Mongolian Saiga in Sharga Nature Reserve: Are Domestic Dogs Threat to Saiga?

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Mongolian Journal of Biological Sciences



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Dogs (Canis familiaris) are recognized as one of the most numerous carnivores in the world. They have direct and indirect impacts on a diverse range of animal species. In Mongolia, there are shepherd families within Mongolia saiga (Saiga tatarica mongolica) range and shepherd dogs are suspected to cause saiga mortalities. However, quantitative information on the effects of dogs on saiga is lacking. In August 2008 and April 2009, we estimated abundance of dogs in Sharga Nature Reserve by compiling existing data and interviewing local people to understand public perceptions regarding impacts of dogs on saiga. Interviews revealed that the majority of local herders believed dogs have only a minor impact on saiga due to the low density of domestic dogs and the lack of feral dogs in the reserve. However, dogs are believed to have greater impacts on saiga in harsh winters, when saiga are in poorer health and are more likely to use areas where dogs are present. Thus, domestic dogs in the study area appear to have no regular detrimental impact on the local saiga population, but may act as a source of additive mortality in years with harsh winter conditions.