Article

To protect or neglect? Design, monitoring, and evaluation of a law enforcement strategy to recover small populations of wild tigers and their prey

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Abstract

Many remaining wild tiger populations persist in small numbers at sites where densities are less than half of their estimated carrying capacity and will continue to decline if not protected from poaching. Although law enforcement is frequently used to protect tigers and their prey, the conditions under which enforcement is likely to be effective in recovering small populations of wild tigers are not well understood. We evaluated the effectiveness of a law enforcement strategy to recover tigers and their prey in Lao PDR where extensive habitat provided favorable conditions for large increases in tiger numbers if protected from poaching. Over a seven-year period, we monitored along a theory of change to evaluate assumptions about the causal linkages between intermediate results and biological outcomes. Although we found a strong positive correlation between funding for enforcement and days patrolled (rs = 0.786, n = 7, p = 0.05) and a significant negative correlation between days patrolled and overall hunting catch per unit effort (rs = − 0.893,n = 7, p < 0.05), ultimately a proliferation in snaring was associated with decline in several indices of tiger abundance. We conclude that actions were sufficient to reduce poaching and increase prey populations, but insufficient to curtail extirpation of tigers. Recovering small populations of high-value wildlife such as tigers in promising source sites is dependent on establishing a complete enforcement regime, complimentary strategies that build support for the enforcement regime, and a nimble monitoring and evaluation system for agile adaptive management.

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... Three interventions were implemented in 2005 to reduce poaching on tigers and their prey (wild ungulates) in NEPL NPA (Johnson et al. 2016). The interventions consisted of (i) strengthening law enforcement activities by increasing foot patrol frequency and coverage and (ii) working with local government, communities, and the military, to establish and enforce inviolate core zones where tigers and prey would not be poached (Fig. 2). ...
... The interventions consisted of (i) strengthening law enforcement activities by increasing foot patrol frequency and coverage and (ii) working with local government, communities, and the military, to establish and enforce inviolate core zones where tigers and prey would not be poached (Fig. 2). Furthermore, (iii) a Wildlife Crime Unit was created to facilitate public reporting and apprehension of wildlife crime (Johnson et al. 2016). During 2005-2009, increasing foot patrol effort led to a significant decrease in the detection of poaching tools (e.g., snares) per 100 km patrolled. ...
... During 2005-2009, increasing foot patrol effort led to a significant decrease in the detection of poaching tools (e.g., snares) per 100 km patrolled. However, during 2009-2012, there was an exponential proliferation in confiscation of wire snares (Johnson et al. 2016). Relative to the baseline survey in 2003/2004, in 2012 the relative abundance of all ungulate species significantly increased, ranging from over a twofold increase (2.77-6.97) ...
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The growing complexity and global nature of wildlife poaching threaten the survival of many species worldwide and are outpacing conservation efforts. Here, we reviewed proximal and distal factors, both social and ecological, driving illegal killing or poaching of large carnivores at sites where it can potentially occur. Through this review, we developed a conceptual social-ecological system framework that ties together many of the factors influencing large carnivore poaching. Unlike most conservation action models, an important attribute of our framework is the integration of multiple factors related to both human motivations and animal vulnerability into feedbacks. We apply our framework to two case studies, tigers in Laos and wolverines in northern Sweden, to demonstrate its utility in disentangling some of the complex features of carnivore poaching that may have hindered effective responses to the current poaching crisis. Our framework offers a common platform to help guide future research on wildlife poaching feedbacks, which has hitherto been lacking, in order to effectively inform policy making and enforcement.
... In the case of tigers, breeding females have been detected in only a few scattered populations, suggesting widespread functional extinction of this apex predator (Lynam, 2010). Several areas previously recognized as priority "source sites" where tiger reproduction was documented a mere decade ago are now devoid of tigers altogether (Johnson et al., 2016;Rasphone et al., 2019) or experiencing rapid declines (Rayan & Linkie, 2015;Steinmetz et al., 2013). ...
... However, insatiable demand and rising wealth in East Asia along with rapidly expanding agricultural frontiers and new, existing, and upgraded road networks in previously remote areas have led to intensive snaring and devastating defaunation (Clements et al., 2014;Gray et al., 2018;Hance, 2018;Tilker et al., 2019). Snares were responsible for the recent extirpation of tigers from Laos (Johnson et al., 2016) and they now represent the greatest existential threat to critically endangered large mammal endemics such as saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) and giant muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis) (Tilker et al., 2017;Timmins et al., 2016b). ...
... Consistent enforcement increases the perceived risk of arrest and, consequently, temporarily alters behavior (e.g., fewer trips to the forest to poach in response to greater perceived risk) (Duangchantrasiri et al., 2016). However, without change in underlying social norms, poaching often persists during lapses in enforcement (Hanafiah, 2020;Johnson et al., 2016;Semyonov, 2009). Thus, as part of a larger and more strategic approach, efforts to establish additional informant networks at the community and district (locally known as bupati) level will help make wildlife crime a more punishable offense. ...
Article
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Tropical forests are under severe threat from over-hunting. Subsistence harvests and poaching have decimated wildlife populations to the extent that nearly 50% of Earth’s tropical forests are partially or fully devoid of large mammals. Declines are particularly acute in Southeast Asia where ongoing defaunation, largely attributable to indiscriminate snare trapping, is widespread. Using the extensively forested Aceh province in northern Sumatra as a case study, we document rampant snaring, which threatens Earth’s last sympatric population of tigers, rhinoceros, elephants, and orangutans. To prevent catastrophic hunting-induced impacts already experienced in mainland Southeast Asia, we call for more comprehensive conservation planning assessments that strengthen wildlife law enforcement, promote collaborative anti-poaching, and research species-specific snaring impacts, particularly in the context of human-wildlife conflict. We conclude with a discussion of the important linkages between poaching, wildlife trade, and zoonotic disease risk.
... However, due to the difficulty and risk involved in studying these covert and illegal activities (Karanth and Stith, 1999;Madhusudan and Karanth, 2002) it has been difficult to collect the information needed to address this problem across the 76 tiger conservation landscapes (Sanderson et al., 2006). Critical to assessing the level of tiger and prey poaching across each landscape, is the monitoring of the spatial scale and intensity of these threats to enable conservationists to design effective interventions, and to be able to monitor the impact of their activities (Duangchantrasiri et al., 2016;Hotte et al., 2016;Johnson et al., 2016;Stokes, 2010). To date, few studies have assessed the scale and spatial intensity of tiger and prey poaching to design improved law enforcement strategy at a specific site of Sumatra (Linkie et al., 2015;Rifaie et al., 2015). ...
... To refine patrolling strategies and enhance evidence gathering efforts, it is also necessary to catalogue the specific methods that poachers employ (Karanth and Stith, 1999;Watson et al., 2013;Linkie et al., 2015). Previous studies have identified some site-specific poaching methods for tigers such as iron spring traps in India (Wright, 2010), traditional common wire cable, traps and gun in Sumatra (Linkie et al., 2015;Shepherd and Magnus, 2004;Treep, 1973), direct shooting in the Russian Far East , and poisoning by pesticides in Sumatra and India (Tilson et al., 2010;Treep, 1973;Wright, 2010) and explosive traps and snares in Laos and Cambodia (Johnson et al., 2016;O'Kelly et al., 2012). Likewise, the methods for prey poaching documented so far include guns and snares in India (Madhusudan and Karanth, 2002), snares in the Sundarbans (Jagrata Juba Shangha, 2003;Khan, 2004), and traps in Sumatra (Linkie et al., 2015). ...
... Although poaching of tigers using snare traps or cable snare has been detected in most tiger range states (Johnson et al., 2016;Shepherd and Magnus, 2004;Wright, 2010), in the SRF the snare materials, placement, and association with prey food suggest that the snares were set up to only target tiger prey. Similar to the poison baits, snares may also lead to the capture, injury, and death of non-target species (Barlow, 2009). ...
Article
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Poaching of tigers and their key prey threatens the survival of tigers across their range. This study investigated the methods, intensity, and driving factors of tiger and prey poaching in the Sundarbans Reserved Forest of Bangladesh, to help better design and direct future management interventions. The study identified a range of snaring methods used to catch prey and an approach to killing tigers by poisoning prey carcasses with a Carbofuran pesticide. We recorded six poisoned baits set to kill tigers and 1427 snare loops in 56 snare sets to kill tiger prey. With an average of 23 snare loops/snare set, this is equivalent to an estimated 6268 snare loops across the Sundarbans or 147 snare loops/100 km². Poachers selected sites that tended to be away from guard posts, and close to river banks, but were not influenced by protected area status or distance to the forest boundary. The current poaching pressure is likely to have contributed to a recent decline in relative tiger abundance. We recommend using better regulation of Carbofuran use across tiger range countries, and using remote camera traps set up around snares and poisoned baits to help authorities identify poachers for arrest. This study demonstrates a simple approach to investigating the methods, intensity and distribution of poaching, that could be replicated across all tiger landscapes to better direct mitigating actions and monitor changes in threat levels over time.
... There are three groups of issues faced by protected areas. First, patrolling costs can take up to 66% of the annual operational budget of protected areas (Johnson et al., 2016;Plumptre, 2019). However, only 22% of them receive sufficient funding (Coad et al., 2019), while 33% is under intense human pressure (Geldmann et al., 2014;Jones, Cusack, et al., 2018). ...
... Poachers can reduce detection rates by switching to a different poaching method. Researchers frequently observe a switch from noisy poaching methods, such as using guns, towards the use of snares (Henson et al., 2016;Holmern et al., 2007;Jachmann, 2008;Johnson et al., 2016;Nahonyo, 2009). ...
... However, studies on bushmeat poaching by snaring have not found a relation between patrol effort and snaring levels Campbell et al., 2019;Johnson et al., 2016;Kimanzi et al., 2014;Wato et al., 2006). This study is no exception; there are insufficient monitoring data from Soysambu and publicly available data to compare both patrol efforts and snaring intensities. ...
Thesis
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Research into the protection of protected areas against bushmeat poachers placing snares: 1. How can snaring hotspots be identified? 2. Can the expertise of rangers be used in predicting snaring hotspots? 3. Can current patrolling patterns be improved?
... However, due to the difficulty and risk involved in studying these covert and illegal activities (Karanth and Stith, 1999;Madhusudan and Karanth, 2002) it has been difficult to collect the information needed to address this problem across the 76 tiger conservation landscapes (Sanderson et al., 2006). Critical to assessing the level of tiger and prey poaching across each landscape, is the monitoring of the spatial scale and intensity of these threats to enable conservationists to design effective interventions, and to be able to monitor the impact of their activities (Duangchantrasiri et al., 2016;Hotte et al., 2016;Johnson et al., 2016;Stokes, 2010). To date, few studies have assessed the scale and spatial intensity of tiger and prey poaching to design improved law enforcement strategy at a specific site of Sumatra (Linkie et al., 2015;Rifaie et al., 2015). ...
... To refine patrolling strategies and enhance evidence gathering efforts, it is also necessary to catalogue the specific methods that poachers employ (Karanth and Stith, 1999;Watson et al., 2013;Linkie et al., 2015). Previous studies have identified some site-specific poaching methods for tigers such as iron spring traps in India (Wright, 2010), traditional common wire cable, traps and gun in Sumatra (Linkie et al., 2015;Shepherd and Magnus, 2004;Treep, 1973), direct shooting in the Russian Far East , and poisoning by pesticides in Sumatra and India (Tilson et al., 2010;Treep, 1973;Wright, 2010) and explosive traps and snares in Laos and Cambodia (Johnson et al., 2016;O'Kelly et al., 2012). Likewise, the methods for prey poaching documented so far include guns and snares in India (Madhusudan and Karanth, 2002), snares in the Sundarbans (Jagrata Juba Shangha, 2003;Khan, 2004), and traps in Sumatra (Linkie et al., 2015). ...
... Although poaching of tigers using snare traps or cable snare has been detected in most tiger range states (Johnson et al., 2016;Shepherd and Magnus, 2004;Wright, 2010), in the SRF the snare materials, placement, and association with prey food suggest that the snares were set up to only target tiger prey. Similar to the poison baits, snares may also lead to the capture, injury, and death of non-target species (Barlow, 2009). ...
... Although they are known to exploit plantations and agricultural fields, there is no evidence that bears can survive without access to natural forest. Southeast Asia has experienced the highest rates of forest loss in the world in the past two decades (Miettinen et al. 2011) and the deforestation rate per annum between 2000-2005 was around 1.5% (Sodhi et al. 2010 (Berkmüller et al. 1995, Johnson et al. 2016. Proactive conservation of bears in Lao PDR may still be possible, but is hampered by lack of the most basic information on bear distribution and status. ...
... Around 80% of the population lives rurally and depends on agriculture (i.e. rice cultivation, sweetcorn) for income, and on wild meat and other forest products for subsistence (Berkmuller et al. 1995, Johnson et al. 2016 and is the largest NPA in southern Lao PDR (Berkmuller et al. 1995). Xe Pian is a mosaic of semi-evergreen, mixed deciduous and dry dipterocarp forests, and wetland habitat. ...
... Of particular concern is the widespread use of wire snares, which is decimating wildlife populations throughout much of Southeast Asia (Gray et al. 2017). Snares led to the extirpation of tigers from NEPL NPA in recent years, and considering this protected area is one of the most intensively managed in Lao PDR (Johnson et al. 2016), the need for new, improved strategies to combat poaching is evident. Without measures to reduce poaching, bear populations in Lao PDR will almost certainly continue to decline (Scotson and Brocklehurst 2013). 2 Gnot Namthi Provincial Protected Area and Sam Meuang Product Forest are combined into one site as they are contiguous with similar ecological and human based conditions. ...
... This threat was driven by international demand for tiger bones, bears, pangolins, and primates with additional demand from urban markets in Laos for wild meat (e.g., ungulates and large rodents) [28]. Evidence gathered from camera trap surveys, focal group discussions and law enforcement patrols indicated that the hunters were primarily from villages bordering the NPA with access to illegal weapons-including guns, explosives, and traps [26,[29][30][31]. There was little evidence of hunters coming from beyond the NPA, which was likely due to the remote and rugged nature of the heavily forested and mountainous landscape. ...
... Of the 84 hunter groups caught by patrol teams in 2009, only five were from another village sector and one from a non-NPA village. Villagers hunting for large mammals deep in the forest were typically in groups, while people tending to upland rice fields and grazing livestock in satellite locations inside the forest hunted alone or in small pairs [31,32]. Buyers were normally influential villagers that acted as local middlemen, selling their products to other Lao traders from outside the province, or foreign traders from Vietnam or China [27]. ...
... The ecotourism site was located on the Nam Nern River in the NEPL NPA (Fig 1), which was identified as a feasible location for developing wildlife-based tourism because it provided a unique opportunity to see wildlife [36], which was relatively uncommon elsewhere in Laos [7]. This was due in large part to an NPA law enforcement strategy implemented in 2005 [31], and the river that allowed for stealthy boat travel to view wildlife visiting the river for water and minerals. The location was also identified as a viable tourism development area as it is situated at the crossroads of three major tourist destinations: the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang Town, the UNESCO World Heritage-nominated Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang Province, and the Pathet Lao Caves in Viengxay, Houaphanh Province and road to Hanoi [36]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Ecotourism as a strategy for achieving biodiversity conservation often results in limited conservation impact relative to its investment and revenue return. In cases where an ecotourism strategy has been used, projects are frequently criticized for not providing sufficient evidence on how the strategy has reduced threats or improved the status of the biodiversity it purports to protect. In Lao PDR, revenue from ecotourism has not been directly linked to or dependent on improvements in biodiversity and there is no evidence that ecotourism enterprises have contributed to conservation. In other developing countries, direct payments through explicit contracts in return for ecosystem services have been proposed as a more cost-effective means for achieving conservation, although further research is needed to evaluate the impact of this approach. To address this need, a new model was tested in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (NPA) in Lao PDR using a direct payments approach to create ecotourism incentives for villagers to increase wildlife populations. Over a four-year period, we monitored along a theory of change to evaluate assumptions about the linkages between intermediate results and biological outcomes. Preliminary results show a negative correlation between ecotourism benefits and hunting infractions in target villages; no increase in hunting sign in the ecotourism sector of the NPA relative to a three-fold increase in hunting sign across the NPA’s non-tourism sectors; and an overall increase in wildlife sightings. This case provides key lessons on the design of a direct payments approach for an ecotourism strategy, including how to combine threat monitoring and data on wildlife sightings to evaluate strategy effectiveness, on setting rates for wildlife sightings and village fees, and the utility of the approach for protecting very rare species.
... Unregulated over-harvesting of animals and plants as well as loss of forest to agricultural expansion are the main threats to wildlife of the NEPL (Johnson, 2012). The study by Johnson et al. (2016) suggested a decline in abundance of tiger (Panthera tigris) and an increase in the abundance of some large ungulate prey over a period of seven years (2005e2012) during the implementation of a new law enforcement strategy. In this study, we add more recent data from the largest camera trapping effort ever conducted in Laos and assess the most recent status of the carnivores and prey species based on three surveys in four blocks undertaken between 2013 and 2017. ...
... Of all the biodiversity in NEPL, this site has earlier been recognized as globally important for conserving breeding populations of the Endangered tiger (Johnson, 2012), and Endangered dhole (Kamler et al., 2012). In fact, NEPL was thought to harbour the last breeding population of tigers in Indochina (Johnson et al., 2016), and was identified as one of the most important source sites for tiger conservation in Southeast Asia (Walston et al., 2010). Additionally, based on 2000s surveys, it was hoped that NEPL would retain a leopard population, which have dramatically declined throughout all of Southeast Asia (Rostro-García et al., 2016). ...
... Prompted by reports that levels of snaring were unsustainable, and mindful of the national, indeed regional importance of NEPL as an important source population for tiger (Johnson et al., 2016) and dhole (Kamler et al., 2012), we conducted the largest camera trapping survey ever attempted in Laos. While we have no counter-factual to judge how much worse things might have been, our results make sadly apparent that the last decade of management interventions has fallen short of the goal of conserving of the top carnivores: conspicuously, tiger and leopard have been extirpated, and only the dhole persists as the last remaining apex carnivore in the landscape. ...
Article
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The Nam Et - Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL) is known for its diverse community of carnivores, and a decade ago was identified as an important source site for tiger conservation in Southeast Asia. However, there are reasons for concern that the status of this high priority diverse community has deteriorated, making the need for updated information urgent. This study assesses the current diversity of mammals and birds in NEPL, based on camera trap surveys from 2013 to 2017, facilitating an assessment of protected area management to date. We implemented a dynamic multispecies occupancy model fit in a Bayesian framework to reveal community and species occupancy and diversity. We detected 43 different mammal and bird species, but failed to detect leopard Panthera pardus and only detected two individual tigers Panthera tigris, both in 2013, suggesting that both large felids are now extirpated from NEPL, and presumably also more widely throughout Lao PDR. Mainland clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa had the highest estimates of probability of initial occupancy, persistence and colonization, and appeared to be the most widely distributed large carnivore, followed by dhole Cuon alpinus. Both of these species emerge as a priority for further monitoring and conservation in the NEPL landscape. This study provides the most recent assessment of animal diversity and status in the NEPL. Our analytical approach provides a robust and flexible framework to include sparse and inconsistent data sets of multiple species to assess their status via occupancy as a state process, which can often provide insights into population dynamics. Keywords: Clouded leopard, Dhole, Dynamic multispecies occupancy model, Laos, Nam Et - Phou Louey National Protected Area, Tiger
... In fact, NEPL was identified as a tiger priority site because it contained one of the most important tiger populations in all of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam (Walston et al. 2010). However, more recent surveys in 2013-2017 showed that tiger and leopard have become extirpated in NEPL, primarily due to an exponential increase in snaring (Johnson et al. 2016;Rasphone et al. 2019). The loss of tiger and leopard on the remaining felid community is unknown because the density of smaller felids has never been determined in NEPL. ...
... Additionally, naïve occupancy was lowest for all three felid species during the last survey year. These declines were against a background of evidence that snaring began and exponentially increased in NEPL from 2008 to 2012 (Johnson et al. 2016). Snaring has not been quantified in NEPL since 2013, however, the opinion amongst protected area staff and our field teams in NEPL is that snaring has continued to proliferate since the exponential increase recorded from 2008 to 2012, which is consistent with trends of increased snaring recorded throughout Southeast Asia (Gray et al. 2017(Gray et al. , 2018. ...
... This effective enforcement program was successful in reducing poaching and maintaining the tiger density in the sanctuary (Duangchantrasiri et al. 2016). However, snare detectability by rangers in tropical forests of Southeast Asia is relatively low (Ibbett et al. 2020), consequently snaring can increase exponentially in a park even with greater funding for enforcement and increases in days patrolled, as observed in NEPL (Johnson et al. 2016). Therefore, we recommend that the NEPL managers implement a more systematic and intensified snare removal program, in concert with extensive community outreach and engagement of local people to prevent the setting of snares. ...
Article
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Determining the density trends of a guild of species can help illuminate their interactions, and the impacts that humans might have on them. We estimated the density trends from 2013 to 2017 of the clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa, leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis and marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata in Nam Et—Phou Louey National Park (NEPL), Laos, using camera trap data and spatial capture-recapture models. Mean (± SD) density estimates (individuals/100 km²) for all years were 1.77 ± 0.30 for clouded leopard, 1.50 ± 0.30 for leopard cat, and 3.80 ± 0.70 for marbled cat. There was a declining trend in density across the study years for all three species, with a ≥ 90% probability of decline for clouded leopard and leopard cat and an 83% probability of decline for marbled cat. There was no evidence that mesopredator release occurred as a result of tiger (Panthera tigris) and leopard (P. pardus) extirpations. We believe that snaring, the factor that led to the extirpation of tiger and leopard in NEPL, is now contributing to the decline of smaller felids, to an extent that over-rides any potential effects of mesopredator release on their densities and interactions. We recommend that the NEPL managers implement a more systematic and intensified snare removal program, in concert with extensive community outreach and engagement of local people to prevent the setting of snares. These actions might be the only hope for saving the remaining members of the felid community in NEPL.
... of strategies implemented to conserve tigers and their prey in Lao PDR [19,20]. In the US, this approach supports management of grasslands, woodlands, and freshwater estuaries [21,22], and in Australia, almost 160 million ha of arid shrublands are managed under the adaptive cycle of Open Standards [23 ]. ...
... Although the Open Standards often is applied to projects with a specific geographic scope (e.g. a protected area), this framework also can help address problems that transcend geographic boundaries. For example, Open Standards was key in developing a theory of change for engaging communities in combating illegal wildlife trade [19,26] and for examining political and economic complexities of private sector participation in rhino conservation [27]. Publication of applications of the Open Standards is limited, and we still have much to learn. ...
... Our model also includes revenge killing as a direct threat to large cats linked to livestock management through a series of intermediate factors [40,[49][50][51] (Figure 1). Most of these linkages represent hypotheses about how the system works, which need to be tested and revised through targeted research projects and monitoring in the adaptive management cycle [18,19,20,25,27]. The structure of the modeled system likely will change through this iterative process. ...
Article
Disparity between the knowledge produced and knowledge required to address complex environmental challenges, such as biodiversity conservation and climate adaptation, continues to grow. Systems thinking under the Open Standards for Conservation framework can help close this gap by facilitating interdisciplinary engagement, advancing conversations on how environmental systems work, and identifying actions that could be implemented to achieve defined conservation goals. Here, we present a modelling exercise for one of the most endangered forested systems in the world: The Gran Chaco. We focus on unsustainable hunting, a pressing threat to this system. We highlight knowledge gaps that underpin all parts of an adaptive management process from understanding key relationships in social-ecological systems to design and implementation of strategies for Gran Chaco conservation as well as evaluation of outcomes.
... data). Increases in snaring caused the extirpation of Tiger Panthera tigris in NEPL, the last remaining population of this species in Lao PDR (Johnson et al. 2016), and plausibly caused the extirpation of Leopard in NEPL as well. Although several areas of presumably suitable Leopard habitat in Lao PDR remain inadequately surveyed to know the status of the species within them, Leopard is unlikely to occur in a viable population within any of these areas, especially given that recent surveys have targeted the largest protected areas in the most remote regions of the country (e.g., NEPL and Nakai -Nam Theun National Protected Area). ...
... However, regular enforcement of national laws and patrolling strategies within protected areas are insufficient to provide effective protection of Indochinese Leopard throughout most of the remaining range. For example, in Nam Et -Phou Louey National Protected Area, northern Lao PDR, an increase in funding for enforcement resulted in an increase of days patrolled over a 7-year period, which positively affected gun confiscations and arrest of poachers, but it ultimately failed to prevent the extirpation of Tiger and Leopard because the proliferation of snares was not stopped (Johnson et al. 2016). The development of a systematic, intensified, and effective enforcement regime helped maintain Tiger numbers in Huai Kha Kaeng (Duangchantrasiri et al. 2016). ...
... Diets of clouded leopards and tigers were determined by analysis of scats (i.e., feces) that were opportunistically collected on trails by researchers and park staff in NEPL from January 2008 to March 2012. Most scats were collected while conducting camera-trap surveys and grid-based occupancy surveys that covered the entire core zone (Johnson et al., 2016;Vongkhamheng et al., 2013); therefore, we assumed the collected scats represented a random sample of the felid populations. For each scat, the scat diameter (when possible), date, and GPS location were recorded, and then scats were stored in plastic bags with silica pouches to desiccate them. ...
... Based on DNA analysis of tiger scats collected from 2008 to 2010, there were a minimum of 16 different individuals (Vongkhamheng, 2011), suggesting the tiger population remained low but stable in the NEPL core zone during our study. However, because of an exponential increase in illegal snaring that began after 2010 (Johnson et al., 2016), the tiger population quickly decreased to a minimum of 2 individuals by 2013, and soon thereafter likely became extirpated (Rasphone et al., 2019). Nonetheless, most of our data were collected before the exponential increase in snaring, and we assume our results adequately represent tiger dietary habits in a low-density population occupying hilly evergreen forests. ...
Article
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In Southeast Asia, conservation of 'Vulnerable' clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) and 'Endangered' tigers (Panthera tigris) might depend on the management of their preferred prey because large felid populations are limited by the availability of suitable prey. However, the diet of clouded leopards has never been determined, so the preferred prey of this felid remains unknown. The diet of tigers in the region has been studied only from one protected-area complex in western Thailand, but prey preferences were not determined. To better understand the primary and preferred prey of threatened felids, we used DNA-confirmed scats and prey surveys to determine the diet and prey selection of clouded leopards and tigers in a hilly evergreen forest in northern Laos. For clouded leopards, the primary prey was wild pig (Sus scrofa; 33% biomass consumed), followed by greater hog badger (Arctonyx collaris; 28%), small rodents (15%), and mainland serow (Capricornis sumatraensis; 13%; hereafter, serow). For tigers, the primary prey was wild pig (44%), followed by serow (18%), sambar (Rusa unicolor; 12%), and Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus; 10%). Compared to availability, serow was positively selected by both clouded leopards (D = 0.69) and tigers (0.61), whereas all other ungulate species were consumed in proportion to the availability or avoided. Our results indicate that clouded leopards are generalist predators with a wide prey spectrum. Nonetheless, mid-sized ungulates (50-150 kg) comprised nearly half of their diet, and were the preferred prey, supporting a previous hypothesis that the enlarged gape and elongated canines of clouded leopards are adaptations for killing large prey. Because serow was the only ungulate preferred by both felids, we recommend that serow populations be monitored and managed to help conservation efforts for clouded leopards and tigers, at least in hilly evergreen forests of Southeast Asia.
... This poses a clear threat to not only the future availability of high-quality habitat in the region, but also the connectivity between such habitats. While our finding that 31% of the complex overlapped a WDPA-listed protected area might be reassuring, there is no guarantee these areas provide any meaningful protection (so-called "paper parks") and available evidence from within the complex would suggest that even if these areas provided such protection it may not be enough to conserve threatened wildlife (Johnson et al., 2016). If clouded leopards become extirpated from NEPL and Phou Hin Poun, and future surveys do not detect the species in the remaining strongholds, then any hope for future dispersal into the northern Annamites and Laos Highlands would come from either the Shan Highlands in Myanmar or northern Thailand. ...
... First priorities should be to establish baseline population estimates and reduce hunting pressure. In addition to continued patrol efforts, protected area managers and non-governmental organizations should also look into alternative interventions that could help reduce hunting pressure (e.g., community outreach; Steinmetz et al., 2014) as patrols alone may be insufficient (Johnson et al., 2016;Ibbett et al., 2020). ...
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To mitigate the ongoing biodiversity crisis in Tropical Asia, caused by extensive deforestation and wildlife poaching, we will need to take more strategic approaches towards identifying and prioritizing meaningful conservation interventions. This, however, can prove difficult for data-limited species. Focusing on the little-studied mainland clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), a potential umbrella species in the region, we demonstrate an accessible, flexible, and scalable approach applicable to any species. First, we model the species' range-wide local extirpation threat using a Bayesian Belief Network, taking into account the distribution of remaining suitable habitat and major anthropogenic threats (habitat loss and poaching). We then identify remaining habitat strongholds (defined as large contiguous areas of high quality habitat where the species could survive over the mid-to-long term) and grouped them into stronghold complexes, which we categorized based on local extirpation threat and recent camera-trap survey status. Our results show a 34% decline in the range-wide area categorized as a stronghold due to forest cover changes between 2000 and 2018, with 80% of remaining strongholds identified as having a high or very high average threat of local extirpation. Based on published records, only 60% of remaining strongholds had at least one site surveyed by camera-traps in the last 10 years, highlighting an important knowledge gap concerning the species' current distribution and population status. Combined, the results of our survey review and threat analysis suggest the species is likely extirpated from all of Vietnam, most of China, and large parts of Cambodia and Laos. Finally, we synthesize our findings, highlight tangible conservation needs, and propose actions for each stronghold complex based on the area's specific threats, protection level, and survey status, paving the way for the detailed local investigations needed to implement meaningful interventions on the ground.
... These are defined based on available data, which are gathered to assess the current condition and the characteristics of the social-ecological system (Thrower 2006, Dwyer 2011, Holley and Sinclair 2011, Craig and Ruhl 2014, McDonald and Styles 2014. Additionally, detailed monitoring protocols must be produced, describing how the effectiveness of actions and the progress toward defined objectives and goals will be assessed , Borgström 2015, Johnson et al. 2016. Monitoring is considered essential and at the core of adaptive management (Jones 2007, Green and Garmestani 2012, Bjorkland 2013, Butler et al. 2015, Novellie et al. 2016). ...
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Adaptive management has been considered a valuable approach for managing social-ecological systems involving high levels of complexity and uncertainty. However, many obstacles still hamper its implementation. Law is often seen as a barrier for moving adaptive management beyond theory, although there has been no synthesis on the challenges of legal constraints or how to overcome them. We contribute to filling this knowledge gap by providing a systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature on the relationship between adaptive management and law in relation to social-ecological systems. We analyze how the scholarship defines the concept of adaptive management, identifies the legal barriers to adaptive management, and the legal strategies suggested for enabling this approach. Research efforts in this domain are still highly geographically concentrated in the United States of America, unveiling gaps concerning the analysis of other legal jurisdictions. Overall, our results show that more flexible legal frameworks can allow for adaptive management without undermining the role of law in providing stability to social interactions. Achieving this balance will likely require the reform of existing laws, regulations, and other legal instruments. Legal reforms can facilitate the emergence of adaptive governance, with the potential to support not only adaptive management implementation but also to make law itself more adaptive.
... Conservation International, Arlington, VA, USA) and these data could be used for robust, quantitative, multi-year population assessments (Jansen et al., 2014;Royle et al., 2005). Additionally, these multi-year surveys of carnivore populations have been carried out successfully in various habitats worldwide to investigate demographic trends (Bauer et al., 2015;Di Marco et al., 2014;Rosenblatt et al., 2014), predator-prey dynamics (Panek, 2013;Robley et al., 2014), and anthropogenic influences (Johnson et al., 2016;Wierzbowska et al., 2016;Wolfe et al., 2015). These studies, similar to our findings, provide insight into various dynamic processes that short-term investigations have failed to capture. ...
... Whereas, published examples of projects that have applied the full OS framework are lacking, there are multiple examples of projects that have applied it to different stages of the project cycle, including efforts to combat wildlife trafficking (Núñez-Regueiro et al., 2020). These include planning law enforcement and outreach strategies to recover tiger populations in Lao PDR (Johnson et al., 2016), reducing opportunities for wildlife trafficking in commercial transportation sectors (Spevack, 2021), and addressing poaching of elephants and other species in Central Africa (Muir et al., 2014). Theories of change for projects addressing IWT are available through the Conservation Action and Measures Library located on the Miradi Share website 1 Although there are still few examples that focus on IWT, we believe the OS framework provides the structure, flexibility, and tools for cross-disciplinary collaboration needed to effectively address the complex issue of IWT from problem definition to strategy implementation to evaluation and adaptation by providing the structure and tools to convene planning teams representing relevant sectors and disciplines. ...
Article
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Wildlife trafficking is a complex conservation issue that threatens thousands of species around the world and, in turn, negatively affects biodiversity and human well-being. It occurs in varied social-ecological contexts; includes numerous and diverse actors along the source-transit-destination trade chain, who are involved in illicit and often covert human behaviors driven by interacting social, economic, cultural, and political factors; and involves numerous stakeholders comprising multiple sectors and disciplines. Such wicked problems can be difficult to define and usually lack simple, clear solutions. Systems thinking is a way to understand and address complex issues such as wildlife trafficking and requires multisectoral, cross-disciplinary collaboration to comprehensively understand today's increasingly complex problems and develop holistic and novel solutions. We review methods utilized to date to combat wildlife trafficking and discuss their strengths and limitations. Next, we describe the continuum of cross-disciplinarity and present two frameworks for understanding complex environmental issues, including the illegal trade in wildlife, that can facilitate collaboration across sectors and disciplines. The Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation provides guidance and tools for defining complex social-ecological systems and identifying strategic points of intervention. One Health focuses on the nexus of human, wildlife, and environmental health, and can provide a framework to address concerns around human-wildlife interactions, including those associated with the illegal wildlife trade. Finally, we provide recommendations for expanding these and similar frameworks to better support communication, learning, and collaboration in cross-disciplinary efforts aimed at addressing international wildlife trafficking and its intersections with other complex, global conservation issues.
... Interventions thus tend to exacerbate the social-ecological dilemmas facing local residents as livelihood improvement and biodiversity goals come into conflict (Southworth et al., 2006). Law enforcement has historically had a strong foundation in conservation and is a primary means for enhancing PAs (Ferraro & Hanauer, 2015;Gray et al., 2018;Johnson et al., 2016). However, law enforcement alone is inadequate to ensure PA integrity and tends to be lax, especially in places where livelihoods rely on access to PA resources (McElwee, 2010;Phromma et al., 2019). ...
Article
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Despite the popularity of integrated conservation and development approaches to protected area management, adjacent communities increasingly face livelihood dilemmas. Yet understanding of how market processes and conservation enforcement interact to influence livelihood responses remains limited. Targeting eight villages in Nam Et-Phou Louey (NEPL) National Park in northern Lao PDR, we draw on survey data with 255 households, 93 semi-structured interviews, and meso-level data on village conditions to examine how residents navigate associated livelihood dilemmas. A cluster analysis reveals five livelihood types with divergent capacities to engage in market development and cope with enforcement pressures. We show how market linkages, historical conservation interventions, and local access conditions shape livelihoods and differences between villages. Our approach yields a nuanced picture of how global conservation efforts result in an uneven distribution of costs and benefits at local scales. Conservation measures must account for highly divergent capacities to cope with access loss and diversify livelihoods. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10745-021-00267-4.
... Recent reports (eg Survival International 2017) have documented abuses meted out to local people in the quest to protect valuable wildlife from poachers. Furthermore, while increased investment in patrolling protected areas makes detecting illegal activities more likely (Jachmann and Billiouw 1997) and can reduce illegal hunting (Hilborn et al. 2006;Johnson et al. 2016), it is still far from clear that enforcement alone is the most cost-effective approach (Travers 2016). For example, it can be ineffective when under-resourced and implemented in isolation (Lindsey et al. 2014). ...
Technical Report
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Wildlife crime has come under increasing international scrutiny in recent years, with ever more money being spent on activities to combat it. However, little is known about what drives local people to become involved in wildlife crime, or about which interventions are likely to be most effective in tackling it. This report outlines the findings of research conducted within the villages bordering two of Uganda’s largest protected areas (Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls), and presents policy recommendations for addressing wildlife crime at the national and park level.
... Conducting routine, effective management activities and assessing the effectiveness of conservation efforts is critical for effective biodiversity conservation; however, these efforts can vary greatly from one PA to the next. RNP remains one of Madagascar's most important PAs as it protects high levels of biodiversity and is perhaps the most active and productive research site in the country (Johnson et al., 2016). Current management efforts include local school and village-based educational programs, school lunch programs to address food security and malnutrition, reforestation programs, and human health and hygiene programs. ...
Article
Protected areas (PA) aim to eliminate many of the threats that species face on the greater landscape. In the last three decades, PA's have expanded considerably; however, quantitative assessments of how well they have mitigated threats to habitat and biodiversity are very limited. Habitat bordering PA's and the wildlife that use it are threatened by a wide-range of anthropogenic pressures (e.g., edge effects, fragmentation, and introduced predators) and this situation is particularly acute for low-density, poorly studied carnivore communities. From 2010 to 2015, we photographically sampled within (contiguous forest) and bordering (degraded, fragmented forest) a UNESCO World Heritage rainforest PA in Madagascar - Ranomafana National Park (RNP). We investigated the effects of invasive predators, local people presence, and habitat quality on the endemic rainforest carnivore community using static, dynamic, and co-occurrence models. We found native carnivores to be absent or have a low probability of occurrence in degraded forest bordering the PA, while local people and dogs (Canis familiaris) had high occurrence. Madagascar's largest endemic carnivore, the fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox) and the much smaller ring-tailed vontsira (Galidia elegans), occurrence in RNP declined rapidly over six years; their strong co-occurrence with dogs suggests interspecific competition, direct aggression/mortality, or disease as the cause. We highlight the dangers posed to biodiversity, particularly carnivores, from anthropogenic pressures bordering PA's and present recommendations to address increased human and dog activity, including programs to control dogs and their impact on biodiversity.
... In response the tiger range countries and the global conservation community are working towards doubling wild tiger populations (Wikramanayake et al. 2011). However tigers are functionally extinct from South-east Asia east of the Mekong River and no source populations exist in Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, or southern China (Walston et al. 2010;Johnson et al. 2016). The Cambodian tiger population is almost certainly extinct with, at best, a few individuals in scattered locations O'Kelly et al. 2012) although no conclusive evidence of tiger presence has been collected since 2007. ...
Article
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Reintroduction is a viable conservation strategy for large carnivores however such reintroductions require robust feasibility assessments, considering ecological, management, and social factors, prior to implementation. Plans are being developed in a number of tiger range countries, including Cambodia, for tiger Panthera tigris reintroductions in response to local and national extinctions. We provide a framework for undertaking feasibility assessments for tiger, and other large carnivore, reintroductions and present a number of methodological tools, and appropriate indicators, for conducting such assessments. We apply the framework to plans by the Royal Government of Cambodia for tiger reintroduction into Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary (formally Mondulkiri Protected Forest), eastern Cambodia. Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary forms part of a large (>13,000-km²) trans-boundary conservation landscape with potential to support a tiger source population. Current ungulate prey densities, assessed through robust line-transect sampling, at approximately 5.0 individuals per km² may be sufficient to support a breeding tiger population. However levels of protected area management and law enforcement fall below global standards for tiger recovery. Local communities, though supportive of conservation efforts, also identified a number of concerns regarding reintroduction. Therefore current ecological, social, and management conditions within SWS are not currently suitable for tiger reintroduction. However with improved and more effective law enforcement, combined with robust monitoring of the indicators within our framework, such conditions could be met. We recommend that our framework for assessing landscape suitability for reintroductions offers an effective road map for reintroduction-based recovery of tiger populations across tiger range countries.
... Nam Et-Phou Louey National Biodiversity Conservation Area in northern Laos, which was too small to classify as a stronghold, illustrates this point (Fig. 5a). Previously referred to as the "crown-jewel" of Laos' protected area network, Nam Et-Phou Louey received a disproportionate amount of conservation investment over the past two decades in an attempt to save the country's last remaining tigers (Panthera tigris; Johnson et al., 2016). These intensive conservation efforts, although insufficient to save the protected area's tigers, may explain why golden cats continue to persist in Nam Et-Phou Louey (Rasphone et al., 2019), but at the same time have disappeared from other protected areas in Laos (e.g., Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area; Coudrat et al., 2014;Coudrat, 2019). ...
Article
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Identifying conservation priorities for an understudied species can be challenging, as the amount and type of data available to work with are often limited. Here, we demonstrate a flexible workflow for identifying priorities for such data-limited species, focusing on the little-studied Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) in mainland Tropical Asia. Using recent occurrence records, we modeled the golden cat’s expected area of occurrence and identified remaining habitat strongholds (i.e., large intact areas with moderate-to-high expected occurrence). We then classified these strongholds by recent camera-trap survey status (from a literature review) and near-future threat status (based on publicly available forest loss projections and Bayesian Belief Network derived estimates of hunting-induced extirpation risk) to identify conservation priorities. Finally, we projected the species’ expected area of occurrence in the year 2000, approximately three generations prior to today, to define past declines and better evaluate the species’ current conservation status. Lower levels of hunting-induced extirpation risk and higher levels of closed-canopy forest cover were the strongest predictors of recent camera-trap records. Our projections suggest a 68% decline in area with moderate-to-high expected occurrence between 2000 and 2020, with a further 18% decline predicted over the next 20 years. Past and near-future declines were primarily driven by cumulatively increasing levels of hunting-induced extirpation risk, suggesting assessments of conservation status based solely on declines in habitat may underestimate actual population declines. Of the 40 remaining habitat strongholds, 77.5% were seriously threatened by forest loss and hunting. Only 52% of threatened strongholds had at least one site surveyed, compared to 100% of low-to-moderate threat strongholds, thus highlighting an important knowledge gap concerning the species’ current distribution and population status. Our results suggest the golden cat has experienced, and will likely continue to experience, considerable population declines and should be considered for up-listing to a threatened category (i.e., VU/EN) under criteria A2c of the IUCN Red List.
... To achieve such gains for conservation and for the well-being of rural inhabitants it will be critical to place people's perceptions of governance at the centre of these issues rather than continuing to treat them as subjects of environmental education or conservation policy. Gaining local support for conservation is critical in regulating local resource extraction as well as aiding the fight against wildlife crime, and large scale extractive industries such as logging, which are prevalent in this border area with Vietnam (Johnson et al. 2016). More effective enforcement alone would be unlikely to achieve the desired improvements in conservation effectiveness. ...
Article
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In this article, we shine a spotlight on approaches to research ecosystem service trade-offs and critically assess their representation of relevant social dynamics. Although studies linking ecosystem services and human well-being have provided theoretical insights into social and ecological trade-offs, we argue that ecosystem services research has paid insufficient attention to “social feedbacks,” people’s cognitive and behavioral responses to change. We demonstrate that augmenting ecosystem services research with environmental justice approaches (exploring perceptions of the distribution of costs and benefits, decision making procedures, and recognition of different values and identities) can more effectively capture important responses to ecosystem governance. Spatial analysis of land use change, mixed-method assessment of multidimensional well-being, and qualitative environmental justice research were applied in three villages adjacent to Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area in northern Laos. Spatial analysis showed that, from 2006 to 2015, forest clearance for cultivation remained stable within the protected area. Well-being assessment revealed the local population benefited from rapidly increasing incomes, asset ownership, and reduced poverty during that time. In combination, spatial and well-being analyses paint a picture of limited trade-offs, despite growing incentives to exploit protected land and resources through cash crops and high-value forest products. In contrast, results from environmental justice research revealed profound trade-offs between conservation and local practices, and highlight governance deficiencies relating to procedure and recognition. Consequently, formal protected area rules were perceived to be illegitimate by many and actively undermined, for example through negotiated access with alternative authorities. We conclude that although well-being research provides an essential foundation to understand diverse attachments to natural resources, the addition of environmental justice research can reveal local perceptions and social feedbacks critical to ecosystem service trade-offs, and highlight pathways to reconcile them through satisfying stakeholders’ diverse, dynamic objectives.
... This, combined with improved technology and improved road access into remote areas (Hughes 2017b), has resulted in a massive increase in hunting levels throughout the region's protected and non-protected areas (Harrison et al. 2016). Consequently, extirpations of some of Asia's most iconic species, including Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) (Brook et al. 2014) and tiger (Panthera tigris) (O'Kelly et al. 2012;Johnson et al. 2016), have occurred within the region in recent years. Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) and large-antlered muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis), two large mammals described from the Annamite Mountains in the 1990s, are Critically Endangered and facing imminent extinction. ...
Article
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Southeast Asia, a region supporting more threatened species than any other comparable continental area, is in the midst of a conservation crisis. Hunting constitutes the greatest current threat to the region’s threatened vertebrates and has resulted in many areas of largely intact forest losing much of their former vertebrate diversity and abundance. Though numerous hunting methods are used, capture with home-made snares is a major driver of this defaunation. Snares are cheaply constructed and easy to set but can be difficult to detect and are highly damaging to vertebrate populations due to their indiscriminate and wasteful nature. The primary response to snaring is the removal of snares by patrol teams: more than 200,000 snares were removed from just five of the region’s protected areas between 2010 and 2015. However due to the low opportunity costs of replacing snares, removal alone is largely ineffective. Without the proactive search, arrest and prosecution of snare-setters, along with incentives not to hunt, snares will continue to be replaced. Legislative reform that criminalises the possession of snares, and the materials used for their construction, inside and immediately adjacent to protected areas is also required. Consistent enforcement of such legislation is essential. This must be combined with longer-term demand reduction activities aimed at changing cultural attitudes and behaviors related to the consumption of wildlife products in Southeast Asia.
... The NPA was established in 1993 with an area of 422,900 ha (Johnson 2013). 1 Seventeen other NPAs were created in that same year by Prime Minister's decree 164 (Robichaud et al. 2001). In 2008, the NPA was expanded (Bourgoin et al. 2013) to 595,000 ha (Johnson 2013) and is recognised as having high conservation value, being home to numerous endangered species (Johnson et al. 2016) (Fig. 2). ...
Article
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Despite considerable field-based innovation and academic scrutiny, the nexus between conservation approaches, local support for parks and park effectiveness remains quite puzzling. Common approaches to understanding notions of environmental justice are to understand distributional and procedural issues, representation in decision making, and recognition of authorities and claims. We took a different approach and analysed environmental justice claims through institutional, ideational and psychological lenses. We sought to understand how the national park could have such broad support from local communities despite their acknowledgement that it severely curtailed their livelihoods. We conducted 100 household interviews in three villages that border Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area. Our study found that villagers 1) hold on to broken promises by the State for agricultural activities and alternative revenues without fully changing forest use behaviours; 2) were influenced heavily by the ‘educational’ programmes by the State; 3) accepted the authority of the State and lack of participation in decision-making based on historical experiences and values; 4) justified their burdens by over-emphasising the positive aspects of the park. Our findings present a complementary framework to explain environmental justice claims, allowing for a nuanced analysis of how people respond to justices and injustices, and specifically how injustices can be identified through proven social science concepts.
... However, it is not possible to be certain about the utility of such surrogate metrics, without directly measuring the response of tiger and prey populations (Karanth and Nichols 2002). For example, in Lao PDR, conservation interventions appeared to reduce poaching and increase prey populations, yet tigers were still lost because poaching intensity was not reduced sufficiently (Johnson et al. 2016). In an even more extreme case, after showing healthy numbers (using an unreliable counting method), tigers rapidly plunged to extinction in Sariska and Panna reserves of India ...
Chapter
This chapter sets the overall context by providing a brief overview of the historical and current status of wild tiger populations and social, cultural, and scientific perspectives on the tiger.
... Other areas of interest are the Annamite Mountains and the adjacent lowland in central Vietnam. Although more than 30% of the areas fall within the protected area systems of both Laos and Vietnam, doubts persist regarding the effectiveness of the protection (Johnson et al., 2016). Besides extensive snaring (Gray et al., 2018), which drastically impacts Galliformes (Grainger et al., 2018), forest loss, degradation and fragmentation have been recorded recently in about 50% of the area (Petersen et al., 2020). ...
Article
Southeast Asia has arguably the highest biodiversity loss due to the high deforestation rate and hunting pressure. In the region, 55 species of the family Phasianidae can be found in all available land habitats from lowland plains up to high-elevation mountainous areas. As ground-dwelling birds, these species are sensitive to habitat disturbance and hunting pressure, making them ideal to evaluate the status of remaining Southeast Asian forest habitats. The aims of this work are, therefore, to define for each Phaesanidae species: 1) the extent of forest cover, suitable habitat and large forest patches currently available in the region and their decline over the years between 2000 and 2018 (six estimated generations) and 2) assess the threats using a Bayesian Belief Network approach combining data on forest loss hotspots and hunting pressure. Moreover, we defined the spatial distribution of Phasianidae diversity hotspots and relative threats in the region. The results show that over the 18-year study period, the forest cover, suitable habitat and Phasianidae diversity in Southeast Asia declined overall. The remaining forest habitats currently have low species diversity and face medium to high threat levels from habitat loss and hunting pressure. Population monitoring and higher protection levels both inside and outside protected areas are essential for the species’ long term survival. We recommend using Phasianinae as indicator species to monitor the overall habitat conservation status in Southeast Asia.
... This listing raises the lion's international legal profile whilst simultaneously providing bureaucratic capacity and a framework to support additional coordinated action by lion range states to address the most critical threats to the species. However, international agreement by itself will not be enough to combat prey depletion, and policing the killing of large carnivores is resource intensive and difficult (Critchlow et al. 2016;Johnson et al. 2016). Thus, a package of measures is needed that improves both the legal framework and local implementation and enforcement (see below). ...
Article
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Despite their iconic status, lion (Panthera leo) populations continue to decline across the majority of their range. In the light of the recent decision (in October 2017) to add lions to the Appendices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), this paper identifies the new and existing legal protections afforded to lions through five global treaties, and maps these protections against the most critical contemporary threats facing the species. It thus offers a new analysis of the CMS listing, and draws on existing legal reviews, to highlight the ways in which global treaties offer differing forms of protection for lions. It then combines multiple concordant assessments of lion populations, to highlight nine categories of threat: human-lion conflict, bushmeat poaching, human encroachment, trophy hunting, trade in lion bones, unpredictable environmental events, socio-economic factors, policy failures, and governance/institutional weakness. The paper assesses how the various treaties each address these different categories of threat. The analysis identifies two pathways for improving legal protection: expanding the application of global treaties in respect of lions and their habitats (the paper considers the CMS listing in these terms), and improving the implementation of treaty commitments through local and national-scale actions. Furthermore, it identifies local implementation challenges that include the local knowledge of rules, compliance with rules and enforcement capacity, alongside the variety in local contexts and situations, and suggests where global treaties might provide support in meeting these challenges. We suggest that this analysis has wider implications for how treaty protection can and is utilised to protect various species of large-bodied, wide-ranging animals.
... determine and compare activity patterns between Asian golden cats and leopard cats, we used data from camera-trap surveys that were conducted annually during the dry season from 2003 to 2012 (see Johnson et al. 2006 for details). Camera traps were set along game trails (Johnson et al. 2016), and we assumed photographs of each felid species accurately represented their respective activity patterns. Each photograph was classified as a notionally independent event following O' Brien et al. (2003). ...
Article
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The Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) occurs in small, declining, and highly fragmented populations throughout Southeast Asia, whereas the smaller leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is common and widespread. In contrast to leopard cats, little is known about the ecology of Asian golden cats, and resource partitioning between these species has not been studied. We used DNA-confirmed scats, camera-trap data, and prey surveys, to determine the diet, prey selection, and activity, of Asian golden cats and leopard cats in a protected area in northern Laos. The two felids had different diets: Asian golden cats consumed mostly ungulates (35% biomass consumed), murid rodents (23%), and carnivores (15%), whereas leopard cats consumed mostly murid rodents (79%). Asian golden cats were not random in their consumption of ungulates, because muntjac (Muntiacus spp.) were selectively consumed over larger ungulates, indicating muntjac were preyed upon rather than scavenged. Dietary overlap between the two felid species was moderate (R 0 = 0.60), and the dietary niche breadth of Asian golden cats (B = 8.44) was nearly twice as high as that of leopard cats (4.54). The mean (± SD) scat diameter was greater for Asian golden cats (2.1 ± 0.3 cm) than leopard cats (1.8 ± 0.2 cm), although diameters of leopard cat scats were considerably larger than previously assumed for this species. The felid species differed in their activity patterns, because Asian golden cats were diurnal, whereas leopard cats were nocturnal, although they did not differ in their use of elevation, suggesting there was no habitat segregation. Overall, leopard cats appeared to coexist with Asian golden cats, a potential predator and competitor, by exhibiting dietary and temporal partitioning. Our results showed that muntjac were important prey of Asian golden cats, suggesting the management of muntjac might be important for conserving populations of Asian golden cats.
... Recent reports (eg Survival International 2017) have documented abuses meted out to local people in the quest to protect valuable wildlife from poachers. Furthermore, while increased investment in patrolling protected areas makes detecting illegal activities more likely (Jachmann and Billiouw 1997) and can reduce illegal hunting (Hilborn et al. 2006;Johnson et al. 2016), it is still far from clear that enforcement alone is the most cost-effective approach (Travers 2016). For example, it can be ineffective when under-resourced and implemented in isolation (Lindsey et al. 2014). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Wildlife crime has come under increasing international scrutiny in recent years, with ever more money being spent on activities to combat it. However, little is known about what drives local people to become involved in wildlife crime, or about which interventions are likely to be most effective in tackling it. This report outlines the findings of research conducted within the villages bordering two of Uganda’s largest protected areas (Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls), and presents policy recommendations for addressing wildlife crime at the national and park level.
... These interventions to reduce livestock grazing may rapidly benefit wild herbivores that have been competitively suppressed, as has been observed in India (Madhusudan 2004). The above actions would require better collaboration among different government departments to effectively implement the policy, the establishment of a corresponding monitoring and evaluation system, and a functional law enforcement regime to facilitate the protection of the landscapes that tigers and leopards as well as the co-occurring species inhabit (Johnson et al. 2016). Figure S1. ...
Preprint
Understanding wildlife-livestock interactions is crucial for the design and management of protected areas that aim to conserve large mammal communities undergoing conflicts with humans worldwide. An example of the need to quantify the strength and direction of species interactions is the conservation of big cats in newly established protected areas in China. Currently, free-ranging livestock degrade the food and habitat of the endangered Amur tiger and Amur leopard in the forest landscapes of Northeast China, but quantitative assessments of how livestock affect the use of habitat by the major ungulate prey of these predators are very limited. Here, we examined livestock-ungulate interactions using large-scale camera-trap data in the newly established Tiger and Leopard National Park in Northeast China, which borders Russia. We used N-mixture models, two-species occupancy models and activity pattern overlap to understand the effects of cattle grazing on three ungulate species (wild boar, roe deer and sika deer) at a fine spatiotemporal scale. Our results showed that incorporating the biotic interactions with cattle had significant negative effects on encounters with three ungulates; sika deer were particularly displaced as more cattle encroached on forest habitat, as they exhibited low levels of co-occurrence with cattle in terms of habitat use. These results, combined with spatiotemporal overlap, suggested fine-scale avoidance behaviours, and they can help to refine strategies for the conservation of tigers, leopards and their prey in human-dominated transboundary landscapes. Progressively controlling cattle and the impact of cattle on biodiversity while simultaneously addressing the economic needs of local communities should be key priority actions for the Chinese government.
... SMART and CA|TS; [71,72] see S6 Table for details). Ensuring effective protection and management of sites is often reliant on a multi-pronged approach including garnering community support to reduce critical threats [10], setting-up intelligence networks [73] and most importantly, establishing adaptive management systems [74,75]. Even at sites where the reintroduction/supplementation of tigers is required (e.g. ...
Article
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With less than 3200 wild tigers in 2010, the heads of 13 tiger-range countries committed to doubling the global population of wild tigers by 2022. This goal represents the highest level of ambition and commitment required to turn the tide for tigers in the wild. Yet, ensuring efficient and targeted implementation of conservation actions alongside systematic monitoring of progress towards this goal requires that we set site-specific recovery targets and time-lines that are ecologically realistic. In this study, we assess the recovery potential of 18 sites identified under WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative. We delineated recovery systems comprising PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone. Citation: Harihar A, Chanchani P, Borah J, Crouthers RJ, Darman Y, Gray TNE, et al. (2018) Recovery planning towards doubling wild tiger Panthera tigris numbers: Detailing 18 recovery sites from across the range. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0207114. https://doi.org/10. a source, recovery site, and support region, which need to be managed synergistically to meet these targets. By using the best available data on tiger and prey numbers, and adapting existing species recovery frameworks, we show that these sites, which currently support 165 (118-277) tigers, have the potential to harbour 585 (454-739) individuals. This would constitute a 15% increase in the global population and represent over a threefold increase within these specific sites, on an average. However, it may not be realistic to achieve this target by 2022, since tiger recovery in 15 of these 18 sites is contingent on the initial recovery of prey populations, which is a slow process. We conclude that while sustained conservation efforts can yield significant recoveries, it is critical that we commit our resources to achieving the biologically realistic targets for these sites even if the timelines are extended.
... There are likely few places in leopard range with comparable resources; most countries in Africa and Asia have protected area budgets of <USD100/ km 2 /year (Mansourian & Dudley, 2008) and conservation funding outside of protected areas (which includes the majority of leopard range; Jacobson et al., 2016) is even more limited. A high management budget on its own does not guarantee carnivore population persistence, but it is a critical enabling factor (Johnson et al., 2016;Lindsey et al., 2017;Packer et al., 2013). The apparent absence of harmful edge effects in the SSGR also likely contributes to the high leopard density. ...
Article
Human impact is near pervasive across the planet and studies of wildlife populations free of anthropogenic mortality are increasingly scarce. This is particularly true for large carnivores that often compete with and, in turn, are killed by humans. Accordingly, the densities at which carnivore populations occur naturally, and their role in shaping and/or being shaped by natural processes, are frequently unknown. We undertook a camera‐trap survey in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve (SSGR), South Africa, to examine the density, structure and spatio‐temporal patterns of a leopard Panthera pardus population largely unaffected by anthropogenic mortality. Estimated population density based on spatial capture–recapture models was 11.8 ± 2.6 leopards/100 km². This is likely close to the upper density limit attainable by leopards, and can be attributed to high levels of protection (particularly, an absence of detrimental edge effects) and optimal habitat (in terms of prey availability and cover for hunting) within the SSGR. Although our spatio‐temporal analyses indicated that leopard space use was modulated primarily by “bottom‐up” forces, the population appeared to be self‐regulating and at a threshold that is unlikely to change, irrespective of increases in prey abundance. Our study provides unique insight into a naturally‐functioning carnivore population at its ecological carrying capacity. Such insight can potentially be used to assess the health of other leopard populations, inform conservation targets, and anticipate the outcomes of population recovery attempts.
... 93,95 In developing countries, wildlife law enforcement is also particularly susceptible to corruption, 286,287 with enforcement authorities turning a blind eye to illegal hunting for bribes, or reselling the seized wild meat to private clients. 288 This is partly due to the low importance generally granted to wildlife crime compared to other forms of crime, 289 and the small and irregular salaries received by wildlife and law enforcement officials 290 (although there is encouraging evidence from other sectors that corruption can be reduced at the country and local project level). 287,291 Thirdly, consumer preferences for wild meat are shaped not only by its price and household wealth, but also by non-price determinants (e.g. ...
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A debate has emerged over the potential socio-ecological drivers of wildlife-origin zoonotic disease outbreaks and emerging infectious disease (EID) events. This Review explores the extent to which the incidence of wildlife-origin infectious disease outbreaks, which are likely to include devastating pandemics like HIV/AIDS and COVID-19, may be linked to excessive and increasing rates of tropical deforestation for agricultural food production and wild meat hunting and trade, which are further related to contemporary ecological crises such as global warming and mass species extinction. Here we explore a set of precautionary responses to wildlife-origin zoonosis threat, including: (a) limiting human encroachment into tropical wildlands by promoting a global transition to diets low in livestock source foods; (b) containing tropical wild meat hunting and trade by curbing urban wild meat demand, while securing access for indigenous people and local communities in remote subsistence areas; and (c) improving biosecurity and other strategies to break zoonosis transmission pathways at the wildlife-human interface and along animal source food supply chains.
... A number of studies have evaluated the effectiveness of law enforcement patrols, and how these can be improved (e.g., Holmern, Muya, & Roskaft, 2007;Gandiwa et al., 2013;Johnson et al., 2016). ...
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en The spatial monitoring and reporting tool (SMART) is being implemented in Tanzania's protected areas to help improve the efficiency of ranger patrols. Unfortunately, there has been no attempt to understand users' perspectives regarding site‐specific factors likely to affect its use. In this study, we investigated the perspectives of staff in Ugalla Game Reserve, a protected area in western Tanzania, to understand the challenges that affect the use of SMART in the reserve. The main challenges included a lack of motivation to use SMART, limited knowledge of SMART among game scouts, insufficient ranger capacity, difficulty collecting data during night patrols, limited resources for patrolling, and difficulty accessing some remote sections of Ugalla. The presence of trophy hunting company patrol teams has led Ugalla rangers to concentrate their effort in less‐patrolled areas. We recommend introducing incentives to encourage game rangers to use SMART alongside improving patrol coverage in wet seasons. Advanced and regular refresher trainings in SMART should be conducted to enhance data collection. Furthermore, game scouts should be trained and equipped to participate effectively in the SMART process. Although SMART is now becoming increasingly popular in Tanzania, understanding local factors that influence its implementation will be important to improve uptake. Résumé fr Le Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) est mis en œuvre dans les zones protégées de la Tanzanie pour aider à améliorer l'efficacité des patrouilles de garde‐forestier. Malheureusement, rien n'a été tenté pour comprendre le point de vue des utilisateurs concernant les facteurs propres au site susceptibles d'affecter son utilisation. Dans cette étude, nous avons examiné les perspectives du personnel de la réserve animalière d'Ugalla, une zone protégée dans l'ouest de la Tanzanie, afin de comprendre les défis qui affectent l'utilisation de SMART dans la réserve. Les principaux défis comprenaient un manque de motivation à utiliser SMART, une connaissance limitée de SMART chez les gardes‐chasse, une capacité insuffisante de garde‐forestier, des difficultés à collecter des données pendant les patrouilles nocturnes, des ressources limitées pour les patrouilles et des difficultés à accéder à certaines parties éloignées d'Ugalla. La présence d’équipes de patrouilles de la compagnie de chasse aux trophées a amené les garde‐forestier d'Ugalla à concentrer leurs efforts dans des zones moins patrouillées. Nous recommandons de mettre en place des mesures incitatives pour encourager les gardes‐chasses à utiliser SMART tout en améliorant la couverture des patrouilles pendant les saisons des pluies. Des formations avancées et régulières de perfectionnement dans SMART devraient être menées pour améliorer la collecte de données. En outre, les gardes‐chasse devraient être formés et équipés pour participer efficacement au processus SMART. Bien que SMART devienne de plus en plus populaire en Tanzanie, il sera important de comprendre les facteurs locaux qui influencent sa mise en œuvre pour améliorer son adoption.
... This study demonstrated the value of having defined goals and specific indicators of success and noted clear increases in patrol effort and a partial reduction in threats to tigers at the select sites. Other studies have had success using similar LEM tools within PAs (e.g., Johnson et al., 2016;Moreto et al., 2014;Stokes, 2010). However, so little of Amur tiger range lies within PAs (3-4%), consequently, intervention measures beyond the boundaries of PAs is necessary. ...
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Poaching is the most direct threat to the persistence of Amur tigers. However, little empirical evidence exists about the modus operandi of the offenders associated with this wildlife crime. Crime science can aid conservation efforts by identifying the patterns and opportunity structures that facilitate poaching. By employing semi-structured interviews and participants observation with those directly involved in the poaching and trafficking of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East (RFE), this article utilizes crime script analysis to break down this criminal event into a process of sequential acts. By using this framework, it is possible account for the decisions made and actions taken by offenders before, during and after a tiger poaching event, with the goal of identifying weak points in the chain of actions to develop targeted intervention strategies. Findings indicate poaching is facilitated by the ability to acquire a firearm, presence of roads that enable access to remote forest regions, availability of specific types of tools/equipment, including heat vision googles or a spotlight and a 4 × 4 car, and a culture that fosters corruption. This crime script analysis elucidates possible intervention points, which are discussed alongside each step in the poaching process.
... These interventions to reduce livestock grazing may rapidly benefit wild herbivores that have been competitively suppressed, as has been observed in India (Madhusudan 2004). The above actions would require better collaboration among different government departments to effectively implement the policy, the establishment of a corresponding monitoring and evaluation system, and a functional law enforcement regime to facilitate the protection of the landscapes that wild ungulate as well as their predators inhabit (Johnson et al. 2016). ...
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ContextLivestock grazing is one of the most widespread types of anthropogenic land use, even occurs in many protected areas and has become a threat to wildlife worldwide. Understanding livestock-wildlife interactions is crucial for rare large carnivores conservation. In China, free-ranging cattle within forests degrade the habitat of the tigers (Panthera tigris) and leopards (Panthera pardus), but quantitative assessments of how livestock affect the spatial and temporal use by the major ungulate prey of the two endangered felids are very limited.Objectives This study aimed to examine the interactions of several sympatric wildlife species with livestock at a fine spatiotemporal scale in a human-dominated forest landscape.Methods Based on a large-scale camera-trapping data across the China-Russia border, we used N-mixture models, two-species occupancy models and activity pattern overlap to understand the effects of cattle grazing on three ungulate species (sika deer Cervus nippon, wild boars Sus scrofa and roe deer Capreolus pygargus).ResultsSpatially, with cattle activity increasing, wild boar and roe deer had different degrees of decline in the intensity of habitat use. Sika deer were displaced as more cattle encroached on forest habitat. Temporally, in the presence of cattle, wild boar and sika deer decreased their activities in the day. In addition, three wild ungulates trend to exhibit lower spatiotemporal overlap with cattle at shared camera sites.Conclusions Our study shows that wildlife species may reduce the probability of habitat use by spatial avoidance and changing the daily activity patterns. We underscore that fine-scale (i.e. camera-site level) spatiotemporal avoidance is likely a key component of co-occurrence between livestock and the sympatry of competing ungulates inhabiting forest ecosystems. Given prey were depressed, efforts to minimize the livestock disturbance on these species need to be considered to ensure their sustained recoveries.
... South East Asia is at the heart of the global extinction crisis and is experiencing widespread biodiversity loss, including within Protected Areas (O'Kelly et al., 2012;Brook et al., 2014;Johnson et al., 2016). Across the region there are insufficient resources, both financial and technical, for the effective management of biodiversity and natural resources. ...
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The threat posed to protected areas by the illegal killing of wildlife is countered principally by ranger patrols that aim to detect and deter potential offenders. Deterring poaching is a fundamental conservation objective, but its achievement is difficult to identify, especially when the prime source of information comes in the form of the patrols’ own records, which inevitably contain biases. The most common metric of deterrence is a plot of illegal activities detected per unit of patrol effort against patrol effort (CPUE‐E plots). We devised a simple, mechanistic model of law‐breaking and law enforcement in which we simulated deterrence alongside exogenous changes in the frequency of offences, under different temporal patterns of enforcement effort. The CPUE‐E plots were not reliable indicators of deterrence. However, plots of change in CPUE over change in effort (ΔCPUE‐ΔE) reliably diagnosed deterrence, regardless of the temporal distribution of effort or any exogenous change in illegal activity levels, as long as the time lag between patrol effort and subsequent behavioral change among offenders was approximately known. The ΔCPUE‐ΔE plots offered a robust, simple metric for monitoring patrol effectiveness; were no more conceptually complicated than the basic CPUE‐effort plots; and required no specialist knowledge or software to produce. Our findings demonstrate the need to account for temporal autocorrelation in patrol data, and to consider appropriate (and poaching activity‐specific) intervals for aggregation. They also reveal important gaps in our understanding of deterrence in this context, especially the mechanisms by which it occurs. In view of these considerations, we provide practical recommendations for on‐the‐ground data interpretation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Chapter
Early naturalists recorded descriptive accounts of tigers in tropical Asia during the past two to three centuries (Karanth 2001).
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Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus and sun bear Helarctos malayanus populations are declining throughout South-east Asia as a result of habitat loss and human disturbance. Knowledge of the distribution and status of each species is limited and largely anecdotal. Range maps are coarse, compiled by expert opinion, and presence or absence is unknown over large portions of South-east Asia. These two species co-occur in Lao People's Democratic Republic and may be faring better there than in neighbouring countries. During 2010–2013 we searched for bear sign along 99 transects within eight study sites throughout Lao. To explore countrywide relative abundance and habitat suitability, we modelled bear sign as a log-linear function of biological and anthropogenic predictors that were associated with habitat assemblages and human disturbance. Bears favored higher elevations and rugged terrain in areas less accessible to humans, and were most abundant in the north and east of Lao. Suitable habitats were rare in the southern lowland plains where bear abundance was relatively low. Our model predicted that Nam Et–Phou Louey National Protected Area had the largest areas of suitable bear habitat, followed by the Nakai-Nam Teun and Nam Ha National Protected Areas. Using transects to survey for bear sign, we created a replicable geographical information system based assessment tool for bears in Lao that can be used to identify conservation opportunities and monitor changes in bear distribution over time.
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Many studies of wildlife poaching acknowledge the challenges of detecting poaching activities, but few address the issue. Data on poaching may be an inaccurate reflection of the true spatial distribution of events because of low detection rates. The deployment of conservation and law enforcement resources based on biased data could be ineffective or lead to unintended outcomes. Here, we present a rigorous method for estimating the probabilities of detecting poaching and for evaluating different patrol strategies. We illustrate the method with a case study in which imitation snares were set in a private nature reserve in South Africa. By using an experimental design with a known spatial distribution of imitation snares, we estimated the detection probability of the current patrol strategy used in the reserve and compared it to three alternative patrol strategies: spatially focused patrols, patrols with independent observers, and systematic search patterns. Although detection probabilities were generally low, the highest proportion of imitation snares was detected with systematic search strategies. Our study provides baseline data on the probability of detecting snares used for poaching, and presents a method that can be modified for use in other regions and for other types of wildlife poaching.
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Dramatic population declines threaten the Endangered Indochinese tiger Panthera tigris corbetti with extinction. Thailand now plays a critical role in its conservation, as there are few known breeding populations in other range countries. Thailand's Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex is recognized as an important tiger recovery site, but it remains poorly studied. Here, we present results from the first camera-trap study focused on tigers and implemented across all protected areas in this landscape. Our goal was to assess tiger and prey populations across the five protected areas of this forest complex, reviewing discernible patterns in rates of detection. We conducted camera-trap surveys opportunistically during 2008–2017. We recorded 1,726 detections of tigers in 79,909 camera-trap nights. Among these were at least 16 adults and six cubs/juveniles from four breeding females. Detection rates of both tigers and potential prey species varied considerably between protected areas over the study period. Our findings suggest heterogeneity in tiger distribution across this relatively continuous landscape, potentially influenced by distribution of key prey species. This study indicates that the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex is one of the few remaining breeding locations of the Indochinese tiger. Despite limitations posed by our study design, our findings have catalysed increased research and conservation interest in this globally important population at a critical time for tiger conservation in South-east Asia.
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Although considerable conservation resources have been committed to develop and use law enforcement monitoring and management tools such as SMART, measures of success are ill-defined and to date few reports detail results post-implementation. Here, we present four case studies from protected areas with Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica, Temminck1884) in Russia, in which indicators of success were defined and evaluated at each. The ultimate goal was an increase in tiger numbers to 1 individual/100 km2 at each site. We predicted that improvements in law enforcement effectiveness would be followed by increases in prey numbers and subsequently tiger numbers. We used short- and long-term indicators of success, including: i) patrol team effort and effectiveness; ii) catch per unit effort indicators (to measure reductions in threats); and iii) changes in target species numbers. In addition to implementing a monitoring system, we focused on improving law enforcement management using an adaptive management process. Over four years, we noted clear increases in patrol effort and a partial reduction in threats. Although we did not detect clear trends in ungulate numbers, tiger populations remained stable or increased; suggesting that poaching of tigers may be more limiting than prey depletion. Increased effectiveness is needed before a clear reduction in threats can be noted, and more time is needed before detecting responses in target populations. Nonetheless, delineation of concrete goals and indicators of success provide a means of evaluating progress and weaknesses. Such monitoring should be a central component of law enforcement strategies for protected areas. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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A Wildlife Conservation Society report commissioned by the Global Tiger Initiative Suggested citation: J. Walston, K.U. Karanth, and E.J. Stokes. 2010. Avoiding the Unthinkable: What Will it Cost to Prevent Tigers Becoming Extinct in the Wild? Wildlife Conservation Society, New York.
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Declining biodiversity in protected areas in Laos is attributed to unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. At a basic level, an important need is to develop capacity in academic and professional training institutions to provide relevant training to conservation professionals. The paper (a) describes the capacity building approach undertaken to achieve this goal, (b) evaluates the effectiveness of the approach in building capacity for implementing conservation and (c) reviews implementation outcomes. Strong linkages between organizations implementing field conservation, professional training institutions, and relevant Government agencies are central to enhancing effectiveness of capacity building initiatives aimed at improving the practice of conservation. Protected area management technical capacity needs will need to directly influence curriculum design to insure both relevance and effectiveness of training in improving protected area management. Sustainability of capacity building initiatives is largely dependent on the level of interest and commitment by host-country institutions within a supportive Government policy framework in addition to engagement of organizations implementing conservation.
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Today record levels of funding are being invested in enforcement and antipoaching measures to tackle the “war on poaching,” but many species are on the path to extinction. In our view, intensifying enforcement effort is crucial, but will ultimately prove an inadequate long-term strategy with which to conserve high-value species. This is because: regulatory approaches are being overwhelmed by the drivers of poaching and trade, financial incentives for poaching are increasing due to rising prices and growing relative poverty between areas of supply and centers of demand, and aggressive enforcement of trade controls, in particular bans, can increase profits and lead to the involvement of organized criminals with the capacity to operate even under increased enforcement effort. With prices for high-value wildlife rising, we argue that interventions need to go beyond regulation and that new and bold strategies are needed urgently. In the immediate future, we should incentivize and build capacity within local communities to conserve wildlife. In the medium term, we should drive prices down by reexamining sustainable off-take mechanisms such as regulated trade, ranching and wildlife farming, using economic levers such as taxation to fund conservation efforts, and in the long-term reduce demand through social marketing programs.
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Cited By (since 1996):63, Export Date: 26 November 2013, Source: Scopus
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There are obvious economic predictors of ability and willingness to invest in environmental sustainability. Yet, given that environmental decisions represent trade-offs between present sacrifices and uncertain future benefits, psychological factors may also play a role in country-level environmental behavior. Gott's principle suggests that citizens may use perceptions of their country's age to predict its future continuation, with longer pasts predicting longer futures. Using country- and individual-level analyses, we examined whether longer perceived pasts result in longer perceived futures, which in turn motivate concern for continued environmental quality. Study 1 found that older countries scored higher on an environmental performance index, even when the analysis controlled for country-level differences in gross domestic product and governance. Study 2 showed that when the United States was framed as an old country (vs. a young one), participants were willing to donate more money to an environmental organization. The findings suggest that framing a country as a long-standing entity may effectively prompt proenvironmental behavior.
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Every day, the challenges to achieving conservation grow. Threats to species, habitats, and ecosystems multiply and intensify. The conservation community has invested decades of resources and hard work to reduce or eliminate these threats. However, it struggles to demonstrate that its efforts are having an impact. In recent years, conservation project managers, teams, and organizations have found themselves under increasing pressure to demonstrate measurable impacts that can be attributed to their actions. To do so, they need to answer three important questions: (1) Are we achieving our desired impact?; (2) Have we selected the best interventions to achieve our desired impact?; and (3) Are we executing our interventions in the best possible manner? We describe results chains, an important tool for helping teams clearly specify their theory of change behind the actions they are implementing. Results chains help teams make their assumptions behind an action explicit and positions the team to develop relevant objectives and indicators to monitor and evaluate whether their actions are having the intended impact. We describe this tool and how it is designed to tackle the three main questions above. We also discuss the purposes for which results chains have been used and the implications of their use. By using results chains, the conservation community can learn, adapt, and improve at a faster pace and, consequently, better address the ongoing threats to species, habitats, and ecosystems.
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Johnson, A. 2012. A Landscape Summary for the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, Lao PDR. Pages 73-90 in T. C. H. Sunderland, J. Sayer, and H. Minh-Ha, editors. Evidence-based conservation: lessons from the lower Mekong. Earthscan, London.
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Vongkhamheng, C., A. Johnson, and M. Sunquist. 2013. A baseline survey of ungulate abundance and distribution in northern Laos: implications for conservation. Oryx 47:544-552. Large ungulates across Southeast Asia have been experiencing a rapid decline in recent decades due to overexploitation by human. An absence of reliable data on the abundance and distribution of ungulates makes it extremely difficult to assess the effectiveness of conservation efforts to recover their populations. Naturally serving as the principle prey for endangered tigers Panthera tigris, depletion of wild ungulates is a major threat to the species’ persistence and recovery across its range. This study estimated abundance and distribution of five ungulate taxa using grid-based occupancy surveys across a 3,000 km2 core zone within the 5,950 km2 Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area in northern Laos. The results show an abundance index of 5.29 ± 0.30 ungulates per km2 with muntjac Munticus spp. and wild pig Sus spp. being most common, moderate levels of serow Capricornis milneedwardsii and sambar Cervus unicolor, but few gaur Bos gaurus. This low abundance of medium- and large-sized prey species at the site strongly suggests that strict control of hunting of these ungulates is important for securing their long-term survival as well as that of the tiger population that depends on them, which is currently the only known breeding population remaining in Indochina.
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The Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Areain the Lao People’s Democratic Republic contains the last confirmed breeding population of tigers (Panthera tigris) in Indochina. There are two main threats to tigers, direct killing of tigers and the illegal hunting of wild ungulates, the tigers’ principle prey. Villagers living around the National Protected Area rely on these same ungulates as an important source of protein in their daily diet. The illegal hunting of tigers and prey for commercial trade is unsustainable and is driven by a lack of ownership by local villagers who engage in illegal activities and by government agencies that do not enforce the laws. To reduce these threats the Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area is using a social marketing campaign in parallel with traditional enforcement to change the behavior of illegal hunters, village members, and government officials. To determine campaign effectiveness, a survey instrument was developed to measure knowledge, attitudes and behavior change, which included both a control and pre and post surveys of target audiences. The pre and post surveys indicate a significant shift along the theory of change from knowledge to behavior change. The assumption is that over time this shift will also lead to threat reduction to, and thus increase of, tiger and prey populations.
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In Ghana, budgetary allocations for protected area management have been consistently low. To improve cost-effectiveness and performance of law enforcement, monitoring feedback was used to provide the foundation for informed management decisions. Between 2004 and 2006, a system to monitor staff performance, patrol effort, illegal wildlife use, and trends in large-mammal populations was established in seven protected areas. In two national parks, where GIS-based monitoring systems were in place, in the course of 2006, data were standardised and analysed in the same way. Encounters on patrol with illegal activities and large mammals were corrected for patrol effort and the size of the area to enable comparing encounter rates in different protected areas. In December 2005, law-enforcement performance was evaluated in six protected areas. Through dissemination of the evaluation report, the poor performance of patrol staff and high levels of illegal activity in five out of six sites entered the public domain, and created a spirit of competition between protected areas. The present evaluation showed that in the course of 2006, in the six sites evaluated, patrol performance improved by 59% on average, compared to only 11% in the two parks that were not evaluated. In the four savannah sites evaluated, poaching was reduced by 72%, but only by 17% in the two forest sites evaluated. This compares with a reduction in poaching of 33% in the two parks. Patrol data were open to several types of error. Although reliability of patrol data was checked at different hierarchical levels, the final check was at headquarters in Accra, comparing seasonal fluctuations in large-mammal encounters with those in two control areas.
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Although considerable effort and resources have been dedicated to biodiversity conservation over the last three decades, the effectiveness of these conservation actions is still frequently unclear. Thus, practitioners are being called on to be ever more strategic in their use of often limited resources available for the scale of the work required. To address this problem, several frameworks have been developed to guide the practice of conservation and facilitate adaptive management. Although these frameworks now exist and monitoring is key to adaptive management, there are still relatively few detailed examples of projects that have successfully implemented monitoring plans and then analyzed the data to generate results that were in turn used to adapt management. Reasons cited for this include insufficient funding for monitoring and evaluation, inappropriate monitoring designs that are unable to generate results to answer management questions, ineffectively managed monitoring information, and institutional arrangements that do not facilitate the feedback of monitoring results (should they exist) to management. Given these challenges, there is a need for case studies that illustrate how monitoring and evaluation can be done in the context of the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation to support learning and provide evidence for the effectiveness of a conservation action. This paper provides a detailed case study of adaptive management in practice. In this case the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Landscape Species Approach was used over a seven-year period to plan, execute, evaluate and adapt a project to recover wild tigers Panthera tigris and their ungulate prey (Gaur Bos gaurus, Southwest China serow Capricornis milneedwardsii, Sambar deer Cervus unicolor, wild pig Sus spp., and muntjacs Muntiacus spp.) in Lao PDR. After several iterations of the project management cycle, we assess to what degree the framework supported rigorous monitoring and evaluation that was used to inform and adapt management and what conditions were present and/or needed to overcome the constraints that commonly impede the practice of adaptive management in conservation.
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This study investigates four decades of socioeconomic and environmental change in a shifting cultivation landscape in the northern uplands of Laos. Historical changes in land cover and land use were analyzed using a chronological series of remote sensing data. Impacts of landscape change on local livelihoods were investigated in seven villages through interviews with various stakeholders. The study reveals that the complex mosaics of agriculture and forest patches observed in the study area have long constituted key assets for the resilience of local livelihood systems in the face of environmental and socio-economic risks. However, over the past 20 years, a process of segregating agricultural and forest spaces has increased the vulnerability of local land users. This process is a direct outcome of policies aimed at increasing national forest cover, eradicating shifting cultivation and fostering the emergence of more intensive and commercial agricultural practices. We argue that agriculture-forest segregation should be buffered in such a way that a diversity of livelihood opportunities and economic development pathways can be maintained.
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Millions of dollars are spent annually on biodiversity conservation projects at natural areas around the world. Managers of natural areas must achieve a balance between taking conservation action, evaluating the effectiveness of actions taken, and monitoring the general status of biodiversity conservation targets and the threats they face. Conservation practitioners often struggle with decisions regarding the allocation of limited resources among these competing needs. Many conservation projects have only a limited monitoring component while other projects have an inexplicably high investment in a single type of monitoring. We offer a conceptual framework to help guide conservation practitioners towards a logical allocation of resources between taking action and different types of monitoring depending on the situation that they are facing. The framework consists of a decision tree that includes an explicit evaluation of three questions: (1) Are there substantial threats facing the conservation entities?; (2) Are there clear and feasible actions known to be effective at abating identified threats?; and (3) Does the project team have high confidence in their understanding of the overall conservation situation? Based on this tree, we present five scenarios that illustrate a range of logical allocations of resources between taking action and different categories of monitoring.
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Conservation investment, particularly for charismatic and wide-ranging large mammal species, needs to be evidence-based. Despite the prevalence of this theme within the literature, examples of robust data being generated to guide conservation policy and funding decisions are rare. We present the first published case-study of tiger conservation in Indochina, from a site where an evidence-based approach has been implemented for this iconic predator and its prey. Despite the persistence of extensive areas of habitat, Indochina's tiger and ungulate prey populations are widely supposed to have precipitously declined in recent decades. The Seima Protection Forest (SPF), and broader Eastern Plains Landscape, was identified in 2000 as representing Cambodia's best hope for tiger recovery; reflected in its designation as a Global Priority Tiger Conservation Landscape. Since 2005 distance sampling, camera-trapping and detection-dog surveys have been employed to assess the recovery potential of ungulate and tiger populations in SPF. Our results show that while conservation efforts have ensured that small but regionally significant populations of larger ungulates persist, and density trends in smaller ungulates are stable, overall ungulate populations remain well below theoretical carrying capacity. Extensive field surveys failed to yield any evidence of tiger, and we contend that there is no longer a resident population within the SPF. This local extirpation is believed to be primarily attributable to two decades of intensive hunting; but importantly, prey densities are also currently below the level necessary to support a viable tiger population. Based on these results and similar findings from neighbouring sites, Eastern Cambodia does not currently constitute a Tiger Source Site nor meet the criteria of a Global Priority Tiger Landscape. However, SPF retains global importance for many other elements of biodiversity. It retains high regional importance for ungulate populations and potentially in the future for Indochinese tigers, given adequate prey and protection.
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1. Simple indices based on the number of encounters with a study object are used throughout ecology, conservation and natural resource management (e.g. indices of abundance used in animal surveys or catch per unit effort (CPUE) data in fisheries management). All forms of encounter data arise through the interaction of two sets of behaviours: those of the data generators and those of the data collectors. Analyses of encounter data are prone to bias when these behaviours do not conform to the assumptions used to model them. 2. We review the use of CPUE indices derived from patrol data, which have been promoted for the study of rule-breaking in conservation, highlighting potential sources of bias and noting how similar problems have been tackled for other forms of encounter data. 3. We identify several issues that must be addressed for analyses of patrol data to provide useful information, including the definition of suitable measures of catch and effort, the choice of appropriate temporal and spatial scales, the provision of suitable incentives for ranger patrols and the recording of sufficient information to describe the spatial pattern of sampling. The same issues are also relevant to encounter data more generally. 4. Synthesis and applications. This review describes a common conceptual framework for understanding encounter data, based on the interactions that produce them. We anticipate that an appreciation of these commonalities will lead to improvements in the analysis of encounter data in several fields, by highlighting the existence of methodological approaches that could be more widely applied, and important characteristics of these data that have so far been neglected.
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Theory dictates that conservation areas should be as large as possible. When money for their protection is inadequate, different considerations come into play.
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We examine the abundance and distribution of Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and nine prey species in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park on Sumatra, Indonesia. Our study is the first to demonstrate that the relative abundance of tigers and their prey, as measured by camera traps, is directly related to independently derived estimates of densities for these species. The tiger population in the park is estimated at 40–43 individuals. Results indicate that illegal hunting of prey and tigers, measured as a function of human density within 10 km of the park, is primarily responsible for observed patterns of abundance, and that habitat loss is an increasingly serious problem. Abundance of tigers, two mouse deer (Tragulus spp.), pigs (Sus scrofa) and Sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) was more than four times higher in areas with low human population density, while densities of red muntjac (Muntiacus muntjac) and pigtail macaques (Macaca nemestrina) were twice as high. Malay tapir (Tapirus indicus) and argus pheasant (Argusianus argus), species infrequently hunted, had higher indices of relative abundance in areas with high human density. Edge effects associated with park boundaries were not a significant factor in abundance of tigers or prey once human density was considered. Tigers in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, and probably other protected areas throughout Sumatra, are in imminent danger of extinction unless trends in hunting and deforestation are reversed.
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