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ESR 43:65-73 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01052

Spatial differences in prey preference by tigers across the Bangladesh Sundarbans reveal a need for customised strategies to protect prey populations

M. Abdul Aziz1,3,*, M. Anwarul Islam2, Jim Groombridge1

1Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NZ, UK
2Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh
3Present address: Department of Zoology, Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka 1342, Bangladesh
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The Sundarbans is the only mangrove habitat in the world to support tigers Panthera tigris, whose persistence there is believed to be dependent on a very limited number of prey species. Conservation managers therefore need to understand how tigers utilise available prey species on a spatial scale in order to formulate a prey-based protection strategy for this global-priority tiger landscape. A total of 512 scat samples were collected during a survey of 1984 km2 of forest across 4 sample blocks in the 6017 km2 of the Bangladesh Sundarbans. Analysis of scat composition and prey remains reliably identified 5 major prey species, of which spotted deer Axis axis and wild pig Sus scrofa contributed a cumulative biomass of 89% to tiger diet. Tiger preference for prey species was highly skewed towards spotted deer and wild pig, but the relative contribution of these 2 species differed significantly across the 4 study areas, which spanned the Sundarbans, demonstrating important spatial patterns of tiger prey preference across the Sundarbans landscape. Given the comparatively limited number of prey species available to support the dwindling tiger population, different strategies are needed in different parts of the Sundarbans to support tiger populations and to protect spotted deer and wild pig populations from unabated poaching.


KEY WORDS: Bangladesh · Mangrove · Panthera tigris · Tiger prey preference · Scat · Sundarbans · Spotted deer


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Cite this article as: Aziz MA, Islam MA, Groombridge J (2020) Spatial differences in prey preference by tigers across the Bangladesh Sundarbans reveal a need for customised strategies to protect prey populations. Endang Species Res 43:65-73. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01052

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