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Title: A Review of Livestock Predation by Large Carnivores in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan
Contributor(s): Rajaratnam, Rajanathan  (author)orcid ; Vernes, Karl A  (author)orcid ; Sangay, Tiger (author)
Publication Date: 2016
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-22246-2_8
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Abstract: With a rich biodiversity due to its location at the juncture of two biogeographical realms, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is renowned for its unique concept of 'Gross National Happiness' (GNH) as an economic development policy and indicator of social well-being. Nature conservation is a key pillar of GNH, manifested through a comprehensive protected area system under natural forest cover connected by biological corridors. Bhutan's forests harbour 39 carnivore species including IUCN red-listed species like the tiger 'Panthera tigris'; snow leopard 'Panthera uncia'; clouded leopard 'Neofelis nebulosa'; common leopard 'Panthera pardus'; and dhole 'Cuon alpinus'. With rural people and their subsistence economy integrated into the conservation landscape, livestock predation is an inherent issue especially in northern regions where several predation hotspots are recognised. Tigers, snow leopards, leopards and dhole prey on livestock, largely due to untended free grazing in forests, inadequate penning at night, and lowered natural prey densities from competition with livestock. To offset rural economic loss in excess of USD100,000 per year due to livestock predation, a compensation scheme was trialled between 2003 and 2005. Initially successful, it lapsed due to unsustainable funding, delays between reporting and payment, excessive bureaucracy, and great distances travelled to report livestock attacks. Despite large predators like the tiger and leopard being culturally revered amidst a Buddhist population respecting the sanctity of life, there is growing resentment to livestock predators and a reported increase in retaliatory killing. Improved animal husbandry practices need to be encouraged to alleviate the socio-economic impact of livestock predation and ensure adequate protection for predators. These include greater vigilance during grazing, proper penning and tethering of livestock, switching to more secure and productive stall-fed cattle, and avoidance of grazing in predation hotspots. Authorities in turn must zone protected areas by imposing grazing restrictions on known predator hotspots. Future compensation schemes must impose stricter conditions on compensation, where claims must be supported by evidence of effective husbandry practices. Community-based insurance schemes being trialled across Bhutan may prove effective and sustainable in the long term. Unless the socio-economic impacts of livestock predation are addressed and alleviated, the cultural and religious fabric that binds people and nature conservation in Bhutan is in serious jeopardy.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Problematic Wildlife: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach, p. 143-171
Publisher: Springer
Place of Publication: Cham, Switzerland
ISBN: 9783319222455
Field of Research (FOR): 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
040699 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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