Himalayan thar in New Zealand: issues in management of an introduced mammal : Report presented in partial fulfilment of the degree of Master of Science in Resource Management Centre for Resource Management, University of Canterbury.
The Himalayan thar hemitragus jemlahicus is a large goat-like animal native to the central Himalayas. Thar were introduced to the South Island of New Zealand in 1904 to provide sport for New Zealanders and visitors from abroad. In this report, management problems posed by Himalayan thar are discussed in the historical context of changing societal attitudes towards exotic animals in New Zealand. Present knowledge of this species, its environment, and the interactions between thar and their habitat is critically reviewed. The legislative and institutional context for thar management decision-making is outlined. The views of societal interest groups are described, and areas of conflict are identified. Finally, management options available to decision-makers are reviewed; and the need for further research is discussed. Since commercial helicopter hunting of thar began in 1971, there have been marked changes in the economic, ecological, and social significance of this species in New Zealand. Populations have been reduced to between 5 and 10 percent of previous peak levels. It is estimated that there are now only 1000 - 4000 thar inhabiting an area of 5000 -7000 km². The reduction of thar populations has led to vigorous recovery of vegetation throughout their present range. The overall environmental impact of this species, until recently the sole concern of managers, now appears to be negligible. At the same time, scarcity has underscored the value of thar to recreational, tourist, and commercial users - who report that thar numbers are now insufficient to meet their needs. Controversy has arisen over the future management of this species in New Zealand. While thar user groups advocate retention of these animals, organizations concerned with nature conservation have sought eradication of thar. None the less, there is some evidence that conflicts between these groups can be minimized through areal zoning of management practices. Under the existing institutional framework the New Zealand Forest Service plays the primary role in thar management. Possible management options and their probable implications are addressed in the report. However, it is observed that insufficient knowledge of the animals, their environmental impact, and their value to society precludes accurate prediction of the outcome of any management strategy. Appropriate areas for further research are identified. In addition, a flexible approach to management is recommended, one that assures monitoring of relevant environmental, economic, and social consequences, and requires continual reappraisal of policy and practice in response to new information.... [Show full abstract]