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Leopard (Panthera pardus) occupancy in the Chure range of Nepal.
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  • Babu Ram Lamichhane,
  • Saneer Lamichhane,
  • Rajan Regmi,
  • Milan Dhungana,
  • Sham Thapa,
  • Anil Prasai,
  • Aashish Gurung,
  • Santosh Bhattarai,
  • Rajan Prasad Paudel,
  • Naresh Subedi
Babu Ram Lamichhane
National Trust for Nature Conservation
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Saneer Lamichhane
National Trust for Nature Conservation
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Rajan Regmi
President Chure-Terai Madhesh Conservation Development Board
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Milan Dhungana
President Chure-Terai Madhesh Conservation Development Board
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Sham Thapa
National Trust for Nature Conservation
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Anil Prasai
National Trust for Nature Conservation
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Aashish Gurung
National Trust for Nature Conservation
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Santosh Bhattarai
National Trust for Nature Conservation
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Rajan Prasad Paudel
Hokkaido University
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Naresh Subedi
National Trust for Nature Conservation
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Abstract

Conservation of large carnivores like leopards requires large and interconnected habitats. Despite the wide geographic range of the leopard globally, only 17% of their habitat is within protected areas. In Nepal, leopards are distributed widely across the country but their status is not adequately studied which compromised the necessary conservation attention for the species. This study carried out sign-based occupancy survey across the Chure (the Himalayan foothills) range (~19,000 km2) to understand the habitat occupancy of leopards along with the covariates affecting their presence. The model-averaged leopard occupancy in the Chure range was 0.5732 (0.0082 SD) with a detection probability of 0.2554 (0.1142 SE). The top model included wild boar, ruggedness, presence of livestock and human population density as covariates. The β coefficient estimate from the model indicated the wild boar was the primary covariate contributing positively to the leopard occupancy followed by the presence of livestock, ruggedness and human population density. The detection probability of leopard was higher outside the protected areas, less in the densely vegetated areas, and higher in the area where there is a presence of livestock. Enhanced law enforcement and mass awareness activities are necessary to reduce poaching/killing of wild ungulates and leopard in the Chure range and to increase leopard occupancy. In addition, maintaining a sufficient natural prey base can contribute to minimize the livestock depredation and hence, decrease the human-leopard conflict in the Chure range.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

04 Apr 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
05 Apr 2021Assigned to Editor
05 Apr 2021Submission Checks Completed
12 Apr 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
03 May 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
04 May 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor