Abstracts of Recently Published Papers on Hunting & Conservation

The Conservation Frontlines Team selected a range of new scientific, peer- reviewed papers. Scan the abstracts to get an overview. All items have links to the original papers.

Ecological Effects of Free-Roaming Horses in North American Rangelands. 2019. Kirk W Davies and Chad S Boyd. BioScience XX: 1–8. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of American Institute of Biological Sciences.  https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz060

Abstract: Free-roaming horses are a widespread conservation challenge. Horse use (grazing and related impacts) is largely unmanaged, leading to concerns about its impact on native plant communities and ecosystem function. We synthesized the literature to determine the ecological effects of free-roaming horses in North American rangelands. Largely unmanaged horse use can alter plant community composition, diversity, and structure and can increase bare ground and erosion potential. Free-roaming-horse use has also been linked to negative impacts on native fauna. Horses have repeatedly been shown to limit and even exclude native wildlife’s use of water sources. These effects would likely be greatly reduced if the horse populations were better managed, but sociopolitical factors often preclude improved management. Using rigorous ecological research to educate politicians and the general public may facilitate the development of science-based management of free-roaming horses; however, ecological effects may have to become more severe before such changes can be realized.


Conservation of the world’s mammals: status, protected areas, community efforts, and hunting. 2019. R Terry Bowyer, Mark S Boyce, Jacob R Goheen & Janet L Rachlow. Journal of Mammalogy, Volume 100, Issue 3, 23 May 2019, Pages 923–941, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyy180

Abstract: Mammals are imperiled worldwide. Threats to terrestrial species are primarily from habitat loss or modification, and in some instances from commercial, illegal, or unregulated hunting. Terrestrial species are negatively affected throughout the tropics from deforestation. Threats to marine mammals are related to harvest, strikes in shipping lanes, pollution, and depleted levels of food resources. Hazards to marine species are pronounced in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, and oceans and seas flanking southeastern Asia. Protected areas designed to conserve mammals often are too small, too few, poorly delimited or isolated, and too unreliably supported. The new conservation science proposes that human livelihoods be considered alongside traditional preservationist perspectives. For conservation outside of protected areas to succeed, the protection of wild mammals and their habitats should result in benefit to local people, especially in rural or poor communities. Concerns about declining populations of large mammals in North America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries resulted in the institution of regulations that contributed to the recovery of many populations. Today, in North America and Europe, wild populations are thriving and legal hunting is allowed for a number of mammals, something that is less common in many developing countries, where illegal killing remains a threat to conservation. Nevertheless, populations of large mammals are resilient to regulated hunting because of density-dependent processes that result in increased reproduction, survival, and growth rates. Unfortunately, hunting is unregulated for cultural and economic reasons over much of the Earth. We are beginning to see effects of climate change and invasive species on risk of extinction for many species. The future of mammals, however, is entwined ultimately with the size, growth, and resource demands of the human population.


The value of argument analysis for understanding ethical considerations pertaining to trophy hunting and lion conservation. 2019. John A. Vucetich, Dawn Burnham, Paul J Johnson, Andrew J Loveridge, Michael Paul Nelson, Jeremy T Bruskotter & David W. Macdonald. Biological Conservation. Volume 235, July 2019, Pages 260-272. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.04.012

Abstract: Wild lions are threatened by loss of habitat and prey and various forms of human-caused mortality. Despite examples of locally effective lion conservation, many populations have declined drastically over recent decades, and prospects for averting those threats over the long-term and at large spatial scales are not especially bright. Yet, many maintain hope for the future of lions. Some believe trophy hunting of lions is an appropriate measure for conserving lions because it can incentivize maintenance of lands in a condition suitable for lions and other wildlife. Others disagree. We analyze the issue with formal argument analysis, an important tool in applied ethics. The analysis indicates that in some regions of Africa trophy hunting of lions would be inappropriate insomuch as at least one empirical premise – necessary for supporting the conclusion that trophy hunting of lions should be tolerated – does not hold. The analysis also draws on principles of utilitarianism and deontology. The value of this analysis does not emerge from expecting it to resolve the issue – that would be an inappropriate standard by which to judge even a purely scientific paper. Rather the value of argument analysis lies in clarifying premises and logic upon which an ethical view rests. While the authors are not uniform in their intuitions about one of the argument’s ethical premises, we all agree the considerations offered here about that premise are essential for better understanding the issue. Reactions to this analysis – be they endorsements or criticisms – are vital for identifying critical points of disagreement more precisely than otherwise possible.


Behavioral changes in African elephants in response to wildlife tourism. 2019. I D Szott, Y Pretorius, N F Koyama Journal of Zoology, Vol. 308, No. 3, July 2019. Pages: 164-174

Abstract: Eco‐tourism and human‐wildlife interactions can lead to increases in stress, vigilance and aggression in many species, however studies investigating wildlife viewing are scarce. This study investigated how wildlife tourism affected free‐ranging African elephant behavior over 15 months in Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa. High tourist pressure (monthly tourist number in the reserve) was related to an increased likelihood of individual elephants displaying conspecific‐directed aggression. Further, non‐identified elephant herds were more likely to move away from tourists observing them from vehicles with increasing numbers of vehicles present. Non‐consumptive wildlife tourism potentially aids in protection and conservation of species but simultaneously it could have negative effects on elephant welfare and should therefore be monitored closely.


Reclassification of the serows and gorals: the end of a never-ending story? 2019. Mori Emiliano, Nerva Luca & Lovari Sandro. Mammal Review (2019), The Mammal Society and John Wiley & Sons. https://doi.org/10.1111/mam.12154

Abstract: 1. Taxonomy is partly a subjective matter, but it is instrumental for ecological, behavioral and especially conservation studies. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, goat-antelopes (Bovidae: Rupicaprini tribe) number 13 species, 62% of which are ‘Threatened’ or ‘Near Threatened’ with extinction. During recent decades, the number of extant species of goat-antelopes – especially in endemic Asian genera (goral: six species Naemorhedus spp.; serow: seven species Capricornis spp.) – has been inflated. 2. We have revised the taxonomy and phylogeny of the gorals and serows, for the first time using the total mitochondrial genome of all taxa. 3. We confirm the existence of three goral and four serow species. We can find no justification for the existence of Naemorhedus griseus (Chinese goral), Naemorhedus bedfordi (Himalayan goral) and Naemorhedus evansi (Burmese goral), which should be pooled together within Naemorhedus goral (brown goral). Two species of mainland serow are also recognized: Capricornis rubidus (red serow) and Capricornis sumatraensis (Sumatran serow). Capricornis rubidus and Naemorhedus baileyi (red goral) are the forms more closely related to the common Pliocenic, still-unknown ancestor. Among serows, Capricornis crispus is sister to all remaining species. Capricornis rubidus and Capricornis swinhoei (Formosan serow) are sister species, probably the remnants of an older radiation of mainland serows.


The Role of well-regulated Hunting Tourism in Namibia – in effective Conservation Management. 2018. Lisa Schmitt & David Rempel. Published In: Bode, Freitag (Eds.): Universities, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development in Africa – Conference Proceedings 2018. Sankt Augustin, Germany, 13-14 September 2018. German African University Partnership Platform for the Development of Entrepreneurs and Small/Medium Enterprises. doi:10.18418/978-3-96043-071-1_98

Abstract: Namibia’s hunting industry is increasingly threatened by animal rightists and opponent groups whose adversarial mindset is mostly based on emotion orientated information. The fatal consequences if closing hunting tourism in a country like Namibia are expounded in this study by critically investigating the input of well-regulated hunting tourism towards conservation in Namibia. Different factors have to be taken into consideration, regarding the country’s attributes that differ significantly from other countries and their methods to achieve successful conservation management strategies. By conducting an in-depth interview with Mr. Volker Grellmann and by obtaining secondary data from local authorities and organizations, the current research investigates how well-regulated hunting tourism in Namibia is an important part of biodiversity conservation. The results outline that hunting tourism is crucial for the value of wildlife and yields for wildlife to have a greater benefit than livestock and crop farming in Namibia. Likewise, the country takes care of their valuable natural recourse. As a result, natural habitats are induced, and subsequently a steeply growing number of wildlife was recorded over the last 50 years in Namibia. Among others hunting tourism favors the development of rural areas and yields incentives to fight poaching and the illegal trade of wild animal products.


Towards Convivial Conservation. 2019. Bram Büscher & Robert Fletcher. Conservation and Society AOP: 1-14, 2019. DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_19_75

Abstract: Environmental conservation finds itself in desperate times. Saving nature, to be sure, has never been an easy proposition. But the arrival of the Anthropocene – the alleged new phase of world history in which humans dominate the earth-system seems to have upped the ante dramatically; the choices facing the conservation community have now become particularly stark. Several proposals for revolutionizing conservation have been proposed, including ‘new’ conservation, ‘half Earth’ and more. These have triggered heated debates and potential for (contemplating) radical change. Here, we argue that these do not take political economic realities seriously enough and hence cannot lead us forward. Another approach to conservation is needed, one that takes seriously our economic system’s structural pressures, violent socio-ecological realities, cascading extinctions and increasingly authoritarian politics. We propose an alternative termed ‘convivial conservation’. Convivial conservation is a vision, a politics and a set of governance principles that realistically respond to the core pressures of our time. Drawing on a variety of perspectives in social theory and movements from around the globe, it proposes a post-capitalist approach to conservation that promotes radical equity, structural transformation and environmental justice and so contributes to an overarching movement to create a more equal and sustainable world.


Aligning environmental management with ecosystem resilience: a First Foods example from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Oregon, USA. 2018. Eric J. Quaempts, Krista L. Jones, Scott J. O’Daniel, Timothy J. Beechie & Geoffrey C. Poole. Ecology and Society 23(2):29.


Abstract: The concept of “reciprocity” between humans and other biota arises from the creation belief of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR). The concept acknowledges a moral and practical obligation for humans and biota to care for and sustain one another, and arises from human gratitude and reverence for the contributions and sacrifices made by other biota to sustain human kind. Reciprocity has become a powerful organizing principle for the CTUIR Department of Natural Resources, fostering continuity across the actions and policies of environmental management programs at the CTUIR. Moreover, reciprocity is the foundation of the CTUIR “First Foods” management approach. We describe the cultural significance of First Foods, the First Foods management approach, a resulting management vision for resilient and functional river ecosystems, and subsequent shifts in management goals and planning among tribal environmental staff during the first decade of managing for First Foods. In presenting this management approach, we highlight how reciprocity has helped align human values and management goals with ecosystem resilience, yielding management decisions that benefit individuals and communities, indigenous and nonindigenous, as well as human and nonhuman. We further describe the broader applicability of reciprocity-based approaches to natural resource management.


Using Incentives as Mitigation Measure for Human Wildlife Conflict Management in Namibia. 2018. Sem M. Shilongo, Morrie Sam & Amos Simuela. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 8, Issue 11, November 2018. ISSN 2250-3153

Abstract: Local people living with wildlife also saw their possibility of response limited by laws and regulations and became more vulnerable to wildlife damages. Human-wildlife conflicts remain to this day a major concern for humans as well as a serious threat to the survival of many wildlife populations. Changing human values and attitudes are have been noted to be shaping wildlife management approaches, where eco-centric, protectionist views of wildlife may not recognize or accommodate the needs of those living with wildlife. The causes are diverse and inter-connected. As biodiversity declined, the world came to recognize the importance of wildlife and the necessity to preserve it. Biodiversity is crucial for the stability of ecosystems and their capacity to provide the ecosystem services necessary to sustain human life. In order to safeguard biodiversity, the conservative approach has been to shield biodiversity from human interventions. Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) management are means of control the occurrence of these incidents. If the damage is already done, compensation and insurance schemes developed to replace the loss but, in most cases, these schemes do not meet the initial targets. The scale and urgency of the HWC in the country required intervention from government through Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). MET developed Human Wildlife Conflict policy and it was first released in 2009 and it was aimed to address issues relate to HWC.


The fatal flaws of compassionate conservation. 2019. Meera Anna Oommen, Rosie Cooney, Madhuri Ramesh,  Michael Archer, Dan Brockington, Bram Buscher, Robert Fletcher, Daniel Natusch, Abi Taman Vanak, Grahame Webb & Kartik Shanker. Conservation Biology 33(1) DOI:10.1111/cobi.13329

Abstract: Climate change, overconsumption, land‐use intensification, widespread pollution, and other environmentally damaging factors are threatening Earth’s biodiversity and its ability to provide ecosystem services essential for human survival. Article impact statement: Wallach et al.’s framing of compassionate conservation is flawed and impractical and could be dangerous for people, wildlife, and ecosystems.


Deconstructing compassionate conservation. 2019. Matt W. Hayward,  Alex Callen, Benjamin L. Allen, Guy Ballard, Femke Broekhuis, Cassandra Bugir, Rohan H. Clarke, John Clulow, Simon Clulow, Jennifer C. Daltry, Harriet T. Davies‐Mostert, Peter J. S. Fleming, Andrea S. Griffin, Lachlan G. Howell, Graham I. H. Kerley, Kaya Klop‐Toker, Sarah Legge, Tom Major, Ninon Meyer, Robert A. Montgomery, Katherine Moseby, Daniel M. Parker, Stéphanie Périquet, John Read, Robert J. Scanlon, Rebecca Seeto, Craig Shuttleworth, Michael J. Somers, Cottrell T. Tamessar, Katherine Tuft, Rose Upton, Marcia Valenzuela‐Molina, Adrian Wayne, Ryan R. Witt & Wolfgang Wüster. Conservation Biology Vol. 33, Issue 4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cobi.13366

Abstract: Compassionate conservation focuses on 4 tenets: first, do no harm; individuals matter; inclusivity of individual animals; and peaceful coexistence between humans and animals. Recently, compassionate conservation has been promoted as an alternative to conventional conservation philosophy. We believe examples presented by compassionate conservationists are deliberately or arbitrarily chosen to focus on mammals; inherently not compassionate; and offer ineffective conservation solutions. Compassionate conservation arbitrarily focuses on charismatic species, notably large predators and megaherbivores. The philosophy is not compassionate when it leaves invasive predators in the environment to cause harm to vastly more individuals of native species or uses the fear of harm by apex predators to terrorize mesopredators. Hindering the control of exotic species (megafauna, predators) in situ will not improve the conservation condition of the majority of biodiversity. The positions taken by so‐called compassionate conservationists on particular species and on conservation actions could be extended to hinder other forms of conservation, including translocations, conservation fencing, and fertility control. Animal welfare is incredibly important to conservation, but ironically compassionate conservation does not offer the best welfare outcomes to animals and is often ineffective in achieving conservation goals. Consequently, compassionate conservation may threaten public and governmental support for conservation because of the limited understanding of conservation problems by the general public.


Hunting and mountain sheep: Do current harvest practices affect horn growth? Tayler N. LaSharr, Ryan A. Long, James R. Heffelfinger, Vernon C. Bleich, Paul R. Krausman, R. Terry Bowyer, Justin M. Shannon, Robert W. Klaver, Clay E. Brewer, Mike Cox, A. Andrew Holland, Anne Hubbs, Chadwick P. Lehman, Jonathan D. Muir, Bruce Sterling, Kevin L. Monteith. Evolutionary Applications. 2019;00:1–14. DOI: 10.1111/eva.12841

Abstract: The influence of human harvest on evolution of secondary sexual characteristics has implications for sustainable management of wildlife populations. The phenotypic consequences of selectively removing males with large horns or antlers from ungulate populations have been a topic of heightened concern in recent years. Harvest can affect size of horn‐like structures in two ways: (a) shifting age structure toward younger age classes, which can reduce the mean size of horn‐like structures, or (b) selecting against genes that produce large, fast‐growing males. We evaluated effects of age, climatic and forage conditions, and metrics of harvest on horn size and growth of mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis ssp.) in 72 hunt areas across North America from 1981 to 2016. In 50% of hunt areas, changes in mean horn size during the study period were related to changes in age structure of harvested sheep. Environmental conditions explained directional changes in horn growth in 28% of hunt areas, 7% of which did not exhibit change before accounting for effects of the environment. After accounting for age and environment, horn size of mountain sheep was stable or increasing in the majority (~78%) of hunt areas. Age‐specific horn size declined in 44% of hunt areas where harvest was regulated solely by morphological criteria, which supports the notion that harvest practices that are simultaneously selective and intensive might lead to changes in horn growth. Nevertheless, phenotypic consequences are not a foregone conclusion in the face of selective harvest; over half of the hunt areas with highly selective and intensive harvest did not exhibit agespecific declines in horn size. Our results demonstrate that while harvest regimes are an important consideration, horn growth of harvested male mountain sheep has remained largely stable, indicating that changes in horn growth patterns are an unlikely consequence of harvest across most of North America.


Illegal Wildlife Trade: Patterns, Processes, and Governance. Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes, Daniel W.S. Challender, Amy Hinsley, Diogo Veríssimo and E.J. Milner-Gulland. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 2019. 44:14.1–14.28. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-101718-033253.

Abstract: Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) has increased in profile in recent years as a global policy issue, largely because of its association with declines in prominent internationally trafficked species. In this review, we explore the scale of IWT, associated threats to biodiversity, and appropriate responses to these threats. We discuss the historical development of IWT research and highlight the uncertainties that plague the evidence base, emphasizing the need for more systematic approaches to addressing evidence gaps in a way that minimizes the risk of unethical or counterproductive outcomes for wildlife and people. We highlight the need for evaluating interventions in order to learn, and the importance of sharing datasets and lessons learned. A more collaborative approach to linking IWT research, practice, and policy would better align public policy discourse and action with research evidence. This in turn would enable more effective policy making that contributes to reducing the threat to biodiversity that IWT represents.