Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Density trends of wild felids in northern Laos.

Abstract

Determining the density trends of a guild of species can help illuminate their interactions, and the impacts that humans might have on them. We estimated the density trends from 2013 to 2017 of the clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa, leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis and marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata in Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park (NEPL), Laos, using camera trap data and spatial capture-recapture models. Mean (± SD) density estimates (individuals/100 km2) for all years were 1.77 ± 0.30 for clouded leopard, 1.50 ± 0.30 for leopard cat, and 3.80 ± 0.70 for marbled cat. There was a declining trend in density across the study years for all three species, with a ≥ 90% probability of decline for clouded leopard and leopard cat and an 83% probability of decline for marbled cat. There was no evidence that mesopredator release occurred as a result of tiger (Panthera tigris) and leopard (P. pardus) extirpations. We believe that snaring, the factor that led to the extirpation of tiger and leopard in NEPL, is now contributing to the decline of smaller felids, to an extent that over-rides any potential effects of mesopredator release on their densities and interactions. We recommend that the NEPL managers implement a more systematic and intensified snare removal program, in concert with extensive community outreach and engagement of local people to prevent the setting of snares. These actions might be the only hope for saving the remaining members of the felid community in NEPL.