Critical assessment of Asiatic ibex (Capra ibex sibirica) for sustainable harvesting in northern areas of Pakistan
Global Ecology and Conservation
Abundance and population, Conservation, Distribution, Double observer, Himalaya, Trophy hunting
Northern regions of Pakistan support a relatively large population of wild ungulates, the preferred prey of sympatric carnivores. The Asiatic ibex (Capra Ibex Sibirica) is one such an ungulate species which also serves as an important trophy animal. The maintenance of trophy hunting programs rely on estimates of harvestable population sizes derived from rigorous methods. The present study successfully used the double observer-based Capture-Mark-Recapture (CMR) method to produce a reliable and accurate estimate of the Asiatic ibex population in the Community Control Hunting Areas (CCHAs) of Socterabad, Gojal watershed and Khunjerab National Park (KNP). Surveys were conducted from February to March 2018 and from March to April 2019. The total ibex population was calculated to be 1075 individuals (95%CI ± 670) with a density of 1.43 ibex/km2 in Gojal watershed, followed by Socterabad with 856 individuals (95%CI ± 680) and a density of 6.24ibex/km2, and lastly KNP with 463 individuals (95%CI ± 93.5) and a density of 0.14ibex/km2. A total of 52 herds were sighted in Gojal watershed with mean size of 19 ibex/herd (SE ± 3.2). In Socterabad, 28 herds were sighted with mean size of 16.07 ibex/herd (SE ± 2.4) and in KNP 28 herds were sighted with average recorded size of 16.5 ibex/herd (SE ± 3.4). In KNP Sex ratios of female to young, female to yearling and female to male were 1:0.7, 1:0.4, and 1:0.5 respectively. The detection probability of observer two was less than observer one. Ibex biomass recorded is insufficient for current recorded snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and wolf (Canis lupus) population in the area. Our study validates the use of Capture Mark Recapture as a viable tool in discerning ungulate populations, and shows that the population of the Asiatic ibex is viable in the study area, making it suitable for trophy hunting programs but need to modify the hunting law.
Ahmad, S., Khan, T., Hacker, C., Yang, L., Nabi, G., Ullah, S., Wanghe, K., Shah, S., Chen, M., Saeed, S., & Luan, X. (2020). Critical assessment of Asiatic ibex (Capra ibex sibirica) for sustainable harvesting in northern areas of Pakistan. Global Ecology and Conservation, 22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e00907