GUWAHATI: Human disturbances have made adverse impact on the behaviour of prey (animal that preys on others for food) animals in the National Parks of Kaziranga and Manas.
A new study carried out by researchers from Aaranyak and the WWF-India has found that some prey species — mostly active during the day hours in the Kaziranga National park — are mostly active at night in the Manas National Park. The variations in activities of species like the Barking deer, hog deer, wild pig, sambar and wild buffalo in these two protected areas, are due to the difference in the presence of human being in these parks.
While human disturbance in the Kaziranga National Park is minimal, the local communities access the Manas National Park for natural resources. Manas experienced armed ethno-political conflict from the late 1980s until 2003 leading to over 40 per cent of the primary habitats within the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) getting converted to settlements and agriculture.
"People in wildlife habitats are the prime source of disturbances. The people who collect natural resources in the Manas National Park have not only impacted the presence of prey species in areas but also their behavior. In order to understand the phenomenon better, the study used 9,209 independent photographs taken by camera traps of the seven prey species from Manas and Kaziranga," said a researcher associated with the study.
The researchers also found that human disturbance has serious implications on health and population growth of the prey species that directly impacts the population of tigers and other large carnivores of Manas. As a general understanding, wild animals face difficulties in breeding in an area that is disturbed as that impacts their natural hormonal balance.
"The effects on prey species could include altering habitat selection, foraging and resting site selection, movement patterns, exposure to predation, individual fitness, survival, reproduction and ultimately distribution and population trends," observed the researchers.