Camera-trapping survey to assess diversity, distribution and photographic capture rate of terrestrial mammals in the aftermath of the ethnopolitical conflict in Manas National Park, Assam, India

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Dipankar Lahkar
M. Firoz Ahmed
Ramie H. Begum
Sunit Kumar Das
Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar
Hiranya K. Sarma
Abishek Harihar


 Information on the presence and distribution of species is crucial for conservation planning and management within a region.  Documentation of species assemblages in Manas National Park (MNP) in the aftermath of conflict is critical for informed conservation interventions.  For nearly two decades (1990–2010), conservation efforts in MNP were compromised by ethno−political conflict.  We conducted camera trapping surveys of terrestrial mammals across three administrative forest ranges (Panbari, Bansbari and Bhuyanpara) of MNP in 2017.  A systematic survey with 118 trap locations accumulated data over 6,173 trap-days.  We obtained 21,926 photographs of mammals belonging to 13 families and 25 species, of which 13 are threatened.  We calculated photographic capture rate index (PCRI) using independent events.  Trap specific PCRI’s were used to map the spatial variation in capture rates.  We observed variation in capture rate between Bansbari-Bhuyanpara where conflict ended in 2003 and has remained peaceful, and Panbari, a forest range where conflict ended later in 2016.  Our results further indicate lower capture rates of mammalian prey species and small felids, but higher capture rates of four large carnivores in Panbari as opposed to Bansbari-Bhuyanpara.  These results highlighted the fact that despite a history of ethno-political conflict in the region, although almost all mammalian species expected to occur in the park were detected and confirmed, present evidence indicated ethno-political conflict influences the distribution of several key species.  In depth studies assessing mammalian prey densities, distribution and density are required to further understand the effects of conflict. 

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Lahkar, D., Ahmed, M.F., Begum, R.H., Das, S.K., Lahkar, B.P., Sarma, H.K. and Harihar, A. 2018. Camera-trapping survey to assess diversity, distribution and photographic capture rate of terrestrial mammals in the aftermath of the ethnopolitical conflict in Manas National Park, Assam, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 10, 8 (Jul. 2018), 12008–12017. DOI:
Author Biographies

Dipankar Lahkar, Aaranyak and Assam University (Diphu Campus)

PhD Scholar, Assam University (Diphu campus) and Manager Research, TRCD, Aaranyak

DIPANKAR LAHKAR has worked on tiger research and conservation across different landscapes in India in general and Manas National Park in particular since 2009. His prime research interest is on population ecology. Currently he is pursuing PhD on ecology of tigers and also working as a biologist at Aaranyak.

M. Firoz Ahmed, Aaranyak

Scientit F and Head, Tiger Research and Conservation Division (TRCD), Aaranyak

M Firoz Ahmed has been involved in conservation research on herpetofauna and tigers India since 1998. He has worked on herpetofauna and reported new species to science. He has lead tiger research work in Kaziranga, Orang, Manas and Namdapha National Parks and currently focuses in the Transboudary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA) tiger landscape. He currently heads the Tiger Research and Conservation Division of Aaranyak.

Ramie H. Begum, Assam University (Diphu Campus)

Asst. Professor, Dept. of Life Science and Bioinformatics, Assam University (Diphu Campus)

Ramie H Begum is a Biomedical scientist working in the field of animal disease monitoring and surveillance for more than 14 years. A DBT overseas associate and a visiting professor at University of California, USA, she currently Heads the Department of Life Science and Bioinformatics at Assam University Diphu Campus. 

Sunit Kumar Das, WWF India

Project Officer, WWF-India

SUNIT KUMAR DAS has worked in the field of wildlife conservation since 2006 in India. With the key interest of understanding human-wildlife interaction and wildlife population ecology, he is currently working as a project officer under species division of WWF-India.

Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar, Aaranyak

Scientist E and Head, Elephant Research and Conservation Division, Aaranyak

Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar has worked on grassland ecology and management in Manas National Park since 2000 and currently works as a conservation biologist with research interest on obligate grassland fauna, Asian elephant, mitigation of human wildlife conflict, invasive plant species and conservation livelihood. He is currently a scientist at Aaranyak. 

Hiranya K. Sarma, Government of Assam, Department of Forests and Environment

Field Director, Manas Tiger Reserve, Assam

Hiranya Kumar sarma is an Indian Forest Service Officer serving in the department of Forest and Environment, Assam since 1982. He is a forest manager with experience and interests in forestry, wildlife and ecology. He is also a keen wildlife photographer. Currently he is serving as the Field Director, Manas Tiger Reserve. 

Abishek Harihar, Panthera and NCF

Population Ecologist at Panthera and Adjunct Scientist at Nature Conservation Foundation-India

ABISHEK HARIHAR has worked on tiger conservation in northern India since 2003 and currently works as a tiger population ecologist, with research interests spanning population ecology, law enforcement monitoring, measuring conservation effectiveness, and conservation decision making. He is currently a population ecologist at Panthera and Adjunct Scientist at Nature Conservation Foundation-India.


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