Estimation of population trend of Lesser Cats through Camera Trap method in Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal

Second phase of Estimation of Lesser Cat Population trends in Buxa Tiger Reserve at North Bengal was conducted through Camera trap method by a team of Nature Environment & Wildlife Society from 5th January till 12 April, 2015. West Bengal Forest Department was also an associate in implementing the project.

The aim of the project was to ascertain the occurrence and densities of the lesser cats, viz., clouded leopard, marbled cat, leopard cat, fishing cat and jungle cat in Buxa Tiger Reserve. The study intended to find out their population trend through camera trapping methodology.

Funded By: Corporate sector
Project Duration: 2015 (1 year)

To assess abundance of four sympatric lesser wild cats in BTR,

To identify spatial distribution of the four sympatric lesser wild cats in BTR through camera trap and

To propose area specific conservation measures for management of BTR.

A total 39 snaps of leopard cat were captured from BTR (31 photos from the first block of Jayanti and Gadadhar ranges and 8 photos from the second block of RVK and Buxaduar ranges).

Lesser cat population was estimated using Program Presence 3.1 following the Royle-Nichols single season heterogeneity model. Distribution map of Lesser cat created using ArcGIS 9.3 software (ESRI, 2008). Species relative abundance or distribution map was developed in the effective trapping area (ETA) or intensive study area (ISA). Distribution map was created with three basic classes, viz., low, medium and high relative abundance and also three buffer layers (500m, 1000m and 2000m buffers) were prepared within the estimated areas at BTR. This helped in understanding the patterns of spatial distribution or ranges of leopard cat relative abundance.

During the field survey, a meager population of Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) was photo captured along with other local wildlife such as Elephant, Leopard, Wild bore, Honey badger, Civet cat, Gaur, Sambar, Barking deer, Chital and Monitor lizard in maximum numbers at four ranges namely Jainti, Gadadhar, Rajabhatkhawa and Buxa duar. Only in one occasion, a Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) and Himalayan Serow (Capricornis thar) was photo captured in the camera trap that indicates the presence of these animals in the crucial habitat of BTR. Cattle grazing and human pressure were found in high intensity in Buxa Tiger Reserve.