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Home range and movement pattern dynamics of wolves in semi-wild landscape in Deccan Plateau, Maharashtra, India

Student name: Ms Shreya Dasgupta
Guide: Dr Prateek Sharma
Year of completion: 2010
Host Organisation: Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun
Supervisor (Host Organisation): Dr Bilal Habib
Abstract: The Indian wolf, the top predator in most of its habitat, mostly survives outside protected areas, in human dominated landscapes. Since animals move in response to landscape structure, the rapid change in the landscape structure due to urbanization would have a bearing on the habitat use and movement of the wolves. The dwindling wolf populations often come in direct conflict with humans, often resulting in persecution. Therefore, it becomes important to keep track of changes in its home range, daily movements and its adaptability to the rapid land use change, in order to manage and conserve this species. This study uses three models, Minimum Convex Polygon, Kernel density, and Local Convex Hull, to estimate the home range of two packs of wolves and shows that the home range estimates differ significantly depending on the model used, and also vary with respect to the seasons. The core areas determined using the models were strategically located, providing the wolves with protective cover, and an easy access to domestic livestock. The difference in the number of core areas within the home ranges of each pack also resulted in different daily movement patterns, and village-visit frequencies among the two packs. The wolves seem to move at night and rest during the day, therefore minimizing interaction with humans. The study also showed that the wolves have a strong preference for the protected areas and grazing lands during movement, and an avoidance of agricultural lands. The movement parameters also seemed to reveal the behaviour of the wolves in the habitats to some extent. The study concludes that it would be more efficient to have smaller well spaced out resting sites/potential habitat patches to cover the entire home range of the wolves rather than trying to protect a single large one.

Keywords: Home range, Daily movement pattern, Canis lupus pallipes, Village visit frequency, Fragmentation.