Conflicts between traditional pastoralism and conservation of Himalayan ibex (Capra sibirica) in the Trans-Himalayan mountains

Authors

  • Sumanta Bagchi,

    1. Centre for Ecological Research and Conservation, Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, IV-Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore-570002, Karnataka, India
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    • S. Bagchi, present address: Syracuse University, Department of Biology, Biological Research Laboratory, 130 College Place, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA.

  • Charudutt Mishra,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Ecological Research and Conservation, Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, IV-Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore-570002, Karnataka, India
    2. International Snow Leopard Trust, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98103, USA
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  • Y. V. Bhatnagar

    1. Wildlife Institute of India, PO Box 18, Dehradun-248001, Uttaranchal, India
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All correspondence to: Charudutt Mishra, Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, IV-Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore-570002, Karnataka, India. Tel: +91 821 2515601; Fax: +91 821 2513822; E-Mail: charu@ncf-india.org

Abstract

There is recent evidence to suggest that domestic livestock deplete the density and diversity of wild herbivores in the cold deserts of the Trans-Himalaya by imposing resource limitations. To ascertain the degree and nature of threats faced by Himalayan ibex (Capra sibirica) from seven livestock species, we studied their resource use patterns over space, habitat and food dimensions in the pastures of Pin Valley National Park in the Spiti region of the Indian Himalaya. Species diet profiles were obtained by direct observations. We assessed the similarity in habitat use and diets of ibex and livestock using Non-Metric Multidimensional Scaling. We estimated the influence of the spatial distribution of livestock on habitat and diet choice of ibex by examining their co-occurrence patterns in cells overlaid on the pastures. The observed co-occurrence of ibex and livestock in cells was compared with null-models generated through Monte Carlo simulations. The results suggest that goats and sheep impose resource limitations on ibex and exclude them from certain pastures. In the remaining suitable habitat, ibex share forage with horses. Ibex remained relatively unaffected by other livestock such as yaks, donkeys and cattle. However, most livestock removed large amounts of forage from the pastures (nearly 250 kg of dry matter/day by certain species), thereby reducing forage availability for ibex. Pertinent conservation issues are discussed in the light of multiple-use of parks and current socio-economic transitions in the region, which call for integrating social and ecological feedback into management planning.

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