A Strategy for Conservation of the Tibetan Gazelle Procapra picticaudata in Ladakh
Yash Veer Bhatnagar1, CM Seth2, J Takpa2, Saleem Ul-Haq2, Tsewang Namgail3, Sumanta Bagchi4, Charudutt Mishra1
1 Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, IV-Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore 570002, Karnataka, India; and, International Snow Leopard Trust, 4649 N. Sunnyside Avenue, Suite 325, Seattle, USA.
2 Department of Wildlife Protection, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, India.
3 Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, IV-Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore 570002, Karnataka, India; and, Resource Ecology Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, 69 Bornsesteeg, 6708 PD Wageningen, The Netherlands.
4 Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, IV-Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore 570002, Karnataka, India; and, Biological Research Laboratories, Syracuse University, 130 College Place, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA.
Yash Veer Bhatnagar
Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, IV-Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore 570002, Karnataka, India.
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Tibetan gazelle Procapra picticaudata is endemic to the Tibetan plateau. During the early twentieth century, it was distributed over a range of c. 20,000 km 2 in Ladakh, India. Although its conservation status is believed to be secure, our surveys initiated in 2000 found that the gazelle's population in Ladakh has undergone a precipitous decline. Today, c. fifty individuals survive precariously in an area of c. 100 km 2 in eastern Ladakh. Population declines have also been reported from Tibet, which remains its stronghold. Local extinction of the gazelle in Ladakh is imminent unless active population and habitat management are undertaken. Management measures, however, are stymied by the lack of understanding of the gazelle's ecology and the causes for its decline. Our recent studies in Ladakh establish that past hunting, particularly in the aftermath of the Sino-Indian war in 1962, and continued disturbance and habitat degradation associated with excessive livestock grazing are the main anthropogenic factors that caused the gazelle's decline. Our studies have also generated an understanding of the important biotic and abiotic habitat correlates of the gazelle's distribution, and the land use and socio-economy of pastoral communities that share the gazelle's range. We review these findings, and based on our research results, outline a species recovery strategy for the Tibetan gazelle.