Conference Paper

Wildlife under pressure: assessing the effects of biophysical and anthropogenic factors on tropical forest mammals and their habitats in different land-use types in the Dja Conservation Complex, Cameroon

  • Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp (RZSA)
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Growing human populations and associated impacts such as forest disruption and overexploitation of wildlife resources, are a rapidly growing threat to African tropical wildlife. Protected areas represent an important global conservation strategy for the preservation of biodiversity. However, inadequate funding and governmental support combined with environmental encroachment occurring in the surrounding landscape, are reducing their conservation capacity. There is growing recognition of the need to extend beyond protected areas and evaluate conservation efforts outside protected areas. This study aims to evaluate the impact of environmental and anthropogenic factors on tropical forest mammals and their habitat in six sites, differing in terms of land-use type and level of active management, in the Dja Conservation Complex, southeast Cameroon. Standardized transects were used to assess species abundances and record vegetation characteristics and signs of human activity. Results show that the study sites differed significantly in anthropogenic activities and mammal abundance. Environmental factors investigated in this study did not influence mammal abundances whereas mammal abundances were influenced by differences in anthropogenic pressures across sites. The results also showed that a lack of effective management in the unprotected sites resulted in lower mammal abundances and that effective management and protection seem to be lacking at forest sites near villages at the northern border of the Dja Biosphere Reserve. This study also provides evidence that the conservation efforts of Project Grand Singes reduced human activity and positively influenced mammal populations. Hence, we encourage the presence and activities of conservation research as secondary conservation activity to protect mammal populations and benefit local communities at the same time.

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... The encounter rates of mammal and bird signs were used as index of species abundance. As done in a previous study [8] , mammals were grouped in seven defined assemblages of species: elephants, carnivores, even-toed ungulates, pangolins, old world monkeys, great apes, and rodents. Consequently, analyses were performed on mammals as a whole, on the defined taxonomical mammal guilds, and at the species level. ...
... Furthermore, direct observations were used for old world monkey abundance estimates. This approach is consistent with methodologies used in previous studies in the area, enabling the guilds and species to be compared [8,19,29] . For birds, the encounter rate was also used as an index of abundance; analyses were performed for all birds together and for each identified bird species separately. ...
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The study of soundscapes and biological sounds is becoming the focus of increasing scientific attention. Studying biological sounds involves the deployment of acoustic sensors to record sounds and the identification of animal species and other sources of sound in audio recordings. In addition, data extracted from audio recordings may be pooled together with ecological and human activity data to investigate the drivers of biological sounds. We provide a detailed method description of our study on biological sounds in a tropical forest and their drivers along a gradient of disturbance in Southeast Cameroon. We designed and implemented a research protocol to: - make large scale audio recordings and identify animal species detected; - collect ground-truth data on mammal and bird species; - collect climate, habitat, and human activity data and describe remoteness and accessibility.
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