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Distribution Range and Population Status of Common Leopard (Panthera Pardus) in and Around Machiara National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Keywords: Common leopard , status , threats , Machiara National Park

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Abstract:

The present study was conducted to estimate the status of common leopard (Panthera pardus) in and around Machiara National Park (MNP) Azad Jammu and Kashmir between May 2007 and July 2008. Fifteen fixed transects were monitored on regular basis. Indirect signs of leopard such as pugmarks and scats were recorded along the transects in addition to people and livestock which were counted as an index of disturbance and mean encounter rate for leopard scats, footprints, livestock and people was calculated. Mean encounter rate for leopard pugmarks was 1.6, for scats 2.11, for livestock 25.03, and for people 22.48. Linear measurements of front and hind pugmarks and strides were classified which indicated that at least six to nine (06-09) individuals are present in the study area (13,532 ha). Questionnaire survey revealed that Leopards were sighted by the locals at 23 locations during the study period including; in the morning (35%), evening (29%), night (21%) and daytime (15%). Maximum sightings were recorded between 4765ft to 9634ft elevation presenting moist temperate zone with Pinus wallichiana as a dominant tree species. As a result of increasing biotic pressures, the leopard has become rare with growing threat of further degradation and fragmentation of its habitat. It may cause the species to depend more on the domestic livestock available in and around the area giving way to the problem of human-leopard conflict. The information generated from the study will be helpful for the conservation and management of this critically endangered species.

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