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Jacobson A.P.,UK Institute of Zoology | Jacobson A.P.,University College London | Jacobson A.P.,National Geographic Society | Gerngross P.,BIOGEOMAPS | And 17 more authors.
PeerJ | Year: 2016

The leopard's (Panthera pardus) broad geographic range, remarkable adaptability, and secretive nature have contributed to a misconception that this species might not be severely threatened across its range. We find that not only are several subspecies and regional populations critically endangered but also the overall range loss is greater than the average for terrestrial large carnivores. To assess the leopard's status, we compile 6,000 records at 2,500 locations from over 1,300 sources on its historic (post 1750) and current distribution. We map the species across Africa and Asia, delineating areas where the species is confirmed present, is possibly present, is possibly extinct or is almost certainly extinct. The leopard now occupies 25-37% of its historic range, but this obscures important differences between subspecies. Of the nine recognized subspecies, three (P. p. pardus, fusca, and saxicolor) account for 97% of the leopard's extant range while another three (P. p. orientalis, nimr, and japonensis) have each lost as much as 98% of their historic range. Isolation, small patch sizes, and few remaining patches further threaten the six subspecies that each have less than 100,000 km2 of extant range. Approximately 17% of extant leopard range is protected, although some endangered subspecies have far less. We found that while leopard research was increasing, research effort was primarily on the subspecies with the most remaining range whereas subspecies that are most in need of urgent attention were neglected. © 2016 Jacobson et al. Source

Hosseini-Zavarei F.,Islamic Azad University at Tehran | Farhadinia M.S.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS | Hemami M.-R.,Isfahan University of Technology | Karami M.,University of Tehran | And 2 more authors.
Zoology in the Middle East | Year: 2010

Ghameshlou National Park and Wildlife Refuge is home to three bovids, Goitered Gazelle, Gazella subgutturosa (Güldenstädt, 1780), Wild Sheep, Ovis orientalis Gmelin, 1774, and Wild Goat, Capra aegagrus Erzleben, 1777. These have been subject to predation by Grey Wolf, Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758, as well as to annual trophy hunting. In a demographic study between July 2007 and April 2009, we assessed the seasonal group size variation among the bovids and found that Goitered Gazelles have the largest groups in winter, while Wild Sheep form the largest groups in autumn. This difference is thought to be the result of patchily distributed, poor quality vegetation during the autumn and winter seasons, and the pursuit of different foraging strategies. Sex ratio was highly skewed toward females in Wild Sheep, but appears to be more balanced for the other two bovids. Twin lambs were encountered rarely in gazelles and Wild Sheep herds. Severe drought and wolf predation were considered to br the main causes of lower reproductive success in these two species compared to the Wild Goat. It is recommended that population parameters of the species should be monitored in order to predict potential demographic trends. © Kasparek Verlag, Heidelberg. Source

Farhadinia M.S.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS | Farhadinia M.S.,University of Oxford | Moqanaki E.M.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS | Hosseini-Zavarei F.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2014

Management controversies arise when both of the prey and predator in an ecosystem are species of conservation concern. We investigated trophic interactions between the endangered Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) and a declining mountain ungulate, urial wild sheep (Ovis vignei), on a high-altitude steppe of Iran. During two consecutive photo-trapping seasons of 1,300 nights in total, a minimum population of four adult leopards (one female and three males) was documented. Scat analysis indicated that urial wild sheep was the staple of the leopard diet with 48.44 % of total biomass consumed. Remains of domestic livestock in leopard scats were negligible yet alarming (14.53 % biomass consumed), followed by wild pigs (8.13 %) and wild goat (1.26 %). Financial costs of leopard depredation to livestock breeders during our study period were comparatively lower than livestock-leopard conflict hotspots across Iran. Using distance sampling, urial density was 15.8 individuals km-2 (±SE 6.2), and a total biomass of 47,621.5 kg for wild ungulates in the study area was estimated. We estimated that the annual removal rate of urial by leopards during our study period was 9.4 % of the total urial population. We suggest that continuous monitoring of the leopard and prey populations to assess predation impact should be considered, particularly in areas where a single species comprises a remarkable proportion of the leopard diet. In the meantime, assessing probable conflicts with local communities is recommended as a parallel management action to ensure long-term human-leopard coexistence. Our findings will aid wildlife managers in prey-depleted arid environments of western Asia to identify susceptible wild prey populations to predation by large carnivores; hence, significantly contribute in development and implementation of effective conservation measures to mitigate management conflicts. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

Sharbafi E.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS | Farhadinia M.S.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS | Farhadinia M.S.,University of Oxford | Rezaie H.R.,Gorgan University of Agriculture and Natural Resources | Braczkowski A.R.,University of Oxford
Zoology in the Middle East | Year: 2016

We carried out a dietary analysis of Persian Leopards, Panthera pardus saxicolor, in a temperate region in north-eastern Iran, where the largest population nucleus exists across the subspecies range. We investigated 113 faecal samples collected between February 2009 and March 2010 in Golestan National Park. Faecal analysis revealed that leopards predominantly preyed upon wild ungulates, with the Wild Boar, Sus scrofa, being the most important prey species in terms of frequency and biomass. Eleven different prey items were identified, 7 of which were ungulates, comprising 99% of the total food items. We also found a spatial pattern in the prey composition of leopards: cervids were predominantly found in forest landscapes, whereas Wild Sheep, Ovis orientalis, was mainly found in steppe habitats, revealing the leopards’ predation on medium- to large-sized ungulates. Livestock remains were mainly ex- tracted from steppe samples, but the overall contribution to the leopard diet pattern (approximately 8.5% of consumed biomass) suggested that conflict with human communities, at least within the investigated core parts of the National Park, is not a major concern. The study provides the first illustration of the Persian Leopard's die- tary composition in a temperate area with a relatively high diversity of available prey, and can be a baseline for future investigation and human-leopard interaction monitoring © 2016 Taylor & Francis Source

Farhadinia M.S.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS | Farhadinia M.S.,University of Tehran | Hosseini-Zavarei F.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS | Nezami B.,Iranian Cheetah Society ICS | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Arid Environments | Year: 2012

Feeding ecology of the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah was investigated from 2004 to 2009 in northeastern Iran where prey population has been depleted due to poaching. The survey was mainly based on scat analysis, complemented by kill monitoring and local inquiries of direct observations. Results of the research revealed that the Asiatic cheetahs mainly rely on medium-sized ungulates. However, with respect to low density of gazelles, they catch a considerable proportion of their food demands based on livestock which brings the cheetahs in direct conflict with local people. Meanwhile, smaller mammals only meet a small proportion of cheetah's diet. Our data indicate high importance of enhancing conservation efforts in northeastern Iran as well as other cheetah habitats where normal prey ungulates have experienced severe decline. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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