"Wildlife within protected areas is under increasing threat from the bushmeat and illegal trophy trades, and many argue that enforcement within protected areas is not sufficient to protect wildlife. Some say the $2 million spent annually in the Serengeti on patrols would be better spent on other preventive activities," says Ray Hilborn, University of Washington professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and lead author of a paper in the Nov. 24 issue of Science. The 5,700-square-mile Serengeti is one of Africa's most pristine preserves.
"The animals are 'telling' us poaching is down now that there are 10 to 20 patrols a day compared to the mid-1980s when there might be 60 or fewer patrols a year," Hilborn says. They tell us, he says, by increasing in abundance, something that can measured using aerial surveys.
It's been impossible to actually count the number of animals that are poached because poaching is illegal and most animals – apart from elephants and rhinos which are traditionally not eaten – are caught in snares set by local villagers for their own use or sale. A recent article in National Geographic, for example, said estimates of the poaching toll range as high as 200,000 in the Serengeti. Hilborn says that poaching cannot be nearly that great or the populations still would be declining.
"The estimates are just all over the place, not just for the Serengeti but all across Africa," Hilborn says. This confounds efforts to learn how best to solve the problem when wildlife numbers decline catastrophically.
So Hilborn and his co-authors employed the catch-per-unit-of-effort technique used for decades by managers to estimate fish abundance and set fishing limits. Estimates are based on a ratio comparing the number of fish caught in an area with the total number of hours of fishing – the unit-of-effort – by all the vessels in that area.
In the Serengeti, which has a 50-year-record of arrests and patrols, the scientists divided the number of poachers arrested by the number of patrols a day to estimate the amount of poaching. They assumed that arrests per patrol were representative of poaching intensity and not, for instance, that officer training or informant networks improved.
"We show that a precipitous decline in enforcement in 1977 resulted in a large increase in poaching and decline of many species," Hilborn and his co-authors write. "Conversely, expanded budgets and antipoaching patrols since the mid-1980s have significantly reduced poaching and allowed populations of buffalo, elephants and rhinoceros to rebuild."
Outside of established reserves, using tourism or hunting expeditions to generate economic benefits for local communities is the cornerstone to enlisting their help in protecting wildlife, Hilborn says. But the community conservation programs initiated in Tanzania since 2000 occurred after stepped-up patrols in the Serengeti proved effective.
"Antipoaching is effective in protected areas," he says.
The work marks the first time anyone has been able to reconstruct a history of poaching going back as far as 50 years, says Tom Hobbs, professor of ecology at Colorado State University and who is not affiliated with the work being published in Science.
"The Hilborn team has shown that protection of wildlife by active enforcement of laws and regulations remains an essential tool for conserving biological diversity," Hobbs says. "This sounds so simple, but it has been controversial."
Sandra Hines | EurekAlert!
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
20.07.2017 | Information Technology
20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy