Until Mounir began his research at Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), striped hyaenas living in the human-dominated landscapes of Lebanon were subject to hatred and superstition. This resulted in their ongoing persecution, and has caused them to become near threatened throughout their range.
Mounir has shown that the striped hyaena – the largest species of carnivore remaining in Lebanon – prevents the spread of contagious diseases by scavenging on dead and infested animals. Equally, striped hyaenas can easily adapt their lifestyle to co-exist with people. However, before people and striped hyaenas can happily co-exist, it is essential that the old superstitions and prejudices about striped hyaenas are shown to be unfounded.
‘For example,’ Mounir said, ‘over 64% of the people I surveyed believe that hyaenas ‘mesmerise’ people with their eyes, and 36% believe that the hyaena uses supernatural powers to hypnotise people. Also, village and town elders related some 14 different themes of traditional and mythical stories about the striped hyaena, 11 of which portrayed the species in a negative light. These stories are still widely known among local people, and largely underpin the negative attitudes that 82% of local people hold towards striped hyaenas. Thus, 28% of respondents claimed to know of reported attacks by striped hyaenas on people, but such reports only arose because the bad reputation of striped hyaenas remains enshrined in stories told by elders.’
Consequently, Mounir – who is also director and owner of The Animal Encounter, an educational centre for wildlife conservation in Aley, Lebanon – established an awareness programme that comprised a seminar and an information leaflet, and which afforded local people the chance to interact with conservationists or guides. So far, this programme has proved successful in changing the views of more than 80% of zoo visitors towards striped hyaenas. Consequently, Mounir expects that ongoing conservation education will further reduce the poor perceptions that people hold of striped hyaenas.
Mounir’s research and work have been recognised and supported by the Gerald Durrell Memorial Fund, UNESCO-MAB, Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grants, Idea Wild, Wildlife Trust and Quebec Labrador Foundation, the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research and the Karim Rida Said Foundation.
Now that Mounir has completed his PhD research, he hopes that the experience he has gained from DICE will enable him to continue conserving Lebanese wildlife. This will require reintroducing what has been lost and disseminating the knowledge and experience he has gained to local institutions and other researchers, both in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region.
Professor Nigel Leader-Williams, Director of DICE and Mounir’s PhD supervisor said, ‘Mounir has broken new ground in Lebanon with his approach of integrating ecology and conservation education. It is a testament to his determination that he has seen his research through to its conclusion in such troubled circumstances. I expect Mounir to become a beacon for much needed conservation efforts in the Middle East.’
Gary Hughes | alfa
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering