PUBLISHED RESEARCH
CERS regularly publishes its research results in both academic and specialized journals. Of note are several papers in Oryx, a distinguished wildlife journal at Cambridge UK, and many scholastic pieces in publications of the Academia Sinica. There are also internally published monographs, like a major study to the history, architecture and current status of 18 Tibetan monasteries in the Kham region. Select reports of ongoing scientific research are compiled, though not for public circulation.

SEXUAL/AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR OF WILD YAK (BOS MUTUS PREJEVALSKY 1883) DURING THE RUT: INFLUENCE OF FEMALE CHOICE

Paul J. Buzzard, Donghua Xu, Huan Li
Chin. Sci. Bull.
- 2014

Wild yaks (Bos mutus) ranged across the Tibetan Plateau in large herds before being forced to remote areas of the plateau. Consequently, little has been published about their behavioral ecology. We present the first extensive study on wild yak behavior during the rut. We gathered data on activity budgets, aggressive/sexual behaviors, and the behavior of bulls inside and outside mixed groups during 11 days in 2010 and 9 days in 2011. Yaks ate less and were more social during the rut than during summer. Males ate less than females and socialized more during the rut. We observed yaks for 234.25 h and recorded 2,078 aggressive/sexual behaviors. Yak bulls inspected and tended cows showing off their profiles during lateral displays, the most common type of indirect aggression. Yak bulls inside mixed sex groups rested less and socialized more than bulls outside. Females initiated intense intra-sexual competition and led at least 25 bulls on chases. Females then incited fight frenzies of numerous bulls from inside and outside the groups before copulations, and fights could be intense. We discuss female choice selecting for large size and fighting ability in males, the similarity of yak and bison (genus Bison) behavior, and conservation implications.

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REVIEW - CHINA'S ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES

William V. Bleisch
Asian Highland Perspectives
- 2013

Judith Shapiro's latest ambitious work picks up the story of modern China's checkered relationship with the environment at approximately the point where her previous study, Mao's War Against Nature (2001), left off. This latest book sets out to address questions of grave importance to China and to the world. The litany of challenges – poisonous water and toxic air, scarcity of water and other resources, deforestation, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity – seem nearly insurmountable, despite evidence of considerable attention from the Chinese government and from China's public, and despite the rocket-like rise of China's economic power and political influence in the world.

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STATUS AND BEHAVIOR OF THE BLACK-NECKED CRANE (GRUS NIGRICOLLIS) IN THE ALTUN MOUNTAIN RESERVE, XINJIANG

Paul J. Buzzard, Tong Zhang, Ming Ma, Peng Ding, Feng Xu
Chinese Birds
- 2012

The Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) is an endemic species of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, with its population in Xinjiang largely found in the Kunlun and Altun mountain regions. A survey of the distribution, population dynamics, flock size and behavior was conducted in Altun Mountain National Natural Reserve from September to November 2011. We investigated the size and distribution of its population in this area with a sample spot survey and by direct counting. We found Black-necked Cranes on the wetlands of Wuzunxiaoer, Yusup Aleksei, Yaziquan, Qimantag, Tula Ranch and elsewhere, where we recorded 126 individual birds of the species in Yixiekepati (37°15′–37°23′N, 90°11′–90°20′E, elevation 3903 m), the largest population we have observed in this area. In the reserve, the population consists of about 180–200 birds. Combined with previous records, we conclude that more than 260 Black-necked Cranes live in Xinjiang. Cranes gathered conspicuously in the middle of October where the highest number of birds appeared on 29 October. All of the cranes had migrated out of this area by 6 November. Time budgets and diurnal behavior rhythms of Blacknecked Cranes were observed in the Yixiekepati wetland at daylight (from 06:00 to 18:00). Foraging was the most prevalent type of behavior during the autumn period, accounting for 58.9% of the diurnal time budget, followed by preening (13.2%), vigilance (9.5%), walking (8.2%), flying (3.5%), resting (3.4%), chirping (2.7%) and other types of behavior (0.6%).

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SURVEYS FROM THE SUBRI RIVER FOREST, GHANA

Paul J. Buzzard & Atingah John A. Parker
African Primates
- 2012

The forests in southwest Ghana are part of the West African Forest biodiversity hotspot and contain a diverse anthropoid primate community. This community is especially threatened, and for effective primate conservation in Ghana it is necessary to conduct comprehensive surveys in all forests to determine where to focus efforts. The largest forest reserve (FR) in Ghana is the Subri River FR (590 km2), and the status of primates at this reserve is not well known. In 2009 and 2010, hunters at Subri River FR claimed the presence of Endangered species, including Miss Waldron’s red colobus (Piliocolobus badius waldroni), roloway monkeys (Cercopithecus diana roloway) and white-naped mangabeys (Cercocebus atys lunulatus). The objective of this paper is to report on the investigation of these claims and to assess the remaining primate populations. We conducted 29 reconnaissance (recce) walks in the southwest, north, and southeast of Subri River FR, totaling 125.6 km and 110.5 hours. We had five encounters each with spot-nosed monkeys (Cercopithecus petaurista) and Lowe’s monkeys (C. campbelli lowei), and it is likely that viable populations of these species still exist; we also heard many reports of the highly cryptic olive colobus (Procolobus verus), and it is likely that viable populations of this species also exist. We found no sign of the Endangered primate species but saw much potential habitat for mangabeys in swampy areas of the south, and we received reports of the presence of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). Subri River FR deserves more conservation attention. Future surveys should be conducted in the north-central area, and camera traps should be utilized in potential mangabey habitat. There also is an opportunity to develop ecotourism given the reserve’s proximity to Takoradi, which already has ecotourism options.

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TEA, TRADE AND TRANSPORT IN THE SINO-TIBETAN BORDERLANDS

Patrick Booz
Chengdu, Sichuan -
September 2010
CERS has provided a three-year grant for Patrick Booz to conduct
travel and research, with the ultimate aim of a book manuscript.

The focus of my study is the tea trade between China and Tibet as it functioned in the circumscribed yet complex geographic, ethnic and political area between Ya’an and Kangding in western Sichuan and East Tibet.

Tea has been central to Tibetan social and economic life for over a thousand years. Proverbially considered one of the “four pillars of life” – tsampa, meat, salt and tea – tea is the only traditional staple of the Tibetans which has had to be imported. By the 19th century over 80 percent of all the tea imported onto the Tibetan plateau – which supplied markets as far away as Ladakh and Bhutan – came from just five tea-producing counties in the Ya’an area of Sichuan, and all of it passed through the entrepôt of Kangding/Dartsedo, from whence it was dispatched by caravan to all parts of the Tibetan plateau. This thesis examines the functioning of the Ya’an-Kangding Sino-Tibetan tea trade during the turbulent late-Qing and Republican periods, and sheds light on the often overlooked practical dimensions of Sino-Tibetan relations in the borderlands of Sichuan province.

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A GLOBALLY IMPORTANT WILD YAK BOS MUTUS POPULATION
IN THE ARJINSHAN NATURE RESERVE, XINJIANG, CHINA

Paul J. Buzzard, Hui Bin Zhang, Dong Hua Xu, Wong How Man
Cambridge Journals Online - ORYX The International Journal of Conservation
- August 2010

The wild yak Bos mutus is one of the most charismatic members of the Tibet/Qinghai Plateau fauna, and 19th century explorers to the plateau described vast herds. Overhunting, in particular, has greatly reduced wild yak populations and forced them into remote areas. The species is categorized as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and as a Class 1 protected animal in China. Introgression with domestic yaks is another threat, and the wild yak population of the Arjinshan Nature Reserve is particularly important because Uigher herders in and around Arjinshan do not have the tradition of raising yaks. We provide infor- mation on the status of the wild yak in Arjinshan based on observations in 1993 and on vehicle surveys during 1998– 2009 and point samples from 2009. The steppes of north- east Arjinshan are the most important area, and we saw c. 1,700 yaks there in winter 2008. We saw more yaks in the north-east on similar routes driven in winter 2008 compared to winter 2005, suggesting that the wild yak population in Arjinshan is stable or increasing.

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SURVEYS AT A TIBETAN ANTELOPE PANTHOLOPS HODGSONII
CALVING GROUND ADJACENT TO THE ARJINSHAN NATURE RESERVE,
XINJIANG, CHINA: DECLINE AND RECOVERY OF A POPULATION

William V. Bleisch, Paul J. Buzzard, Huibin Zhanga, Donghua Xüa, Zhihu Liua, Weidong Lia and Howman Wong
Oryx
- 2009

Females in most populations of chiru or Tibetan antelope Pantholops hodgsonii migrate each year up to 350 km to summer calving grounds, and these migrations characterize the Tibet/Qinghai Plateau. We studied the migratory chiru population at the Ullughusu calving grounds south-west of the Arjinshan Nature Reserve in Xinjiang, China. The 750–1,000 km2 of suitable habitat at Ullughusu is at 4,500–5,000 m with sparse vegetation. We used direct methods (block counts, vehicle and walking transects and radial point sampling) and an indirect method (pellet counts) during six summers to assess population density. We also witnessed and stopped two major poaching events, in 1998 and 1999 (103 and 909 carcasses, respectively). Surveys suggested a drop in population density from 1999 to 2000. Poaching was not seen during summer monitoring after 1999, and surveys in 2001 and 2006 suggest that the population density is stable or recovering. We compare the Ullughusu calving grounds with those in the western Kunlun and discuss possible routes for migrating females.