Identification of Human-Leopard Conflicts, Conservation Threats and Habitat Suitability in the Urban Landscapes of Guwahati City, Assam, India using Field-based and Geospatial Techniques
Increasing human population put significant impact on the wild-life habitats all over the globe. Guwahati, the largest city of North-Eastern part of India experiences the human-leopard conflict from last few decades. Studies advocate that once this region was a suitable abode for many animal species, especially for the leopards. But the growing urban built-up progressively shrinks the suitable habitation site for this species that leading to the frequent conflicts between man and leopard within the city region. Rapid decrease of leopard population and increasing incidences of encounters are the major concern for the sustainable conservation of the species. In this study, an effort has been made to evaluate the habitat suitability of leopards in Guwahati city region by using composite score method. Four parameters are considered to perform the spatial analysis such as leopard conflict locations collected using camera traps, pug marks/scat, and conflict locations; spatial distribution of population derived from LandscanTM population data; land use/ land cover data classified using Landsat 8 OLI satellite imagery and elevation information extracted from SRTM Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Results of the analysis suggests that the region near Fatasil hill, Japorigog hill and areas of Amsang Reserve forest as the most suitable habitat for the leopards. Outcome of this study will help the people living within or near those region to avoid possible encounters, while it will also help the concerned authorities to take adequate steps for the conservation of the species as well as the habitats.