Biodiv Sci ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (9): 951-959.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019062

• Special Feature: Snow Leopards: Survey, Research and Conservation Status in China • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Evaluating the potential habitat overlap and predation risk between snow leopards and free-range yaks in the Qionglai Mountains, Sichuan

Xiaoyun Shi1,2,Xiaogang Shi3,Qiang Hu3,Tianpei Guan4,Qiang Fu5,Jian Zhang6,Meng Yao1,2,Sheng Li1,2,*()   

  1. 1 School of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 Institute of Ecology, Peking University, Beijing 100871 3 Wolong National Nature Reserve, Wenchuan, Sichuan 623004
    4 Ecological Security and Protection Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Mianyang Normal College, Mianyang, Sichuan 621000
    5 Anzihe Nature Reserve, Chongzhou, Sichuan 611230
    6 Heishuihe Nature Reserve, Dayi, Sichuan 611330
  • Received:2019-03-04 Accepted:2019-06-14 Online:2019-09-20 Published:2019-09-25
  • Contact: Sheng Li

Abstract:

Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) related to livestock predation is one of the main challenges for snow leopard conservation in China. The Qionglai Mountains are located on the southeastern edge of the snow leopard’s range, and we used the nature reserve network which transects the central Qionglai Mountains as our study area. We collected occurrence data for snow leopards and free-range yaks from camera-trapping surveys and animal fecal DNA analysis from 2014 to 2018 and then predicted the distribution of each species using species distribution models (MaxEnt). We mapped the overlapping patches of suitable habitats between snow leopards and yaks and used the extent of habitat overlapping as the indicator of potential predation risk. The results showed that, across the seven nature reserves, the predicted suitable habitat for snow leopards and yaks is 871.14 km 2 and 988.41 km 2, respectively. The overlapping habitat between the two species is 534.47 km 2, primarily distributed in the alpine meadow area in the western part of the study area, accounting for 61.35% of snow leopard’s suitable habitat. We suggest that, when developing the management plans of these nature reserves and the newly established Giant Panda National Park, managers should consider alpine grazing a key threat to wild snow leopards and give high priority to the management of high-risk areas identified in this study. Immediate actions are needed to reduce the risk of potential HWC through interdisciplinary approaches such as grazing control and alternative livelihoods in local communities.

Key words: human-wildlife conflict, grazing management, protected area management, species distribution models, camera-trapping, protected area network