Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi

Scientist, High Altitudes

Kulbhushansingh 20suryawanshi 20profile lowres

Ph.D. Ecology and Conservation, NCF & Manipal University
M.Sc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation, NCBS & WCS-India
B.Sc. Zoology, Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad

I aim to work towards wildlife conservation through robust applied scientific research informing management and policy. My work, so far, has focused on the understanding and conservation of the alpine and high-altitude regions of the Himalaya and other Central Asian mountains. My Doctoral thesis focuses on identifying the causes of livestock predation by snow leopards and finding ways to minimize it through management of wild herbivore and livestock populations. I also examined the perceptions and attitudes of local herders to find ways of minimizing the persecution of the snow leopard. I used population ecology to develop an understanding of the interactions between large carnivores, their wild ungulate prey and livestock.

Projects

Dscn9469

People, livestock and snow leopards

Unique livestock insurance schemes betters prospects for herders and carnivores

Red 20fox 20in 20gete 20village  20spiti  20hp ag

Completed

Response of red fox to village expansion

How does red fox respond to increasing village size in the Trans-Himalaya?

Dsc 1033

Shared pastures

How mountain ungulates of the trans-Himalaya live together

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Snow leopard and prey distribution

Factors affecting snow leopard & wild-prey at multiple scales 

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Snow leopard - prey dynamics

Understanding impact of wild prey availability on snow leopard killing livestock

Publications

  • Book Chapter
    In press
    Conflicts over snow leopard conservation and livestock production
    Conservation Conflicts, Redpath S, Young J, Gutierrez R, Wood K (eds.), Cambridge University Press.
  • Journal Article
    2017
    Impact of wild prey availability on livestock predation by snow leopards. 
    Royal Society Open Science, 4(6), 170026.
    Download

    PDF, 566 KB

    An increasing proportion of the world's poor is rearing livestock today, and the global livestock population is growing. Livestock predation by large carnivores and their retaliatory killing is becoming an economic and conservation concern. A common recommendation for carnivore conservation and for reducing predation on livestock is to increase wild prey populations based on the assumption that the carnivores will consume this alternative food. Livestock predation, however, could either reduce or intensify with increases in wild prey depending on prey choice and trends in carnivore abundance. We show that the extent of livestock predation by the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia intensifies with increases in the density of wild ungulate prey, and subsequently stabilizes. We found that snow leopard density, estimated at seven sites, was a positive linear function of the density of wild ungulates—the preferred prey—and showed no discernible relationship with livestock density. We also found that modelled livestock predation increased with livestock density. Our results suggest that snow leopard conservation would benefit from an increase in wild ungulates, but that would intensify the problem of livestock predation for pastoralists. The potential benefits of increased wild prey abundance in reducing livestock predation can be overwhelmed by a resultant increase in snow leopard populations. Snow leopard conservation efforts aimed at facilitating increases in wild prey must be accompanied by greater assistance for better livestock protection and offsetting the economic damage caused by carnivores.

  • Dataset
    2017
    Data from: Impact of wild prey availability on livestock predation by snow leopards
    Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi, Steve Redpath, Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Uma Ramakrishnan, Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Sophie Smout, Charudutt Mishra
    Data Dryad: doi:10.5061/dryad.8p689
  • Book Chapter
    2017
    Birds in Relation to Farming and Livestock Grazing in the Indian Trans-Himalayas
    In Bird Migration across the Himalayas: Wetland Functioning amidst Mountains and Glaciers
    Download

    PDF, 194 KB

  • Report
    2017
    Population Density Estimation of Snow Leopard from Upper Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh
    Malgaonkar, A., Khanyari, M, Ghoshal, A. & Suryawanshi, K. (2017) Population Density Estimation of Snow Leopard from Upper Kinnaur. Submitted to Himachal Pradesh Forest Department.
    Download

    PDF, 4.2 MB

  • Report
    2017
    Population Density Estimation of Mountain Ungulates from  Upper Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh.
    Khanyari, M., Malgaonkar, A., Ghoshal, A & Suryawanshi, K. (2017) Population Density Estimation of Mountain Ungulates from Upper Kinnaur. Submitted to Himachal Pradesh Forest Department.
    Download

    PDF, 1.68 MB

  • Journal Article
    2017
    Commensal in conflict: Livestock depredation patterns by free-ranging domestic dogs in the Upper Spiti Landscape, Himachal Pradesh, India
    Chandrima Home, Ranjana Pal, Rishi Kumar Sharma, Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi, Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Abi Tamim Vanak
    Ambio: doi:10.1007/s13280-016-0858-6
    Download

    PDF, 1.89 MB

    In human-populated landscapes worldwide, domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are the most abundant terrestrial carnivore. Although dogs have been used for the protection of livestock from wild carnivores, they have also been implicated as predators of livestock. We used a combination of methods (field surveys, interview surveys, and data from secondary sources) to examine the patterns and factors driving livestock depredation by free-ranging dogs, as well as economic losses to local communities in a Trans-Himalayan agro-pastoralist landscape in India. Our results show that livestock abundance was a better predictor of depredation in the villages than local dog abundance. Dogs mainly killed small-bodied livestock and sheep were the most selected prey. Dogs were responsible for the majority of livestock losses, with losses being comparable to that by snow leopards. This high level of conflict may disrupt community benefits from conservation programs and potentially undermine the conservation efforts in the region through a range of cascading effects.

  • Dataset
    2017
    Data from: Assessing changes in distribution of the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia and its wild prey over 2 decades in the Indian Himalaya through interview-based occupancy surveys.
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hp4b3

    The data set has occupancy values and local extinction probability values for 88 grids/sites of 15km X 15km each, for snow leopard, blue sheep, Asiatic ibex and wild prey (blue sheep and ibex combined), across an area of 14,616 sq.km in the Himalaya and Trans-Himalaya mountains of Himachal Pradesh, India.

  • Journal Article
    2017
    Assessing changes in distribution of the Endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia and its wild prey over 2 decades in the Indian Himalaya through interviewbased occupancy surveys
    doi:10.1017/S0030605317001107
    Download

    PDF, 585 KB

    Understanding species distributions, patterns of change and threats can form the basis for assessing the conservation status of elusive species that are difficult to survey. The snow leopard Panthera uncia is the top predator of the Central and South Asian mountains. Knowledge of the distribution and status of this elusive felid and its wild prey is limited. Using recall-based key-informant interviews we estimated site use by snow leopards and their primary wild prey, blue sheep Pseudois nayaur and Asiatic ibex Capra sibirica, across two time periods (past: –; recent: –) in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. We also conducted a threat assessment for the recent period. Probability of site use was similar across the two time periods for snow leopards, blue sheep and ibex, whereas for wild prey (blue sheep and ibex combined) overall there was an % contraction. Although our surveys were conducted in areas within the presumed distribution range of the snow leopard, we found snow leopards were using only % of the area (, km). Blue sheep and ibex had distinct distribution ranges. Snow leopards and their wild prey were not restricted to protected areas, which encompassed only % of their distribution within the study area. Migratory livestock grazing was pervasive across ibex distribution range and was the most widespread and serious conservation threat. Depredation by free-ranging dogs, and illegal hunting and wildlife trade were the other severe threats. Our results underscore the importance of community-based, landscape- scale conservation approaches and caution against reliance on geophysical and opinion-based distribution maps that have been used to estimate national and global snow leopard ranges.

  • Journal Article
    2016
    Irrigation demands aggravate fishing threats to river dolphins in Nepal
    Gopal Khanal, Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi, Keshav Dutt Awasthi, Maheshwar Dhakale, Naresh Subedi, Dipendra Nath, Ram Chandra Kandel, Nachiket Kelkar
    Biological Conservation, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.10.026
    Download

    PDF, 1.05 MB

    Riverine species are adapted to natural habitat changes caused by seasonal flood-pulses. However, abrupt river channel changes following flooding events intersect with social systems of land and water management (e.g. agriculture, fisheries) and in turn generate significant consequences for conservation of endangered aquatic species. We investigated tradeoffs between changing river habitat availability and exposure to fishing intensity for a small population of Ganges River dolphins Platanista gangetica gangeticain the Karnali basin of Nepal. A major natural flooding event in the Karnali basin in 2010 caused the river channel to shift from the Geruwa (flows through a protected area where fishing is restricted) to the Karnali channel (high fishing activity, agriculture-dominated), where dolphins moved in response. Based on our survey data (2009–2015) and long-term hydrological trends in the basin, we found that irrigation diversions since 2012 had aggravated fishing impacts on dolphins, suggesting that their new habitat had become an ‘ecological trap’. Regression models showed that at low river depths, fishing intensity negatively affected dolphin abundance, but at higher depths no effect of fishing was observed. Two records of dolphin bycatch in gillnets confirmed this, as both events corresponded with periods of sudden increase in water abstraction for irrigation. Overall, dolphin distribution shifted downstream and the population declined from 11 in 2012 to 6 in 2015. Effective protection of this river dolphin population from extinction will require the Government of Nepal to prioritize ecologically adequate river flow regimes for implementing efficient irrigation schemes and adaptive fisheries regulations in the Karnali basin.

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