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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Potential impact of trophy hunting on vigilance and flight behaviour in Blue Sheep (Bharal: Pseudois nayaur)

Kandel, Sanjay; Ghimire, Prashant; Silwal, Thakur; Low, Matthew


Conservation management is often integrated into a broader tourism context, and under some conditions allows wildlife trophy hunting to support its goals. In such cases it is generally acknowledged that the direct impact of hunting requires careful monitoring and regulation with respect to the size and dynamics of hunted populations. However, hunting may also affect the behaviour of local wildlife, including their reaction to the approach of humans. Thus, hunting may have broader consequences on tourism and conservation management if animals respond by changing their behaviour in a way that makes them more difficult to monitor or for tourists to observe. We examined the potential impact of trophy hunting on vigilance and flight behaviour of Blue Sheep (Bharal: Pseudois nayaur) in Nepal, by comparing their behavioural responses in conservation areas with contrasting management approaches: the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve (DHR) where male Blue Sheep have been trophy hunted since the 1980 s, and the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) where hunting is forbidden. Blue Sheep in the DHR had higher levels of vigilance than sheep in the ACA (10 % versus 8 % of their time respectively). Sheep in the DHR were also much more difficult to approach on foot, with Blue Sheep groups in the DHR having an average flight initiation distance of 96 +/- 7 m versus 39 +/- 3 m for the ACA, and subsequently moving much greater distances when disturbed (flight movement distance in the DHR versus ACA: 79 +/- 3 m versus 26 +/- 2 m respectively). These results suggest that hunting impacts on tourism and conservation may extend well beyond the population dynamic consequences of trophy animal removal. These behavioural effects suggest additional consideration is required when balancing wildlife hunting and observation tourism activities in the same area. It would also be valuable to assess the impacts of hunting-induced behaviour changes on the effectiveness of wildlife monitoring in such areas.


Blue sheep; Bharal; Trophy hunting; Conservation management; Flight distance; Vigilance behaviour

Published in

Global Ecology and Conservation
2022, volume: 40, article number: e02317
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Kandel, Sanjay
Institute of Forestry (IOF) - Nepal
Ghimire, Prashant
University System of Ohio
Silwal, Thakur
Tribhuvan University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences
Fish and Wildlife Management

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