Grazers on the plains: challenges and prospects for large herbivores in Central Asia.
Twelve species of large herbivores dwell on the steppes of Central Asia and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Three of these species once occurred in vast herds in the three major rangeland ecosystems of the region. Populations of all species are now diminished, some reduced to a point close to extinction, mainly due to overharvesting and habitat loss. The rate and effectiveness of hunting increased steadily throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Major social and economic changes that occurred across the region during the last 20 years have further accelerated the declining trend. Synthesis and applications. Conservation of these species over the long-term presents a challenge, especially across the spatial scale required for the migratory and nomadic species. Immediate efforts are urgently needed while substantial numbers remain and extensive tracts of habitat are still intact.