Impact of Livestock on Giant Pandas and their Habitat

Journal or Book Title: Journal for Nature Conservation

Keywords: Giant panda; Protected area; Livestock; Horses; Habitat; Nature reserves; China

Volume/Issue: Early Online

Year Published: 2014


Livestock production is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide. However, impacts of livestock on endangered species have been understudied, particularly across the livestock-wildlife interface in forested protected areas. We investigated the impact of an emerging livestock sector in China's renowned Wolong Nature Reserve for giant pandas. We integrated empirical data from field surveys, remotely sensed imagery, and GPS collar tracking to analyze (1) the spatial distribution of horses in giant panda habitat, (2) space use and habitat selection patterns of horses and pandas, and (3) the impact of horses on pandas and bamboo (panda's main food source). We discovered that the horse distribution overlapped with suitable giant panda habitat. Horses had smaller home ranges than pandas but both species showed similarities in habitat selection. Horses consumed considerable amounts of bamboo, and may have resulted in a decline in panda habitat use. Our study highlights the need to formulate policies to address this emerging threat to the endangered giant panda. It also has implications for understanding livestock impacts in other protected areas across the globe.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnc.2014.02.003

Type of Publication: Journal Article