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Wild prey base is a potential regulatory parameter that supports successful propagation and secured long term survival of large predators in their natural habitats. Therefore, low wild prey availability with higher available livestock in or around forest areas often catalyzes livestock depredation by predators that eventually leads to adverse situations to conservation initiatives. Thus understanding the diet ecology of large predators is significant for their conservation in the areas with low prey base. The present study reports the diet ecology of tiger and leopard in Udanti Sitanadi Tiger Reserve and Bhoramdeo Wildlife Sanctuary, in central India to know the effect of wild prey availability on prey predator relationship. We walked line transects to estimate prey abundance in the study areas where we found langur and rhesus macaque to be the most abundant species. Scat analysis showed that despite the scarcity of large and medium ungulates, tiger used wild ungulates including chital and wild pig along with high livestock utilization (39%). Leopards highly used langur (43â€“50 %) as a prime prey species but were observed to exploit livestock as prey (7â€“9 %) in both the study areas. Scarcity of wild ungulates and continuous livestock predation by tiger and leopard eventually indicated that the study areas were unable to sustain healthy large predator populations. Developing some strong protection framework and careful implementation of the ungulate augmentation can bring a fruitful result to hold viable populations of tiger and leopard and secure their long term survival in the present study areas in central India, Chhattisgarh.
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