Leopard Panthera pardus fusca Density in the Seasonally Dry, Subtropical Forest in the Bhabhar of Terai Arc, Nepal
Thapa, Gokarna Jung
Pradhan, Narendra Man Babu
Kelly, Marcella J.
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We estimated leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) abundance and density in the Bhabhar physiographic region in Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. The camera trap grid, covering sampling area of 289 km2 with 88 locations, accumulated 1,342 trap nights in 64 days in the winter season of 2008-2009 and photographed 19 individual leopards. Using models incorporating heterogeneity, we estimated 28 (±SE 6.07) and 29.58 (±SE 10.44) leopards in Programs CAPTURE and MARK. Density estimates via 1/2 MMDM methods were 5.61 (±SE 1.30) and 5.93 (±SE 2.15) leopards per 100 km2 using abundance estimates from CAPTURE and MARK, respectively. Spatially explicit capture recapture (SECR) models resulted in lower density estimates, 3.78 (±SE 0.85) and 3.48 (±SE 0.83) leopards per 100 km2, in likelihood based program DENSITY and Bayesian based program SPACECAP, respectively. The 1/2 MMDM methods have been known to provide much higher density estimates than SECR modelling techniques. However, our SECR models resulted in high leopard density comparable to areas considered better habitat in Nepal indicating a potentially dense population compared to other sites. We provide the first density estimates for leopards in the Bhabhar and a baseline for long term population monitoring of leopards in Parsa Wildlife Reserve and across the Terai Arc.