Felids, forest and farmland: identifying high priority conservation areas in Sumatra
Haidir IA., Kaszta Ż., Sousa LL., Lubis MI., Macdonald DW., Linkie M.
© 2020, The Author(s). Context: Effective planning for protected areas and wildlife population management requires a firm understanding of the location of the species’ core habitat patches, the dispersal corridors connecting them, and the risk they face from key threats, notably deforestation. Objectives: To quantify and map core habitat patches and dispersal corridors for Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi diardi), Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) and marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) across the 16,000 km2 tropical rainforest Kerinci Seblat landscape, Sumatra. Also, to model future forest loss and fragmentation and its effect on landscape connectivity for populations of these threatened species. Methods: Using data from camera trap (671 sites/55,856 trap nights), and occupancy modelling, we developed habitat use maps and converted these into species-specific landscape resistance layers. We applied cumulative resistant kernels to map core areas and we used factorial least-cost paths to define dispersal corridors. A 17-year deforestation dataset was used to predict deforestation risk towards the integrity of corridors and core areas. Results: The occupancy estimates of the three cats were similar (0.18–0.29), with preference shown for habitats with dense tree cover, medium elevation and low human disturbance. The overlap between core areas and corridors across the three species was moderate, 7–11% and 10%, respectively. We predicted future loss of 1052 km2 of forest in the landscape, of which 2–4% and 5% in highly importance core areas and corridors. Conclusions: This study provides a valuable guidance for identifying priority areas in need of urgent protection within and outside the protected area network, and where infrastructure development planning can incorporate wildlife conservation goals.