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Wednesday, April 11 • 4:00pm - 4:15pm
HABITAT FRAGMENTATION/CONNECTIVITY: A Landscape of Hope and Fear: The Future of Tigers in Eastern Vidarbha, Maharashtra, India

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AUTHORS: Indranil Mondal*, Pallavi Ghaskadbi, Zehidul Hussain, Gautam Talukdar, Parag Nigam, Bilal Habib – Wildlife Institute of India

ABSTRACT: The Eastern Vidarbha Landscape (EVL) is located in the centre of India. It has a human population of 11 million people, but at the same time, it has a tiger population of 150-200 individuals in forests that cover 45% of its total geographical area. Forests outside protected (PAs) areas are very fragmented and under continuous anthropogenic pressure. EVL has a very prominent human-wildlife interface, and a high number of conflict cases are reported every year, where losses are suffered by both humans and wildlife. Nonetheless, EVL, consisting of 6 protected areas, forms a pivotal role in connecting the Central Indian tiger populations. It harbours a large number of tigers even outside PAs and gives us a unique opportunity to study them in a human-dominated environment.We used data on tiger presence from outside PAs and habitat variables to model corridors (9,370 sq. km.) and 9 pinch-points using Circuit Theory. These corridors were validated (76% accurate) using tracking data from 5 dispersing radio-collared tigers. We used the data from radio-collars to study the time spent by the dispersing tigers using a Linear Time Density Function and identified pockets in the corridors where they were spending a considerable amount of time. Based on the habitat characteristics of these pockets we extrapolated the results to all corridor areas in entire landscape, to identify areas for prioritized conservation action. Several tiger mortalities are reported from EVL due to electrocution of individuals at illegally electrified guard fences around agricultural fields. Therefore we modelled the electrocution potential for the entire landscape and identified 121 and 1184 villages in Very High Risk and High-Risk categories respectively, to help managers tackle the issue. In the end, we propose a model of triage to raise funds from unconventional sources to aid corridor conservation in penny-scarce scenarios.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 4:00pm - 4:15pm CDT
Hancock Parlor