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Henschel, P., & Ray, J. (2003). Leopards in African Rainforests: Survey and Monitoring Techniques (Wildlife Conservation Society, Ed.).
Abstract: Monitoring Techniques Forest leopards have never been systematically surveyed in African forests, in spite of their potentially vital ecological role as the sole large mammalian predators in these systems. Because leopards are rarely seen in this habitat, and are difficult to survey using the most common techniques for assessing relative abundances of forest mammals, baseline knowledge of leopard ecology and responses to human disturbance in African forests remain largely unknown. This technical handbook sums up the experience gained during a two-year study of leopards by Philipp Henschel in the Lop‚ Reserve in Gabon, Central Africa, in 2001/2002, supplemented by additional experience from carnivore studies conducted by Justina Ray in southwestern Central African Republic and eastern Congo (Zaire) . The main focus of this effort has been to develop a protocol that can be used by fieldworkers across west and central Africa to estimate leopard densities in various forest types. In developing this manual, Henschel tested several indirect methods to assess leopard numbers in both logged and unlogged forests, with the main effort devoted to testing remote photography survey methods developed for tigers by Karanth (e.g., Karanth 1995, Karanth & Nichols 1998; 2000; 2002), and modifying them for the specific conditions characterizing African forest environments. This handbook summarizes the results of the field testing, and provides recommendations for techniques to assess leopard presence/absence, relative abundance, and densities in African forest sites. We briefly review the suitability of various methods for different study objectives and go into particular detail on remote photography survey methodology, adapting previously developed methods and sampling considerations specifically to the African forest environment. Finally, we briefly discuss how camera trapping may be used as a tool to survey other forest mammals. Developing a survey protocol for African leopards is a necessary first step towards a regional assessment and priority setting exercise targeted at forest leopards, similar to those carried out on large carnivores in Asian and South American forests.