How Wild Dogs Tigers And Leopards Coexist In India’s Jungles

Posted on February 14th 2018

Tiger Poaching On The Rise

Whilst domesticated cats and dogs may fight tooth and nail, India’s big cats and wild dogs seem to get along with each other just fine. Tigers, leopards, dholes (the Asian wild dog) living in India’s Western Ghat region all compete with each other for exactly the same resources. However, according to a new study which used camera traps to monitor what is happening, all three species seem to coexist with very little conflict between them.

Adaptation is key

The obvious question is how do they manage it? It turns out that that all three species have managed to adapt to life in relatively small reserves of the Western Ghats region and tend to hunt in different areas or at different times say the researchers. The success of these tactics however depend entirely on the density of prey and the overall health of the ecosystem says head researcher Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society. He adds that conservationists can learn from the adaptive strategies undertaken by the predators.

Delicate dance between species

Dr Karanth says there is a delicate dance taking place between tigers, leopards and dholes in these protected areas and all three species seem to be thriving. In a statement he said the researchers were surprised to seek how each species has made the remarkable adaption to hunting different prey sizes, using different habitat types or simply hunting at different times. The IUCN classifies both the tiger and the dhole as endangered which means that they are at high risk of extinction in the wild. Leopards are classified as a vulnerable species which means in the wild there is a high risk of endangerment.

Wild dogs hunt during the day whilst the big cats hunt at night

Using the camera traps and analysing the footage, the researchers found that reserves that were filled with potential prey saw very little overlap when it came to hunting times. The dholes hunt during the day and rarely come into contact with tigers and leopards which are largely nocturnal predators. However, the researchers also found that when prey became scarce, hunting activity started to overlap. Even then according to the camera traps, the dholes managed to avoid the big cats. Similarly, leopards tend to avoid their larger tiger cousins in areas where both predator and prey are in abundance.

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