Fruiting Species Influence the Seasonal Use of the Habitat by Sloth Bear in and around Balaram Ambaji Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat, India
Sloth bear populations in India are threatened, and the ecology and distribution of the species occurring in the region's protected areas are known, but there is no scientific basis underlying management strategies for sloth bear. We used bear indirect and opportunistic direct signs like feeding site, scats, foot print trails, claw marks on climbing trees, to study habitat use and distribution of sloth bear (Melurus ursinus) across Balaram Ambaji Wildlife Sanctuary and Danta Reserve Forest, Gujarat, India from April, 2010 to January 2011. We survey 40 grids (5 × 5 km) 3 km signs survey = 120 km × 3 = 360 km and total 766 bear signs were recorded, and for vegetation we surveyed 40 grids × 2 km vegetation transect = 80 km were sampled. A total of nine (9) vegetation types were recorded and the bear sign where crossed check with the vegetation forest type. Fruits appear to be a key resource for sloth bears, and factors affecting fruit abundance or seasonality will affect bear foraging as well as the humans to depend on such fruits as a food common resource. Knowledge of this relationship will allow managers to be more proactive in managing bears. We recommend using sign surveys for monitoring changes in sloth bear presence, as they are inexpensive, efficient, and can be conducted by trained rangers.
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