes in the landscape over the five-year period. Major threats to corridors were found to be the expansion of agricultural land, sand mining, overgrazing of forest vegetation by livestock, and urban expansion. Agricultural expansion has caused a decline in forest and ravine land cover, which are preferred by dispersing carnivores. Most threats were concentrated around the northwest corridor, making it a conservation priority. The southeast corridor is also heavily used by dispersing tigers as it is mostly characterized by ravines, a preferred habitat type; however, flattening of ravines for agricultural expansion and mining brings carnivores into proximity with humans, increasing the potential for conflict in the region. Based on these results, we recommend increased protection of the buffer zone of the northwest corridor and suggest that remaining efforts be put towards conservation education and stricter regulation of land use practices in areas surrounding corridors and intact habitat patches.

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https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14134

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connectivity

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wildlife

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land cover

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conservation

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India

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tiger or Panthera tigris

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The Effects of Land Use Change on Carnivore Use of Wildlife Dispersal Routes in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, India

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Master's project

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0

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