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Open AccessArticle

A Population Census of Large Herbivores Based on UAV and Its Effects on Grazing Pressure in the Yellow-River-Source National Park, China

by Fan Yang 1,2, Quanqin Shao 2,* and Zhigang Jiang 3
1
School of Economics and Management, Zhejiang Ocean University, Zhoushan, 316022, China
2
Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China
3
Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4402; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224402
Received: 14 October 2019 / Revised: 2 November 2019 / Accepted: 6 November 2019 / Published: 11 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Science and Engineering)
Using the Yellow-River-Source National Park (YRSNP) as a study site, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) remote sensing and line transect method was used to investigate the number of wild herbivorous animals and livestock, including the kiang (Equus kiang) and Tibetan gazelle (Procapra picticaudata). A downscaling algorithm was used to generate the forage yield data in YRSNP based on a 30-m spatial resolution. On this basis, we estimated the forage–livestock balance, which included both wild animals and livestock, and analyzed the effects of functional zone planning in national parks on the forage–livestock balance in YRSNP. The results showed that the estimates of large herbivore population numbers in YRSNP based on population density in the aerial sample strips, which were compared and validated with official statistics and warm season survey results, indicated that the numbers of kiangs and Tibetan gazelles in the 2017 cold season were 12,900 and 12,100, respectively. The numbers of domestic yaks, Tibetan sheep, and horses were 53,400, 76,800, and 800, respectively, and the total number of sheep units was 353,200. The ratio of large wild herbivores and livestock sheep units was 1:5. Large wild herbivores have different preferences for functional zones, preferring ecological restoration areas consisting mainly of sparse grassland. The grazing pressure indices of the core reserve areas and ecological restoration areas were 0.168 and 0.276, respectively, indicating that these two regions still have high grazing potential. However, the grazing pressure index of the traditional utilization areas was 1.754, indicating that these grasslands are severely overloaded. After the planning and implementation of functional zones, the grazing pressure index of YRSNP was 1.967. Under this measure, the number of livestock was not reduced and the grazing pressure nearly doubled, indicating that forage–livestock conflict has become more severe in YRSNP. View Full-Text
Keywords: UAV remote sensing; large wild herbivore populations; forage yield; functional zones; forage-livestock balance UAV remote sensing; large wild herbivore populations; forage yield; functional zones; forage-livestock balance
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Yang, F.; Shao, Q.; Jiang, Z. A Population Census of Large Herbivores Based on UAV and Its Effects on Grazing Pressure in the Yellow-River-Source National Park, China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4402.

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