Madagascar is renowned not only for its high biodiversity and high degree of endemism, but also for ongoing loss of the original primary vegetation. Here we draw attention to the critical degree of vulnerability of Madagascar's littoral forest, western dry deciduous forest, and evergreen forests of the high plateau. Conservation efforts in these forest formations have been low compared to those in the evergreen rainforest of eastern Madagascar. Due to their fragmented nature these ecosystems urgently require reinforced conservation programmes.
Proponents of community conservation present it as a means of reconciling conservation and development objectives by ensuring that the interests of local people are taken into account in making trade-offs. Conservation critics see it as a challenge to the state-led, scientific management that is necessary to guarantee the preservation of biodiversity. In this paper, we argue that community conservation is not one thing but many. It is evolving both as a concept and as a practice that must be built on. It is not a project or policy 'choice' that can be simply accepted or rejected. The key questions about community conservation are who should set the objectives for conservation policy on the ground and how should trade-offs between the diverse objectives of different interests be negotiated.
This paper analyses the impact of a community conservation programme (CCP) implemented over a 7-year period around a national park in Uganda. Programme activities included dialogue, conflict reduction, education, community resource access and support for community development. Surveys of attitudes show that communities benefited from the programme were significantly more positive towards the park and wildlife than communities that did not. The community conservation programme built an understanding of conservation objectives amongst communities whose members were more likely to recognize positive aspects of the park and less likely to demand that it be degazetted. Comparison over the 7-year duration of the programme, however, did not show that communities were generally more positive towards conservation. They wore mure critical of management and demanded more support and resources than riley had received. Their behaviour was not greatly changed, and high levels of poaching and illegal grazing continued. Attitudes were influenced by communities receiving development assistance, but improvements were fragile, vulnerable to poor behaviour of park staff and law-enforcement activities. Both were seen as contradicting community approaches. Attitudes were also influenced by land ownership and economic occupation. The CCP was not a panacea for the problems of the park and did not resolve fundamental conflicts of interest between communities and park management. However, it did change the way the protagonists perceive and interact with each other.
We present new data on the size of all the saiga antelope populations; three populations of the subspecies Saiga tatarica tatarica in Kazakhstan, one of S. t. tatarica in Kalmykia, Russia, and two of S. t. mongolica in Mongolia. The data suggest that three populations are under severe threat from poaching and have been declining at an increasing rate for the last 2-3 years. The Ustiurt population in Kazakhstan was relatively secure but is now also under threat. There is evidence of much reduced conception rates in Kalmykia, probably because of selective hunting of adult males. The Mongolian subspecies shows no evidence of recent decline, but is of concern because of the population's small size. The cause of the population declines appears to be poaching for meat and horns, which is a result of economic collapse in the rural areas of Kazakhstan and Kalmykia. We suggest that full aerial surveys be carried out oil the Betpak-dala (Kazakhstan) and Mongolian populations, and that funding is urgently required for the control of poaching in all parts of the saiga range.
This paper evaluates the ecological consequences of hunting by comparing mammalian densities, biomass, relative energy consumption and community structure between sites with different levels of hunting pressure. Hunting is carried out mainly by colonists who farm on the edge of Atlantic forest fragments in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Mammals were studied over a period of 18 months, along 2287 km of line transects. Transects were distributed among two protected sites, one slightly hunted site and two heavily hunted sites. Tapirs, the two peccary species, brocket deer, armadillos and agoutis are preferred by hunters in the region. Primates are not hunted in the region. Hunting has affected community structure, with ungulates dominating mammalian biomass at protected sites and primates dominating at hunted sites. This has caused an ecological inversion in the hunted areas of the Atlantic forests. In amazonian regions of the Neotropics hunting is more evenly distributed among primates, large rodents, and ungulates and has resulted in an opposite inversion, with hunted sites having lower primate biomass. Atlantic forests are very susceptible to the possible ecological imbalances induced by hunting by humans, and this must be considered for management and conservation programmes.
A review was carried out of the mammalian fauna of the Kilum-Ijim forest in the mountains of northwest Cameroon. The purpose was to examine the loss of species, particularly of larger mammals, and the implications of this for forest ecology. Information was collected by direct observation, hunter interviews and a literature review. The forest is the largest remaining representative fragment of the West African montane forest habitat. Seventy-seven species of mammal have been recorded in the forest over the last 50 years. Most are small, especially rodents, bats and insectivores. Seven species are endemic to the Kilum-Ijim area. The process of species extirpation probably began over 100 years ago with the loss of the mega-fauna, possibly beginning with elephant Loxodonta africana (several generations ago), and certainly with buffalo Syncerus caffer (at least 20 years ago), and other large mammals. Remaining large mammal population densities are very low and many species are close to regional extinction. The long-term consequences of these extinctions is uncertain but, as many tree species are monkey- or ruminant-dispersed, severe ecosystem damage has probably already occurred. Human population density in the area is around 300 people per sq km, and no sustainable offtake of wild animals will ever be possible that would provide more than a few grams of meat per person per year from the forest. The protein requirements of the communities of the area will have to continue to be supplied from domesticated stock. Since 1987 the Kilum-Ijim Forest Project of BirdLife International has been working to conserve the remaining forest, using a community forestry approach in collaboration with traditional and local authorities and the government of Cameroon, The project is investigating ways to improve the production of domestic animals outside the forest boundary.
The Leuser Ecosystem, northern Sumatra, Indonesia, contains the world's largest orang-utan Pongo pygmaeus population. We examine the consequences of the recent wave of forest conversion, and legal and illegal logging, on orang-utan numbers II the Leuser Ecosystem. We review density variation inside the Leuser Ecosystem and its causes, and the consequences of selective logging, exhaustive logging and clear-felling for habitat conversion on orang-utan densities. The analysis of the orang-utan's decline is based on information on forest loss, logging intensity, and the delineation of logging concessions and legal changes in land use status. The results indicate a very rapid decline, by c. 45 per cent, from c. 12,000 in early 1993, over a 6- to 7-year period. During 1998 and 1999, losses occurred at a rate of about 1000 orang-utans per year. At this rate, further losses in the near future are expected to put the survival of Leuser's orang-utans in serious doubt.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in south-west Uganda supports a population of gorillas that has become the primary gorilla population for tourism following the genocide in Rwanda. Previous estimates made in the early 1990s indicated that the population numbered around 300 individuals. The census reported here was the first in Bwindi to use the method successfully developed in the Virungas, which utilizes a complete sweep across the park within a short period of time by a large number of teams working simultaneously. We estimated the population to be 292 individuals; to the best of our understanding - based on previous estimates - the population, therefore, appears to be stable. Most gorillas were found within the centre of the southern section of the park. It appears that there are some areas of unused habitat and, therefore, room for the population to grow. We found no clear relationship between gorilla distribution and human presence, but some forms of disturbance were moro frequent and close to the edge of the park and may contribute to the gorillas' avoidance of these areas. The effects of human disturbance, including tourism, on the gorillas and other wildlife should be investigated in more detail and monitored over time. This is particularly important in multiple-use zones which have been established around the edges of the park for bee-keeping, collection of non-timber forest products, and tourism.
The current status and distribution of the red panda Ailurus fulgens in the wild is poorly known. The subspecies fulgens is found in the Himalaya in Nepal, India, Bhutan, northern Myanmar and south-west China, and the subspecies styani occurs further to the east in south-central China. The red panda is an animal of subtropical and temperate forests, with the exception of Meghalaya in India, where it is also found in tropical forests. In the wild, red pandas take a largely vegetarian diet consisting chiefly of bamboo. The extent of occurrence of the red panda in India is about 170,000 sq km, although its area of occupancy within this may only be about 25,000 sq km. An estimate based on the lowest recorded average density and the total area of potential habitat suggests that the global population of red pandas is about 16,000-20,000. Habitat loss and poaching, in that order, are the major threats. In this paper the distribution, status and conservation problems of the red panda, especially in India, are reviewed, and appropriate conservation measures recommended, including the protection of named areas and the extension of some existing protected areas.
The Critically Endangered Antiguan racer Alsophis antiguae is confined to Great Bird Island, a 9.9-ha (24.5-acre) islet off the north-east coast of Antigua in the Lesser Antilles. This island represents weil under 0.1 per cent of the species's historical distribution range. During the past 5 years, the total number of: racers aged 1 year or more has fluctuated between 51 and 114, and currently stands at approximately 80. Since 1995, the Antiguan Racer Conservation Project (ARCP) has endeavoured to save this harmless snake from extinction by using a combination of education, conservation breeding, habitat restoration, local capacity building and applied research. The Antiguan racer's ecology and population dynamics have become well understood after 5 years of intensive study, and the species has evidently benefited from the project's rat eradication programme. The snakes are still seriously threatened by other intrinsic and extrinsic factors, however, including inbreeding depression, frequent hurricanes, invasive predators and deliberate killing by toruists, as well as the problem that Great Bird island is too small to support more than about 100 individuals. This paper describes the activities and impact of this project to date, and outlines a series of conservation activities to safeguard the long-term future of the species, which include reintroduction of the Antiguan racer to restored islands within its former distribution range.
The Sumatran orang-utan is in dramatic decline, including the population in its main stronghold, the Leuser Ecosystem, in Sumatra, Indonesia (C. P. van Schaik et al. (2001) Oryx 35, 14-25). The major threats to the survival of Sumatran orang-utans are identified as habitat loss (mainly from conversion to oil palm plantations), habitat degradation and habitat fragmentation The immediate causes of this are identified as weak compliance with regulations and laws; weak law enforcement and the weak legal environment. Corruption is identified as the ultimate causal factor underlying these three immediate causal factors, along with a frontier mentality and bureaucratic constraints. Together, the!: have resulted in the destruction of prime orang-utan habitat. Several political actions are recommended to improve the effectiveness of habitat conservation for the orang-utan and several technical challenges are to be overcome once the policy context is right. The most crucial problem to solve is the lack of regular funds for enforcement operations and establishing a new system of enforcement that is effective. In addition, the Gunung Leuser National Park needs to be redesigned by enlarging it to cover all high biodiversity areas within the Leuser Ecosystem. Moreover, habitat corridors between important forest tracts need to be re-established.
Kibale National Park (KNP), Uganda, has a number of chimpanzees habituated for tourism. The close genetic relationship between humans and chimpanzees means that there is the potential for disease transmission between the two. The aim of this study was to establish the diseases to which chimpanzees may be exposed by surveying the medical histories of humans in contact with the chimpanzees of KNP. Medical questionnaires were given to tourists visiting KNP and to the population of a village close to the park. The 62 tourist surveys returned indicated a high prevalence of disease symptoms, in particular diarrhoea, as well as ongoing infectious diseases and a lack of current vaccinations. The 50 local surveys returned also indicated a high prevalence of disease symptoms, in particular respiratory disease, along with a low rate of vaccination and a high frequency of visual contact with the chimpanzees both within and outside KNP. This study indicates that humans are a potential source of infection for chimpanzees. The results, which have been communicated to the appropriate authorities, will assist in the devising of proper tourist viewing regulations and provide local health authorities with the information necessary to improve both public health and chimpanzee health. Further recommendations include education of tourists regarding appropriate vaccinations, hand washing prior to the visit, the use of facemasks during the visit, and the provision of latrines. Chimpanzee ecotourism is becoming increasingly popular and protecting the chimpanzees' health will help to ensure that ecotourism is a sustainable activity.
Rodents account for 40 per cent of living mammal species. Nevertheless, despite an increased interest in biodiversity conservation and their high species richness, Rodentia are often neglected by conservationists. We attempt for the first time a world-wide evaluation of rodent conservation priorities at the genus level. Given the low popularity of the order, we considered it desirable to discuss identified priorities within the framework of established biodiversity priority areas of the world. Two families and 62 genera are recognized as threatened. Our analyses highlight the Philippines, New Guinea, Sulawesi, the Caribbean, China temperate forests and the Atlantic Forest of south-eastern Brazil as the most important (for their high number of genera) 'threat-spots' for rodent conservation. A few regions, mainly drylands, are singled out as important areas for rodent conservation but are not generally recognized in global biodiversity assessments. These are the remaining forests of Togo, extreme 'western Sahel', the Turanian ansi Mongolian-Manchurian steppes and the desert of the Horn of Africa. Resources for conservation must be allocated first to recognized threat spots and to those restricted-range genera which may depend on species-specific strategies for their survival.
Controversy has surrounded the role of intervention in studies of African wild dogs Lycaon pictus. Following the death or disappearance of all wild dogs under study in the Serengeti ecosystem, it was suggested that immobilization, radio-collaring or administration of rabies vaccines might have caused high mortality by compromising wild dogs' immune response to rabies virus. Planning future management and research on wild dogs and other species demands an assessment of the risks associated with such intervention. This paper critically reviews the available evidence and concludes that it is extremely unlikely that intervention contributed to the extinction of wild dogs in the Serengeti ecosystem. A more likely scenario is that vaccination failed to protect wild dogs exposed to rabies virus. Radio-collaring is an important component of wild dog research; hence, the benefits of immobilization appear to outweigh the risks, as long as (i) research is orientated towards wild dog conservation, (ii) radio-collaring is followed up by efficient monitoring, (iii) the number of animals immobilized is kept to the minimum necessary to maintain scientific rigour, and (iv) full data on disease and genetics are collected from all immobilized animals. By contrast, rabies vaccination currently seems to confer few benefits, at least when a single dose of vaccine is given. Further research, on captive animals, is in progress to establish more effective protocols, and to assess the role that vaccination might play in future management of wild dog populations.