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New Haven, CT, United States

Hart J.A.,Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation | Detwiler K.M.,Florida Atlantic University | Gilbert C.C.,York College - The City University of New York | Burrell A.S.,New York University | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

In June 2007, a previously undescribed monkey known locally as "lesula" was found in the forests of the middle Lomami Basin in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We describe this new species as Cercopithecus lomamiensis sp. nov., and provide data on its distribution, morphology, genetics, ecology and behavior. C. lomamiensis is restricted to the lowland rain forests of central DRC between the middle Lomami and the upper Tshuapa Rivers. Morphological and molecular data confirm that C. lomamiensis is distinct from its nearest congener, C. hamlyni, from which it is separated geographically by both the Congo (Lualaba) and the Lomami Rivers. C. lomamiensis, like C. hamlyni, is semi-terrestrial with a diet containing terrestrial herbaceous vegetation. The discovery of C. lomamiensis highlights the biogeographic significance and importance for conservation of central Congo's interfluvial TL2 region, defined from the upper Tshuapa River through the Lomami Basin to the Congo (Lualaba) River. The TL2 region has been found to contain a high diversity of anthropoid primates including three forms, in addition to C. lomamiensis, that are endemic to the area. We recommend the common name, lesula, for this new species, as it is the vernacular name used over most of its known range. © 2012 Hart et al. Source

Hicks T.C.,University of Amsterdam | Hicks T.C.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Tranquilli S.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Tranquilli S.,University College London | And 7 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

With great ape populations in decline across much of their range, it is crucial to obtain a global picture of their distribution and abundance, in order to guide conservation activities and to provide baseline data against which to monitor their trends. Although great apes are popular, charismatic species, we still do not possess a complete understanding of their distribution and abundance, which hinders their long-term protection. We highlight this problem by providing information on the distribution and abundance of the Eastern chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a region which has until now received little attention. We conducted a standing crop nest survey in the Bili area in 2005 and exploratory reconnaissance walks (recces) across the Bas-Uele region between 2004 and 2009. At Bili, the nest encounter rate in the remote forest was 4.84nests per km (CI=2.78-8.55) and in the area closer to the road it was 1.92nests per km (CI=1.08-3.43). In 2012, we repeated a part of the original transect survey and found that the nest encounter rate had remained stable over that period. On our recce walks across the region, we encountered chimpanzee nests in all forests surveyed, and within 13km of the largest population centers. Our results suggest that the Central Uele landscape and neighboring regions are home to one of the largest remaining continuous populations of Eastern chimpanzees, that extends across at least 50,000km2, likely representing thousands of individuals, but which is falling under increasing pressure from habitat destruction, mining and the bushmeat trade. This population has until now remained hidden from researchers and is not protected. Our results reflect gaps in our current understanding of ape distribution and abundance, and highlight the importance of obtaining more sound and complete data before assessing species status and making recommendations to guide conservation efforts. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Mondol S.,University of Washington | Mondol S.,Wildlife Institute of India | Moltke I.,University of Chicago | Moltke I.,Copenhagen University | And 5 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2015

The African elephant consists of forest and savanna subspecies. Both subspecies are highly endangered due to severe poaching and habitat loss, and knowledge of their population structure is vital to their conservation. Previous studies have demonstrated marked genetic and morphological differences between forest and savanna elephants, and despite extensive sampling, genetic evidence of hybridization between them has been restricted largely to a few hybrids in the Garamba region of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here, we present new genetic data on hybridization from previously unsampled areas of Africa. Novel statistical methods applied to these data identify 46 hybrid samples - many more than have been previously identified - only two of which are from the Garamba region. The remaining 44 are from three other geographically distinct locations: a major hybrid zone along the border of the DRC and Uganda, a second potential hybrid zone in Central African Republic and a smaller fraction of hybrids in the Pendjari-Arli complex of West Africa. Most of the hybrids show evidence of interbreeding over more than one generation, demonstrating that hybrids are fertile. Mitochondrial and Y chromosome data demonstrate that the hybridization is bidirectional, involving males and females from both subspecies. We hypothesize that the hybrid zones may have been facilitated by poaching and habitat modification. The localized geography and rarity of hybrid zones, their possible facilitation from human pressures, and the high divergence and genetic distinctness of forest and savanna elephants throughout their ranges, are consistent with calls for separate species classification. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Maisels F.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Maisels F.,University of Stirling | Strindberg S.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Blake S.,Wildlife Conservation Society | And 70 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

African forest elephants- taxonomically and functionally unique-are being poached at accelerating rates, but we lack range-wide information on the repercussions. Analysis of the largest survey dataset ever assembled for forest elephants (80 foot-surveys; covering 13,000 km; 91,600 person-days of fieldwork) revealed that population size declined by ca. 62% between 2002-2011, and the taxon lost 30% of its geographical range. The population is now less than 10% of its potential size, occupying less than 25% of its potential range. High human population density, hunting intensity, absence of law enforcement, poor governance, and proximity to expanding infrastructure are the strongest predictors of decline. To save the remaining African forest elephants, illegal poaching for ivory and encroachment into core elephant habitat must be stopped. In addition, the international demand for ivory, which fuels illegal trade, must be dramatically reduced. © 2013 Maisels et al. Source

Tranquilli S.,University College London | Abedi-Lartey M.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell) | Abedi-Lartey M.,University of Konstanz | Abernethy K.,University of Stirling | And 60 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Numerous protected areas (PAs) have been created in Africa to safeguard wildlife and other natural resources. However, significant threats from anthropogenic activities and decline of wildlife populations persist, while conservation efforts in most PAs are still minimal. We assessed the impact level of the most common threats to wildlife within PAs in tropical Africa and the relationship of conservation activities with threat impact level. We collated data on 98 PAs with tropical forest cover from 15 countries across West, Central and East Africa. For this, we assembled information about local threats as well as conservation activities from published and unpublished literature, and questionnaires sent to long-term field workers. We constructed general linear models to test the significance of specific conservation activities in relation to the threat impact level. Subsistence and commercial hunting were identified as the most common direct threats to wildlife and found to be most prevalent in West and Central Africa. Agriculture and logging represented the most common indirect threats, and were most prevalent in West Africa. We found that the long-term presence of conservation activities (such as law enforcement, research and tourism) was associated with lower threat impact levels. Our results highlight deficiencies in the management effectiveness of several PAs across tropical Africa, and conclude that PA management should invest more into conservation activities with long-term duration. Copyright: © 2014 Tranquilli et al. Source

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