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Challenges of Conserving Blue Bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) Outside the Protected Areas of Nepal

Abstract

Blue bull, or ‘Nilgai’ (Boselaphus tragocamelus, Pallas, 1766) is the sole member of its genus. It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and while there are major populations in northern India, there are also smaller populations in Nepal and Pakistan. It is now extinct in Bangladesh. The Nepalese population is sparsely distributed, mostly in the lowland Terai areas, and outside of Nepal’s protected area network. Conflict with local farming communities because of crop damage by nilgai has created conservation challenges and our aim was to document the distribution of nilgai and to explore the conflict between nilgai and the human population in lowland Nepal. Our study focused on the Rupendehi District of Nepal during March to August 2016, where a total of 303 nilgai were counted. The highest population of nilgai was in the community forests and lowest in areas of cultivated land. The distribution pattern of nilgai was clumped, with an average herd size of 5.6 individuals per herd. Crop raiding damage by nilgai created a serious problem in the municipalities, known as village development committees which are located close to potential nilgai habitat. The projected crop yield loss due to nilgai in the study area was NRs (Nepali Rupees) 7,275,507 (US$ 68,633) from March 2015 to March 2016. Vegetable and pulses crops were those most damaged by nilgai, contributing to 14.48 and 10.38% of the total losses, respectively. The local people held mixed perceptions of nilgai. The most negative views were held by people who had experienced some extent of crop loss. Suitable protective measures to minimize crop loss are required such as changing cropping patterns and crop composition, particularly cultivation of medicinal plants are suggested as priorities in highly effective zone. The study noted that there were many threats to nilgai including illegal hunting, poisoning, electric fences and habitat deterioration. Successful nilgai conservation will require further education, gaining support from local people and possibly new crop management techniques.

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Correspondence to Srijana Khanal or Achyut Aryal.

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Khanal, S., Aryal, A., Morley, C.G. et al. Challenges of Conserving Blue Bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) Outside the Protected Areas of Nepal. Proc Zool Soc 71, 352–362 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12595-017-0218-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12595-017-0218-y

Keywords

  • Nilgai
  • Crop damage
  • Level of tolerance
  • Mitigation
  • Threats