Livestock and wild herbivores in the western Himalaya: competition or co-existence?

Main Article Content

Zarreen Syed
Mohd Shahnawaz Khan


Pastoralism is among the major land use practices in the Himalaya and the main source of livelihood for local communities.  In naturally occurring herbivore populations, the co-occurrence of native species has evolved through evolutionary processes over millions of years which has enabled coexistence.  In the modern scenario, however, the intrusion of livestock into the wild habitats impose additional pressure on the limited resources, given that there has been insufficient time for resource partitioning to evolve.  Realizing the need to develop a better understanding of wild herbivores and livestock interactions, the present review was compiled.  The review demonstrates that a group of similar species using similar habitats and feeding on similar foods leads to more competition.  Also, goat/sheep impose a potential threat to the resource of wild herbivores and such resource exploitation by livestock is not compatible with their conservation.  Further, wild herbivores shift their habitat to avoid the risk of being exposed to competition or predation.  Livestock grazing and associated activities affect the wild herbivores’ habitat use and foraging behaviour, and these are changes that may also affect their survival in the future.  There is a prime need to find out the threshold of livestock population which can sustain itself without compromising livestock production and wildlife.  High conflict areas need to be identified and compensatory mechanisms should evolve. It is also necessary for ecology to be integrated with an understanding of the social dynamics that influence the status of the resources.

Article Details

How to Cite
Syed, Z. and Khan, M.S. 2017. Livestock and wild herbivores in the western Himalaya: competition or co-existence?. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 9, 4 (Apr. 2017), 10084–10088. DOI:
Peer Commentaries


Abrams, P.A. (1998). High competition with low similarity and low competition with high similarity: exploitative and apparent competition in consumer-resource systems. American Naturalist 152: 114–128.

Bagchi, S., S.P. Goyal & K. Sankar (2003). Niche relationships of an ungulate assemblage in a dry tropical forest. Journal of Mammalogy 87: 981–988.

Bagchi, S., C. Mishra & Y.V. Bhatnagar (2004). Conflicts between traditional pastoralism and conservation of Himalayan Ibex (Capra sibrica) in the Trans-Himalayan mountains. Animal Conservation 7: 121–128.

Bhatnagar, Y.V., R. Wangchuk, H.H.T. Prins, S.E.V. Wieren & C. Mishra (2006). Perceived conflicts between pastoralism and conservation of the Kiang Equus kiang in the Ladakh Trans-Himalaya, India. Environmental Management 38(6): 934–941.

Bhattacharya, T., S. Kittur, S. Sathyakumar & G.S. Rawat (2012). Diet overlap between wild ungulates and domestic livestock in the greater Himalaya: implications for management of grazing practices. Proceedings of Zoological Society 65(1): 11–21;

Chaikina, N.A. & K.E. Ruckstuhl (2006). The effect of cattle grazing on native ungulates: The good, the bad and the ugly. Rangelands 28(3): 8–14;[8:TEOCGO]2.0.CO;2

FAO (2002). FAO Statistical Databases.; Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.

Giller, P.S. (1984). Community and Structure of the Niche. Chapman and Hall, London.

Goldberg, D.H. & A.M. Barton (1992). Patterns and consequences of interspecific competition in natural communities: a review of field experiments with plants. American Naturalist 139: 771–801.

Gordon, I.J. & A.W. Illius (1989). Resource partitioning by ungulates on the Isle of Rhum. Oecologia 79: 383–389.

Harris, R.B. & D.J. Miller (1995). Overlap in summer habitats and diets of Tibetan plateau ungulates. Mammalia 59: 197–212.

Huisman, J. (1997). Struggle for light. PhD Thesis. University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.

Hulbert, I.A.R. & R. Andersen (2001). Food competition between a large ruminant and a small hindgut fermentor: the case of the roe deer and mountain hare. Oecologia 128: 499–508.

Hussain, A., Q. Qureshi & G.S. Rawat (2010). Tibetan Wild Ass (Equus kiang)-Livestock Interactions in the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, Ladakh, India. Galemys 395–405.

Hutchinson, G.E. (1959). Homage to Santa Rosalia or why are there so many kinds of animals? American Naturalist 93: 145–159.

Khan, B. (2012). Pastoralism-wildlife conservation conflict and climate change in Karakoram Pamir trans-border area between China and Pakistan. PhD Thesis. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, 22pp.

Mishra, C., H.H.T. Prins & S.E.V. Wieren (2001). Overstocking in the Trans-Himalayan rangelands of India. Environmental Conservation 28: 279–283.

Mishra, C., S.E.V. Wieren, I.M.A. Heitkönig & H.H.T. Prins (2002). A theoretical analysis of competitive exclusion in a Trans-Himalayan large herbivore assemblage. Animal Conservation 5: 251–258.

Mishra, C., S.E.V. Wieren, P. Ketner, I.M.A. Heitkönig & H.H.T. Prins (2004). Competition between domestic livestock and wild bharal Pseudois nayaur in the Indian Trans-Himalaya. Journal of Applied Ecology 41: 344–354.

Mysterud, A. (2000). Diet overlap among ruminants in Fennoscandia. Oecologia 124: 130–137.

Namgail, T., J.L. Fox & Y.V. Bhatnagar (2007). Habitat shift and time budget of the Tibetan argali: the influence of livestock grazing. Ecological Research 22: 25–31.

Owen-Smith, N. (2002). Adaptative Herbivore Ecology. From Resources to Populations in Variable Environments. Wits University Press, Johannesburg, 374pp.

Prins, H.H.T. & H. Olff (1998). Species richness of African grazer assemblages: towards a functional explanation, pp. 448–490. In: Newbery, D., H.H.T. Prins & N.D. Brown (eds.). Dynamics of Tropical Communities. Blackwell, Oxford.

Pun, H.L. & V. Mares (2000). The sustainable development of mountain regions: a paradigm shift and new considerations, pp 35–42. In: Tulachan, P.M., M.A.M. Saleem, J. Maki-Hokkonen & T. Pratap (eds). Contribution of Livestock to Mountain Livelihoods: Research and Development Issues: Kathmandu, Nepal. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.

Putman, R.J. (1996). Competition and Resource Partitioning in Temperate Ungulate Assemblies. Chapman and Hall, London, 131pp.

Reynolds, J.D. & G.M. Mace (1999). Risk assessments of threatened species. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14: 215–217.

Sale, P.F. (1974). Overlap in resource use and interspecific competition. Oecologia 17: 245–256.

Schoener, T.W. (1974). Resource partitioning in ecological communities. Science 185: 27–39.

Shrestha, R. & P. Wegge (2008). Habitat relationships between wild and domestic ungulates in Nepalese trans-Himalaya. Journal of Arid Environments 72: 914–925.

Voeten, M.M. & H.H.T. Prins (1999). Resource partitioning between sympatric wild and domestic herbivores in the Tarangire region of Tanzania. Oecologia 120: 287–294.

Whitfield, J. (2002). Neutrality versus the niche. Nature 417: 480–481.

Similar Articles

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.