Distribution, Abundance and Occupancy of Gaur (Bos gaurus Smith) in the Royal Manas National Park, BhutanZangmo, Pelden .; Gurung, Dhan.B; Letro, Letro .; Wangmo, Singye .;
The Gaur, Bosgaurus Smith, plays an important role in the pyramidal food chain – being an important prey for large carnivores such as tiger, common leopard, and Asiatic wild dog. Presence of Gaur in an area indicates wild and healthy ecosystem. Reduction of global distribution of Gaur by over 80% in the past 100 years, scaling in the IUCN Red List of Vulnerable category shows the species is facing serious threats. The present study assessed the distribution, activity pattern, and abundance of Gaur in the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) through a single season occupancy modeling. The study was conducted through camera trap survey for a period of three months. Gaur was the second most abundant species among targeted sympatric species (RAI = 6.35) and its distribution was restricted mostly in the southern sub-tropical forest belts. The highest elevation that Gaur was recorded was 2256 m asl. The mean detection probability of Gaur in RMNP was 33 % ± 0.04 (0.25-0.47) and naive occupancy rate was 51.5%. The estimated Gaur occupancy with inclusion of imperfect detection showed 62.4% ± 0.15 (0.296-0.864) of 659.6 km2 of RMNP area occupied. Core zone in RMNP was observed as most preferred habitat as Gaur tended to avoid human disturbances. Distance to saltlick and settlement was the most significant habitat parameter for Gaur’s existence. Evidences of poaching inside the park call for reinforcing Spatial Monitoring Assessment and Reporting Tool (SMART) in patrolling and management of Gaur conservation in RMNP.
KeywordsBhutan, Gaur, habitat, occupancy modeling, predators, prey, saltlicks, waterholes
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