Carnivore-caused livestock mortality in trans-Himalaya
The loss of livestock to wild predators is an important livelihood concern among Trans-Himalayan pastoralists. Because of the remoteness and inaccessibility of the region, few studies have been carried out to quantify livestock depredation by wild predators. In the present study, we assessed the intensity of livestock depredation by snow leopard 'Uncia uncia', Tibetan wolf 'Canis lupus chanku', and Eurasian lynx 'Lynx l. isabellina' in three villages, namely Gya, Rumtse, and Sasoma, within the proposed Gya-Miru Wildlife Sanctuary in Ladakh, India. The three villages reported losses of 295 animals to these carnivores during a period of 2.5 years ending in early 2003, which represents an annual loss rate of 2.9% of their livestock holdings. The Tibetan wolf was the most important predator, accounting for 60% of the total livestock loss because of predation, followed by snow leopard (38%) and lynx (2%). Domestic goat was the major victim (32%), followed by sheep (30%), yak (15%), and horse (13%). Wolves killed horses significantly more and goats less than would be expected from their relative abundance. Snow leopards also killed horses significantly more than expected, whereas they killed other livestock types in proportion to their abundance. The three villages combined incurred an estimated annual monetary loss of approximately $USD 12,120 amounting to approximately $USD 190/household/y. This relatively high total annual loss occurred primarily because of depredation of the most valuable livestock types such as yak and horse. Conservation actions should initially attempt to target decrease of predation on these large and valuable livestock species.