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Hunter reporting of catch per unit effort as a monitoring tool in a bushmeat-harvesting system.

The Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW14RY, United Kingdom.
Conservation Biology (Impact Factor: 4.36). 04/2010; 24(2):489-99. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01470.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Growing threats to biodiversity in the tropics mean there is an increasing need for effective monitoring that balances scientific rigor with practical feasibility. Alternatives to professional techniques are emerging that are based on the involvement of local people. Such locally based monitoring methods may be more sustainable over time, allow greater spatial coverage and quicker management decisions, lead to increased compliance, and help encourage attitude shifts toward more environmentally sustainable practices. Nevertheless, few studies have yet compared the findings or cost-effectiveness of locally based methods with professional techniques or investigated the power of locally based methods to detect trends. We gathered data on bushmeat-hunting catch and effort using a professional technique (accompanying hunters on hunting trips) and two locally based methods in which data were collected by hunters (hunting camp diaries and weekly hunter interviews) in a 15-month study in Equatorial Guinea. Catch and effort results from locally based methods were strongly correlated with those of the professional technique and the spatial locations of hunting trips reported in the locally based methods accurately reflected those recorded with the professional technique. We used power simulations of catch and effort data to show that locally based methods can reliably detect meaningful levels of change (20% change with 80% power at significance level [alpha]= 0.05) in multispecies catch per unit effort. Locally based methods were the most cost-effective for monitoring. Hunter interviews collected catch and effort data on 240% more hunts per person hour and 94% more hunts per unit cost, spent on monitoring, than the professional technique. Our results suggest that locally based monitoring can offer an accurate, cost-effective, and sufficiently powerful method to monitor the status of natural resources. To establish such a system in Equatorial Guinea, the current lack of national and local capacity for monitoring and management must be addressed.

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