• Central Asia;
  • hunting;
  • ungulates;
  • climate;
  • poaching

1.  The Mongolian gazelle Procapra guttorosa is legally hunted, but has no scientifically-based management strategy. It has suffered a range contraction in recent years, but the reasons for this are unclear. This paper addresses both of these issues.

2.  The available data on the population dynamics and human influences on the Mongolian gazelle are presented and evaluated. Districts which currently contain Mongolian gazelles had a significantly lower human population density in 1969 than those which no longer contain gazelles.

3.  A discrete-time age- and sex-structured model is developed for the Mongolian gazelle. The model includes stochastically determined mortality rates, depending on whether the winter is harsh and/or the summer has a disease epidemic. The model results suggest that given the poor data available, a relatively safe strategy for managers, producing reasonable yields, would be to hunt at a low hunting mortality rate, taking up to 6% of the population each year, while selecting strongly for males.

4.  A simpler lumped-parameter model is developed using the climate and disease-determined rates of population increase derived from the age- and sex-structured model. Comparison between the two models shows that the lumped parameter model is an adequate simplification of the age- and sex-structured model, although it underestimates equilibrium population sizes somewhat.

5.  The simplified model is used to investigate the available data on the Mongolian gazelle. It is shown that the population must have been larger than previous estimates in order to have sustained the level of recorded hunting over the last 64 years.

6.  The model suggests that the population declined rapidly from 1979 to 1986, then stabilized. Variation in natural mortality rates has had an effect on the rate of decline since 1932, but recorded hunting has not. It is not possible to tell whether the rates of unrecorded hunting or habitat degradation have changed since 1932. The results are robust to parameter variation.