Conservation of large carnivores is dependent on a viable population of their principal prey species. Line transect based density estimation has been established as a robust method for monitoring prey population trend. Chital (Axis axis) and sambar (Rusa unicolor) are the major ungulates in Pench tiger reserve, Madhya Pradesh that are principal tiger and leopard prey. Estimated densities using line transect surveys were highest for chital in the study area with a range of 44–52 individuals per sq. km. from 2013–16. Sambar density remained stable ranging from 5–8 individuals per sq. km. over the three years (2013–16). Camera trapbased encounter rate was used to calculate the Relative Abundance Index of the principal prey species of tigers and leopards in the study area. Spatial distribution pattern using the Relative Abundance Index showed that 47.16% chital captures were congregated near the submergence area whereas 38.53% sambar captures were near rugged areas. Abundant resources and lack of competition from domestic livestock in the core zone contribute to such high estimates of prey population in the study area.
Camera trap placement for evaluating species richness, abundance, and activity
Information from camera traps is used for inferences on species presence, richness, abundance, demography, and activity. Camera trap placement design is likely to infuence these