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Pastoralist-predator interaction at the roof of the world: Conflict dynamics and implications for conservation

Jaffar Ud Din, Snow Leopard Trust, Islamabad, Pakistan; Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hussain Ali, Snow Leopard Trust, Islamabad, Pakistan; Department of Animal Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
Aziz Ali, Agha Khan Foundation (AKF) National Program Office, Kabul, Afghanistan
Muhammad Younus, Snow Leopard Trust, Islamabad, Pakistan
Tahir Mehmood, Biostatistics, Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
Yusoff Norma-Rashid, Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Muhammad Ali Nawaz, Department of Animal Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan; Snow Leopard Trust, Islamabad, Pakistan

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-09348-220232

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Abstract

Pastoralism and predation are two major concomitantly known facts and matters of concern for conservation biologists worldwide. Pastoralist-predator conflict constitutes a major social-ecological concern in the Pamir mountain range encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, and affects community attitudes and tolerance toward carnivores. Very few studies have been conducted to understand the dynamics of livestock predation by large carnivores like snow leopards (Panthera uncia) and wolves (Canis lupus), owing to the region’s remoteness and inaccessibility. This study attempts to assess the intensity of livestock predation (and resulting perceptions) by snow leopards and wolves across the Afghani, Pakistani, and Tajik Pamir range during the period January 2008–June 2012. The study found that livestock mortality due to disease is the most serious threat to livestock (an average 3.5 animal heads per household per year) and ultimately to the rural economy (an average of US$352 per household per year) as compared to predation (1.78 animal heads per household per year, US$191) in the three study sites. Overall, 1419 (315 per year) heads of livestock were reportedly killed by snow leopards (47%) and wolves (53%) in the study sites. People with comparatively smaller landholdings and limited earning options, other than livestock rearing, expressed negative attitudes toward both wolves and snow leopards and vice versa. Education was found to be an effective solution to dilute people’s hatred for predators. Low public tolerance of the wolf and snow leopard in general explained the magnitude of the threat facing predators in the Pamirs. This will likely continue unless tangible and informed conservation measures like disease control and predation compensation programs are taken among others.

Key words

Afghan Pamir; carnivore; conflict; Pak Pamir; pastoralist; predation; snow leopard; Tajik Pamir; wolf

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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