Data-driven analysis will maximize return-on-investment in protecting wildlife and wild lands
Scientists seeking a more efficient way of protecting the heart of Africa's wildlife—the Greater Virunga Landscape—have developed a method to make the most of limited enforcement resources, according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, Imperial College London, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Park guards on patrol in the Greater Virunga Landscape. Scientists seeking a more efficient way of protecting the heart of Africa's wildlife have developed a method to make the most of limited enforcement resources, specifically by channeling data on wildlife sightings and park guard patrolling routes into spatial planning software. Conservationists hope that this cost-effective method for maximizing the deterrence effect of patrolling will help protect Africa's threatened wildlife from poaching and other illegal activities.
Credit: A. Plumptre/Wildlife Conservation Society
By channeling data on wildlife sightings and park guard patrolling routes into spatial planning software, conservationists have devised a cost-effective method for maximizing the deterrence effect of patrolling to protect Africa's threatened wildlife from poaching and other illegal activities.
The enforcement-targeting method is described in a study appearing in the current edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology and is freely available online.
"The Greater Virunga Landscape contains many natural wonders, but resources for enforcement across this huge area are limited," said Dr. Andrew Plumptre, lead author of the study and Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Albertine Rift Program. "Our spatial analysis allows us to identify weaknesses in current efforts, which we can use to redirect enforcement and increase efficiency and conservation impact."
Stretching through Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Greater Virunga Landscape is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth and is home to all of the world's mountain gorilla populations. Much of the region's mountains, forests, lakes, and savannas are contained in a total of 13 protected areas covering 13,800 square kilometers. The region also contains populations of chimpanzees, elephants, hippopotamus, lions, and many other species.
The authors of the study conducted their analysis by first determining the distribution of key species and habitats. Data on the distribution of threats was then added, followed by estimates of current patrol effort and the cost of patrolling parks, protected areas, and other wildlife-rich regions effectively. All data layers were then used to conduct a spatial prioritization to minimize the cost of patrols and maximize the protection of wildlife species.
What the authors found was that only 22 percent of the Greater Virunga Landscape is being effectively patrolled at present. "The key problem is trying to ascertain where to send patrols to make them effective," said Dr. James Watson, who holds a joint WCS-University of Queensland position. "Our research has shown that existing patrols are not frequent enough to be effective at deterring poaching and other illegal activities beyond 3 kilometers from a patrol post."
"We discovered that careful planning of patrol activity can increase its effectiveness while reducing costs by up to 63 percent," added Prof. Hugh Possingham, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions.
In addition to helping wildlife managers and park authorities to redirect enforcement efforts into areas requiring protection, the method—the authors say—will also help reduce the cost of achieving conservation goals.
"Knowing where to put your enforcement efforts to make the most difference in protecting wildlife and natural resources is a huge advantage for conservationists," said Mr. Aggrey Rwetsiba, Senior Coordinator Ecological Monitoring and Research at the Uganda Wildlife Authority. "The method offered here can improve patrol coverage and increase deterrence in this vital region of Africa."
The authors are: Andrew Plumptre of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Richard Fuller of the University of Queensland; Aggrey Rwetsiba of the Uganda Wildlife Authority; Fredrick Wanyama of the Uganda Wildlife Authority; Deo Kujirakwinja of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Margaret Driciru of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Grace Nangendo of the Wildlife Conservation Society; James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Hugh Possingham of the University of Queensland and Imperial College.
This analysis was funded by the Fairfield Osborn Memorial Fund, The University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Funding that supported data collection and analysis for this study came from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Elephant and Great Ape Conservation Funds, US State Department, US Agency for International Development, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
John Delaney | EurekAlert!
01.09.2015 | University of California - Santa Barbara
Northern bald ibises fit for their journey to Tuscany
21.08.2015 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
China's Loess Plateau was formed by wind alternately depositing dust or removing dust over the last 2.6 million years, according to a new report from University of Arizona geoscientists. The study is the first to explain how the steep-fronted plateau formed.
China's Loess Plateau was formed by wind alternately depositing dust or removing dust over the last 2.6 million years, according to a new report from...
The leaves of the lotus flower, and other natural surfaces that repel water and dirt, have been the model for many types of engineered liquid-repelling surfaces. As slippery as these surfaces are, however, tiny water droplets still stick to them. Now, Penn State researchers have developed nano/micro-textured, highly slippery surfaces able to outperform these naturally inspired coatings, particularly when the water is a vapor or tiny droplets.
Enhancing the mobility of liquid droplets on rough surfaces could improve condensation heat transfer for power-plant heat exchangers, create more efficient...
Longer, more severe, and hotter droughts and a myriad of other threats, including diseases and more extensive and severe wildfires, are threatening to transform some of the world's temperate forests, a new study published in Science has found. Without informed management, some forests could convert to shrublands or grasslands within the coming decades.
"While we have been trying to manage for resilience of 20th century conditions, we realize now that we must prepare for transformations and attempt to ease...
A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...
A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...
20.08.2015 | Event News
20.08.2015 | Event News
19.08.2015 | Event News
02.09.2015 | Earth Sciences
02.09.2015 | Studies and Analyses
01.09.2015 | Press release