Abstracts of Recently Published Papers on Hunting & Conservation

The Conservation Frontlines Team selected a range of new scientific, peer-reviewed papers. Scan over the abstracts to get an overview. All items have links to the original papers where you can explore the complex issues of global conservation in depth.

America’s Wildlife Values: The Social Context of Wildlife Management in the U.S. 2018. Manfredo M, Sullivan L, Carlos D, Dietsch A W, Teel A M, Bright T L & Bruskotter J. National report from the research project entitles “America’s Wildlife Values”. Fort Collins, CO. Colorado State University, Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. 95 pages with many detailed graphs and maps.

Executive Summary: The purpose of the America’s Wildlife Values Project was to assess the social context of management in the U.S. to understand the growing conflict around wildlife management. It is the first study of its kind to describe how U.S. residents within and across all 50 states think about wildlife, and how changing perspectives shape the wildlife profession. Findings from this project build on three sources of data: 2004 data on public values from the 19-state Wildlife Values in the West study (n=12,673); 2108 data on public values from all 50 U.S. states (n=43,949); and 2018 data on fish and wildlife agency culture from 28 states (n=9,770). The authors provide information on “Understanding Change in Wildlife Value Orientations”, “Impacts of Values on Wildlife Management Issues”, “Participation in Wildlife-Related Recreation”, “Public Trust in State Fish and Wildlife Agencies” as well as “Agency Culture and Governance”.


Unleaded hunting: Are copper bullets and lead-based bullets equally effective for killing big game? 2019. Sigbjørn Stokke, Jon Arnemo & Scott Brainerd. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01171-4

Abstract: Semi-jacketed lead-cored or copper-based homogenous rifle bullets are commonly used for hunting big game. Ever since their introduction in the 1990’s, copper-based bullets have not been widely accepted by hunters due to limited supply, higher expense, and the perception that they exhibit inferior killing efficiency and correspondingly higher wounding rates. Here, we present data showing that animal flight distances for roe deer, red deer, brown bear, and moose dispatched with lead- or copper-based hunting bullets did not significantly differ from an animal welfare standardized animal flight distance based on body mass. Lead-cored bullets typical fragment on impact, whereas copper-based bullets retain more mass and expand more than their leaden counterparts. Our data demonstrate that the relative killing efficiency of lead and copper bullets is similar in terms of animal flight distance after fatal shots. Hunters that traditionally use lead bullets should consider switching to copper bullets to enhance human and environmental health.


Regulations on lead ammunition adopted in Europe and evidence of compliance. 2019. Rafael Mateo & Niels Kanstrup. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01170-5.

Abstract: The transition to non-lead ammunition has been enforced by regulations on use and possession of lead shot and rifle bullets. Here we review the scientific and technical literature about this regulatory process in Europe and give some notes of its effectiveness to reduce this source of lead contamination in aquatic and terrestrial environments. Presently, lead shot use has been legally restricted in 23 European countries. Two, Denmark and The Netherlands, have a total ban of lead gunshot use in all types of habitats, 16 countries have a total ban in wetlands and/or for waterbird hunting, and 5 have a partial ban implemented only in some wetlands. The legal regulation of lead bullets is limited to some German regions. This review also highlights the need to know the level of compliance with the ban on lead ammunition and the subsequent benefits for the susceptible species and for game meat safety.


Lions in the modern arena of CITES. 2018. Hans Bauer, Kristin Nowell, Claudio Sillero & David Macdonald. Conservation Letters. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12444

Abstract: Lions have often been discussed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna (CITES). While CITES decisions on species trade regimes are ostensibly based on science, species data are often inconclusive and political considerations inevitably determine outcomes. We present the context of lion conservation and the technical and political processes of CITES to illuminate how a failed uplisting proposal nonetheless resulted in an unprecedented trade restriction as well as conservation initiatives beyond the CITES trade function. We conclude on the limitations of science to guide future directions of CITES debates, leaving politics and ethics to shape decision making.


An assessment of African lion Panthera leo sociality via social network analysis: Prerelease monitoring for an ex situ reintroduction program. 2017. Emma Dunston, Jackie Abell, Rebecca E Doyle, Jacqui Kirk, Victoria B. Hilley, Andrew Forsyth, Emma Jenkins, Rafael Freire. Current Zoology, 63(3), 301-311. https://doi.org/10.1093/cz/zow012

Abstract: The wild population of the African lion Panthera leo continues to decline, requiring alternate conservation programs to be considered. One such program is ex situ reintroduction. Prior to release, long-term monitoring and assessment of behavior is required to determine whether prides and coalitions behave naturally and are sufficiently adapted to a wild environment. Social network analysis (SNA) can be used to provide insight into how the pride as a whole and individuals within it, function. Our study was conducted upon 2 captive-origin prides who are part of an ex situ reintroduction program, and 1 wild pride of African lion. Social interactions were collected at all occurrence for each pride and categorized into greet, social grooming, play, and aggression. Betweenness centrality showed that offspring in each pride were central to the play network, whereas degree indicated that adults received (indegree) the greatest number of overall social interactions, and the adult males of each pride were least likely to initiate (outdegree) any interactions. Through the assessment of individual centrality and degree values, a social keystone adult female was identified for each pride. Social network results indicated that the 2 captive-origin prides had formed cohesive social units and possessed relationships and behaviors comparable with the wild pride for the studied behaviors. This study provided the first SNA comparison between captive-bred origin and a wild pride of lions, providing valuable information on individual and pride sociality, critical for determining the success of prides within an ex situ reintroduction program.


Born captive: A survey of the lion breeding, keeping and hunting industries in South Africa. 2019. Vivienne L. Williams &, Michael J. ‘t Sas-Rolfes. PLoS ONE 14(5): e0217409. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217409

Abstract: Commercial captive breeding and trade in body parts of threatened wild carnivores is an issue of significant concern to conservation scientists and policy-makers. Following a 2016 decision by Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, South Africa must establish an annual export quota for lion skeletons from captive sources, such that threats to wild lions are mitigated. As input to the quota-setting process, South Africa’s Scientific Authority initiated interdisciplinary collaborative research on the captive lion industry and its potential links to wild lion conservation. A National Captive Lion Survey was conducted as one of the inputs to this research; the survey was launched in August 2017 and completed in May 2018. The structured semi-quantitative questionnaire elicited 117 usable responses, representing a substantial proportion of the industry. The survey results clearly illustrate the impact of a USA suspension on trophy imports from captive-bred South African lions, which affected 82% of respondents and economically destabilized the industry. Respondents are adapting in various ways, with many euthanizing lions and becoming increasingly reliant on income from skeleton export sales. With rising consumer demand for lion body parts, notably skulls, the export quota presents a further challenge to the industry, regulators and conservationists alike, with 52% of respondents indicating they would adapt by seeking ‘alternative markets’ for lion bones if the export quota allocation restricted their business. Recognizing that trade policy toward large carnivores represents a ‘wicked problem’, we anticipate that these results will inform future deliberations, which must nonetheless also be informed by challenging inclusive engagements with all relevant stakeholders.


Insights on fostering the emergence of robust conservation actions from Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE program. 2019. Duan Biggs, Natalie C. Ban, Juan Carlos Castilla, Stefan Gelcich, Morena Mills, Edson Gandiwa, Michel Etienne, Andrew T. Knight, Pablo A. Marquet & Hugh P. Possingham. Global Ecology and Conservation 17 (2019) e00538. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00538

Abstract: One strategy to address threats to biodiversity in the face of ongoing budget constraints is to create an enabling environment that facilitates individuals, communities and other groups to self-organize to achieve conservation outcomes. Emergence (new activities and initiatives), and robustness (durability of these activities and initiatives over time), two related concepts from the common pool resources literature, provide guidance on how to support and enable such self-organized action for conservation. To date emergence has received little attention in the literature. Our exploratory synthesis of the conditions for emergence from the literature highlighted four themes: for conservation to emerge, actors need to 1) recognize the need for change, 2) expect positive outcomes, 3) be able to experiment to achieve collective learning, and 4) have legitimate local scale governance authority. Insights from the literature on emergence and robustness suggest that an appropriate balance should be maintained between external guidance of conservation and enabling local actors to find solutions appropriate to their contexts. We illustrate the conditions for emergence, and its interaction with robustness, through discussing the Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in Zimbabwe and reflect on efforts at strengthening local autonomy and management around the world. We suggest that the delicate balance between external guidance of actions, and supporting local actors to develop their own solutions, should be managed adaptively over time to support the emergence of robust conservation actions.


Risk of biodiversity collapse under climate change in the Afro-Arabian region. 2019. Alaaeldin Soultan, Martin Wikelski & Kamran Safi. Scientific Reports Volume 9, Article Number: 955.

Abstract: For 107 endemic mammal species in the Afro-Arabian region, Sahara-Sahel and Arabian Desert, we used ensemble species distribution models to: (1) identify the hotspot areas for conservation, (2) assess the potential impact of the projected climate change on the distribution of the focal species, and (3) assign IUCN threat categories for the focal species according to the predicted changes in their potential distribution range. We identified two main hotspot areas for endemic mammals: the Sinai and its surrounding coastal area in the East, and the Mediterranean Coast around Morocco in the West. Alarmingly, our results indicate that about 17% of the endemic mammals in the Afro-Arabian region under the current climate change scenarios could go extinct before 2050. Overall, a substantial number of the endemic species will change from the IUCN threat category “Least Concern” to “Critically Endangered” or “Extinct” in the coming decades. Accordingly, we call for implementing an urgent proactive conservation action for these endemic species, particularly those that face a high risk of extinction in the next few years. The results of our study provide conservation managers and practitioners with the required information for implementing an effective conservation plan to protect the biodiversity of the Afro-Arabian region.


Evaluating the impacts of protected areas on human well-being across the developing world. 2019. R. Naidoo, D. Gerkey, D. Hole, et al. Science Advances 03 Apr 2019: Vol. 5, no. 4, eaav3006. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav3006

Abstract: Protected areas (PAs) are fundamental for biodiversity conservation, yet their impacts on nearby residents are contested. We synthesized environmental and socioeconomic conditions of >87,000 children in >60,000 households situated either near or far from >600 PAs within 34 developing countries. We used quasi-experimental hierarchical regression to isolate the impact of living near a PA on several aspects of human well-being. Households near PAs with tourism also had higher wealth levels (by 17%) and a lower likelihood of poverty (by 16%) than similar households living far from PAs. Children under 5 years old living near multiple-use PAs with tourism also had higher height-for-age scores (by 10%) and were less likely to be stunted (by 13%) than similar children living far from PAs. For the largest and most comprehensive socioeconomic-environmental dataset yet assembled, we found no evidence of negative PA impacts and consistent statistical evidence to suggest PAs can positively affect human well-being.


The impact of wildlife hunting prohibition on the rural livelihoods of local communities in Ngamiland and Chobe District Areas, Botswana. 2019. Israel Blackie & Sandra Ricart Casadevall (Reviewing editor). Cogent Social Sciences, 5:1, DOI: 10.1080/23311886.2018.1558716

Abstract: The community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) program in Botswana was developed to facilitate a partnership between local communities and government for the conservation of natural resources whilst giving local communities usufruct rights to natural resources. This study sought to establish the impact of the wildlife hunting prohibition on the livelihoods of rural communities. Data for this study was obtained through a cross-sectional survey. The findings of the study suggest that the wildlife hunting prohibition which was introduced in 2014 impacted on the livelihoods of rural communities in areas such as employment and income from community-based organizations (CBOs). Prior to 2014, CBOs had found themselves in a rentier-ship status without any direct participation in the operation and management of hunting safaris. The wildlife hunting prohibition, however, did not void existing leases such as leases for hotels and lodges or other natural resource uses such as gathering veldt products. Since its inception, the implementation of the CBNRM program had been largely focused on the utilization of wildlife resources with the result that wildlife hunting had generated revenues quickly and easily for local communities. This paper argues that the removal of the wildlife hunting prohibition should be considered for wildlife species noted for causing damage and/or whose population has shown an increase such as elephant and buffalo. The loss incurred by rural communities from the damage caused to property and crops by wildlife militates against the perceived earlier successes of the CBNRM program in wildlife conservation and poverty reduction.