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Leipzig, Germany

Tweh C.G.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Lormie M.M.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Kouakou C.Y.,Wild Chimpanzee Foundation | Kouakou C.Y.,Nangui Abrogoua University | And 4 more authors.
ORYX | Year: 2014

Liberia has the largest blocks of continuous forest in West Africa, providing habitat for numerous wildlife species. However, there is a lack of empirical data about the status of Liberia's wildlife populations. During 2010-2012 we conducted the first nationwide survey in Liberia along c. 320 km of systematically located transect lines to estimate the abundance of chimpanzees Pan troglodytes verus, the diversity of large mammals and the nature and degree of anthropogenic threats. With > 7,000 chimpanzees, Liberia is home to the second largest population of West African chimpanzees and is therefore a priority for conservation of the species. Compared to the fragmented populations in other range countries the Liberian population is potentially one of the most viable. Our study revealed that the majority of chimpanzees and some of the most species-diverse mammal communities in Liberia exist outside protected areas. High hunting rates and plans for large-scale exploitation of natural resources necessitate rapid implementation of effective strategies to ensure the protection of one of West Africa's last strongholds for chimpanzees and other rare and threatened mammal species. We provide a country-wide baseline dataset that may serve as a platform for Liberian wildlife authorities, policy-makers and international conservation agencies to make informed decisions about the location and delineation of proposed protected areas, to identify conservation gaps and to devise a conservation action plan to conserve Liberia's wildlife resources. Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2014. Source

Junker J.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Boesch C.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Mundry R.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Stephens C.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | And 4 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

We are in the midst of an unprecedented environmental crisis. Landscapes have become complex social-ecological systems in which anthropogenic activities and biophysical factors interact across multiple scales. The integration of socio-economic development processes into conservation strategies as a means of sustainable resource management requires a deep understanding of the interactions between human activities and natural processes. Attempts to combine socio-economic and biological datasets for analyses, however, have frequently been hampered by spatial, temporal and methodological incompatibilities. In this study, we investigate the effects of human well-being on their environment in Liberia, West Africa. More specifically, we tested whether regions with improved community and household wealth, better education and access to market towns and fish protein, had higher levels of large mammal species richness and densities of the flagship species of West African forests, the chimpanzee (. Pan troglodytes verus). Controlling for human pressure, forest cover and cultural diversity, we found that high literacy rates and affordable fish protein correlated with high chimpanzee density. On the other hand, areas with better economic and infrastructure development coincided with reduced large mammal species richness compared to less developed areas. This indicates that wildlife depletion rates can only be understood by including economic and social constraints. These results are important for informing effective future conservation management strategies in Liberia and elsewhere in tropical Africa. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. 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

Tranquilli S.,University College London | Tranquilli S.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Amsini F.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Arranz L.,Garamba National Park | And 39 more authors.
Conservation Letters | Year: 2012

A network of resource management areas (RMAs) exists across tropical Africa to protect natural resources. However, many are poorly managed and weakly protected. We evaluated how the lack of conservation effort influences the extinction risk of African great apes. We compiled information on presence/ absence of primary (law enforcement guards) and secondary (tourism, research) conservation activities and nongovernmental conservation organizations (NGOs) support for 109 RMAs over the last 20 years. Along with these data, we collected environmental and anthropogenic variables, including recent records of ape presence/absence for all RMAs. As expected, law enforcement as a primary activity was the best predictor of ape survival rather than tourism or research as secondary activities. Furthermore, long-term NGO support had a significant positive influence on ape persistence. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of evaluating the relative importance of different conservation activities, an important step towards more evidence-based approaches in ape conservation. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

Junker J.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Blake S.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell) | Boesch C.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Campbell G.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | And 48 more authors.
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2012

Aim: To predict the distribution of suitable environmental conditions (SEC) for eight African great ape taxa for a first time period, the 1990s and then project it to a second time period, the 2000s; to assess the relative importance of factors influencing SEC distribution and to estimate rates of SEC loss, isolation and fragmentation over the last two decades. Location: Twenty-two African great ape range countries. Methods: We extracted 15,051 presence localities collected between 1995 and 2010 from 68 different areas surveyed across the African ape range. We combined a maximum entropy algorithm and logistic regression to relate ape presence information to environmental and human impact variables from the 1990s with a resolution of 5 × 5 km across the entire ape range. We then made SEC projections for the 2000s using updated human impact variables. Results: Total SEC area was approximately 2,015,480 and 1,807,653 km 2 in the 1990s and 2000s, respectively. Loss of predicted SEC appeared highest for Cross River gorillas (-59%), followed by eastern gorillas (-52%), western gorillas (-32%), bonobos (-29%), central chimpanzees (-17%) and western chimpanzees (-11%). SEC for Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees and eastern chimpanzees was not greatly reduced. Except for Cross River and eastern gorillas, the number of SEC patches did not change significantly, suggesting that SEC loss was caused mainly by patch size reduction. Main conclusions: The first continent-wide perspective of African ape SEC distribution shows dramatic declines in recent years. The model has clear limitations for use at small geographic scales, given the quality of available data and the coarse resolution of predictions. However, at the large scale it has potential for informing international policymaking, mitigation of resource extraction and infrastructure development, as well as for spatial prioritization of conservation effort and evaluating conservation effectiveness. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

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