Camera-trapping survey to assess diversity, distribution and photographic capture rate of terrestrial mammals in the aftermath of the ethnopolitical conflict in Manas National Park, Assam, India

Main Article Content

Dipankar Lahkar
M. Firoz Ahmed
Ramie H. Begum
Sunit Kumar Das
Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar
Hiranya K. Sarma
Abishek Harihar


 Information on the presence and distribution of species is crucial for conservation planning and management within a region.  Documentation of species assemblages in Manas National Park (MNP) in the aftermath of conflict is critical for informed conservation interventions.  For nearly two decades (1990–2010), conservation efforts in MNP were compromised by ethno−political conflict.  We conducted camera trapping surveys of terrestrial mammals across three administrative forest ranges (Panbari, Bansbari and Bhuyanpara) of MNP in 2017.  A systematic survey with 118 trap locations accumulated data over 6,173 trap-days.  We obtained 21,926 photographs of mammals belonging to 13 families and 25 species, of which 13 are threatened.  We calculated photographic capture rate index (PCRI) using independent events.  Trap specific PCRI’s were used to map the spatial variation in capture rates.  We observed variation in capture rate between Bansbari-Bhuyanpara where conflict ended in 2003 and has remained peaceful, and Panbari, a forest range where conflict ended later in 2016.  Our results further indicate lower capture rates of mammalian prey species and small felids, but higher capture rates of four large carnivores in Panbari as opposed to Bansbari-Bhuyanpara.  These results highlighted the fact that despite a history of ethno-political conflict in the region, although almost all mammalian species expected to occur in the park were detected and confirmed, present evidence indicated ethno-political conflict influences the distribution of several key species.  In depth studies assessing mammalian prey densities, distribution and density are required to further understand the effects of conflict. 

Article Details

Author Biographies

Dipankar Lahkar, Aaranyak and Assam University (Diphu Campus)

PhD Scholar, Assam University (Diphu campus) and Manager Research, TRCD, Aaranyak

DIPANKAR LAHKAR has worked on tiger research and conservation across different landscapes in India in general and Manas National Park in particular since 2009. His prime research interest is on population ecology. Currently he is pursuing PhD on ecology of tigers and also working as a biologist at Aaranyak.

M. Firoz Ahmed, Aaranyak

Scientit F and Head, Tiger Research and Conservation Division (TRCD), Aaranyak

M Firoz Ahmed has been involved in conservation research on herpetofauna and tigers India since 1998. He has worked on herpetofauna and reported new species to science. He has lead tiger research work in Kaziranga, Orang, Manas and Namdapha National Parks and currently focuses in the Transboudary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA) tiger landscape. He currently heads the Tiger Research and Conservation Division of Aaranyak.

Ramie H. Begum, Assam University (Diphu Campus)

Asst. Professor, Dept. of Life Science and Bioinformatics, Assam University (Diphu Campus)

Ramie H Begum is a Biomedical scientist working in the field of animal disease monitoring and surveillance for more than 14 years. A DBT overseas associate and a visiting professor at University of California, USA, she currently Heads the Department of Life Science and Bioinformatics at Assam University Diphu Campus. 

Sunit Kumar Das, WWF India

Project Officer, WWF-India

SUNIT KUMAR DAS has worked in the field of wildlife conservation since 2006 in India. With the key interest of understanding human-wildlife interaction and wildlife population ecology, he is currently working as a project officer under species division of WWF-India.

Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar, Aaranyak

Scientist E and Head, Elephant Research and Conservation Division, Aaranyak

Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar has worked on grassland ecology and management in Manas National Park since 2000 and currently works as a conservation biologist with research interest on obligate grassland fauna, Asian elephant, mitigation of human wildlife conflict, invasive plant species and conservation livelihood. He is currently a scientist at Aaranyak. 

Hiranya K. Sarma, Government of Assam, Department of Forests and Environment

Field Director, Manas Tiger Reserve, Assam

Hiranya Kumar sarma is an Indian Forest Service Officer serving in the department of Forest and Environment, Assam since 1982. He is a forest manager with experience and interests in forestry, wildlife and ecology. He is also a keen wildlife photographer. Currently he is serving as the Field Director, Manas Tiger Reserve. 

Abishek Harihar, Panthera and NCF

Population Ecologist at Panthera and Adjunct Scientist at Nature Conservation Foundation-India

ABISHEK HARIHAR has worked on tiger conservation in northern India since 2003 and currently works as a tiger population ecologist, with research interests spanning population ecology, law enforcement monitoring, measuring conservation effectiveness, and conservation decision making. He is currently a population ecologist at Panthera and Adjunct Scientist at Nature Conservation Foundation-India.


Ahmed, M.F., S. Wangmo, D. Lahkar, P. Chakraborty, A. Sarmah, J. Borah, D. wangchuk, T. Nidup, T. Wangchuk, H.K. Sarma, A. Harihar & R. Pickles (2015). Tigers of Transboundary Manas Conservation Area, 2016. Aaranyak, Department of Environment and Forest, Government of Assam (BTC), Department of forests and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF-India, Technical Report, Assam, India. 50pp.

Barman, R., B. Choudhury, N.V.K. Ashraf & V. Menon (2014). Rehabilitation of Greater One-horned Rhinoceros calves in Manas National Park, a World Heritage Site in India. Pachyderm 55: 78–88.

Benjamini, Y. & Y. Hochberg (1995). Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Bulletin 57: 289–300.

Beyers, R.L., J.A. Hart, A.R.E. Sinclair, F. Grossmann, B. Klinkenberg & S. Dino (2011). Resource wars and conflict ivory: the impact of civil conflict on elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo - the case of the Okapi Reserve. PLoS ONE 6(11): e27129;

Butsic, V., M. Baumann, A. Shortland, S. Walker & T. Kuemmerle (2015). Conservation and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The impacts of warfare, mining, and protected areas on deforestation. Biological Conservation 191: 266–273;

Carbone, C., S. Christie, K. Conforti, T. Coulson, N. Franklin, J.R. Ginsberg, M. Griffiths, J. Holden, K. Kawanishi, M. Kinnaird, R. Laidlaw, A. Lynam, D.W. Macdonald, D. Martyr, C. McDougal, L. Nath, T. O’Brien, J. Seidensticker, D.J.L. Smith, M. Sunquist, R.

Tilson & W.N. Wan Shahruddin (2001). The use of photographic rates to estimate densities of tigers and other cryptic mammals. Animal Conservation 4: 75–79;

Champion, H.G. & S.K. Seth (1968). A Revised Forest Types of India. Manager of Publications, Government of India, Delhi, 404pp.

Daskin, J. & R.M. Pringle (2018). Warfare and wildlife declines in Africa’s protected areas. Nature 533: 1–5;

de Merode, E., K.H. Smith, K. Homewood, R. Pettifor, M Rowcliffe & G Cowlishaw (2007). The impact of armed conflict on protected–area efficacy in Central Africa. Biology Letters 3: 299–301;

Goswami, R. & T. Ganesh (2014). Carnivore and herbivore densities in the immediate aftermath of ethno–political conflict: the case of Manas National Park, India. Tropical Conservation Science 7(3): 475–487;

Hallagan, J.B. (1981). Elephants and the war in Zimbabwe. Oryx 16: 161–164.

Hanson, T., T.M. Brooks, G.A.B. Da Fonseca, M. Hoffmann, J.F. Lamoreux, G. Machlis, C.G. Mittermeier, R.A. Mittermeier & J.D. Pilgrim (2009). Warfare in biodiversity hotspots. Conservation Biology 23: 578–587;

IUCN (2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. . Downloaded on 20 January 2018.

Lahkar, B.P., S. Nijhawan & M.F. Ahmed (2012). Assessment of local and landscape–level threats to the tiger population of the Manas landscape, Assam, India - Technical Report (Unpublished). Aaranyak, Assam, India, 15pp.

Menon, V. (2014). Indian Mammals - A Field Guide. Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd., India, 528pp.

Olliff, E.R.R., C.W. Cline, D.C. Bruen, E.J. Yarmchuk, R.S.A. Pickles & L. Hunter (2014). The Pantheracam− a camera-trap optimizied for monitoring wild felids. Wild Felid Monitoring 7: 21−23.

Orians, G.H. & E.W. Pfeiffer (1970). Ecological effects of the war in Vietnam. Science 168: 544–554.

QGIS Development Team (2012). QGIS Geographic Information System. Open Source Geospatial Foundation Project.

Tobler, M.W., S.E. Carrillo-Percastegui, R.L. Pitman, R. Mares & G. Powell (2008). An evaluation of camera traps for inventorying large- and medium-sized terrestrial rainforest mammals. Animal Conservation 11: 169–178;

Wolf, C. & W.J. Ripple (2016). Prey depletion as a threat to the world’s large carnivores. Royal Society Open Science 3(8): 160252;