fbpx

Ranging, Activity and Habitat Use by Tigers in the Mangrove Forests of the Sundarban

By 6th April 2016 April 19th, 2018 Conservation Papers

Abstract

The Sundarban of India and Bangladesh (about 6000 km²) are the only mangrove forests inhabited by a sizeable population of tigers. The adjoining area also supports one of the highest human densities and experiences severe human-tiger conflicts. We used GPS-Satellite and VHF radio-collars on 6 (3 males and 3 female) tigers to study their ranging patterns and habitat preference. The average home range (95% Fixed Kernel) for resident females was 56.4 (SE 5.69) and for males it was 110 (SE 49) km². Tigers crossed an average of 5 water channels > 30 meters per day with a mean width of 54 meters, whereas channels larger than 400 meters were rarely crossed. Tigers spent over 58% of their time within Phoenix habitat but compositional analysis showed a habitat preference of the order Avicennia-Sonneratia > Phoenix > Ceriops > Barren > Water. Average daily distance moved was 4.6 km (range 0.1–23). Activity of tigers peaked between 05:00 hours and 10:00 hours showing some overlap with human activity. Territory boundaries were demarcated by large channels which tigers intensively patrolled. Extra caution should be taken while fishing or honey collection during early morning in Avicennia-Sonneratia and Phoenix habitat types along wide channels to reduce human-tiger conflict. Considering home-range core areas as exclusive, tiger density was estimated at 4.6 (SE range 3.6 to 6.7) tigers/100 km2 giving a total population of 76 (SE range 59–110) tigers in the Indian Sundarban. Reluctance of tigers to cross wide water channels combined with increasing commercial boat traffic and sea level rise due to climate change pose a real threat of fragmenting the Sundarban tiger population.

Naha D, Jhala YV, Qureshi Q, Roy M, Sankar K, Gopal R (2016) Ranging, Activity and Habitat Use by Tigers in the Mangrove Forests of the Sundarban. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0152119. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152119