Pilot phase study: Estimation of population trend of Lesser Cats in Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR), West Bengal

Lesser wild cat populations are threatened throughout their extant range in India by habitat loss, conflict and wildlife trade. For BTR where the population status of the four sympatric lesser wild cats are unknown there conservation management and firm scientific planning are essential for these species before the situation reaches the point, of beyond recovery. NEWS designed the project as a pilot phase study to promote the in-situ conservation of all the lesser wild cats in the study area. West Bengal Forest Department and Zoological Survey of India were our associates in the project.

Funded By: Corporate sectors
Project Duration: 2012-2014

To assess abundance of four sympatric lesser wild cats in BTR

To identify spatial distribution of the four sympatric lesser wild cats in BTR

A survey was conducted about habitat and the occurrence of the lesser cats in Buxa Tiger Reserve among forest guards and local people living near the forest area in Jayanti, RajabhatKhawa, Bhutia Basti, Kartika, South Rydak, Santrabari, Raimatang, Panbari, Hatipota, Kumargram and Newlands.

Wild lesser cats along with several other associated species were photo captured through camera traps. Definite evidence of 17 mammalian species from 10 different families was observed from the captured photographs. Felidae contributed 5 species, cervidae 3 species, viverridae 2 species and all other families contributed one species each. Among these 17 identified species, 4 species (Dhole, fishing cat, hog deer and elephant) belonged to IUCN endangered category (EN)

For the entire trapping occasion leopard cat capture percentage was highest (83.33%) followed by fishing cat (5.56%), marbled cat (5.56%) and jungle cat (5.56%).

All species of lesser wild cats were observed active during crepuscular time and during the night.

In Kumargram range all species of lesser wild cats were photo trapped and showed the best result in comparison to Jayanti and Hatipota in terms of trapping success.

A detailed study report has also been submitted.