Recent overgrazing is strongly affecting the grassland communities of Inner Mongolia, China. Plant communities previously dominated by Stipa spp. and Aneurolepidium chinense are being replaced with short grasses. Among such grasslands, the Iris dichotoma community occurs in Hulunbeier. Since I. dichotoma is unpalatable to livestock, the community is less utilised. Consequently, some plants, such as Pulsatilla turczaninovii, Saposhnikovia divaricata and Galium verum still grow abundantly under the protective umbrella of I. dichotoma. This appears to be a good example of a plant defence guild (Atsatt and O'Dowd 1976). Controlled grazing, in order to prevent damage to such communities, has been recommended from the point of view of plant ecology.
The impact of settled grazing on grassland bird communities was investigated at ten sites along a 25 km long transect between Holobo and Baintara villages in the Nantun area of Hulunber grassland, northern Inner Mongolia, during the period 6-11 June 1997. Sixteen species of birds were recorded. Both the number of species and the density of individuals were found to be lower at sites closer to villages, due to the retrogressive change in the vegetation in such areas. Furthermore, the structure of the bird communities also differed, although Alauda arvensis predominated at almost all of the sites. In meadows, where the grass stood more than 25 cm high and covered more than 40% of the area, Emberiza aureola was the second most dominant species, accompanied by E. pallasi and Coturnix coturnix. Degraded grasslands close to the villages were characterised by Passer montanus, Hirundo rustica and H. daurica, which probably began breeding during the 1960s when the villages were constructed. Heavily grazed grasslands, though still dominated by A. arvensis, were poor in overall bird-species diversity, although it seems that Upupa epops and Vanellus vanellus might have been particularly attracted to areas of short grassland, such as those degraded by heavy gazing. Significant differences were found in the number of bird species and individual bird densities between grazing areas and mowing areas (t-test, p<0.05). It appears that the grassland bird communities of northern Inner Mongolia have been deleteriously modified since the introduction of settled grazing in the 1960s. Prohibiting the grazing of livestock during the growing season, and protecting these meadows for later mowing has a positive effect on the recovery of native grassland bird communities.
A preliminary study was made of the status of the European bison Bison bonasus population in the Polish, Slovakian, and Ukrainian Carpathian mountains, in order to provide the background knowledge necessary to initiate a reintroduction program for this montane bison population. Three free-ranging herds were identified in Poland, all in the Bieszczady Mountains, and four were located in the Ukraine (Rozlucz, Skole, Nadvirna, Bukovina). Their present numbers vary from as few as 16 animals at Skole, to over 200 animals at Bukovina. In Slovakia, just nine bison survive in captivity. The population in the Polish Bieszczady Mountains has been stable in recent years, but in the Ukraine the overall population has been in decline for several years. The potential for re-establishing the European bison over its former Carpathian range is discussed, and the necessary components of such a reintroduction program, including analyses of the current population structure, reproduction and mortality factors, habitat assessment, and feasibility study, are all appraised.
The Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus), Tibetan wolf (Canis lupus chanco) and snow leopard (Uncia uncia) are medium and large carnivores living in Deosai Plains, Northern Areas, Pakistan. Formerly, Himalayan brown bears could be comparatively, easily watched by visitors at a close distance in the natural habitat. During the three study years of 1993-95, however, it was revealed that the bear population had decreased in number from quite common in the past to only 24. Thus, the Deosai bear population has clearly been endangered. In order to conserve the animals within the habitat, a Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) with a participatory approach was conducted in 10 strategic villages around Deosai Plains. The results revealed the symbiotic relationship of the bears with locals. People realized the importance of wildlife and promised to be further involved in conservation of fauna, especially the brown bears.
Andhra Pradesh, including the Eastern Ghats mountains, central part of the Peninsula of India, lies on a plateau with many hills, and is covered by tropical moist and dry deciduous thorny scrub and mangrove forests. Fourteen species of carnivore (6 cats, 4 canids, 1 mongoose, 1 otter, 1 bear, and 1 hyanid) survive in this area. All of them were fast declining because of habitat destruction and consequent loss of prey species ; the tiger was endangered, seven species vulnerable, and five species rare. Only one was common, the common mongoose.