Competition for food between the markhor and domestic goat in Chitral, Pakistan


Abstract: The markhor (Capra falconeri) is endangered globally as well as in Pakistan. The Chitral district in Pakistan supports one of the largest populations of this species. The rural communities of the district have large holdings of livestock, which make up a significant part of their livelihood system. The domestic goat is the dominant livestock species, and a potential competitor with the markhor due to habitat overlap. The present study was conducted to examine the extent of food competition between the markhor and domestic goat in Chitral. A total of 120 pellets of the 2 species were collected during the spring and summer of 2009, and analyzed by microhistological technique. The results showed a complete overlap in diets of the 2 species during summer and moderate overlap during spring. The high overlap in diet indicates a severe level of competition in the spatially limited pastures of Chitral, and may reduce the growth, survival, and reproductive rates of markhor. This endangered species has a significant role in the local economy by generating revenue through trophy hunting programs. Thus its conservation ensures the well-being of rural communities, and could be achieved by eliminating competition with livestock, particularly in its core habitats.

Keywords: Diet composition, diet overlap, grazing, forage species, competition

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