Leopards can be fussy about where they live

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Washington, October 10 (ANI): In a new survey, scientists have found that leopards can be particularly fussy about where they live, actively avoiding certain areas.

The survey was carried out by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI).

For carrying out the survey of Tanzania's carnivores, the scientists used a novel approach, making use of over 400 camera trap locations.

"Camera traps provide a fantastic opportunity to gain knowledge on habitat use and spatial distribution of otherwise elusive and poorly known species. This methodology represents a powerful tool that can inform national and site-based wildlife managers and policy makers as well as international agreements on conservation," said Dr Sarah Durant from ZSL.

Using this technology, the researchers found out that many species, including the leopard, are quite choosy about where they live, and actively avoid certain areas.

Surprisingly, all the species surveyed tended to avoid croplands, suggesting that habitat conversion to agricultural land could have serious implications for carnivore distribution.

Until now, many of the species had been under reported because of their nocturnal habits, or because they live in heavily forested areas.

The strength of the technique to document habitat preference of elusive species is highlighted by camera trap observations of bushy tailed mongooses - including the first ever records of this species from one of the most visited areas in the country.

These data can also be used to understand how Tanzania's carnivores may respond to habitat changes caused as a result of environmental change.

"Carnivores are generally thought to be relatively tolerant to land conversion, yet our study suggests that they may be more sensitive to development than previously thought, and that protected areas need to be sufficiently large to ensure that these charismatic animals will roam in Tanzania for the decades to come," said Dr Nathalie Pettorelli from ZSL.

"All species were affected by rivers and habitat, and the analysis provides important information relevant to the examination of future impacts of climate change," she added. (ANI)

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