Free-ranging livestock threaten the long-term survival of giant pandas
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd China has implemented forest policies and expanded protected areas to halt deforestation and protect giant panda habitats. These policies simultaneously encouraged local communities to raise livestock that then freely range in forests. This grazing had unintended consequences. As an alternative livelihood, it has become the most prevalent human disturbance across the panda's range. How do free-ranging livestock impact giant panda habitats and what are the implications for future conservation and policy on a larger scale? We use Wanglang National Nature Reserve as a case study. It has seen a nine-fold livestock increase during past 15 years. We combined bamboo survey plots, GPS collar tracking, long-term monitoring, and species distribution modelling incorporating species interaction to understand the impacts across spatial and temporal scales. Our results showed that livestock, especially horses, lead to a significant reduction of bamboo biomass and regeneration. The most intensively used areas by livestock are in the valleys, which are also the areas that pandas prefer. Adding livestock presence to predictive models of the giant panda's distribution yielded a higher accuracy and suggested livestock reduce panda habitat by 34%. Pandas were driven out of the areas intensively used by livestock. We recommend the nature reserve carefully implement a livestock ban and prioritise removing horses because they cause the greater harm. To give up livestock, local communities prefer long-term subsidies or jobs to a one-time payment. Thus, we recommend the government provide payments for ecosystem services that create jobs in forest stewardship or tourism while reducing the number of domestic animals.
SubjectScience & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Biodiversity & Conservation
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Protected area management
Species distribution modelling
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1016/j.biocon.2017.09.019
Publication InfoPimm, Stuart; Li, Binbin; Li, Sheng; Zhao, Lianjun; & Luo, Chunping (2017). Free-ranging livestock threaten the long-term survival of giant pandas. Biological Conservation, 216. pp. 18-25. 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.09.019. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/17915.
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Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Duke Kunshan University
Dr. Binbin Li is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences of the Environmental Research Center at Duke Kunshan University. She holds a secondary appointment with Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Her research focuses on loss of biodiversity, endangered and endemic species conservation such as giant pandas, priority setting and management of protected areas, and promotion of innovative technology, markets and policies to solve conservation problems and local commu
Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
Stuart Pimm is a world leader in the study of present day extinctions and what can be done to prevent them. His research covers the reasons why species become extinct, how fast they do so, the global patterns of habitat loss and species extinction and, importantly, the management consequences of this research. Pimm received his BSc degree from Oxford University in 1971 and his Ph.D from New Mexico State University in 1974. Pimm is the author of over 270 scientific papers and four books. The Inst
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