The impact of fencing on the distribution of Przewalski's gazelle


  • Associated Editor: Graham Hall


The endangered Przewalski's gazelle (Procapra przewalskii) experienced severe habitat loss and population decline over the last century. Illegal hunting of gazelles has been largely prevented since 2002, leaving fencing of pastures as one of the main threats to the gazelle. We conducted surveys on 810 km of parallel transects on 8 gazelle-occupied sites and 4 nearby control sites where no gazelles were found, and evaluated the impact of fencing on gazelle distribution. A comparison of gazelle-occupied and control sites showed the former had a lower fence density and height, lower aboveground biomass (EVI), and a longer distance to houses. Logistic regression indicated that the presence of gazelle feces on the 1-km segment of transect was negatively affected by the density of fences and the proportion of fences with barbed wire both in spring and summer. In addition, we found a negative effect from distance to houses in spring and from EVI in summer. Gazelles did not occur more on grasslands with greater vegetation biomass, possibly because of the association of greater vegetation biomass with greater fence density and proportion of barbed wires. Although removing fences can be costly, lowering the top barbed wire, as well as constructing special gates and seasonal use of existing gates, may be beneficial for this endangered species at minimal disruption to local people. © 2014 The Wildlife Society.