Snow leopard and prey distribution
Factors affecting snow leopard & wild-prey at multiple scales
multi-scale approach provides understanding on how different factors are
working to shape snow leopard and wild-prey occurrences and relative abundance
at large and fine spatial scales.
From large to fine spatial scale
a wide-ranging species like snow leopard understanding its distribution at
large-spatial scale is necessary to better inform conservation management at
state or regional scale. At the same time examining how wild-prey of snow
leopard and the habitat gets affected by different forms of natural resource
use is needed to manage wild-prey populations and habitat at the level of a
valley / catchment.
Migratory grazing & snow leopard habitat
Decline in wild-prey population due to rangeland degradation by livestock grazing is a serious problem to snow leopard conservation. While impacts of resident livestock grazing has been documented, impact of migratory livestock grazing remains poorly understood and has been socio-politically contentious, being more often dealt through activism than science-based ecological evidence.
- Examining changes in and factors affecting distribution of snow leopard and its primary prey, bharal and ibex
- Evaluate effect of migratory livestock grazing on vegetation and relative abundance of wild-prey of snow leopard
- Assessing underlying drivers of changes and future directions in migratory grazing practices
- Journal Article2017Suryawanshi, K. R., Redpath, S. M., Bhatnagar, Y. V., Ramakrishnan, U., Chaturvedi, V., Smout, S. C., & Mishra, C. (2017). Impact of wild prey availability on livestock predation by snow leopards.Royal Society Open Science, 4(6), 170026.Download
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An increasing proportion of the world's poor is rearing livestock today, and the global livestock population is growing. Livestock predation by large carnivores and their retaliatory killing is becoming an economic and conservation concern. A common recommendation for carnivore conservation and for reducing predation on livestock is to increase wild prey populations based on the assumption that the carnivores will consume this alternative food. Livestock predation, however, could either reduce or intensify with increases in wild prey depending on prey choice and trends in carnivore abundance. We show that the extent of livestock predation by the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia intensifies with increases in the density of wild ungulate prey, and subsequently stabilizes. We found that snow leopard density, estimated at seven sites, was a positive linear function of the density of wild ungulates—the preferred prey—and showed no discernible relationship with livestock density. We also found that modelled livestock predation increased with livestock density. Our results suggest that snow leopard conservation would benefit from an increase in wild ungulates, but that would intensify the problem of livestock predation for pastoralists. The potential benefits of increased wild prey abundance in reducing livestock predation can be overwhelmed by a resultant increase in snow leopard populations. Snow leopard conservation efforts aimed at facilitating increases in wild prey must be accompanied by greater assistance for better livestock protection and offsetting the economic damage caused by carnivores.