Anthropogenic sounds are pollution that is not always evaluated in the environment in general and near wildlife in particular. Non-electric off-road vehicles (ORVs) are used in most wildlife reserves of India for ecotourism purposes in the form of wildlife-viewing safaris. We hypothesized that the e-vehicles would allow a closer approach to wildlife, reducing the flight-initiation distance (FID) to their normal behaviors. In order to understand the effects of noise, we evaluated the difference between the safari-ORVs regulated by the Indian Forest Department and six electric ORVs in the Jhalana Reserve Forest in Jaipur, Rajasthan. We used a mixed model approach. We found that mammals showed longer escape behavior when approached by non-electric cars (Gypsy ORVs) than by electric cars, even considering the effects of the initial distance. The level of noise produced by the two types of cars used in the experiment was different, with the Gypsy ORVs (non-electric) significantly louder than the Mahindra e-vehicles. FID was positively correlated with initial and alarm distances in all animal species. We commend this novel idea of the Rajasthan Forest Service and encourage them to further acquire and replace all of the non-electric ORVs with the e-vehicles for recreational wildlife viewing. An implication of this study is better management of wildlife watching for ecotourists with reduced disturbance and stress to the wild animals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law