World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand

Phayathai, Thailand

World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand

Phayathai, Thailand
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Ngoprasert D.,King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi | Lynam A.J.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Sukmasuang R.,Kasetsart University | Tantipisanuh N.,King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi | And 12 more authors.
Biotropica | Year: 2012

Clouded Leopard, Leopard, and Tiger are threatened felids in Southeast Asia, but little is known about the factors influencing their distributions. Using logistic regression, we assessed how habitat variables, prey detection patterns, and presence of intraguild predators affect the occurrence of these felids across 13 protected areas within Thailand. Our analysis is based on data from 1108 camera-trap locations (47,613 trap-nights). Clouded Leopard and Leopard are associated with habitat where Red Muntjac and Eurasian Wild Pig were most likely to be present. Tiger are associated with habitat with a higher likelihood for the presence of Gaur, Eurasian Wild Pig, and Sambar. Clouded Leopard and Tiger were both weakly associated with areas with mature evergreen forest. Besides availability of prey, associations with potential competitors also appear to influence the distribution of these felids, although the strength of these effects requires further investigation. Occurrence rates for Clouded Leopard were no different in protected areas with Leopard versus without Leopards. Leopard had similar occurrence rates regardless of the presence of Tiger, but Leopards were less likely to be detected at the same camera-trap points with the larger felid. Our results suggest that the two most commonly photographed prey species in the study areas serve as key prey species, Eurasian Wild Pig for all three carnivores and Red Muntjac for Leopard and Clouded Leopard. © 2012 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.

Timmins R.J.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Steinmetz R.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Poulsen M.K.,Nordeco | Evans T.D.,Wildlife Conservation Society | And 2 more authors.
Primate Conservation | Year: 2013

The Indochinese silvered leaf monkey Trachypithecus germaini (perhaps comprising two species, T. germaini [sensu stricto] and T. margarita) is probably the rarest and most threatened monkey in Lao PDR. It has received less conservation-related attention in the country, however, than have the primates endemic to Indochina east of the Mekong because until recently it was generally considered conspetific with the widespread T. cristatus of Sundaic South-east Asia. All Lao records with firm locality details are from south of 16°23′N (in Dong Phou Vieng National Protected Area) and in lowland forests (up to 550 m above sea level), with many from near waterbodies. The predominant habitat seems to be semi-evergreen forest as patches and strips within a mosaic of more deciduous forest types, especially semi-evergreen forest in riparian and other waterside situations. Occupied semi-evergreen forest seems generally at the dry end of its spectrum, with a high deciduous tree component (this is the predominant type in interior plains-level Indochina), where this forest type grades to what some call mixed deciduous forest. Few if any records come from the interior of extensive unbroken semi-evergreen forest, or from highly-deciduous mixed-deciduous forest. Occupied areas include narrow stands flanking watercourses in deciduous dipterocarp forest, but there are no records from the more extensive deciduous dipterocarp forest matrix itself. Vague reports suggest occurrence up to 1,200 m, but given the high survey effort in such habitat, the species is at best very rare above the lowlands. Lao villager reports, and comparison with its status in similar habitats in adjacent Cambodia, suggest steep declines in Lao PDR. Suitable habitat (as profiled above) naturally covers only a small part of the southern Lao landscape, is among Lao PDR's most threatened habitats, and bears heavy hunting. Hence the great rarity of Indochinese silvered leaf monkeys compared with sympatric monkeys and gibbons, which inhabit the more extensive hill forests. There are records of the Indochinese silvered leaf monkey from only one Lao site since 2001. Although appropriate surveys during the 2000s have been limited, the species may now be extremely rare in the country and should join other, better publicized, bird and mammal species of these southern lowland plains landscapes as in need of urgent conservation action.

Steinmetz R.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Seuaturien N.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Chutipong W.,King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Top predators often shape their communities through intraguild predation. Few studies have examined communities in which all three components-top predator, intermediate predators, and prey-occur at low densities; such disturbed systems are commonplace in Asia. We tested predictions from intraguild predation theory at a site where low density tigers (top predator), leopards and dholes (intermediate predators) competed for scarce prey. We employed occupancy modeling using sign surveys and camera trapping to investigate prey selection and spatial co-occurrence. Tiger and leopard occupancy matched the availability of their respective prey species, but leopard avoided pigs-a favored prey of tiger. Leopard and dhole had low rates of co-occurrence with tiger, and their detection probabilities were 47-52% lower in tiger-occupied open habitat (compared to closed), despite suitable prey there. Tiger occupancy was highest in prey-rich zones, whereas dholes were concentrated in a prey-poor zone where tigers were scarce, suggestive of mesopredator release. Activity periods of leopard and dhole (diurnal) were significantly different from tiger (nocturnal). In sum, tiger distribution appeared to be driven solely by prey availability, whereas leopard and dhole seemed to be influenced by prey availability and avoidance of tigers, mediated by habitat structure. Results agree with predictions that under intraguild predation the dominant predator's distribution matches its resources, whereas intermediate predators trade-off food and safety. Knowledge of habitat-mediated risk effects could inform recovery efforts for low density tigers facing potential exploitation competition from more numerous leopards and dholes. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Chutipong W.,Bangkok Thonburi University | Steinmetz R.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Savini T.,Bangkok Thonburi University | Gale G.A.,Bangkok Thonburi University
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology | Year: 2015

Factors related to sleeping site selection in terrestrial and semi-arboreal mammals vary depending on the environmental conditions they live in and the suite of species they interact with. These factors include proximity to food resources and availability of suitable sites that offer protection from severe weather and from risk of predation. We explored habitat characteristics which may influence sleeping site selection of masked palm civets (Paguma larvata) and binturongs (Arctictis binturong) and assessed whether selection was related to food resources and/or reduction of predation risk. Most of the sleeping sites were in trees close to canopy level (c. 19–24 m). A majority of the sites consisted of tangled structures created by vines, leaves and/or woody climbers and moderate to high levels of canopy cover which typically concealed sleeping animals from below and above. However, selection of sleeping sites did not appear to be related to density of fruiting stems within the sites, probably because fruits may have been available in similar quantities across home ranges. Although sleeping site selection varied among individuals, selection appeared to reflect choices for habitat characteristics at both sleeping trees and sleeping sites to enhance concealment. While enhanced concealment may have multiple benefits, we postulate that it is mostly likely intended to reduce predation risk. © National University of Singapore

Steinmetz R.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Garshelis D.L.,1201 E Highway 2 | Chutipong W.,King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi | Seuaturien N.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2013

Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) and sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are ecologically similar and coexist extensively across Southeast Asia. We used foraging signs identified to bear species to examine their food selection and dietary overlap relative to food abundance, nutrition, and phenology in 3 habitats in Thailand. We posited, based on ecological theory, that coexistence of these 2 species would be explained through resource partitioning; our data, however, did not support this hypothesis. We conducted 71 sign transects and recorded 730 bear signs, mainly claw marks on trees that bears climbed for food. Both species fed predominantly on fruit; we documented 93 plant species from 42 families that bears consumed. Insects were of secondary importance. Bears of the 2 species selected fruit trees of the same families and genera in each habitat, especially lipid-rich Lauraceae and Fagaceae, tracking fruiting phenology through time. Diet overlap was high, even during periods of diminished fruit availability. We propose a number of mechanisms that may have promoted coexistence of these 2 species. For example, sun bears consumed proportionately more insects than did black bears; insectivory may help sustain the smaller-sized sun bears in the face of competition over fruits with black bears. Also, competition over fruits was reduced by both species cropping a lower proportion of common fruit trees than rarer fruit trees, thereby leaving a potential surplus for the other species. Furthermore, food resources were generally abundant and available year-round: about half the trees in the forest were potential food trees for bears. Bear populations likely were depressed below carrying capacity by previous hunting; as they recover, more competition for resources and greater niche divergence could ensue. © 2013 American Society of Mammalogists.

Steinmetz R.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Timmins R.J.,The Shack | Duckworth J.W.,3 Camerton Close
International Journal of Primatology | Year: 2011

Lao leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus (francoisi) laotum) are endemic to a small area of central and, marginally, north Lao. They are known from a few, mostly vague, historical records. We here present a detailed examination of the distribution of this little-known taxon and discuss its conservation status. Surveys since 1992 show its range to be centered upon the karst-dominated Phou Hin Poun National Protected Area (NPA), Nam Sanam Provincial Protected Area, and the southern part of Nam Kading NPA. The known range encompasses <2000 km 2, within which occurrence is patchy, reflecting habitat availability. The taxonomic identity of leaf monkeys plausibly of this group reported to the north of this area is not known. In the south of Phou Hin Poun NPA, village reports that the monkeys have black heads are corroborated by the few sightings; their taxonomic relationship with typical Trachypithecus laotum is unknown. In the mid-late 1990s large populations remained and individuals were easily seen. There is no apparent large-scale threat to their habitat. There has been no significant reassessment of status since the late 1990s, nor is there any active conservation action in place. Although the monkeys are to a significant extent protected by the arduous terrain, this cannot be relied upon indefinitely: Trade-directed hunting, although apparently limited in the 1990s, is a potential threat that could cause rapid population declines. Local traditions offer significant starting points for conserving these monkeys. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Steinmetz R.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Srirattanaporn S.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Mor-Tip J.,Wildlife and Plant Conservation | Seuaturien N.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2014

Many interventions to stem wildlife poaching have overlooked insights into human behaviour offered by the social sciences. South-East Asia suffers the world's highest rate of wildlife declines, due mainly to poaching, yet there is little scientific attention on behaviour change, and few evaluations of the effectiveness of different approaches for stemming poaching. We used social-psychology principles to design a community outreach programme aimed at reducing poaching in a reserve in Thailand, and we monitored biological and social outcomes over 4-6 years. Outreach aimed to build trust, raise awareness, motivate, offer opportunities for action, increase perceived behavioural control of villagers and generate social pressure against poaching. Behaviour change is promoted when these conditions converge. We conducted 116 outreach events, focusing on adult farmers, children and local leaders. We assessed poaching trends using encounter rates with poaching signs and questionnaires. We monitored population status of six hunted mammal species (five ungulates and one rodent) using sign-based occupancy surveys and camera trapping. Poaching pressure dropped by a factor of four across the park, with multiple short-term declines (usually to zero) immediately following outreach in seven of nine patrol zones. Park patrol effort was uncorrelated with poaching trends, contrary to expectations. Questionnaire responses (n = 311) corresponded to empirical observations: 88% stated that poaching declined over previous years; the top reason given for this decline was park outreach. In response to safer conditions, occupancy and abundance of five of the six focal species increased significantly or was stable in all three monitoring sites. Patrol effort was statistically unrelated to wildlife trends. Synthesis and applications. The weight of evidence in our study points to outreach as the main driver of a biologically significant decline in poaching that initiated the recovery of hunted species within the national park. This experiment provides one of the first demonstrations that scientifically designed and proactive park outreach activities might suppress poaching and initiate wildlife recovery in South-East Asia. The weight of evidence in our study points to outreach as the main driver of a biologically significant decline in poaching that initiated the recovery of hunted species within the national park. This experiment provides one of the first demonstrations that scientifically designed and proactive park outreach activities might suppress poaching and initiate wildlife recovery in South-East Asia. © 2014 British Ecological Society.

Steinmetz R.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Chutipong W.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Seuaturien N.,World Wide Fund for Nature Thailand | Chirngsaard E.,Wildlife and Plant Conservation | Khaengkhetkarn M.,Wildlife and Plant Conservation
Biological Conservation | Year: 2010

Large ungulate populations in Southeast Asia have collapsed due to commercial poaching, but little is known about patterns of population recovery after poaching has been controlled. Using a sign-based index of abundance, we measured 6-year trends in abundance and habitat use of five ungulate species after poaching ceased at a site in Thailand. Regression slopes of annual indices against time indicated population growth rates (r) of 0.44 and 0.31 for muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) and gaur (Bos gaurus), respectively-close to the intrinsic rates of natural increase for similarly-sized ungulates. Thus, muntjac and gaur can recover relatively rapidly from low population levels. In contrast, sambar (Cervus unicolor) remained consistently rare despite freedom from hunting, perhaps because prime males had been selectively targeted for trophies, disrupting the species mating system. Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) were already relatively abundant when monitoring started, illustrating their resilience to hunting and ability to quickly recolonize disturbed areas. Gaur herds (the key demographic unit of the population) and muntjac consistently selected deciduous over evergreen forest as their populations increased, revealing the importance of food-rich deciduous forest in driving recovery of these species. The unexpected failure of sambar to recover suggests that reproductive behavior may override seemingly positive interventions (i.e., stopping poaching) that reduce mortality. Small but well-protected recovery zones set within forested areas might help propel population recovery of ungulates and increase the prey base for endangered tigers. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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