Predator, prey and humans in a mountainous area: loss
of biological diversity leads to trouble
· S. Lovari
· S. Ali Shah
· F. Ferretti
Received: 10 September 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2018 / Accepted: 24 May 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract Large carnivore-human coexistence is a challenging issue in wildlife conser-
vation worldwide. An adequate and diverse prey spectrum favours carnivore persistence.
Prey depletion and habitat loss elicit conﬂict with humans and require sound conservation
measures. We evaluated the conﬂict between common leopards and humans in a densely
populated Himalayan forest area of Pakistan. In two decades, the local forests decreased
at an average rate of 65.5 ha/year (6.6%), with a concomitant increase in areas covered
by human settlements (81.5%) and agricultural lands (15.4%). Ranging movements of a
GPS/GSM-radiotagged male leopard over 16 months encompassed an area inhabited by c.
124,000 people. Livestock dominated the leopard’s diet (absolute frequency of occurrence:
80%), while wild ungulates were rarely eaten (absolute occurrence: 22%). Domestic goats
were the most frequent diet item (61%), followed by domestic dogs (12%) and Bos spp.
(6%). Wild prey included canids, small carnivores, rhesus monkeys, small mammals and
gallinaceous birds. Socioeconomic implications of human-leopard coexistence were inves-
tigated: 18.5% of the households interviewed (N = 1016) suﬀered livestock depredation by
leopards, with an overall loss of 123 USD/km
/year, in an area of 328 km
. In the ﬁrst c.
15 years of this century, about 2 attacks to humans/year were recorded, half of which were
lethal, whereas c. 6 leopards/year were killed in retaliation. The common leopard is ‘criti-
cally endangered’ in Pakistan mainly because of habitat loss and concurrent prey depletion.
Communicated by David Hawksworth.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s1053
1-018-1570-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* S. Lovari
Research Unit of Behavioural Ecology, Ethology and Wildlife Management, Department of Life
Sciences, University of Siena, Via P.A. Mattioli 4, 53100 Siena, Italy
WWF Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan
Maremma Natural History Museum, Strada Corsini, 58100 Grosseto, Italy
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department, Peshawar, Pakistan