Leopard population declines largely occur in areas where leopards and people frequently interact. Research on how leopards respond to human presence and competitors, like other predators, can provide important insights on leopard ecology and conservation in human-dominated regions; however, such research is lacking. Here we used data from field cameras in 2010 and 2011 to examine how human presence, prey, and tigers influence leopard spatiotemporal activity patterns in and around Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, part of a global biodiversity hotspot. We found that leopards were adjusting their spatiotemporal activity patterns to both tigers and people, but by different mechanisms. Leopards spatially avoided tigers in 2010, but were generally active at the same times of day that tigers were. Despite pervasive human presence, people on foot and vehicles had no significant effect on leopard detection and space use, but leopard temporal activity was displaced from those periods of time with highest human activity. Temporal displacement from humans was especially pronounced outside the park, where there is a much greater prevalence of natural resource collection by local people. Continuing to evaluate the interconnections among leopards, tigers, prey, and people across different land management regimes is needed to develop robust landscape-scale conservation strategies.
Access the article at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2014.11.013