Context. Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) are a valued game resource that can cause environmental harm, requiring control of tahr populations below policy-prescribed thresholds. Effective game management requires understanding of the benefits to hunters of game resources and how hunter behaviours change in response to changes in hunt attributes, including game-animal densities, hunt duration, presence of other hunters and travel distance.
Aims. To identify the value of recreational Himalayan tahr hunting and how that value is affected by changes in hunt attributes for different types of hunter, thereby identifying the value of tahr as a recreational resource and opportunities for enhancing recreational hunting experiences.
Methods. Hunter differences were explored through factor analysis and cluster analysis, which identified three different groups of hunters on the basis of motivations and hunting activity. Preferences for hunt attributes were explored with a choice experiment that used a pivot design around actual travel distances to measure the relative importance of hunt-related attributes. Latent class analysis of choice experiment responses identified three discrete groups of hunters who sought different activity settings.
Key results. Results showed the high value of recreational tahr hunting for all three groups of tahr hunters. Tahr hunters were uniformly focussed on trophy bull tahr, and reduced probabilities of securing a trophy would diminish recreational hunting effort significantly. Hunting activity was not affected by adult female tahr populations. These results suggest that managing tahr to low densities, but improving trophy potential, can provide concurrent environmental and recreational benefits.
Conclusions. Changes in hunt attributes, such as trophy potential and presence of other hunters, have significant effects on hunt benefits, site choice and the amount of recreational tahr hunting.
Implications. The present study identified potential gains from active management of Himalayan tahr and tahr hunters.