Cats, canines, and coexistence: dietary differentiation between the sympatric Snow Leopard and Grey Wolf in the western landscape of Nepal Himalaya

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Anil Shrestha
Kanchan Thapa
Samundra Ambuhang Subba
Maheshwar Dhakal
Bishnu Prasad Devkota
Gokarna Jung Thapa
Sheren Shrestha
Sabita Malla
Kamal Thapa


Understanding the dietary habits of sympatric apex carnivores advances our knowledge of ecological processes and aids their conservation. We compared the diets of the sympatric Snow Leopard Panthera uncia and Grey Wolf Canis lupus using standard micro-histological analyses of scats collected from the western complex of Nepal Himalaya. Our study revealed one of the highest recorded contributions of livestock to the diet of top predators (55% for Grey Wolf and 39% for Snow Leopard) and high dietary overlap (0.82) indicating potential exploitative or interference competition. Their diet composition, however, varied significantly based on their consumption of wild and domestic prey. Limitation in data precludes predicting direction and outcome of inter-specific interactions between these predators. Our findings suggest a high rate of negative interaction with humans in the region and plausibly retaliatory killings of these imperilled predators. To ensure the sustained survival of these two apex carnivores, conservation measures should enhance populations of their wild prey species while reducing livestock losses of the local community through preventive and mitigative interventions.

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