Drivers of snow leopard-human conflict in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan
Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are threatened throughout their Asiatic range by a variety of human-related factors. In Afghanistan, 75% of confirmed snow leopard range occurs in an area of 10,000-km2 of the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains area in the far northeast recently declared as Wakhan National Park (WNP). Due to hunting by humans and forage competition with livestock in the Park, however, the abundance of snow leopard prey species has declined, leading to increased predation on domestic livestock and subsequent retaliatory killing. To address this problem, I would like to study the factors influencing rates of snow leopard depredation, including prey-predator relationships and variation in livestock management practices. From this knowledge, and in combination with collaborative studies on snow leopard and prey ecology, I plan to help reduce human-wildlife conflict in within the Wakhan National Park in the northeastern Afghanistan and thus conserve an iconic species.
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