The use of camera traps for estimating tiger and leopard populations in the high altitude mountains of Bhutan
Wang SW., Macdonald DW.
We used camera traps in combination with capture-recapture data analysis to provide the first reliable density estimates for tigers and leopards from the high altitude and rugged terrain in Bhutan's Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Fifty days of camera trapping in each of five study zones collapsed into two trapping blocks, resulted in a sampling effort of 4050 trap days. Camera trapping yielded 17 tiger photos (14 left flanked and 3 right flanked) and 48 leopard photos (25 left flanked and 23 right flanked). Using photos of these left flank, the closed heterogeneous Jackknife Model Mhwas the best fit for the capture history data. A capture probability (over(P, ^)) of 0.04 was obtained for both tigers and leopards, thus generating population size (N) of 8 tigers (SE = 2.12) and 16 leopards (SE = 2.91) with densities of 0.52 tiger 100 km-2and 1.04 leopard 100 km-2. Photographic evidence indicated that tigers and leopards did not overlap in their spatial use of space. Tigers preferred less disturbed areas located further away from settlements, while leopards appeared to be more resilient to disturbances in so far as they were found nearer to human settlements. Camera trapping using a capture-recapture framework was an effective tool for assessing population sizes for tiger and leopard in low density areas such as Bhutan. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.