Tigers in the terai: Strong evidence for meta-population dynamics contributing to tiger recovery and conservation in the terai arc landscape

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Abstract

The source populations of tigers are mostly confined to protected areas, which are now becoming isolated. A landscape scale conservation strategy should strive to facilitate dispersal and survival of dispersing tigers by managing habitat corridors that enable tigers to traverse the matrix with minimal conflict. We present evidence for tiger dispersal along transboundary protected areas complexes in the Terai Arc Landscape, a priority tiger landscape in Nepal and India, by comparing camera trap data, and through population models applied to the long term camera trap data sets. The former showed that 11 individual tigers used the corridors that connected the transboundary protected areas. The estimated population growth rates using the minimum observed population size in two protected areas in Nepal, Bardia National Park and Suklaphanta National Park showed that the increases were higher than expected from growth rates due to in situ reproduction alone. These lines of evidence suggests that tigers are recolonizing Nepal’s protected areas from India, after a period of population decline, and that the tiger populations in the transboundary protected areas complexes may be maintained as meta-population. Our results demonstrate the importance of adopting a landscape-scale approach to tiger conservation, especially to improve population recovery and long term population persistence.

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Thapa, K., Wikramanayake, E., Malla, S., Acharya, K. P., Lamichhane, B. R., Subedi, N., … Vattakaven, J. (2017). Tigers in the terai: Strong evidence for meta-population dynamics contributing to tiger recovery and conservation in the terai arc landscape. PLoS ONE, 12(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177548

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