Livestock and wild herbivores in the western Himalaya: competition or co-existence?

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Zarreen Syed
Mohd Shahnawaz Khan


Pastoralism is among the major land use practices in the Himalaya and the main source of livelihood for local communities.  In naturally occurring herbivore populations, the co-occurrence of native species has evolved through evolutionary processes over millions of years which has enabled coexistence.  In the modern scenario, however, the intrusion of livestock into the wild habitats impose additional pressure on the limited resources, given that there has been insufficient time for resource partitioning to evolve.  Realizing the need to develop a better understanding of wild herbivores and livestock interactions, the present review was compiled.  The review demonstrates that a group of similar species using similar habitats and feeding on similar foods leads to more competition.  Also, goat/sheep impose a potential threat to the resource of wild herbivores and such resource exploitation by livestock is not compatible with their conservation.  Further, wild herbivores shift their habitat to avoid the risk of being exposed to competition or predation.  Livestock grazing and associated activities affect the wild herbivores’ habitat use and foraging behaviour, and these are changes that may also affect their survival in the future.  There is a prime need to find out the threshold of livestock population which can sustain itself without compromising livestock production and wildlife.  High conflict areas need to be identified and compensatory mechanisms should evolve. It is also necessary for ecology to be integrated with an understanding of the social dynamics that influence the status of the resources.

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