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Indian leopards change the menu: fish started watchdogs

Landscape in the Indian state of Maharashtra is widely used agriculturally. But when night comes, include leopards. According to the Society for Nature Conservation (Wildlife Conservation Society, WCS), the local population of spotted leopards on the hunt switched to a representative of breeding and pets. Surprisingly, the most common prey to stray and become watchdogs.

The research, which in ahmednagarském region of Maharashtra conducted WCS team confirmed that the abundance of spotted leopards (Panthera pardus) due to strict protective measures gradually rises. The researchers also found that the beast who returned from reserves back into the agricultural landscape, changed their food preferences. They choose now more readily available prey from a variety of domesticated animals, which may trigger negative reactions of local residents.

"One of the main findings of our study is that the economic impact of predation on breeding animals leopards are smaller than expected,"
says zoologist Vidya Athreya. "This reduces the potential risk of conflicts between people and leopards. Of course that is outlined further axis of potential conflicts that arise simply from the fact that people are not comfortable that close to their residences ranging leopards that hunt their favorite pets. "

The shift in prey selection illustrates the analysis of the collected feces leopards. Just because 87% of the samples contained residues of domestic animals. Domestic cats accounted for around 15% of the food composition of large carnivores, dogs and just 39%. Only 17% of the samples in each bore traces diets composed of different traditional prey leopards, a variety of small rodents, promykovitých cats, monkeys and birds.

Although livestock in the region far the most numerous, constitute the researchers only a relatively small portion of food. For example, domestic goats are sparse landscape of Maharashtra approximately seven times larger than domestic and stray dogs, yet make up only 11% of the diet of large leopard spotted. "It is due to the fact that most of the goats is being closed at night into the pen, and not leopards available, "said the researchers." This is not true for dogs who can move all along freely. "

It is of course true that leopards do not try to catch and pull down a cow, pig or sheep. I happens, but together they form the livestock less than one fifth of proportion. "Over the last two to three decades, the situation with the protection of leopards in India has changed a lot," says Karanth ullasat, co-author of the study. "WCS has done a solid job in raising awareness the importance of protecting the big cats, and a lot has been done to increase the tolerance towards people leopards. precisely, our study helps to reduce potential human-feral conflicts. fact that the abundance of leopards has increased enough to survive outside the reservation, is good news. "

Author: Radomir Dohnal

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