Habitat accessibility and snares impact large cats and their prey in Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park, China


Snares have become a widespread hunting technique, with their indiscriminate nature jeopardizing terrestrial large carnivores. The lack of reliable data on snare distribution hampers an accurate evaluation of the potential risk. Continuous winter SMART (the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) patrols have operated in the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) and Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) ranges in northeast China from 2013 to 2020 to record wildlife occurrences and remove snares. Our research aimed to assess the threat snares pose in the Amur tiger range and whether snare removal benefited roe deer (Capreolus pygargus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) recovery. We modeled the spatial distribution of Amur tigers, Amur leopards, and prey species, comparing their distributions before and after anti-poaching measures. We also assessed the overlap between Amur tigers, Amur leopards, and snare locations. Additionally, we used the MaxEnt model to predict snare distribution, and then we analyzed the overlap of snares with species at different periods between 2013 and 2015 and 2018–2020. Our results showed that the probability of occurrence of ungulates increased significantly around roads after snares were removed. Furthermore, we found that Amur tigers and Amur leopards distribution overlapped with snare locations suggesting that snares pose a serious risk to these non-target species. The overlap between snares and species has the same trend as the growth of species distribution, and the least significant increase is in DHZ-XNC. Removing snares not only aids target game species but also protects sympatric large carnivore

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