Abstracts of Recently Published Papers on Hunting & Conservation

Abstracts of Recently Published Papers on Hunting & Conservation

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

The effect of knowledge, species aesthetic appeal, familiarity and conservation need on willingness to donate. P. Lundberg  A. Vainio D. C. MacMillan  R. J. Smith D. Veríssimo A. Arponen. 2019 https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12477

Abstract: Environmental non‐governmental organizations (ENGOs) largely select flagship species for conservation marketing based on their aesthetic appeal. However, little is known about the fundraising effectiveness of this approach or how it compares to ecosystem conservation campaigns that use habitat types as flagships. By performing a willingness to donate (WTD) survey of potential online donors from Finland, we identified which motivations and donor characteristics influence their preferences for a range of different flagship species and ecosystems. Using the contingent valuation method and the payment card approach, we found the combined funding for eight mammal flagship species was 29% higher funding than for eight bird flagship species. Furthermore, the aesthetically more appealing species, as well as the species and ecosystems that are native to Finland, attracted the most funding. We then used ordinal logistic regression to identify the factors influencing a donor’s WTD, finding that knowledge of biodiversity conservation and familiarity with the flagship was associated with an increased WTD to birds and ecosystems, and people with higher education levels had an increased WTD to ecosystems. Surprisingly, species aesthetic appeal was not related to an increased WTD, although “need of conservation” was, suggesting that highlighting the plight of these less appealing threatened species or ecosystems could raise money. Our results suggest that the factors driving donating to mammals, birds or ecosystems differ, and so underline the importance of considering the diverse motivations behind donation behavior in fundraising campaigns. They also provide new evidence of the motivations of online donors, an under‐studied group who are likely to become an increasingly important source of conservation funding.


Population dynamics of medium and large mammals in a West African gallery forest area and the potential effects of poaching. Hema, E., Ouattara, Y., Karama, M., Petrozzi, F., Di Vittorio, M., Guenda, W. & Luiselli, L. 2017. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 9(5), 10151-10157. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.3212.9.5.10151-10157

Abstract: Few studies are available on the population dynamics of medium and large mammals in gallery forests of the Sudan and Sahel regions of West Africa.  Line-transect studies of the abundance (estimated by KIA) of nine species of ungulates and three species of primates were carried out between 2004 and 2013 in the Comoé-Leraba protected area of Burkina Faso, West Africa.  No peer-reviewed study of population sizes of mammals in this protected area has been published, making the data presented of special relevance.  Population size trends varied significantly across years in both primates and ungulates, with some species (Papio anubis, Phacochoerus africanus, Alcelaphus busephalus and Tragelaphus scriptus) decreasing consistently.  Significant relationships were observed between poaching intensity and population oscillations in Erythrocebus patas, Kobus ellipsiprymnus, Kobus kob, Ourebia ourebi and Cephalophus rufilatus.


The value of hunting for conservation in the context of the biodiversity economy. C. MacLaren, J. Perche & A. Middleton (Authors) & Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Namibia (Series Editors).2019. Volume IV of the “Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Study for Namibia”.

Executive summary: The consumptive use of wildlife through trophy hunting has been identified as crucial for financing conservation in Namibia, raising up to N$ 39 million for conservation projects through the Game Products Trust Fund between 2013 and 2016. In light of ongoing pressures to ban the importation of trophies, particularly into the EU and USA markets, this study provides information to policy and decision makers around the ecosystem values associated with trophy hunting, a comprehensive direct financial impact valuation of the trophy hunting sector, as well as a first assessment of the contribution of trophy hunting to ecosystem services and conservation.


The management dilemma: Removing elephants to save large trees. 2019. Michelle D. Henley, Robin M. Cook. Koedoe, Vol 61, No 1, a1564. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v61i1.1564

Abstract: The loss of large trees (> 5 m in height) in Africa’s protected areas is often attributed to the impact by savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana). Concerns have been raised over large tree mortality levels in protected areas such as South Africa’s Kruger National Park (KNP) and in the past, the need to manage its elephant population in order to preserve large trees and biodiversity as a whole. Our review aims to synthesise and discuss the complexities of managing elephants’ effects on the landscape to ensure the survival of large trees, as well as the application purposes of the various lethal and non-lethal elephant mitigation strategies. We further critically evaluate past management strategies, which have solely focused on controlling elephant numbers to protect large trees. Past mitigation strategies focused on managing elephant impact by directly reducing elephant numbers. However, maintaining elephant numbers at a pre-determined carrying capacity level did not prevent the loss of large trees. Research on large tree survival in African savannas has continually exposed the complexity of the situation, as large tree survival is influenced at various demographic stages. In some cases, a coalescence of historical factors may have resulted in what could be perceived as an aesthetically appealing savanna for managers and tourists alike. Furthermore, the past high density of surface water within the KNP homogenised elephant impact on large trees by increasing the encounter rate between elephants and large trees. Our review evaluates how current mitigation strategies have shifted from purely managing elephant numbers to managing elephant distribution across impact gradients, thereby promoting heterogeneity within the system. Additionally, we discuss each mitigation strategy’s occurrence at various landscape scales and its advantages and disadvantages when used to manage impact of elephant on large trees.

Conservation implications: A variety of options exist to manage the effects that elephants have on large trees. These options range from large-scale landscape manipulation solutions to small-scale individual tree protection methods. Interactions between elephants and large trees are complex, however, and conservation managers need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each mitigation strategy to protect large trees.


The Balkan chamois, an archipelago or a peninsula? 2019. Laura Iacolina et al. Conference Paper. 7th World Mountain Ungulate Congress, Bozeman Montana. September 10-13, 2019.

Abstract: Balkan chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica) inhabits the south part of the species distribution in Europe. It prefers rocky habitat with steep slopes, thus low valleys tend to constitute a barrier to gene-flow. The subspecies is currently protected in some countries and hunted in others. Knowledge on the genetic composition of this subspecies is limited and confined to regional studies. We present the first investigation including samples from most of the subspecies range to evaluate the possible presence of metapopulations and barriers to gene-flow. Additionally, we included other subspecies from neighbouring countries to assess the geographic boundaries to its distribution. By combining nuclear (20 microsatellites) and mitochondrial (Dloop and cytochrome b) data we provide information on the connectivity levels of the different (meta)populations. Such knowledge will constitute the necessary starting point for a sustainable management of the Balkan chamois, being it the identification of potential source populations for re-introduction programmes or the evaluation of a viable harvest rate.


Frameworks Regulating Hunting for Meat in Tropical Countries Leave the Sector in the Limbo. 2019. Nathalie van Vliet, André Pinassi Antunes, Pedro de Araujo Lima Constantino, Juanita Gómez, Dídac Santos-Fita & Eugenio Sartoretto. Front. Ecol. Evol., 02 August 2019, https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2019.00280

Abstract: Despite restrictive legal frameworks, hunting for meat is a reality in tropical countries. In this policy paper, we argue that formal regulations are ill adapted to the contexts in which they should be applied and are characterized by gaps and contradictions that maintain the sector in a limbo. We use contemporary examples from Latin America and Africa described in detail in publications ranging from 2015 to 2019, to illustrate the need for legal reforms that clarify the rights to sell surplus of meat and align land tenure rights with wildlife use rights to suggest a new definition of subsistence hunting which accounts for the realities of communities from different cultural backgrounds.


Brown bear attacks on humans: a worldwide perspective. 2019. Bombieri, G., Naves, J., Penteriani, V. et al. Sci Rep 9, 8573 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44341-w

Abstract: The increasing trend of large carnivore attacks on humans not only raises human safety concerns but may also undermine large carnivore conservation efforts. Although rare, attacks by brown bears Ursus arctos are also on the rise and, although several studies have addressed this issue at local scales, information is lacking on a worldwide scale. Here, we investigated brown bear attacks (n = 664) on humans between 2000 and 2015 across most of the range inhabited by the species: North America (n = 183), Europe (n = 291), and East (n = 190). When the attacks occurred, half of the people were engaged in leisure activities and the main scenario was an encounter with a female with cubs. Attacks have increased significantly over time and were more frequent at high bear and low human population densities. There was no significant difference in the number of attacks between continents or between countries with different hunting practices. Understanding global patterns of bear attacks can help reduce dangerous encounters and, consequently, is crucial for informing wildlife managers and the public about appropriate measures to reduce this kind of conflicts in bear country.


Envisioning the future with ‘compassionate conservation’: An ominous projection for native wildlife and biodiversity. 2020. Alex Callen, Matt W. Hayward, Kaya Klop-Tokera, Benjamin L. Allend, Guy Ballard,  Femke Broekhuis et al. Biological Conservation, Volume 241, January 2020, 108365. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320719311115

Abstract: The ‘Compassionate Conservation’ movement is gaining momentum through its promotion of ‘ethical’ conservation practices based on self-proclaimed principles of ‘first-do-no-harm’ and ‘individuals matter’. We argue that the tenets of ‘Compassionate Conservation’ are ideological – that is, they are not scientifically proven to improve conservation outcomes, yet are critical of the current methods that do. In this paper we envision a future with ‘Compassionate Conservation’ and predict how this might affect global biodiversity conservation. Taken literally, ‘Compassionate Conservation’ will deny current conservation practices such as captive breeding, introduced species control, biocontrol, conservation fencing, translocation, contraception, disease control and genetic introgression. Five mainstream conservation practices are used to illustrate the far-reaching and dire consequences for global biodiversity if governed by ‘Compassionate Conservation’. We acknowledge the important role of animal welfare science in conservation practices but argue that ‘Compassionate Conservation’ aligns more closely with animal liberation principles protecting individuals over populations. Ultimately, we fear that a world of ‘Compassionate Conservation’ could stymie the global conservation efforts required to meet international biodiversity targets derived from evidenced based practice, such as the Aichi targets developed by the Convention on Biological Diversity and adopted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the United Nations.


The Cecil Moment: Celebrity environmentalism, Nature 2.0, and the cultural politics of lion trophy hunting. 2019. Sandra G. McCubbin. Geoforum, November 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2019.10.015

Abstract: In 2015 Cecil the lion’s death sparked international furore over the practice of lion trophy hunting. Celebrities and everyday citizens, traditional news and social media alike were aflame around the globe, most notably after American celebrity Jimmy Kimmel expressed disgust in Cecil’s death during a monologue on his late-night talk show. This paper explores the Cecil Moment as a case study of the cultural politics of the environment at the intersection of celebrity environmentalism and ‘Nature 2.0’ applications like Facebook and Twitter. The research asks: what can the Cecil Moment can tell us about how celebrity and Nature 2.0 environmentalisms work and to what kind of conservation politics do they lead? Drawing on the celebrity environmentalism and Nature 2.0 literatures, I develop an analytic framework for analyzing the Cecil Moment which considers and evaluates the network of actors enrolled, the representations foregrounded and backgrounded, as well as the outcomes. Empirical insights are drawn from document and media review, and key informant interviews. I argue that the Cecil Moment operated through a more-than-human network which served to channel agency unleashed by Cecil’s death to the already-empowered lion conservation actors, as well as mutable meanings that shifted Cecil Moment focus away from trophy hunting and toward lion conservation in general. Ultimately, the Cecil Moment operated to dismiss the anti-trophy hunting politics that sparked and fuelled it in the first place; yet, the momentum of the Cecil Moment was grasped and re-directed toward other lion conservation priorities. Critically, this re-direction was not neutral; rather, it shifted the politics of the Cecil Moment in a way that reproduced longstanding patterns of conservation injustice wherein blame for biodiversity loss is directed away from powerful forces onto the racialized, rural poor from the Global South.