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Shrestha, B., Kindlmann, P. (2011). Interactions between the Himalayan tahr, livestock and snow leopards in the Sagarmatha National Park. Himalayan Biodiversity in the Changing World, .
Shrestha, B., Kindlmann, P. (2020). Implications of landscape genetics and connectivity of snow
leopard in the Nepalese Himalayas for its conservation. (Vol. 10).
Abstract: The snow leopard is one of the most endangered large mammals.
Its population, already low, is declining, most likely due to the
consequences of human activity, including a reduction in the size and
number of suitable habitats. With climate change, habitat loss may
escalate, because of an upward shift in the tree line and concomitant
loss of the alpine zone, where the snow leopard lives. Migration between
suitable areas, therefore, is important because a decline in abundance
in these areas may result in inbreeding, fragmentation of populations,
reduction in genetic variation due to habitat fragmentation, loss of
connectivity, bottlenecks or genetic drift. Here we use our data
collected in Nepal to determine the areas suitable for snow leopards, by
using habitat suitability maps, and describe the genetic structure of
the snow leopard within and between these areas. We also determine the
influence of landscape features on the genetic structure of its
populations and reveal corridors connecting suitable areas. We conclude
that it is necessary to protect these natural corridors to maintain the
possibility of snow leopards' migration between suitable areas, which
will enable gene flow between the diminishing populations and thus
maintain a viable metapopulation of snow leopards.
Shrestha, B., Aihartza, J., Kindlmann. (2018). Diet and prey selection by snow leopards in the Nepalese Himalayas. PLoS ONE, , 1–18.
Abstract: Visual attractiveness and rarity often results in large carnivores being adopted as flagship
species for stimulating conservation awareness. Their hunting behaviour and prey selection
can affect the population dynamics of their prey, which in turn affects the population dynamics
of these large carnivores. Therefore, our understanding of their trophic ecology and foraging
strategies is important for predicting their population dynamics and consequently for
developing effective conservation programs. Here we concentrate on an endangered species
of carnivores, the snow leopard, in the Himalayas. Most previous studies on snow leopard
diet lack information on prey availability and/or did not genetically check, whether the
identification of snow leopard scats is correct, as their scats are similar to those of other
carnivores. We studied the prey of snow leopard in three Himalayan regions in Nepal
(Sagarmatha National Park (SNP), Lower Mustang (LM) and Upper Manang (UM) in the
Annapurna Conservation Area, during winter and summer in 2014�2016. We collected 268
scats along 139.3 km linear transects, of which 122 were genetically confirmed to belong to
snow leopard. Their diet was identified by comparing hairs in scats with our reference collection
of the hairs of potential prey. We determined prey availability using 32�48 camera-traps
and 4,567 trap nights. In the SNP, the most frequent prey in snow leopard faeces was the
Himalayan tahr in both winter and summer. In LM and UM, its main prey was blue sheep in
winter, but yak and goat in summer. In terms of relative biomass consumed, yak was the
main prey everywhere in both seasons. Snow leopard preferred large prey and avoided
small prey in summer but not in winter, with regional differences. It preferred domestic to
wild prey only in winter, and in SNP. Unlike most other studies carried out in the same area,
our study uses genetic methods for identifying the source of the scat. Studies solely based
on visual identification of samples may be strongly biased. Diet studies based on frequency
of occurrence of prey tend to overestimate the importance of small prey, which may be consumed
more often, but contribute less energy than large prey. However, even assessments
based on prey biomass are unlikely to be accurate as we do not know whether the actual
size of the prey consumed corresponds to the average size used to calculate the biomass
eaten. For example, large adults may be too difficult to catch and therefore mostly young animals are consumed, whose weight is much lower. We show that snow leopard consumes
a diverse range of prey, which varies both regionally and seasonally. We conclude that in
order to conserve snow leopards it is also necessary to conserve its main wild species of
prey, which will reduce the incidence of losses of livestock.
Shrestha, B. (2008). Prey Abundance and Prey Selection by Snow Leopard (uncia uncia) in the Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park, Nepal.
Abstract: Predators have significant ecological impacts on the region's prey-predator dynamic and community structure through their numbers and prey selection. During April-December 2007, I conducted a research in Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park (SNP) to: i) explore population status and density of wild prey species; Himalayan tahr, musk deer and game birds, ii) investigate diet of the snow leopard and to estimate prey selection by snow leopard, iii) identify the pattern of livestock depredation by snow leopard, its mitigation, and raise awareness through outreach program, and identify the challenge and opportunities on conservation snow leopard and its co-existence with wild ungulates and the human using the areas of the SNP. Methodology of my research included vantage points and regular monitoring from trails for Himalayan tahr, fixed line transect with belt drive method for musk deer and game birds, and microscopic hair identification in snow leopard's scat to investigate diet of snow leopard and to estimate prey selection. Based on available evidence and witness accounts of snow leopard attack on livestock, the patterns of livestock depredation were assessed. I obtained 201 sighting of Himalayan tahr (1760 individuals) and estimated 293 populations in post-parturient period (April-June), 394 in birth period (July -October) and 195 November- December) in rutting period. In average, ratio of male to females was ranged from 0.34 to 0.79 and ratio of kid to female was 0.21-0.35, and yearling to kid was 0.21- 0.47. The encounter rate for musk deer was 1.06 and density was 17.28/km2. For Himalayan monal, the encounter rate was 2.14 and density was 35.66/km2. I obtained 12 sighting of snow cock comprising 69 individual in Gokyo. The ratio of male to female was 1.18 and young to female was 2.18. Twelve species (8 species of wild and 4 species of domestic livestock) were identified in the 120 snow leopard scats examined. In average, snow leopard predated most frequently on Himalayan tahr and it was detected in 26.5% relative frequency of occurrence while occurred in 36.66% of all scats, then it was followed by musk deer (19.87%), yak (12.65%), cow (12.04%), dog (10.24%), unidentified mammal (3.61%), woolly hare (3.01%), rat sp. (2.4%), unidentified bird sp. (1.8%), pika (1.2%), and shrew (0.6%) (Table 5.8 ). Wild species were present in 58.99% of scats whereas domestic livestock with dog were present in 40.95% of scats. Snow leopard predated most frequently on wildlife species in three seasons; spring (61.62%), autumn (61.11%) and winter (65.51%), and most frequently on domestic species including dog in summer season (54.54%). In term of relative biomass consumed, in average, Himalayan tahr was the most important prey species contributed 26.27% of the biomass consumed. This was followed by yak (22.13%), cow (21.06%), musk deer (11.32%), horse (10.53%), wooly hare (1.09%), rat (0.29%), pika (0.14%) and shrew (0.07%). In average, domestic livestock including dog were contributed more biomass in the diet of snow leopard comprising 60.8% of the biomass consumed whilst the wild life species comprising 39.19%. The annual prey consumption by a snow leopard (based on 2 kg/day) was estimated to be three Himalayan tahr, seven musk deer, five wooly hare, four rat sp., two pika, one shrew and four livestock. In the present study, the highest frequency of attack was found during April to June and lowest to July to November. The day of rainy and cloudy was the more vulnerable to livestock depredation. Snow leopard attacks occurred were the highest at near escape cover such as shrub land and cliff. Both predation pressure on tahr and that on livestock suggest that the development of effective conservation strategies for two threatened species (predator and prey) depends on resolving conflicts between people and predators. Recently, direct control of free – ranging livestock, good husbandry and compensation to shepherds may reduce snow leopard – human conflict. In long term solution, the reintroduction of blue sheep at the higher altitudes could also “buffer” predation on livestock.
Ale, S., Shrestha, B., and Jackson, R. (2014). On the status of Snow Leopard Panthera Uncia (Schreber 1775) in Annapurna, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Taxa, (6(3)), 5534–5543.