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Assessing Wild Ungulate Populations and Bushmeat Hunting in Tillari

Tropical forest ungulates are threatened due to a multitude of factors, one of the most serious being hunting for bushmeat. Large and medium-sized ungulates form preferred prey for large carnivores (e.g. tigers, dholes), as well as play important roles in forest ecosystems. Local hunting is widespread across the tropics, including the Western Ghats, but impacts of hunting and its intensity are variable and lesser understood. Hunting of ungulates in India is illegal, yet different motivations still drive hunting across many forest areas. Management of hunting thus requires an understanding of hunter motivations, hunting intensity, and their impact on relative abundance of ungulates.

This project assessed the relative abundance of large and medium-sized ungulates in the northern Western Ghats, India. Using an occupancy-modelling approach, we estimated group density of wild ungulates in the Tillari bioregion, an important conservation area of c. 300, which is a vital link connecting forests in three states (Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka). The project also evaluated local hunting practices through questionnaires with local hunters, villagers, and forest department to assess the impact of hunting on ungulates. The larger goal of this project is to better protect this fragile region through local support and improved management.

The project is supported by The Rufford Foundation.

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