Abstracts of Recently Published Papers on Hunting & Conservation

Abstracts of Recently Published Papers on Wildlife and Habitat Conservation

Conservation Frontlines has selected a range of new scientific, peer-reviewed papers and thesis submissions. Scan the abstracts to get an overview. Links to the original papers are provided (check also additions to the CFL library for more recent material.)

The Rhinoceros Horn Trade Ban: Can Scenario Formulation help build Consensus amongst highly polarised South African Stakeholders? 2020. Jane Wiltshire. Doctoral Thesis submitted to The International School of Management, Paris, France. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.16328.67841

Abstract: Many issues regarding wildlife trade are fiercely debated; often the various stakeholder groups have entrenched opposing positions which makes building consensus around the best solution/s extremely difficult. This is exacerbated in that stakeholders often come from entirely different disciplines and philosophical viewpoints.so that no common vocabulary or acceptable method of discussing the problem to reach a consensus exists. This study examines the use of a blend of two decision support methodologies, scenario formulation and a Delphi Study as part of a stakeholder analysis in building consensus in the debate on the legalisation of the international trade in rhino horn. The results gathered from the responses to two consecutive online questionnaires show the development of significant consensus over the process and performed far better in this regard than a traditional public debate. In addition, four decision scenarios – Fort Knox, Besieged, Arms Race and Golden Circle were crafted for wider use in public fora and a possible ‘Baptists and Bootlegger’ type of unwitting alliance between Animal Rights NGOs and Poachers, Middlemen and Criminal Syndicates was indicated.


‘Intentional Genetic Manipulation’ as a conservation threat. 2019. Isa-Rita M. Russo, Sean Hoban, Paulette Bloomer, Antoinette Kotzé, Gernot Segelbacher, Ian Rushworth, Coral Birss & Michael W. Bruford. Conservation Genetics Resources volume 11, pages237–247(2019)

Abstract: Wildlife ranching including the hunting, collection, sales and husbandry of wild animals in captivity, is practiced worldwide and is advocated as an approach towards the conservation of wild species. While many authors have explored the biological impacts of intensive wild population management, primarily with respect to disease transmission (especially in ungulates and fish), the evolutionary and demographic effects of wildlife ranching have been examined less intensively. We discuss this issue through the case of intensive wildlife management in southern Africa. The genetic consequences of this global practice, with an emphasis on Africa, were addressed by a motion passed at the 2016 IUCN World Congress: “Management and regulation of intensive breeding and genetic manipulation of large mammals for commercial purposes.” Here, we highlight concerns regarding intensive breeding programs used to discover, enhance and propagate unusual physical traits, hereafter referred to as ‘Intentional Genetic Manipulation’. We highlight how ‘Intentional Genetic Manipulation’ potentially threatens the viability of native species and ecosystems, via genetic erosion, inbreeding, hybridization and unregulated translocation. Finally, we discuss the need for better policies in southern Africa and globally, regarding ‘Intentional Genetic Manipulation’, and the identification of key knowledge gaps.


Impacts of hunting prohibitions on multidimensional well-being. 2020. Michael Strong & Julie A. Silva. Biological Conservation, Volume 243, March 2020, 108451.

Abstract: Prohibitions against wildlife hunting often have impoverishing outcomes for rural households. Previous research has emphasized the financial losses and attributed material deprivation as the motivation for illegal wildlife hunting. However, this narrow focus does not capture the values rural communities ascribe to hunting nor consider the broader outcomes hunting bans have on multidimensional well-being. In this study, we utilize Amartya Sen’s capability approach to gain a deeper understanding of hunting bans’ effects. Iterative content analysis of 435 interviews with respondents from three study sites located within or near protected areas in southern Africa revealed that individuals hunt for three primary reasons: to procure meat for household consumption, to manage human-wildlife conflict, and to generate revenue via commercial poaching. When detailing the impacts of hunting prohibitions, respondents overwhelmingly emphasized the instrumental value of hunting. They described significant material losses that are deeply intertwined with a broad range of non-material costs to well-being. The strongest objections to wildlife regulations centered on how they serve to humanize animals while de-humanizing people. Additionally, the non-material impacts of hunting bans exacerbated discontent with material losses arising from conservation. We find a need to critically examine the non-material losses of conservation given their potential to alienate rural communities, increase resistance, and undermine local residents’ voluntary participation in conservation efforts.


The genetic legacy of 50 years of desert bighorn sheep translocations. 2018.  Joshua P. Jahner, Marjorie D. Matocq, Jason L. Malaney, Mike Cox4, Peregrine Wolff, Mitchell A. Gritts & Thomas L. Parchman. September 2018, Evolutionary Applications 12(2) DOI: 10.1111/eva.12708

Abstract: Conservation biologists have increasingly used translocations to mitigate population declines and restore locally extirpated populations. Genetic data can guide the selection of source populations for translocations and help evaluate restoration success. Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) are a managed big game species that suffered widespread population extirpations across western North America throughout the early 1900’s. Subsequent translocation programs have successfully re-established many formally extirpated bighorn herds, but most of these programs pre-date genetically-informed management practices. The state of Nevada presents a particularly well-documented case of decline followed by restoration of extirpated herds. Desert bighorn sheep (O. c. nelsoni) populations declined to less than 3,000 individuals restricted to remnant herds in the Mojave Desert and a few locations in the Great Basin Desert. Beginning in 1968, the Nevada Department of Wildlife translocated ~2,000 individuals from remnant populations to restore previously extirpated areas, possibly establishing herds with mixed ancestries. Here we examined genetic diversity and structure among remnant herds and the genetic consequences of translocation from these herds using a genotyping-by-sequencing approach to genotype 17,095 loci in 303 desert bighorn sheep. We found a signal of population genetic structure among remnant Mojave Desert populations, even across geographically proximate mountain ranges. Further, we found evidence of a genetically distinct, potential relict herd from a previously hypothesized Great Basin lineage of desert bighorn sheep. The genetic structure of source herds was clearly reflected in translocated populations. In most cases, herds retained genetic evidence of multiple translocation events and subsequent admixture when founded from multiple remnant source herds. Our results add to a growing literature on how population genomic data can be used to guide and monitor restoration programs.


Characteristics that make trophy hunting of giant pandas inconceivable. 2020. Robert A. Montgomery, Madeline Carr, Charlie R. Booher, Abigail M. Pointer, Brendan M. Mitchell, Natalie Smith, Keegan Calnan, Georgina M. Montgomery, Mordecai Ogada & Daniel B. Kramer. Conservation Biology (April 2020). https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13458

Abstract: In November 1928, Theodore Jr. and Kermit Roosevelt led an expedition to China with the expressed purpose of being the first Westerners to kill the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). The expedition lasted 8 months and resulted in the brothers shooting a giant panda in the mountains of Sichuan Province. Given the concurrent attention in the popular press describing this celebrated expedition, the giant panda was poised to be trophy hunted much like other large mammals around the world. Today, however, the killing of giant pandas, even for the generation of conservation revenue, is unthinkable for reasons related to the species itself and the context, in time and space, in which the species was popularized in the West. We found that the giant panda’s status as a conservation symbol, exceptional charisma and gentle disposition, rarity, value as a non-consumptive ecotourism attraction, and endemism are integral to the explanation of why the species is not trophy hunted. We compared these intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics with 20 of the most common trophy‐hunted mammals to determine whether the principles applying to giant pandas are generalizable to other species. Although certain characteristics of the 20 trophy‐hunted mammals aligned with the giant panda, many did not. Charisma, economic value, and endemism, in particular, were comparatively unique to the giant panda. Our analysis suggests that, at present, exceptional characteristics may be necessary for certain mammals to be excepted from trophy hunting. However, because discourse relating to the role of trophy hunting in supporting conservation outcomes is dynamic in both science and society, we suspect these valuations will also change in future.


Towards a sustainable, participatory and inclusive wild meat sector. 2019. Lauren Coad (CIFOR / University of Sussex); John E. Fa (CIFOR / Manchester Metropolitan University); Nathalie Van Vliet (CIFOR); Katharine Abernethy (University of Stirling); Catalina Santamaria (SBSTTA-CBD), David Wilkie (Wildlife Conservation Society); Donna-Mareè Cawthorn (University of Salford); and Robert Nasi (CIFOR). Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia. DOI: 10.17528/cifor/007046. ISBN: 978-602-387-083-7

Summary: This in depth report summarizes available information on the scale and drivers of subsistence and commercial harvesting of wild terrestrial vertebrates for food in tropical and subtropical regions; emphasizes the contributions that wild meat makes to food security, human nutrition and well-being; and highlights the far-reaching impacts of over-exploitation on the long-term survival of species and the functioning of ecosystems. The report provides technical guidance to improve governance and sustainability of the resource by focusing on how to ensure that the supply of wild meat is sustainably managed upstream; how to reduce the consumption of wild meat especially the excessive demand in towns and cities; how joint approaches can be applied to solve the use of wild meat and finally on how to create an enabling environment for the sustainable management of wild meat. What emerges from this synthesis is that the governance of wild meat will ultimately depend on understanding and working with both local people and wider civil society, with approaches that focus solely on either ecological or socio-economic goals running the risk of failure in the long term.


Humans, Livestock, and Lions in northwest Namibia. 2019. John Moore Heydinger. Dissertation submitted to the faculty of submitted to the faculty of the University of Minnesota in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: Humans, livestock, and lions have inhabited shared landscapes in northwest Namibia for hundreds of years. Currently, human-lion conflict (HLC) threatens pastoral livelihoods and the viability of the region’s desert-adapted lion population. In this dissertation I examine the history of human-livestock-lion relationships in the region. The goal is to create historically-informed solutions to HLC that are locally-inclusive. Drawing on archival, scientific, and governmental material, as well as social surveys and oral histories that I have performed, this is the first time that the disparate sources on human-livestock-lion relationships in northwest Namibia have been unified. While scholars of African environments have problematized interpretations of Africa’s environmental colonial and postcolonial past, this is the first work to examine human-predator relationships as a fulcrum for understanding colonial and postcolonial politics and the current challenges of conserving African lions. As a document informing ongoing conservation interventions, this is the first attempt to explicitly frame applied lion conservation activities within historical contexts, critically assessing livestock as mediators of human-lion interactions. I begin by showing how the precolonial and early-colonial experience of the region’s ovaHerero people was mediated through the control of livestock. I then examine how colonial era policies remade, and were aided by, the geography of predators. The effects of apartheid on the region’s wildlife showcase some of the important legacies of colonial-era policies. I then reveal the long history of human-lion interactions with particular emphasis on the transformative role of livestock. I then focus on the behavior and ecology of the desert-adapted lions, highlighting important contrasts with other lion populations and emphasizing how recent monitoring induced a paradigm shift. Finally, I center ongoing HLC within communal rangelands as experienced by pastoralists and suggest one way of reframing HLC that is founded in local perspectives.


Sustainable Governance of Wildlife and Community-Based Natural Resource Management: From Economic Principles to Practical Governance. 2019. Brian Child. Routledge, London, UK. 1 edition (November 11, 2019) – Earthscan Studies in Natural Resource Management. Hardcover: 406 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0415793278; ISBN-10: 0415793270; eBook ISBN9781315211152.

Overview: This book develops the Sustainable Governance Approach and the principles of Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). It provides practical examples of successes and failures in implementation, and lessons about the economics and governance of wild resources with global application. CBNRM emerged in the 1980s, encouraging greater local participation to conserve and manage natural and wild resources in the face of increasing encroachment by agricultural and other forms of land use development. This book describes the institutional history of wildlife and the empirical transformation of the wildlife sector on private and communal land, particularly in southern Africa, to develop an alternative paradigm for governing wild resources. With the twin goals of addressing poverty and resource degradation in the world’s extensive agriculturally marginal areas, the author conceptualizes this paradigm as the Sustainable Governance Approach, which integrates theories of proprietorship and rights, prices and economics, governance and scale, and adaptive learning. The author then discusses and defines CBNRM, a major subset of this approach. Interweaving theory and practice, he shows that the primary challenges facing CBNRM are the devolution of rights from the center to marginal communities and the governance of these rights by communities, a challenge which is seldom recognized or addressed. He focuses on this shortcoming, extending and operationalizing institutional theory, including Ostrom’s principles of collective action, within the context of cross-scale governance. Based on the author’s extensive experience this book will be key reading for students of natural resource management, sustainable land use, community forestry, conservation, and development. Providing practical but theoretically robust tools for implementing CBNRM it will also appeal to professionals and practitioners working in communities and in conservation and development.


Hunters as Citizen Scientists: Contributions to Biodiversity Monitoring in Europe. 2020. Cretois, Benjamin, John D. C. Linnell, Matthew Grainger, Erlend B. Nilsen, and Jan K. Rød. EcoEvoRxiv. March 10. doi:10.32942/osf.io/9f7k3

Abstract: 1. Monitoring biodiversity characteristics at large scales and with adequate resolution requires considerable effort and resources. Overall, there is clearly a huge scope for European hunters, a special and often overlooked group of citizen scientists, to contribute even more to biodiversity monitoring, especially because of their presence across the entire European landscape.

  1. Using the Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) framework we reviewed the published and grey literature and contacted experts to provide a comprehensive overview of hunters’ contributions to biodiversity monitoring. We examined the methods used to collect data in hunter-based monitoring, the geographic and taxonomic extent of such contributions and the scientific output stemming from hunter-based monitoring data.
  2. Our study suggests that hunter-based monitoring is widely distributed across Europe and across taxa as 32 out of the 36 European countries included in our analysis involve hunters in the monitoring of at least one species group with ungulates and small game species groups which have the widest hunter-based monitoring coverage. We found that it is possible to infer characteristics on Genetic composition, Species population, Species traits and Community composition with data that are being routinely collected by hunters in at least some countries. The main types of data provided are hunting bags data, Biological samples including carcasses of shot animals and non-invasive samplings and observations for counts and indices.
  3. Hunters collect data on biodiversity in its key dimensions, collaborations between hunters and scientists are fruitful and should be considered a standard partnership for biodiversity conservation. To overcome the challenges in the use of hunters’ data, more rigorous protocols for sampling data should be implemented and improvements made in data integration methods.


Impacts of a trophy hunting ban on private land conservation in South African biodiversity hotspots. 2020. Kim Parker, Alta De Vos, Hayley S. Clements, Duan Biggs & Reinette Biggs. Conservation Science and Practice. 2020; e214. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/csp2. https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.214

Abstract: Private land conservation areas (PLCAs) have become critical for achieving global conservation goals, but we lack understanding of how and when these areas respond to global pressures and opportunities. In southern Africa, where many PLCAs rely on trophy hunting as an income-generating strategy, a potential ban on trophy hunting locally or abroad holds unknown consequences for the future conservation of these lands. In this study, we investigate the consequences of a potential trophy hunting ban in PLCAs in two biodiversity hotspots in South Africa’s Eastern and Western Cape provinces. We used semistructured interviews with PLCA managers and owners to elicit perceived impacts of an internationally imposed trophy hunting ban on conservation activities in PLCAs, and to probe alternative viable land uses. The majority of interviewees believed that both the economic viability of their PLCA and biodiversity would be lost following a hunting ban. Owners would primarily consider transitioning to ecotourism or livestock farming, but these options were constrained by the social-ecological context of their PLCA (e.g., competition with other PLCAs, ecological viability of farming). Our results suggest that a trophy hunting ban may have many unintended consequences for biodiversity conservation, national economies, and the livelihoods of PLCA owners and employees. Along with similar social-ecological studies in other areas and contexts, our work can inform policy decisions around global trophy hunting regulation.