Monitoring ungulates in Central Asia: Current constraints and future potential

N.J. Singh
E.J. Milner-Gulland

Asia’s rangelands and mountains are strongholds for several endemic ungulate species. Little is known about the ecology of these species because of the region’s remoteness and the lack of robust scientific studies. Hunting, habitat modification, increased livestock grazing, disease and development are the major threats to the species. There is an urgent need for better monitoring to identify the size, distribution and dynamics of the populations of these species, and the threats to them, for effective conservation. The feasibility of standard scientific monitoring is greatly influenced by the remoteness of the region, the pre-existing scientific ideology, lack of expertise in the latest monitoring methods and awareness of biases and errors, and low capacity and logistical and financial constraints. We review the existing methods used for monitoring ungulates, identify the practical and institutional challenges to effective monitoring in Central Asia and categorize the methods based on various criteria so that researchers can plan better monitoring studies suited to particular species. We illustrate these issues using examples from several contrasting ungulate species. We recommend that scientific surveys should be complemented by increases in participatory monitoring, involving local people. The future of ungulate monitoring in Central Asia lies in a better recognition of the existing errors and biases in monitoring programmes and methods, allocation of more monitoring effort in terms of manpower, finances and logistics, understanding of robust scientific methods and sampling theory, and changing the scientific culture, as well as a commitment to ensuring that we monitor the things that matter.

The article on researchgate.