Mineral Composition and Behaviour of Mammals at Natural Saltlicks in Jomotsangkha Wildlife Sanctuary, BhutanThinley, Jigme.; Dorji, Ugyen .; Tshering, Ugyen.; Nepal , Arjun .; Chaida, Lekey .; , Chaten.; Rai, Kiran .; Tobgay, Sonam .; Tshering, Bep .; Dorji, Tshering.; Thinley, Pema .; Rabgay, Tenzin .; Yongdrup, Pema .; Wangchuk, Yeshey .;
Natural saltlicks are used by mammal species mainly to supplement mineral deficiency playing critical role in animal ecology. There is information gap on the use of natural saltlicks by mammals in Bhutan. Nine natural saltlicks from Jomotsangkha Wildlife Sanctuary were purposively selected to fill this gap of information. The study aimed to assess mineral composition and ecological behaviour of mammals at natural saltlicks. Nine composite soil samples were randomly collected and nine camera traps were set up at nine saltlicks for a duration of 56 days from 2 January to 28 February, 2019. Data management and analysis were carried out using camerabase and R software. Potassium, phosphorus and sodium elements were found in the saltlicks. Camera traps yielded 419 independent events of 12 species under 10 families. Herbivores were most common (n = 390) and non-herbivores the least (n = 12). Wild dog was also captured licking salts (n = 1) which is least reported across the world. Mineral composition (r = 0.70, p < .05) and anthropogenic activities (r = 0.60, p < .05) were key factors affecting the visitation rate and ecological behaviour of mammal species. Disturbed saltlicks from Samdrupcholing Range revealed fewer individuals of mammals (n = 71) with disturbed ecological behaviour while undisturbed saltlicks from Jomotsangkha Range revealed higher individuals of mammals (n = 340) with undisturbed ecological behaviour. Therefore, anthropogenic activities at disturbed saltlicks call for planned monitoring.
Keywordscamera-trap, ecological behaviour, mammals, minerals, natural saltlicks
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