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Abudance and Distribution of Tiger and Prey in Montane Tropical Forest in Northern LAO PDR

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0042759/00001

Material Information

Title: Abudance and Distribution of Tiger and Prey in Montane Tropical Forest in Northern LAO PDR
Physical Description: 1 online resource (103 p.)
Language: english
Creator: VONGKHAMHENG,CHANTHAVY
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: CARNIVORE -- CONSERVATION -- ECOLOGY -- LAOS -- PREDATOR -- TIGER
Interdisciplinary Ecology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Interdisciplinary Ecology thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The tiger was once found throughout the tropical forests of Asia, but its distribution is now restricted to only 7% of its historical range and there are less than 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild. This study estimated abundance and distribution of tigers and prey in the Nam Et-Phou Louey Tiger Conservation Landscape # 35 in northern Lao People Democratic Republic. Questionnaire surveys associated with modern occupancy models were used to determine the occupancy of tigers and prey in the 30,000-km2 landscape, as well as to evaluate the major factors influencing their occupancy in this vast landscape. Camera-trap data and scat genetic analysis (DNA) were used to estimate tiger numbers, and occupancy surveys were used to estimate prey abundance in the 3,000-km2 core area. The study found 0.2-0.7 tiger/100 km2 with a population estimate of 7 to 23 tigers, and 16 individuals confirmed by DNA. Given a prey abundance index of 5.25 ungulates/km2, the core area could potentially support up to 28 tigers. Strict control of poaching of tigers and prey is urgently needed to save tigers from extinction in this landscape
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by CHANTHAVY VONGKHAMHENG.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Sunquist, Melvin E.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0042759:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0042759/00001

Material Information

Title: Abudance and Distribution of Tiger and Prey in Montane Tropical Forest in Northern LAO PDR
Physical Description: 1 online resource (103 p.)
Language: english
Creator: VONGKHAMHENG,CHANTHAVY
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: CARNIVORE -- CONSERVATION -- ECOLOGY -- LAOS -- PREDATOR -- TIGER
Interdisciplinary Ecology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Interdisciplinary Ecology thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The tiger was once found throughout the tropical forests of Asia, but its distribution is now restricted to only 7% of its historical range and there are less than 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild. This study estimated abundance and distribution of tigers and prey in the Nam Et-Phou Louey Tiger Conservation Landscape # 35 in northern Lao People Democratic Republic. Questionnaire surveys associated with modern occupancy models were used to determine the occupancy of tigers and prey in the 30,000-km2 landscape, as well as to evaluate the major factors influencing their occupancy in this vast landscape. Camera-trap data and scat genetic analysis (DNA) were used to estimate tiger numbers, and occupancy surveys were used to estimate prey abundance in the 3,000-km2 core area. The study found 0.2-0.7 tiger/100 km2 with a population estimate of 7 to 23 tigers, and 16 individuals confirmed by DNA. Given a prey abundance index of 5.25 ungulates/km2, the core area could potentially support up to 28 tigers. Strict control of poaching of tigers and prey is urgently needed to save tigers from extinction in this landscape
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by CHANTHAVY VONGKHAMHENG.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Sunquist, Melvin E.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0042759:00001


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1 ABUNDANCE AND DISTRIBUTION OF TIGER AND PREY IN MONTANE TROPICAL FOREST IN NORTHERN LAO P EOPLE D EMOCRATIC R EPUBLIC By CHANTHAVY VONGKHAMHENG A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011

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2 2011 Chanthavy Vongkhamheng

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3 To those dedicated to tiger conservation

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would first like to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to my academic advisor, Dr. Melvin Sunquist, for his invaluable advice, guidance and encouragement throughout the course of my PhD program. I would also like to thank all my committee members, D r. Madan Oli, Dr. George Tanner, Dr. Mike Moulton, and my special committee member, Dr. Karl Didier, for their invaluable advice and comments on my dissertation. Special thanks to my field supervisor, Dr. Arlyne Johnson, who spent a huge amount of her time and effort on ensuring the completion of my field research as well as providing comments and editorial advice on my dissertation. Her skills and encouragement have enriched my professional inspiration in my career and my future. Also, I wish to acknowledg e Dr. James Nichols and James Hines, the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, for their advice on data analysis, and all people in the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), especially Joshua Ginsberg, John Robinson, Mike Hedemark, Troy Hansel, Ullas Karanth and others for having encouraged me to pursue my dreams and complete my PhD study. I am highly grateful to Dr. Steve Hump h rey, Director of School of Natural Resource, and his staff, who sorted out the logistics and the financial support through my PhD study program at the University of Florida. My study was partially supported by a WCS graduate scholar ship, and my field research was financially supported by Panthera, the National Geographic Society, the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation of Hong Ko ng, the International Foundation for Science, and a Panthera Kaplan Graduate Award. Finally, I would like to dedicate this dissertation to my family, my parents, and my friends who have encouraged me at all times.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTI ON ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 10 Status of Tigers and Their Conservation ................................ ................................ 10 Tiger Population Status ................................ ................................ .................... 10 Tiger and Prey Studies in Other Tiger Range Countries ................................ .. 10 Abundance and Distribution of Tiger in Lao People Democratic Republic ........ 13 Research Rationales ................................ ................................ ............................... 14 Objectives of the Studies ................................ ................................ ........................ 15 Study Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 15 2 STUDY AREA ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 16 3 ASSESSMENT OF UNGULATE PREY ABUNDANCE IN THE NAM ET PHOU LOUEY NPA CORE ZONE ................................ ................................ ..................... 24 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 24 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 25 Basic Sampling T echnique ................................ ................................ ............... 25 Sampling Design ................................ ................................ .............................. 26 Field Survey Protocol ................................ ................................ ....................... 28 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 29 Results ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 31 Occupancy Rates of Tiger Prey ................................ ................................ ........ 31 Abundance Index of Tiger Prey Population ................................ ...................... 31 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 32 4 TIGER MINIMUM NU MBER AND TIGER DENSITY ESTIMATION IN NAM ET PHOU LOEUY CORE ZONE ................................ ................................ .................. 42 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 42 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 45 Camera Trapping ................................ ................................ ............................. 45 Scat DNA Ana lysis ................................ ................................ ........................... 46

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6 Expected Tiger Numbers Based On the Ad hoc Prey:Tiger Ratio .................... 47 Results ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 48 Tiger Population Estimation from Camera Trapping ................................ ......... 48 Fecal DNA based Tiger Minimum Estimation ................................ ................... 49 Estimation of Expected Tiger Numbers ................................ ............................ 49 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 49 5 TIGER AND PREY OCCUPANCY IN NAM ET PHOU LOUEY TIGER CONSERVATION LANDSCAPE ................................ ................................ ............ 59 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 59 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 61 Study Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 61 Questionnaire Surveys ................................ ................................ ..................... 63 Estima tion and Modeling of Occupancy and Detection Probabilities ................ 65 Covariates ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 66 Prior Prediction ................................ ................................ ................................ 67 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 68 Results ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 68 Estimated Tiger Occupancy and Distribution ................................ .................... 68 Estimated Area Occupied by Tiger Prey Species ................................ ............. 69 Threats to Tigers and Their Prey ................................ ................................ ...... 70 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 70 Tiger Occupancy and Distribution ................................ ................................ .... 70 Prey Occupancy and Distribution ................................ ................................ ..... 74 APPENDIX A DATA FORM FOR SMALL CELL OCCUPANCY SURVEY FOR TIGER PREY IN THE NAM ET PHOU LOUEY CORE ZONE ................................ ....................... 87 B QUESTIONNAIRE DATA FORM FOR LANDSCAPE OCCUPANCY SURVEYS IN NAM ET POU LOUEY TIGER CONSERVATION LANDSCAPE ....................... 88 C A REFERENCE MAP OF EACH 300 KM 2 gRID CELL FOR LANDSCAPE OCCUPANCY SURVEYS IN NAM ET POU LOUEY TIGER CONSERVATION LANDSCAPE ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 91 D (AIC) WITH AIC < 2 ................................ ................................ ............................... 92 E BETA COEFFICIENTS FOR THE TOP MODELS FOR TIGER AND PREY SPECIES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 93 LIST OF RE FERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 94 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 103

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7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Summary of total biodiversity conservation land areas in the Lao PDR ............. 20 2 2 List of carnivores and prey species recorded in Nam Et Phou Louey NPA ........ 21 3 1 E.g. Hypothetical matrix for prey detection (1), and non detection (0) for 800 sub grid cells with a total of 6 repli cates ................................ ............................ 35 3 2 A summary result of five tiger prey species using Royle Nichols Heterogeneity model. ................................ ................................ ......................... 35 3 3 The adjusted animal abundance index (AAI) of all five prey species ................. 36 3 4 Average group sizes of prey species used to estimate abundance index (AI) of ti ger prey population in NEPL NPA ................................ ................................ 36 4 1 Sampling effort for estimating tiger abundance in 2003 2004 in Nam Et Phou Louey National P rotected Area, Laos ................................ ................................ 54 4 2 T iger ( Panthera tigris ) density estimates using different distances between recapture photographs to determine the sam pling area ................................ .... 54 5 1 Hypothetical matrix for tiger/prey detection (1), and non detection (0) for 81 grids over 24,300 km2 NEPL landscape with a total of five replicat es ............... 78 5 2 Best models for predicting occupancy for tiger and other five key prey species over 30,000 km 2 NEPL landscape. ................................ ........................ 79 5 3 Estimated occupancy rates for tiger and five key prey species in the NEPL Landscape, Lao PDR ba sed on the top model ................................ ................... 80

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8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Nam Et Phou Louey Tiger Conservation Landscape number 35 in Lao PDR .... 22 2 2 A map shows human population distribution in 300 km 2 grid cells across three provinces in the Nam Et Phou Louey TCL. ................................ ............. 23 3 1 The 5,950 km 2 Nam Et Phou Louey NPA (in green background), in which 3000 km 2 core zone (in red background) was divided into 13km 2 grid cells ....... 37 3 2 A 13 km 2 grid cell, was divided into four 3.25 km 2 sub grids ............................... 38 3 3 The map shows spatial distribution of large prey abundance ............................. 39 3 4 Comparison of pattern of abundance indices of five ungulate species ............... 40 3 5 Prey species identification in tiger diet from tiger scats (n=16) ........................... 41 4 1 Locatio n for camera trap sampling blocks, each 100 km 2 in NEPL NPA during 2003 2004.. ................................ ................................ ............................. 55 4.2 Percentage of each carnivore species detected by camera trap surveys during 2003 2004 ................................ ................................ ............................... 56 4 3 Records of tiger footprints and confirmed fecal DNA scat in NEPL core zone. .. 57 4 4 Spatial distribution of hunting (catch per effort) made by the foot patrol teams across 2060 km 2 b etween July 2009 to June 2010. ................................ .......... 58 5 1 Estimated probability of tiger occurrence in 81300 km 2 grid cells in Nam Et Phou Louey TCL relative to nation al forest management categories ................ 81 5 2 Spatial distribution map of pre y species in 300 km 2 cells in NEPL TCL. ............ 82 5 3 Reports of major threats to tigers and their prey in NEPL landscape ................ 85 5 4 Reports of current major threats to primary habitats of tig ers and prey in NEPL landscape ................................ ................................ ................................ 85 5 5 Reports of tiger human conflicts in NEPL landscape caused primarily by livestock depredation by tigers rather than man killing. ................................ ...... 86

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9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy ABUNDANCE AND DISTRIBUTION OF TIGER AND PREY IN MONTANE TROPICAL FOREST IN NORTHERN LAO P EOPLE D EMOCRATIC R EPUBLIC By Chanthavy Vongkhamheng May 2011 Chair: Melvin Sunquist Major: Interdisciplinary Ecology The tiger was once found throughou t the tropical forests of Asia, but its distribution is now restricted to only 7% of its historical r ange and there are less than 3,2 00 tigers remaining in the wild. This study estimated abundance and distribution of tigers and prey in the Nam Et Phou Loue y Tiger Conservation Landscape # 35 in northern Lao P eople D emocratic R epublic Questionnaire surveys associated with modern occupancy models were used to determine the occupancy of tigers and prey in the 30,000 km 2 landscape, as well as to evaluate the ma jor factors influencing t heir occupancy in this vast landscape. Camera trap data and scat genetic analysis ( DNA ) were used to estimate tiger numbers, and occupancy surveys were used to estimate prey abundance in the 3,000 km 2 core area. The study found 0.2 0.7 tiger/100 km 2 with a population estimate of 7 to 23 tigers, and 16 individuals confirmed by DNA. Given a prey abundance index of 5.25 ungulates/km 2 the core area could potentially support up to 28 tigers. Strict control of poaching of tigers and prey is urgently needed to save tigers from extinction in this landscape.

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10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Status of Tigers and Their Conservation Tiger Population Status Tigers ( Panthera tigris ) were once widely distributed across much of Asia, as far north as Russia and Kazakhstan and as far west as Turkey. Today, tiger numbers have plummeted by more than 95%, from an estimat ed 100,000 tigers in 1900 to as few as 3,200 animals (Wolston et al. 2010a), and they occupy only 7% of their historical range (Dinerstein et al 2006, Damania et al. 2008). Of the 3,200 animals, perhaps only 1,000 are likely to be breeding females (Karanth et al. 2010). Tigers are now listed as CITES. Tigers are currently restricted to small and isolated remnant forest patches across 13 Asian countries (Dinerstein et al 200 6). Poaching of tigers for illegal trade in their body parts poses the most immediate threat to tiger extinction, although habitat loss and prey depletion also threaten the long term survival of tigers in the wild (Rabinowitz in press, Johnson et al. 2006, Wolston et al. 2010b). Tiger and Prey Studies in Other Tiger Range Countries Most knowledge of tigers comes from studies on the Indian subcontinent and in the Russian Far East, where tigers have been studied for at least four decades (e.g., Schaller 1967 Sunquist 1981, Smith 1991, Miquelle et al. 1999, Karanth et al. 2004). Studies show that tiger persistence is strongly dependent upon the availability of different sized prey species (Karanth and Nichols 1998, Karanth and Stith 1999, Sunquist et al. 1999 Smirnov and Miquelle 1999). Tiger population densities are highly correlated with prey density or biomass (Karanth 1995, Karanth et al. 2004), ranging

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11 from <1 tiger/100 km 2 where ungulate biomass <500 kg per km 2 at Sikhote Alin Zapovednik in Russia (Miqu elle et al. 1999) to 32 tigers/100 km 2 with prey biomass > 5,000 kg per km 2 at Kaziranga in India (Ahmed et al. 2010 ) female territories (Karanth and Nichols 2002). Home ra nge size of tigers varies with prey densit y. For example, home range size for resident breeding female tigers in prime areas in Nepal and India (25 50 ungulates/km 2) range in size from 15 20 km 2 (Sunquist 1981, Karanth 2001). In the Russian Far East, whe re prey densities are less than 5 ungulates per km 2 female tigers have territories that range in size from 200 to 400 km 2 (Miquelle et al. 1999). Tigers are behaviorally flexible and highly adaptable to a wide range of habitat types, climatic regimes, altered landscapes, and prey base (Sunquist et al. 1999, Miquelle 1999). The only prerequisites for survival of tigers are sufficient prey, plant cover, and water, so tigers are able to live wherever there is an adequate supply of prey, and preferably larg e prey species (Nowark 1991, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Prey distribution and abundance and preferred habitat for key prey species are critical predictors of tiger distribution and density (Smirnov and Miquelle 1999). Tiger resilience, a product of adapt ability and high fecundity, has allowed tigers to rapidly recover from substantial losses as long as sufficient prey and habitat remain intact (Karanth and Stith 1999, Sunquist et al. 1999) and poaching is restricted (Chapron et al. 2008). Although large b locks of land remain in some regions, tigers are absent in these areas because large ungulate prey have been depleted (Seidensticker et al. 1999).

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12 Large ungulates decline due to over hunting by local people results in reduced carrying capacity for breeding females and decreased cub survival, causing the tiger population to decline rapidly (Karanth and Stith 1999). A tigress consumes 5 6 kg of meat a day, which translates to 1825 2190 kg/year (Sunquist et al. 1999). If only small prey are available, the ener getic requirements for breeding tigresses may not be met and thus lead to unsuccessful reproduction (Sunquist et al. 1999). This scenario may approximate the situation in many tropical rainforests that support a relatively low density population of prey, s uch as 1 tiger/100 km 2 in Huai Kha Khaeng, Thailand (Rabinowitz 1993); 1.7 tiger/100 km 2 km 2 in Malaysia (Kawanishi and Sunquist 2004), and 0.7 tiger/100 km 2 in Laos (Johnson et al. 2006). In Indochina the ecology and conservation status of tigers is least understood in the tropical forest areas of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. Only a handful of tiger studies have been conducted in this region (e.g., Rabinowitz 198 9, Kawanishi and Sunquist 2004, Lynam et al. 2007, Johnson et al. 2006, Simcharoen et al. 2007). These studies estimated tiger densities and prey abundance in 1989). Tig er density in Indochinese tropical forest is relatively low compared to what those found on the Indian subcontinent (Kar anth 2004). The reasons for lower tiger densities are likely a combination of factors, including over hunting of potential prey by local communities (Kawanishi and Sunquist 2004), direct poaching of tigers for wildlife trade (Johnson et al. 2006), and naturally low cervid abunda nce in tropical forest where conditions are too wet (above 1900 mm/yr; Eisenberg 1980).

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13 Abundance and Distributi on of Tiger in Lao P eople D emocratic R epublic (PDR) In Lao PDR, t here was no organized research or monitoring of tigers prior to 2000 Most records of tigers in Lao PDR come from village questionnaires and general wildlife surveys during the1990s Duckworth and Hedges (1998) mapped 64 tiger records spread over the country, of which only 21 were confirmed records based on sightings or remains of tigers. Based on these data and habitat availability they suggested only f ive areas that showed potential for harboring viable tiger populations. Those include three national protected areas in the north, the contiguous forest area of Nam Theun basin in the central, and the contiguous area on the slopes of the Bolaven Plateau in the southern country (Duckworth and Hedges 1998). Sanderson et al. (2006) mapped approximately 175 tiger point locations recorded from 1995 2005 in Laos. These records, combined with recent land cover and human influence data, were used to demarcate six Tiger Conservation Landscapes (TC Ls) and three potential landscapes of priority for tiger conservation and surveys. More r ecent field research and monitoring in a few national protected areas and anecdotal reports from other areas indicate that wild tigers still occur sparsely across the country, but at seemingly very low numbers (Vongkhamheng and Johnson 2009). Today, a breeding tiger population is confirmed only in the Nam Et Phou Louey (NEPL) national protected area (NPA), which is a part of larger TCL #35 in northeastern Lao PDR (Sande rson et al. 2006) The existence of tigers in other parts of the country is known only from anecdotal information, but the certainty of tiger presence remains unknown (Vongkhamheng and Johnson 2009).

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14 Research Rationales Although Lao PDR sti ll contains exte nsive habitat in several tiger conservation landscapes (TCLs) of global and regional significance (Dinerstein et al. 2006), the status of the tiger population in the majority of these landscapes remains unknown. The paucity of information is attributed to the fact that tigers have received little conservation attention in the past decades due to a lack of financial support and national capacity to undertake tiger research and conservation. Lack of reliable data on tiger densities has not only constrained th e ability to understand those factors shaping communities of large and solitary felids, but also has undermined the effective conservation of these animals (Karanth and Nichols 1998). The first effort to assess tiger numbers and prey abundance and the impa ct of human tiger conflicts was recently initiated in a national protected area in northern Laos, namely in Nam Et Phou Louey NPA, an area embedded in the larger TCL # 35 in northern Lao PDR (Johnson et al. 2006) The results from the study show that the NEPA NPA still harbors a tiger population with densities as high as or higher than that of areas surveyed in neighboring countries (Johnson et al. 2006). However, this study only provided baseline data on tigers within the NPA, but little is known about di stribution and abundance of tigers and prey populations, and their threat across the larger NEPL TCL, although it is an area of global tiger conservation importance (Dinerstein et al 2006). Therefore, further field research is important t o assess the statu s of prey in the core zone, to determine the change in status of tigers over time given management interventions, and to evaluate the status of tiger and prey populations as well as their major threats in the larger TCL.

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15 Objectives of the Studies The prima ry objective of this study was to examine the status of tiger and prey populations and other major threats in Nam Et Phou Louey Tiger Conservation Landscape # 35 in the northern Lao PDR. The specific objectives of the study were following as to ; Estimate tiger prey population abundance in the 3,000 km 2 core zone within NEPL NPA Estimate tiger population abundance using a minimum estimate of tiger numbers by DNA analysis to compare against a result of t he 2003 2004 camera trap survey Assess abundance and distribution of tigers and their prey over the 30,000 km 2 Tiger Conservation Landscape (TCL) #35 Evaluate a ssociated threats affecting abundance and distribution of tigers and prey in this TCL. Study Hypotheses The study tests the hypotheses that: Tiger population density is a function of prey abundance with in the study site Tiger distribution within the study site is positively correlated with prey species abundance, and preferr ed habitat for key prey species Tigers and prey population in the montane tropical forest of the study site is lower than those in low land deciduous and grassland habitats of Indian sub continent

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16 CHAPTER 2 STUDY AREA Lao PDR is a landlocked country, with an area of 236,800 km 2 located in the Indoc hinese subdivision of the Indo M alayan Realm (Corbet and Hill 1992). Given its distinctive location at the heart of Indochina, the country lies in parts of four encompasses the Annamite range and extends across Vietnam to the South China Sea. The other three units are sub Cambodia, China, Mya nmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The Indochinese fauna includes species shared with: The Himalayan Palaearctic (in the northern mountainous part of the region) ; The Chinese Palaearctic (species spread along the coast of southern China) ; The Sun d aic sub region t o the south; and Northern India through th e Assam Myanmar transition zone Lao PDR is home to an estimated 8 11,000 species of flowering plants, 166 species of reptiles and amphibians, 700 species of birds, 90 known species of bats, more than 100 species o f mammals (Duckworth and Khounboline 1999), and about 500 indigenous species of fish were reported to live in the Mekong river and its tributaries (Kotellat 2001). Most important, the country still retains more than 40% of its forest cover, providing impor tant habitats for a diversity of both fauna and flora with numerous species of global and regional conservation significance, including two recent new mammal discoveries the Saola ( Pseudoryx ngetinhensis ) and the Large antlered muntjac ( Muntiacus vuquang ensis ). There are 20 national protected areas (NPAs), covering approximately 3.3 million ha or 14% of the country land area, and other several

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17 protected areas designated at provincial and district levels (Table 2 1). However, very few of those NPAs are currently managed and largely dependent on financial support from international organizations. As a result of limited financial support, all protected areas are now understaffed and many staff lack training in the skills required to effectively manage the protected areas, and to cons erve tigers and their habitats (Vongkhamheng and Johnson 2009) The Nam Et Phou Louey (NEPL) is comprised of two contiguous protected areas (Nam Et and Phou Louey NPAs). It covers a mountainous terrain of approximately 5959 km 2 i 2 1). Altitude across NEPL NPA ranges from 400 to 2 257 m elevation, with over 60% of the total land area above 1 000 m, and 91% of the area along slop es greater than 12% (Johnson in press ). The climate is monsoonal and temperatures range seasonally from 5 30C. Annual rainfall fluctuates from 1400 1800 mm (Johnson et al. 2006). The NPA is characterized by a variety of vegetation t ypes including mixed semi/evergreen, deciduous forest, secondary growth, and patches of natural/anthropogenic grasslands (Davidson 1998, Vongkhamheng 2002). Given the extent and quality of habitat associated with the optimum range of rainfall and temperatu re, the NEPL NPA is home to at least 299 species of birds, 38 species of mammals, 40 species of bats, and over 30 species of reptiles and amphibians ( Table 2 2 ; Davidson 1998). The NPA contains an outstanding diversity of carnivores significant to national and international conserv ation (Johnson et al. 2006, 2009 ). Most notable, the area is best known for harboring one of the most important tiger populations remaining in Indochina (Johnson et al. 2006, Walston et al.

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18 2010). Moreover, the NPA is also in the second most important core area in the world for supporting small carnivore taxa of conservation concern, e.g., 11 species of mustelids and viverrids ( Schreiber et al. 1989, Joh n son et al. 2009 ). NEPL NPA is divided into two zones for management purposes ( Figure 2 1); a 3, 000 km 2 core zone where access and harvest (of wildlife and non timber forest products, for instance) i s prohibited, surrounded by a 2, 950 km 2 management zone or controlled use zone where pre existing villages are allocated land for subsis tence (GOL 2007). The primary purpose of the core zone is to ensure a safe home for breeding tiger and prey populations. The area supports the habitat for tiger and prey with the potential to hold up to 150 tigers including 50 breeding females if managemen t is successful (Walston et al. 2010). In the management zone, subsistence harvest is limited to smaller highly fecund species, for instance wild pig, bamboo rats, and other rat species, with guidelines on hunting gears and seasons of harvesting (Johnson e t al. 2010 ). There are 98 villages inside and around the area, with an average of eight people/km 2 ( Johnson et al. 2006 ). The villagers are from six ethnic minorities (such as Khamu, Hmong Tai D am, Tai Daeng, Yao Phuan and Lao Loum) of three major ethno linguistic groups, including the Tai Kadai, Mon Khmer and Hmong Mien. Their liveliho od depends largely on forest resources for food and income. Most families are involved in subsistent activities, growing stable and cash crops like rice, cassava, cor n, (and sometimes poppy) through rotations of shifting cultivation along steep mountainous slopes. Meat and vegetables are regularly harvested from the forest for family consumption while the sale of large livestock is the principal source of cash income ( Schlemmer 2002). However, i ncome from non timber forest products ( NTFPs; including eaglewood, paper

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19 mulberry, rattan etc.) is also very important (Vongkhamheng 2002). Each household in the NPA consumed an estimated 141 kg of wild meat per annum, of which 2 0% were pigs and deer (ICEM 2003). The 5,950 km 2 Nam Et Phou Louey NPA is part of larger global tiger conservation landscapes (TCLs) number 35 in northeastern Lao PDR (Sanderson et al. 2006). The TCL covers approximately 30,000 km 2 of mountainous terrain, which ranges from 176 to 2257 m in elevation. Generally, the area is covered by a mosaic of mixed evergreen and deciduous forest (old growth and secondary), and patches of natural/anthropogenic grasslands interspersed with agricultural fields and human set tlements. The NEPL landscape is under political administration of three provinces, including Huaphan (583 villages), Luangphrabang (315 villages), and Xiengkhuang (98 villages). There is a total human population of approximately 375,265 people in the NEPL landscape, with an average of 12.5 people/km 2 (Figure 2 2) Road access to villages across the landscape is categorized into three types, including type 1 (418 villages) access is possible by road all year round; type 2 (282 villages) a seasonal access is possible by road; and type 3 (232 villages) limited access by road with more than 300 meters distance from major roads (2007 census data).

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20 Table 2 1. Summary of total biodiversity conservation land areas in the Lao PDR (Source: DFRC/DoF /MAF) Categ ory No. of areas Total area (ha) % Lao PDR area National Protected Areas 20 3,313,596 13.99 Provincial Conservation Forests 57 931,969 3.94 Provincial Protection Forests 23 461,410 1.95 District Conservation Forests 144 503,733 2.12 District Protection Forests 52 55,713 0.23 Corridors 2 77,170 0.33 Total 298 5,343,591 22.56

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21 Table 2 2. List of carnivores and prey species recorded in Nam Et Phou Louey NPA Species Scientific name Status global [1] Status Lao [2] A Cats, dog, and bear 1 Tiger Panthera tigris GT E ARL 2 Leopard Panthera pardus GNT ARL 3 Clouded Leopard Pardofelis nebulosa GT V ARL 4 Asian Golden Cat Catopuma temminckii GNT LKL 5 Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata DD LKL 6 Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis 7 Dhole Cuon alpines GT E ARL 8 Sun bear Ursus malayanus DD ARL 9 Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus GT V ARL B. Small carnivores 10 Back striped Weasel Mustela strigidorsa LC LKL 11 Yellow throated marten Martes flavigula LC 12 Hog Badger Arctonyx collaris GNT LKL 13 Oriental small clawed otter Aonyx cinera GNT ARL 14 Large Indian Civet Viverra zibetha GNT 15 Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica LC 16 Spotted linsang Prionodon pardicolor LC LKL 17 Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus LC 18 Masked Palm Civet Paguma larvata LC 19 Owston's civet Hemigalus owstoni GT V LKL 20 Crab eating mongoose Herpestes urva LC C Key prey species 21 Gaur Bos frontalis GT V ARL 22 Sambar deer Cervus unicolor GT V PRL 23 Eurasian wild pig Sus scrofa LKL 24 Southern serow Naemorhedus sumatraensis GT V PRL 25 Muntjacs Muntiacus muntjak 26 Small dark muntjac Muntiacus rooseveltorum / truongsonensis DD LKL 27 Stump tailed macaque Macaca arctoides GT V PRL 28 Assamese macaque Macaca assamensis GT V PRL 29 Macaque sp. Macaca mulatta / M. nemestrina/M. assamensis GT V / GNT PRL 30 Phayre's langur Semnopithecus phayrei DD ARL 31 East Asian porcupine Hystrix brachyuran GT V 32 Asiatic brush tailed porcupine Atherurus macrourus [1] Globally threatened endangerd (GT E); Globally threatened vulnerable (GT V); Globally near threatened (GNT); Data deficient (DD); Least Concern (LC) [2] At risk in Lao PDR (ARL); Potentially at risk in Lao PDR (PRL); Little known in Lao PDR (LKL)

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22 Figure 2 1. Nam Et Phou Louey Tiger Conservation Landscape number 35 lies in three administrative provinces (Huaphan, Xiengkhouang and Luangphrabang) in northeastern Lao PDR, near Vietnam border, in which the 5,950 km 2 NEPL NPA (black outlines) is embedded and the 3,000 km 2 core zone (blue line ) is inside the NPA.

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23 Figure 2 2. A map shows human population distribution in 300 km 2 grid cells across three provinces in the Nam Et Phou Louey TCL. The color scale indicates the different number of human population; the cells with darker colors indicate the higher number of human population.

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24 CHAPTER 3 ASSESSMENT OF UNGULATE PREY ABUNDANCE IN THE NAM ET PHOU LOUEY NPA CORE ZONE Background Absence of reliable data on the status of prey in a given conservation area makes it extremely difficult to assess the viability of the tiger population as well as evaluating the eff ectiveness of conservation efforts (Karanth and Nichols 1998, population density (Karanth and Nichols 2002, Karanth et al. 2004). Given a ratio of one tiger to 500 deer sized un gulates, the amount of prey availability allows us to estimate the carrying capacity of a given area for tigers (Karanth and Nichols 2002). Now, it has become clear that if tiger conservation is to be successful, effective management of prey populations n eeds to be ensured (Stith and Karanth 1999), and tigers need to be protected from human caused mortality (Chapron et al. 2008). However, obtaining reliable estimates of ungulate abundance is often a major challenge for field biologists, particularly in tr opical forests whe re ungulate numbers are depressed by hunting (Kawanishi 2002, Steimetz 2010). In addition to the m any logistical difficulties such as access, animal abundance, and geographic terrain associated with performing ungulate surveys in tropic al forest (Karath and Nichols 2002) each commonly used method has its own challenges Line transect sampling methods (Buckland et al. 1993, 2001) using direct observation of animals have been used extensively in the dry tropical forest to estimating ungul ate population densities ( Karanth and Sunquist 1992, Srikosamatara 1993, Varman and Sukumar, 1995, Biswas and Sankar, 2002 ), but the method requires numerous sightings of animals to obtain reliable estimates Thus, where encounter rates are low, as in trop ical rainforests, the method does not work because the number of animals seen is

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25 insufficient to fit the reliable detection function (Buckland et al. 2001, Williams et al. 2002). As a result, the direct observation of animals using distance sampling is of ten impractical in many locations of tropical forest because of the rarity of animal sightings, which is related to the low number of animals, wariness of human presence, low visibility due to dense underground vegetation, or rugged mountainous terrain (K awanishi and Sunquist 2004, Steimetz et al. 2010) T he approach to assessing ungulate abundance in NEPL NPA changed from the number of animals to the number of sites occupied by animals following a repeated sign based presence/absence survey that is concep tually similar to a capture recapture scheme developed by MacKenzie (2002). Then, information about animal abundance index from occupancy rate was extracted and analyzed using the le and Nichols 2003). The model is likelihood based approach, which incorporates the heterogeneity of detection probability as a result of variation in animal abundance into analytical process (Royle and Nichols 2003, Royle et al. 2005). This chapter prese nts results of the first systematic assessment of ungulate abundance in the field in Lao PDR using occupancy model to extract ungulate abundance index Methodology Basic Sampling Technique The basic conceptual framework for how this survey was design ed is provided by a set of classical papers (Williams et al. 2002, Mackenzie 2002, Royle and Nichols 2003, Karanth and Nichols 2002, Mackenzie et al. 2006). The two fundamental issues, i.e., s patial sampling and detection probability have to be accounted fo r in the sampling design to estimate ungulate population abundance.

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26 Spatial sampling refers to the fact that investigators are often interested in a large area that it is impossible to survey completely, partly due to constraints in resource availability a nd logistic issues (Karanth and Nichols 2002, 20010). So, they have to sample smaller representative areas within a much larger area of interest, and then use those results derived from the fraction of areas to draw inferences about the entire area of int erest (Karanth and Nichols 2002). Another concern is the detection probability which refer s to the fact that all animals or signs present in the sampled area be perfectly observed or detected (i.e., detectability < 1). Instead, data collected reflec t some sort of count statistic that only represents a sample of all the possible detections ( Karanth and Nichols 2002) F ailing to account for this imperfect detection can lead to biased estimates in subsequent calculation s of abundance possibly leading t o incorrect inference s about animal population trend s and erroneous management decision s (Mackenzie et al. 2005 Karanth and Nichols 2010). The incorporation of detection histories into a maximum likelihood estimation model allows one to generate both detectability and occupancy (MacKenzie et al. 2002). The likelihood based approach then provides the possibility to investigate the relationship between the probabilities of occupancy and detection and factors (or covariates, e.g., habitat conditions) that can potentially influence these probabilities and allows the estimation of abundance based on presence absence data (MacKenzie et al. 2003, Royle and Ni chols 2003). Sampling Design In presence/absence surveys, while the detection of a species can confirm its presence, the non detection of a species cannot confirm its absence. Under this circumstance, occupied sites might be classified as unoccupied based on collected survey data because of the fact that the animal was there but was not detected. In

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27 order to deal with this problem, the design of presence absence sampling needs to consider three cases: (i) true absence (where no sign was detected due to sampling sign w as detected even though a sign exist somewhere within the grid cell); and (iii) pseudo absence (where no sign exist within the sampling unit but grid cell lays within o through recently. To minimize the chance of obtaining a false absence (i.e., the species was present but undetected) or to differentiate it from true/pseudo absence, one needs to conduct multiple surveys at each sampling unit within a relatively short time frame. The repeated presence absence surveys allow a history of detection to be gathered which provides the basis for the estimation of detectability of the target species (MacKenzie et al. 2002, Royle and Nichols 2003, Karanth and Nichols 2010). In 3,000 km 2 Nam Et Phou Louey core area, a grid cell size of 13 km 2 was used as a sampling unit dividing the 3,000 km 2 core zone into 289 13 km 2 grid cells (Figure 3 1). Each grid cell consists of four equally sized sub grid cells of about 3.25 km 2 in area. The biological basis for this specification was that the expected largest ungulate home rang e size during the survey duration would be about 13 km 2 or smaller, and there was no variation in seasonal ungulate home range sizes across sites. A grid cell was then labeled with unique identity (Grid ID), and also each sub grid cell was numbered from l eft to right hand side (e.g., 1 4) for data management purpose. Within each 3.25 sub grid cell, nine equally spaced destination points (points along route to be sampled), at 600 m intervals, were placed for logistic

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28 convenience (Figure 3 2). However, atte ntion was given that the survey route needs to pass through five points within each 3.25 sub grid cell was a walk effort of 300 meters recorded carefully using GPS. Figure 3 2 further tes must be formed. A 13 km 2 grid cell consisting of four sub grids cells, when traverse d, we have 40 spatial replicates (10 replicates per sub grid). For logistic convenience, we used the 1:50,000 topo maps for traversing each sub grid and dealing with terrain difficulty. Given the rugged terrain of NEPL NPA and considering that prey abundance is probably depressed by hunting, a sign based survey was applied for determining occupancy patterns of five key ungulate species, including gaur, sambar, se row, wild pig, and muntjac. A ll surveys were conducted in a six month time frame during the dry season (between January and June 2008). During this time period, sites were assumed to be closed to changes in occupancy ( i.e., no changes in occupancy between surveys ). Although in this study animals did actually come in and out of the sampling site, which was the part of their territory, these movements were assumed estimator remained unbiased (Mackenzie 2005). Only, the grid cell that the species is permanently present within the sampling uni t over a defined period of time refers to occupancy (Mackenzie et al., 2004). All sites were assumed to be heterogeneous in detection probability as a result of different animal species abun dance (Royle and Nichols 2003). Field Survey Protocol The survey teams were composed of three people (leader plus two assistants), that traversed and walked the habitats along the geometrically rigid sampling pat hs, thoroughly searching to locate prey signs (fresh tracks and fresh dung). However,

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2 9 direct observations of the animal encountered along the survey route were also recorded, noting both the GPS position as well as additional information such as number of individuals and distance from observers. The teams may deviate from this path by as much as 100 m on either side of this line (Figure 3 2), if necessary, to maximize their chances of detecting signs. Attention was given that the search effort must cover th e entire extent of ungulate habitats in the sub grid cell as described earlier. In each 3.25 km 2 sub grid, the teams passed through the center of each sub grid touching at least five sampling destination points, recorded data every 300 m replicate using GP S dist ances into data form (Appendix A grid cell was surveyed, the team moved to the a djacent sub grid cell, and all four sub grids within a 13 km 2 grid cell were completely surv eyed before moving on to the next adjacent cell. We swept the core area from one end to the other instead of arbitrarily sampling these grid cells in a patchy or sporadic manner. This is to avoid biases caused by seasonal migration of ungulates within the core area. The team walked about 10 12 km/day to complete the survey of each grid cell. Each sub grid took two day s to be completed and about eight days to completely survey each 13 km 2 grid cell. In order to complete the entire s urvey of 200 grid cells wi thin six months, we had nine teams, and each team had 8 people (one team leader, 2 assistants, and 5 porters). Data Analysis Data were analyzed using program (Hines 2010) which implements an occupancy model ( i.e., the maximum likelihoo d based technique ) developed by MacKenzie et al. (2002), and Royle and Nichols (2003) to generate parameters such as probability of habitat occupancy, detection, and index of animal abundance. Detection and non detection of tiger prey in each sub grid was used to

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30 produce a prey detection history matrix (Table 3 1). The detection history matrix consisted of rows representing 3.25 km 2 sub grid cells, and columns representing detection history of animals in each 3.25 km 2 sub grid cell. In this case, there was a total of 800 row s of surveyed sub grids representing 800 sampling units. A 600 m replicate was applied so that each sub grid cell contains five 600 m replicates or sampling occasions. Applying a single season heterogeneity Royle Nichols model (Royle and Nichols 2003) acco unted for heterogeneity in detection probability of a species among sites caused by variation in animal abundance to generate: (i) ) of animal clusters per 3.25 km 2 sub grid, (iii) an indivi dual detection prob ability (r). Then, the population size of each ungulate species was determined by multiplying the number of clusters by the mean cluster (or group) size of ungulate species encountered during the course of field work (Table 3 4). Average group size (Y) of each prey species was calculated according to the number of animal observations encountered by field survey teams. For the species, such as wild pig, that has a wide range of observed group sizes, average group size was judged by averaging the mean group s ize generated in NEPL and the existing data derived from systematic estimates of pigs in particular in Southeast Asian tropical forest (Ickes 2001). For species, such as gaur, which was never encountered directly in the field during the course of field wor k by survey teams, the mean group size was one individual even though a set of gaur tracks was occasionally found in the field, and the average group size was higher in some areas (Y = 6.99, Karanth and Sunquist 1992). This was likely due to the fact that gaurs were subjected to high pressure of poaching during the past decade so I assumed the rarity of sightings was attributed to low abundance of animals rather than invisibility of animals.

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31 Results Occupancy Rates of Tiger Prey The team completed occupan cy surveys of 200 13 km 2 grid cells in 6 months, walking a total distance of 4,617 km (traced by GPS) and covering 2,600 km 2 Baseline occupancy estimates for all five prey species are shown in Table 3 2. Smaller sized prey species (e.g., muntjac, pigs) oc cupied a relatively wider area than large sized prey species (e.g., gaur, sambar, and serow). The occupancy rates were SE=0.02), 64% for sambar =0.071, SE = 0.01). Abundance Index of Tiger Prey Population A single season heterogeneity Royle Nichols model generated the abundance index of ani mal clusters (or groups) per sampling unit (3.25 km 2 sub grid cell) for five species of ungulates. Generally, the results showed that smaller sized prey species were relatively more abundant than those larger sized prey species (Table 3 2). The abundance i km 2 sub grid for muntjac was 4.42 0.34, = 0.07 0.01. The spatial distribution of abundance indices for four species (wild pig, serow, sambar, and gaur) was mapped (Figure 3 3). Given the mean cluster (or group) size of each prey species (Table 3 4) multiplied by the number of clusters (Table 3 2) resulted in a population size of 8,302 wild pig (mean group size was 4 1.15 individuals, n =43), 3,892 muntjac (mean group size was 1.11 0.32 individuals, n=79), 935 sambar deer (mean group size was 1.15 0.37individuals, n=32, 563 serow (mean group size was 1.250.0.5

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32 individuals, n=4), and 58 gaur (mean group size was 1 individuals). On ave rage, prey population density was 5.25 ungulates per km 2 (Table 3 3). Discussion These results represent the first systematic assessment of tiger prey population status in the forest of Lao PDR, and provide a reliable index of abundance an d produce a spatial distribution map of five ungulate species in NEPL NPA. Other studies have shown that the relationship between abundance indices generated from using animal signs in grid based occupancy sampling and absolute abundance estimated from line transe ct distance sampling was closely correlated (Gopalaswamy et al. 2008, unpublished data). Thus, if there is a positive relationship between index and abundance a larger index value means a greater abundance (Karanth and Nichols 2002). T he information from t his study is of practical value for conservation and monito ring. Although the abundance index obtained here may not reflect the true absolute abundance of animals, careful monitoring of long term trends of this parameter will be useful in detecting changes in animal population size. The underlying logic here is that both occupancy and abundance parameters were generated by the incorporation of detection probability parameters into the analytical model (Royle and Nichols 2003). Karanth and Nichols (2010) hav e emphasized that any attempts to draw inferences about abundance and occupancy without consideration of animal detection probability, which can vary spatially and temporally as a result of several factors (e.g., weather, animal behavior, time of the day e tc.), may lead to biased or unreliable results (Karanth and Nichols 2010). Such bias could lead to erroneous management decisions. The results support the hypothetical assumption of occupancy surveys in that the proportion of area occupied by species

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33 is po sitively linked to abundance of animals (Royle and Nichols 2003, Mackenzie 2005). For example, smaller sized prey like muntjac and wild pig was more widely clusters ( = 4.42 and 2.62 per 3.25 km 2 respectively) than those larger prey species 0.64, and 0.071, respectively). Accordingly, careful observation of both state variables (occupancy and abundance) will be a useful tool to de tect what is happening within the system over the long term. The results were consistent with prey abundance indices (number of independent photos per 100 camera trap days) from an earlier study using the photographic capture recapture sampling in 2003 2 004 (Johnson et al. 2006, Figure 3 4). Independent photos were defined as (1) consecutive photographs of different individuals of the same or different spec ies, (2) consecutive photographs of individuals of the same species taken more than 0.5 h apart or ( 3) nonconsecutive photos of individuals of the same species. The study concluded that relative abundance of large sized ungulates (gaur, sambar, serow) was low, while abundance of smaller sized prey (pig, muntjac, stump tailed macaque, porcupine and hog ba dger) populations were significantly higher, particularly where human density was lower (Johnson et al. 2006) In addition, the results of this study were consistent with other studies in two national protected areas in the central part of Lao PDR in that large ungulate abundance were fairly low, and only muntjac and wild pig were found in moderate abundance (Johnson and Johnston 2007, WCS Lao PDR unpublished data). At present, wild pig and muntjac are probably the primary prey available for tigers in the f orests of Lao PDR (Vongkhamheng and Johnson 2009), particularly in NEPL NPA. In this study, of 16 genetically confirmed tiger scat

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34 samples (Chapter 4), wild pig remains were identified in 50% of scats (Figure 3 5; Vongkhamheng, unpublished data). In summar y, this study generated the first reliable data on abundance of ungulate species in the forest of Lao PDR, where several wildlife species are heavily hunted across the country to support either family subsistence or commercial trade (Duckworth et al. 1999, Nooren and Clarige 2001). Occupancy surveys associated with the heterogeneity in detection probability model developed by Royle and Nichols (2003) are considered the most useful and applicable in producing estimates of animal populations, particularly whe re conditions are challenging due to rugged terrain, dense ground cover and low prey densities. At present, line transect distance sampling based on direct observation of animals, especially for ungulates, may not be applicable in any locations in the fore st of Lao PDR as a result of the rarity of animal sightings due to the combined factors such as hunting, animal behavior, dense ground cover, and naturally low abundance. In the past, large ungulates were heavily hunted for both food and income generation (Duckworth et al. 1999). Their body parts, including deer antlers, horns and gall bladders of gaur, were commonly traded domestically with Thailand, China, and Vietnam for traditional medicine and as trophies (Srikosamatara 1992, Nooren and Clarige 2001, Vongkhamheng 2002). Not surprisingly, the results of this study may suggest that the low abundance of large prey species may be partially as a result of hunting So, in order to recover tiger populations in NEPL NPA, immediate attention must be given to tw o major issues; (i) control of hunting of ungulates to maintain and increase the large prey populations, and (ii) protecting tigers, particularly breeding females, from illegal poaching.

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35 Table 3 1. E.g. Hypothetical matrix for prey detection (1), and non detection (0) for 800 sub grid cells with a total of 6 replicates (occasions) where a 600 meters is defined as one replicate. Grids Rep1 Rep2 Rep3 Rep4 Rep5 Rep6 Sub grid1 1 1 0 0 1 0 Sub grid2 0 0 0 1 1 Sub grid800 0 0 1 1 0 0 Table 3 2. A summary result of five tiger prey species using Royle Nichols Heterogeneity model. Note: a Abundance index (AI) of clusters per sub grid (3.25km 2 ) b An individual detection probability c Probability of site occupied by the animals d Estimated abundance index of clusters (number of animal clusters or groups) e Standard error Species Nave a (SE) r b (SE) c (SE) N d (SE e ) Muntjac 0.989 4.42 (0.34) 0.54 (0.03) 0.98 (0.004) 3506 (268) Wild pig 0.913 2.62 (0.13) 0.43 (0.02) 0.93 (0.01) 2075 (101) Serow 0.38 0.56 (0.04) 0.34 (0.02) 0.43 (0.02) 451 (28) Sambar 0.592 1.02 (0.05) 0.46 (0.01) 0.64 (0.02) 806 (35) Gaur 0.064 0.07 (0.01) 0.41 (0.04) 0.071 (0.01) 58 (8)

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36 Table 3 3 The adjusted animal abundance index (AAI) of all five prey species estimated through multiplying AI of clusters (Table 3 2) by mean cluster sizes (Y in T able 3 4) Species AI of clusters Mean c luster size a (Y) AAI N p er Km 2 Muntjac 3506 1.13 3,892 1.50 Wild pig 2075 4 8,302 3.19 Sambar 806 1.15 935 0.36 Serow 451 1.25 563 0.22 Gaur 58 No sighting (1) 0.02 a Average cluster size estimation in table 3 4 below Table 3 4. Average group sizes of prey species used to estimate abundance index (AI) of tiger prey population in NEPL NPA. RgY range of observed group sizes, n total number of groups detected, Y mean group size. Y Species RgY N NEPL NPA Other sources (n) Muntjac 1 2 79 1.11 1.15 b (92) Wild pig 1 32 43 5.48, 4* 3.8 (44) a and 3.3(39) a 2.3 (73) b Serow 1 2 4 1.25 1 c Sambar 1 2 32 1.15 1.7 (94) b Gaur 1 6.99 (67) b Note: average group size (Y=4) used in estimating abundance index for pigs (Table 3 3) was compiled by averaging the mean group size Y=5.48 in NEPL and the data from source ( a ), Y=3.8 and 3.2 in Pahsor Forest Reserve, Maylaysia, where pig densities were 27 and 47 pigs/km 2 ( Ickes 2001). a Ickes 2001 b Karanth and Sunquist 1992 c Kawanashi and Sunquist 2004

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37 Figure 3 1. The 5,950 km 2 Nam Et Phou Louey NPA (in green background), in which 3000 k m 2 core zone (in red background) was divided into 13km 2 grid cells (in black). Each 13km 2 grid cell was given the identification number, and was divided into four 3 .25 sub grid cells (in yellow).

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38 Figure 3 2. A 13 km 2 grid cell, was divided into four 3.25 km 2 sub grids, in which nine destination points (black dots) were laid out as reference. The survey route (in green line) passed through five destination points, but must pass the center point of each sub grid cell.

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39 Figure 3 3. The map shows spatial distribution of large prey abundance (Gaur, Wild those four prey species in each 3.25km 2 grid cell. Grids with light yellow indicates lo wer animal abundance indices whereas grids with darker color show higher abundance index values of animals.

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40 Figure 3 4. Comparison of pattern of abundance indices of five ungulate species generated from photographic capture recapture sur vey conducted in 2003 2004 (number of independent photos, n=136) and grid based occupancy survey conducted in 2008 (number of animal clusters, n=6896). Both indicate lower abundance of larger sized prey species, and higher abundance of muntjac

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41 Figure 3 5. Prey species identification in tiger diet from tiger scats (n=16) show 50% of remaining items (n=20) in those scat samples were from wild pig, while others were from sambar deer (15%), muntjac (10%), bears (15%), and others in NEPL NPA (Vongkhamheng unpublished data)

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42 CHAPTER 4 TIGER MINIMUM NUMBER AND TIGER DENSITY ES TIMATION IN NAM ET PHOU LOEUY CORE ZONE Background Because of their elusive, secretive and wide ranging behavior (Sunquist 1981, Karanth and Sunquist 2000), tigers are difficult to study or even to count in the wild, particularly in tropical forests where their population densities are relatively low (Rabi 2006). Therefore, little information exists on the status (i.e., abundance and distribution), ecology, and behavior of tigers in Southeast Asian forests (Rabinowitz 1999). Camera trapping methodologies are one of the few to have shown some success in counting tigers, but only a handful camera trap studies for tigers have been conducted in this region (e.g., Rabinowitz 1989, Kawanishi and Sunquist 2004, Lynam et al. 2007, Johnson et al. 2006, Simcharoen et al. 2007). These studies estimated tiger densities and prey abundance in some key national parks, and only a (Rabinowitz 1989). At present, several advanced techniques are available for estimating tiger population abundance and distribution (Williams et al. 2002, Mondol et al. 2009, Karanth and Nichols 2002, 2010). Most notable is the camera trapping technique, w hich takes advantage of the fact that individual tigers are identifiable from their unique pattern of stripes (Karanth 1995). The data are analyzed in the conceptual framework of capture recapture statistics (Karanth and Nichols 1998, 2002). The photograph ic capture recapture sampling methods have been successfully employed to estimate abundance of Karanth et al., 2006; Kawanishi and Sunquist, 2004, Johnson et al. 2006, Simchar eon et al., 2007), as well as of other carnivore species that have

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43 the pattern of stripes or spots unique to each individual such as leopards ( Panthera pardus ) (Henschel and Ray, 2003), snow leopards ( Panthera uncia ) (Rodney et al. 2005) and jaguars ( Panth era onca ) (Silver et al. 2004, Soisalo and Cavalcanti 2006). However, camera trapping methods involve high costs and logistical difficulties in terms of equipment, workforce, and technical skills (Karanth and Nichols 2002, 2010). Of particular importance, the camera trapping method work s best in areas where tigers occur at relatively high density (Karanth 2004, Bhagavatula and Singh 2006). If a survey leads to the capture of fewer than 10 tiger individuals, the inference of population estimates is not stron g enough because the data generates less reliable estimates of detection probability (Karanth and Nichols 2010). Another non invasive approach for counting tigers relies on identification of individual animals from DNA extracted from scats. This method ha s emerged as an alternative for capture recapture sampling of tigers and other rare, endangered or cryptic animal species (Waits, 2004, Mondol et al. 2009, Bhagavatula and Singh 2006). The fecal genetic identification method provides at least an estimate o f the minimum number of individuals and their distribution in a given area during that particular sampling session (Bhagavatula and Singh 2006). Provided that a sufficient number of capture d recaptured tiger scat samples are collected within a defined time period, the method can also generate an abundance estimate in a capture recapture framework (Karanth and Nichols 2010). Mondol et al. (2009) showed that tiger population estimates derived from either the genetic or photographic capture recapture sampling method are closely matched. Furthermore, the genetic based method also provides data on age sex structure and relatedness among individuals, which may provide insights into the social dynamics of the p opulation (Mondol et al. 2009).

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44 Knowledge of genetic va riation gives an important indicator of population viability and adaptability. The lack of variation is correlated with major reproductive disorders and morphological abnormalities (Avise 1996). The fecal DNA based method has been recommended as a useful t ool to estimate tiger abundance in rainforest of Southeast Asia where tiger densities are low and where camera trapping is impractical due to environmental and logistical difficulties, and sometimes cost considerations (Mondol et al. 2009). However, the re liability of using either the genetic or photographic capture recapture framework in tiger population estimation requires the capture and recapture of a sufficient number of individuals within a specified time period and an assumption of population closure (i.e., that no animals are immigrating into or emigrating from the population while the study is implemented) (Karanth and Nich ols 2010). The assessment of tiger populations typically occurs at two scales (Karanth and Nichols 2010). One scale focuses on e stimating abundance of tiger populations at specific sites (e.g., protected areas, this chapter), whereas the other focuses on measuring the spatial distribution over broader areas (e.g., landscapes, Chapter 5). However, assessment of tiger population size at these different scales requires different approaches in terms of equipment needs workforce, and technical skills (Karanth and Nichols 2002). In this chapter, I present the assessment of tiger population in the 3,000 km 2 core zone within the NEPL NPA, using both the fecal DNA based and the standard photographic capture recapture methods based on camera traps plus an ad hoc tiger:prey ratio method (Karanth and Nich ols 2010), to draw inferences regarding tiger abundance. The photographic tiger data were based on camera trap surveys conducted in 200 3 and 2004 (Johnson et al. 2006 ), while the prey and DNA based tiger data were based on current field research. I believe that

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45 tiger densities at present in NEP L NPA remain within the range of the earlier population estimates (7 to 23 tigers within 3548 km 2 ). This is due to the fact that both tigers and their prey have continued to face hunting pressure over the last six years; thus, conditions have not changed a nd I would not expect tiger numbers to have increased. Accordingly, because of the high resource investment (in terms of manpower, equipment, and budget) involved in the camera trap surveys, I used the DNA based surveys to determine minimum number of tiger s. I postulate that the current minimum estimate of tiger numbers using fecal DNA analysis, and ad hoc tiger: prey ratio will be within the range of 95% confident interval derived from photographic capture recapture sampling conducted between 2003 and 2004 (Johnson et al. 2006). Methodology Camera Trapping We surveyed tiger and prey using 50 CamTrakker passive infrared camera traps (CamTrak South Inc., GA, USA) set in five 100 km 2 sampling blocks in areas where tiger sign was previously reported (Johnson e t al., 2006; Fig. 4 1 ). Each block was divided into 25 4 km 2 subunits and a random UTM coordinate was chosen within each subunit. Cameras were set in an optimal location ( i.e., where evidence of tigers were confirmed ) near active animal trails within 500m of the random coordinate. A pair of cameras was set at each site, one on each side of a trail, so that both sides of individual tigers could be photographed. Cameras were mounted on trees at a height of 45 cm and set to operate 24 h day with a 20 s delay b etween sequential photographs. Cameras were left in the forest for a minimum of 37 days. The number of trap days per camera (CTD) was calculated from the time the camera was mounted until the date of the final photo or the date the camera was retrieved. Ea ch

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46 photo was identified to species and rated as either a dependent or independent event. A was defined as (1) consecutive photographs of different individuals of the same or different species ; (2), consecutive photographs of individuals of the same species taken more than 0.5 h apart or (3) nonconsecutive photos of individuals of the same species. Individual tigers were identified by their unique stripe patterns to establish capture histories for each tiger (Karanth, 1995). A pplying closed population assumptions (Nichols and Karanth, 2002), we estimated capture probabilities (P hat) and population size using the computer program CAPTURE (Otis et al., 1978; White et al., 1982). I derived estimates of tiger density (tigers per 1 00km 2 ) for an effective sampling area that included the area of the sampling blocks plus a buffer strip on all sides of the blocks (Nichols and Karanth, 2002). Taking into account the distance moved by large wide ranging carnivores between cameras may be a poor representation of true ranging behavior (Soisalo and Cavalcanti, 2006), I estimated a series of effective sampling areas with buffers ranging from half of the mean maximum distance (HMMD) moved between captures to the mean maximum distance (MMD) move d and the maximum distance (MD) moved between recapture photographs for the entire study area (Johnson et al. 2006). Scat DNA Analysis Scat samples were collected opportunistically during field occupancy surveys for tiger prey across the 2,600 km 2 2008 (see Chapter 3), and also during the monthly foot patrols by park rangers in eight sectors (Figure 4 3), covering 2,066 km 2 between January 2008 and May 2010. In addition, two field teams were added to speci fically walk the eight sectors and to specifically search for large carnivore scats in the dry field season from

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47 November 2009 May 2010. The teams were first trained on scat collection protocol and provided with equipment and standardized data forms. Giv en the rugged terrain, the teams sometime walked along streams, or followed the ridge of mountains depending on accessibility to search for scats. The objective of my scat collection was not designed for genetic capture recapture analysis to estimate popul ation abundance, but only to obtain an estimate of the minimum number of tigers within the NEPL NPA core zone. Thus, surveys were not replicated and the time survey period was not taken into account to meet the assumption of population closure (Karanth and Nichols 1998, Mondol et al. 2009). Carnivore scats with a diameter of greater than two cm were collected, e ach fecal sample encountered was measured (diameter), the location was determined from GPS coordinates, and the scat was put it in a ziploc plastic bag, air dried and then stored with selica gel. Attention was given that carnivore scats were not contamination or degradation Scat samples were later sent to the Center for Conserv ation Genetics and Global Felid Genetic Program of American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York, for DNA extraction and identification of species, tiger individuals, sex and relatedness. Expected Tiger Numbers Based On the Ad hoc Prey:Tiger Ratio St udies have shown that there is a strong relationship between prey abundance and tiger densities (Karanth and Nichols 1998, 2002, Karanth et al. 2004). High prey densities support higher number of tigers (Sunquist et al. 1999, Karanth et al. 2004). One ad h oc method for estimating potential tiger numbers in a given area is based on studies that have shown that on average a tiger requires 50 deer sized ungulates per year (Karanth and Nichols 2010), and t h at consumption is

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48 typically about 10% of available prey base in an area, which is corresponding to the annual rate of prey population grow th So, potential tiger numbers can be estimated by estimating prey abundance, using the simple assumption that one tiger needs a prey population of 500 deer sized animals t o maintain itself (Karanth and Nichols 2002, 2010). Accordingly, I took a summation of princip al prey (gaur, sambar deer, serow, wild pig and muntjac) abundance indices derived from field occupancy survey (Chapter 3) over the whole sampling area divided by 500. Based on evidence provided by previous studies (Gopalaswamy et al. 2008, unpublished data), it is reasonable to assume that the estimates of prey abundance are strong ly relat ed to true abun dance This is because the model incorporates heterogeneity i n animal detection probability as a result of variation in animal abundance into analytical process (Royle and Nichols 2003). Results Tiger Population Estimation from Camera Trapping Camera trap surveys were conducted in five sampling blocks over 14 months for 3588 total trap days (Table 4 1). Cameras recorded 1322 photos of 32 mammals and 13 bird species including 382 independent photos of 10 prey species and 117 independent photos of six felids and a canid. We recorded 13 photos of five indivi dual tigers from three sampling blocks at a rate of 276 CTD per photo (Table4 1). Tiger density estimates varied with estimates of three different effective sampling areas (Table 4 2). There were an estimated 0.2 tigers/100km 2 (95% CI: 0.2 0.7) with a buff er of maximum distance (MD), 0.5 tigers/100km 2 (95% CI: 0.5 1.5) for a mean maximum distance (MMD), and an estimated 0.7 tigers/100km 2 (95% CI: 0.7 2.4) for half the mean maximum distance (HMMD). Overall, the tiger population

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49 abundance estimates ranging fr om 7 to 23 tigers in the effective sampling areas, which varied from 953 to 3548 km 2 Fecal DNA based Tiger Minimum Estimation Of 167 scat samples collected from January 2008 to May 2010, DNA was extracted successfully from about 90.42% (n=151) samples, w hile about 9.58% (n=16) of samples failed. Of those successful samples, tiger DNA was extracted from 11% (n=16) of samples, which were identified to 16 different tigers, including two females, 12 males, and other two unknown. The majority of fecal samples were confirmed as Asian Dhole (56%), Asian Golden Cat (19%), Clouded Leopard (11%), Leopard Cat (3%), and Marble d Cat (1%) (Figure 4 2). Estim ation of Expected Tiger Numbers The occupancy survey covering the 2,600 km 2 out of 3,000 km 2 core zone (Chapter 3) resulted in an abundance index of 5.25 ungulates / km 2 or a total of 13,650 ungulates. Based on the energetic need of 500 ungulates to support a single tiger per year, the carrying capacity of the 2,600 km 2 sampling area can potentia lly support up to 27.3 tigers (1.05 tigers per 100 km 2 ). Including the 3,000 km 2 NEPL core zone, the area could potentially hold up to 31.5 tigers. Discussion Earlier comparative studies indicate that both photographic and fecal DNA capture recapture techn iques yield similarly reliable estimates of tiger population density (Mondol et al. 2009). However, depending on the field situation and logistic constraints in a specific area, only one is sometimes suitable (Karanth and Nichols 2002, 2010). In this study the results from fecal DNA extraction (a minimum of 16 individuals), which when combined with available prey base data (5.25 ungulates/ km 2 ), clearly shows that tiger population densities in NEPL NPA remains at levels

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50 similar to those estimated in 2003 2 004 (7 to 23 tigers) using photogra phic capture recapture (Johnson et al. 2006). This may be partly due to the fact that both tigers and prey are still under serious pressure from commercial and subsistence hunting (Vongkhamheng and Johnson 2009), althoug h conservation interventions have made so me progress since 2006 (Figure 4 4 WCS Lao Unpublished data). There is strong evidence suggesting that at least two tigers were killed in June and August 2005, two were killed in January and March 2007, and two were killed in February 2008 and October 2009. On average, 1.2 tigers were lost annually to illegal poachers between 2005 and 2009, which was equivalent to a loss of 5.2% a year for the estimated maximum tiger numbers (n=23) in 2003 2004, or 3.8% per annum o f current number of tigers that the area can support (n=31.5). However, the number killed may actually be higher since this number is only those that local authorities have strong evidence of or are occasions when park rangers encountered carcasses within their patrol sectors, The number of kills undetected or outside those sectors is uncertain (Vongkhamheng and Johnson 2009). However, while the minimum number of tigers derived from fecal DNA analysis is reliable, it has to be emphasized that the inference made here is still not strong and requires caution for interpretation and further analysis. This is because the estimate was based on a small sample of scats (n=16), and these were only found in a fraction (2/3) of the 3,000 km 2 core zone, which was limite d to areas searched by field foot patrols. Therefore, the scat samples are unlikely to be representative of the whole core zone area. Finding scats of wide ranging carnivores in tropical forests of Lao PDR, like NEPL NPA, is difficult, which is similar to the experiences of researchers in other tropical countries (Farrell et al. 2000, Kawanishi and Sunquist 2004, Wultsch 2008). This is probably due to several factors, including: (i) tigers are

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51 at low densities (ii) scats decompose faster in the hot, humid and tropical environment, and (iii) there is limited accessibility due to rugged terrain. Accordingly, I conclude that while assessment of tiger population density using the fecal DNA capture recapture sampling is possible in NEPL NPA, finding sufficient s cat samples within a certain period of time to meet a closure assumption is challenging. So, photographic capture recapture sampling is probably more applicable. In addition, i n this study the fecal DNA identification shows results similar to those of othe r studies (Kawanashi and Sunquist 2004) in that scat size is not a reliable way to distinguish tigers from other carnivores that share the same space and have similar diet. Of 121 scat samples with sizes greater than two cm in diameter (mean = 2.958.50, r ange 2 5.5 cm), only 16 samples were confirmed as tige rs (mean scat diameter = 4.2 cm range 3.5 5.5 cm). The skewed sex ratio, 12 males to 2 female tigers, in the DNA analysis suggests that there are likely to be more tigresses in NEPL NPA than were det ected. range usually overlaps the home ranges of several breeding females; the average is about three to one (Sunquist 1981, Smith et al. 1 987, Karanth and Nichols 2002). A f emale tiger settles in a certain home range with good quality of habitat in order to secure a place to hunt and make a dense to take care of her cubs, whereas a male tiger often move around between those female home ranges, and regularly travel along certa in trails (Sunquist 1981) In addition, transient male tigers (subadult tigers after leaving their parents) travel throughout the areas look ing for a place to settle. As a result, the probability of detecting scats of males is h igher than females because male tigers travel over relatively larger areas than females That tigers travel widely is also supported by observations that tiger tracks (pad width >7.5 cm)

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52 were more frequently encountered by field survey teams and park rangers in areas where no scat s amples were found (Figure 4 3). For example, 37 different sets of tracks were recorded from July 2009 to June 2010 over 2,060 km 2 of foot patrol sectors. Therefore, in order to draw stronger inferences about tiger population size and their population dynam ics, further scat collection throughout all parts of the 3,000 km 2 core zone is highly needed Similarly, although tiger abundance estimates from camera trap sampling in 2003 and 2004 was successful in NEPL NPA (0.2 07 tiger/100 km 2 or 95% confidence inte rval of 7 to 23 tigers), the inference of population estimates was also not very rigorous. The main reason behind this was because the number of individual tigers captured was small (n=5). This was due to the small size of sampling blocks (100 km 2 ) relativ e to the actual home range size of a male tiger, which was estimated at >250 km 2 in tropical forest at Huay Kha Khaeng, Thailand (Pattanavibool pers. com). As a result, the number of individual tiger s captured was never greater th an two animals (Johnson et al. 2006). Karanth and Nichols (2010) emphasized that if survey leads to captures of fewer than 10 tiger individuals, the inference of population estimate is not so strong. Capture recapture history data of detected individuals allow estimation of detecti on probability, and thus population abundance. So, the small number of captured individuals may yield less reliable detection probability. However, from a management perspective, the information on tiger abundance ge nerated from this study is useful for mo nitoring changes in tiger population and assessment of conservation intervention impacts. Although the data suggest that tiger abundance in NEPL NPA remains at about the same level as population density estimates from six years earlier, it has to be cautio ned that tigers, especially

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53 breeding females, may be now under serious pressure of poaching by humans. Of 16 DNA confirmed tiger individuals, only two of them were females while the other 12 were males. This sex ratio is strongly skewed towards males (6M:1 F). Breeding females are critical to population persistence and whether the male biased sex ratio is real or that females were not detected is unknown. A model of the impact of poaching shows that a 15% annual mortality of adult breeding females is suffici ent to drive a tiger population to extinction (Chapron et al. 2008). Therefore, our p rimary concerns are whether or not those females are still alive but they were not detected or they have been killed. Tiger poaching is often driven by the high demand and value of tiger parts at international markets for traditional medicine. The current estimated price of a tiger ranges from US$ 10,000 up to US$ 70,000 (Nowell 2000, Damania et al. 2008). At local markets in NEPL NPA, tiger bones sold for up to US$ 11,528 in 2005 (Johnson et al. 2006). This is a concern given that scientific studies show clearly that a small population of about 30 individual tigers may become extinct within 15 years with just only a 2% kill rate a year. Only a larger population of more than 70 tigers could potentially sustain a loss of 10% a year or more (Damania et al. 2008). As we realize that monitoring is most useful when it is combined with interventions carried out as part of adaptive management, so conducting the annual field surveys (using both camera trapping and fecal DNA) to provide snapshots of tiger population abundance is highly recommended to evaluate changes in tiger numbers and effectiveness of management interventions in NEPL NPA.

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54 Table 4 1. Sampling effort for estimating tiger abundance in 2003 2004 in Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area, Laos (Source: Johnson, Vongkhamheng et al. 2006) (Sampling block) Local name Month/year Duration (days) Tiger (recapture) Camera points (cameras) Trap days (1) Phou Louey 3 4/2003 55 2(2) 25 (49) 828 (2) Nam Pa 10 11/2003 39 1(2) 24 (48) 667 (3) Nam Ngao 12/2003 1/2004 37 2(1) 25 (50) 704 (4) Phou Jae 2 3/2004 37 0 25 (50) 659 (5) Thamla 4 5/2004 37 0 25 (50) 730 Table 4 2. T iger ( Panthera tigris ) density estimates using different distances between recapture photographs to determine the sampling area (Johnson et al. 2006) Distance used to estimate buffer Km Total effective sampling area Tiger density (tigers/100 km2, 95% CI) MD 8.3 3548 0.2 (0.2 0.7) MMD 3.8 1548 0.5 (0.5 1.5) HMMD 1.9 952 0.7 (0.7 2.4)

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55 Figure 4 1. Location for camera trap sampling blocks, each 100 km 2 in NEPL NPA during 2003 2004. Each 100 km 2 sampling block was divided into 25 2x2km grid cells and a pair of camera traps was set in each 4 km 2 grid.

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56 Figure 4.2. Percentage of each carnivore species detected by camera trap surveys during 2003 2004 (n=117 independent photos), and fecal DNA extraction (n=151 scats, collected from Jan 2008 zone

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57 Figure 4 July 2009 to June 2010, and confirmed fecal DNA scat samples in yellow dots from March 2008 May 2010 in NEPL core zone.

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58 Figure 4 4. Spatial distribution of hunting (catch per effort) made by the foot patrol teams across 2060 km 2 within NEPL NPA core zone between July 2009 to June 2010. The number of catch per effort (1x1km grid) varies with color gradients, darker color rep resents the higher number of hunting whereas less hunting otherwise (Source: WCS Laos, unpublished data).

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59 CHAPTER 5 TIGER AND PREY OCCUP ANCY IN NAM ET PHOU LOUEY TIGER CONSERVATION LANDSCA PE Background The 30,000 km 2 Nam Et Phou Louey (NEPL) Tiger Conservation Landscape (TCL) # 35 is one of the global priority areas for tiger conservation in Asia (Dinerstein 2006). This TCL has been recognized as the only remaining source tiger population (i.e. area that contains breeding popula tion of tigers) in Indochina, including Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam (Walston et al. 2010). However, tiger occurrence has so far been confirmed only inside the 5,950 km 2 NEPL national protected are a (NPA) (Johnson et al. 2006). There are anecdotal reports of tiger presence, based on animal signs (track, scats) and livestock depredation by tigers outside the NPA, but these reports are unconfirmed. Despite the importance of NEPL landscape for tigers and the threats facing them, the re has never been a status over the 30,000 km 2 landscape. Lack of such important data make it difficult to develop effective management strategies for long term conservation of tigers in the NEPL landscape, and also hinders the design of the systematic monitoring protocols needed to evaluate population trends of tigers and prey over time and space, which is an important tool for adaptive management (William et al. 2002, Karanth and Nichols 2010). Given the large scale assess ment needs, methods such as capture recapture and line transects, which are used for estimating animal population size are not practical because they are time consuming, expensive and difficult to impleme nt (Karanth and Nichols 2010). Thus, the focus of m y investigation has shifted from estimating numbers occupancy (Mackenzie 2002). This approach is based on the modeling and estimation of

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60 occupancy rates from repeated presence absence su rveys and is conceptually similar to capture recapture scheme developed by Mackenzie (2002, 2003) and Royle and Nichols (2003). Recently, occupancy surveys have been used worldwide to study the distribution of many taxa, especially rare and large home rang e species, including carnivores (Linkie et al. 2006, Liu Fang et al. 2010, Hines 2010). Of particular importance, occupancy surveys require less effort and are less expensive than those surveys concerned with abundance estimation, and the surveys also work well even for rare species (Mackenzie et al. 2004, Karanth and Nichols 2010). In a monitoring context, any changes in the proportion of area occupied (e.g. place where species is present) will correspond to changes in animal numbers, provided sampling uni ts are defined at appropriate scales (Royle and Nichols 2003, Mackenzie 2004). Therefore, careful monitoring of changes in proportion of area occupied by tigers (or habitat occupancy) in the 30,000 km 2 NEPL TCL allows us to evaluate the general effectivene ss or impacts of current conservation interventions within the 3,000 km 2 core zone, which is a subset of the lar ger landscape. The reasoning behind this is that occupancy will increase with increasing abundance. This chapter presents results of the first systematic assessment of tiger distribution or habitat occupancy at a landscape scale using questionnaire surveys to assess the proportion of area occupied by tigers and prey over 30,000 km 2 NEPL TCL, and to examine associated covariates that are most like ly to influence the distribution of tigers across the sampling units or landscape. The anticipated results will allow us to address several questions that are especially useful for design of a management strategy. Specifically: (i) Where are tigers in the NEPL landscape?, (ii) Is the existing 3,000 km 2

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61 core zone an area set for free of human activities in order to secure tigers and prey in the NEPL NPA in the right location?, and (iii) What are the major factors influencing the occurrence and distribution of tigers? Methodology Study Design refers to the proportion of sites occupied by a species. Occupancy models need repeated surveys of a site and records of whether the species was present (1) or absent (0) (Mackenzie e t al. 2002, 2003, 200 6). A detection history is then constructed; for instance, 0101 represents the case where the species was not detected on the first and third visit, but detected at the second and fourth visit. The probability of observing the survey history in terms of oc cupancy and detection rate (p) is that Pr (0101) p 1 )p 2 (1 p 3 )p 4 maximum likelihood based or Bayesian approaches (Mackenzie et a l. 2002). After that modeled as functions of c ovariates using the logit link function (Mackenzie et al. 2002, 2003) to evalua te their effects. The computer software for estimating those parameters (Hines 2006; http://www.mbr pwrc.usgs.gov/software/presence.html) Underly ing assumptions behind occupancy estimation are that: (i) all surveyed sites are equally occupied by the species of interest throughout the duration of sampling period within a closed system no sites are becoming occupied or unoccupied during the survey period, (ii) species are not falsely detected, but can remain undetected if present, and (iii) species detection at a site is assumed to be independent of species detection at other sites (See chapter 3, section 3.2 for detailed descriptions).

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62 In this study, I used local expert opinion surveys combined with occupancy modeling (Mackenzie 2002) to determine distribution and occupancy of tigers and five major tiger prey species (gaur, sambar deer, serow, wild pig, and muntjac) over the NEPL TCL. A grid cel l size of 300 km 2 was used as a sampling unit to collect data on presence absence of tigers and their prey, and relevant covariates. This cell size was based on prior knowledge of home range size for individual male tiger of about 250 km 2 in south east Asi an forest (Karanth et al. 2008, Pattanavibool pers. com). The 30,000 km 2 landscape was divided into 100 300 km 2 knowledgeable about wildlife and the area were chosen and interviewed independently, and treated as replicates for eac h 300 km 2 grid cell. Given the availability of funding support and logistical reasons, the questionnaire surveys focused on grid cells that were: (i) in proximity to the current NEPL NPA core zone and national protected areas, and (ii) h ad the highest potential habitat (e.g. forest cover, water) for tiger and prey. All data were collected using standardized questionnaires applied successfully at the Malenad Maysore tiger conservation landscape site in India (Karanth et al. 2008), but I ad apted the questionnaire to fit to local conditions in the NEPL landscape ( Appendix B ) and included reference maps of each grid with the questionnaire ( Appendix C ). In the NEPL questionnaire, the first part is to retrieve information on tigers, the second is to retrieve data on tiger human conflicts, the third is to gather data on tiger prey, and the last is focused on threats to tiger and prey. A reference map of each grid, with recent satellite image background and other attributes such as roads and river s, was produced in color in order to help survey teams visualize and explain the

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63 geographic terrain in the highlighted grid. To ensure the data from interviews represent the whole grid cell, local experts were selected from across each cell. For grids with no knowledge or experience of the neighboring grid, and also historical location of villages. Questionnaire Surveys Given the remoteness and access constraints, t hree survey teams, consisting of two people per team, were provided motorbikes to travel from one village to another. The leaders of all the teams were university graduates with previous experience in wildlife surveys and village interviews, and the assist ant was a village hunter with previous long term experience in wildlife surveys. At the beginning, a week long training and pilot of the questionnaire based surveys were undertaken for teams to ensure the accuracy and consistency in data collection. Teams were trained in: (i) how to identify local experts to be interviewed, (ii) interview techniques, and (iii) data forms and recording techniques. Field trials in a few grids were conducted to evaluate the teams or and to assess the accuracy of responses from the local experts. The data form for each grid was first completed by a researcher based on prior experience and knowledge of tiger and prey distribution in the grids and it was then compared with information provided by the local expert. Each survey team was asked to practice interviews with three or four local experts in pilot grids to get a feel for the questions, data forms, and recording techniques before implementing interviews by him/herself in subsequen t grids. Most importantly, attention was given that all team members (interviewers) were trained to be able to implement the interview without reading from the questionnaire so as to make local experts feel comfortable.

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64 o were knowledgeable about wildlife and the area was most important. Survey teams were encourag ed to work with villagers (e.g. village headman, militia, elders) to sketch a simple map about village land area (or grid) on the paper and assign names to domin ant features (mountains, rivers). This was done so that survey team members were familiar with the landscape, geographic features in the grid, and could ask villagers basic information about wildlife and habitats, and hunting activities. By doing this, the teams got a feel about which persons were knowledgeable about wildlife and the area. In addition, the survey teams provided a set of ten photos, one side with animal signs (tracks, scats) and another with a real picture, of tiger and other large carnivore s (leopard, clouded leopard, golden cat, dhole), and key prey species (gaur, sambar, serow, wild pig, muntjac). Before interviewing a person, the teams started by first showing villagers the animal signs and asking them to say a name for each species, afte r that the team flipped the photos to see whether they matched the real photos. If a person was able to recognize at least 80% of all those interviewed independently to en sure that responses from an interviewee were not influenced by other people. The team gathered data from local experts in the form of informal discussion rather than asking direct questions, but followed questions as outlined in the data form. The team som etimes collected data from an interviewee for more than one grid cell if he/she knew the areas and wildlife in adjacent grid cells. For example, when the team was interviewing a villager in grid # 40, and during a discussion the villager mentions that he h as seen tiger signs (tracks or scats) in grid # 45, and knows the areas rather

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65 well as he had recently been there for a purpose of searching for agar wood and other non timber forest products. In such a scenario, after the first interview was done the team then continued to interview the same person about tigers in grid #45. On the other hand, if interviewee said that he had seen tiger tracks (or heard somebody else say they had seen tiger tracks) while traveling through the grid # 45, but he himself had no knowledge of the area within the grid cell, then the interviewee was not questioned further about grid #45. Estimation and Modeling of Occupancy and Detection Probabilities Like abundance estimation, occupancy models take into account the issues of d etec tion probabilities to draw strong inferences (Mackenzie et al. 2000, 2003, Royle and Nichols 2003). This is important because detection probability of species at a given site may vary spatially and temporally due to several factors, such as environmental f actors (e.g. habitats, elevation,) and anthropogenic effects (e.g. human density, hunting pressure). Failure to account for effects of those causal factors on detectability may lead to biased occupancy estimates (Karanth and Nichols 2010). I constructed mo dels using covariate s of each cell (Section 5.2.3) and ran multiple models in program nd Anderson 2002). T to compare each model to the to be substantial ly empirical ly supported by the data whereas the greater support from the data. I assessed the effects of covariates associated with tiger occupancy and detection probabilities.

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66 Covariates Site occupancy and detection probability of animals are often influenced by a variety of covariates (Mackenzie et al. 2002, Royle and Nichols 2003) Such knowledge of factors influencing animal abundance and distribution is important for management design and policy making (Stanley and Royle 2005). In this study, I examined effects of covariates on tiger occupancy by selecting covariates that are mos t likely to influence the probability of tiger and prey occurrence in NEPL TCL. These covariates included three anthropogenic factors : human population size (HPOP) in each 300 km 2 grid cell (source: census data 2007 from the Center for National Statistics) proximity from grid center to major roads (RDD), and prey hunting pressures (PRH), and two related conservation factors such as proximity to the boundaries of national protected areas (NPAD), and presence of forest management categories (FORC) including national protected areas, protection, and production forests (Source: the Forestry Inventory and Planning Division). I did not select the forest cover as a covariate for each grid cell because our habitat analysis indicated that each grid cell is largely c overed by forest (>40%). As tigers are adaptable to a wide variety of habitat types, they can live wherever prey is available. All covariates to calculate Euclidean distances from the cen tral point of grid cells to the nearest major roads and to the edge of closest national protected areas. Prey hunting pressure was (2), and low (1), and then these scores were averaged for all interviews within each grid cell (excluding those who offered no opinion). The range of mean scores was 1 and 3, and I considered cells with mean scores > 2.0 as having high hunting pressure and <2.0

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67 as having low hunting pressure. A ll continuous covariate values (HPOP, RDD, NPAD, PRH) were transformed by first computing the mean and standard deviation for the data, and each raw covariate value was then standardized by subtracting the mean from the raw value and dividing the result by the standard deviation (Donovan and Hines 2007). Prior Prediction Modeling with covariates allows us to evaluate predictions of priori hypotheses about factors that influence probabilities of occupancy and detection (Mackenzie 2003, Royle and Nichols 2003 Karanth et al. 2009). In this study, I examined effects of both human factors and conservation efforts on tiger occupancy in NEPL landscape. I predicted inverse relationships between probabilities of occupancy and detection for tigers and (i) human population, and (ii) the distance from major roads, and (iii) high human hunting pressure of prey. I expected a higher probability of tiger occupancy in grid cells with low human population, far away from major roads, and low hunting pressure of prey. The reasoning behind choosing prey hunting pressure as a covariate was because prey abundance is a determinant of tiger occurrence and density (Karanth 2004, Smirnov and Miquelle 1999). So, given the remaining habitats with insufficient prey availability, tige rs are unlikely to be present. For impact of conservation efforts, I predicted that grid cells in close proximity to national protected areas, and the presence of three major forest management categories (conservation, protection and production forests) w ould yield increased probabilities of tiger occupancy and detection probabilities. The main reasons behind this perspective was that those forests may provide better habitat conditions (e.g. shelter, food, space, water) and also somewhat better protection from hunting, due to

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68 national laws, park regulations and to some degree the management interventions have taken place, than would grid cells lacking in these conditions for forest areas. Data Analysis All data were stored in the Microsoft Access database and data were then processed in Microsoft Excel. Detection and non detection of tiger and prey species in each grid by local experts were compiled to produce tiger and prey detection history matrix. The matrix consisted of rows representing sampling units (or grids), and columns representing detection history of animals in each grid (or replicates). In this case, there were a total of 81 rows of surveyed grids representing 81 sampling units, and four columns represented four replicates (four local experts). I used program (Version 3.0 Hines 2006) to run multiple occupancy models using different covariates to generate parameter estimates such as occupancy and detection probabilities for tigers and each prey species The effects of covariates influ encing the tiger and prey occurrence and distribution were then assessed by examining parameter estimates within the final top model that strongly support the data (lowest AIC value). I then used occupancy rate in each grid cell to create a spatial distrib ution map of tigers and prey over the landscape using ArcGIS 9.2. Results Estimated Tiger Occupancy and Distribution We conducted interviews with 372 local experts from March 19 th to July 24 th 2009, which resulted in completion of 81 300km 2 grid cells co vering an area of 24,300 km 2 from a total proposed landscape of 100 300 km 2 grid cells. Reports of tiger presence within the past one year was 70% occupancy ( = 0.7, SE = 0.05) from 81 surveyed grid cells. Occurrence of tigers was generally found to be hi gher inside or nearby the

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69 national protected areas, (Figure 5 1). The model combining three covariates human population (HPOP), prey hunting pressure (PRH) and proximity to NPAs ( NPAD ) was ranked as the top three model s for predicting tiger occurrence and distribution in NEPL TCL However, the detection probability of the top model was influenced by only HPOP, whereas other two subsequent models were influenced by PRH and HPOP and HPOP PRH and NPAD respectively (Table 5 2). Other models with four covariates (PRH, NPAD, RDD, and FORC), excluding HPOP, in each 300 km 2 grid cell yielded little influence on the occupancy of tigers in NEPL TCL. Estimated Area Occupied by Tiger Prey Species Occupancy estimates and spatial distribu tion maps were made for five key prey species including muntjac, wild pig serow, sambar deer, and gaur (Table 5 3, Figure 5 2 a 0.09, Figure 5 2 a c), and the most restricted sp Figure 5 2 d e), whereas the proportion of area occupied by the sambar was relatively 0.96 SE = 0.02). The occupancy model with a single covariate (NPAD), was the top model for predicting the occupancy for ga ur while its detection probability was influenced by all five covariates, including human population (HPOP), prey hunting pressure (PRH), proximity to natio nal protected areas (NPAD), presence of other forest conservation areas (FORC) and the proximity to major roads (RDD) (Table 5 2). The detection prob ability of top model for sambar was influence d by HPOP, PRH, NPAD, and FORC, except to the RDD, whereas serow was influenced merely by NPAD and wild pig and muntjac were similarly influenced by human popul ation (Table 5 2).

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70 Threats to Tigers and Their P rey According to local experts, d irect poaching of tigers and their prey was a major threat responsible for tiger and prey population decline (Figure 5 4). About 2.4% of respondents (n = 372) reported that tigers were directly poached, and more than 30% of two ungulates hunted by villagers per one ungulate was killed per month. Ground observation in combination w indicated that clearance of forest for shifting cultivation (90%), new road (60%), and mining (9%), were major threats to habitat in NEPL TCL at present ( Figure 5 4 ), whereas the human tiger conflicts were reported as a res ult of livestock depredation by tigers (57% of reports, n =372) rather than man killing by tigers (2%, n = 372) ( Figure 5 5 ). Discussion Tiger Occupancy and Distribution Local knowledge of wildlife presence/absence has been recognized as reliable information because local experts have a long history of interaction with wildlife in their localities (Terborgh 1999, Gadgil et al. 1993, Redford and Stearman 1993 Anadon et al. 2009 ). It has been accepted that involvement of local people in wildlife ass essment is the most important step in conservation initiatives (Sekhar 2000, Steinmetz 2001). The locals provide baseline data on the current status of wildlife and existing local practices, which offer insights into past and ongoing processes in the envir onment ( Anadon et al. 2009) Most importantly, they provide baseline information that guide and inform the subsequent ecological field surveys in terms of field survey design and logistic preparation ( Anadon et al. 200 9 Steinmetz 2001, Karanth and Nichols 2010).

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71 Occupancy estimates and distribution maps of tigers and their prey generated from this study (Figure 5 1) using local knowledge associated with the statistic based occupancy models, provide the first systematic assessment of tiger and prey status in a tiger conservation landscape of Lao PDR. It provides invaluable data on tiger occurrence, and limiting factors that are of great practical value for conservation planning and monitoring. Results indicated that probability of tiger occupancy was strong ly inversely correlated with human population, prey hunting pressure, and proximity to national protected areas (or the existing forest conservation categories) and only human population is the important factor influencing the probability of tiger detecti on in each 300 km 2 grid cell (Table 5 2, Figure 5 1). Although roads yielded little current influence on tiger occurrence and distribution in NEPL TCL, it has to be cautioned that those major roads are linked to neighboring countries (e.g. Vietnam to the e ast and China to the west). Therefore, they may become a major threat to rapid declines in both tigers and prey as a result of illegal wildlife trade in the future. As a result, all those covariates need to be considered carefully in order to secure tiger and prey persistence when designing long term conservation strategies. Grid cells with higher probability of tiger occurrence were found mostly in/nearby national forest conservation areas (e.g. national protected areas, protectio n and production forest), although the occupancy model with covariates (NPAD, FORC) showed little influence on tiger occurrence. The data suggest that presence of conservation forests (or habitats) alone is not sufficient for tigers persistence if human po pulation and the pressure of human hunting for both tiger and their prey is not controlled. It was evident that tiger occurrence was largely found to be inside/nearby

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72 NEPL NPAs (Figure 5 1), where hunting is carefully managed as well as human population is low (Vongkhamheng 2002, Johnson 2006). Seidensticker et al. (1999) emphasized that although large blocks of habitats remain in many places, tigers are absent in those areas if ungulate prey have been depleted. The results suggested that tiger persistence is strongly dependent upon the abundance and distribution of resources, including cover, water, and the availability of large prey ( Sunquist et al. 1999, Miquelle et al. 1999, Karanth and Stith 1999), and protection from poaching (Kenny et al. 1995, Chapro n et al. 2008). The study is consistent with other studies in that prey abundance and distribution, and availability of preferred habitat for key prey species are critical predictors for tiger distribution and density (Smirnov and Miquelle 1999). Even thou gh this study produces reliable distribution map of tig ers and information on factors that may influence whether tigers occupy a place it should be emphasized that the map s generated relied on a model using local knowledge and site covariates. Therefore, interpretation of results needs to be cautioned because detectability of tigers based on reports by local experts may be false positives, a consequence of misidentification of tigers from other carnivores, e.g., leopards So, the only truly known occupanc y of tigers requires ground truth surveys to confirm presence of tigers especially, in grid cells with high probability of occupancy generated from this study (e.g. Fang et al. 2009). Local reports of tiger presence beyond the national park boundaries lik ely occurred because tigers, as top predators, occupy large home ranges, use a wide variety of habitat types, and prey on different sized ungulates to meet their ecological needs (Karanth and Sunquist 1992, Karanth and Nichols 2002). Distance of daily move ment and size of home ranges of tigers varies greatly by prey densities

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73 (Sunquist 1981, Karanth and Stith 1999, Karanth 2001). With low prey densities, for example in NEPL core zone (occupancy index abundance of 5.25 ungulates / km 2 Chapter 3), tiger home ranges were assumed to be much larger in size as was the daily dista nce moved. Further ground survey s are strongly suggested to confirm presence of tigers and prey in those grid cells with high probability of tiger occupancy outside NEPL NPA (Figure 5 1). Notably, in sampling design, attention should be given to the occupied if the species is permanently present within the sampling unit over a defined period of time, whereas if the species is only occasionally pres ent within a sampling unit at random points in time during the sampling period that is the habitat use rather than occupancy (Mackenzie et al., 2004). Most importantly, this study suggests clearly that the existing 3,000 km 2 core zone (an area of strict protection for tigers and other wildlife species) within NEPL NPA was located largely in grid cells that contain the highest probability of tiger occurrence in the landscape (Figure 5 1). St rong evidence of tiger occurrence in this core area was confirmed by genetic and photographic data (Chapter 4). Based on these results, it was recommended that connectivity must be maintained between the core zone within NEPL NPA (where tigers were confirm ed), and those remaining forest patches (where reports of tiger presence). This will be critical to secure the long term conservation of tigers in NEPL TCL because tigers require large areas of habitat to meet their ecological requirements (i.e., sufficien t prey to eat, water to drink, vegetative cover for hunting) (Sunquist et al. 1999 ) Those areas should be given immediate attention for ground confirmation of tiger presence, and also conservation interventions are needed to

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74 reduce direct poaching of both tigers and their prey, and clearance of forest for shifting cu ltivation. This study showed obviously that although tigers and large prey (serow, sambar and gaur) were protected by national law hunting of those species in anywhere or anytime is punishabl e (GOL 2007), direct poaching for both tigers and prey were reported ( Figure 5 3 a ). As a result, increasing the effectiveness of law enforcement on the ground across the NEPL landscape to reduce poaching of both tigers and prey is critically important. Sim ilarly, strict control of shifting cultivation and other infrastructure development (road and mining) in the core zone is also highly urgent to avoid easy access and habitat degradation. Prey Occupancy and Distribution The general pattern of prey occupanc y and distribution in the 30,000 km 2 NEPL TCL was quite similar to those results from field occupancy surveys in the 3,000 km 2 core zon e area (Chapter 3). L arger sized prey such as gaur and sambar occupied smaller proportion of areas than those small er siz ed prey including muntjac and wild pig The decline of large prey species largely resulted from heavy hunting by local people for both family consumption and sale in past decades (Vongkhamheng 2002, Schlemmer 2002). The study found that hunting of prey was still commonly practiced year round across the NEPL landscape ( Figure 5 3 b ), although some of those prey species were legally protected and/or their population status and sustainable rate of harvests for those prey were uncertain. Hunting of muntjac and w ild pig for subsistence (but not for sale) is seasonally allowed, especially outside the breeding season (GoL 2007). Consistent with my results, an earlier study estimated that each household in the NEPL NPA annually consumed 141 kg of wild meat, of which 20% was deer and pigs (ICEM 2003) Given an average of 35 households/village in 98 NPA villages

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75 (Schlemmer 2002) this is a minimum estimated offtake of 96,000 kg of ungulates annually (28.4 kg/km 2 ), not including offtake by outside hunters or animals traded commercially (Johnson et al, 2006). Although occupancy estimates for five key ungulates were successfully generated from this study, it has emphasized that the correlation between occupancy rates and absolute abundance of animals is uncertain (Royle and Nichols 2003) so interpretation of results needs to be cautious when designing a management strategy or monitoring system. Further field surveys of prey across the landscape, especially in grids with high probability of tigers, are hence strongly recommended to provide stronger inferences about prey occupancy and prey population status (e.g. abundance index), which is a useful baseline for long term monitoring. Careful monitoring of any changes in prey occupancy and index of prey abundance across the landscape may significantly reflect effectiveness or impacts of current conservation interventions that are underway at the core zone. The final models generated from this study provided useful informati on on what are key pred ictors of occurrence and distribution of prey species especially large prey species whose population distribution and abundance are comparatively low, at present in NEPL TCL. For instance, occurrence and distribution of gaur was strongly influenced by the proximity to NPAs whereas the detection probability is affected by all five covariates such as HPOP, PRH, NPAD, RDD, and FORC (Table 5 2 Appendix D ). It was obvious that gaur were found only inside/nearby national protected areas at the present (Figure 3 e). So, t he results suggested that gaur are highly sensitive to hunting pressure outside protected areas although they are totally protected species by the law.

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76 Hunting of gaur for trade in their bo dy parts, such as gall bladders (the said for medicinal pu rpose) in this region was reported (Vongkhamheng et al. 2002, Johnson et al. 2006). At present, the gaur population in NEPL NPA remains small (Abundance index = 58 individuals, Chapter 3). Accordingly, the NPAs are the last refuge for this species so that strict protection from poaching of gaur inside the NPA is highly needed to curb the rapid decline of gaur numbers. The models with constant probability of occupancy that allow the possibility of heterogeneity in detection probability were applied for samba r, serow, wild pig, and muntjac. This is because their presence were recorded in almost every grid cell over th e larger landscape, so I assume that their probability of occupancy is and no covariates are associated with occupancy T he to p model indicated that the detection probability of sambar is influenced by four key factors such as human population, pressure of human hunting, the proximity to NPA and presence of forest conservation categories, except to distance to the road whereas serow is merely influence d by NPAD and wild pig and muntjac are similarly influenced by human population (Table 5 2, Figure 5 2 a,c,d Appendix D ). The findings suggest ed that although those four species occupy the larger proportion of landscape, their detection probability is somehow associated with some key factors. For example, probability of detection for sambar is probably higher in grid cells with low human pop u lation low hunting pressure, and close proximity to forest conservation areas (se e Appendix E) S erow is probably largely detected in sites close proximity to the conservation forest s s uch as national protected areas, w hile pigs and muntjac are generalists they can live

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77 in any type of environment that provide suitable habitat components (i.e., c over, food, water) especially in those areas with lower human p opulation and hunting pressure. For the pig, although allows them to be resilient to hunting pres sure to some extent, their current population status and sustainable rate of hunting across NEPL TCL are uncertain, thus control of trade in bush meat is highly needed and further field research is needed to determine if pig numbers are essential for devel oping an effective management strategy. However, it has been emphasized that although roads showed little influence on occurrence and distribution of prey species at present, it is cautious that wildlife hunt ing for trade along the road was widely recogniz ed as a serious threat to many wildlife species across Lao PDR (Duckworth and Khounboline 1999, Nooren and Clarige 2001, Johnson et al. 2006).

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78 Table 5 1. Hypothetical matrix for tiger/prey detection (1), and non detection (0) for 81 grids over 24,300 km2 NEPL landscape with a total of five replicates (occasion s) where each local expert wa s defined as a replicate. Grids Occ1 Occ2 Occ3 Occ4 Occ5 GRD01 1 1 0 0 0 GRD02 0 0 0 1 1 GRD81 0 0 1 1 1

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79 Table 5 2. Best models for predicting occupancy for tiger and other five key prey species over 30,000 km 2 NEPL landscape. Top ranked models are ranked in order of their Akaike information criterion lowest AIC model and each model, W i is the AIC model weight, and NPar is the number of parameter in the models Specie s Top ranked models with lowest AIC AIC W i NPar. (HPOP,PRH,NPAD) p (HPOP) 412.26 0 0.1953 6 Tiger (HPOP,PRH,NPAD) ,p (HPOP,PRH) 412.82 0.56 0.1476 7 (HPOP,PRH,NPAD) ,p (HPOP,PRH,NPAD) 413.61 1.35 0.0994 8 Gaur (NPAD) ,p (NPAD,PRH,HPOP,RDD,FORC) 414.36 0 0.2411 8 (NPAD) ,p (NPAD,PRH,HPOP) 415.57 1.21 0.1317 6 (NPAD,FORC) ,p (NPAD,PRH,HPOP,RDD,FORC) 416.05 1.69 0.1036 9 Sambar (HPOP,PRH,NPAD,FORC) 314.04 0 0.3868 6 (HPOP,PRH,NPAD,FORC,RDD) 314.48 0.44 0.3104 7 (HPOP,NPAD,FORC) 315.46 1.42 0.1902 5 Serow (NPAD) 211.35 0 0.2342 3 (HPOP,NPA) 211.37 0.02 0.2318 4 (NPAD,FORC) 212.84 1.49 0.1112 4 Wild Pig (HPOP) 126 0 0.1235 3 (PRH) 126 0 0.1235 3 (.), p (NPAD) 126 0 0.1235 3 Muntjac (HPOP) 306 0 0. 158 3 306 0 0.158 3 306 0 0.158 3

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80 Table 5 3 Estimated occupancy rat es for tiger and five key prey species in the NEPL Landscape, Lao PDR based on the top model (Table 5 2) Species Nave Occupancy ( ) SE b P c SE d Tiger (2007 08) 0.69 0.7 0.05 0.57 0.03 Gaur 0.67 0.7 0.05 0.53 0.03 Sambar deer 0.96 0.96 0.02 0.8 0.02 Wild pig 1 1 0 0.9 0.04 Serow 1 1 0 0.9 0.01 Muntjac 1 1 0 0.9 0.01 Note: a Nave estimate of occupancy; does not incorporate detection probability(p) b Standard error of the occupancy estimate c Detection probability d Standard error of the detection probability

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81 Figure 5 1. Estimated probability of tiger occurrence in 81300 km 2 grid cells in Nam Et Phou Louey TCL relative to national forest management categories, including national protected areas, protection, and production forests in white, dark grey, and purple, respectively. The color gradients (scales) indicate the non un iform probability of tiger occurrence; darker cells indicate higher probability of occurrence whereas lighter cells are lower probability of tiger presence (see legend below).

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82 A B Figure 5 2 Spatial distribution map of prey species in 3 00 km 2 cells in NEPL TCL relative to national forest management categories; national protected area in white, protection, and production forests in white, mango, and light green, respectively. Dark cells indicate higher probability of occurrence, whereas l ighter cells are otherwise. A) Muntjac, B) Wild pig, C) Serow, D) Sambar deer, and E) Gaur.

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83 C D Figure 5 2 Continued

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84 E Figure 5 2 Continued

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85 Figure 5 3 Reports from informants (n=372) of major threats to tigers and their prey in NEPL landscape involves direct poaching for both (A) tigers and (B) prey. Figure 5 4 Reports (n = 372) of current major threats to primary habitats of tigers and prey in NEPL landscape included forest clearance for shifting cultivation, road, and mining A A B

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86 Figure 5 5 Reports (n = 372) of tiger human conflicts in NEPL landscape caused primarily by livestock depredation by tigers rather than man killing.

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87 APPENDIX A DATA FORM FOR SMALL CELL OCCUPANC Y SURVEY FOR TIGER P REY IN THE N AM E T P HOU L OUEY CORE ZONE Survey Team: GRID Cell Number: Start date of s urvey: SUB GRID Cell Number: End date of survey GPS Unit No: Name of GPS files downloaded: Track file: Waypoint file: Start time: End time: Start Location: Lat: Lon: End Location: Lat: Lon: No Replicate No Longitude of sampling destinations GAR SBR PIG MJK SEW MCQ Remark Evidence Evidence Evidence Evidence Evidence Evidence PLT TRK DST PLT TRK DST PLT TRK DST PLT TRK DST PLT TRK DST PLT TRK DST 1 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 3 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 4 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 5 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 6 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 7 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 2) 8 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 1) 2) 2) 2) 2 ) 2) 2) Note: TRK = Track, PLT = Pellet/Dung Pile, DST = Direct Sighting. Species label: GAR = Gaur, SBR = Sambar, PIG = Wild Pig, MJK = Muntjac, MCQ = Macaque

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88 APPENDIX B QUESTIONNAIRE DATA F ORM FOR LANDSCAPE OCCUPANCY SURVEYS IN N AM E T P OU L OUEY T IGER C ONSERVATION L ANDSCAPE TIGERS FOREVER DATA FORM 3 OCCUPANCY SURVEY : QUESTIONNAIRE DATA BASED ON ASSESSMENT OF INFORMANTS Informant No: Date of filling the form: Grid no: Name and address of the person filling the form: Informant's name and contact address: GPS Coordinates UTM, (E/N): Please circle the relevant cell for each question 1. Evidence for tiger presence during past one year ( how do you know tigers are present now ? ): Tigers seen Tiger signs seen Secondary Source No evidence Mark the locations where tigers are present on the reference map. ( Please use a different color marker to mark locations where tigers were seen by each interviewee on the reference map e.g. 1/1 means tiger seen during past one year by infor mant 1, 1/2 tiger seen during past one year by informant 2). 2. Evidence for tiger presence during the past 1 5 years ( how do you know tigers are present now ? ): Tigers seen Tiger signs seen Secondary Source No evidence Mark the locations where tigers are present on the reference map ( Please use a different color marker to mark locations where tigers were seen by each interviewee on the reference map e.g. 5/1 means tiger seen during past 5 years by informant 1, 5/2 tiger seen during past fiv e years by person 2). Assessment of tiger population trend during last 5 years within the survey area ( ask informant if any change in the status of tiger during the last 5 years): 3. Evidence for Tigers reproducing during the past one year ( how do you know there are cubs being born? ): Stable Declining Increasing No information Cubs Seen Tracks seen Secondary Source No evidence

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89 If the informant can give details, mark the locations where tigers cubs seen on the reference map (please use a 4. Has any man killing or man eating by tigers in the surveyed area occurred during past one year? If yes, mark the locations on the reference map (Please use a different color marker human by informant 1, 2) 5. Is there any instances of livestock predation by tiger in the surveyed area during past one year? If yes, provide details of evidence of livestock predation and mark the locations on the reference map. (Please circle the livestock reference map; e.g. TL 1, TL2 tiger eat livestock reported by informants 1 and 2. If kills more than 1 species of livestock, please write the first capital letter of livestock type following TL, e.g. TLB1, TLC1 (buff alo B, cows C) 6. Assessment of prey base: Name and rank prey species in order of relative abundance (including livestock). ( Please write 1 if abundance is highest and 6 is lowest on each column) Sp. Gaur Sambar Wild Pig Serow Muntjac Livestock?? Rank 7. Presence of other predator species, within tiger habitat in the survey area Leopard Clouded Leopard Golden Cat Dhole Bear (2 spp) 8. Assessment of threats: Are there any Sanam (livestock grazing areas) in your village/grid? : Yes / No If yes, please list the names of sanam, and their locations (use a reference map). ( Note: please use a different color to mark locations for each informant reports such as S1/1, S2/1, and S1/2 m eans sanam 1 reported by informant 1, sanam 2 reported by informant 2, and sanam 1 reported by informant 2.) No. Names Description of locations 1 2 3 Yes No Yes No Evidence : Buffalo Cows Dogs Goat P ig

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90 9. Occurrence of tiger poaching in the surveyed area in the past one year: Organized tiger poaching or tiger trade: Yes / No / No information (if poaching tigers organized by a group of people such as traders, local villagers, gear suppliers) Incidental tiger poaching: Yes / No / No information (if only one or two persons kill tiger without involvement of outsiders such as traders, supplier for hunting gears 10. Occurrence of hunting or poaching of prey species: Yes / No / No information (please focus on any of 5 key prey species such as gaur, sambar, wild pig, serow, and muntj moderate if hunting once a month, and occasionally if hunting was 1, 2 or 3 times per year) Heavy Moderate Occasional No No Information > 2 a mos Once a mos Once a 3 mos 11. Logging extraction: Severe / Moderate / No / No information logging is operated by company, and moderate if logging is made by villagers for timber sale) 12. NTFP collection: Severe / Moderate / No / No information (severe if NTFP collection is supported by company, and moderate if collection is made by villagers for household use/sale) 13. Forest fire: Severe / Moderate / No / No information. ( Severe if burning is greater than 1 ha. and moderate if burning is lesser than 1 ha ) 14. Developmental projects either planned or underway over the past 5 years: (Circle any if encounter any actual development projects that are visible and underway with indication of location on the grid cell) Types Responses Remarks Local road constru ction Yes No No information Mines Yes No No information Dams Yes No No information Agriculture Yes No No information Others (Please specify) Yes No No information

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91 APPENDIX C A REFERENCE MAP OF E ACH 300 KM 2 GRID CELL FOR LANDSC APE OCCUPANCY SURVEYS IN NAM ET POU LOUEY TIGER CONS ERVATION LANDSCAPE

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92 APPENDIX D A R ANKING OF MODELS USI ION CRITERION (AIC) WITH AIC < 2 Species Top ranked models with lowest AIC AIC W i NPar. 412.26 0 0.1953 6 Tiger 412.82 0.56 0.1476 7 413.61 1.35 0.0994 8 414.05 1.79 0.0798 5 414.11 1.85 0.0774 7 414.22 1.96 0.0733 8 Gaur 414.36 0 0.2411 8 415.57 1.21 0.1317 6 416.05 1.69 0.1036 9 (NPAD,HPOP),p(NPAD,PRH,HPOP,RDD,FORC) 416.08 1.72 0.10 9 416.08 1.72 0.10 7 416.3 1.94 0.09 9 Sambar 314.04 0 0.3868 6 314.48 0.44 0.3104 7 315.46 1.42 0.1902 5 Serow 211.35 0 0.2342 3 211.37 0.02 0.2318 4 212.84 1.49 0.1112 4 213.03 1.68 0.09 5 213.14 1.79 0.08 4 213.24 1.89 0.08 5 Wild Pig 126 0 0.1235 3 126 0 0.1235 3 126 0 0.1235 3 126 0 0.1235 3 126 0 0.1235 3 128 2 0.0454 4 Muntjac 306 0 0.158 3 306 0 0.158 3 306 0 0.158 3

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93 APPENDIX E BETA COEFFICIENTS FO R THE TOP MODELS FOR TIGER AND PREY SPECI ES Species/covariates Tiger 1 Gaur 1 Sambar 2 Serow 2 Wild pig 2 Muntjac 2 Constant ( ) 1.368 1.029 4.28 28.55 40.49 40.49 Human population 0.098 NA 0.67 0.237 0.224 0.414 Prey hunting 1.317 NA 0.29 NA NA NA Distance to NPA 0.607 0.87 1.02 NA NA NA Distance to road NA NA 1.31 NA NA NA Presence of forest conservation NA NA NA NA NA NA Note: 1 occupancy model with occupancy and detection (p) probabilities that are influenced by covariates 2 occupancy model with constant

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94 LIST OF REFERENCES A na d on, D. J., Gimenez, A., Ballestar R., and Perez, I. 2009. Evaluation of ecological knowledge as a method for collecting extensive data on animal abundance. Conservation Biology 23 : 3,617 625. Ahmed, M. F., J. Borah, C. Das, A. Basumatary, R. N. Sarma, D.D. Gogoi, S. N.Buragohain, N. K. B asu, B. K. Talukda, Y. V. Jhala and Q. Qureshi. 2010. Monitoring of tigers and prey animals of Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India. Technical Report, Aaranyak, TRCI: 04/2010. 50pp. Avise, J. C. and J. L. Hamrick. 1996. Conservation Genetics: Case Histori es from Nature. In: Conservation Genetics: Case histories from nature. Chapman and Hall, New York, p. 512 Biswas, S., and K. Sankar. 2002. Prey abundance and food habit of tigers ( Panthera tigris tigris) in Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh India. Journal of Zoology 256 : 411 420 Bhagavatula, J., and L. Singh. 2006. Genotyping faecal samples of Bengal tiger Panthera tigris tigris for population estimation: a pilot study. BMC Genet .;7:4 8 Buckland, S. T., D. R. Anderson, K. P. Burnham, and J. L. Laake 1993. Distance Sampling: Estimating abundance of biological populations. London: Chapman and Hall. Burnham KP, Anderson DR. Model selection and multimodel inference: A practical information theoretic approach New York, NY: Springer Verlag; 2002. Bucklan d, S. T., D. R. Anderson, K. P. Burnham, J. L., Laake, D. L. Borchers, and L. Thomas. 2001. Introduction to distance sampling. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapron, G., D. G. Miquelle, A. Lambert, J. M. Goodrich, S. Legendre, and J. Clobert. 2008. The impact on tigers of poaching versus prey depletion. Journal of Applied Eco logy 45 ( 6 ): 1667 1674. Corbett, G. B., and J. E. Hill. 1992. The mammals of the Indo malay region: a systematic review Natural History Museum Publications, Oxford University Press Davidson, P. 1998. A wildlife and habitat survey of Nam Et Phou Louey National Biodiversity Conservation Areas, Houaphanh Province. Wildlife Conservation Society, Vientiane, Lao PDR. Duckworth, J.W., R. E. Salter, and K. Khounboline. 1999. Wildlife in Lao PDR: 1999 status report. Vientiane: The World Conservation Union (IUCN), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management (CPAWM).

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103 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Chanthavy Vo ngkhamheng was born i n 1971 in th e southern province of Lao P eople D emocratic R epublic (PDR) He grew up in a family of farmers in this rural area. He received a bachelor degree in biology and chemistry from the National University of Laos, and a master degree in environmental b iology from Mahidol University, Thailand. He also attended the intensive training course on the biodiversity assessment and monitoring for adaptive management at the Smithsonian Instituti on, Front Royal, deer at Chattin Wildlife Santuary in Myanmar. He has worked for th e Wildlife Conservation Society Lao program since 1995, recognized as the first Lao w ildlife conservation biologist in the country. He has been involved in wildlife surveys in several national protected areas and other conservatio n activities through Lao PDR His m different ethnic groups in the Nam Et Phou Louey (NEPL) National Protected Area in northern Lao PDR. At the same time, he also served as wildlife consultant for the NEPL integrated conservation and development project the World Conservation Union ( IUCN ) From 2002 to 2004, he joined the WCS Lao program to start several import ant conservation projects notably, the tiger and prey conservation pro ject in NEPL PA the pterocarp forest and wildlife trade control in Vientian e capital city. He began his doctorate program in fall 2004 in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida, majoring in interdisciplinary ecology His PhD research topic was the abundance and distribution of tigers and prey in the montane tropical forest in northern Lao PDR.