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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Snow leopard predation in a livestock dominated landscape in Mongolia

Johansson, Örjan; McCarthy, Tom; Samelius, Gustaf; Andren, Henrik; Tumursukh, Lkhagvasumberel; Mishra, Charudutt


Livestock predation is an important cause of endangerment of the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) across its range. Yet, detailed information on individual and spatio-temporal variation in predation patterns of snow leopards and their kill rates of livestock and wild ungulates are lacking.We collared 19 snow leopards in the Tost Mountains, Mongolia, and searched clusters of GPS positions to identify prey remains and estimate kill rate and prey choice.Snow leopards killed, on average, one ungulate every 8 days, which included more wild prey (73%) than livestock (27%), despite livestock abundance being at least one order of magnitude higher. Predation on herded livestock occurred mainly on stragglers and in rugged areas where animals are out of sight of herders. The two wild ungulates, ibex (Capra ibex) and argali (Ovis ammon), were killed in proportion to their relative abundance. Predation patterns changed with spatial (wild ungulates) and seasonal (livestock) changes in prey abundance. Adult male snow leopards killed larger prey and 2-6 times more livestock compared to females and young males. Kill rates were considerably higher than previous scat-based estimates, and kill rates of females were higher than kill rates of males. We suggest that (i) snow leopards prey largely on wild ungulates and kill livestock opportunistically, (ii) retaliatory killing by livestock herders is likely to cause greater mortality of adult male snow leopards compared to females and young males, and (iii) total off-take of prey by a snow leopard population is likely to be much higher than previous estimates suggest. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Gobi desert; GPS collar; Kill rate; Panthera uncia; Prey choice; Wildlife conflict

Published in

Biological Conservation
2015, volume: 184, pages: 251-258

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Nordens ark
Snow Leopard Trust
McCarthy, Tom
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Snow Leopard Trust
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Tumursukh, Lkhagvasumberel
Mishra, Charudutt

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