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The story of wildlife conservation is usually framed as man vs. treasured wildlife. But there's growing evidence that the narrative deserves to have leading roles for livestock such as sheep, yaks or cows.
A group of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) and China are building the case that allowing livestock to graze and forage amidst protected wildlife disrupts wildlife already struggling for survival - and that different wildlife react to livestock invasions in different ways. The work is published in the most recent edition of Biological Conservation.
Balance - Humans - Living - Wildlife - Human
"We are continuing to understand how to strike a balance between letting humans make a living while protecting wildlife in the same coupled human and natural system," said Jianguo "Jack" Liu, director of MSU's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and one of the paper's authors. "The balance is dynamic, as shown in China - where giant pandas are protected -people are challenged to find new ways to prosper, and new situations emerge. Such dynamics need to be routinely built into conservation across the world."
The latest findings continue the exploration of the largely unknown impacts of allowing livestock to graze and forage in forests on which fragile wildlife depend. The competition and damage livestock present can disrupt animals already struggling to hold their own. Three years ago, this research group discovered that the horses that farmers introduced to the forest for extra income in effect shoved pandas away from the bamboo buffet in the Wolong Nature Reserve in southwestern China, the famed home of the vulnerable giant pandas, as well as other threatened wildlife.
Knowledge - Managers - Rules - Horses - Panda
The knowledge spurred forest managers to change the rules and get horses out of prime panda habitat.
But other livestock are still there. Beginning in 2011, research associate Jindong Zhang and his colleagues were using motion-detecting camera traps to document the movement...
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