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Miller J.R.B.,Panthera | Balme G.,Panthera | Lindsey P.A.,Panthera | Lindsey P.A.,University of Pretoria | And 19 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2016

Trophy hunting plays a significant role in wildlife conservation in some contexts in various parts of the world. Yet excessive hunting is contributing to species declines, especially for large carnivores. Simulation models suggest that sustainable hunting of African lions may be achieved by restricting offtakes to males old enough to have reared a cohort of offspring. We tested and expanded criteria for an age-based approach for sustainably regulating lion hunting. Using photos of 228 known-age males from ten sites across Africa, we measured change in ten phenotypic traits with age and found four age classes with distinct characteristics: 1–2.9 years, 3–4.9 years, 5–6.9 years, and ≥ 7 years. We tested the aging accuracy of professional hunters and inexperienced observers before and after training on aging. Before training, hunters accurately aged more lion photos (63%) than inexperienced observers (48%); after training, both groups improved (67–69%). Hunters overestimated 22% of lions < 5 years as 5–6.9 years (unsustainable) but only 4% of lions < 5 years as ≥ 7 years (sustainable). Due to the lower aging error for males ≥ 7 years, we recommend 7 years as a practical minimum age for hunting male lions. Results indicate that age-based hunting is feasible for sustainably managing threatened and economically significant species such as the lion, but must be guided by rigorous training, strict monitoring of compliance and error, and conservative quotas. Our study furthermore demonstrates methods for identifying traits to age individuals, information that is critical for estimating demographic parameters underlying management and conservation of age-structured species. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Packer C.,University of Minnesota | Loveridge A.,University of Oxford | Canney S.,University of Oxford | Caro T.,University of California at Davis | And 58 more authors.
Ecology Letters | Year: 2013

Conservationists often advocate for landscape approaches to wildlife management while others argue for physical separation between protected species and human communities, but direct empirical comparisons of these alternatives are scarce. We relate African lion population densities and population trends to contrasting management practices across 42 sites in 11 countries. Lion populations in fenced reserves are significantly closer to their estimated carrying capacities than unfenced populations. Whereas fenced reserves can maintain lions at 80% of their potential densities on annual management budgets of $500 km-2, unfenced populations require budgets in excess of $2000 km-2 to attain half their potential densities. Lions in fenced reserves are primarily limited by density dependence, but lions in unfenced reserves are highly sensitive to human population densities in surrounding communities, and unfenced populations are frequently subjected to density-independent factors. Nearly half the unfenced lion populations may decline to near extinction over the next 20-40 years. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.


Guerier A.S.,Ongava Research Center | Guerier A.S.,University of Pretoria | Bishop J.M.,University of Cape Town | Crawford S.J.,Ongava Game Reserve | And 2 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2012

Small populations are vulnerable to the consequences of breeding within closed groups as the loss of genetic variability can lead to inbreeding depression. Here, we use microsatellite genotypes to assess variability and parentage within a small, managed population of southern white rhinoceros in northern Namibia. Tissue samples gathered from either a modified biopsy darting technique or ear notches allowed us to obtain genotypic data for all individuals in the population. As expected for this species, genetic variability in the population was relatively low (overall H obs 0. 45). In combination with detailed management records for the period 1993-2009, we were able to assign both parents for all 23 offspring. Only one calf of seven in the F 2 generation arose from father-daughter inbreeding within the population. Our analysis revealed that paternity was initially dominated by a single founder bull siring 10 of 13 calves over 9 years; paradoxically, the other founder bull was selected for removal based on observations suggesting he was behaviourally dominant and therefore the likely sire of most calves. We also found that young introduced bulls were breeding successfully within 6 months of their arrival, well before having established their home ranges. We argue that in order to optimally manage and conserve the southern African white rhinoceros meta-population it is essential to have accurate pedigree information and genetic data for all individuals in the numerous small populations that are key to the survival of the species. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Weise F.J.,N Aan Ku Se Research Programme | Weise F.J.,Manchester Metropolitan University | Lemeris J.,Duke University | Lemeris J.,National Geographic Society | And 7 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2015

When protected carnivores harm people’s livelihoods, conservationists often seek non-lethal mitigation strategies. Large carnivore translocation is one such strategy but it has shown limited success. Many reported examples used methods that likely contributed to their failure. We conducted six leopard (Panthera pardus) translocations (three males, three females) within Namibia to test specific criteria for improved protocols. We moved leopards 402.7 km (SD = 279.6 km, range 47–754 km). Overall translocation success, using strict criteria, was 67 % and increased to 83 % when post-release conflict was not considered in this assessment. Four individuals successfully established new territories after exploratory periods of <2 months. One female died in a road accident shortly after release and a male resumed killing livestock that were illegally herded within a protected area. Both surviving females produced cubs—the ultimate sign of success. When compared with resident leopards (six males, six females), translocated individuals showed no significant difference in range behaviour, survivorship or likelihood of conflict. At their capture sites, livestock depredation ceased for a minimum of 16 months, thus at least temporarily alleviating conflict. We used our successful protocol to develop a translocation suitability model for determining appropriate release sites. For Namibia, this model predicts potential recipient habitat of 117,613 km2, an area sufficient to support up to 87 leopard translocations. Where alternative conservation strategies have failed and managers decide to proceed with translocations, we recommend the application of our conservative protocol to identify the most suitable recipient locations. Our study demonstrates the potential value of translocation under specific circumstances and as part of a larger conflict management repertoire. Our findings are useful for management of other large carnivores and conflict wildlife. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Weise F.J.,N aAn ku se Research Programme | Stratford K.J.,Ongava Research Center | Van Vuuren R.J.,N aAn ku se Research Programme
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Human-carnivore conflict continues to present a major conservation challenge around the world. Translocation of large carnivores is widely implemented but remains strongly debated, in part because of a lack of cost transparency. We report detailed translocation costs for three large carnivore species in Namibia and across different translocation scenarios. We consider the effect of various parameters and factors on costs and translocation success. Total translocation cost for 30 individuals in 22 events was $80,681 (US Dollars). Median translocation cost per individual was $2,393, and $2,669 per event. Median cost per cheetah was $2,760 (n = 23), and $2,108 per leopard (n = 6). One hyaena was translocated at a cost of $1,672. Tracking technology was the single biggest cost element (56%), followed by captive holding and feeding. Soft releases, prolonged captivity and orphaned individuals also increased case-specific costs. A substantial proportion (65.4%) of the total translocation cost was successfully recovered from public interest groups. Less than half the translocations were confirmed successes (44.4%, 3 unknown) with a strong species bias. Four leopards (66.7%) were successfully translocated but only eight of the 20 cheetahs (40.0%) with known outcome met these strict criteria. None of the five habituated cheetahs was translocated successfully, nor was the hyaena. We introduce the concept of Individual Conservation Cost (ICC) and define it as the cost of one successfully translocated individual adjusted by costs of unsuccessful events of the same species. The median ICC for cheetah was $6,898 and $3,140 for leopard. Translocations are costly, but we demonstrate that they are not inherently more expensive than other strategies currently employed in non-lethal carnivore conflict management. We conclude that translocation should be one available option for conserving large carnivores, but needs to be critically evaluated on a case-by-case basis. © 2014 Weise et al.


PubMed | N aan ku se Research Programme and Ongava Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2014

Human-carnivore conflict continues to present a major conservation challenge around the world. Translocation of large carnivores is widely implemented but remains strongly debated, in part because of a lack of cost transparency. We report detailed translocation costs for three large carnivore species in Namibia and across different translocation scenarios. We consider the effect of various parameters and factors on costs and translocation success. Total translocation cost for 30 individuals in 22 events was $80,681 (US Dollars). Median translocation cost per individual was $2,393, and $2,669 per event. Median cost per cheetah was $2,760 (n=23), and $2,108 per leopard (n=6). One hyaena was translocated at a cost of $1,672. Tracking technology was the single biggest cost element (56%), followed by captive holding and feeding. Soft releases, prolonged captivity and orphaned individuals also increased case-specific costs. A substantial proportion (65.4%) of the total translocation cost was successfully recovered from public interest groups. Less than half the translocations were confirmed successes (44.4%, 3 unknown) with a strong species bias. Four leopards (66.7%) were successfully translocated but only eight of the 20 cheetahs (40.0%) with known outcome met these strict criteria. None of the five habituated cheetahs was translocated successfully, nor was the hyaena. We introduce the concept of Individual Conservation Cost (ICC) and define it as the cost of one successfully translocated individual adjusted by costs of unsuccessful events of the same species. The median ICC for cheetah was $6,898 and $3,140 for leopard. Translocations are costly, but we demonstrate that they are not inherently more expensive than other strategies currently employed in non-lethal carnivore conflict management. We conclude that translocation should be one available option for conserving large carnivores, but needs to be critically evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


Stratford K.J.,Ongava Research Center | Stratford S.M.C.,Ongava Research Center
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2011

We deployed Global Positioning System (GPS) collars on spotted hyaena, Crocuta crocuta, on Ongava Game Reserve in northern Namibia. We analysed the movement profiles recorded from three periods of fine temporal scale (15min interval) GPS data - dry season data from a sub-adult female (36days) and a lactating adult female (54days), and wet season data from the same adult female (55days). The hyaenas both had similar daily activity patterns - at rest between 12.00 and 18.00hours, with a peak of activity in the 2-h period around sunrise. They exhibited one or two active periods each night, travelling up to 30km and being active for up to 10h. Daily rest sites were widely distributed across the reserve, typically located on elevated ground and never revisited on consecutive days. In the dry season, both hyaenas made extensive use of the reserve, plus adjacent areas in Etosha National Park (sub-adult home range 240km2, adult home range 366km2). The wet season data for the adult female showed a significant reduction of space used (home range 232km2). However, their utility distributions showed a nonuniform use of space, with multiple areas of high-density utilization located away from open terrain. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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