Prey selection and food habits of the Tiger Panthera tigris (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) in Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, southern Western Ghats, India

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Bawa Mothilal Krishnakumar
Rajarathinavelu Nagarajan
Kanagaraj Muthamizh Selvan


The Endangered Tiger Panthera tigris is the largest felid, distributed over 1.1 million km2 globally.  Conservation of Tigers largely depends on the preservation of its natural prey base and habitats.  Therefore, the availability of prey and its selection play a major role in the sustainable future of Tigers in the given landscape.  The current study assesses the prey selection patterns by Tigers in tropical evergreen forest of the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), southern Western Ghats, India.  Density of ungulates was assessed by distance sampling (line transect, N = 21) and diet composition of Tigers was evaluated by analysing their faecal samples (N = 66).  The study estimated very low ungulate density (26.87 ± 7.41 individuals km-2) with highest density of Gaur Bos gaurus (9.04 individuals km-2) followed by Wild Boar Sus scrofa (8.79 ± 2.73 individuals km-2), whereas, primate density was quite high (45.89 ± 12.48 individuals km-2), with Nilgiri Langur Semnopithecus johnii having the highest density (38.05 ± 10.22 individuals km-2).  About 74.62% of the biomass of Gaur constituted in the Tiger’s diet, consumed lesser than its availability, whereas Sambar constituted 16.73% of the Tiger diet consumed proportionally to its availability.  Chital Axis axis, Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak, and Indian Chevrotain Moschiola indica were not represented in the Tiger’s diet.  The current study is the first scientific information on prey selection of the Tiger in KMTR landscape, which will serve as a baseline for its conservation planning and management.

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