During a 4-month study in French Polynesia, the authors visited 28 islands, seven of which had never been explored by ornithologists. They collected ecological data on endemic land birds, introduced animals and habitats, focusing particularly on the factors involved in population declines and extinctions. As well as hunting and habitat destruction, it appears that introduced predators play a major role, with the roof rat Rattus rattus being the most dangerous. Rapid action to eradicate introduced predators, coupled with translocations, would be the most effective way to ensure the survival of the remaining bird species.
The Ethiopian wolf is a social canid endemic to the highlands of Ethiopia. Today perhaps only 500 individuals survive, making it the world's rarest and probably most endangered canid. Its range has already been reduced and it is threatened by further loss of habitat to high-altitude subsistence agriculture and overgrazing by livestock. Today it survives in only six locations, with the largest and probably only genetically viable population being found in the Bale Mountains National Park. The most immediate threats for the survival of Ethiopian wolves are disease, domestic dogs and human persecution. Improved management in Bale and Simien Mountains National Parks and the establishment of a captive-breeding programme are urgently needed to prevent the extinction of this species.
Villagers who live in the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary have traditionally had a taboo against killing the black-and-white colobus Colobus polykomos and mona monkey Cercopithecus campbelli, which inhabit the forest around their villages. The sanctuary is an important example of how traditional values in Ghana have resulted in wildlife conservation. The author, partly funded from the Oryx 100% Fund, carried out an assessment of the current status of the forest and monkey populations. He found that the monkeys are not immediately threatened but that some of the forest that the monkeys rely on has become degraded or destroyed. Further erosion of the forest should be minimized by careful planning of future village expansion, constructing fire-breaks and controlling farming activities along the forest perimeter.
Many, if not all, marine turtle populations world-wide have become seriously depleted by the impact of numerous factors over the years. Populations of marine turtles are now classified as endangered or threatened. National and international legislation designed to protect sea turtles has been unsuccessful and, despite evergrowing interest, there is disturbing evidence of new and increasingly important threats: increased incidence of disease; oil and organochlorine contamination and marine ‘macro-pollution’.
In the 1980s international publicity was given to the deaths of thousands of wildebeest in southern Botswana. The cause was their drought-induced migrations being prevented by the cordon fences erected to protect cattle from disease. While the mortalities may have accounted for 90 per cent of the wildebeest population since 1979, archive records from the 1920s and 1940s show that the decline started much earlier. Wildebeest were once so numerous in the southern Kalahari that local farmers regarded them as a menace, competing with cattle for grazing and transmitting malignant catarrh. Extermination programmes reduced the wildebeest population to such an extent that by 1961 the Botswana Government classified it as a game animal to be hunted only by licence.
Bornean gibbons Hylobates muelleri are protected by law in Sarawak, but their habitat is being destroyed, they are illegally hunted, and they are captured for the pet trade. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at Semengok Forest Reserve, which is run by the National Parks and Wildlife Office of the Sarawak Forest Department, receives confiscated gibbons and those surrendered by the general public. Between October 1976 and June 1988,122 gibbons were received and 87 were subsequently released. The rate of survival was unknown until the author organized a survey of the forest at Semengok in 1988. It revealed that about 90 per cent of the gibbons did not survive long after release. The author discusses the reasons for this high mortality rate, the shortcomings of rehabilitation as a conservation tool, the problems facing the conservation authorities, and options for dealing with confiscated primates.
The rugged islands where the original Robinson Crusoe was marooned in the south-east Pacific are remarkable for the number and variety of endemic plants, some of which are pollinated by a beautiful endemic hummingbird. They are also the main breeding station of a fur seal, which once numbered millions but was later thought to be extinct, and several widespread seabirds. So far the only losses appear to be the endemic sandalwoods and widespread elephant seal, but the other wildlife is now threatened by deforestation, erosion and competition or predation from introduced species. There is a need for more support for local conservation measures, since the islands may soon start to undergo rapid development.
The Gunung Halimun Reserve has the largest area of primary rain forest left on Java. The reserve is important for the habitat it provides for two endangered primates, the moloch Hylobates moloch and the grizzled langur Presbytis comata, which are endemic to western Java. The author presents the results of a survey conducted in the reserve in July 1989 and makes suggestions for further survey work and scientific research on the primates there.
This paper examines the current status and distribution of primates in Gabon on the basis of data collected in the field between 1985 and 1988. There are at least 19 and possibly 21 species of primates definitely present in Gabon, making it one of the richest countries in the world for primates. Most of the species are still widespread and one, the sun-tailed guenon, is endemic. Hunting and habitat destruction are the main threats to the country's primates. The major problem at the moment is the opening up of previously inaccessible areas by logging companies and the Trans Gabon railway, which leads to an increase in hunting pressure. Several species are threatened; the mandrill/drill, the black colobus, and the sun-tailed guenon need special conservation measures. Suggestions for action are made and several new reserves have recently been proposed.
The green turtle Chelonia mydas is one of two marine turtle species to nest in Turkey. Its three main nesting beaches are in eastern Turkey, with possibly the densest congregation of nesting turtles in the Mediterranean being found at Kazanli. However, beach erosion, hatchling predation, agricultural encroachment and chemical pollution mean that the future of the Kazanli nest site is uncertain. The Turkish Society for the Protection of Nature (Dogal Hayati Koruma Dernegi) is making valiant efforts to protect all the turtle nesting beaches in Turkey but lacks detailed information on the numbers of nesting turtles on many beaches. This paper describes a short study of nesting turtles at Kazanli during 1990 and makes recommendations for the conservation of the nesting beach.
Tanzania's remaining fragments of coastal forests support rich biological communities, but these are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and land-use pressures because of their very limited size. Until recently little attention has been paid to these areas and and it is probable that all the most important forest areas have not yet even been recognized. Conservation measures are needed urgently and while these have been incorporated into the Tanzanian Forestry Action Plan, funding has not been identified.
While Saudi Arabia has recognized the dangers of uncontrolled hunting and has introduced conservation measures in its own territory, prominent members of that kingdom are killing large numbers of game, including endangered species, in neighbouring countries. In this report the author presents evidence of the devastation caused by Saudi hunters in the Sudan. While the latter country has outlawed hunting, enforcing the law against Saudi nationals is fraught with difficulties.
Equatorial Guinea, the only Spanish-speaking country in tropical Africa, is an important enclave for wildlife. Because of its dire economic situation, the outcome of the withdrawal of colonial paternalism and 11 years of ruthless military dictatorship, the country sees the exploitation of its natural resources as the panacea to its financial deficit. The consequences for fauna and flora of the unchecked exploitation and uncontrolled opening of forest land for commercial logging will be enormous. Some protected areas have been decreed, but effective action to enforce new laws needs to be taken and the country lacks trained personnel and infrastructure.
Serra da Capivara is the second largest protected area in Brazil's caatinga – a mosaic of dry habitats in the north-east with a diverse flora and fauna, including several threatened and recently discovered taxa. The park is not effectively protected, however, and there is growing pressure from the surrounding human population.
Although it is a poor country, Nepal has been responsible for one of the greatest rhino conservation success stories. In 1968 its population of greater one-horned rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis was estimated at 81–108 individuals; by 1990 the population had increased to 400, a tremendous achievement for a country with very limited financial resources. However, in 1990 the government collapsed and the enforcement of law and order was not very effective. Rhinos were poached for their horns and tigers for their bones. Poachers started poisoning rhinos, apparently copying the methods used previously for killing nuisance tigers. The author, who visited Nepal in 1991, reports on these new threats and discusses what needs to be done to remedy the situation.
Wild elephants currently occur in three populations in the lowlands of Nepal. The eastern and western animals are part of larger populations that extend into India; the central population, estimated to be 21 individuals, is geographically isolated from the other two and confined within Nepal's borders. Tracks of young elephants observed in 1979 and 1989 indicate that reproduction occurs on a regular basis. The present reserve system provides good cover and an excellent food base; the potential for population increase is good. Nepal needs to develop policy to handle human/elephant conflicts so that public support for protection of elephant populations can be maintained.
A small area of forest on Luisenga tea estate has been declared a nature reserve by Brooke Bond Tanzania Limited. Luisenga is at the southern end of the endemic-rich Eastern Arc mountains of Tanzania and contains a number of plant and animal species of restricted distribution and conservation importance.
Of the six species of marine turtle in Papua New Guinea, the green turtle Chelonia mydas and the hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata are the most common and the most utilized in the Port Moresby region. This paper describes a study carried out in 1989, which monitored the trade in green turtles in the country's main market and the sale of tortoiseshell in a major shopping centre. The price of turtle meat was higher than that of some common reef fish, but cost less when fish was abundant. The commercial trade in tortoiseshell appeared to be negligible. As the urban population increases it is likely that demand for turtle meat will also increase. If this food resource is to be managed sustainably the size of the turtle population needs to be determined. The University of Papua New Guinea is supporting marine turtle field studies and a sea turtle education programme, but more needs to be done to ensure the survival of PNG's marine turtles.
The Liberian mongoose Liberiictis kuhni, the only member of its genus, was described as a new species from skulls in 1958. The first two complete specimens were obtained as recently as 1974. Although several more animals have been captured since then, all in Liberia, the species's status and ecology remain poorly known. In 1988 the FFPS contributed £500 towards a field study of the mongoose in Liberia and while this expedition succeeded in finding only one animal that had been killed by a hunter, a subsequent attempt in 1989 was more successful.