When herds of wild animals have to share grazing land with domestic livestock, competition is stiff, and the domesticated herds usually win out. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
ambience yak herders
Northern Tibet is one of the last relatively undisturbed ecosystems in the world, and home to herds of wild yak, antelope and and the wild ass, or kiang.
“It is wonderful to be in an area that livestock has not yet overgrazed and damaged. So, one of the main focus of the work has been to see to what extent does the wildlife and the livestock actually compete.”
Dr. George Schaller of the Wildlife Conservation Society has been in northern Tibet studying the interactions between wild herds and the domesticated animals of Tibetan nomads. Right now, we’re listening to the sounds of domestic yak being herded.
“So we’re studying what does a Wild Yak eat as compared to a Domestic Yak. What does a Kiang take instead of a horse. And, this is the kind of information that can be used directly in devising management programs.”
The wild animals seem to have already worked out their own version of a management program.
“Blue Sheep like to be up near cliffs. Wild Yak like hilly terrain, but not rugged terrain. Kiang like plains. Tibetan Antelopes do too, but the Kiang eat only grass. Whereas, the Tibetan Antelope are mixed feeders. So, yes there’s overlap, but they’ve divided up the habitat fairly well. Then, you put in the domestic animals, yes, then you get competition.”
A management strategy is currently being developed that provides for separate grazing areas for livestock and wild species. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History.