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Lindsey P.A.,Lion Program | Lindsey P.A.,University of Pretoria | Balme G.,Lion Program | Balme G.,University of Cape Town | And 29 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

The bushmeat trade, or the illegal acquisition and exchange of wild meat, has long been recognised as a severe problem in forest biomes, but receives little attention in savannas, perhaps due to a misconception that bushmeat hunting is a low-impact subsistence activity. Though data on impacts are scarce, indications are that bushmeat hunting is a widespread problem in savannas, with severe impacts on wildlife populations and wildlife-based land uses. The impacts of the bushmeat trade in savannas vary from edge-effects around protected areas, to disproportionate declines of some species, to severe wildlife declines in areas with inadequate anti-poaching. In some areas, bushmeat contributes significantly to food security, but these benefits are unsustainable, and hunting is wasteful, utilising a fraction of the wildlife killed or of its financial value obtainable through tourism, trophy hunting and/or legal game meat production. The bushmeat trade appears to be becoming increasingly commercialised due to elevated demand in rural areas, urban centres and even overseas cities. Other drivers for the trade include human encroachment of wildlife areas; poverty and food insecurity; and inadequate legal frameworks to enable communities to benefit legally from wildlife, and to create incentives for people to desist from illegal bushmeat hunting. These drivers are exacerbated by inadequate wildlife laws and enforcement and in some areas, political instability. Urgent efforts are needed to address these drivers and raise awareness among local and international governments of the seriousness of the threat. Failure to address this will result in severe wildlife declines widely in African savannas, with significant ecological, economic and social impacts. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Lindsey P.A.,Lion Program | Lindsey P.A.,University of Pretoria | Barnes J.,Design and Development Services | Nyirenda V.,Zambia Wildlife Authority | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The number and area of wildlife ranches in Zambia increased from 30 and 1,420 km2 in 1997 to 177 and ∼6,000 km2 by 2012. Wild ungulate populations on wildlife ranches increased from 21,000 individuals in 1997 to ∼91,000 in 2012, while those in state protected areas declined steeply. Wildlife ranching and crocodile farming have a turnover of ∼USD15.7 million per annum, compared to USD16 million from the public game management areas which encompass an area 29 times larger. The wildlife ranching industry employs 1,200 people (excluding jobs created in support industries), with a further ∼1,000 individuals employed through crocodile farming. Wildlife ranches generate significant quantities of meat (295,000 kg/annum), of which 30,000 kg of meat accrues to local communities and 36,000 kg to staff. Projected economic returns from wildlife ranching ventures are high, with an estimated 20-year economic rate of return of 28%, indicating a strong case for government support for the sector. There is enormous scope for wildlife ranching in Zambia due to the availability of land, high diversity of wildlife and low potential for commercial livestock production. However, the Zambian wildlife ranching industry is small and following completion of field work for this study, there was evidence of a significant proportion of ranchers dropping out. The industry is performing poorly, due to inter alia: rampant commercial bushmeat poaching; failure of government to allocate outright ownership of wildlife to landowners; bureaucratic hurdles; perceived historical lack of support from the Zambia Wildlife Authority and government; a lack of a clear policy on wildlife ranching; and a ban on hunting on unfenced lands including game ranches. For the wildlife ranching industry to develop, these limitations need to be addressed decisively. These findings are likely to apply to other savanna countries with large areas of marginal land potentially suited to wildlife ranching.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New York, NY-Africa's protected parks and reserves are capable of supporting three to four times as many wild lions if well funded and managed, according to a new report led by Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization. Published in Biological Conservation, the study shows that populations of the African lion and its prey species are drastically below their natural potential inside most of Africa's protected areas (PA). In recent years, lion numbers have declined steeply. Some estimates suggest as few as 20,000 wild lions remain in all of Africa, compared to 30,000 that existed just two decades ago. Yet, the study indicates that with sufficient global support for African conservation efforts, the continent's protected areas could support as many as 83,000 free-ranging lions. Panthera Research Associate and Wildlife Conservation Network Conservation Initiatives Director, Dr. Peter Lindsey, shared, "Africa's incredible protected areas hold the key to securing the future of lions and several other wildlife species, and can yield significant benefits for people. African governments have set aside enough space to conserve lions effectively - we just need to find ways to enable those areas to be funded sufficiently and managed effectively. While a diverse set of approaches are needed to achieve lion conservation, it is clear that investing in improved management of PAs has particular potential to boost the conservation prospects for lions." Lindsey continued, "Encouragingly, there are more than just biological reasons for investing in PAs. Well-funded protected areas, and especially those with lions, can play a critical role in developing tourism industries whose revenues can help to grow and diversify economies and create jobs. In addition, protected areas also play essential roles in providing ecosystem services, such as watershed protection. By investing sufficiently in Africa's protected area network, the global community has the opportunity to halt and reverse the decline in lion numbers." The study found that less than one third of the 175 parks and reserves examined are currently conserving lions at more than 50% of their 'carrying capacity' - an ecological term for the natural population levels animals reach if human threats are minimal. Parks were in slightly better shape for lion prey, with around 45% of surveyed protected areas conserving herbivores at over 50% of their carrying capacity. The illegal bushmeat trade stands out as the most severe and prevalent threat facing lions and many other wildlife species in Africa's protected areas. Following closely behind are a multitude of threats, including human-lion conflict, encroachment of PAs by humans and livestock and in some cases, the emerging threat of direct poaching of lions for the illegal wildlife trade. Panthera and partner scientists found that adequate management budgets and management capacity are essential pre-requisites for successfully conserving lions in PAs, as they permit effective law enforcement and other critical conservation initiatives. Those protected areas dedicating the use of their land primarily for photo-tourism operations are also associated with the greatest success in conserving lions and their prey. Today, sub-Saharan Africa's tourism industry, supported by dozens of parks and reserves, is valued at $25 billion dollars, compared to the $20 billion a year illegal wildlife trade that is increasingly targeting Africa's big cats and wildlife for their precious parts. Panthera also recognizes the importance of making sure that local people have a stake in and stand to benefit from PAs and big cat conservation. Simply put, managing PAs and protecting wildlife will be cheaper and easier if local people are supportive, and have a stake in the process. Panthera Senior Lion Program Director, Dr. Paul Funston, shared, "There is just no replacement for large protected areas that invest adequately in management and protection of their lions. Very few areas in Africa meet these needs, and those that do are pure gold for lions. They are places where tourists can see lions really being lions in all the amazing facets of their behavior, and where lions properly fulfill their ecological role." Funston continued, "Protected areas are at the heart of the formula to save Africa's lions, and to ensure the species lives on, lions and their wild landscapes require nothing short of a wealthy and immediate investment from the global community - everyone from donors in New York City and African nations to international governments, corporations, foundations and NGOs who want to be a part of the solution in saving one of our planet's most remarkable wild animals." While in many ways bleak, the lion's future glimmers with hope. Panthera's President and publication co-author, Dr. Luke Hunter, noted, "Many African nations have allocated truly massive swaths of land as protected parks and reserves. However, for Africa's vast PA network to fulfill its potential for conserving lions and other species, there is an urgent need to greatly escalate funding and capacity to effectively manage those parks. That will require a renewed commitment, both from African governments and the international community." Panthera's Project Leonardo leads or supports initiatives in 15 African nations to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years. Learn more. Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world's ecosystems. Panthera's team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 50 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats--securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New York, NY - In a highly controversial move, South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) recently announced plans to formalize the country's legal trade in captive-bred lion skeletons, proposing to institute a quota of 800 skeletons per year eligible for export permits. The number of captive-bred lion carcasses legally exported from South Africa--primarily feeding a growing market among upwardly mobile Asians for luxury products such as lion bone wine--has grown exponentially since 2007, as lion bones have begun to fill demand for increasingly scarce tiger bones. Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, condemned the quota as arbitrary and potentially devastating for wild lion and critically endangered tiger populations. Panthera is calling on the DEA to institute a moratorium on lion bone exports, effective immediately. "The government's proposed quota of 800 lion skeletons for legal export has absolutely no grounding in science," said Dr. Paul Funston, Senior Director of Panthera's Lion Program. "It is irresponsible to establish policy that could further imperil wild lions--already in precipitous decline throughout much of Africa--when the facts are clear; South Africa's lion breeding industry makes absolutely no positive contribution to conserving lions and, indeed, further imperils them." Dr. Funston continued, "It is confounding that a country whose iconic wild lions are such a source of national pride--not to mention tourist revenue--would take such risks to sustain a marginal captive breeding industry that is condemned globally for its shameful practices. The legal farming of lions for tourists to bottle-feed, pet, and ultimately hunt in tiny enclosures is a stain on South Africa's reputation as stewards of Africa's wildlife." Proponents of the captive lion trade argue the industry reduces demand for wild lion parts, thereby benefitting wild lion conservation. However, there is significant evidence that South Africa's legal trade in captive-bred lion trophies is accelerating the slaughter of wild lions for their parts in neighboring countries and is in fact increasing demand for wild lion parts in Asia--a market that did not exist before South Africa started exporting lion bones in 2007. Recent anecdotal data and press reports from neighboring countries show an increase in lion killings for their bones and parts: Panthera President and Chief Conservation Officer, Dr. Luke Hunter, added, "There is not one shred of scientific evidence showing that canned hunting and legal lion bone exports take the poaching pressure off wild lion populations. In fact, it is increasingly clear that these practices stimulate demand for wild lion, leopard and tiger parts throughout the world. The CITES mandate to limit captive-bred lion skeleton exports from South Africa was a step in the right direction; with global pressure mounting on the government to ban canned hunting, we may soon see the end of this reprehensible industry." Wild lion populations are on a steep decline, with only 20,000 remaining today, down from 30,000 just two decades ago. The species faces a deadly matrix of threats in the wild, ranging from conflict with people and bushmeat poaching to habitat loss, unsustainable trophy hunting and the emerging threat of poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. Panthera's Project Leonardo leads or supports initiatives in 15 African nations to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years. Learn more. Read Beyond Cecil: Africa's Lions in Crisis for more information about the plight of the African lion, and take the pledge to #LetLionsLive at letlionslive.org Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world's ecosystems. Panthera's team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 50 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats--securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org


Published in Biological Conservation, the study shows that populations of the African lion and its prey species are drastically below their natural potential inside most of Africa's protected areas (PA). In recent years, lion numbers have declined steeply. Some estimates suggest as few as 20,000 wild lions remain in all of Africa, compared to 30,000 that existed just two decades ago. Yet, the study indicates that with sufficient global support for African conservation efforts, the continent's protected areas could support as many as 83,000 free-ranging lions. Panthera Research Associate and Wildlife Conservation Network Conservation Initiatives Director, Dr. Peter Lindsey, shared, "Africa's incredible protected areas hold the key to securing the future of lions and several other wildlife species, and can yield significant benefits for people. African governments have set aside enough space to conserve lions effectively - we just need to find ways to enable those areas to be funded sufficiently and managed effectively. While a diverse set of approaches are needed to achieve lion conservation, it is clear that investing in improved management of PAs has particular potential to boost the conservation prospects for lions." Lindsey continued, "Encouragingly, there are more than just biological reasons for investing in PAs. Well-funded protected areas, and especially those with lions, can play a critical role in developing tourism industries whose revenues can help to grow and diversify economies and create jobs. In addition, protected areas also play essential roles in providing ecosystem services, such as watershed protection. By investing sufficiently in Africa's protected area network, the global community has the opportunity to halt and reverse the decline in lion numbers." The study found that less than one third of the 175 parks and reserves examined are currently conserving lions at more than 50% of their 'carrying capacity' - an ecological term for the natural population levels animals reach if human threats are minimal. Parks were in slightly better shape for lion prey, with around 45% of surveyed protected areas conserving herbivores at over 50% of their carrying capacity. The illegal bushmeat trade stands out as the most severe and prevalent threat facing lions and many other wildlife species in Africa's protected areas. Following closely behind are a multitude of threats, including human-lion conflict, encroachment of PAs by humans and livestock and in some cases, the emerging threat of direct poaching of lions for the illegal wildlife trade. Panthera and partner scientists found that adequate management budgets and management capacity are essential pre-requisites for successfully conserving lions in PAs, as they permit effective law enforcement and other critical conservation initiatives. Those protected areas dedicating the use of their land primarily for photo-tourism operations are also associated with the greatest success in conserving lions and their prey. Today, sub-Saharan Africa's tourism industry, supported by dozens of parks and reserves, is valued at $25 billion dollars, compared to the $20 billion a year illegal wildlife trade that is increasingly targeting Africa's big cats and wildlife for their precious parts. Panthera also recognizes the importance of making sure that local people have a stake in and stand to benefit from PAs and big cat conservation. Simply put, managing PAs and protecting wildlife will be cheaper and easier if local people are supportive, and have a stake in the process. Panthera Senior Lion Program Director, Dr. Paul Funston, shared, "There is just no replacement for large protected areas that invest adequately in management and protection of their lions. Very few areas in Africa meet these needs, and those that do are pure gold for lions. They are places where tourists can see lions really being lions in all the amazing facets of their behavior, and where lions properly fulfill their ecological role." Funston continued, "Protected areas are at the heart of the formula to save Africa's lions, and to ensure the species lives on, lions and their wild landscapes require nothing short of a wealthy and immediate investment from the global community - everyone from donors in New York City and African nations to international governments, corporations, foundations and NGOs who want to be a part of the solution in saving one of our planet's most remarkable wild animals." While in many ways bleak, the lion's future glimmers with hope. Panthera's President and publication co-author, Dr. Luke Hunter, noted, "Many African nations have allocated truly massive swaths of land as protected parks and reserves. However, for Africa's vast PA network to fulfill its potential for conserving lions and other species, there is an urgent need to greatly escalate funding and capacity to effectively manage those parks. That will require a renewed commitment, both from African governments and the international community." Explore further: New report confirms almost half of Africa's lions facing extinction More information: P.A. Lindsey et al, The performance of African protected areas for lions and their prey, Biological Conservation (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.01.011


Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the study estimates that lion numbers in West and Central Africa are declining sharply and are projected to decline a further 50% in the next two decades without a major conservation effort. Lion numbers are also declining, albeit less dramatically, in East Africa, long considered the main stronghold of the species. The study also shows that almost all lion populations that historically numbered at least 500 individuals are in decline. A team of scientists from global wild cat conservation organisation Panthera, Oxford University's WildCRU, Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, IUCN Species Survival Commission Cat Specialist Group, and the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota estimated the trajectory of lion populations by compiling and analysing regional population trend data for 47 different lion populations across Africa. The analysis showed that whereas most lion populations in West, Central, and East Africa are declining, increases in lion populations occurred in four southern countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Lead author Dr Hans Bauer of WildCRU said: 'These findings clearly indicate that the decline of lions can be halted, and indeed reversed as in southern Africa. Unfortunately, lion conservation is not happening at larger scales, leading to a vulnerable status of lions globally. In fact, the declines in many countries are quite severe and have enormous implications. 'If resources for wild lands cannot keep pace with mounting levels of threat, the flagship species of the African continent may cease to exist in many countries.' Globally, lions are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, though the species is considered to be Critically Endangered in West Africa. The results of this study reaffirm the lion's conservation status in West Africa and further suggest that regional assessments yield a more accurate picture of lion populations than do global assessments. Based on the data, the authors recommend that the lion be regionally uplisted to Endangered in Central and East Africa, while populations in southern Africa meet the criteria for Least Concern. Dr Luke Hunter, President and Chief Conservation Officer of Panthera and a co-author, said: 'We cannot let progress in southern Africa lead us into complacency. Many lion populations are either gone or expected to disappear within the next few decades. The lion plays a pivotal role as the continent's top carnivore, and the free-fall of Africa's lion populations we are seeing today could inexorably change the landscape of Africa's ecosystems.' The authors note that conservation efforts in southern Africa are successful for a number of reasons, including low human density, significant resources, and perhaps most importantly, the reintroduction of lions in small, fenced and intensively managed and funded reserves. Dr Paul Funston, Senior Director of Panthera's Lion Program, said: 'If we don't address these declines urgently, and at a massive scale, the intensively managed populations in southern Africa will be a poor substitute for the freely roaming lion populations in the iconic savannahs of East Africa. In our view, that's not an option.' The study drew on the most comprehensive dataset so far compiled on the lion, which also informed the most recent Red List assessment of the species. Senior author Professor Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota, who also serves on Panthera's Scientific Council, said: 'Estimating future population trends requires sophisticated forecasting techniques, and we performed one of the most comprehensive statistical analyses of conservation status over such a large scale. The results clearly indicate the need for immediate action across most of Africa.' Explore further: Searching for the last lions in Nigeria More information: Hans Bauer et al. Lion ( ) populations are declining rapidly across Africa, except in intensively managed areas , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1500664112 Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Lindsey P.A.,Lion Program | Lindsey P.A.,University of Pretoria | Balme G.A.,Lion Program | Balme G.A.,University of Cape Town | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The trophy hunting of lions Panthera leo is contentious due to uncertainty concerning conservation impacts and because of highly polarised opinions about the practice. African lions are hunted across at least ∼558,000 km2, which comprises 27-32% of the lion range in countries where trophy hunting of the species is permitted. Consequently, trophy hunting has potential to impart significant positive or negative impacts on lions. Several studies have demonstrated that excessive trophy harvests have driven lion population declines. There have been several attempts by protectionist non-governmental organisations to reduce or preclude trophy hunting via restrictions on the import and export of lion trophies. We document the management of lion hunting in Africa and highlight challenges which need addressing to achieve sustainability. Problems include: unscientific bases for quota setting; excessive quotas and off-takes in some countries; fixed quotas which encourage over-harvest; and lack of restrictions on the age of lions that can be hunted. Key interventions needed to make lion hunting more sustainable, include implementation of: enforced age restrictions; improved trophy monitoring; adaptive management of quotas and a minimum length of lion hunts of at least 21 days. Some range states have made important steps towards implementing such improved management and off-takes have fallen steeply in recent years. For example age restrictions have been introduced in Tanzania and in Niassa in Mozambique, and are being considered for Benin and Zimbabwe, several states have reduced quotas, and Zimbabwe is implementing trophy monitoring. However, further reforms are needed to ensure sustainability and reduce conservation problems associated with the practice while allowing retention of associated financial incentives for conservation. © 2013 Lindsey et al.


Nelson F.,Maliasili Initiatives | Lindsey P.,University of Pretoria | Balme G.,Lion Program | Balme G.,University of Cape Town
ORYX | Year: 2013

Lion Panthera leo populations and distributions in Africa have contracted considerably in the past 30 years. Recent policy debates focus on restricting trophy hunting as a measure to address concerns about excessive offtakes of lions. We review the impact of trophy hunting in relation to lion conservation goals, using comparative case studies from Southern and East Africa, which together contain most of Africa's remaining lion populations. The comparison demonstrates that the impact of trophy hunting on lion populations is variable and shaped by the way trophy hunting is managed and wildlife is governed in different range states. In Tanzania, the most important lion range state, hunting produces significant revenues but weaknesses in how hunting is managed and revenues are distributed undermine the potential of hunting and encourage overharvesting. In Southern Africa linkages are stronger between revenue generated by trophy hunting and lion conservation outcomes on private and communal lands. Trophy hunting is most beneficial to lion conservation where revenues and user rights over wildlife are devolved, ensuring benefits from lion hunting compensate for their costs to local people, and where hunting is managed through long-term and competitively allocated concession systems. Policy interventions should focus on supporting trophy hunting as a conservation tool where it is effective and well-managed, and work to promote reform of hunting and wildlife governance elsewhere. © 2013 Fauna & Flora International.


Hayward M.W.,Bangor University | Hayward M.W.,University of Pretoria | Hayward M.W.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | Boitani L.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2015

Research that yields conflicting results rightly causes controversy. Where methodological weaknesses are apparent, there is ready opportunity for discord within the scientific community, which may undermine the entire study. We use the debate about the role of dingoes Canis dingo in conservation in Australia as a case study for a phenomenon that is relevant to all applied ecologists, where conflicting results have been published in high-quality journals and yet the problems with the methods used in these studies have led to significant controversy. To alleviate such controversies, scientists need to use robust methods to ensure that their results are repeatable and defendable. To date, this has not occurred in Australia's dingo debate due to the use of unvalidated indices that rely on unsupported assumptions. We highlight the problems that poor methods have caused in this debate. We also reiterate our recommendations for practitioners, statisticians and researchers to work together to develop long-term, multi-site experimental research programmes using robust methods to understand the impacts of dingoes on mesopredators. Synthesis and applications. Incorporating robust methods and appropriate experimental designs is needed to ensure that conservation actions are appropriately focused and are supported with robust results. Such actions will go a long way towards resolving the debate about the role of dingoes in conservation in Australia, and other, ecological debates. © 2015 The Authors.

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