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Keywords:

  • banteng;
  • camera trapping;
  • dhole;
  • gaur;
  • Indochina;
  • leopard;
  • lowland deciduous forest;
  • occupancy

Abstract

Studying large mammal species in tropical forests is a conservation challenge with species’ behavior and ecology often increasing the probability of non-detection during surveys. Consequently, knowledge of the distribution, status, and natural history of many large mammal species in Southeast Asia is limited. I developed occupancy models from camera-trapping data, thereby accounting for imperfect detection at sampling sites, to clarify the status and habitat requirements of four globally threatened or near threatened large mammals (banteng Bos javanicus, gaur Bos gaurus, dhole Cuon alpinus, and leopard Panthera pardus) in Mondulkiri Protected Forest, eastern Cambodia. Camera traps were operational for >3500 trap nights with 202 photographic encounters of the four study species. Model averaged occupancy estimates were between 5 percent (leopard) and 140 percent (gaur) higher than naive estimates (i.e., proportion of camera-trap sites species recorded from) thus highlighting the importance of accounting for detectability during conservation surveys. I recommend the use of an occupancy framework when using camera-trap data to study the status, ecology, and habitat preferences of poorly known and elusive species. The results highlight the importance of mixed deciduous and semi-evergreen forest for wild cattle in eastern Cambodia and I emphasize that these habitats must be considered in conservation planning across the Lower Mekong Dry Forest Ecoregion.

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