Hyderabad: Bang opposite to the Mannanur check post on your way to the Amrabad Tiger Reserve, is a dingy room- only accessible to the forest officials.

Little known to the villagers that the room is actually one of the few laboratories in Telangana researching the food and eating habits of forest animals. The results of the ongoing study will reflect not just the health aspect of the animals but an alarm in case of the spread of disease.

The Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR) has started conducting scat analysis to understand and monitor the food and feeding habits of the animals in the forests of Amrabad. For this, they are collecting fecal samples from the forest and sending them for testing at the biological lab in the Mannannur range.

The Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR) which is part of the Nallamala Forest track has rich Biological Diversity with several endemic species of flora and fauna. Amrabad Tiger Reserve is home to the largest number of Tigers in Telangana State. The hilly terrain of this Tiger Reserve with deep valleys and gorges forms the catchment of the Krishna River.

A total of 79 fecal samples collected from 15 host species were tested. The fecal samples of sloth bear, dhole, sambar deer, leopard, peacock, nilgai, civet, four-horned antelope, jungle cat, rhesus macaque, tiger, wild pig, black-naped hare, cattle, and common langur were collected for the study. The maximum number of samples was collected from sloth bears (26), 15 from dhole, and eight from sambar deer.


A high level of parasite prevalence was found among 15 animals. The sloth bear was identified as the most affected with the maximum prevalence of parasites, i.e.; 0.5%. Out of the 26 fecal samples collected from sloth bears, 13 were recorded positive. Out of the eight samples of sambar deer, five tested positive. A total of six gastrointestinal parasites were found in the 79 fecal samples of 15 host species.

Wildlife disease and parasites have received very little research attention in India. Epidemics such as foot and mouth disease and rinderpest have wiped out large populations of ungulates. The incidence of parasites, pathogens, and epidemics among the smaller mammals has been very little researched, even less with reference to habitat degradation. There are, nonetheless, reasons to hypothesize that parasites could significantly affect the survival of the many endangered and endemic species.

"At a larger level, the study aims to assess the role of these gastrointestinal parasites and pathogens in the survival of endangered and near-threatened species in the Amrabad Tiger Reserve. Wildlife species identification based on hair characteristics has also been widely used in biological science for studying food habits and prey-predator relationships and to identify mammals inhibiting areas. Through the scat analysis, the Amrabad Tiger Reserve is also identifying carnivore diet patterns to understand the prey-predator chains in the forest, Wildlife biologist Mahender Reddy told NewsMeter.

ATR is one of the largest tiger reserves in India that extends about 2611.4 Sq Km over Nagarkurnool and Nalgonda districts of Telangana State Amrabad Tiger Reserve a well-known and well-preserved nature reserve in Nallamala Hills, part of the Eastern Ghats chain.


Speaking to Newsmeter IFS officer Rohith Gopidi, said: "The research is still in its initial stages, the number of samples is currently low and we are still to come to a robust conclusion. A wide-scale of research over a period of one year needs to be done to understand what the animals are feeding on. Our wildlife biologist Mahender Reddy, who has worked with CCMB earlier, is a valuable resource".

"The SCAT analysis derives the most preferred prey species in a certain region. When we do SCAT—we know what the tiger is feeding on, and X number of animals are in the forest. It also tells us if the Tiger is feeding on wild boar, Sambar deer, or spotted dear. Also does Leopard hunt for sambar this is called 'Scientific Wild Life Management'. The lab will have data on animal eating behavior, chances of disease are more".

The team is also keeping track of the Tiger moment in the man-animal conflict area. For example, in the case of a Tiger attacking a human, the scat will reveal if the Tiger feeds on human flesh, its guts will reveal his prey.

This is the second-largest Tiger Reserve in terms of core area but the sixth-largest tiger reserve in terms of total area among 51 Tiger Reserves in India.

The reserve was notified as a sanctuary in the year 1983 and after the bifurcation of Telugu States in 2014, it was declared as Amarabad Tiger Reserve.

It lies in the three forest divisions of Amarabad, Achampet in Nagarkurnool district, and Nagarjunsagar division in Nalgonda district. Major reservoirs like the Srishailam Dam and Nagarjunsagar Dam are fed by the river Krishna and its several perennial streams that originate in the Tiger Reserve. The distance between Hyderabad to Amrabad Tiger Reserve is 140km.

Nimisha S Pradeep

Hailing from Palakkad, Kerala, Nimisha completed her MA in Communication (with a specialization in Print and New Media) from the University of Hyderabad. She has interned with The Hindu Metroplus, Chennai and The Sentinel, Assam. She was a fellow of the NFI Fellowship for Independent Journalists in 2021. In 2015, she attended the Jenesys Student Exchange Programme in Japan. She firmly believes in the power of words and the impact it can make on society. She looks forward to using her career in journalism to voice the issues of minorities. Her interest areas include gender, women and society. She pursues travel, photography, and music in her leisure time.

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