Wild Ungulate Distribution in the Naban River Watershed National Nature Reserve, Southwest China
Southeast Asia´s tropical forests harbour a unique diversity of wildlife but species and numbers are rapidly declining under current land use. To improve conservation strategies in these biodiversity hotspots, knowledge of animal species present and their distribution is crucial. We wanted to identify the ungulate community composition and distribution of a ‘Man and Biosphere’ reserve, the Naban River Watershed National Nature Reserve (NRWNNR), Yunnan, Southwest China. Using camera traps, transects, and spoor-plots we identified wild ungulate species and corresponding habitat properties. We compared two study sites of different protection status – the buffer and experimental zones – on an overall transect length of 32 km and analysed relationships between wildlife activity, forest vegetation structure, and human disturbance. We documented six ungulate species, all of which occurred in the buffer zone while only three species were found in the experimental zone. Wild boar sign density was about 10 times higher in the buffer than in the experimental zone. Overall wildlife sign density increased with distance away from human settlements and closer to the core zone. Hence, human disturbance strongly influenced wild ungulate abundance but the NRWNNR was found to host a diverse ungulate community, considering its small size and compared to other conservation areas in the region. The combination of various methods proved to be successful in identifying and locating forest wildlife. The NRWNNR, particularly the more strongly protected zones, could greatly contribute to future ecotourism activities in Yunnan if a strict preservation of buffer and core zones can be maintained.
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