Ecology and conservation of Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa Pallas 1777) in Mongolia
Mongolian gazelles (Procapra gutturosa) are one of Asia's last large populations of ungulates and their 275,000-km2 steppe habitat is considered to be the largest remaining example of a temperate grassland ecosystem. The gazelles and their habitat are increasingly threatened, primarily as a result of human-induced activities. In order to provide informed recommendations to best address these threats, studies concerning steppe vegetation composition and nutritional qualities, the degree of and economic factors contributing to wildlife hunting by rural households, seasonal movements, and population and distribution estimates were conducted from 2000 to 2006. The most common forage species in the steppe are Stipa spp. grasses, Artemesia spp. shrubs, and Allium spp. forbs. Steppe vegetation appears to be of sufficient quality to meet Mongolian gazelles' nutritional demands, at least during the summer season. Wildlife harvesting is an important economic and subsistence activity by a majority of rural households with 65% having harvested at least one of the five game species commonly occurring in the steppe. Mongolian gazelles were the most sought after species with 71% of hunting families harvesting an average of 5.6 gazelles/year. As a household's livestock holdings decreased and family size increased they were more likely to participate in hunting activities. A rural household of 5.5 people earned just over US$1,200/year, and hunting households earned approximately 9% of their income from wildlife products. Movements of Mongolian gazelles do not appear to follow a specific pattern and do not show fidelity to any given range. Annual range size of 4 marked adult gazelles was 26,500-km2 with little range overlap occurring between seasons. The Mongolian gazelle population that occurs to the east of the UB-Beijing RR was estimated by driving long distance line transects in May and June 2005. Density estimates ranged between 2.9–10.9 gazelles/km2 suggesting a total population size of 1.126 million gazelles. Herding household density had significant negative impacts on the density of Mongolian gazelles; gazelle numbers dropped exponentially with each additional household per 5.75-km2 block, and gazelles were virtually absent in regions with more than 4 households/block. Conservation actions are needed to ensure the long term viability of Mongolian gazelles.
0777: Range management