Dietary spectrum in Himalayan wolves: comparative analysis of prey choice in conspecifics across high‐elevation rangelands of Asia. Balajeid Lyngdoh S, Habib B, Shrotriya S. Journal of Zoology. 2020 Jan
The Himalayan wolf is one of the most basal among wolf lineages in the world today. It inhabits mostly the high elevations, northwards from the Himalayas (1500–5000 m) in the Asian region. We conducted a meta-analysis to understand the dietary habits of Himalayan wolves and wolves of the high rangelands of Asia from seven countries (n = 22). We found 39 different prey items reported across the distribution of the Himalayan wolf from a total of 2331 scats (average of 105.95 ± 20.10 scats per study). Comparison of the relative frequency of occurrence of different prey species shows that domestic prey consumption (48.21 ± 5.61%) across the zones or continent was similar to wild prey consumption (42.94 ± 5.25%). Small wild prey species constituted approximately (24.53 ± 3.77%) of the total wolf diet. Wolves of the Asian Highlands consumed relatively more large prey (40.01 ± 5.42%) than small prey (25.19 ± 3.85%) or medium-sized prey (23.17 ± 3.78%). Wolves consumed a larger proportion of domestic (54.92 ± 5.94%) than wild prey (36.13 ± 6.12%) in areas that had regular livestock grazing and vice versa. East, west and central Himalayan and Central Asian wolves consumed mostly large wild and domestic prey. On the contrary, wolves in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau, Inner Mongolia and the Karakoram consumed a relatively higher proportion of smaller-sized prey and livestock. Overall, wolves utilized mostly domestic livestock and marmots (Ivlev’s index, 0.22–0.77). High localized utilization of Przewalski’s horse (Equus ferus przewalkskii, 0.94) was recorded, whereas Goral (N. goral) and Pika (Ochotona spp) were particularly underutilized (−0.99 and −0.92) in wolf diet. A landscape or trans-boundary approach is advocated to restore natural large wild prey, for such a relic lineage species and reduce human-wolf conflicts.
Livestock depredation by snow leopard and Tibetan wolf: Implications for herders’ livelihoods in Wangchuck Centennial National Park, Bhutan. Jamtsho Y, Katel O. Pastoralism. 2019 Dec
Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is a serious problem in many parts of the world, and Bhutan’s Wangchuck Centennial National Park (WCNP) is no exception. Located in the remote alpine areas of the eastern Himalaya, wildlife species such as snow leopard (SL) and Tibetan wolf (TW) are reported to kill livestock in many parts of the Park. Such depredation is believed to have affected the livelihoods of high-altitude herding communities, resulting in conflicts between them. This study provides analysis on the extent of livestock depredation by wildlife predators such as SL and TW and examines its implications for the livelihoods of herding communities of Choekhortoe and Dhur regions of WCNP. Using semi-structured questionnaires, all herders (n = 38) in the study area were interviewed. The questions pertained to livestock population, frequency of depredation and income lost due to depredation in the last five years from 2012 to 2016. This study recorded 2,815 livestock heads in the study area, with an average herd size of 74.1 stock. The average herd size holding showed a decreasing trend over the years, and one of the reasons cited by the herders is depredation by SL and TW and other predators. This loss equated to an average annual financial loss equivalent to 10.2% (US$837) of their total per capita cash income. Such losses have resulted in negative impacts on herders’ livelihood; e.g. six herders (2012-2016) even stopped rearing livestock and resorted to an alternate source of cash income. The livestock intensification programmes, including pasture improvement through allowing controlled burning, and financial compensation, may be some potential short-term solutions to reduce conflict between herders and predators. Issuing permits for cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) collection only to the herders and instilling the sense of stewardship to highland herders may be one of the long-term solutions.
Protected areas and biodiversity of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Geography and Natural Resources, 40(2), pp.187-194. Efremov, Y.V., 2019
The unique landscape features of the Kingdom of Bhutan, associated with contrasting topography, abrupt height differences at short distances and with large amounts of monsoon precipitation in the summer time, are considered. The main feature in the landscapes of this region is determined: exceptional diversity of vegetation cover and animals. An analysis is made of the subtropical, temperate and alpine landscape-ecofloristic zones. In each of the zones, subtropical, temperate, subarctic (alpine type) and nival altitudinal belts are identified. A brief description of high-altitude belts and types of vegetation and animals is given. It is established that the largest space here is occupied by subtropical, broad-leaved and coniferous forests (80.9%) which stretch from the foot of the mountains to almost 3500 m above the sea level. The zones and belts are characterized by exceptional biodiversity with a large number of endemic fauna and flora. The system of protected areas of Bhutan is described, and a brief account of its national parks, and biological corridors is given. Attention is focused on the rational and careful attitude of the royal government toward nature, implying the establishment of national parks, nature preserves and wildlife sanctuaries which occupy half of the entire area of the State.
Investigating the Global and Local in Wangchuck Centennial National Park: A Case for the Bhutanese Conservation Actors In-Between. Steele AL. Consilience. 2018 Jan
Bhutan is world famous for its approach to both environmental conservation and development, despite being classified as “least developed” by the World Bank as recently as 2016. As Bhutan continues to develop, it has increasingly encountered the colloquially known, but statistically unproven phenomena: that development standards and conservation goals are often in conflict with the needs of rural communities. In the case of such ideological, cultural and economic clashes, this article argues for the necessity of “middle-actors” such as native Bhutanese civil servants, as they are able to navigate the cultural and economic zone “in-between” the international and the local in ways that others cannot.
Assessing patterns of human–Asiatic black bear interaction in and around Wangchuck Centennial National Park, Bhutan. Jamtsho Y, Wangchuk S. Global ecology and conservation. 2016 Oct
Bhutan has 2 of the 8 species of bears recorded in the world: Asiatic black bear and Sloth bear. Asiatic black bear is listed in Appendix I of the CITES and categorized as vulnerable in IUCN Red List. Asiatic black bear is increasingly becoming nuisance to people by attacking crops, livestock and even humans, threatening its own existence as a result of retaliation. With the need to understand the interactions between the communities living within the Wangchuck Centennial National Park (WCNP) and the Asiatic black bears, 620 households in and around WCNP were interviewed in 2010. Between 1960 and 2010, Asiatic black bears mauled 40 people in and around WCNP and four district hospitals within which WCNP operates recorded 19 cases of humans mauled by bear from 2013 to 2015. Majority (45% and 43% of respondents) reported the crop and livestock depredation during summer and autumn season respectively and 75% of the respondents reported sighting bear in 2010. About 52% of respondents believed that killing of bears could reduce the conflict, which may be a potential threat to the bear, though stringent conservation rules of the country restricts killing it. Community outreach programs like creating awareness on importance of bear and its habitat conservation may be pursued to help reduce the conflict. Integrated conservation measures such as providing electric fences may be initiated to help garner support for conservation. This may ensure the survival of Asiatic black bear, and also reduce the significant economic losses to inhabitants in and around WCNP.
Camera trap records of Asiatic Golden Cat at high altitudes in Bhutan. Cat News, 64, pp.37-38. Dhendup, T., Tempa, T. and Norbu, N., 2016
Recent camera trap evidence from a biodiversity survey in eastern Bhutan recorded an Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temminckii at 4,282 m making it the highest altitudinal record for the species to date. There have been several previous records of the species at high altitudes in Bhutan and India. This suggests that the highlands may be an important habitat for the species, and may also act as movement corridors. Hence, it is important that these habitats are considered in the course of conservation initiatives and decisions for the species.
As the flagship species of the central Asian mountain regions, conservation of endangered snow leopards has increasingly becoming a global concern (Global Snow Leopard Workshop, 2012). However, they are one of the poorly known among cats and their population is believed to be declining due to killing by herders as a livestock predator, poaching for fur, and loss of habitats. In Bhutan, particularly in Wangchuck Centennial National Park (WCNP) , the snow leopard habitat are degrading due to extensive livestock grazing resulting in leaving little or no forage for Blue Sheep. The case of herders loosing livestock to snow leopard or other predators are also becoming burning issue which might lead the angry herders to kill the cat in retaliation for preying on livestock. The hundreds of people who move into snow leopard habitat each spring to collect caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordycep sinensis) for lucrative Chinese medicine market are becoming unmanageable, resulting in causing severe threat to snow leopard and its habitat. Snow leopard sensitization workshop was therefore organized for overcoming the aforementioned hitches. The total of 60 nomads and 159 seasonal cordyceps collectors from three Gewogs of Wangchuck Centennial National Park participated in the program.Together with them, we have developed strategies and measures to overcome the threats faced by specie. The presentations on ecological significance of snow leopard, human snow leopard conflict, awareness on forest rules and the need of residents and other visitors to highland areas of WCNP to become citizen scientist to monitor and protect snow leopard were imparted to them. The questionnaire survey was also conducted with participants for assessing the impact of cordyceps collectors on snow leopard and its habitat. An effective community based information sharing network group was also established for garnering vital information on poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the park. As a part of the program, we have also conducted advocacy program with the nomadic students of two schoolsof Bumthang and Wangduephodrant Dzongkhags. The global status and significance of Snow Leopard, the snow leopard description, the snow leopard range countries, the threats experienced by the species, conservation challenges and the benefits of conserving snow leopards and mountain ecosystem were shared with students. The intra-school debate, quiz and poster competitions with the theme conservation of snow leopards important for downstream economic development were also organized. The total of 208 students participated in the program.
Notes on the occurrence of Marbled Cats at high altitudes in Bhutan. Notes, 7(2). Dhendup, T., 2016
Marbled Cat is one of the rarest and the least known felid in South Asia. Owing to its reclusive nature, hardly anything is known about the species in the region and previous records from elsewhere suggests the species to be primarily an animal of the moist tropical forest. However, with increasing use of camera traps for biodiversity surveys in Bhutan, Marbled Cats are getting infrequently recorded above 3000m, suggesting wider altitudinal occurrences and habitat preferences. This could either be attributed to the use of highlands as habitat and/or natural corridors or a shift in habitat niche due to rising anthropological pressures in the lowlands.
Biodiversity hotspot of Bhutan and its sustainability. Current science, pp.521-527. Banerjee, A. and Bandopadhyay, R., 2016
Biodiversity is measured at different levels of biological set up together with genes, species and ecosystems along with their interactions. There are a total of 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world, among which the Eastern Himalayan (EH) range is one of the richest with nearly 750,000 sq. km area covering Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indian states of West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, southeast Tibet (China) and northern Myanmar. Among these countries, Bhutan is the only one sharing all its land area as the EH region occupying a major share of 7.60% of the total EH area. Bhutan is part of 23 important bird areas, 8 ecoregions, important plant areas and wetlands with 2 Ramsar areas – Tashiyangtse and Wangdue. It is also among the exclusive biodiversity hotspots in the world where forest coverage has increased above 72% of the country’s total area. The country is gifted with enormous forest cover of 70.46% of the total land part. It also has 10 protected areas (PAs) with biological corridors that are home to mass populations of vulnerable Takin, endangered one-horn rhino, pigmy hog, leopard, red panda, etc. and also varying bird species. Bhutan also has many hot-water springs which are believed to have medicinal properties to cure diseases. The EH is now experiencing widespread warming higher than 0.01°C per year. Due to global warming, slow melting of the EH glaciers may cause huge floods in Bhutan in future resulting into loss of keystone species. India may also be affected by these future floods. In order to achieve sustainable development using this unique biodiversity hotspot, management of PAs, use of non-timber products and less urbanization are required
Fuelwood use and availability in Bhutan: Implications for national policy and local forest management. Wangchuk S, Siebert S, Belsky J. Human Ecology. 2014 Feb
Fuelwood is the principal energy resource for millions of households around the world, yet its use, availability and management remain poorly understood in many areas. We document fuelwood consumption, growth/yield and standing biomass in a Bhutanese village and alpine area used seasonally by villagers where the government is concerned about harvesting in a recently designated national park. Pinus wallichiana was the only fuelwood used in the village and assessments suggest 52 ha could sustain local needs at current consumption levels (54 m3/household/yr). In contrast, Rhododendron aeruginosum was used in the alpine site and at current consumption rates all will be consumed by 2023. Our findings emphasize the need to manage fuelwood based on site-specific consumption, growth and standing biomass criteria rather than single, nation-wide regulations. We provide methods to develop sustainable fuelwood harvesting and forest management guidelines that are applicable to government and community-managed forests in Bhutan and elsewhere.