Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Fecal Glucocorticoid Levels and Gastrointestinal Parasite Prevalence in Blue Sheep in Spiti Valley, Western Himalayas


Affiliations

  • Indian Institute of Science, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, 560012, India
  • CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), Hyderabad, 500007, India
  • CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), Hyderabad, Telangana, 500007, India

Abstract

Livestock grazing in protected areas is known to affect wild species. In this study, we examined fecal Glucocorticoid Metabolite Concentration (fGCM) and gastrointestinal parasite prevalence in blue sheep populations of Spiti valley, Himalayas. We collected 156 fecal samples of blue sheep from areas under intense livestock grazing and areas without small livestock during 2014-15. We also collected 27 fecal samples from livestock to examine parasite prevalence. We found that blue sheep in livestock-grazed areas had higher fGCM than non-grazed areas. Similarly, parasite prevalence was higher in areas with presence of cattle. Overall, adult females were more affected by disturbance and grazing compared to males and young ones. This is the first study to document the physiological stress response of wild ungulates to livestock grazing in Indian sub-continent. We suggest management recommendations to set aside pastures for exclusive use by wild blue sheep, regularly deworm livestock, and decrease the stray dog population.

Keywords

Blue Sheep/Bharal (Pseudois nayaur), Fecal Glucocorticoid Metabolites, Livestock Grazing, Parasite Prevalence, Trans-Himalayas

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