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Sharma, R. K., Bhatnagar, Y. V., Mishra, C. (201). Does livestock benefit or harm snow leopards? Biological Conservatio, (190), 8–13.
Abstract: Large carnivores commonly prey on livestock when their ranges overlap. Pastoralism is the dominant land use type across the distributional range of the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia. Snow leop- ards are often killed in retaliation against livestock depredation. Whether livestock, by forming an alter- native prey, could potentially benefit snow leopards, or, whether livestock use of an area is detrimental to snow leopards is poorly understood. We examined snow leopard habitat use in a multiple use landscape that was comprised of sites varying in livestock abundance, wild prey abundance and human population size. We photographically sampled ten sites (average size 70 sq. km) using ten camera traps in each site, deployed for a period of 60 days. Snow leopard habitat use was computed as a Relative Use Index based on the total independent photographic captures and the number of snow leopard individuals captured at each site. We quantified livestock abundance, wild prey abundance, human population size and terrain ruggedness in each of the sites. Key variables influencing snow leopard habitat use were identified using Information Theory based model selection approach. Snow leopard habitat use was best explained by wild prey density, and showed a positive linear relationship with the abundance of wild ungulates. We found a hump-shaped relationship between snow leopard habitat use and livestock stocking density, with an initial increase in habitat use followed by a decline beyond a threshold of livestock density. Our results suggest that in the absence of direct persecution of snow leopards, livestock grazing and snow leopard habitat use are potentially compatible up to a certain threshold of livestock density, beyond which habitat use declines, presumably due to depressed wild ungulate abundance and associated anthropogenic disturbance.
Shrestha, A., Thapa, K., Subba, S. A., Dhakal, M., Devkota, B. P., Thapa, G. J., Shrestha, S., Malla, S., Thapa, K. (2019). Cats, canines, and coexistence: dietary differentiation between the sympatric Snow Leopard and Grey Wolf in the western landscape of Nepal Himalaya. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 11(7), 13815–13821.
Abstract: Understanding the dietary habits of sympatric apex carnivores advances our knowledge of ecological processes and aids their conservation. We compared the diets of the sympatric Snow Leopard Panthera uncia and Grey Wolf Canis lupus using standard micro-histological analyses of scats collected from the western complex of Nepal Himalaya. Our study revealed one of the highest recorded contributions of livestock to the diet of top predators (55% for Grey Wolf and 39% for Snow Leopard) and high dietary overlap (0.82) indicating potential exploitative or interference competition. Their diet composition, however, varied significantly based on their consumption of wild and domestic prey. Limitation in data precludes predicting direction and outcome of inter-specific interactions between these predators. Our findings suggest a high rate of negative interaction with humans in the region and plausibly retaliatory killings of these imperilled predators. To ensure the sustained survival of these two apex carnivores, conservation measures should enhance populations of their wild prey species while reducing livestock losses of the local community through preventive and mitigative interventions.
Simon, N., Geroudet, P. (1970). Last Survivores: The Natural History of Animals in Danger of Extinction. (pp. 127–131). New York: The World Publishing Company.
Soderlund, V. (1980). Chromosome studies in the snow leopard (Panthera uncia): preliminary report. In L. Blomqvist (Ed.), International Pedigree Book of Snow Leopards (Vol. 2, pp. 168–182). Helsinki: Helsinki Zoo.
Suryawanshi, K. R., Bhatia, S., Bhatnagar, Y. V., Redpath, S., Mishra, C. (2014). Multiscale Factors Affecting Human Attitudes toward Snow Leopards and Wolves. Conservation biology, 00, 1–10.
Abstract: The threat posed by large carnivores to livestock and humans makes peaceful coexistence between
them difficult. Effective implementation of conservation laws and policies depends on the attitudes of local
residents toward the target species. There are many known correlates of human attitudes toward carnivores,
but they have only been assessed at the scale of the individual. Because human societies are organized hierarchically, attitudes are presumably influenced by different factors at different scales of social organization, but this scale dependence has not been examined.We used structured interview surveys to quantitatively assess the attitudes of a Buddhist pastoral community toward snow leopards (Panthera uncia) and wolves (Canis lupus).
We interviewed 381 individuals from 24 villages within 6 study sites across the high-elevation Spiti Valley in
the Indian Trans-Himalaya. We gathered information on key explanatory variables that together captured
variation in individual and village-level socioeconomic factors.We used hierarchical linear models to examine how the effect of these factors on human attitudes changed with the scale of analysis from the individual to the community. Factors significant at the individual level were gender, education, and age of the respondent (for wolves and snow leopards), number of income sources in the family (wolves), agricultural production, and large-bodied livestock holdings (snow leopards). At the community level, the significant factors included the number of smaller-bodied herded livestock killed by wolves and mean agricultural production (wolves) and village size and large livestock holdings (snow leopards). Our results show that scaling up from the individual to higher levels of social organization can highlight important factors that influence attitudes of people toward wildlife and toward formal conservation efforts in general. Such scale-specific information can help managers apply conservation measures at appropriate scales. Our results reiterate the need for conflict management programs to be multipronged.
Suryawanshi, K. R., Bhatnagar, Y. V. B., Redpath, S., Mishra, C. (2013). People, predators and perceptions: patterns of livestock depredation by snow leopards and wolves. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50, 550–560.
Abstract: 1. Livestock depredation by large carnivores is an important conservation and economic concern
and conservation management would benefit from a better understanding of spatial variation
and underlying causes of depredation events. Focusing on the endangered snow leopard
Panthera uncia and the wolf Canis lupus, we identify the ecological factors that predispose
areas within a landscape to livestock depredation. We also examine the potential mismatch
between reality and human perceptions of livestock depredation by these carnivores whose
survival is threatened due to persecution by pastoralists.
2. We assessed the distribution of the snow leopard, wolf and wild ungulate prey through field
surveys in the 4000 km2 Upper Spiti Landscape of trans-Himalayan India. We interviewed local
people in all 25 villages to assess the distribution of livestock and peoples’ perceptions of the risk
to livestock from these carnivores. We monitored village-level livestock mortality over a 2-year
period to assess the actual level of livestock depredation. We quantified several possibly influential
independent variables that together captured variation in topography, carnivore abundance
and abundance and other attributes of livestock. We identified the key variables influencing livestock
depredation using multiple logistic regressions and hierarchical partitioning.
3. Our results revealed notable differences in livestock selectivity and ecological correlates of
livestock depredation – both perceived and actual – by snow leopards and wolves. Stocking
density of large-bodied free-ranging livestock (yaks and horses) best explained people’s threat
perception of livestock depredation by snow leopards, while actual livestock depredation was
explained by the relative abundance of snow leopards and wild prey. In the case of wolves,
peoples’ perception was best explained by abundance of wolves, while actual depredation by
wolves was explained by habitat structure.
4. Synthesis and applications. Our results show that (i) human perceptions can be at odds
with actual patterns of livestock depredation, (ii) increases in wild prey populations will intensify
livestock depredation by snow leopards, and prey recovery programmes must be accompanied
by measures to protect livestock, (iii) compensation or insurance programmes should
target large-bodied livestock in snow leopard habitats and (iv) sustained awareness
programmes are much needed, especially for the wolf.
Suryawanshi, K. R., Khanyari, M., Sharma, K., Lkhagvajav, P., Mishra, C. (2019). Sampling bias in snow leopard population estimation studies. Population Eccology, , 1–9.
Abstract: Accurate assessments of the status of threatened species and their conservation
planning require reliable estimation of their global populations and robust monitoring
of local population trends. We assessed the adequacy and suitability of studies
in reliably estimating the global snow leopard (Panthera uncia) population. We
compiled a dataset of all the peer-reviewed published literature on snow leopard
population estimation. Metadata analysis showed estimates of snow leopard density
to be a negative exponential function of area, suggesting that study areas have generally
been too small for accurate density estimation, and sampling has often been
biased towards the best habitats. Published studies are restricted to six of the
12 range countries, covering only 0.3�0.9% of the presumed global range of the
species. Re-sampling of camera trap data from a relatively large study site
(c.1684 km2) showed that small-sized study areas together with a bias towards
good quality habitats in existing studies may have overestimated densities by up to
five times. We conclude that current information is biased and inadequate for generating
a reliable global population estimate of snow leopards. To develop a rigorous
and useful baseline and to avoid pitfalls, there is an urgent need for
(a) refinement of sampling and analytical protocols for population estimation of
snow leopards (b) agreement and coordinated use of standardized sampling protocols
amongst researchers and governments across the range, and (c) sampling
larger and under-represented areas of the snow leopard's global range.
Taubmann, J., Sharma, K., Uulu, K Z., Hines, J. E., Mishra, C. (2015). Status assessment of the Endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia and other large mammals in the Kyrgyz Alay, using community knowledge corrected for imperfect detection. Fauna & Flora International, , 1–11.
Abstract: The Endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia occurs
in the Central Asian Mountains, which cover c.  million
km. Little is known about its status in the Kyrgyz Alay
Mountains, a relatively narrow stretch of habitat connecting
the southern and northern global ranges of the species. In
 we gathered information on current and past (,
the last year of the Soviet Union) distributions of snow leopards
and five sympatric large mammals across , km
of the Kyrgyz Alay.We interviewed  key informants from
local communities. Across  -km grid cells we obtained
, and  records of species occurrence (site
use) in  and , respectively. The data were analysed
using themulti-season site occupancy framework to incorporate
uncertainty in detection across interviewees and time
periods. High probability of use by snow leopards in the past
was recorded in .% of the Kyrgyz Alay. Between the two
sampling periods % of sites showed a high probability of
local extinction of snow leopard. We also recorded high
probability of local extinction of brown bear Ursus arctos
(% of sites) and Marco Polo sheep Ovis ammon polii
(% of sites), mainly in regions used intensively by people.
Data indicated a high probability of local colonization by
lynx Lynx lynx in % of the sites. Although wildlife has
declined in areas of central and eastern Alay, regions in
the north-west, and the northern and southern fringes
appear to retain high conservation value.
Tumursukh, L., Suryawanshi, K. R., Mishra, C., McCarthy, T. M., Boldgiv, B. (2015). Status of the mountain ungulate prey of the Endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia in the Tost Local Protected Area, South Gobi, Mongolia. Oryx, , 1–6.
Abstract: The availability of wild prey is a critical predictor of carnivore density. However, few conservation pro- grammes have focused on the estimation and monitoring of wild ungulate populations and their trends, especially in the remote mountains of Central Asia. We conducted double-observer surveys to estimate the populations of ibex Capra sibirica and argali Ovis ammon in the mountain- ous regions of Tost Local Protected Area, South Gobi prov- ince, Mongolia, which is being considered for designation as a Nature Reserve. We also conducted demographic surveys of the more abundant ibex to examine their sex-ratio and the survival of young during –. The estimated ibex population remained stable in  and  and the es- timated argali population increased from  in  to  in . The biomass of wild ungulates was c. % that of live- stock. Mortality in young ibex appeared to increase after weaning, at the age of  months. We estimated the popula- tion of wild ungulates was sufficient to support – adult snow leopards Panthera uncia. The adult snow leopard population in our study area during –, estimated independently using camera-trap-based mark–recapture methods, was –. Based on our results we identify the Tost Local Protected Area as an important habitat for the conservation of these ungulates and their predator, the Endangered snow leopard, and recommend elevation of its status to a Nature Reserve.
Wahlberg, C. (1980). Autopsy findings and causes of death in captive snow leopards (Panthera uncia): a preliminary report. In L. Blomqvist (Ed.), International Pedigree Book of Snow Leopards (Vol. 2, pp. 205–217). Helsinki: Helsinki Zoo.