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. Scan the abstracts to get an overview. All items have links to the original papers

Breeding Centers, Private Ranches, and Genomics for Creating Sustainable Wildlife Populations. 2019. David Wildt, Philip Miller, Klaus-Peter Koepfli, Budhan Pukazhenthi, Katy Palfrey, Gavin Livingston, Dan Beetem, Stephen Shurter, Jimmy Gregory, Michael Takács, and Kelley Snodgrass. BioScience, November 2019 / Vol. 69 No. 11.

Abstract: Human-induced changes to environments are causing species declines. Beyond preserving habitat (in situ), insurance (ex situ) populations are essential to prevent species extinctions. The Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) is leveraging space of breeding centers and private ranches to produce “source populations”—genetically diverse reservoirs that also support research and reintroductions. The initial focus is on four African antelopes. C2S2 has developed a program, the Source Population Alliance, that emphasizes animals living in spacious, naturalistic conditions in greater numbers than can be accommodated by urban zoos. Simulation modeling demonstrates how herds can rapidly increase population abundance and retain genetic diversity. Advances in genomics and resulting DNA data allow monitoring of genetic diversity and

parentage as well as refined decision-making. This approach, neither pure in situ nor ex situ, but rather “sorta situ”, is an innovative way of linking public and private sector resources to ensure that endangered species survive.


Spotty Data: Managing International Leopard (Panthera pardus) Trophy Hunting Quotas Amidst Uncertainty. 2019. Arie Trouwborst, Andrew J Loveridge, David W Macdonald Journal of Environmental Lawhttps://doi.org/10.1093/jel/eqz032

Abstract: Leopard (Panthera pardus) conservation has a strong international dimension. Hunting trophy export quotas established for African range states under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are a case in point. We test these quotas, and the methods for their establishment, against the benchmark of the general principles of precaution, sustainable use and adaptive management. The various national approaches and the CITES regime condoning them largely fail this test. For decades, CITES bodies have endorsed apparently arbitrary quotas lacking robust scientific bases, without regular adjustment. Thus, the quotas have been inadequately performing their assigned function within the Convention’s framework. The way in which the CITES leopard quota regime has been operating is fundamentally at odds with the principles of sustainable use, precaution and adaptive management. To remedy this, we offer recommendations on how to embed a science-based, sustainable, precautionary and adaptive approach to quota-setting within the CITES system.


How anthropomorphism is changing the social context of modern wildlife conservation. 2019. Michael J. Manfredo, Esmeralda G.Urquiza-Haas, Andrew W. Don Carlos, Jeremy T. Bruskotter & Alia M. Dietsch. Biological Conservation, 108297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108297

Abstract: This study proposes that anthropomorphism is a key factor in stimulating both wildlife value shift and changing attitudes toward wildlife management in modernized countries. Evidence suggests that cultural shift due to modernization increases anthropomorphic attributions which leads to seeing wildlife as more human-like. This provides a foundation for a shift in values from domination, in which wildlife are for human uses, to mutualism in which wildlife are seen as part of one’s social community. This theoretical proposition was tested with a nationwide study of 43,949 U.S. subjects obtained by mail survey and email panel. Values and anthropomorphism were measured using established item scaling. We found that, as expected, anthropomorphism is strongly related to mutualist values. It was weakly associated with modernization variables (income, urbanization, education) at the individual level and moderately associated at the state level. Results suggest a modernized environment fosters anthropomorphic attribution, but the variables we used are not the proximate cause of this process at individual level. To provide a partial test of the likely causal sequence, we found that the effect of anthropomorphism on attitudes is mediated by wildlife values. Anthropomorphism, through its effect in stimulating value shift, leads to challenges of traditional approaches to wildlife management. It emphasizes consideration of individual animals and the avoidance of lethal control techniques such as is proposed in the concept of compassionate conservation. Further research in other modernized countries with similar cultural characteristics is needed to establish the broader generalizability of our findings.


Primarily resident grizzly bears respond to late-season elk harvest. 2019. Frank T. van Manen, Michael R. Ebinger, David D. Gustine, Mark A. Haroldson, Katharine R. Wilmot, et. al. Ursus, 2019(30e1): 1-15. International Association for Bear Research and Management. doi.org/10.2192/URSUS-D-18-00018R2.

Abstract: Autumn ungulate hunting in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem carries the risk of hunter–grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) conflict and creates a substantial challenge for managers. For Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA, a key information need is whether increased availability of elk (Cervus canadensis) carcasses during a late autumn (Nov–Dec) harvest within the national park attracts grizzly bears and increases the potential for conflict with hunters. Using a robust design analysis with 6 primary sampling periods during 2014–2015, we tested the hypothesis that the elk harvest resulted in temporary movements of grizzly bears into the hunt areas, thus increasing bear numbers. We detected 31 unique individuals (6 F, 25 M) through genetic sampling and retained 26 encounter histories for analysis. Markovian movement models had more support than a null model of no temporary movement. Contrary to our research hypothesis, temporary movements into the study area occurred between the July–August (no hunt; N2014−2015=5) and September–October (no hunt; N2014−2015=24) primary periods each year, rather than during the transition from September–October (no hunt) to November–December (hunt; N2014−2015=15). A post hoc analysis indicated that September–October population estimates were biased high by detections of transient bears. Grizzly bear presence during the elk hunt was limited to approximately 15 resident bears that specialized in accessing elk carcasses. The late timing of the elk hunt likely moderated the effect of carcasses as a food attractant because it coincides with the onset of hibernation. From a population response perspective, the current timing of the elk harvest likely represents a scenario of low relative risk of hunter–bear conflicts. The risk of hunter–grizzly bear encounters remains, but may be more a function of factors that operate at the level of individual bears and hunters, such as hunter movements and bear responses to olfactory cues.


A century of conservation: The ongoing recovery of Svalbard reindeer. 2019. Mathilde Le Moullec, Åshild Ønvik Pedersen, Audun Stien, Jørgen Rosvold and Brage Bremset Hansen. The Journal of Wildlife Management 83(8):1676-1686. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21761

Abstract: Several caribou and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) populations have experienced recent population declines, often attributed to anthropogenic stressors such as harvesting, landscape fragmentation, and climate change. Svalbard reindeer (R. t. platyrhynchus), the wild reindeer subspecies endemic to the high‐Arctic Svalbard archipelago, was protected in 1925, after most subpopulations had been eradicated by harvest. Although direct pressure from harvest has ceased, indirect anthropogenic stressors from environmental changes have increased in this climate change hot spot. An assessment of the current distribution and abundance is therefore urgently needed. We combined distance sampling (300 km transects, n = 489 reindeer groups) and total counts (1,350 km2, n = 1,349 groups) to estimate the Svalbard reindeer distribution and abundance across its entire range, which we compared with historical data from the literature and radiocarbon‐dated bones. Reindeer have now recolonized nearly all non‐glaciated land (i.e., areas occupied prior to human presence), and their spatial variation in abundance reflects vegetation productivity. Independent of vegetation productivity, however, recently recolonized areas have lower reindeer densities than areas not subject to past extirpation. This suggests that recovery from past overharvesting is still in progress. These incompletely recovered areas are potential targets for increased monitoring frequency and maintaining strict conservation to follow the Svalbard management goal (i.e., virtually untouched wilderness areas). Because of such ongoing recolonization, possibly combined with vegetation greening effects of recent warming, our status estimate of Svalbard reindeer abundance (22,435 [95% CI = 21,452–23,425]) is more than twice a previous estimate based on opportunistic counts. Thus, although our study demonstrates the successful outcome of strict harvesting control implemented a century ago, current and future population trajectories are likely shaped by climate change.


Conservation conversations: A typology of barriers to conservation success. 2019. Michele Jeanette Sanders, Alex Rogers, Laura Miller, Shonil A. Bhagwat. Oryx. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605319000012

Abstract: Despite considerable achievements in the field of conservation, biodiversity continues to decline and conservation initiatives face numerous barriers. Although many of these barriers are well known, for example insufficient funding and capacity, there has been no systematic attempt to catalogue and categorize them into a typology. Because risks compromise the conservation mission, any barrier to success is a risk. Here we present the first attempt at identifying key barriers. We analyse extensive interviews with 74 conservationists, primarily from Africa but with international experience, to identify potential risks to their projects and use that information to create a typology of barriers to conservation success. We draw on the literature to explain the prevalence of some of the barriers identified. We suggest that this typology could form the basis of heuristic tools that conservationists can use to identify and manage potential risks to their projects, thereby improving decision-making, strategic planning and, ultimately, overall impact. The typology is also useful for the conservation community (comprising conservationists and funders) to help implement better practices and improve the likelihood of success. We present examples of such work already underway and suggest more can be done to continue to improve.


Hunters, Crown, Nobles, and Conservation Elites: Class Antagonism over the Ownership of Common Fauna. 2017. Erica von Essen, Michael Allen & Hans Peter Hansen. International Journal of Cultural Property (2017) 24:161–186. doi:10.1017/S0940739117000078.

Abstract: Because of their status of res nullius—owned by no one—property theory is underdeveloped in regard to wildlife. In this article, wildlife is seen to be sometimes subject to a shadow ownership by class interests in society. Hunters accuse protected wolves of being the “pets” or “property” of an urban-based conservationist middle class. This phenomenon fragments the common fauna and undermines responsibility taking and policy compliance for wildlife that is seen as being owned by an oppositional social class. Using an empirical case study of Swedish hunters, we show how responsibility for wildlife has become entangled with property rights. A historical materialist analysis reveals that hunters once experienced ownership of wildlife by the nobility as co-opting state coercive power. Today, however, aristocracy is replaced by a new elite class of conservationists. Noting the hunters’ tendency to evoke quasiaristocratic

virtues of ownership, we advance recommendations for an alternative approach. We appeal to deliberative democracy to promote the “communing” of wildlife across classes in fora that withstand co-optation by class interests.


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, 100(3):923–941, 2019. DOI: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.


Earliest hunting scene in prehistoric art. 2019. Maxime Aubert, Rustan Lebe, Adhi Agus Oktaviana, Muhammad Tang, Basran Burhan, Hamrullah, Andi Jusdi,   Abdullah, Budianto Hakim, Jian-xin Zhao, I. Made Geria, Priyatno Hadi Sulistyarto, Ratno Sardi, Adam Brumm. Nature 576(7787):1-4

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1806-y.

Abstract: Humans seem to have an adaptive predisposition for inventing, telling and consuming stories. Prehistoric cave art provides the most direct insight that we have into the earliest storytelling, in the form of narrative compositions or ‘scenes’ that feature clear figurative depictions of sets of figures in spatial proximity to each other, and from which one can infer actions taking place among the figures. The Upper Palaeolithic cave art of Europe hosts the oldest previously known images of humans and animals interacting in recognizable scenes and of therianthropes—abstract beings that combine qualities of both people and animals, and which arguably communicated narrative fiction of some kind (folklore, religious myths, spiritual beliefs and so on). In this record of creative expression [spanning from about 40 thousand years ago (ka) until the beginning of the Holocene epoch at around 10 ka], scenes in cave art are generally rare and chronologically late (dating to about 21–14 ka), and clear representations of therianthropes are uncommon—the oldest such image is a carved figurine from Germany of a human with a feline head (dated to about 40–39 ka). Here we describe an elaborate rock art panel from the limestone cave of Leang Bulu’ Sipong (Sulawesi, Indonesia) that portrays several figures that appear to represent therianthropes hunting wild pigs and dwarf bovids; this painting has been dated to at least 43.9 ka on the basis of uranium-series analysis of overlying speleothems. This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world.


Don’t forget to look down – collaborative approaches to predator conservation. 2017. Steve Redpath, John D C Linnell, Marco Festa-Bianchet, Eleanor J Milner-Gulland et al. Biological Reviews. DOI: 10.1111/brv.12326

Abstract: Finding effective ways of conserving large carnivores is widely recognised as a priority in Conservation. However, there is disagreement about the most effective way to do this, with some favouring top-down “command and control” approaches and others, collaborative approaches. Arguments for coercive top-down approaches have been presented elsewhere; here we present arguments for collaboration. In many parts of the developed world, flexibility of approach is built into the legislation, so that conservation objectives are balanced with other legitimate goals. In the developing world, limited resources, poverty and weak governance mean that collaborative approaches are likely to play a particularly important part in carnivore conservation. In general, coercive policies may lead to the deterioration of political legitimacy and potentially non-compliance issues such as illegal killing, whereas collaborative approaches may lead to enhanced trust, learning, and better social outcomes. Sustainable hunting can play a crucial part in the conservation and management of large carnivores. There are many different models for how to effectively conserve carnivores across the world, research is now required to reduce uncertainty and examine the effectiveness of these approaches in different contexts.


Scaling methane emissions in ruminants and global estimates in wild populations. 2016. F.J. Pérez-Barbería. Science of the Total Environment, 570 (2017) 1572-1580.

Abstract: Methane (CH4) emissions by human activities have more than doubled since the 1700s, and they contribute to global warming. One of the sources of CH4 is produced by incomplete oxidation of feed in the ruminant’s gut. Domestic ruminants produce most of the emissions from animal sources, but emissions by wild ruminants have been poorly estimated. This study (i) scales CH4 against body mass in 503 experiments in ruminants fed herbage, and assesses the effect of different sources of variation, using published and new data; and (ii) it uses these models to produce global estimates of CH4 emissions from wild ruminants. The incorporation of phylogeny, diet and technique of measuring in to a model that scales log10 CH4 g d−1 against log10 body mass (kg), reduces the slope, from 1.075 to 0.868, making it not significantly steeper than the scaling coefficient of metabolic requirements to body mass. Scaling models that include dry matter intake (DMI) and dietary fiber indicate that although both increase CH4, dietary fiber depresses CH4 as the levels of DMI increases. Cattle produce more CH4 per unit of DMI than red deer, sheep or goat, and there are no significant differences between CH4 produced by red deer and sheep. The average estimates of global emissions from wild ruminants calculated using different models are smaller (1.094–2.687 Tg y−1) than those presented in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (15 Tg yr−1). Potential causes to explain such discrepancy are the uncertainty on the world’s wild ruminant population size, and the use of methane output from cattle, a high methane producer, as representative methane output of wild ruminants. The main limitation researchers’ face in calculating accurate global CH4 emissions from wild ungulates is a lack of reliable information on their population sizes.


The implications of the reclassification of South African wildlife species as farm animals. 2020. Somers MJ, Walters M, Measey J, Strauss WM, Turner AA, Venter JA, et al. S Afr J Sci. 2020;116(1/2), Art.#7724, 2 pages. https://doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2020/7724

Abstract: The Government Gazette No. 42464 dated 17 May 20191 amended Table 7 of the Animal Improvement Act (Act no. 62of 1998), which lists breeds  of animals, to include at least 32 new wild animal species, including 24 indigenous mammals. The list includes threatened and rare species such as cheetah, white and black rhinoceros, and suni. Some alien species such as lechwe, various deer species and rabbits are also included. The cornerstone of the original Act is ‘To provide for the breeding, identification and utilisation of genetically superior animals to improve the production and performance of animals in the interest of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.’ By declaring these wild animals as landrace breeds (in Table 7 of the regulations), the Act implies that they are locally developed breeds. The Act typically provides for landrace breeds to be bred and ‘genetically improved’ to

obtain superior domesticated animals with enhanced production and performance. Similarly, provision is made for the Breeders Association to lay claim to the breed and to establish specific breed standards for animals to be

included in stud books. Animals declared as landrace breeds can also be used for genetic manipulation, embryo harvesting, in-vitro fertilisation and embryo transfers. As indigenous species of wildlife are included in the recent amendment to the Act, the amendment is flawed. Here we point out numerous concerns in the new legislation, including the process of consultation, and argue that the law will not improve the genetics of the species mentioned but will have considerable negative genetic consequences and pose ecological and economic risks. We also suggest that this new law is in direct conflict with other biodiversity laws in South Africa.


Predicting the potential impacts of trophy hunting on population structure of Himalayan ibex (Capra sibirica) in northern Pakistan. 2019.  Muhammad Z. Khan, F. Begum, M. Riaz, B. Khan, R. Karim, K. Ali & S. Aman. Pol. J. Ecol. (2019) 67: 264–270. Doi 10.3161/15052249PJE2019.67.3.008

Abstract: We compared population structure and trophy hunting statistics of Himalayan ibex (Capra sibirica) in two community-controlled hunting areas (CCHAs) of northern Pakistan with varying duration of trophy hunting and isolated populations of C. sibirica. Based on fixed-point direct count method during winter 2016–2017, 939 ibexes were counted in Khyber and 346 in Hussaini, with a density of 7.5 and 3.2 animals km2, respectively. Though the populations of C. sibirica at both the study sites have increased compared to the past estimates, we found variations in population structures and horn sizes, presumably as a result of trophy hunting. The sex ratios are skewed toward females in Khyber (87 males/100 females) and towards males in Hussaini (115 males/100 females). The trophy size males were 7% of the population in Khyber and 11% in Hussaini. Mean group (herd) size in Khyber was 28 (range = 1–117) and Hussaini was 20 (range = 1–79). Mean horn size of the trophies harvested in Khyber was 102 cm (± range = 91–114) compared to 108 cm (range = 99–121) in Hussaini. Stringent regulatory measures are suggested to determine the number of permits.