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Effectiveness of non-invasive techniques for surveying activity and habitat use of the Indian fox Vulpes bengalensis in southern India

Nordic Board for Wildlife Research
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Abstract Non-invasive techniques for monitoring wildlife are increasingly used by researchers to identify the presence of carnivores in particular habitat types. For mid-sized carnivores the two primary methods used are camera trapping and track plates, both of which function by attracting an animal to a census apparatus which then records the visit by photograph or by track imprint. These techniques have rarely, however, been used to survey Asian mid-sized carnivores, and thus the value of the techniques in this region remains hypothetical. We used cameras and track plates to survey Indian foxes Vulpes bengalensis in and around Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary in the arid grasslands of central Andhra Pradesh and in Ranebennur Wildlife Sanctuary in western Karnataka. By surveying, we also address issues relating to fox activity and habitat use patterns. Cameras rapidly and efficiently detected the presence of foxes, and allowed us to show that foxes at both sites were strictly nocturnal during the periods of data collection. There was a significant relationship between grassland height and the latency to detection of foxes at Rollapadu. At both sites, foxes rarely visited the track plate stations that were run concurrently with cameras. We recommend that researchers attempting to survey foxes use cameras rather than enclosed track plates, and that efforts to survey other species non-invasively include an experimental design that allows for validation of the survey technique.

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