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Special Section on African Conservation: A periodic
opportunity to highlight conservation science from Africa
Although conservation science has burgeoned as a disci-
pline in the past three decades, its growth has been
disproportionate across continents, and critical biases
persist. Among them is the relatively small (10% of all
studies conducted between 2011 and 2015) representation
of Africa-based studies in conservation literature despite
the substantial contribution of the continent to global
biodiversity and conservation (Di Marco et al., 2017).
In light of this, and in response to increasing calls
from within and beyond the Society to acknowledge
research and representation biases in field ecology and
conservation science (Baker, Eichhorn, & Griffiths, 2019;
Chaudhury & Colla, 2020; Perez & Hogan, 2018), the
Africa Section of the Society for Conservation Biology is
proud to launch the first African Conservation Special
Section within Conservation Science and Practice.
The Special Section is intended as a periodic collation
of recent publications on conservation research and prac-
tice efforts occurring on the continent. The collections
serve to fulfill two critical objectivesfirst, to highlight
conservation research occurring on the continent and
second, to promote the work and experiences of African
conservation scientists and practitioners. Thus, we are
actively seeking papers spanning all aspects of conserva-
tion science from Africa and about Africa. Moreover, we
aim to use this and future special sections to consciously
facilitate the exchange, transfer, diffusion, and uptake of
empirical information and knowledge generated and
published by African researchers based in African
In this inaugural African Conservation Special
Section, we bring to you seven contributions that broadly
speak to the kinds of innovative research that is being
undertaken in Africa to meet some of her most pressing
conservation challenges. We find that humanwildlife
conflict continues to be a stark reality for communities
residing in proximity to wildlife and is a critical
challenge for conservation in Africa, particularly among
agropastoral communities. Three of the seven papers
address strategies to reduce humanwildlife conflict,
ranging across a spectrum from reducing poaching
(Ngorima, Brown, Masunungure, & Biggs, 2020) to
rethinking the design of financial compensation schemes
(Braczkowski et al., 2020) and to applying social science
approaches to improve the understanding of social norms
related to human behavior and conflict reduction (Perry
et al., 2020). These papers suggest that there is no silver
bullet for addressing humanwildlife conflict success-
fully. They also highlight the importance of continued
research and the monitoring of conservation attitudes on
this issue in order to conduct robust assessments of their
effectiveness and potential for scaling up. As a set of
papers, they point to important insight on local context
as it relates to understanding humanwildlife conflict:
that although it matters, some features about human
wildlife conflict are shared across countries, and lessons
learned in one area might be meaningful for others.
Participatory wildlife management and co-manage-
ment of natural resources are increasingly being tested in
Africa. Of special note in this issue is Gardner et al.'s
(2020) synopsis of lessons learned from 15 years of partic-
ipatory management of marine resources in Madagascar.
A strong global movement to better integrate local com-
munities in fisheries management is well informed by
this retrospective analysis of Malagasy marine manage-
ment areas. Gardner et al. (2020) point to the importance
of co-management, non-governmental organization
(NGO) support, and other features that foster success.
Meanwhile, they also identify a variety of persistent chal-
lenges (e.g., the difficulty of changing fishery supply
chains and external drivers eroding sustainable actions)
that constrain success. These long-term assessments can
be invaluable for fine-tuning global efforts to secure the
sustainability of biodiversity within artisanal fisheries.
Finally, we see that conservation practitioners in
Africa are taking advantage of new tools and technologies
for monitoring species and adapting them to fit their spe-
cific contexts or target species. Fritsch and Downs (2020)
explore the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to
conduct comprehensive population censuses of a species
Received: 23 November 2020 Accepted: 23 November 2020
DOI: 10.1111/csp2.334
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided
the original work is properly cited.
© 2020 The Authors. Conservation Science and Practice published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology
Conservation Science and Practice. 2020;2:e334. 1of2
for which it is otherwise expensive and time-consuming
to monitor (e.g., the common hippopotamus); Jones,
Papworth, St. John, Vickery, and Keane (2020) develop
social science tools for improving the assessment of
hunters' harvest rates in Liberia, while Rice, from the
University of Cape Town, and colleagues (Rice,
Sowman, & Bavnik, 2020) present a Theory of Change
framework for use in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity
These papers represent a concise glimpse into the rich
and varied aspects of conservation research that is being
conducted in Africa with high relevance for conservation
practice. We look forward to additional special sections
that continue to build the depth and breadth of our
understanding of how conservation interventions can
have a positive impact on biodiversity outcomes and
improve people's well-being in Africa.
Tuyeni H. Mwampamba
Israel T. Borokini
Benis N. Egoh
Institute for Ecosystems and Sustainability Research,
National Autonomous University of Mexico, Morelia,
Michoacan, Mexico
Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology Program,
Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno,
Department of Earth System Science, University of
California, Irvine, California
International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
Cameroon, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Tuyeni H. Mwampamba, Institute for Ecosystems and
Sustainability Research, National Autonomous
University of Mexico - Morelia Campus, 8701 Antigua
Carretera a Pátzcuaro, Col. Exhacienda de San José de la
Huerta, CP 58190 Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico.
Tuyeni H. Mwampamba
Israel T. Borokini
Benis N. Egoh
Baker, K., Eichhorn, M. P., & Griffiths, M. (2019). Decolonizing
field ecology. Biotropica,51(3), 288292.
Braczkowski, A., Fattebert, J., Schenk, R., O'Bryan, C., Biggs, D., &
Maron, M. (2020). Evidence for increasing human-wildlife con-
flict despite a financial compensation scheme on the edge of a
Ugandan National Park. Conservation Science and Practice,2,
Chaudhury, A., & Colla, S. (2020). Next steps in dismantling dis-
crimination: Lessons from ecology and conservation science.
Conservation Letters, e12774.
Di Marco, M., Chapman, S., Althor, G., Kearney, S., Besancon, C.,
Butt, N., Watson, J. E. (2017). Changing trends and persisting
biases in three decades of conservation science. Global Ecology
and Conservation,10,3242.
Fritsch, C. J., & Downs, C. T. (2020). Evaluation of low-cost
consumer-grade UAVs for conducting comprehensive high-
frequency population censuses of hippopotamus populations.
Conservation Science and Practice,2, e281.
Gardner, C., Cripps, S., Day, L. P., Dewar, K., Gough, C., Peabody, S.,
Harris, A. (2020). A decade and a half of learning from
Madagascar's first locally managed marine area. Conservation
Science and Practice,2, e298.
Jones, S. C. Z., Papworth, S. K., St. John, F. A. V., Vickery, J. A., &
Keane, A. M. (2020). Consequences of survey method for esti-
mating hunters' harvest rates. Conservation Science and Prac-
tice,2, e315.
Ngorima, A., Brown, A., Masunungure, C., & Biggs, D. (2020). Local
community benefits from elephants: Can willingness to support
anti-poaching efforts be strengthened? Conservation Science
and Practice,2, e303.
Perez, T. M., & Hogan, J. A. (2018). The changing nature of collabo-
ration in tropical ecology and conservation. Biotropica,50(4),
Perry, L. R., Moorhouse, T. P., Sibanda, L., Sompeta, S. L.,
MacDonald, D. W., & Loveridge, A. J. (2020). Everyone is nor-
mal: Consistent livestock management norms and demographic
clusters in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Conservation Science and
Practice,2, e313.
Rice, W. S., Sowman, M. R., & Bavnik, M. (2020). Using theory of
change to improve post-2020 conservation: A proposed frame-
work and recommendations for use. Conservation Science and
Practice,2, e301.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Human behavior often determines the success of conservation projects, and the emerging discipline of conservation psychology focuses on understanding and influencing this behavior. Social norms (a group's perception of the appropriateness of behaviors) are a key influence on human behavior, and social norms campaigns can often engender population‐wide behavior changes. Human‐predator conflict is a major conservation issue, and one in which human behavior plays a substantial role: high standards of livestock management can considerably lower predation levels. In this paper, we use factor analysis to show that the livestock management normative belief structure of rural livestock owners is highly conserved between populations in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Through cluster analysis, we also show that qualitatively distinct attitudinal groups can be identified, and that some of these groups are common to both regions. Researchers often assume that social landscapes are unique, but we show that this is not the case for livestock management norms. People's attitudes are also generally assumed to be site‐specific, but we found commonalities across different regions, indicating that certain attitude sectors may be present in all livestock‐owning populations. If livestock management norms and attitude groups are indeed highly conserved between regions, it may be possible to develop standardized tools with which to understand the norms that influence livestock management behavior, and identify population sectors for targeted interventions. Often, conservation projects have little in‐house social science expertise, and social studies are avoided despite the benefits they bring. Here, we demonstrate that standardized approaches may be possible, and could aid the implementation—and success—of conservation interventions.
Full-text available
Abstract Ecology, conservation, and other scientific disciplines have histories built on the oppression of marginalized groups of people. Modern day discrimination continues in these fields and there is renewed interest in dismantling these system of oppression. In this paper, we offer some examples of historical events which have shaped the field and argue that reckoning with colonial histories is part of the process to dismantle discrimination and achieve equity and inclusion. We discuss ways forward including incorporating different knowledge systems and reflecting on one's own biases and privilege. To truly achieve fields of science which are just, diverse, and equitable will be one of our greatest challenges, but one that is necessary to protect our environment, an endeavor which cannot be detangled from societal injustices.
Full-text available
Harvest data are widely used to understand hunting in tropical forests. However , survey methods are susceptible to biases which could affect results. We compare catch data from two approaches applied concurrently in the same villages (n = 7) in Gola Forest, Liberia: hunter recall interviews (n = 208 hunters, 253 trips) and continuous monitoring by village-based assistants (n = 53 hunters, 404 trips). We use Bayesian multi-level models to: (a) compare estimates of animals killed per trip for each data source; (b) test whether differences between villages are consistent across data sources and (c) identify potential sources of bias. Hunter recall produced higher, and more variable, catch estimates than village-based monitoring, with mean of 7.3 animals [6.0-8.8 95%CI] compared to 3.0 [2.4-3.6], for a trip lasting 3.2 days (the average duration from village-based monitoring). Mean catch-per-village from village-based monitoring failed to predict hunter recall catch and villages with highest catch differed between methods. Differences in trip duration were a potential source of bias: hunter recall recorded longer, more variable, trips (mean 4.0 ± SD 3.0 days, range = 1-32) than village-based monitoring (mean 3.2 ± SD 1.7, range = 1-10). Longer trips were associated with higher catch-per-day, use of guns, forest camps and accompaniment by another person; so nonrandom sampling of these traits may have introduced bias. Between-hunter variability was lower with village-based monitoring, suggesting sampling captured a less diverse subgroup of hunters, or that recall data were noisier due to reporting errors. Our results demonstrate that methodological biases can have large effects on catch estimates and should be carefully considered when designing or interpreting hunting studies.
Full-text available
Contemporary conservation must address social well‐being while still protecting biodiversity. Accordingly, the objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity's recent Zero Draft Post‐2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is to sustainably meet the needs of people while reducing biodiversity loss. However, frequent “failures” in achieving this social‐ecological balance necessitates more holistic, systematic, and adaptive post‐2020 conservation interventions. The Theory of Change (ToC) approach provides a useful and flexible tool to support this endeavor. However, debate persists over its usefulness, and “best” manner of use. This paper explores the elements of, and proposes a framework for developing robust conservation ToC pathways. The framework emphasizes the importance of producing a shared vision of desired results and actions, and associated causal assumptions, among actors. Furthermore, evaluation is considered key to informing required ongoing adaptation to better achieve desired results. The paper also critically explores the challenges associated with ToC, and makes recommendations for its improved use in post‐2020 conservation. In particular, we aim to inform the implementation and mainstreaming of the Post‐2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, especially at a national‐ and local‐level. The framework and discussion should be relevant to a broad range of conservation actors at various scales that must address linked social and ecological objectives.
Full-text available
The conflict of large carnivores and agro-pastoral communities is a key driver of carnivore decline globally. The East African state of Uganda relies heavily on tourism as a GDP contributor and large carnivores are important for generating visitor revenue in its national parks. African leopards, spotted hyenas and African lions are three species that draw significant tourist attention but also cause damage to the livestock of human communities living on Ugandan national park edges. A private safari lodge in the Lake Mburo National Park has been using a financial compensation scheme in an attempt to stem conflict between these species and human communities living in the region since 2009. Financial compensations have produced mixed results with some studies reporting successes in reducing carnivore deaths, while others warn against their use, citing moral hazard, financial unsustainability and weakened protection of livestock by farmers. We sought to assess the characteristics of this compensation scheme and the patterns of conflict between Bahima pastoralist communities and carnivores that the scheme aims to mitigate. Using a dataset of 1,102 leopard and hyena depredation events (we found that spotted hyenas were responsible for the overwhelming majority of livestock depredation (69%) around Lake Mburo. Depredations occurred mostly at night (97% and 89% of all depredation for spotted hyenas and leopards respectively) and inside livestock protective pens (bomas). Depredation was more likely to occur in rugged areas, closer to human settlements, and the national park border, and further away from water. We could find no evidence of seasonality in depredation events. Our most important, albeit worrying result was that conflict had increased dramatically over time and the number of depredation claims had tripled in the period from 2014-2018 when compared to 2009-2013, risking financial unsustainability of the scheme. Our results are important for future conservation stakeholders attempting to implement financial compensation in the broader Ugandan landscape. They suggest that careful thought needs to be placed into fund sustainability, increasing claims over time and the development of clear rules that underpin compensation claims.
Full-text available
While the participatory management of small scale fisheries has been widely promoted, we have limited understanding of the factors influencing its effectiveness. Here, we highlight lessons learnt from the implementation of Madagascar's first locally managed marine area (LMMA), drawing on our insights and experiences as staff of a comanaging nongovernmental organization (NGO). We describe the LMMA's context and history, and highlight aspects of our approach that we feel underpin its outcomes, including: (a) comanagement rather than community‐management; (b) the permanent field presence of a supporting NGO; (c) a management focus on locally important natural resources; (d) the implementation of poverty alleviation initiatives aimed at reducing barriers to management; (e) decision‐making by resource users rather than scientists; (f) a diversified, entrepreneurial funding model; and (g) an emphasis on monitoring and adaptive management. We also highlight several challenges, including: (a) the inability to influence fishery supply chains; (b) promoting participation and good governance; (c) promoting rule application; (d) standing up to outsiders; (e) promoting environmental management in the long term; and (f) maintaining funding. Our experiences suggest that small scale fishers can be effective natural resource managers in low‐income contexts, but may need extended support from outsiders; however, the role of supporting NGO is nuanced and complex.
Full-text available
The hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibious (hereafter referred to as hippo) is classified as vulnerable according to the IUCN Red data list. They play a significant role in aquatic systems as allochthonous nutrient providers, and as facilitators and competitors in grasslands. Traditional census methodologies for hippo are difficult and costly to repeat. Previous research has been conducted on the use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) to conduct hippo population estimates; however, findings either needed justification through additional field testing or used high-cost UASs that may be unaffordable for management authorities in developing countries in Africa. Therefore, using a low-cost, consumer-grade, DJI Phantom 3 Advanced multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), 47 surveys were conducted of the hippo population at Ndumo Game Reserve (NGR), South Africa, between August 2016 and July 2017. In addition, comparisons were drawn between the results of and the logistical requirements and costs of the respective helicopter and UAV surveys conducted on the same day of the same hippo population. The use of a consumer-grade UAV permitted frequent, accurate, and comparatively low-cost surveys to identify temporal changes in the number of hippos present in NGR and at different locations within NGR. Hippos are a data deficient species , particularly in remote developing countries. UAVs surveys of hippo will allow accurate, highly repeatable, and comparatively low-cost data collection for management of hippos and the ecosystems within which they occur. K E Y W O R D S aerial census, drone, hippos, Ndumo game reserve, population estimate, South Africa, UAS
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Poaching of Africa's elephants has led to substantial population declines over the last decade. Local communities coexisting with elephants can play an important role in strengthening protection measures against poaching. Our paper empirically examined how the spread of costs and benefits associated with elephants, and associated ownership rights, influenced community attitudes to support anti-poaching activities. Based on surveys of 90 community members in the Zimbabwean part of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, our results show that 92% of the respondents were unwilling to engage in conservation activities due to lack of financial gain from elephants. Local communities identified numerous benefits and costs associated with elephants. The majority (54%) of community members identified meat from the elephant as an essential benefit to their livelihoods. The most significant cost identified by the majority (60%) of respondents was crop destruction. The reported costs influenced villagers' perceptions of elephants with 71% of respondents stating that continued incurred costs has reduced their willingness to participate in conservation activities. More so, the majority (88%) of respondents indicated that these costs have led to locals supporting actions to reduce elephant numbers. Furthermore, 82% of respondents indicated a lack of remorse when an elephant was killed after destroying their crops, and 95% of community members identified that feelings of bitterness toward elephants increased as they encountered costs. Our results suggest that gaining local support for elephant conservation to be more sustainable in low income regions, the overall benefits from elephants should outweigh the costs they impose. K E Y W O R D S