Conflicts between people over wildlife are widespread and damaging to both the wildlife and people involved. Such issues are often termed human-wildlife conflicts. We argue that this term is misleading and may exacerbate the problems and hinder resolution. A review of 100 recent articles on human-wildlife conflicts reveals that 97 were between conservation and other human activities, particularly those associated with livelihoods. We suggest that we should distinguish between human-wildlife impacts and human-human conflicts and be explicit about the different interests involved in conflict. Those representing conservation interests should not only seek technical solutions to deal with the impacts but also consider their role and objectives, and focus on strategies likely to deliver long-term solutions for the benefit of biodiversity and the people involved.
Livestock depredation has implications for conservation and agronomy; it can be costly for farmers and can prompt retaliatory killing of carnivores. Lethal control measures are readily available and are reportedly perceived to be cheaper, more practical and more effective than non-lethal methods. However, the costs and efficacy of lethal vs non-lethal approaches have rarely been compared formally. We conducted a 3-year study on 11 South African livestock farms, examining costs and benefits of lethal and non-lethal conflict mitigation methods. Farmers used existing lethal control in the first year and switched to guardian animals (dogs Canis familiaris and alpacas Lama pacos) or livestock protection collars for the following 2 years. During the first year the mean cost of livestock protection was USD 3.30 per head of stock and the mean cost of depredation was USD 20.11 per head of stock. In the first year of non-lethal control the combined implementation and running costs were similar to those of lethal control (USD 3.08 per head). However, the mean cost of depredation decreased by 69.3%, to USD 6.52 per head. In the second year of non-lethal control the running costs (USD 0.43 per head) were significantly lower than in previous years and depredation costs decreased further, to USD 5.49 per head. Our results suggest that non-lethal methods of human-wildlife conflict mitigation can reduce depredation and can be economically advantageous compared to lethal methods of predator control.
Increased recognition of the business case for managing corporate impacts on the environment has helped drive increasingly detailed and quantified corporate environmental goals. Foremost among these are goals of no net loss (NNL) and net positive impact (NPI). We assess the scale and growth of such corporate goals. Since the first public, company-wide NNL/NPI goal in 2001, 32 companies have set similar goals, of which 18 specifically include biodiversity. Mining companies have set the most NNL/NPI goals, and the majority of those that include biodiversity, despite the generally lower total global impact of the mining industry on biodiversity compared to the agriculture or forestry industries. This could be linked to the mining industry's greater participation in best practice bodies, highprofile impacts, and higher profit margins per area of impact. The detail and quality of present goals vary widely. We examined specific NNL/NPI goals and assessed the extent to which their key components were likely to increase the effectiveness of these goals in benefiting biodiversity and managing business risk. Nonetheless, outcomes are more important than goals, and we urge conservationists to work with companies to both support and monitor their efforts to achieve increasingly ambitious environmental goals.
The oil palm industry is blamed for the demise of iconic species such as the orang-utan Pongo pygmaeus in Borneo but production of, and demand for, this commodity continue to expand. Therefore, a better understanding of how the orang-utan is adapting to human-transformed environments is crucial for conserving the species. Results from a combination of repeated ground transects, aerial presence/absence surveys, and interviews of workers in mature plantations of the lower Kinabatangan River floodplain (eastern Sabah) provide an overall picture of the current status of orang-utans in an established agro-industrial oil palm landscape. Our results show that orang-utans disperse into mature plantations, use oil palm trees for nesting, and feed on mature fruits. Most oil palm workers report orang-utans of all age-sex classes within the estates but fail to report any negative effect of the animals on productivity of mature palms 5 years. Our surveys also show that orang-utan presence in the mature oil palm landscape is correlated with proximity to natural forest patches. These results suggest that forest patches, even when small, fragmented and degraded, are required to sustain the species in human-transformed landscapes. Homogenous oil palm plantations are incompatible with viable populations of orang-utans. The cessation of further forest conversion to agriculture and the enforcement of better management practices are needed to reduce the threat of oil palm development to orang-utan survival.
Four species of African vultures have been recategorized as Critically Endangered, and two as Endangered, on the IUCN Red List. Their declining status is attributed partly to the impacts of widespread poisoning. Prior to 2012 poisoning of vultures was mostly associated with illegal predator control by livestock farmers, in which vultures were typically unintended victims. More recently, ivory poachers have been using poisons to kill elephants Loxodonta africana or to contaminate their carcasses specifically to eliminate vultures, whose overhead circling might otherwise reveal the poachers' presence. Between 2012 and 2014 we recorded 11 poaching-related incidents in seven African countries, in which 155 elephants and 2,044 vultures were killed. In at least two incidents the harvesting of vulture body parts (for fetish) may have provided an additional motive. We show that vulture mortality associated with ivory poaching has increased more rapidly than that associated with other poisoning incidents, and now accounts for one-third of all vulture poisonings recorded since 1970. This recent surge in the illegal use of poisons exposes weaknesses in the regulations, for which we propose measures aimed primarily at retail controls. However, because ivory poachers already operate outside any legal framework, African governments require international support in applying more punitive sentencing against mass wildlife poisoning.
The woylie Bettongia penicillata is categorized as Critically Endangered, having declined by c. 90% between 1999 and 2006. The decline continues and the cause is not fully understood. Within a decline diagnosis framework we characterized the nature of the decline and identified potential causes, with a focus on the species' largest populations, located in south-west Western Australia. We described the spatio-temporal pattern of the decline, and several attributes that are common across sites. We categorized the potential causes of the decline as resources, predators, disease and direct human interference. Based on the available evidence the leading hypothesis is that disease may be making woylies more vulnerable to predation but this remains to be tested. No substantial recoveries have been sustained to date, and one of the three remaining indigenous populations now appears to be extinct. Therefore, verifying the factors causing the decline and those limiting recovery is becoming increasingly urgent. Active adaptive management can be used to test putative agents, such as introduced predators. Insurance populations and ecological monitoring should also be included in an integrated conservation and management strategy for the species.
Estimation of survival rates is important for developing and evaluating conservation options for large carnivores. However, telemetry studies for large carnivores are often characterized by small sample sizes that limit meaningful conclusions. We used data from 10 published and 8 unpublished studies of leopards Panthera pardus in southern Africa to estimate survival rates and investigate causes of leopard mortality. Mean survival rates were significantly lower in non-protected (0.55 +/- SE 0.08) compared to protected areas (0.88 +/- 0.03). Inside protected areas juveniles had significantly lower survival (0.39 +/- 0.10) compared to subadults (0.86 +/- 0.07) and adults (0.88 +/- 0.04). There was a greater difference in cause of death between protected and non-protected areas for females compared to males, with people being the dominant cause of mortality outside protected areas for both females and males. We suggest there is cause for concern regarding the sustainability of leopard populations in South Africa, as high female mortality may have severe demographic effects and a large proportion of suitable leopard habitat lies in non-protected areas. However, because a large proportion of deaths outside protected areas were attributed to deliberate killing by people, we suggest that management interventions may have the potential to increase leopard survival dramatically. We therefore stress the urgency to initiate actions, such as conflict mitigation programmes, to increase leopard survival in non-protected areas.
Human-carnivore conflict is one of the major challenges in the management of populations of large carnivores. Concerns include the increasing human population; habitat loss as a result of degradation and fragmentation of forest; and livestock predation as a result of a lack of natural prey, leading to retaliatory killings of wild carnivores. Conflicts may be further aggravated by occasional attacks that result in injury and loss of human life. The level of consumption of prey species by a predator is a benchmark to evaluate the scale of this conflict. We used a newly developed DNA-based diet analysis to study the prey profile of common leopards Panthera pardus in Ayubia National Park, Pakistan. The results suggest that the common leopard is a generalist predator, subsisting mainly on domestic animals. Based on the frequency of occurrence of prey items in 57 faecal samples, the diet of the leopard is dominated by domestic goat Capra hircus (64.9%), followed by domestic dog Canis lupus familiaris (17.5%) and cow Bos taurus (12.3%). Domestic animals (goat, dog, cow, water buffalo Bubalus bubalis, horse Equus caballus and sheep Ovis aries) occurred in 54 (95%) of the 57 samples. We recommend a two-step strategy to mitigate this conflict: (1) introducing incentives for increased acceptance of leopards among local communities in the vicinity of the protected area and (2) increasing the availability of wild prey. We hope that the results of this study will contribute to the survival of the leopard in Pakistan.
Bushmeat hunting is a pantropical threat to rainforest mammals. Understanding its effects on species richness, community composition and population abundance is of critical conservation relevance. As data on the pre-hunting state of mammal populations in Africa are not generally available, we evaluated the impacts of illegal bushmeat hunting on the mammal community of two ecologically similar forests in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania. The forests differ only in their protection status: one is a National Park and the other a Forest Reserve. We deployed systematic camera trap surveys in these forests, amounting to 850 and 917 camera days in the Forest Reserve and the National Park, respectively, and investigated differences between the two areas in estimated species-specific occupancies, detectabilities and species richness. We show that the mammal community in the Forest Reserve is degraded in all aspects relative to the National Park. Species richness was almost 40% lower in the Forest Reserve (median 18 vs 29 species, highest posterior density intervals 15-30 and 23-47, respectively). Occupancy of most species was also reduced significantly and the functional community appeared significantly altered, with an increase in rodents, and loss of large carnivores and omnivores. Overall, our results show how ineffective reserve management, with almost absent law enforcement, leads to uncontrolled illegal hunting, which in turn has a significant impact on the mammal fauna of globally important sites for conservation.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species uses geographical distribution as a key criterion in assessing the conservation status of species. Accurate knowledge of a species' distribution is therefore essential to ensure the correct categorization is applied. Here we compare the geographical distribution of 35 species of chameleons endemic to East Africa, using data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and data compiled by a taxonomic expert. Data screening showed 99.9% of GBIF records used outdated taxonomy and 20% had no locality coordinates. Conversely the expert dataset used 100% up-to-date taxonomy and only seven records (3%) had no coordinates. Both datasets were used to generate range maps for each species, which were then used in preliminary Red List categorization. There was disparity in the categories of 10 species, with eight being assigned a lower threat category based on GBIF data compared with expert data, and the other two assigned a higher category. Our results suggest that before conducting desktop assessments of the threatened status of species, aggregated museum locality data should be vetted against current taxonomy and localities should be verified. We conclude that available online databases are not an adequate substitute for taxonomic experts in assessing the threatened status of species and that Red List assessments may be compromised unless this extra step of verification is carried out.
Brazil safeguards a vast network of parks and reserves, termed conservation units. The creation of conservation units follows a rigorous legal protocol that grants them long-term stability under varying degrees of formal protection against land-use change. Degazettement, downsizing or downgrading any conservation unit requires a law to be passed. Recent shifts in Brazilian conservation policy have, however, favoured infrastructure projects and agricultural land conversion, even when these initiatives are in direct conflict with established conservation units. Several bills have been proposed by the National Congress, threatening.. conservation units and bringing the long-term political stability and legal immunity of hitherto sacrosanct reserves into serious question.
Abstract Conservation research has a poor record of translating science into action. Previous surveys have investigated the lack of information exchange between researchers and practitioners by focusing on the uptake of peer-reviewed literature by practitioners from developed countries. They largely ignore conservation practitioners and researchers from developing countries, for whom accessing scientific data may be more difficult. This survey investigates how practitioners and researchers from developing countries access the scientific information needed in their work, and the place of peer-reviewed literature in this process. Our results suggest that practitioners access and use peer-reviewed literature; however, both practitioners and researchers mainly obtain information from open-access journals and do not base their choice on a journal's Impact Factor. Furthermore, researchers and practitioners in developing countries appear to be looking for more direct collaboration to ensure research is relevant to their needs, as well as more open-access journals and new ways to disseminate information.
With 10% of trees (>8,000 species) threatened with extinction there is an urgent need for botanical gardens to protect threatened trees in dedicated conservation collections. Species conservation is mentioned in the mission statements of most major botanical gardens, yet the actual conservation value of existing ex situ tree collections is low. We conducted interviews with members of the botanical garden community and organized a symposium at the 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress to identify challenges and collect recommendations to improve living ex situ tree collections. We summarize and evaluate this information to facilitate gardens becoming more effective agents for global tree conservation. Experts agree that gardens offer valuable strengths and assets for tree conservation. Some challenges exist, however, including a lack of strategic conservation focus, collection management limitations, gaps in fundamental biological information for trees, and a lack of global coordination. Solutions are offered to facilitate gardens and arboreta of all sizes to participate more effectively in tree conservation. Prioritizing genetically diverse tree collections, participating in conservation networks, developing tree-specific conservation models and guidelines, and strengthening tree science research efforts are a few examples. Most importantly, a more coordinated global effort is needed to fill knowledge gaps, share information, and build conservation capacity in biodiversity hotspots to prevent the loss of tree species.
The Critically Endangered Chinese giant salamander Andrias davidianus, the world's largest amphibian, is severely threatened by unsustainable exploitation of wild individuals. However, field data with which to assess the salamander's status, population trends, or exploitation across its geographical range are limited, and recent field surveys using standard ecological field techniques have typically failed to detect wild individuals. We conducted community-based fieldwork in three national nature reserves (Fanjingshan, Leigongshan and Mayanghe) in Guizhou Province, China, to assess whether local ecological knowledge constitutes a useful tool for salamander conservation. We collected a sample of dated salamander sighting records and associated data from these reserves for comparative assessment of the relative status of salamander populations across the region. Although Fanjingshan and Leigongshan are still priority sites for salamander conservation, few recent sightings were recorded in either reserve, and respondents considered that salamanders had declined locally at both reserves. The species may already be functionally extinct at Mayanghe. Although respondent data on threats to salamanders in Guizhou are more difficult to interpret, overharvesting was the most commonly suggested explanation for salamander declines, and it is likely that the growing salamander farming industry is the primary driver of salamander extraction from Guizhou's reserves. Questionnaire-based surveys can collect novel quantitative data that provide unique insights into the local status of salamander populations, and we advocate wide-scale incorporation of this research approach into future salamander field programmes.
Information on the abundance of tigers Panthera tigris is essential for effective conservation of the species. The main aim of this study was to determine the status of tigers in Chitwan National Park, Nepal, including the Churia hills, using a camera-trap based mark-recapture abundance estimate. Camera traps (n = 310) were placed in an area of 1,261 km(2) from 20 January to 22 March 2010. The study area was divided into three blocks and each block was trapped for 19-21 days, with a total effort of 3,582 man-days, 170 elephant-days and 4,793 camera-trap nights. The effectively camera-trapped area was 2,596 km(2). Camera stations were located 1.5-2 km apart. Sixty-two tigers (age >= 1.5 years), comprising 15 males, 41 females and six of unidentified sex, were identified from 344 photographs. The heterogeneity model Mh (jackknife) was the best fit for the capture history data. A capture probability ((P) over cap) of 0.05 was obtained, generating a population estimate ((N) over cap) of 125 +/- SE 21.8 tigers. The density of tigers in the area, including Churia and Barandabhar (buffer zone forest linked with mid hill forest), was estimated to be 4.5 +/- SE 0.35 tigers per 100 km(2), using a Bayesian spatially explicit capture-recapture model in SPACECAP. Our study showed the use of Churia by tigers and we therefore conclude that the Chitwan tiger population serves as a source to maintain tiger occupancy of the larger landscape that comprises Chitwan National Park, Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Barandabhar buffer zone, Someswor forest in Nepal and Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India.
The Mediterranean islands support a rich diversity of flora, with a high percentage of endemic species. We used the IUCN categories and criteria to assess the conservation status of 16 endemic plant taxa (species and subspecies) of the Tuscan Archipelago, based on data collected during field surveys over 4 years. Our data were sufficient to use criteria B, C and D in our assessment. We used criterion B in the assessment of all 16 taxa, criterion C for four taxa, criterion D for 11 taxa and criteria B, C and D for three taxa, Centaurea gymnocarpa, Limonium doriae and Silene capraria. According to our results L. doriae, Romulea insularis and S. capraria are categorized as Critically Endangered and therefore require immediate conservation measures; eight taxa are categorized as Endangered, two as Vulnerable and three as Near Threatened. Compared to earlier assessments, eight species are recategorized with a higher degree of threat, two species are recategorized with a lower degree of threat, five are unchanged, and one species is assessed for the first time. Based on the IUCN categorization our results show that all the endemic species of the Tuscan Archipelago are directly and/or indirectly threatened by human activities, such as tourism and agriculture, and invasive species of plants and animals. The Tuscan Archipelago National Park is responsible for the conservation of all endemic species in the area.
Reintroduction success depends in part on the release strategy used. Benefits are attributed to particular release strategies but few studies have tested these assumptions. We examined the effect of delayed release (a form of so-called soft release) on the survival of a threatened passerine, the New Zealand hihi Notiomystis cincta, for up to 7 months after translocation. Birds were captured at the source site and then held in captivity for disease screening. They were then taken to the release site, where 30 were released immediately and 28 were held for a further 2-4 days in an on-site aviary. Twenty-four birds were fitted with radio-transmitters. A 1,300 ha area around the release site was searched fortnightly, and survival was analysed using a multi-state model that accounted for the effect of transmitters on detection probability. Our results indicated that delayed release had a negative effect on long-term survival, but no effect was apparent in the first 6 weeks. Survival probability from 6 weeks to 7 months post-release was 0.77 +/- SE 0.20 for immediate-release birds and 0.04 +/- SE 0.06 for delayed-release birds. Our results suggest that there is a misconception about the benefits of delayed-release strategies during translocation of wild animals. Studies that have demonstrated a benefit of delayed release in other bird species used captive-bred individuals, and we suggest that wild individuals perceive captivity differently. We recommend that biological context is considered before delayed release is used in translocations.
The co-extinction of parasitic taxa and their host species is considered a common phenomenon in the current global extinction crisis. However, information about the conservation status of parasitic taxa is scarce. We present a global list of co-extinct and critically co-endangered parasitic lice (Phthiraptera), based on published data on their host-specificity and their hosts' conservation status according to the IUCN Red List. We list six co-extinct and 40 (possibly 41) critically co-endangered species. Additionally, we recognize 2-4 species that went extinct as a result of conservation efforts to save their hosts. Conservationists should consider preserving host-specific lice as part of their efforts to save species.
Amphibians are considered to be the most threatened group of vertebrates. Among the multiple factors involved in their decline, habitat loss and alteration as a result of human activities is a major threat. At the individual level the effects of habitat alteration are potentially multiple, including a range of morphological and physiological responses. Analysing and understanding these responses is therefore a critical challenge for amphibian conservation. We examined the influence of intensive vehicle traffic (motorbikes and trucks on unpaved pathways) on the body size and condition and on the production of glucocorticoids (i.e. corticosterone) in the yellow-bellied toad Bombina variegata. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that intensive vehicle traffic has a negative influence on body size and body condition, and postulated that it also increases corticosterone production. Using morphometric data and saliva samples collected from four populations in France, we found that intensive vehicle traffic is associated with a decrease in body size and body condition in both males and females. Furthermore, our analysis revealed that corticosterone production was lower in both sexes in populations experiencing intensive vehicle traffic. We suggest that measures should be applied to reduce vehicle traffic intensity on unpaved pathways during toad breeding activity. This is critical for B. variegata, for which man-made ruts and residual puddles could mitigate the loss of natural habitats.