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The lion in Ghana: Its historical and current status

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The lion in Ghana: its historical and current status.— Historically, the lion (Panthera leo) population in Ghana has been little studied and its status is poorly documented. Currently, after recent unsuccessful attempts to find signs of the presence of the species, many authors believe that the Ghanaian lion population is most likely extinct. In an attempt to gather more data, since 2005 we have been carrying out lion surveys in the most important parks and other protected areas of Ghana, mainly focusing on Mole National Park (MNP). We have also been extensively reviewing the literature in an attempt to reconstruct the history of the presence of the lion in the country. Although our research has not provided unequivocal evidence of the presence of the lion, we have collected circumstantial evidence that suggests that a small lion population might still be present in MNP and its surrounding areas. Resumen El león en Ghana: su situación pasada y presente.— Históricamente, la población de león (Panthera leo) en Ghana ha sido poco estudiada y su situación actual está poco documentada. Tras los últimos intentos infruc-tuosos de encontrar indicios de la presencia de la especie, son numerosos los autores que opinan que la población de león en Ghana está prácticamente extinguida. En un intento por recabar más datos, desde 2005 hemos venido realizando estudios sobre esta especie en los parques más importantes de Ghana y otras zonas protegidas del país, que se han centrado principalmente en el Parque Nacional de Mole (MNP). Asimismo, hemos examinado los datos publicados con el fin de reconstruir la historia de la presencia del león en el país. Si bien nuestra investigación no aportó datos inequívocos, se recabó información circunstancial que sugiere que aún podría existir una pequeña población de león en el MNP y sus zonas circundantes.
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151
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 38.2 (2015)
© 2015 Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona
ISSN: 1578–665 X
eISSN: 2014–928 X
Angelici, F. M., Mahama, A. & Rossi, L., 2015. The lion in Ghana: its historical and current status. 
 , 38.2: 151162.
Abstract
.— Historically, the lion  population in Ghana
has been little studied and its status is poorly documented. Currently, after recent unsuccessful attempts to
nd signs of the presence of the species, many authors believe that the Ghanaian lion population is most likely
extinct. In an attempt to gather more data, since 2005 we have been carrying out lion surveys in the most
important parks and other protected areas of Ghana, mainly focusing on Mole National Park (MNP). We have
also been extensively reviewing the literature in an attempt to reconstruct the history of the presence of the
lion in the country. Although our research has not provided unequivocal evidence of the presence of the lion,
we have collected circumstantial evidence that suggests that a small lion population might still be present in
MNP and its surrounding areas.
Key words: Lion,  , Ghana, Status, Mole National Park
Resumen
.— Históricamente, la población de león () en
Ghana ha sido poco estudiada y su situación actual está poco documentada. Tras los últimos intentos infruc-
tuosos de encontrar indicios de la presencia de la especie, son numerosos los autores que opinan que la
población de león en Ghana está prácticamente extinguida. En un intento por recabar más datos, desde 2005
hemos venido realizando estudios sobre esta especie en los parques más importantes de Ghana y otras zonas
protegidas del país, que se han centrado principalmente en el Parque Nacional de Mole (MNP). Asimismo,
hemos examinado los datos publicados con el n de reconstruir la historia de la presencia del león en el país.
Si bien nuestra investigación no aportó datos inequívocos, se recabó información circunstancial que sugiere
que aún podría existir una pequeña población de león en el MNP y sus zonas circundantes.
Palabras clave: León,  , Ghana, Situación, Parque Nacional de Mole
      
 

  
Corresponding author: F. M. Angelici. E–mail: francescomariaangelici@gmail.com
The lion in Ghana:
its historical and current status
F. M. Angelici, A. Mahama & L. Rossi
152 Angelici et al.
Introduction
The rst scientic studies of African lion (
) populations date back to the 1950s and primarily
concern East Africa. Similar studies in West Africa
are almost absent. Generally speaking, it is difcult
to count individual lions (Myers, 1975). They can
cover enormous distances and occupy areas where
they have gone unreported for years, sometimes far
from their normal range of distribution (Smithers,
1983). Much potential information from local people
is likely to remain unknown to science or underesti-
mated, rendering it useless for conservation purposes
(Black et al., 2013). As a consequence, detecting the
presence of a scarce lion population in large areas
is extremely difcult and requires close collaboration
with park staff and local people in order to gather as
much information as possible. According to Henschel
et al (2014), the West African lion 
( from Senegal to Nigeria), is currently in serious
danger of extinction (g. 1), with about 400 lions in the
whole of West Africa, probably representing fewer than
250 mature individuals. In the last twenty years, West
African lion populations in Ghana, were estimated at
a few dozen individuals (Wilson, 1993; Chardonnet,
2002; Bauer & Van Der Merwe, 2004) and the species
has recently been considered 'functionally extinct, if
not completely eradicated' (Henschel et al 2010;
Burton et al., 2011a). The lion is 'considered absent
in Ghana' (Henschel et al., 2014) (g. 1). In this pa-
per we aim to reconstruct the historical status of the
lion in Ghana by reviewing the available literature,
unpublished data, and material collected during eld
expeditions in the Mole National Park (MNP) and
other areas between 2005 and 2014.
Materials and methods
Historical data up to 2010
We reviewed the literature on lion distribution and
status in Ghana, including unpublished ofcial reports,
and compared all the available data to identify new
information and any possible inconsistencies in lion
population estimates over the years. We obtained data
from scientic articles and books, park documents,
unpublished reports provided by the Wildlife Division
(Forestry Commission) of the Ghanaian Ministry of Lands
and Natural Resources, IUCN and FAO publications
and rst preliminary expeditions led by the main author
since 2005 to 2009 (Angelici, 2006; Angelici & Petrozzi,
2010). Table 1 lists all the unpublished sources we cited.
Project 'The Pride of Ghana' (Mole National Park,
2011–2014)
The project entitled 'The Pride of Ghana: Local De-
velopment and Assistance Toward for the Sustainable
Management of the Mole National Park and its Fringe
Communities' was ofcially launched in January 2011.
The number of consecutive days spent in the eld to
date was 36 days in 2011, 22 days in 2012, 52 days in
2013 (and 23 days in 2014, in addition to the constant
structured, formal collaboration over the course of the
year with the Wildlife Division staff operating in MNP.
Protocols used during eld activities and habitat
suitability model
From April 12 to August 8, 2011, 20 digital camera
traps (model LTL Welltar 8210A) were positioned.
They were placed in different areas of the park, with
a total of 2,474 trap days and 24 camera stations,
with 1,745 trap days in high–suitability areas (228 on
average) and 501 in low–suitability areas (for a deni-
tion of suitability levels, see below). A regular transect
was not used to position the traps.
In 2012, there were only 163 trap days, using
12 camera traps in 14 different positions. From March
2013 to the present (camera trapping is ongoing), up
to 22 camera traps have been used over the course
of the year, with periods of temporary suspension,
especially during the rainy season, for obvious rea-
sons of accessibility. We have collected thousands of
photographs, which are still under analysis (g. 2 for
all camera positions; in some places, there is more
than one trap position).
The choice of where to position the camera traps
was based on a habitat suitability model (g. 3). This
model was developed on the basis of lion sightings
recorded by park staff between 1968 and 2009 by t-
ting logistic regression models on the habitat features
of lion sightings in MNP. The results of the analysis
(signicant variables) were used to implement the
selected predictive variables in GIS software (ArcGis
v. 9.0) to produce a predictive species suitability map,
 to map the areas with the greatest probability
of lion occurrence in the Park. The maps were built
according to three intervals of the probability of occu-
rrence: low–suitability habitat (values from 0 to 0.33);
medium–suitability habitat (from 0.34 to 0.66); and
high–suitability habitat (from 0.67 to 1). The reliability
of the potential distribution model was assessed by
AUC criteria using a Jackknife procedure. The main
positive feature of AUC is its single threshold–inde-
pendent measure for model performance. An AUC
value can be interpreted as the probability that a
presence site, randomly chosen from the dataset,
will have a higher predicted value than an absence
site. The overall model tting was good: AUC=0.886.
Protocol and statistical analyses
We used data recorded over a 41–year time span
by park patrols. Each data entry recorded the con-
rmation of lion presence, including the geographic
coordinates of the site. These data were entered
into DIVA–GIS software. Around each record of lion
occurrence ( = 100), we extracted a circular 100 m
radial buffer, and within this buffer we recorded se-
veral independent variables: (i) linear distance from
the closest road/path (hereby DCR); (ii) rainfall (mm,
per year) (RFL); (iii) linear distance from the closest
pond/water body (DWB); (iv) linear distance from
the closest ungulate prey ( ,
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 38.2 (2015) 153
A
B
C
D
E
F
N
S
WE
Considered absent
Potentially present
Conrmed present
Ghana border
300 km
, , ,
) (DPR); (v) land use (LNU);
and (vi) elevation (m a.s.l.) (ELE). In addition, we re-
corded the same independent variables for 100 ran-
dom points (also with a 100 m radius) within MNP. A
logistic regression modelling approach was applied
to lion presence/absence (Hosmer & Lemeshow,
1989) using a backward stepwise model (Luiselli,
2006) and the Von Bertalannfy growth function
(Von Bertalannfy, 1934, 1938, 1951, 1964). In these
models, lion presence/absence was the dependent
variable, and the six above–mentioned variables
were the covariates. These techniques are powerful
analytical tools that can analyse the effects of one
or several independent variables, both discrete and
continuous, on a dichotomous dependent variable
(Hosmer & Lemeshow, 1989; Teixeira et al., 2001).
In addition, logistic regression models rely on fewer
statistical assumptions than their alternatives and ge-
nerally produce robust results (Teixeira et al., 2001).
Independence was assessed when 2 < 0.58 (Hosmer
& Lemeshow, 1989; Arntzen & Alexandrino, 2004).
To determine whether the probability of lion pre-
sence in relation to the studied covariates was best
described by backward stepwise logistic regression
or by the Von Bertalannfy growth function, we relied
on a model–selection approach based on the Akaike
Information criterion (AIC) (Burnham & Anderson,
2002) according to the formula:
AIC = −2 log Likelihood + 2K
where n depicts effective sample size, and K is the
number of parameters (= number of variables + 1 to
include the intercept (Sugiura, 1978).
The relative performance of alternative models was
measured using the delta AIC:
∆AIC = AICi – min AIC
where AICi is the AIC value for model i, and min AIC is
the AIC value of the best tting model. Hence, the diffe-
rences between the AIC scores of the various models
(∆AIC) provides a measure of the relative reliability of
the competing models. The advantage of this appro-
ach is that it allows the various competing models to
be ranked according to their relative likelihood and is
not dependent on a threshold value (α–level, Vapnik,
2000). The AIC penalizes the addition of parameters,
and thus selects a model using a minimum number
of parameters according to the principle of simplicity
and parsimony (Akaike, 1973); therefore, the models
with the lowest ∆AIC were selected.
Starting in 2012, we conducted night sessions
(from about 9 pm to 1 am) along some random paths,
listening for any possible lion roars. We conducted two
night sessions in May 2012, 2 in March–April 2013,
and 2 in February 2014.
Fig. 1. Map of West Africa including all protected areas where lion occurrence has been documented
according to Henschel et al. (2014). Protected areas in Ghana: A. Gbele Resource Reserve; B. Mole
National Park; C. Bui National Park; D. Digya National Park; E. Kogyae Strict Nature Reserve; F. Kalapka
Resource Reserve.
                 

        
    
154 Angelici et al.
Moreover, as of March 2013, we started to perform
linear transects at night (8.30 pm – 2 am) by car along
the trails in the park using directional headlights at a
constant speed of about 10 km/h. In particular, we
travelled along six transects in 2013, and three in
2014. Each transect was 30–35 km long.
Table 1. A list of the unpublished sources from which they were obtained indirect information, and/or
references were obtained.
        
Data Area Origin Year
MNP database MNP Wildlife Division (Forestry Commission) 1968–2004
Ghana, compiled by MNP staff
Report by P. J. Pegg MNP FAO library, Rome 1969
on wildlife management
Reports by R. Jamieson Ghana and MNP Wildlife Division 1970–72
(Forestry Commission), Ghana
Reports by Aberdeen MNP Wildlife Division 1974–1977
University Ghana (Forestry Commission), Ghana
expeditions to MNP
Wilson (1993) MNP IUCN library, Gland 1993
Results
Historical data up to 2010
Our ndings from a review of the historical literature
were scattered, sporadic and often inaccurate, testifying
Fig. 2. Localization of camera–trapping sessions in MNP carried out from 2011 to 2014.
     
N
S
W E
Camera traps 2011
Camera traps 2012
Camera traps 2013
Camera traps 2014
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 38.2 (2015) 155
to the lack of study of this species in Ghana. This is
possibly because lions were never particularly abun-
dant or widespread in the region. Grubb et al (1998)
meticulously collected several old records of lions from
the late 19th century but even in the map presented
in their paper, it is clear that the last strongholds of
the species were (supposedly) protected areas, 
Bui National Park, Digya National Park, GRR, and
MNP, apart from other occasional reports scattered
throughout the North and East of the country on the
Togo border. Lions were even reportedly seen in Ko-
gyae Strict Nature Reserve and Kalapka Resource
Reserve (g. 1), albeit sporadically, at least until the
1990s (Grubb et al., 1998). For an accurate referen-
ce selection, see Grubb et al (1998). Unfortunately,
there are no data on the size of the lion populations
in any area, nor are there any even preliminary data
on their ecology, with the exception of MNP, as we will
see later. In Cansdale’s (1948) provisional checklist
of the Gold Coast, he only mentions the lion as being
present in the open country in the areas of Togoland,
Afram Plains, north–west Ashanti and the Northern
Territories. However, as it is a checklist, he does not
insert any other data, particularly regarding species
abundance or frequency.
Only two reports were found that relate to this
period, and both were very general and based on
rough estimates, not on specic work carried out in
the eld. Mention should be made of a male lion from
Tamale, Doka woodland (about 80 km from MNP),
whose skin is stored in the Natural History Museum
in London, no. 394, dated June 1943 (Rosevear,
1974). To date, Wilson's report (1993), based on
three months of eldwork, is the only document which
includes data on the distribution and ecology of the
species. Wilson conrmed that the lion roar was
heard several times during the survey, in particular
near the headquarters of the Wildlife Division and
along the Lovi River, near Lovi camp (g. 4). Wilson
(1993) claims to have conrmed lion presence in
MNP in at least three different locations. In January
1993, a photo was also taken of a lioness in lacta-
tion (g. 5) by John Grainger, near Gbanwele camp
(g. 4). Various lion droppings were also collected
in at least ve different locations over the 3–month
study, specically in Lovi, Brugbani, Gbanwele,
Samole, and Nyanga (g. 4) (Wilson, 1993). Ran-
gers also collected the skulls of some probable lion
kills. Wilson (1993) also states that 'while the lion
population in MNP is certainly not high there must
be at least sufcient numbers to maintain a breeding
population'. Furthermore, the same author reported
that in December 1992 the rangers saw prides of
up to eight lions all together, including three cubs,
in particular at Lovi and Nyanga. He also concluded
that lions were more easily encountered at Lovi and
Nyanga, along the Lovi River, extending east and
south to Brugbani and Samole. While lions could also
be found going towards Gbanwele and Konkori, as
well as near Kwomwoghlugu. Moreover, they often
Fig. 3. Lion habitat suitability model ( ) in MNP and surrounding areas (for methodology,
see text).
Panthera leo
    
N
S
WE
Park border
High suitability
Medium suitability
Low suitability
0 20 40 80 120 160 km
156 Angelici et al.
Lion sighting/footprints 2009
Lion sighting 2013
Lion sighting 2014
Roars heard 2011
Roars heard 2012
Roars heard 2013
Roars heard 2014
Buffalo carcassa 2013
Camp
Park H.Q.
Village
Belebile
Holomuni
Ducie
Chasla
Chasia
Camp Sogsima
Camp Ducie
Camp
Gbanwele
Camp
Konkori
Camp
Nyanga
Camp
Dagbori
Camp
Jang
Camp
Nikori
Camp
Jandra
Camp
Grupe
Camp Kuboma
Camp
Kabampe
Camp
Kamanto
Camp Degbere
Camp Semole
Camp
Brugbani
Camp Mognori
Camp
Muruga
Camp
Kwomwoghlugu
Camp
Yazori
Camp
Bawena
Camp
Jang
Soma
Jelinkan
Grupe
Sayire Kobampe
Kananto Palma
Camp
Larabanga
Kong
Daborin
Lovi
Camp
Mognori
Lovi River
Mole River
Belepong
Esalakawu
Camp
Gbantala
Camp
Sabile
Camp
Kulpawn
Camp
Damongo
Muruga
Kaden
Yazori
Bawena
Seriseeni
Camp
Jinfrono
Grubagu
Camp
Grubagu
Wawato
Kporio
Sagiya
Zanwera
Kpulumbo
Park H.Q.
N
S
WE
0 5 10 km
ventured outside the boundaries of the park, accor-
ding to rangers' records, particularly those from the
camps of Kananto, Jang, Gbanwele and Gbantala
(for all localities see gure 4).
In Chardonnet's (2002) account of African lions, he
estimates that 15 (12–18) lions are present in MNP in
the table, while in the text he refers to a range from
15 to 50 lions in MNP according to the estimates of
various specialists. Bauer (2003) and Bauer & Van
Der Merwe (2004) report on an indirect estimate made
by the Ghana Wildlife Society of 20 (12–28) lions in
MNP and 10 (6–14) in GRR.
In 2002, a lioness was killed by poachers in MNP,
and in 2004 a male was shot (g. 6) very close to
the village of Larabanga (g. 4). A few days earlier,
the same lion had killed several heads of cattle and
had also had an aggressive encounter with another
man (see Angelici & Petrozzi, 2010). We collected the
results of questionnaires administered in both MNP
( = 47) and GRR ( = 6), and only 21.3% of the
respondents in MNP reported seeing lions between
2000 and 2009. For further details regarding the
methodology applied, see Angelici & Petrozzi (2010).
According to MNP records for the 1968–2009
period, the maximum number of sightings of a single
lion (of any age) observed on a single occasion was
21, in 1969. No sightings were reported between
1998 and 2008. In 2009, two individuals were spotted
Fig. 4. Detailed map of MNP showing data on lions collected from 2005 to 2014.

  
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 38.2 (2015) 157
Fig. 5. Lioness photographed in January 1993 in MNP.
    
Fig. 6. Lion shot near Larabanga in August 2004.
    
(Angelici & Petrozzi, 2010). Our results date back to
the end of 2005 when our eldwork was undertaken,
and are intermittent up to 2010. The project was
ofcially launched in 2011. At the same time, the
results of research carried out in MNP by C. Burton
and collaborators (2006–2008), , Henschel et al.
(2010) and Burton et al. (2011a, 2011b), begin to
emerge. During their research, according to their
protocols, the authors did not obtain any ndings
regarding the lion, whereas they collected a lot of
data relating to other mammals. Their conclusion was
that in MNP the lion had likely been functionally, if
158 Angelici et al.
Table 2. Summary of the results obtained in the literature and in the present work (updated to December
2014) regarding lions in Ghana (for all localities see gures 1, 4).

                  
 
Data Area Reference Year
Several anecdotal records Bui National Park, Digya Grubb et al. (1998) 1893–1960,
of single lion sightings National Park, GRR, MNP, some undated
(late 19th until the 1960s) other occasional reports
scattered throughout the
North and East Kogyae
Strict Nature Reserve and
Kalapka Resource Reserve
General data of occurrence Togoland, Afram Plains, Cansdale (1948) Until 1948
north–west Ashanti and the
Northern Territories
Skin stored in the Natural Tamale, Doka woodland Rosevear (1974) June 1943
History Museum, London, (about 80 Km from MNP)
no. 394 (male)
Many records (sightings, MNP: Lovi, Brugbani, Wilson (1993) 1992–1993
roars, droppings, Gbanwele, Samole, Nyanga,
prey remains, etc.) Konkori, Kwomwoghlugu.
Frequently outside the
park,  Kananto, Jang,
Gbanwele, Gbantala (g. 5)
15 (12–18) or 15–50 lions MNP Chardonnet (2002) 2002
(estimate)
20 (12–28) lions in MNP, MNP and GRR Bauer & Van 2004
and 10 (6–14) in GRR Der Merwe (2004)
Lioness shot by poachers MNP, unknown locality Angelici & Petrozzi (2010) 2002
Lion shot by MNP, Larabanga Angelici & Petrozzi (2010) 2004
Larabanga shepherds surroundings (g. 6)
Several direct observations MNP Angelici & Petrozzi (2010) 1968–2009
made by MNP staff
between 1968–2009
(see Discussion)
Questionnaires administered MNP, GRR Angelici & Petrozzi (2010) 2000–2009
in both MNP (n = 47) and
GRR (n = 6), 21.3% in MNP
reported seeing lions, none
in GRR
Sighting of one lion Digya National Park Henschel et al. (2010) October 2008
Case of human–lion Kalapka Resource Reserve Henschel et al. (2010) February 2009
interaction
Sighting of a couple of lions, MNP, Lovi (g. 7) Angelici & Petrozzi (2010) May 2009
footprints, prey remains,
by a park manager
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 38.2 (2015) 159
not fully, extirpated. The same conclusion was rea-
ched regarding lion presence in GRR. Henschel et
al. (2010), however, did report some anecdotal local
sightings that they considered plausible, although
further conrmation and investigation would be nee-
ded. One such incidence occurred in Digya National
Park where a lone lion was sighted in October 2008
after years with no sightings. An extremely unusual
case regarding a human–lion interaction was reported
in February 2009 in Kalapka Resource Reserve in
south–eastern Ghana near Togo. If conrmed, this
would support what was stated in the introduction of
this article, that a large predator may unexpectedly
'reappear' in areas where it has been declared extinct
despite incomplete knowledge of its status, causing
unforeseen problems (Smithers, 1983; Black et al.,
2013), as recently happened in Gabon (Anonymous,
2015). In May 2009, park staff in MNP, including an
executive manager (Oliver K. Chelewura), clearly
sighted a two lions, a male and a female. This event
was reported in a paper the following year (Angelici
& Petrozzi, 2010). Lion footprints were also observed
(g. 7) at the same sight along with the skull of a
hartebeest that the lions abandoned when they saw
humans. Unfortunately, the picture contains no ele-
ments to estimate footprint size but all the footprints
were found in the general area of the sighting and
appear convincing.
Status 2011–2014
Camera trap sessions
We have not collected any photos of lions to date,
but more than 20 species of mammals have been
photographed, as evidenced in more than 6,000
selected pictures and about one hundred short lms.
Fig. 7. A lion footprint found immediately after
the sighting of two lions in May 2009 in MNP.


   
Roars heard MNP: staff lodge compound Original data April 2011
Roars heard MNP: along the road Original data May 2012
Mognori–Lovi
Roars heard MNP: three localities (g. 4) Original data April 2013
Sighting of a male lion MNP: close to the Original data August 2013
by a staff guard staff quarters
Possible lion predation MNP: near Brugbani Original data October 2013
of an adult buffalo camp (g. 8)
Roars heard MNP: between Lovi and Original data February 2014
Kwomwoghlugu
A couple of lions sighted MNP: near Gbantala camp Original data August 2014
by poachers, roars heard
Table 2. (Cont.)
Data Area Reference Year
160 Angelici et al.
Reports of direct lion sightings
At 8:07 pm on the evening of April 13 2011, we dis-
tinctly heard a roar from the staff lodge compound.
During the night transect sessions in May 2012, a roar
was heard twice on one occasion and in April 2013,
repeated roars were heard three times in two different
areas within the park (for all roars heard, g. 4). All
these roars were heard at night by one of the authors
(F. M. A.) along with some Ph. D. and MSc. students
and guards Eric Bani and David W. Kabuiri, two of
the most experienced members of the staff.
We have yet to encounter any lions on any night
transects: However, we did encounter and recognized
16 mammal species.
An event of greater note was the sighting by a
guard (D. W. Kabuiri) of an adult male lion very close
to the staff quarters and to the entrance gate to the
park in August 2013. (see g. 4). The following year,
in February 2014, we heard the night roarings of male
lions in the south–central region of the park on two
occasions (g. 4).
In October 2013, we collected some data regarding
the possible lion predation of an adult buffalo. The
buffalo was shot by poachers and retrieved by rangers
and was severely wounded and limping (see the deep
wounds and large, long scratches on the body as well
as the holes on its buttocks made by claws that are
severely infected and full of blowy maggots, g. 8).
In August 2014, we obtained information from a
poacher who was questioned by rangers. The poacher
had seen two adult lions near Gbantala camp (g. 4),
where several roars had also been heard. Further
investigation is currently underway in the region and
camera traps are being placed throughout the area.
All data are summarized in table 2
Discussion
Although compelling evidence has yet to be gathered
( clear videos or photographs), the presence of a
few individual lions in MNP should not be ruled out
. Although the most recent empirical evidence
( a male that was shot) dates back to 2004, the
adult lions observed in 2002 and 2004 could have
reproduced before being killed. Several previous state-
Fig. 8. Buffalo carcass shot by poachers in MNP (October 2013) with clear signs of a probable attacks
by lions, in particular the holes in the hindquarters which are infected and invested with larvae, and the
deep and recent long lateral scratches.
       

      
A
B C
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 38.2 (2015) 161
ments have proven unreliable regarding the extinction
of large cats (Black et al., 2013) and the evidence we
have collected also challenges such a conclusion.
The buffalo shot in October 2013, in addition to the
healed injuries probably caused by other buffalos,
seems to bear the typical signs of a lion attack. Most
of the remaining evidence that has turned up during
our work has been from eyewitness. However, on two
occasions (May 2009 and August 2013) this evidence
was based on reports by qualied and reliable MNP
staff. When management resources are scarce, reports
of a supposedly extinct species can cause controversy
(Roberts et al., 2009), as was the case for lion sightings
in the MNP. Monitoring program of the park has been
criticized by Burton (2012) as not always reliable.
Although often overlooked, the role of paratax-
onomists (local assistants trained by professional
biologists, see Janzen, 1991, 2004) can play a critical
role in conservation (Basset et al., 2004), and infor-
mation provided by trained assistants and the local
people can be as accurate as those of eld biologists
(Danielsen et al., 2014).
The May 2009 sighting is supported by additional
evidence: footprints that can be attributed to a large
cat on the site and the remains of a hartebeest, ap-
parently killed by a large predator. Considering the
eyewitnesses’ statements, the footprints and the typol-
ogy of the prey, the lion is the most likely candidate.
Evidence of lion sightings and roars dated August 2014
near Bantala camp is of particular importance as it
was provided by poachers, who generally understate
the occurrence of wildlife, in particular by not supply-
ing information about lions, for fear of retaliation. The
opinion of Henschel et al. (2010) and Burton et al.
(2011a), which in our view is perhaps too hasty, was
later accepted by many authors and authorities and
reiterated in other articles ( Burton et al., 2011b;
Henschel et al., 2014). Nevertheless, we believe it is
only right to continue to seek out objective data that
attests to the continued persistence of a few lions
in MNP and the immediately surrounding areas. As
pointed out by other authors ( Black & Copsey,
2014), we believe that from the point of view of the
governments and park leaders, a mix of incomplete
knowledge about the presence of a species is better
than assuming its extinction. The possible implications
of a wrongful assumption of the extinction of the lion
would be so important that in the light of indirect evi-
dence we have collected, we believe it is wiser to apply
the Precautionary Principle (Foster et al., 2000) and
assume the survival of the species until more scientic
data tell us the full picture. If there is a chance that
some lions are still present in the MNP, it is essential to
avoid Romeo’s Error (Collar, 1998) for which a species
is thought to be extinct in an area without assessing
all available information. Finally, it should be kept in
mind that considering the lion as extinct quickly leads
to safety rules concerning a direct encounter with the
big cat and all that this implies: danger to livestock but
also danger to man himself, being overlooked. Apart
from the lion attack on a farmer in 2004 (see above),
a good example can be the totally unexpected and
reliable report of a lion in Kalapka Resource Reserve,
Eastern Ghana, towards the border with Togo, where
no–one expected such an occurrence.
In agreement with the proposal by Chardonnet
(2002), we consider the survival of lions in MNP and
in Ghana in general could be of strategic importance to
having a core group of lions forming a central corridor
bridge between Western (Senegal, Guinea) and Eas-
tern (Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, Nigeria) populations
(g. 1), ideally in the Ivory Coast and in Ghana.
Acknowledgements
We are grateful to Nana Ko Adu–Nsiah, Umaru Farouk
Dubiure, Enoch Amasa Ashie, Oliver K. Chelewura,
(Forestry Commission, Wildlife Division) and all the
MNP staff, who assisted us every step of the way, in
particular Eric Bani and David W. Kabuiri for their eld
assistance. We would also like to thank Gianna Da Re
(Ricerca & Cooperazione NGO, Italy) for her coopera-
tion and assistance during our visits to Ghana. The
institutions sponsoring the project are: the Italian Foreign
Affairs Ministry (DGCS), Rome, Italy; the Department of
Ecological and Biological Sciences, and the Department
of Science and Technology for Agriculture, Forests,
Nature and Energy (University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy);
the Forestry Commission (Wildlife Division), Accra,
Ghana; Ricerca & Cooperazione NGO, Rome, Italy. We
also thank Mauro Cella for revising and improving the
English text. We want to thank John Grainger for giving
us a copy of his photo and for allowing us to publish
it in our article. We would also like to thank Damiano
Luchetti, Marco Signore, Dario M. Soldan, Alberto Zilli
and the libraries of IUCN (Gland) and FAO (Rome)
for providing us with documents and publications that
were difcult to nd. Louise Tomsett (Natural History
Museum, London) has provided data on museum
collections. The following people have collaborated
in the eld research: Andrea Caboni, Massimiliano Di
Vittorio, Stefania Gentili, Edoardo Mastrandrea, Fabio
Petrozzi. Luca Luiselli and Massimiliano Di Vittorio
contributed to tting the habitat suitability model. Last,
but not least, many thanks to Emmanuel Do Linh San
for having encouraged us to submit the manuscript, and
for his useful advice, and thanks to the Editor and two
anonymous referees for their useful comments on the
previous draft of this manuscript.
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... A particularly interesting area, due to its strategic position between the above mentioned surviving populations, is the Mole National Park (MNP), Northern Region, Ghana. Here the species has always been present in historical times (Grubb et al., 1998;Angelici et al., 2015), but the last empirical evidence is an adult male shot in 2004 . Currently, lion is considered functionally extinct or extirpated in the whole Ghana (Henschel et al., 2010(Henschel et al., , 2014. ...
... Currently, lion is considered functionally extinct or extirpated in the whole Ghana (Henschel et al., 2010(Henschel et al., , 2014. Despite this, indirect evidence which seems to indicate the persistence of a small population has been found and published in literature (Angelici & Petrozzi 2010;Angelici et al., 2015). ...
... From April 8th to May 5th we carried out our last field research in MNP for the project "The Pride of Ghana" (see Angelici et al., 2015). Here, we investigated a lion's sighting occurred 18 days before first sighting were interviewed by us after our arrival at MNP. ...
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In this note we report on two recent sightings of lion, Panthera leo senegalensis Meyer, 1826 (Mammalia Felidae), one of which made by the authors, in Mole National Park (Ghana) during our last field research in April, 2015. We also obtained a camera trap picture of a probable serval individual, Leptailurus serval Schreber, 1776 (Mammalia Felidae), a species not recorded in the Park since 1976. Our conclusions indicate how the cat status in Mole National Park is very little known.
... The Mole National Park ( MNP , size: 4600 km 2 ) in Ghana is one of the most important protected areas in West Africa, where lions have always been present (Angelici and Petrozzi 2010 ;Angelici et al. 2015 ). Recently, it was considered that lions in MNP and possibly in whole Ghana are extinct (Burton et al. 2011 ;Henschel et al. 2014 ). ...
... In 2004, a male lion was shot in MNP and this individual was thought to be the last lion of the area. In order to evaluate if there are remaining lions in the MNP and surrounding areas, the project "The Pride of Ghana" was initiated in 2005 (Angelici and Petrozzi 2010 ;Angelici et al. 2015 ). It is a cooperation between the Forestry Commission of the Ghanaian Ministry of Lands and Forestry, the Italian NGO "Ricerca e Cooperazione," and the University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy. ...
... The methods used in this project are camera traps, sound playbacks, and interviews with local people. Since 2005, lion tracks, prey presumably killed by lions, and roars were regularly registered by park staff and researchers (Angelici et al. 2015 ). Due to the large size of the MNP and the extremely scarce population, lions are diffi cult to count in this area (Myers 1975 ). ...
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The African lion Panthera leo is under threat. Over the last century the lion has lost about 82 % of its former distribution range, and recent estimates suggest that there are 23,000–38,000 free-ranging lions living in 68 mostly geographically isolated areas. Approximately 24,000 lions are in strongholds, but about 6000 lions are living in populations with a high risk of local extinction, of which about 3000 are in West and Central Africa. Particularly critical is the situation in West Africa, with perhaps only 400 individuals, of which less than 250 are adults. Main threats for lions are habitat loss through agricultural development and human settlement, depletion of prey populations, human–wildlife conflict, epidemics and diseases and trade of lion parts. Conflict mitigation between humans and lions, mainly investigated in rural areas in West and East Africa, have successfully reduced livestock losses and subsequently reduced the number of lions killed. However, mitigation measures alone might fail to secure the critically endangered lion population in West Africa, where translocations and reintroductions might be necessary to counteract genetic impoverishment. Despite encouraging human wildlife coexistence, other approaches for effective long-term conservation of African lions, and the lions’ prey species, favor the separation of land used by humans and conservation areas through the erection of fences. Fences have already been erected in many areas in southern Africa, where lion populations are still viable. Ecotourism and trophy hunting can also be beneficial for lion conservation. However, revenues and user rights over wildlife have to be devolved to local people. This has been successfully implemented in Namibia, which is one of the few countries where lion populations are currently increasing. Although trophy hunting can be a useful conservation tool for conserving lions, it can also be a threat. Therefore, improved regulations and management of lion hunting to prevent negative impacts on hunted lion populations is necessary in many countries. If the downwards trend in lion numbers continues, it is questionable if there will be still lions around in the next century.
... The loss of lions from North Africa repeats a similar pattern of anthropogenic decline observed in Europe in ancient historical times (including across the Caucasus and areas around the Caspian Sea) and later through the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and across the Middle East since medieval times [2,6]. The North African lion decline also resonates with the challenges faced today by dwindling lion populations in West and Central Africa [11,26,27], where a small, dispersed population of around one thousand animals is perilously close to extinction, including several extremely vulnerable isolated subpopulations of perhaps ten or twenty animals approaching imminent demise [26,27]. An examination of the significance of North Africa's "Barbary" lion, its relevance to global lion conservation, and potential place in contemporary conservation of North Africa and the wider continent is overdue. ...
... The loss of lions from North Africa repeats a similar pattern of anthropogenic decline observed in Europe in ancient historical times (including across the Caucasus and areas around the Caspian Sea) and later through the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and across the Middle East since medieval times [2,6]. The North African lion decline also resonates with the challenges faced today by dwindling lion populations in West and Central Africa [11,26,27], where a small, dispersed population of around one thousand animals is perilously close to extinction, including several extremely vulnerable isolated subpopulations of perhaps ten or twenty animals approaching imminent demise [26,27]. An examination of the significance of North Africa's "Barbary" lion, its relevance to global lion conservation, and potential place in contemporary conservation of North Africa and the wider continent is overdue. ...
Article
Full-text available
The lions of North Africa were unique in ecological terms as well as from a human cultural perspective and were the definitive lions of Roman and Medieval Europe. Labelled " Barbary " lions, they were once numerous in North Africa but were exterminated by the mid-20th century. Despite subsequent degeneration of the Atlas Mountain ecosystem through human pressures, the feasibility of lion reintroduction has been debated since the 1970s. Research on the long-established captive lion collection traditionally kept by the sultans and kings of Morocco has enabled selective breeding coordinated across Moroccan and European zoos involving a significant number of animals. Molecular genetic research has recently provided insights into lion phylogeny which, despite previous suggestions that all lions share recent common ancestry, now indicates clear distinctions between lions in North, West, and Central Africa, the Middle East, and India versus those in Southern and Eastern Africa. A review of the evolutionary relevance of North African lions highlights the important challenges and opportunities in understanding relationships between Moroccan lions, extinct North African lions, and extant lion populations in India and West and Central Africa and the potential role for lions in ecosystem recovery in those regions.
... The case studies of the Barbary lion, Caspian tiger, and Barbary leopard, which showed their existence for decades beyond their supposed extinction into the modern era of proactive conservation, point out how they could have been recovered before their extinction. A current example is provided by the western lion, considered extinct in Ghana (Henschel et al. 2014), but recent reports from the Mole National Park seem to indicate the survival of a very small population that could prove strategic for conservation of the species in Ghana and neighboring countries (see Angelici et al. 2015;Angelici and Rossi 2017). ...
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The vanishing population of big cats is a global problem difficult to solve. In modern era several subspecies and populations of felids of the genus Panthera have become extinct, or locally extinct. The review of their story seems to show a common trend: a decrease of prey due to hunting and habitat destruction that leads to the decrease of predators, which switch to livestock creating conflicts with human. In many cases the micro populations of big cats are very difficult to detect, surviving for several years after their official extinction without it being possible to implement conservation strategies. To be effective, conservation measures must be as interdisciplinary as possible and include the active involvement of the locals.
... Some authors have stressed that the attitude of many biologists towards TEK has often been dismissive (Johannes 1989) and TEK has been generally denigrated (cfr. Angelici et al. 2015, Cozzuol et al. 2013). According to others, an obstacle to the use of TEK in zoology is the required use of social sciences methods to collect biological data and the reluctance of the researchers to collaborate with non-scientists or natives (Huntington 2000). ...
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Although empirical data are necessary to describe new species, their discoveries can be guided from the survey of the so-called circumstantial evidence (that indirectly determines the existence or nonexistence of a fact). Yet this type of evidence, generally linked to traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), is often disputed by field biologists due to its uncertain nature and, on account of that, generally untapped by them. To verify this behavior and the utility of circumstantial evidence, we reviewed the existing literature about the species of apes and monkeys described or rediscovered since January 1, 1980 and submitted a poll to the authors. The results show that circumstantial evidence has proved to be useful in 40.5% of the examined cases and point to the possibility that its use could speed up the process at the heart of the discovery and description of new species, an essential step for conservation purposes.
... Understanding the nature of lion sightings in North Africa will enable sophisticated extinction models to be applied to maximum effect. This will help inform the conservation of other extant very rare population, e.g., the Critically Endangered West African lion population (Angelici, Mahama & Rossi, 2015). ...
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As species become rare and approach extinction, purported sightings can be controversial, especially when scarce management resources are at stake. We report a Bayesian model where we consider the probability that each individual sighting is valid. Obtaining these probabilities clearly requires a strict framework to ensure that they are as representative as possible. We used a process, which has proven to provide accurate estimates from a group of experts, to obtain probabilities for the validation of 35 sightings of the Barbary lion. We considered the scenario where experts are simply asked whether a sighting was valid, as well as when we asked them to score the sighting based on distinguishablity, observer competence, and verifiability. We find that asking experts to provide scores for these three aspects resulted in each sighting being considered more individually. Additionally, since the heavy reliance on the choice of prior can often be the downfall of Bayesian methods, we use an informed prior which changes with time.
... Understanding the nature of lion sightings in North Africa will enable sophisticated extinction models to be applied to maximum effect. This will help inform the conservation of other extant very rare population, e.g., the Critically Endangered West African lion population (Angelici, Mahama & Rossi, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
As species become rare and approach extinction, purported sightings can be controversial, especially when scarce management resources are at stake. We report a Bayesian model where we consider the probability that each individual sighting is valid. Obtaining these probabilities clearly requires a strict framework to ensure that they are as representative as possible. We used a process, which has proven to provide accurate estimates from a group of experts, to obtain probabilities for the validation of 35 sightings of the Barbary lion. We considered the scenario where experts are simply asked whether a sighting was valid, as well as when we asked them to score the sighting based on distinguishablity, observer competence, and verifiability. We find that asking experts to provide scores for these three aspects resulted in each sighting being considered more individually. Additionally, since the heavy reliance on the choice of prior can often be the downfall of Bayesian methods, we use an informed prior which changes with time.
... Understanding the nature of lion sightings in North Africa will enable sophisticated extinction models to be applied to maximum effect. This will help inform the conservation of other extant very rare population, e.g., the Critically Endangered West African lion population (Angelici, Mahama & Rossi, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
As species become rare and approach extinction, purported sightings can be controversial, especially when scarce management resources are at stake. We consider the probability that each individual sighting of a series is valid. Obtaining these probabilities requires a strict framework to ensure that they are as accurately representative as possible. We used a process, which has proven to provide accurate estimates from a group of experts, to obtain probabilities for the validation of 32 sightings of the Barbary lion. We consider the scenario where experts are simply asked whether a sighting was valid, as well as asking them to score the sighting based on distinguishablity, observer competence, and verifiability. We find that asking experts to provide scores for these three aspects resulted in each sighting being considered more individually, meaning that this new questioning method provides very different estimated probabilities that a sighting is valid, which greatly affects the outcome from an extinction model. We consider linear opinion pooling and logarithm opinion pooling to combine the three scores, and also to combine opinions on each sighting. We find the two methods produce similar outcomes, allowing the user to focus on chosen features of each method, such as satisfying the marginalisation property or being externally Bayesian.
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In the second volume of Problematic Wildlife, we explore relevant topics related to the ecology of the planet and the inevitable overlap between ecosystems, habitats, wildlife conservation, and human activities. The book is divided into six parts. The first is devoted to the species that can pose a danger to human health and safety, the second is about the urban wildlife and its related conflicts with humans, and the third is about hunting and ecotourism as possible tools for conservation. The fourth part of the book is devoted to the major problem of species extinction, while the fifth part consists in a broad collection of works about the debated role of the zoos for conservation, animal welfare, and animal rights. Finally, the last part of the book covers specific cases related to humans and herpetofauna convivence and conflicts.
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The lion Panthera leo is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the species' current status raises increasing concern among lion specialists across its African range. The situation is particularly alarming in West and Central Africa, where as few as 1000-2850 lions might remain, and where it is considered regionally Endangered in West Africa. Here we present results from lion surveys conducted in 2006-2010, covering 12 Lion Conservation Units (LCUs) in West Africa and three LCUs in Central Africa. We were able to confirm lion presence in only two of the LCUs surveyed in West Africa, and in none of the LCUs surveyed in Central Africa. Our results raise the possibility that no resident lion populations exist in Congo, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.
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The challenges of ecological and environmental change are significant and solutions remain largely under the influence of people and the decisions of governments, interest groups, national and local communities and individuals. Evidence suggests that despite 20 years of effort, conservation initiatives have failed to achieve the targets set for protecting biodiversity in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity 2010. A common factor influencing effectiveness of conservation work undertaken by the diverse mix of government, non-government and civil organisations is leadership. A command-and-control approach to leadership is commonly encountered in conservation and previous reviews suggest this as a major factor in ineffective conservation initiatives. This suggests that conservation leaders should consider a fundamentally different approach to leadership. We examine whether an alternative paradigm, Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge, offers a suitable new basis for leadership in biodiversity conservation. This “Systems Thinking” approach should encompass (i) an understanding of natural systems, (ii) a sense of how human behaviour is influenced, (iii) an understanding of how knowledge should inform decision-making and problem solving, and (iv) an understanding of variation in natural systems. Current paradigms of conservation management fail to address these four fundamentals and therefore do not represent the most effective way to manage conservation. Conversely, challenges and opportunities encountered in biodiversity conservation are well-aligned to a Systems Thinking approach. Leadership approaches defined in Deming’s “System of Profound Knowledge” offer significant positive impacts on biodiversity conservation achievement and provide lessons for leaders in other areas of human activity.
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The African lion has declined to <35,000 individuals occupying 25% of its historic range. The situation is most critical for the geographically isolated populations in West Africa, where the species is considered regionally endangered. Elevating their conservation significance, recent molecular studies establish the genetic distinctiveness of West and Central African lions from other extant African populations. Interventions to save West African lions are urgently required. However formulating effective conservation strategies has been hampered by a lack of data on the species' current distribution, status, and potential management deficiencies of protected areas (PAs) harboring lions. Our study synthesized available expert opinion and field data to close this knowledge gap, and formulate recommendations for the conservation of West African lions. We undertook lion surveys in 13 large (>500 km(2)) PAs and compiled evidence of lion presence/absence for a further eight PAs. All PAs were situated within Lion Conservation Units, geographical units designated as priority lion areas by wildlife experts at a regional lion conservation workshop in 2005. Lions were confirmed in only 4 PAs, and our results suggest that only 406 (273-605) lions remain in West Africa, representing <250 mature individuals. Confirmed lion range is estimated at 49,000 km(2), or 1.1% of historical range in West Africa. PAs retaining lions were larger than PAs without lions and had significantly higher management budgets. We encourage revision of lion taxonomy, to recognize the genetic distinctiveness of West African lions and highlight their potentially unique conservation value. Further, we call for listing of the lion as critically endangered in West Africa, under criterion C2a(ii) for populations with <250 mature individuals. Finally, considering the relative poverty of lion range states in West Africa, we call for urgent mobilization of investment from the international community to assist range states to increase management effectiveness of PAs retaining lions.
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Effective monitoring programs are required to understand and mitigate biodiversity declines, particularly in tropical ecosystems where conservation conflicts are severe yet ecological data are scarce. “Locally-based” monitoring has been advanced as an approach to improve biodiversity monitoring in developing countries, but the accuracy of data from many such programs has not been adequately assessed. I evaluated a long-term, patrol-based wildlife monitoring system in Mole National Park, Ghana, through comparison with camera trapping and an assessment of sampling error. I found that patrol observations underrepresented the park’s mammal community, recording only two-thirds as many species as camera traps over a common sampling period (2006–2008). Agreement between methods was reasonable for larger, diurnal and social species (e.g., larger ungulates and primates), but camera traps were more effective at detecting smaller, solitary and nocturnal species (particularly carnivores). Data from patrols and cameras corresponded for some spatial patterns of management interest (e.g., community turnover, edge effect on abundance) but differed for others (e.g., richness, edge effect on diversity). Long-term patrol observations were influenced by uneven sampling effort and considerable variation in replicate counts. Despite potential benefits of locally-based monitoring, these results suggest that data from this and similar programs may be subject to biases that complicate interpretation of wildlife population and community dynamics. Careful attention to monitoring objectives, methodological design and robust analysis is required if locally-based approaches are to satisfy an aim of reliable biodiversity monitoring, and there is a need for greater international support in the creation and maintenance of local monitoring capacity.
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We modelled the distribution of two genetically differentiated forms of the Golden-striped salamander, Chioglossa lusitanica, in Portugal with the help of a geographical information system. Models were derived with and without the assumption that the contact zone between the forms would be associated with the Mondego river valley and with and without the statistical Bonferroni correction. The model fit was high and ranged from kappa = 0.81-0.99. The southern form appears to live under harsher (but still tolerated) environmental conditions than the northern form (low precipitation, low air humidity, low summer temperatures, a high number of frost months, low NDVI vegetation index) and can be viewed as a mountain form. This is in line with the observation that the southern form has shorter extremities than the northern one.
Chapter
In the history of research of the learning problem one can extract four periods that can be characterized by four bright events: (i) Constructing the first learning machines, (ii) constructing the fundamentals of the theory, (iii) constructing neural networks, (iv) constructing the alternatives to neural networks.
Book
From the reviews of the First Edition."An interesting, useful, and well-written book on logistic regression models . . . Hosmer and Lemeshow have used very little mathematics, have presented difficult concepts heuristically and through illustrative examples, and have included references."—Choice"Well written, clearly organized, and comprehensive . . . the authors carefully walk the reader through the estimation of interpretation of coefficients from a wide variety of logistic regression models . . . their careful explication of the quantitative re-expression of coefficients from these various models is excellent."—Contemporary Sociology"An extremely well-written book that will certainly prove an invaluable acquisition to the practicing statistician who finds other literature on analysis of discrete data hard to follow or heavily theoretical."—The StatisticianIn this revised and updated edition of their popular book, David Hosmer and Stanley Lemeshow continue to provide an amazingly accessible introduction to the logistic regression model while incorporating advances of the last decade, including a variety of software packages for the analysis of data sets. Hosmer and Lemeshow extend the discussion from biostatistics and epidemiology to cutting-edge applications in data mining and machine learning, guiding readers step-by-step through the use of modeling techniques for dichotomous data in diverse fields. Ample new topics and expanded discussions of existing material are accompanied by a wealth of real-world examples-with extensive data sets available over the Internet.
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One of the clearly stated intentions of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is to bring both ‘western scientific’ and ‘indigenous and local’ knowledge systems within synthetic global, regional and thematic assessments. A major challenge will be how to use, and quality-assure, information derived from different knowledge systems. We test how indigenous and local knowledge on natural resources in Miskito and Mayangna communities in Nicaragua, validated through focus groups with community members, compares with information collected on line transects by trained scientists. Both provide comparable data on natural resource abundance, but focus groups are eight times cheaper. Such approaches could increase the amount and geographical scope of information available for assessments at all levels, while simultaneously empowering indigenous and local communities who generally have limited engagement in such processes.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.