Influence of connectivity, wild prey and disturbance on occupancy of tigers in the human-dominated Western Terai Arc landscape

Occupying only 7% of their historical range and confined to forested habitats interspersed in a matrix of human dominated landscapes, tigers (Panthera tigris) typify the problems faced by most large carnivores worldwide. With heads of governments of tiger range countries pledging to reverse the extinction process and setting a goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022, achieving this target would require identifying existing breeding cores, potential breeding habitats and opportunities for dispersal. The Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) represents one region which has recently witnessed recovery of tiger populations following conservation efforts. In this study, we develop a spatially explicit tiger occupancy model with survey data from 2009–10 based on a priori knowledge of tiger biology and specific issues plaguing the western TAL (6,979 km2), which occurs in two disjunct units (Tiger Habitat Blocks; THBs).