Publications by authors named "Amy Dickman"

27 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Density responses of lesser-studied carnivores to habitat and management strategies in southern Tanzania's Ruaha-Rungwa landscape.

PLoS One 2021 30;16(3):e0242293. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London, Ascot, United Kingdom.

Compared to emblematic large carnivores, most species of the order Carnivora receive little conservation attention despite increasing anthropogenic pressure and poor understanding of their status across much of their range. We employed systematic camera trapping and spatially explicit capture-recapture modelling to estimate variation in population density of serval, striped hyaena and aardwolf across the mixed-use Ruaha-Rungwa landscape in southern Tanzania. We selected three sites representative of different habitat types, management strategies, and levels of anthropogenic pressure: Ruaha National Park's core tourist area, dominated by Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets; the Park's miombo woodland; and the neighbouring community-run MBOMIPA Wildlife Management Area, also covered in Acacia-Commiphora. The Park's miombo woodlands supported a higher serval density (5.56 [Standard Error = ±2.45] individuals per 100 km2) than either the core tourist area (3.45 [±1.04] individuals per 100 km2) or the Wildlife Management Area (2.08 [±0.74] individuals per 100 km2). Taken together, precipitation, the abundance of apex predators, and the level of anthropogenic pressure likely drive such variation. Striped hyaena were detected only in the Wildlife Management Area and at low density (1.36 [±0.50] individuals per 100 km2), potentially due to the location of the surveyed sites at the edge of the species' global range, high densities of sympatric competitors, and anthropogenic edge effects. Finally, aardwolf were captured in both the Park's core tourist area and the Wildlife Management Area, with a higher density in the Wildlife Management Area (13.25 [±2.48] versus 9.19 [±1.66] individuals per 100 km2), possibly as a result of lower intraguild predation and late fire outbreaks in the area surveyed. By shedding light on three understudied African carnivore species, this study highlights the importance of miombo woodland conservation and community-managed conservation, as well as the value of by-catch camera trap data to improve ecological knowledge of lesser-studied carnivores.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0242293PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8009394PMC
March 2021

The importance of tangible and intangible factors in human-carnivore coexistence.

Conserv Biol 2020 Dec 8. Epub 2020 Dec 8.

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Oxford, OX135QL, U.K.

Conflict with humans is one of the major threats facing the world's remaining large carnivore populations, and understanding human attitudes is key to improving coexistence. We surveyed people living near Hwange National Park about their attitudes toward coexisting with lions. We used ordinal regression models with the results of the survey to investigate the importance of a range of tangible and intangible factors on attitudes. The variables investigated included the costs and benefits of wildlife presence, emotion, culture, religion, vulnerability, risk perception, notions of responsibility, and personal value orientations. This was for the purpose of effectively tailoring conservation efforts but also for ethical policy making. Intangible factors (e.g., fear and ecocentric values) were as important as, if not more important than, tangible factors (such as livestock losses) for understanding attitudes, based on the effect sizes of these variables. The degree to which participants' fear of lions interfered with their daily activities was the most influential variable. The degree to which benefits accrue to households from the nearby protected area was also highly influential, as was number of livestock lost, number of dependents, ecocentric value orientation, and participation in conflict mitigation programs. Contrary to what is often assumed, metrics of livestock loss did not dominate attitudes to coexistence with lions. Furthermore, we found that socioeconomic variables may appear important when studied in isolation, but their effect may disappear when controlling for variables related to beliefs, perceptions, and past experiences. This raises questions about the widespread reliance on socioeconomic variables in the field of human-wildlife conflict and coexistence. To facilitate coexistence with large carnivores, we recommend measures that reduce fear (through education and through protective measures that reduce the need to be fearful), reduction of livestock losses, and ensuring local communities benefit from conservation. Ecocentric values also emerged as influential, highlighting the need to develop conservation initiatives tailored to local values.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13678DOI Listing
December 2020

Beyond banning wildlife trade: COVID-19, conservation and development.

World Dev 2020 Dec 29;136:105121. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Oxford Martin Programme on Illegal Wildlife Trade and School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

One of the immediate responses to COVID-19 has been a call to ban wildlife trade given the suspected origin of the pandemic in a Chinese market selling and butchering wild animals. There is clearly an urgent need to tackle wildlife trade that is illegal, unsustainable or carries major risks to human health, biodiversity conservation or meeting acceptable animal welfare standards. However, some of the suggested actions in these calls go far beyond tackling these risks and have the potential to undermine human rights, damage conservation incentives and harm sustainable development. There are a number of reasons for this concerns. First calls for bans on wildlife markets often include calls for bans on wet markets, but the two are not the same thing, and wet markets can be a critical underpinning of informal food systems. Second, wildlife trade generates essential resources for the world's most vulnerable people, contributing to food security for millions of people, particularly in developing countries. Third, wildlife trade bans have conservation risks including driving trade underground, making it even harder to regulate, and encouraging further livestock production. Fourth, in many cases, sustainable wildlife trade can provide key incentives for local people to actively protect species and the habitat they depend on, leading to population recoveries. Most importantly, a singular focus on wildlife trade overlooks the key driver of the emergence of infectious diseases: habitat destruction, largely driven by agricultural expansion and deforestation, and industrial livestock production. We suggest that the COVID-19 crisis provides a unique opportunity for a paradigm shift both in our global food system and also in our approach to conservation. We make specific suggestions as to what this entails, but the overriding principle is that local people must be at the heart of such policy shifts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105121DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7388857PMC
December 2020

Threats posed to conservation by media misinformation.

Conserv Biol 2020 12 25;34(6):1333-1334. Epub 2020 Sep 25.

Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Marlowe Building, Canterbury, CT2 7NR, U.K.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13605DOI Listing
December 2020

Conserving Africa's wildlife and wildlands through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Nat Ecol Evol 2020 10 29;4(10):1300-1310. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

South Rift Association of Landowners, Nairobi, Kenya.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 illness are driving a global crisis. Governments have responded by restricting human movement, which has reduced economic activity. These changes may benefit biodiversity conservation in some ways, but in Africa, we contend that the net conservation impacts of COVID-19 will be strongly negative. Here, we describe how the crisis creates a perfect storm of reduced funding, restrictions on the operations of conservation agencies, and elevated human threats to nature. We identify the immediate steps necessary to address these challenges and support ongoing conservation efforts. We then highlight systemic flaws in contemporary conservation and identify opportunities to restructure for greater resilience. Finally, we emphasize the critical importance of conserving habitat and regulating unsafe wildlife trade practices to reduce the risk of future pandemics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1275-6DOI Listing
October 2020

Consequences Matter: Compassion in Conservation Means Caring for Individuals, Populations and Species.

Animals (Basel) 2019 Dec 11;9(12). Epub 2019 Dec 11.

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney, Oxfordshire OX13 5QL, UK.

Human activity affecting the welfare of wild vertebrates, widely accepted to be sentient, and therefore deserving of moral concern, is widespread. A variety of motives lead to the killing of individual wild animals. These include to provide food, to protect stock and other human interests, and also for sport. The acceptability of such killing is widely believed to vary with the motive and method. Individual vertebrates are also killed by conservationists. Whether securing conservation goals is an adequate reason for such killing has recently been challenged. Conventional conservation practice has tended to prioritise ecological collectives, such as populations and species, when their interests conflict with those of individuals. Supporters of the 'Compassionate Conservation' movement argue both that conservationists have neglected animal welfare when such conflicts arise and that no killing for conservation is justified. We counter that conservationists increasingly seek to adhere to high standards of welfare, and that the extreme position advocated by some supporters of 'Compassionate Conservation', rooted in virtue ethics, would, if widely accepted, lead to considerable negative effects for conservation. Conservation practice cannot afford to neglect consequences. Moreover, the do-no-harm maxim does not always lead to better outcomes for animal welfare.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani9121115DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6941047PMC
December 2019

Trophy hunting bans imperil biodiversity.

Science 2019 08;365(6456):874

IUCN SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, 1196, Gland, Switzerland.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaz0735DOI Listing
August 2019

QUANTIFYING THE SEVERITY OF GIRAFFE SKIN DISEASE VIA PHOTOGRAMMETRY ANALYSIS OF CAMERA TRAP DATA.

J Wildl Dis 2019 10 22;55(4):770-781. Epub 2019 Apr 22.

Research on the Ecology of Carnivores and Their Prey Laboratory, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, 480 Wilson Road, 13 Natural Resources Building, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.

Developing techniques to quantify the spread and severity of diseases afflicting wildlife populations is important for disease ecology, animal ecology, and conservation. Giraffes () are in the midst of a dramatic decline, but it is not known whether disease is playing an important role in the broad-scale population reductions. A skin disorder referred to as giraffe skin disease (GSD) was recorded in 1995 in one giraffe population in Uganda. Since then, GSD has been detected in 13 populations in seven African countries, but good descriptions of the severity of this disease are not available. We photogrammetrically analyzed camera trap images from both Ruaha and Serengeti National parks in Tanzania to quantify GSD severity. Giraffe skin disease afflicts the limbs of giraffes in Tanzania, and we quantified severity by measuring the vertical length of the GSD lesion in relation to the total leg length. Applying the Jenks natural breaks algorithm to the lesion proportions that we derived, we classified individual giraffes into disease categories (none, mild, moderate, and severe). Scaling up to the population level, we predicted the proportion of the Ruaha and Serengeti giraffe populations with mild, moderate, and severe GSD. This study serves to demonstrate that camera traps presented an informative platform for examinations of skin disease ecology.
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October 2019

More than $1 billion needed annually to secure Africa's protected areas with lions.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018 11 22;115(45):E10788-E10796. Epub 2018 Oct 22.

Panthera, New York, NY 10018.

Protected areas (PAs) play an important role in conserving biodiversity and providing ecosystem services, yet their effectiveness is undermined by funding shortfalls. Using lions () as a proxy for PA health, we assessed available funding relative to budget requirements for PAs in Africa's savannahs. We compiled a dataset of 2015 funding for 282 state-owned PAs with lions. We applied three methods to estimate the minimum funding required for effective conservation of lions, and calculated deficits. We estimated minimum required funding as $978/km per year based on the cost of effectively managing lions in nine reserves by the African Parks Network; $1,271/km based on modeled costs of managing lions at ≥50% carrying capacity across diverse conditions in 115 PAs; and $2,030/km based on Packer et al.'s [Packer et al. (2013) 16:635-641] cost of managing lions in 22 unfenced PAs. PAs with lions require a total of $1.2 to $2.4 billion annually, or ∼$1,000 to 2,000/km, yet received only $381 million annually, or a median of $200/km Ninety-six percent of range countries had funding deficits in at least one PA, with 88 to 94% of PAs with lions funded insufficiently. In funding-deficit PAs, available funding satisfied just 10 to 20% of PA requirements on average, and deficits total $0.9 to $2.1 billion. African governments and the international community need to increase the funding available for management by three to six times if PAs are to effectively conserve lions and other species and provide vital ecological and economic benefits to neighboring communities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1805048115DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6233108PMC
November 2018

Conservation geopolitics.

Conserv Biol 2019 04 8;33(2):250-259. Epub 2018 Nov 8.

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, Tubney, Oxfordshire, OX13 5QL, U.K.

We reviewed recent work concerning the impact of geopolitics on wildlife conservation (and vice versa) and identified future priorities in conservation geopolitics research. Geopolitics is understood as both an analytical focus on geopolitical practices (especially concerning the behavior) of countries with respect to territory and national security and a set of theories developed to explain and predict those behaviors. We developed a typology of core geopolitical practices of relevance to conservation: territorial practices of colonization and the management of migrations and borders, and security practices relating to military, economic, and environmental security. We identified research that considers how these practices affect conservation situations and outcomes, noting the recent emergence of conceptual developments such as "environmental geopolitics" and "geopolitical ecology" that draw on multiple fields within the social sciences to theorize the links between geopolitics and environmental management. We defined a "geopolitical perspective" as a focus on geopolitical practices combined with an explicit engagement with geopolitical theory and identified conservation situations where this perspective could contribute to analytical clarity. We suggest the most pressing questions in conservation research to which the geopolitical perspective might contribute are how political and economic differences between countries affect biodiversity outcomes, how geopolitical practices to address those differences facilitate or frustrate conservation efforts, how national borders and human and wildlife movements can be better managed for the benefit of both, and how the most effective conservation strategies can be best selected to suit existing (and future) geopolitical realities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13238DOI Listing
April 2019

Spatial variation in leopard (Panthera pardus) site use across a gradient of anthropogenic pressure in Tanzania's Ruaha landscape.

PLoS One 2018 10;13(10):e0204370. Epub 2018 Oct 10.

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney, Abingdon, United Kingdom.

Understanding large carnivore occurrence patterns in anthropogenic landscapes adjacent to protected areas is central to developing actions for species conservation in an increasingly human-dominated world. Among large carnivores, leopards (Panthera pardus) are the most widely distributed felid. Leopards occupying anthropogenic landscapes frequently come into conflict with humans, which often results in leopard mortality. Leopards' use of anthropogenic landscapes, and their frequent involvement with conflict, make them an insightful species for understanding the determinants of carnivore occurrence across human-dominated habitats. We evaluated the spatial variation in leopard site use across a multiple-use landscape in Tanzania's Ruaha landscape. Our study region encompassed i) Ruaha National Park, where human activities were restricted and sport hunting was prohibited; ii) the Pawaga-Idodi Wildlife Management Area, where wildlife sport hunting, wildlife poaching, and illegal pastoralism all occurred at relatively low levels; and iii) surrounding village lands where carnivores and other wildlife were frequently exposed to human-carnivore conflict related-killings and agricultural habitat conversion and development. We investigated leopard occurrence across the study region via an extensive camera trapping network. We estimated site use as a function of environmental (i.e. habitat and anthropogenic) variables using occupancy models within a Bayesian framework. We observed a steady decline in leopard site use with downgrading protected area status from the national park to the Wildlife Management Area and village lands. Our findings suggest that human-related activities such as increased livestock presence and proximity to human households exerted stronger influence than prey availability on leopard site use, and were the major limiting factors of leopard distribution across the gradient of human pressure, especially in the village lands outside Ruaha National Park. Overall, our study provides valuable information about the determinants of spatial distribution of leopards in human-dominated landscapes that can help inform conservation strategies in the borderlands adjacent to protected areas.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0204370PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179245PMC
March 2019

Improving the role of global conservation treaties in addressing contemporary threats to lions.

Biodivers Conserv 2018 2;27(10):2747-2765. Epub 2018 Jun 2.

2Department of European and International Public Law, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Despite their iconic status, lion () populations continue to decline across the majority of their range. In the light of the recent decision (in October 2017) to add lions to the Appendices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), this paper identifies the new and existing legal protections afforded to lions through five global treaties, and maps these protections against the most critical contemporary threats facing the species. It thus offers a new analysis of the CMS listing, and draws on existing legal reviews, to highlight the ways in which global treaties offer differing forms of protection for lions. It then combines multiple concordant assessments of lion populations, to highlight nine categories of threat: human-lion conflict, bushmeat poaching, human encroachment, trophy hunting, trade in lion bones, unpredictable environmental events, socio-economic factors, policy failures, and governance/institutional weakness. The paper assesses how the various treaties each address these different categories of threat. The analysis identifies two pathways for improving legal protection: expanding the application of global treaties in respect of lions and their habitats (the paper considers the CMS listing in these terms), and improving the implementation of treaty commitments through local and national-scale actions. Furthermore, it identifies local implementation challenges that include the local knowledge of rules, compliance with rules and enforcement capacity, alongside the variety in local contexts and situations, and suggests where global treaties might provide support in meeting these challenges. We suggest that this analysis has wider implications for how treaty protection can and is utilised to protect various species of large-bodied, wide-ranging animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10531-018-1567-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6435094PMC
June 2018

A sideways look at conservation and consistency in tourism policy.

Conserv Biol 2018 06 1;32(3):744-746. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, Tubney, Oxon OX13 5QL, U.K.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13066DOI Listing
June 2018

Saving the World's Terrestrial Megafauna.

Bioscience 2016 Oct 27;66(10):807-812. Epub 2016 Jul 27.

William J. Ripple Robert L. Beschta, Michael Paul Nelson, Luke Painter Christopher Wolf, and Thomas M. Newsome are affiliated with the Global Trophic Cascades Program of the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University, in Corvallis; TMN is also with the Desert Ecology Research Group of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney, in Australia; the Centre for Integrative Ecology at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Deakin University, in Geelong, Australia; and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Guillaume Chapron is affiliated with the Department of Ecology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Riddarhyttan. José Vicente López-Bao is with the Research Unit of Biodiversity at Oviedo University, in Mieres, Spain. Sarah M. Durant and Rosie Woodroffe are with the Institute of Zoology at the Zoological Society of London, Regents Park. David W. Macdonald and Amy J. Dickman are with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford and the Recanati-Kaplan Centre, in Abingdon, United Kingdom. Peter A. Lindsey and Luke T. B. Hunter are affiliated with Panthera, in New York. PAL is also affiliated with the Mammal Research Institute of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria, in Gauteng, South Africa; and LTBH is also affiliated with the School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. Elizabeth L. Bennett, Simon Hedges, and Fiona Maisels are affiliated with the Wildlife Conservation Society, in New York; FM is also with the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Stirling, in the United Kingdom. Holly T. Dublin is affiliated with IUCN Species Survival Commission's African Elephant Specialist Group at the IUCN Eastern and Southern African Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya. Jeremy T. Bruskotter is affiliated with the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University, in Columbus. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz is with the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Richard T. Corlett is affiliated with the Center for Integrative Conservation of the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Menglun, Yunnan, China. Chris T. Darimont is with the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, in British Columbia, Canada. Rodolfo Dirzo is affiliated with the Department of Biology at Stanford University, in California. James A. Estes is with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, in Santa Cruz. Kristoffer T. Everatt, Matt W. Hayward, and Graham I. H. Kerley are affiliated with the Centre for African Conservation Ecology at Nelson Mandela University, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa; MWH is also with the School of Biological Science and the School of Environment, Natural Resources, and Geography at Bangor University, in Gwynedd, United Kingdom, and the Centre for Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa. Mauro Galetti is affiliated with the Departamento de Ecologia at the Universidade Estadual Paulista, in Rio Claro, Brazil. Varun R. Goswami is with the Wildlife Conservation Society, India Program, in Bangalore, India. Michael Hoffmann is with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, in Gland, Switzerland. Mike Letnic is affiliated with the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia. Taal Levi is affiliated with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University, in Corvallis. John C. Morrison is affiliated with the World Wildlife Fund-US, in Hope, Maine. Robert M. Pringle is affiliated with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, in New Jersey. Christopher J. Sandom is with the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex, in Brighton, United Kingdom. John Terborgh is affiliated with the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. Adrian Treves is with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. Blaire Van Valkenburgh is affiliated with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles. John A. Vucetich is with the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University, in Houghton. Aaron J. Wirsing is with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Arian D. Wallach is with the Centre for Compassionate Conservation in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology, in Sydney, Australia. Hillary Young is affiliated with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Li Zhang is affiliated with the Institute of Ecology at the Beijing Normal University, in PR China.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biw092DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5421308PMC
October 2016

Don't forget to look down - collaborative approaches to predator conservation.

Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 2017 Nov 24;92(4):2157-2163. Epub 2017 Mar 24.

Department of Zoology and Merton College, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K.

Finding effective ways of conserving large carnivores is widely recognised as a priority in conservation. However, there is disagreement about the most effective way to do this, with some favouring top-down 'command and control' approaches and others favouring collaboration. Arguments for coercive top-down approaches have been presented elsewhere; here we present arguments for collaboration. In many parts of the developed world, flexibility of approach is built into the legislation, so that conservation objectives are balanced with other legitimate goals. In the developing world, limited resources, poverty and weak governance mean that collaborative approaches are likely to play a particularly important part in carnivore conservation. In general, coercive policies may lead to the deterioration of political legitimacy and potentially to non-compliance issues such as illegal killing, whereas collaborative approaches may lead to psychological ownership, enhanced trust, learning, and better social outcomes. Sustainable hunting/trapping plays a crucial part in the conservation and management of many large carnivores. There are many different models for how to conserve carnivores effectively across the world, research is now required to reduce uncertainty and examine the effectiveness of these approaches in different contexts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/brv.12326DOI Listing
November 2017

From Attitudes to Actions: Predictors of Lion Killing by Maasai Warriors.

PLoS One 2017 30;12(1):e0170796. Epub 2017 Jan 30.

Living with Lions, Nanyuki, Kenya.

Despite legal protection, deliberate killing by local people is one of the major threats to the conservation of lions and other large carnivores in Africa. Addressing this problem poses particular challenges, mainly because it is difficult to uncover illicit behavior. This article examined two groups of Maasai warriors: individuals who have killed African lions (Panthera leo) and those who have not. We conducted interviews to explore the relationship between attitudes, intentions and known lion killing behavior. Factor analysis and logistic regression revealed that lion killing was mainly determined by: (a) general attitudes toward lions, (b) engagement in traditional customs, (c) lion killing intentions to defend property, and (d) socio-cultural killing intentions. Our results indicated that general attitudes toward lions were the strongest predictor of lion killing behavior. Influencing attitudes to encourage pro-conservation behavior may help reduce killing.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0170796PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5279730PMC
August 2017

The global decline of cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and what it means for conservation.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2017 01 27;114(3):528-533. Epub 2016 Dec 27.

Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden University, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.

Establishing and maintaining protected areas (PAs) are key tools for biodiversity conservation. However, this approach is insufficient for many species, particularly those that are wide-ranging and sparse. The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus exemplifies such a species and faces extreme challenges to its survival. Here, we show that the global population is estimated at ∼7,100 individuals and confined to 9% of its historical distributional range. However, the majority of current range (77%) occurs outside of PAs, where the species faces multiple threats. Scenario modeling shows that, where growth rates are suppressed outside PAs, extinction rates increase rapidly as the proportion of population protected declines. Sensitivity analysis shows that growth rates within PAs have to be high if they are to compensate for declines outside. Susceptibility of cheetah to rapid decline is evidenced by recent rapid contraction in range, supporting an uplisting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List threat assessment to endangered. Our results are applicable to other protection-reliant species, which may be subject to systematic underestimation of threat when there is insufficient information outside PAs. Ultimately, conserving many of these species necessitates a paradigm shift in conservation toward a holistic approach that incentivizes protection and promotes sustainable human-wildlife coexistence across large multiple-use landscapes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1611122114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5255576PMC
January 2017

Scent Lure Effect on Camera-Trap Based Leopard Density Estimates.

PLoS One 2016 6;11(4):e0151033. Epub 2016 Apr 6.

Panthera, 8 West 40th Street,18th Floor, New York, New York, United States of America.

Density estimates for large carnivores derived from camera surveys often have wide confidence intervals due to low detection rates. Such estimates are of limited value to authorities, which require precise population estimates to inform conservation strategies. Using lures can potentially increase detection, improving the precision of estimates. However, by altering the spatio-temporal patterning of individuals across the camera array, lures may violate closure, a fundamental assumption of capture-recapture. Here, we test the effect of scent lures on the precision and veracity of density estimates derived from camera-trap surveys of a protected African leopard population. We undertook two surveys (a 'control' and 'treatment' survey) on Phinda Game Reserve, South Africa. Survey design remained consistent except a scent lure was applied at camera-trap stations during the treatment survey. Lures did not affect the maximum movement distances (p = 0.96) or temporal activity of female (p = 0.12) or male leopards (p = 0.79), and the assumption of geographic closure was met for both surveys (p >0.05). The numbers of photographic captures were also similar for control and treatment surveys (p = 0.90). Accordingly, density estimates were comparable between surveys (although estimates derived using non-spatial methods (7.28-9.28 leopards/100km2) were considerably higher than estimates from spatially-explicit methods (3.40-3.65 leopards/100km2). The precision of estimates from the control and treatment surveys, were also comparable and this applied to both non-spatial and spatial methods of estimation. Our findings suggest that at least in the context of leopard research in productive habitats, the use of lures is not warranted.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0151033PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4822812PMC
August 2016

Applying a random encounter model to estimate lion density from camera traps in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

J Wildl Manage 2015 Aug 28;79(6):1014-1021. Epub 2015 May 28.

Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom.

The random encounter model (REM) is a novel method for estimating animal density from camera trap data without the need for individual recognition. It has never been used to estimate the density of large carnivore species, despite these being the focus of most camera trap studies worldwide. In this context, we applied the REM to estimate the density of female lions () from camera traps implemented in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, comparing estimates to reference values derived from pride census data. More specifically, we attempted to account for bias resulting from non-random camera placement at lion resting sites under isolated trees by comparing estimates derived from night versus day photographs, between dry and wet seasons, and between habitats that differ in their amount of tree cover. Overall, we recorded 169 and 163 independent photographic events of female lions from 7,608 and 12,137 camera trap days carried out in the dry season of 2010 and the wet season of 2011, respectively. Although all REM models considered over-estimated female lion density, models that considered only night-time events resulted in estimates that were much less biased relative to those based on all photographic events. We conclude that restricting REM estimation to periods and habitats in which animal movement is more likely to be random with respect to cameras can help reduce bias in estimates of density for female Serengeti lions. We highlight that accurate REM estimates will nonetheless be dependent on reliable measures of average speed of animal movement and camera detection zone dimensions. © 2015 The Authors. published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Wildlife Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.902DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657488PMC
August 2015

Random versus Game Trail-Based Camera Trap Placement Strategy for Monitoring Terrestrial Mammal Communities.

PLoS One 2015 7;10(5):e0126373. Epub 2015 May 7.

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Camera trap surveys exclusively targeting features of the landscape that increase the probability of photographing one or several focal species are commonly used to draw inferences on the richness, composition and structure of entire mammal communities. However, these studies ignore expected biases in species detection arising from sampling only a limited set of potential habitat features. In this study, we test the influence of camera trap placement strategy on community-level inferences by carrying out two spatially and temporally concurrent surveys of medium to large terrestrial mammal species within Tanzania's Ruaha National Park, employing either strictly game trail-based or strictly random camera placements. We compared the richness, composition and structure of the two observed communities, and evaluated what makes a species significantly more likely to be caught at trail placements. Observed communities differed marginally in their richness and composition, although differences were more noticeable during the wet season and for low levels of sampling effort. Lognormal models provided the best fit to rank abundance distributions describing the structure of all observed communities, regardless of survey type or season. Despite this, carnivore species were more likely to be detected at trail placements relative to random ones during the dry season, as were larger bodied species during the wet season. Our findings suggest that, given adequate sampling effort (> 1400 camera trap nights), placement strategy is unlikely to affect inferences made at the community level. However, surveys should consider more carefully their choice of placement strategy when targeting specific taxonomic or trophic groups.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0126373PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4423779PMC
April 2016

Priorities for global felid conservation.

Conserv Biol 2015 Jun 10;29(3):854-64. Epub 2015 Apr 10.

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, Tubney, Oxford, OX13 5QL, United Kingdom.

Conservation resources are limited, necessitating prioritization of species and locations for action. Most prioritization approaches are based solely on biologically relevant characteristics of taxa or areas and ignore geopolitical realities. Doing so risks a poor return on conservation investment due to nonbiological factors, such as economic or political instability. We considered felids, a taxon which attracts intense conservation attention, to demonstrate a new approach that incorporates both intrinsic species traits and geopolitical characteristics of countries. We developed conservation priority scores for wild felids based on their International Union for Conservation of Nature status, body mass, habitat, range within protected area, evolutionary distinctiveness, and conservation umbrella potential. We used published data on governance, economics and welfare, human population pressures, and conservation policy to assign conservation-likelihood scores to 142 felid-hosting countries. We identified 71 countries as high priorities (above median) for felid conservation. These countries collectively encompassed all 36 felid species and supported an average of 96% of each species' range. Of these countries, 60.6% had below-average conservation-likelihood scores, which indicated these countries are relatively risky conservation investments. Governance was the most common factor limiting conservation likelihood. It was the major contributor to below-median likelihood scores for 62.5% of the 32 felid species occurring in lower-likelihood countries. Governance was followed by economics for which scores were below median for 25% of these species. An average of 58% of species' ranges occurred in 43 higher-priority lower-likelihood countries. Human population pressure was second to governance as a limiting factor when accounting for percentage of species' ranges in each country. As conservation likelihood decreases, it will be increasingly important to identify relevant geopolitical limitations and tailor conservation strategies accordingly. Our analysis provides an objective framework for biodiversity conservation action planning. Our results highlight not only which species most urgently require conservation action and which countries should be prioritized for such action, but also the diverse constraints which must be overcome to maximize long-term success.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12494DOI Listing
June 2015

Who bites the bullet first? The susceptibility of leopards Panthera pardus to trophy hunting.

PLoS One 2015 10;10(4):e0123100. Epub 2015 Apr 10.

Panthera, New York, New York, United States of America; School of Life Sciences, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.

Reliable data is fundamentally important for managing large carnivore populations, and vital for informing hunting quota levels if those populations are subject to trophy hunting. Camera-trapping and spoor counts can provide reliable population estimates for many carnivores, but governments typically lack the resources to implement such surveys over the spatial scales required to inform robust quota setting. It may therefore be prudent to shift focus away from estimating population size and instead focus on monitoring population trend. In this paper we assess the susceptibility of African leopards Panthera pardus to trophy hunting. This has management ramifications, particularly if the use of harvest composition is to be explored as a metric of population trend. We explore the susceptibility of different leopard age and sex cohorts to trophy hunting; first by examining their intrinsic susceptibility to encountering trophy hunters using camera-traps as surrogates, and second by assessing their extrinsic susceptibility using photographic questionnaire surveys to determine their attractiveness to hunters. We show that adult male and female leopards share similar incident rates to encountering hunters but adult males are the most susceptible to hunting due to hunter preference for large trophies. In contrast, sub-adult leopards rarely encounter hunters and are the least attractive trophies. We suggest that our findings be used as a foundation for the exploration of a harvest composition scheme in the Kwazulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces where post mortem information is collected from hunted leopards and submitted to the local provincial authorities.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0123100PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4393264PMC
December 2015

Gene flow and population structure of a solitary top carnivore in a human-dominated landscape.

Ecol Evol 2015 Jan 24;5(2):335-44. Epub 2014 Dec 24.

School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences University of the Witwatersrand Private Bag X3, Johannesburg, 2050, South Africa ; Centre for Wildlife Management, University of Pretoria Private Bag X20 Hatfield, Pretoria 0028, South Africa.

While African leopard populations are considered to be continuous as demonstrated by their high genetic variation, the southernmost leopard population exists in the Eastern and Western Cape, South Africa, where anthropogenic activities may be affecting this population's structure. Little is known about the elusive, last free-roaming top predator in the region and this study is the first to report on leopard population structuring using nuclear DNA. By analyzing 14 microsatellite markers from 40 leopard tissue samples, we aimed to understand the populations' structure, genetic distance, and gene flow (Nm). Our results, based on spatially explicit analysis with Bayesian methods, indicate that leopards in the region exist in a fragmented population structure with lower than expected genetic diversity. Three population groups were identified, between which low to moderate levels of gene flow were observed (Nm 0.5 to 3.6). One subpopulation exhibited low genetic differentiation, suggesting a continuous population structure, while the remaining two appear to be less connected, with low emigration and immigration between these populations. Therefore, genetic barriers are present between the subpopulations, and while leopards in the study region may function as a metapopulation, anthropogenic activities threaten to decrease habitat and movement further. Our results indicate that the leopard population may become isolated within a few generations and suggest that management actions should aim to increase habitat connectivity and reduce human-carnivore conflict. Understanding genetic diversity and connectivity of populations has important conservation implications that can highlight management of priority populations to reverse the effects of human-caused extinctions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1322DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4314266PMC
January 2015

Using landscape and bioclimatic features to predict the distribution of lions, leopards and spotted hyaenas in Tanzania's Ruaha landscape.

PLoS One 2014 5;9(5):e96261. Epub 2014 May 5.

Department of Zoology, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom; Ruaha Carnivore Project, Iringa, Tanzania.

Tanzania's Ruaha landscape is an international priority area for large carnivores, supporting over 10% of the world's lions and important populations of leopards and spotted hyaenas. However, lack of ecological data on large carnivore distribution and habitat use hinders the development of effective carnivore conservation strategies in this critical landscape. Therefore, the study aimed to (i) identify the most significant ecogeographical variables influencing the potential distribution of lions, leopards and spotted hyaenas across the Ruaha landscape; (ii) identify zones with highest suitability for harbouring those species; and (iii) use species distribution modelling algorithms (SDMs) to define important areas for conservation of large carnivores. Habitat suitability was calculated based on environmental features from georeferenced presence-only carnivore location data. Potential distribution of large carnivores appeared to be strongly influenced by water availability; highly suitable areas were situated close to rivers and experienced above average annual precipitation. Net primary productivity and tree cover also exerted some influence on habitat suitability. All three species showed relatively narrow niche breadth and low tolerance to changes in habitat characteristics. From 21,050 km2 assessed, 8.1% (1,702 km2) emerged as highly suitable for all three large carnivores collectively. Of that area, 95.4% (1,624 km2) was located within 30 km of the Park-village border, raising concerns about human-carnivore conflict. This was of particular concern for spotted hyaenas, as they were located significantly closer to the Park boundary than lions and leopards. This study provides the first map of potential carnivore distribution across the globally important Ruaha landscape, and demonstrates that SDMs can be effective for understanding large carnivore habitat requirements in poorly sampled areas. This approach could have relevance for many other important wildlife areas that only have limited, haphazard presence-only data, but which urgently require strategic conservation planning.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0096261PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010451PMC
July 2015

From cheetahs to chimpanzees: a comparative review of the drivers of human-carnivore conflict and human-primate conflict.

Authors:
Amy J Dickman

Folia Primatol (Basel) 2012 28;83(3-6):377-87. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney, UK. amy.dickman @ zoo.ox.ac.uk

Human-wildlife conflict is a growing conservation threat, and is increasingly of importance to primate conservationists. Despite this, relatively little work has been done to date on the drivers of human-primate conflict, especially compared to other conflict-causing taxa such as large carnivores. However, the drivers of conflict are often very similar across species, so conflict researchers can learn important lessons from work conducted on other taxa. This paper discusses 8 key factors which are likely to affect how hostile people are towards wildlife and any damage they cause--6 of these are common to both carnivores and primates, while one is much more applicable to carnivores and the other is specific to primates. These conflict drivers involve numerous social and cultural factors, and highlight the importance of truly understanding the local drivers of conflict in order to develop effective mitigation strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000339812DOI Listing
July 2013

A review of financial instruments to pay for predator conservation and encourage human-carnivore coexistence.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2011 Aug 22;108(34):13937-44. Epub 2011 Aug 22.

The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX13 5QL, United Kingdom.

One of the greatest challenges in biodiversity conservation today is how to facilitate protection of species that are highly valued at a global scale but have little or even negative value at a local scale. Imperiled species such as large predators can impose significant economic costs at a local level, often in poverty-stricken rural areas where households are least able to tolerate such costs, and impede efforts of local people, especially traditional pastoralists, to escape from poverty. Furthermore, the costs and benefits involved in predator conservation often include diverse dimensions, which are hard to quantify and nearly impossible to reconcile with one another. The best chance of effective conservation relies upon translating the global value of carnivores into tangible local benefits large enough to drive conservation "on the ground." Although human-carnivore coexistence involves significant noneconomic values, providing financial incentives to those affected negatively by carnivore presence is a common strategy for encouraging such coexistence, and this can also have important benefits in terms of reducing poverty. Here, we provide a critical overview of such financial instruments, which we term "payments to encourage coexistence"; assess the pitfalls and potentials of these methods, particularly compensation and insurance, revenue-sharing, and conservation payments; and discuss how existing strategies of payment to encourage coexistence could be combined to facilitate carnivore conservation and alleviate local poverty.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1012972108DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3161573PMC
August 2011

Cryopreservation of spermatozoa from wild-born Namibian cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and influence of glycerol on cryosurvival.

Cryobiology 2006 Apr 10;52(2):169-81. Epub 2006 Jan 10.

Department of Reproductive Sciences, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park and Conservation & Research Center, Front Royal, VA, USA.

Sperm cryopreservation is a valuable tool for the genetic management of ex situ populations. This study was conducted to assess: (1) semen characteristics of wild-born cheetahs; and (2) the impact of three types of glycerol influence (duration of exposure, temperature, and method of addition) on sperm cryosensitivity. To evaluate the impact of duration of glycerol exposure, spermatozoa were incubated in Test Yolk Buffer (TYB) with 4% glycerol at ambient temperature (approximately 22 degrees C) for 15 vs. 60 min before cryopreservation. To evaluate the influence of temperature and method of glycerol addition, spermatozoa were resuspended at ambient temperature either in TYB with 0% glycerol followed by addition of 8% glycerol (1:1 v/v; at ambient temperature vs. 5 degrees C) or directly in TYB with 4% glycerol. All samples were cryopreserved in straws over liquid nitrogen vapor and evaluated for sperm motility and acrosomal integrity after thawing. Semen samples (n = 23; n = 13 males) contained a high proportion (78%) of pleiomorphic spermatozoa. Ejaculates also contained a high proportion of acrosome-intact (86%) and motile spermatozoa (78%). Immediately after thawing, a significant proportion of spermatozoa retained intact acrosomes (range, 48-67%) and motility (range, 40-49%). After thawing, incubation in glycerol for 60 min at ambient temperature before freezing decreased (p < 0.05) sperm motility and acrosomal integrity at one time-point each (pre-centrifugation and post-centrifugation, respectively). However, method or temperature of glycerol addition had no (p > 0.05) impact on sperm cryosurvival. In summary, (1) wild-born cheetahs produce high proportions of pleiomorphic spermatozoa but with a high proportion of intact acrosomes; and (2) resuspension in 4% glycerol, followed by exposure for up to 60 min at ambient temperature, had minimal effect on sperm motility and acrosomal integrity after cryopreservation. Results indicate the feasibility of cryopreserving cheetah spermatozoa under field conditions, providing a user-friendly method to capture and store gametes to enhance genetic management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cryobiol.2005.10.011DOI Listing
April 2006