Journal of Tropical Ecology

Research Article

Ungulate densities and biomass in the tropical dry deciduous forests of Gir, Gujarat, India

Jamal A. Khana1 p1, Ravi Chellama1, W. A. Rodgersa1 p2 and A. J. T. Johnsingha1

a1 Wildlife Institute of India, P.O. Box-18, Chandrabani, Dehradun, 248 001, India

ABSTRACT

Data on densities, biomass and ecological factors governing the distribution of various wild ungulate species in the difFerent management units of Gir forest from 1987 to 1989 were collected. Density of ungulates ranged from 50.8 km−2 to 0.42 km−2, the highest for chital (Axis axis), followed by chinkara (Gazella gazella), sambar (Cervus unicolor), nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) and chowsingha (Tetracerus quadricornis). The density of chital did not vary significantly between different censuses and management units. The wild ungulate biomass ranged from 3290 kg km−2 in the National Park to 1900 kg km−2 in the Sanctuary East. Following the partial removal of people and livestock in the mid-1970s, there was an increase in the population of all wild ungulates except nilgai and wild pig (Sus scrofa). Concurrently, there was an increase in the proportion of wild ungulate prey in the lion's diet. Chital density has shown a 1320% increase. An increase in suitable habitats and a decrease in direct competition with livestock are the most likely factors to have triggered the eruption in chital population. These density estimates are discussed in relation to the prevailing ecological conditions in different management units of Gir.

(Accepted March 05 1995)

Correspondence:

p1 Present and correspondence address: Conservation Ecology Research Group, Centre of Wildlife and Ornithology, AMU, Aligarh-202 002, India.

p2 Present address: c/o FAO, P.O. Box-2, Dar-e-Salam, Tanzania.