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Carnivores’ diversity and conflicts with humans in Musk Deer National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan

Abstract

Pakistan’s northern expanses have rich diversity of mammalian carnivores, but majority of them are either threatened or endangered due to habitat degradation and conflict with humans. This study was conducted between May and June 2014 with the aim of determining the diversity of mammalian carnivores and their conflict with humans in Musk Deer National Park (MDNP), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Forty motion-triggered cameras (Reconyx) were installed in different watersheds of MDNP to determine carnivore species diversity. A human-carnivore conflict study was conducted through semi-structured questionnaires where 149 respondents were randomly selected from 18 villages in the park. A total of nine carnivore species were documented, namely snow leopard (Panthera uncia), common leopard (Panthera pardus), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), brown bear (Ursus arctos), Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetinus), grey wolf (Canis lupus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), stone marten (Martes foina), and yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula). During the past year, a total of 817 livestock were lost to disease and carnivore predation. Carnivores were held responsible for 276 livestock losses which translated into an annual economic loss of USD 28,145 (USD 189 per household). Both Asiatic black bear and brown bear also damaged maize and potato crops causing economic losses of USD 16,330 (USD 110 per household). Depredation of livestock was greatly affected by four factors: prey type, season of depredation, location of depredation, and livestock guarding practices. Based on the responses, the people of Folwai village showed the most negative perception towards carnivores. Majority of the respondents declared grey wolf, brown bear, and Asiatic black bear to be the most dangerous carnivores in the park. Our results showed that MDNP has rich diversity of carnivores but their survival in the park is in danger due to conflict with humans over excessive livestock depredations and crop raiding. Active livestock guarding practices can reduce carnivore attacks. Educating local people, vaccinating their livestock, and compensating affected families can greatly reduce negative perceptions.

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Acknowledgments

We are thankful to the Pakistan Army for granting us permission to conduct our study in an area along the international border and for providing security. The main funding for this study was provided by the International Bear Association (IBA). We are also grateful to the AJK Fisheries and Wildlife Department for its cooperation during the study survey. The Himalayan Wildlife Foundation (HWF) provided logistic support during field work. We thank the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), Panthera, and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences for providing trail cameras. We acknowledge the valuable cooperation of the local staff of the AJK Fisheries and Wildlife Department and the people of MDNP.

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Correspondence to Muhammad Ali Nawaz.

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Ahmad, S., Hameed, S., Ali, H. et al. Carnivores’ diversity and conflicts with humans in Musk Deer National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. Eur J Wildl Res 62, 565–576 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-016-1029-6

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Keywords

  • Carnivores
  • Camera trapping
  • Musk deer national park
  • Human-carnivore conflict
  • Livestock depredation