Abstracts of Recently Published Papers on Hunting & Conservation

Abstracts of Recently Published Papers on Wildlife and Habitat Conservation

We 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 Conservation Frontlines library for more recently added material)

The future of private rhino ownership in South Africa. 2020. Laura A. Chapman and Piran C. L. White. Wildlife Research 47(6) 441-447 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR20013

Abstract: Sustained poaching over the past decade has led to significant loss of black (Diceros bicornis) and southern white (Ceratotherium simum simum) rhinoceroses across South Africa. Whereas much research has focused on the heavily targeted state-owned populations, there is little understanding of the trends and challenges faced by rhino populations held in the private sector. Private rhino ownership has increased substantially across South Africa over the past three decades, with over 42% of the entire rhino population now in private ownership. Although total rhino numbers on private properties are still increasing, the number of properties owning rhinos is declining. This suggests a move away from traditional extensive properties to large, single-species breeding facilities, which are less valuable from a conservation perspective. The economic impact associated with increased poaching of rhinos over the past decade is the major challenge to private rhino ownership and may encourage disinvestment in rhinos. Some private rhino owners advocate for trade in rhino horn to generate the funds necessary for continued protection of their animals. However, other options to reduce disinvestment, such as local community-engagement projects, are likely to be more favorably received by the wider conservation industry.


Understanding the public debate about trophy hunting in China as a rural development mechanism. 2020. X. Zhou, D. C. MacMillan, W. Zhang, Q. Wang, Y. Jin and D. Verissimo. Animal Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12638

Abstract: The use of trophy hunting as a wildlife management option has been a highly controversial topic, especially in southern Africa, but trophy hunting has historically also taken place also throughout Asia. In China, trophy hunting was the topic of intense public discussion more than a decade ago, leading ultimately to the suspension of this practice in 2006. Yet, this debate was dominated by urban voices, with no formal consultation of rural populations from minorities such as the Tibetan herders who previously benefited financially from commercial trophy hunting acting as guides and who are also concerned about the negative impact of rising blue sheep numbers on livestock grazing. We used a discrete choice experiment econometric method to better understand the trade‐offs made by both urban and rural populations across China in relation trophy hunting as a rural development and wildlife management tool. We find that trophy hunting is supported by the majority of rural residents but opposed by most urban residents, although there is heterogeneity within both these groups. We recommend that policy‐making in this realm should be informed by a better understanding of the preferences of different stakeholders, including the local people who bear the costs of living with wildlife.


A Model of Collaborative Governance for Community-based Trophy-Hunting Programs in Developing Countries. 2020. Inayat Ullah and Dong-Young Kim. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2020.06.004

Abstract: This paper adopts the Ansel & Gash (2008) model of collaborative governance to frame the structure of community-based trophy hunting (CBTH) programs as a form of collaborative governance that involves multiple stakeholders in the management of common pool resources. We conduct a meta-synthesis of 80 published studies on community-based conservation (CBC) and CBTH programs and develop contingency propositions that may help practitioners and governments to understand and implement programs that seek environmental conservation in collaboration with local communities. Regarding the initial conditions to engender CBTH in developing countries, we propose that the failure of conventional top-down conservation policies, perception of local communities about potential benefits from CBTH, and existence of facilitative leadership, such as local or international conservation NGOs will play critical roles in initiating CBTH, even under the prehistory of conflict, power imbalance, and lack of trust. We also propose organic and instrumental leadership from community and government and inclusive design that creates ground rules and basic protocols are important outside factors to induce stable and strong commitment from participants during the collaboration process. Inside collaborative process, constructive, trust-building face-to-face meetings and generation of intermediate outcomes are identified as crucial factors to building a momentum for successful CBTH outcomes.


Sympathy for Cecil: gender, trophy hunting, and the western environmental imaginary. 2020. Godoy Eric S. Journal of Political Ecology Vol. 27, No 1. 2020. University of Arizona.

Abstract: This article draws from political ecology and ecofeminism to examine sympathy, expressed by record-breaking donations from North Americans, for the death of Cecil the Lion. The overlapping normative critique offered by these two perspectives together demonstrates how sympathy is disclosive of power relations. Sympathy reveals, relies upon, and reinforces different forms of gender, racial, and neo-colonial domination; especially when western sympathy remains ignorant of the power relations, including their politics and histories, that shape attitudes toward non-human animals and grant them status as members of the (western) moral community.


Key Questions for Human-Elephant Conflict Research. 2020. Gail Thomson. Namibian Chamber of Environment.

Summary: Managing elephants in a landscape that includes rural human communities is a major challenge in countries where elephant populations are increasing as a result of successful conservation measures. Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, in particular, must find ways to help their citizens living in rural areas to coexist with these great grey beasts that can be enchanting or terrifying, depending on your point of view.


Transitioning to lead-free ammunition use in hunting: socio-economic and regulatory considerations for the European Union and other jurisdictions. 2020. Niels Kanstrup & Vernon G. Thomas. Environmental Sciences Europe volume 32, Article number: 91 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-020-00368-9

Abstract: Hunting throughout the European Union (EU) has left an accumulating legacy of spent lead ammunition that has deleterious toxic effects upon the environment, wildlife, and humans who consume hunted game meat. Non-toxic lead substitutes for both rifle and shotgun ammunition have been developed and are required in some EU jurisdictions. Within the EU, at least 28 companies make or distribute non-lead shotgun ammunition, and a further 14 companies distribute non-lead rifle ammunition. However, a broad transition to the use of these products has been resisted by the hunting and ammunition-making communities. It is in the self-interest of these communities to recognize the consequences of externalizing the effects of spent lead ammunition to society, and to make hunting more sustainable and socially acceptable. The paper endorses the ongoing process under the European Commission (EC) to introduce wide and fundamental restrictions on the use, trade and possession of lead ammunition for all types of hunting within 3 years, and within 5 years for clay target shooting. This would align EC regulations on lead from ammunition with lead from other anthropogenic sources, and EC regulations that protect the natural environment, especially the conservation of wild birds. Simultaneous EC regulation of lead in marketed game meats would provide extra health protection and assure a safe source of game meat products for consumers.


Water management in the wildlife lodge industry: A southern African perspective. 2020. Jacobus Grobler and Kevin Mearns. Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Zululand. 2nd Annual Conference of the International Geographical Union Commission on African Studies (IGU CAS) at the University of Zululand. 17 to 19 June 2019. Conference Proceedings Chapter 21.

Abstract: The tourism industry across the world requires water for basic human consumption, irrigation of gardens and golf courses, preparation of food and drinks, making snow for winter sports and general water activities such as swimming or motorised water sports (Gössling et al. 2012). Tourism and more specifically wildlife tourism is a major source of income and livelihood for many rural communities across southern Africa. Many wildlife tourism lodges across southern Africa are in remote locations where little or no infrastructure exists. These lodges are dependent on natural water sources such as rivers, dams and boreholes to provide their water needs. The staff employed at these wildlife lodges often reside on the properties and as a result of the lack of nearby housing, roads and public transportation must be accommodated by the tourism ventures. Lodges as a result make allowance not only for the tourism venture operations but for the domestic water use of staff members. Lodge managers must make sure that enough water is available at an acceptable water quality to meet these needs of both guests and staff. This paper investigated water quantity use at 31 wildlife lodges across southern Africa; this paper also provided water quantity use baselines and proposes water use benchmarks for the wildlife lodge industry in southern Africa.


The need for a more inclusive science of elephant conservation. 2020. Lin Cassidy & Jonathan Salerno. Conservation Letters. Volume 13, Issue5. September/October 2020. e12717 https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12717

Abstract: Largely absent from the current scientific dialog is recognition of which voices should contribute to decisions on the future of Africa’s elephants, particularly those living in the Kavango‐Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. We argue that elephant conservation policy must take into account the voices of the people bearing the cost of living with wildlife, as well as the nations with the responsibility of hosting elephant populations. Southern African elephant conservation is a ‘wicked problem’, which is best addressed through small wins approaches. Specifically, research on changes in local political and governance dynamics resulting from community conservation programs is needed, to identify new modalities for community level engagement. Additionally, research into policy implications, as well as seasonal resource needs of humans and wildlife, from zoning and corridor development to facilitate landscape level movement is needed. A modular approach to research for ensuring functional social–ecological landscapes within the KAZA context could help sustain both wildlife and communities in the region.


Global extent and drivers of mammal population declines in protected areas under illegal hunting pressure.  (2020). Alfan A. Rija, Rob Critchlow, Chris D. Thomas & Colin M. Beale. PLOS ONE 15(8) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227163

Abstract: Illegal hunting is a persistent problem in many protected areas, but an overview of the extent of this problem and its impact on wildlife is lacking. We reviewed 40 years (1980–2020) of global research to examine the spatial distribution of research and socio-ecological factors influencing population decline within protected areas under illegal hunting pressure. From 81 papers reporting 988 species/site combinations, 294 mammal species were reported to have been illegally hunted from 155 protected areas across 48 countries. Research in illegal hunting has increased substantially during the review period and showed biases towards strictly protected areas and the African continent. Population declines were most frequent in countries with a low human development index, particularly in strict protected areas and for species with a body mass over 100 kg. Our results provide evidence that illegal hunting is most likely to cause declines of large-bodied species in protected areas of resource-poor countries regardless of protected area conservation status. Given the growing pressures of illegal hunting, increased investments in people’s development and additional conservation efforts such as improving anti-poaching strategies and conservation resources in terms of improving funding and personnel directed at this problem are a growing priority. [Ed. Note – the authors clearly mean “poaching”, when they talk about “illegal hunting”—this conflation of terms influences interpretation of the conclusions by third parties. Mongabay.com gets it right in a summary of the paper referring always to “poaching”].


Insights of Legal and illegal wildlife hunting in Selous and Rungwa Game Reserves in the South-East and Central Tanzania. 2020. Gasto J. Lyakurwa, Rudolf Mremi and Alex W. Kisingo. International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, Vol. 12(4), pp. 326-336, October-December 2020.

Abstract: There is a lack of consensus among conservationists regarding the association between trophy hunting and wildlife poaching. Anti-hunting groups argue that trophy hunting is against animal welfare and contributes to wildlife population decline so it must be refuted. On the other hand, pro-hunting groups for advocate regulated hunting as an essential tool for supporting habitat protection and reducing crimes. Regulated hunting creates incentives for conservation through direct and indirect methods and reduces wildlife poaching in areas where ecotourism cannot be practically viable. We used fifteen years’ trophy hunting and poaching of African elephant (Loxodonta africana), lion (Panthera leo), Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Common Zebra (Equus quagga), hippopotamus (Hippotamus amphibious) and Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) from Selous and Rungwa game reserves in Tanzania. The results showed that there is no evidence of influence of regulated hunting on poaching rate for all species with exception of African elephant. Poaching rate of African elephant was found to be higher than the rate of regulated hunting because of limited number of quota set by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and international restriction of elephant hunting imposed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The study suggests that the contentions to stop trophy hunting because of an increase in poaching incidents have no empirical justification. Thus, more effort should be on anti-poaching activities ensuring the adherence to legal hunting regulations.


A global indicator of utilised wildlife populations: regional trends and the impact of management. 2020. Louise McRae, Robin Freeman, Jonas Geldmann, Grace B. Moss, Louise Kjær-Hansen & Neil D. Burgess. Published by bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.11.02.365031

Abstract: The sustainable use of wildlife is a core aspiration of multi-lateral conservation policy but is the subject to intense debate in the scientific literature. We use a global data set of over 11,000 population time-series to derive indices of ‘used’ and ‘unused’ species and assess global and regional changes in wildlife populations—principally for mammals, birds and fishes. We also assess whether ‘management’ makes a measurable difference to wildlife population trends, especially for the used species populations. Our results show that wildlife population trends globally are negative, but with used populations tending to decline more rapidly, especially in Africa and the Americas. Crucially, where used populations are managed, using a variety of mechanisms, there is a positive impact on the trend. It is therefore true that use of species can both be a driver of negative population trends, or a driver of species recovery, with numerous species and population specific case examples making up these broader trends. This work is relevant to the evidence base for the IPBES Sustainable Use Assessment, and to the development of indicators of sustainable use of species under the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework being developed under the Convention on Biological Diversity.


How International Economic Sanctions Harm the Environment. 2020. Kaveh Madani. Earth’s Future Volume 8, Issue 12. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EF001829

Summary: By targeting the economy of a sanctioned state, sanctions are used to force the sanctioned state’s policy makers to change their actions. But the impacts of economic sanctions on a country can go beyond its economic sector and cause significant collateral damages to ordinary citizens and their economic welfare. Economic sanctions are also associated with significant unintended environmental impacts that have major health, justice, and human rights implications. This study explains how the current economic sanctioning schemes turn the environmental sector into an inevitable victim of the battle between the sanctioning states, seeking behavioral change through economic pressure, and the sanctioned state, determined to pursue its so‐called “abnormal” plans at the expense of causing damages to its natural resources.