Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Targeting enforcement where needed most in Africa's heart of biodiversity


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!

Further reports about: Conservation Wildlife activities populations savannas species

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Sea turtles face plastic pollution peril
09.10.2015 | University of Exeter

nachricht NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event
08.10.2015 | NOAA Headquarters

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Secure data transfer thanks to a single photon

Physicists of TU Berlin and mathematicians of MATHEON are so successful that even the prestigious journal “Nature Communications” reported on their project.

Security in data transfer is an important issue, and not only since the NSA scandal. Sometimes, however, the need for speed conflicts to a certain degree with...

Im Focus: A Light Touch May Help Animals and Robots Move on Sand and Snow

Having a light touch can make a hefty difference in how well animals and robots move across challenging granular surfaces such as snow, sand and leaf litter. Research reported October 9 in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics shows how the design of appendages – whether legs or wheels – affects the ability of both robots and animals to cross weak and flowing surfaces.

Using an air fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the...

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Smart clothing, mini-eyes, and a virtual twin – Artificial Intelligence at ICT 2015

13.10.2015 | Trade Fair News

Listening to the Extragalactic Radio

13.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

Penn study stops vision loss in late-stage canine X-linked retinitis pigmentosa

13.10.2015 | Health and Medicine

More VideoLinks >>>