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Cambridge, United Kingdom

Underwood F.M.,University of Reading | Burn R.W.,Independent Consultant | Milliken T.,TRAFFIC International
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Reliable evidence of trends in the illegal ivory trade is important for informing decision making for elephants but it is difficult to obtain due to the covert nature of the trade. The Elephant Trade Information System, a global database of reported seizures of illegal ivory, holds the only extensive information on illicit trade available. However inherent biases in seizure data make it difficult to infer trends; countries differ in their ability to make and report seizures and these differences cannot be directly measured. We developed a new modelling framework to provide quantitative evidence on trends in the illegal ivory trade from seizures data. The framework used Bayesian hierarchical latent variable models to reduce bias in seizures data by identifying proxy variables that describe the variability in seizure and reporting rates between countries and over time. Models produced bias-adjusted smoothed estimates of relative trends in illegal ivory activity for raw and worked ivory in three weight classes. Activity is represented by two indicators describing the number of illegal ivory transactions - Transactions Index - and the total weight of illegal ivory transactions - Weights Index - at global, regional or national levels. Globally, activity was found to be rapidly increasing and at its highest level for 16 years, more than doubling from 2007 to 2011 and tripling from 1998 to 2011. Over 70% of the Transactions Index is from shipments of worked ivory weighing less than 10 kg and the rapid increase since 2007 is mainly due to increased consumption in China. Over 70% of the Weights Index is from shipments of raw ivory weighing at least 100 kg mainly moving from Central and East Africa to Southeast and East Asia. The results tie together recent findings on trends in poaching rates, declining populations and consumption and provide detailed evidence to inform international decision making on elephants. © 2013 Underwood et al.

Taylor G.,University of Oxford | Scharlemann J.P.W.,University of Sussex | Scharlemann J.P.W.,United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Center | Rowcliffe M.,UK Institute of Zoology | And 49 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

Unsustainable hunting threatens both biodiversity and local livelihoods. Despite high levels of research effort focused on understanding the dynamics of bushmeat trade and consumption, current research is largely site specific. Without synthesis and quantitative analysis of available case studies, the national and regional characteristics of bushmeat trade and consumption remain largely speculative, impeding efforts to inform national and regional policy on bushmeat trade. Here we describe the structure and content of the West and Central African bushmeat database which holds quantitative data on bushmeat sales, consumption and offtake for 177 species from 275 sites across 11 countries in two regions, spanning three decades of research. Despite this wealth of available data, we found important biases in research effort. The majority of studies in West and Central Africa have collected market data, which although providing a useful record of bushmeat sales, are limited in their ability to track changes in hunting offtake. In addition, few data exist for West Africa, and few studies have tracked changes over time, using repeat sampling. With new initiatives in the regions to track bushmeat hunting, this database represents an opportunity to synthesise current and future data on bushmeat hunting, consumption and trade in West and Central Africa, identify gaps in current understanding, and systematically target future monitoring efforts. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Smith M.J.,Microsoft | Benitez-Diaz H.,National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity CONABIO | Clemente-Munoz M.T.,University of Cordoba, Spain | Donaldson J.,South African National Biodiversity Institute | And 8 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2011

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) came into effect in 1975 to protect certain species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation through international trade. Determining which trade is detrimental to the survival of species in the wild can be a major difficulty in the implementation of CITES by national authorities, partly due to limited knowledge and understanding of the species' biology, management, and the impacts of harvesting. Some of this knowledge could be acquired through targeted scientific research. However, to date there exists no general overview of the current use of biological information in determining detriment in CITES to help scientists identify research priorities. For an international meeting in 2008, over 100 scientists and regulators compiled 60 case studies covering a wide range of CITES-listed taxa, outlining how information on the biology, harvesting and management might be used to determine whether international trade is detrimental. We used these case studies, workshop conclusions, and other published literature, to identify 10 potential research directions for the scientific community which, if addressed, could greatly assist in the making of Non-Detriment Findings. We hope that this will encourage more scientists to study CITES-listed species, and foster more collaboration between research scientists, CITES national authorities, CITES technical committees and local communities. The case studies highlight a general need for advice on how to identify and manage levels of risk involved when assessing possible detriment, and for advice on assessing detriment under complex harvesting scenarios such as when multiple species, or parts of individuals, are harvested. Broadly, they highlight an opportunity for scientists to further develop a body of scientific studies that propose, refine and adapt methods for assessing detrimental trade in CITES-listed taxa. Comparisons within life-form groups indicated the potential for the identification of practical advice that could apply to groups of taxa. The case studies highlighted a widespread need for more information gathering studies of CITES-listed taxa such as the broader impacts of harvesting on populations and ecosystems, and the potential long-term evolutionary impacts. The case studies also highlighted the need for practical advice on how to implement adaptive management programmes and for research into enterprises based on the harvesting of CITES-listed species from the wild. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

van Schingen M.,Cologne Zoo | van Schingen M.,University of Cologne | Ziegler T.,Cologne Zoo | Ziegler T.,University of Cologne | And 6 more authors.
Global Ecology and Conservation | Year: 2016

The international wildlife trade in allegedly "captive-bred" specimens has globally increased during recent years, while the legal origin of respective animals frequently remains doubtful. Worldwide, authorities experience strong challenges to effectively control the international trade in CITES-listed species and are struggling to uncover fraudulent claims of "captive-breeding". Forensic analytical methods are being considered as potential tools to investigate wildlife crime. The present case study is the first of its kind in reptiles that investigates the application of δ13C and δ15N stable isotope ratios to discriminate between captive and wild crocodile lizards from Vietnam. The CITES-listed crocodile lizard Shinisaurus crocodilurus is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List mainly due to habitat loss and unsustainable exploitation for the international pet trade. Our results revealed significant differences in the composition of the two tested isotope systems between captive and wild individuals. Isotope values of skin samples from captive specimens were significantly enriched in 13C and 15N as compared to specimens from the wild. We also used the weighted k-Nearest Neighbor classifier to assign simulated samples back to their alleged place of origin and demonstrated that captive bred individuals could be distinguished with a high degree of accuracy from specimens that were not born in captivity. We conclude that isotope analysis appears to be highly attractive as a forensic tool to reduce laundering of wild caught lizards via breeding farms, but acknowledge that this potential might be limited to range restricted or ecologically specialist species. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Sutherland W.J.,University of Cambridge | Broad S.,TRAFFIC International | Caine J.,British Geological Survey | Clout M.,University of Auckland | And 20 more authors.
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2016

This paper presents the results of our seventh annual horizon scan, in which we aimed to identify issues that could have substantial effects on global biological diversity in the future, but are not currently widely well known or understood within the conservation community. Fifteen issues were identified by a team that included researchers, practitioners, professional horizon scanners, and journalists. The topics include use of managed bees as transporters of biological control agents, artificial superintelligence, electric pulse trawling, testosterone in the aquatic environment, building artificial oceanic islands, and the incorporation of ecological civilization principles into government policies in China. This is the seventh annual horizon scan. A team of 24 horizon scanners, researchers, practitioners, and journalists identified 15 issues following widespread consultation and a Delphi-like process to select the most suitable.The issues were wide ranging but included artificial superintelligence, changing costs of energy storage and consumptive models, and ecological civilization policies in China. © 2015 The Authors.

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