Wildlife Occupancy Modeling at Kaziranga Karbi Anglong

Wildlife Corridors are generally designated as “clearly defined” areas through which wildlife moves from one forest tract to another, in search of food, water, refuge & breeding grounds. . In the Kaziranga Karbi Landscape there are such three well defined corridors- Panbari, Haldibari and Kanchunjuri. But animals are prone to use the entire stretch of 50+ kms highway (NH 37)to cross over from Kaziranga to Karbi Anglong or vice-versa. The Project will conduct a Grid Cell survey of the 250+ sq km area that separates the two landscapes. As a result, the study will tell us which areas outside the 3 corridors are most frequently used for migration.

Partners: 

# WCS- India Program

# CWS

# APPL Foundation

# Department of Forest, Govt of Assam

 

Research Team

1. Dr Varun Goswami (Wildlife Biologist), Dr Divya Vasudev (Wildlife Biologist).

Kaziranga Karbi Anglong Landscape Map. ©WTI

Assessing where elephants move 

  • This is the primary objective of the joint project, for which, we use, state-of-the-art scientific methods to identify areas intensively used by elephants for movement during the flood season & dry season. We also plan to contrast this flood season use of space by elephants with the dry season, when elephant movement between Kaziranga and KarbiAnglong is expected to be lower. 
  • To achieve the above, we initiated fieldwork in the dry season using a grid-based data collection approach. Our grid network encompasses an area of 250 sq. km. between Kaziranga and KarbiAnglong, bounded by Sekoni T. E. in the west and Bokhakhat in the east, each grid having 8 spatial replicates. We have recorded presence of leopard, muntjac, and hare, in addition to elephant. We have completed data entry and validation. 
  • We are currently analyzing the dry season data using a single-season occupancy modelling approach. 
  • We plan to replicate the dry season surveys during the monsoon season to document seasonal differences in movement throughout the study area. Once we have data from dry and monsoon seasons over 3–4 years, we will use multi-season occupancy models to contrast elephant habitat use and movement between dry and monsoon seasons across years.

The 250 sq km Grid Network

People's perception towards elephants

  • We are planning to carry out a questionnaire survey to assess public perception on elephant movement through agricultural lands and tea gardens, and how people respond to elephant presence.This will help identify appropriate conservation measures that can facilitate elephant movement with the support of local communities. 
  • We are currently doing initial reconnaissance work for the questionnaire survey. For this, we have marked the location of all villages and randomly selected 10 villages for the survey. In addition, we have selected two villages adjoining the proposed elephant corridor in Hathikuli T.E. We also plan to include all tea estates in the landscape for the survey. 
  • Randomly selected members of the chosen villages, estate managers and randomly selected permanent staff in each tea estate will be our respondents for the questionnaire survey. From each village, we have randomly selected 50–70 persons. We plan to do the same for all tea estates, but have thus far only managed to obtain lists of personnel from 2 estates. 
  • We will initiate the questionnaire survey once all the ground work for it is complete.

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