A study of bluish sheep was carried out in four major vales of Kangchenjunga Conservation Area ( KCA ) to find the distribution and population position during the months of September to November 2007. Blue sheep is the major quarry species of snow leopard in Nepal KCA. The fixed point count method from vantage point was used to find the population position and distribution. The consequence showed the uneven distribution of bluish sheep in KCA. The highest figure of bluish sheep were recorded from the Yangma vale ( n=570 ) followed by Ghunsa ( n=419 ) , Olangchungola ( n=113 ) and Yamphudin ( n=32 ) . Livestock graze, habitat debasement and perturbation appear to be the most important menaces for the endurance to species in the countries surveyed.
Keywords: Blue sheep, population, KCA, herd size, menaces
The bluish sheep is considered as the lower hazard or near threatened species by IUCN ( Harris 2008 ) . They are widely distributed in the Himalaya of Central Asia widening into Nepal, Bhutan, India, China and Pakistan. The animate being is chiefly found in the northern part of Nepal surrounding to Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. Blue sheep typically prefer tableland, alpine waste stone, and inter-valley grassland ( Schaller 1977 ) . In Nepal, the bluish sheep inhabits in the chief Himalayan concatenation along the Tibetan boundary line. Its distribution seems to be localized in some protected countries of the Nepal Himalayas and presence has been confirmed in mountain protected countries ; Shey Phoksundo National Park, Makalu-Barun National Park, Annapurna Conservation Area, Kangchenjunga Conservation Area, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve and Manaslu Conservation Area ( Khatiwada and Chalise 2006, Jackson 1996, Shrestha et Al. 2005, Shah 1986 ) and outside the protected countries ; Darchula and Humla territories of Far western Nepal ( Khatiwada and Ghimire 2009 ) . Although the Blue sheep is one of the most widely studied mountain hoofed mammal in Nepal ; it has been small studied in Eastern Nepal. Most of the information available consists merely of competition with farm animal and other wild hoofed mammals and prey-predator relationship ( Wilson 1981, Shah 1986, Oli 1996, Shrestha et al 2005, Shrestha and Wegge 2006, Shrestha and Wegge 2008a, Shrestha and Wegge 2008b ) . Recent studies have clarified that Kangchenjunga Conservation Area has the of import home grounds and fastnesss for the bluish sheep in Nepal. We report here on surveies carried out during September-November 2007 to measure the population position and distribution of the Blue sheep, and place the bing menaces to their being in the country.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The study of Blue sheep was carried out in the four major vales of Kangchenjunga Conservation Area ( hereafter KCA ) . The KCA is situated in between 27028’48 ” N ‘ to 270 56’24 ” N and87039’00 ” Tocopherol to 88012’00 ‘ Tocopherol in the Taplejung territory in North eastern comer of the state ( Fig. 1 ) . The KCA covers an country of 2,035 km2 between the heights 1,200m and 8,586 at the top of Mt. Kangchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain in the universe. The country is established in 1997 as a preservation country, is bordering to the Qomolongma Nature Preserve in Tibet, and Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve in Sikkim, India. Because of its location straight to the North of the Bay of Bengal, it receives higher rainfall than other parts of Nepal. It is an extraordinary landscape with alone flowered and faunal diverseness, breath-taking scenery, and rich cultural heritage. Biogeographically, it lies in eastern Himalayas ( Olson and Dinerstein 1998 ) . The Conservation Area supports about 3000 species of workss ( BPP 1995 ) , species of vegetations that are characteristic of the eastern Himalaya. The flora ranges from semitropical to alpine ( Rastogi et al. 1997 ) . The KCA is of import for figure of threatened mammals ( e.g. Musk Deer Moschus chrysogastor, Snow Leopard Uncia uncia, Red Panda Ailurus fulgens, Serow Capricornis sumatraensis, Assamese Macaque Macaca assamensis, Himalayan Black Bear Selenarctos thibetanus and Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa ) . Equally many as 279 bird species have so far been recorded in the Conservation Area, but many more are likely to happen ( Thapa and Karki 2006 ) .
Figure 1: Map of four major vales of Kangchenjunga Conservation Area
The fieldwork was carried out between September and November, 2007 in four different vales ; Olangchungola, Yangma, Ghunsa and Yamphudin of Kangchenjunga Conservation Area. Blue sheep were observed at designated vantage point ( Jackson and Hunter 2005 ) . The observations were done from 07h00 to 11h00 and 15h00 to 18h00 by utilizing 8×40 field glassess and 15-45X descrying range as ocular AIDSs. In each point, the perceivers waited for at least 30 proceedingss before continuing to other locations. Whenever a herd of bluish sheep was observed, we recorded the clip, day of the month, figure, age and sex of animate being every bit good as home ground features with GPS co-ordinates. The categorization of bluish sheep was done in six different classs modified from Schaller ( 1977 ) and Wilson ( 1981 ) ( Table 1 ) . The age and sex were determined by horn length and form, strength of the black markers on the legs and thorax, every bit good as organic structure size of the sheep.
The descriptive statistics were performed to demo the age-sex classs in different blocks. F-test was used to demo overall distribution form in study blocks. Comparisons are expressed average A±standard mistake. Overall, analysis was done utilizing SPSS version 13.
Table: 1 Categorization of age and sex classs of bluish sheep
Fully grown male with an estimated horn length of at least 45-50cm, horns swerving perceptibly backwards, animate beings largely older than 7 year.
Males with horn longer than 30-35cm but swerving rearward somewhat, presumptively dwelling 7, 4, 5 and 6 twelvemonth olds.
Horn size between 15-35cm and 2, 3 twelvemonth old little size males.
Female with an estimated horn length of 15-25cm and 3 old ages
Young 1s up to 2 old ages old
Born in the current twelvemonth
Population construction of Blue sheep
A sum of 1167 Blue sheep were recorded from the four major study blocks ; Olangchungola, Ghunsa, Yangma and Yamphudin of KCA. This comprised 28 % grownup female, 16 % lamb, 11 % toddler, 8 % immature male, 7 % sub-adult male, 13 % grownup male and 17 % unidentified bluish sheep ( Fig. 2 ) . Out of the entire 1167 bluish sheep from 43 herds ; merely 966 bluish sheep were classified as per age and sex class which revealed 34 % grownup female, 20 % lamb, 13 % toddler, 10 % immature male, 8 % sub-adult male and 15 % grownup male bluish sheep ( table 2 ) . The figure of bluish sheep was vary in study blocks ( F=2.674 DF=3, P=0.062 ) . The highest figure of bluish sheep was recorded from Yangma ( 31.66A±5.62, N=570 from 17 herds ) followed by Ghunsa ( 24.64 A± 5.27, N=419 from 17 herds ) , Olangchungola ( 14.125A±3.02, N=113 from 8 herds ) and Yamphudin ( 16.25A±4.83, N=32 from 4 herds ) .
Figure 2: Percentage of bluish sheep encountered in four different study blocks of KCA
There was considerable fluctuation in herd sizes in four different blocks which ranged from three ( n=1 ) to 88 ( n=1 ) in Ghunsa, three ( n=1 ) to 28 ( n=1 ) in Olangchungola, six ( n=1 ) to 99 ( n=1 ) in Yangma and six ( n=1 ) to 24 ( n=1 ) . The most normally ascertained herds were 1-10 animate beings ( n=9 ) , 10-20 animate beings ( n=11 ) and 20-30 ( n=14 ) animate beings. The study consequence revealed that some of the herds of more than 99 persons were besides encountered, meaning in big portion the pre-rut period of bluish sheep during which information was collected. The mean herd sizes were ranged from ( average 32 A± 5.62 ) in Yangma, ( average 17 A± 3 ) in Ghunsa, ( average 14 A± 3.02 ) in Olangchungola and ( average 16 A± 9 ) in Yamphudin block. Unlike the Yangma and Ghunsa in Olangchungola and Yamphudin blocks, the countries were comparatively disturbed from farm animal graze and high grade of poaching.
Habitat use and distribution
Majority of bluish sheep were recorded in the grassland ( or alpine hayfield ) ( 65 % ) followed by chaparral ( 24 % ) and barren land/cliff ( 11 % ) . Most of the herds were observed between the height of 4400m- 4700m ( n =35 ) ( Fig. 3 ) . Similarly herds were found on mean 320 Slope ( n=.31 ) and 1450 facet ( n=32 ) . The estimated mean average distance to cliff for the bluish sheep herds were 150m ( n=35 ) .
Figure 3: Landform type used by bluish sheep in KCA
The landform huskiness utilized by the mean bluish sheep herds were 47 % on turn overing terrain, 5 % were on drop, 33 % were on broken terrain, 10 % really broken and 5 % were found on the level land severally ( Fig. 4 ) . Among the entire herd observed, 60 % bluish sheep were observed in hill incline followed by 20 % in drop, 13 % valley floor and 7 % in the ridgeline. Most of the herds were observed in distant countries, demoing that the species are likely remaining off from countries with human activity.
Figure 3: Overall landform type used by bluish sheep in KCA
The bluish sheep is chief prey species of Snow leopard Nepal Himalaya ( Jackson 1996 ) . The study consequence reveled that a sum of 43 herds dwelling of 1167 persons of bluish sheep were observed from the full study blocks and besides the major wild hoofed quarry of snow leopard in KCA. The herd size and composing of Blue sheep varies because of home ground construction, perturbation and nutrient handiness. During the survey period the bluish sheep population amongst the blocks was higher in the Yangma block. The country is comparatively less disturbed than other study blocks. The farm animal maintaining is the chief activity of the local people in life in country. The Yamphudin and Olangchungola blocks are to a great extent affected by perturbation, illegal hunting and overgrazing. Locals study indicated that one time bluish sheep were plentiful in Olangchungola and Yamphudin countries. Illegal runing on bluish sheep and musk cervid is still prevailing in the countries from locals and even from the Tibetan people because the country closer to Sino-Nepalese broader. During the study period six bluish sheep trap caves and several leg traps were found from the Olangchungola and Yamphudin countries.
Blue sheep is most of import quarry species that determine the population of the snow leopard in the KCA. A predation rate of about 10 % of a population represents a restricting equilibrium province for big marauders and big mammalian quarry ( Emmons 1987 ) . An grownup snow leopard requires 2030 bluish sheep yearly. i.e. 150230 bluish sheep are needed to back up a individual grownup snow leopard with 13 % reaping rate ( Jackson 1996 ) . Schaller ( 1998 ) suggested a similar figure, i.e. a bluish sheep population with 150200 animate beings and an one-year increase of 15 % could back up one wolf or one snow leopard if the population lacked other mortality causes such as poaching.
Status of grazing land, tendency of their farm animal type and figure in the peculiar country is straight related to the copiousness of native local hoofed mammals. There is high croping force per unit area on the snow leopard ‘s home grounds in KCA. Secondary impacts of graze, peculiarly decreases of wild quarries through competition, may negatively act upon snow leopard scope usage ( Ale 2006 ) . No information available on competition between farm animal and bluish sheep in the KCA. However, Shreshtha and Wegge ( 2008 B ) reported the high form of resource-use convergence between bluish sheep with farm animal in Manang. Similarly, Mishra et Al ( 2004 ) found low population of bluish sheep in to a great extent grazed countries in India and showed poorer public presentation ( lower immature: grownup female ratio ) . Bagchhi ( 2004 ) besides reported forage competition between farm animal and native quarry species. Livestock found to be removed big sums of eatage from the grazing lands.
The bluish sheep were ne’er recorded as harvest depredator in the Yangma earlier. However, all respondents from Yangma small town strongly condemned the hoofed mammal ‘s harvest damaging activity. First, diminution in the population of natural marauder like snow leopard has attributed in some extent rise of bluish sheep population in the country. Second, in the vale, as the countries bordering to the agricultural lands are sacredly protected no hunting activities are allowed due to spiritual sentiments. However, these countries are besides chief farm animal croping countries for the villagers hence ; nutrient competition might hold compelled the sheep to bust the harvests.
We are grateful to the WWF Nepal plan for supplying fiscal support for this survey. Field assistants Tashi Sherpa and local communities of KCA made this survey possible. We are besides thankful to anon. referee for critical remarks on the manuscript.