Identifying relationships between multi-scale social-ecological factors to explore ungulate health in a western Kazakhstan rangeland.
In this study, various methods were done to understand what factors affect both saiga and livestock health in Ural, Kazakhstan. Parasite egg count in the freshly dropped faeces of saigas and livestock was done to understand how many parasites they each had. Interviews and discussions with livestock owners and herders (collectively: farmers) were carried out as well, along with online data. Results show that in Ural, people kept livestock in 2 ways. Livestock were either kept close to villages or on farms out in the grasslands away from villages. The grassland is where saigas roam. Village-based livestock had a lot more parasite eggs in their faeces than livestock out in the grassland. The latter had similar amount of parasite eggs as saigas. We also found that various factors increase the chances of gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) transmission between saiga and livestock. These include veterinary services being limited, both saiga and livestock numbers are increasing and changing climate is increasing farmers' dependence on shared pastures for hay. To conserve saigas while ensuring people's livelihoods are not negatively affected requires conservationists to engage in various interventions that work together. Overall, threats from disease transmission and plans to develop interventions in rangelands are best considered from an interdisciplinary perspective.