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Conservation and sustainable use of wildlife - An evolving concept

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Conservation and sustainable use of wildlife - An evolving concept

Abstract

The proposition that wildlife conservation can sometimes be enhanced through allowing and even promoting the harvesting of wildlife is a sensitive issue. For the last 30 years, conservation has tended to focus on protecting rather than using wildlife. Yet conservation through sustainable use (CSU) is now a mainstream conservation strategy, and research on sustaining rather than stopping uses is commonplace. This paper discusses some of the fundamental and confusing elements of the CSU concept. Two case histories are discussed: Saltwater Crocodiles Crocodylus porosus in the Northern Territory of Australia, and Hawksbill Turtles Eretmochelys imbricata in Cuba. That wildlife populations are themselves highly dynamic entities, capable of adapting to harvest reductions, is well established, but often not appreciated. To advance conservation, research at the dynamic population level of resolution needs to take precedence over research on individual population dynamics.
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... The theory and management tools of traditional sustainable wildlife management (SWM) are under threat as new attitudes and values for wildlife emerge. SWM adheres to the conservation concept of effective combination of conservation and sustainable utilization [12,13], with an aim to establish a long-acting species conservation model that promotes all-round development of ecology, society, and economy [14]. SWM has traditionally formed the basis of conservation management and is promoted by major international conservation organizations, including Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) [15]. ...
... In the second part, we designed a series of questions to analyze beliefs and attitudes towards the theory of SWM and wildlife conservation with topics covered ranging from animal welfare [9], captive breeding of wildlife [22], wildlife release [16], and vegetarianism [23]. We adapted Fulton's (1996) attitudes scales [24][25][26][27], using 20 questions from both forward (questions 4,5,6,8,9,12,13,16,19,20) and reverse (questions 1, 2, 3, 7, 10,11,14,15,17,18) angles. For analysis, we grouped the 20 questions into seven main categories of contemporary relevance to the SWM debate: Before the official survey, we conducted a preliminary survey in Harbin in October 2018 and analyzed the validity and reliability of the questionnaire. ...
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Wildlife conservation and management has become a very complex public policy issue in China as concerns over on animal welfare and empathy for animals have grown. Science-based conservation strategies that are oriented toward sustainable wildlife management (SWM) are under threat as these new attitudes and values emerge and take hold. This study accesses the attitudes of college students towards SWM and wildlife conservation, and investigates demographic characteristics influencing their attitudes in China, a country that is traditionally associated with consumptive use of wildlife and SWM, but where new ideas about wildlife conservation are emerging. From October 2018 to April 2019, nine universities (including "Double First-Class" universities, first-tier universities, second-tier universities), and four three-year colleges in China were selected as survey locations, and face-to-face interviews were conducted with 1991 students. A total of 1977 questionnaires were recovered, of which 1739 were valid, with a completion rate of 88%. A Likert seven-point scale method was used to score students' attitudes, and a classification and regression tree (CART) was used to analyze whether their attitudes were affected by their demographic characteristics. The results show that although students are broadly supportive of the theory of SWM, some are deeply antagonistic about on SWM on issues that arouse strong emotions such as "Animal Welfare and Rights" and "Trophy Hunting". Demographic characteristics of students affect their degree of support for the SWM with support for SWM lower among vegetarians, freshmen, and students who have taken environmental protection electives. This research suggests that the theory of SWM requires to be refreshed and adapted to appeal to the younger generation of Chinese students, with SWM principles integrated into the environmental education programs of universities and three-year colleges. More attention should also be attached to media publicity by the government about wildlife conservation so as to enhance awareness of the need for SWM.
... Sustainable harvesting programs have been widely promoted as a strategy for wildlife conservation [26,27]. Moreover, active involvement of local people in these sustainable harvest programs generally creates better outcomes for conserving wildlife [27,28]. ...
... Sustainable harvesting programs have been widely promoted as a strategy for wildlife conservation [26,27]. Moreover, active involvement of local people in these sustainable harvest programs generally creates better outcomes for conserving wildlife [27,28]. However, this conservation strategy is assumed not viable for turtle conservation [7,29]. ...
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Background: Conservation strategies are urgently needed for tropical turtles that are increasingly threatened by unsustainable exploitation. Studies conducted exclusively in temperate zones have revealed that typical turtle life history traits (including delayed sexual maturity and high adult survivorship) make sustainable harvest programs an unviable strategy for turtle conservation. However, most turtles are tropical in distribution and the tropics have higher, more constant and more extended ambient temperature regimes that, in general, are more favorable for population growth. Methods: To estimate the capacity of temperate and tropical turtles to sustain harvest, we synthesized life-history traits from 165 predominantly freshwater turtle species in 12 families (Carettochelydae, Chelidae, Chelydridae, Dermatemydidae, Emydidae, Geoemydidae, Kinosternidae, Pelomedusidae, Platysternidae, Podocnemididae, Staurotypidae and Trionychidae). The influence of climate variables and latitude on turtle life-history traits (clutch size, clutch frequency, age at sexual maturity, and annual adult survival) were examined using Generalized Additive Models. The biological feasibility of sustainable harvest in temperate and tropical species was evaluated using a sensitivity analysis of population growth rates obtained from stage-structured matrix population models. Results: Turtles at low latitudes (tropical zones) exhibit smaller clutch sizes, higher clutch frequency, and earlier age at sexual maturity than those at high latitudes (temperate zones). Adult survival increased weakly with latitude and declined significantly with increasing bioclimatic temperature (mean temperature of warmest quarter). A modeling synthesis of these data indicates that the interplay of life-history traits does not create higher harvest opportunity in adults of tropical species. Yet, we found potential for sustainable exploitation of eggs in tropical species. Conclusions: Sustainable harvest as a conservation strategy for tropical turtles appears to be as biologically problematic as in temperature zones and likely only possible if the focus is on limited harvest of eggs. Further studies are urgently needed to understand how the predicted population surplus in early life stages can be most effectively incorporated into conservation programs for tropical turtles.
... Communitybased management involving both people with and without decisional power, and integrating scientific knowledge (particularly of population dynamics) with traditional knowledge, proved to be effective in resource management and restoration (see for example the Locally Managed Marine Area Network 14 ). Conservation through sustainable use, tailored to local situations and implemented via adaptive management, can be the way forward to ensure a sustainable use of the marine resources that is also respectful of local culture and traditions (Webb 2002). For example, in the case of crocodilians, there are several instances across the Southern Hemisphere where modern management of crocodiles was successfully carried out by integrating local traditional values (Brackhane et al. 2019). ...
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Globally and locally, conservationists and scientists work to inform policy makers to help recovery of endangered sea turtle populations. In Fiji, in the South Pacific, sea turtles are protected by the national legislation because of their conservation status, and are also a customary iTaukei resource. Centered on our interview-based study at Qoma and Denimanu villages, parallel management systems coexist, where both the (written) national legislation and the (unwritten) customary iTaukei rules determine the time and the quantity of sea turtle harvest. In addition, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions may influence local sea turtle management by providing scientific awareness and helping divert the economic values from the meat to the living animal. We suggest that the government and non-governmental organizations emphasize community management of sea turtles, and work alongside the customary chiefs and their fishing clans to understand the real harvest (eventually by allowing quotas) and to monitor the recovery of South Pacific sea turtles in Fijian waters.
... Whilst not free of controversy, the consumptive use of wildlife is considered by conservation professionals as being not necessarily in conflict with conservation objectives, and in many situations can contribute to them (Webb 2002). A resolution of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) adopted at the General Assembly in 1990 recognised that "... ethical, wise and sustainable use of some wildlife can provide an alternative or supplementary means of productive land use, and can be consistent with and encourage conservation, where such use is in accordance with adequate safeguards" (Hale 1994). ...
Technical Report
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This wildlife management program for Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) in the Northern Territory of Australia is a legal instrument under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1976 (TPWC Act). It aims to protect and conserve the species whilst allowing for its sustainable use, and appropriate control in situations where it is causing economic damage. The Magpie Goose is found in continental Australia, surrounding islands and the southern lowlands of New Guinea. Its range contracted from the south-eastern part of Australia following European settlement. Magpie Geese are most abundant in the Top End of the Northern Territory (NT) with population estimates over the past 36 years ranging from just under a million to more than 3 million birds. High rates of recruitment are possible with nesting success closely tied to above average wet season rainfall. Numbers are highest in the floodplains of the central Top End. Approximately 30% or about 1,400 km2 of key Magpie Goose floodplain habitat lies within existing parks and reserves, most notably the Mary River National Park and Kakadu National Park. Magpie Geese are protected wildlife under the TPWC Act and their conservation status is assessed as “least concern” in the NT. They are considered threatened in some other jurisdictions due to historical declines in distribution and abundance in those states. It is listed as a marine protected species under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Magpie Geese have very high socio-economic values in the Top End with an iconic status for residents and visitors alike. They are a totemic animal for Aboriginal people as well as an important seasonal source of food. Other sections of the community see hunting as important with a tradition of such harvest since the early 1900s. In some situations Magpie Geese cause economic damage to horticultural production, and there is potential for significant commercial use of geese.
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Wildlife farming, the commercial breeding and legal sale of non-domesticated species, is an increasingly prevalent, persistently controversial, and understudied conservation practice. The adoption or rejection of wildlife farms is a complex process that incorporates numerous ethical considerations: conservation, livelihoods, animal welfare, and cultural practices. This paper uses qualitative interview data with key informants (academics) to analyze (a) the harms and benefits of wildlife farms and (b) the factors that influence whether wildlife farms are stigmatized or accepted. In evaluations of wildlife farming’s harms and benefits, respondents incorporated multiple considerations: animal welfare, environmental impacts, scale disparities between sustenance and commercial farms, consumer preferences, species differences, the substitutability and accessibility of wildlife products, and governance. The results further indicated that the stigmatization or acceptance of wildlife farms is affected by the “wildlife farm” label, if there is a stigma around use of a species, a form of production, or the perceived quality of a wildlife product, cultural differences in wildlife use, wildlife consumer typology, geopolitical factors, and demand reduction efforts. This paper analyzes the complexities of wildlife farming such that stakeholders can understand the impacts of this practice on species, human communities, individual animals, and the legal and illegal wildlife trades.
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Background Conservation strategies are urgently needed for tropical turtles. Studies conducted exclusively in the temperate zone have revealed that the suite of life history traits that characterizes turtles and includes delayed sexual maturity and high adult survivorship makes sustainable harvest programs an unviable strategy for turtle conservation. However, most turtles are tropical in distribution and the tropics have higher, more constant and more extended ambient temperature regimes that, in general, are more favorable for population growth. Methods To estimate the capacity of freshwater turtle species from temperate and tropical regions to sustain harvest we synthesized life history traits from 165 freshwater turtle species in 12 families (Carettochelydae, Chelidae, Chelydridae, Dermatemydidae, Emydidae, Geoemydidae, Kinosternidae, Pelomedusidae, Platysternidae, Podocnemididae, Staurotypidae and Trionychidae). The influence of climate variables and latitude on freshwater turtle life history traits (clutch size, clutch frequency, age at sexual maturity, and annual adult survival) were examined using Generalized Additive Models. The biological feasibility of sustainable harvest in temperate and tropical species was evaluated using a sensitivity analysis of population growth rates obtained from stage structured matrix population models. Results Turtles at low latitudes (tropical zones) exhibit smaller clutch sizes, higher clutch frequency, and earlier age at sexual maturity than those at high latitudes (temperate zone). Adult survival increased weakly with latitude and declined significantly with increasing bioclimatic temperature (mean temperature of warmest quarter). A modeling synthesis of these data indicates that the interplay of life history traits does not create higher harvest opportunity in adults of tropical species. Yet we found potential for sustainable exploitation of eggs in tropical species. Conclusions Sustainable harvest as a conservation strategy for tropical turtles appears to be as biologically problematic as in temperature zones and likely only possible if the focus is on limited harvest of eggs. Further studies are urgently needed to understand how the predicted population surplus in early life stages can be most effectively incorporated into conservation programs for tropical turtles increasingly threatened by unsustainable exploitation, climate change and deforestation.
Thesis
Wildlife conservation is challenging. In part because we lack essential knowledge on species life-history, distribution or abundance, but also because threats are generally anthropogenic and we lack detailed understanding of the human dimensions of conservation. Numerous scholars have studied the relationship between poverty and its impact on the ecosystem condition, and the importance of environmental education and legal frameworks in successful conservation initiatives to improve enforcement and maintain relationships among traditional people and their environments. In relation to marine turtle conservation, there are significant knowledge gaps in relation to people and their role in conservation. Hence, in this thesis I evaluate human dimension aspects that affect the conservation status of marine turtles, and to improve our understanding of the relationships among human societies and wildlife conservation. To achieve my aim, I assessed four research objectives: 1) Evaluate how socio-economic drivers and legal frameworks affect the level of protection of marine turtles worldwide; 2) Identify and understand the conservation conflicts that impact marine turtle protection initiatives in the Caribbean basin; 3) Assess the historical and current demographic status of marine turtle stocks in the Gulf of Venezuela; and 4) Study the scale of use, cultural component and value of marine turtles to Wayuú Indigenous people, especially as a medicinal resource. Human societies are closely linked to their ecological environments and the conservation capacity of a country’s government plays a key role in the protection of marine turtles. In chapter 2, I aimed to (1) evaluate the conservation capacity and enforcement within the 58 regional management units (RMUs) of the seven species of marine turtles throughout the world, using the Human Development Index (HDI) and economic levels as proxies; and (2) to predict the conservation status of 43 marine turtle RMU by merging several indices. To do this I developed a Conservation and Enforcement Capacity index (CECi) by integrating (1) the economic level of each country (defined by the United Nations); (2) the HDI (World Economic Situation and Prospects database); and (3) the risks and threats identified in the RMU framework. I then used the most recent conservation status of 15 recently IUCN assessed RMUs to predict the conservation status of the 43 RMUs without updated IUCN categorisation. I evaluated the conservation status of marine turtle RMUs in relation to the socio-economic situation of the region for each RMU. I found that using only the HDI as a proxy to assess the conservation capacity of the governments was weak. However, by using a multi-index model, I was able to predict the status of 33 of 58 RMUs, of them 57% may be of threatened conservation status due to their high CECi values. Consumptive use of threatened species, such as marine turtles, is one of the main challenges for environmental and conservation entities. In the case of marine turtles, this use is controversial. For this reason, in Chapter 3, I evaluated how consumptive use (legal and illegal) of marine turtles occurs (regulated or not) and is distributed worldwide. After an extensive literature review, I identified and categorised the regulations associated with the consumptive use of marine turtles. Of 137 countries with a marine-facing coastline and a presence of turtles. Of them I found that legislation prevents use in 98 of them (72%), and legal use occurs in 39. Among these 39 countries, use is regulated in 33 (85%) with parameters, such as ethnicity, region, size, quotas, and special permits. Conflicts among local, national, regional and international stakeholders (involved in marine turtle conservation) often they arise because people or groups involved come from different socio-economic backgrounds. In chapter 4, I narrow the scale of my thesis to the Caribbean region. I aim to identify and assess the conservation-based conflicts occurring in the Caribbean countries, identifying their frequency, level of severity, number of stakeholders’ groups involved, the degree to which they hinder conservation goals, and potential solutions. I evaluated the presence and details of conservation conflicts provided by 72 respondents including conservation-based project leaders, researchers, and people involved in policy-based decision-making, conservation volunteers, and species experts with experience working on marine turtle conservation programs in the Caribbean. The respondents identified 136 conflicts, and I grouped them into 16 different categories. The most commonly mentioned causes of conflicts were: 1) the ‘lack of enforcement by local authorities to support conservation based legislation or programs’ (18%); 2) ‘legal consumption of turtles by one sector of community clashing the conservation aspirations of other sectors of community (14%); and 3) ‘variable enforcement of legislation to limit/prohibit use across range states of the species (10%). From the respondents, it is also apparent that illicit activities in the region are also impacting in the success of conservation based projects and programs. In chapters 5, 6, and 7, I narrow the focus of my thesis down to a country scale and examine the current state of knowledge species distribution and threats (Chapter 5), consumptive use and trade (Chapter 6) as well as indigenous (Wayuú) perspectives (Chapter 7) in the Venezuelan territory, and its effect on the current use of marine turtles (consumptive and non-consumptive). In chapter 5, I combined data from field-based studies with survey data from community based monitoring and historical records to investigate the distribution and threats to Venezuela’s marine turtles. Overall, my findings confirm that five species of marine turtle use the Gulf of Venezuela, and I provide baseline stranding trends for four of them. I evaluated 1,571 records of stranded marine turtles comprising of 82% green turtles, 8% hawksbill turtles, 5% leatherback turtles, 4% loggerhead turtles, and 1% olive ridley turtles. I found that 82% of the all turtles recorded as stranded were immature. The co-occurrence of multiple species and both immature and adult-size turtles indicates that the Gulf of Venezuela provides important habitat for year-round feeding and development. As part of this baseline evaluation in the Gulf of Venezuela, in Chapters 6 and 7, I assessed the scale and cultural component of consumptive use of marine turtles in the region. To assess the scale and cultural component of this use, I interviewed residents and indigenous elders from the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Venezuela (Venezuelan part of the Guajira Peninsula), using a combination of in-depth and semi-structured interviews. I carried out a field and detailed market-based observations on the Guajira Peninsula to detect the sale and use of marine turtle products. I focused on three main categories of use; the type of use (e.g. traditional medicine, non-commercial cultural or commercial), the type of product, routes of trade, and the price of products. I identified types of products, routes of trade, and the prices of different products. All of the marine turtle species reported from the Gulf of Venezuela were used by people, sometimes commercially, and the prices of products varied among their type, species of origin, and the distance from the capture area to a marketplace. I obtained evidence connecting Wayuú Indigenous people’s traditions and beliefs with marine turtle use, and also how up to 11 different marine turtle body parts are used for traditional medicine, and as an economic resource to sustain their communities. It is probable that illegal trade of marine turtle products is placing pressure on populations in the Gulf of Venezuela. I recommend the implementation of an inter-institutional conservation-portfolio be developed for the Peninsula to evaluate actions related to this concern.
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Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) were protected in the Northern Territory in 1971, and a General Survey Program Based on spotlight counts was initiated 3 yr later. In the mid-1980s, monitoring needs were reviewed and rationalized. The current monitoring program operates at two levels of resolution. At a local population level, annual spotlight counts are conducted in six river systems, to monitor closely the process of recovery in those systems. Sixteen years of survey data for the Blyth-Cadell River system are analyzed here. Changes in the age structure of the population during the period of recovery are discussed. At a total population level, current monitoring (since 1989) involves an annual helicopter count over 70 sample segments in 68 tidal rivers around the complete coastline. The results of this program to date are presented and discussed. The experience and results obtained in the Northern Territory emphasize the need to clearly establish levels of resolution within which monitoring aims, objectives, and programs are compatible.