Research Papers

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Estimating past and future male loss in three Zambian lion populations

African lions (Panthera leo) are declining continent-wide, with protected area populations subject to a variety of anthropogenic effects. Zambia contains viable lion populations of considerable importance for photographic and hunting tourism, but long-term lion demographic data do not exist to guide recent management directives and population projections under different strategies. We described population size, as well as age and sex structure of lions in 3 Zambian national park populations bordering hunting areas, and found them to be male-depleted relative to other systems. We then estimated rates of adult male loss leading to male depletion in these populations and the effect of different future hunting management options on population characteristics. Predictions from matrix population models constructed within a Bayesian framework confirmed that the observed population structure was likely due to high rates of adult male loss and that instituting age limits on male harvests with quota reductions would reduce male depletion, improve tourism by providing older and more abundant males, and slightly increase population size. Reducing male mortality from wire snare poaching would also result in similar demographic impacts, and in concert with changes in hunting regulations would substantially improve the quality and quantity of adult male lions. However, model results varied depending on whether we assumed historical population stability. Predictions assuming negative historical growth rate indicated that substantially more conservative lion harvest management is warranted. We discuss the relevance of these findings for maintaining viable lion populations in and around protected areas in Zambia

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A review of financial instruments to pay for predator conservation and encourage human-carnivore coexistence

One of the greatest challenges in biodiversity conservation today is how to facilitate protection of species that are highly valued at a global scale but have little or even negative value at a local scale. Imperiled species such as large predators can impose significant economic costs at a local level, often in poverty-stricken rural areas where households are least able to tolerate such costs, and impede efforts of local people, especially traditional pastoralists, to escape from poverty. Furthermore, the costs and benefits involved in predator conservation often include diverse dimensions, which are hard to quantify and nearly impossible to reconcile with one another. The best chance of effective conservation relies upon translating the global value of carnivores into tangible local benefits large enough to drive conservation “on the ground.” Although human–carnivore coexistence involves significant noneconomic values, providing financial incentives to those affected negatively by carnivore presence is a common strategy for encouraging such coexistence, and this can also have important benefits in terms of reducing poverty. Here, we provide a critical overview of such financial instruments, which we term “payments to encourage coexistence”; assess the pitfalls and potentials of these methods, particularly compensation and insurance, revenuesharing, and conservation payments; and discuss how existing strategies of payment to encourage coexistence could be combined to facilitate carnivore conservation and alleviate local poverty.

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Coexistence of African lions, livestock, and people in a landscape with variable human land use and seasonal movements

Apex carnivores around the world have experienced rapid population declines and local extirpation due to anthropogenic pressures, and they are increasingly restricted to government-protected areas (GPAs). Though GPAs are critical for carnivore conservation, mixed-use landscapes may be crucial for sustaining viable populations. Few studies, particularly in Africa, have examined joint use of a landscape by people and conflict-prone carnivores, such as the African lion (Panthera leo), in a situation where conflict is low. In southern Kenya, we studied a lion population in an unfenced rangeland occupied by the Maasai people and their livestock. The Maasai shift their settlements and grazing areas seasonally across a permanent river, a practice we hypothesized might promote coexistence. We radio-collared lions (n = 6) to determine density and document spatial patterns in response to seasonal movements of people in a Conservation Area and buffer zone (250 km2 ). Despite high livestock density, lion density was comparable to many GPAs (0.136 individuals/km2 ). Lion spatial distribution and habitat selection shifted in relation to seasonal movements of people and livestock. Conflict was low, likely because lions increased their use of the Conservation Area and dense habitats when people were nearby. Lion responses to human movements reduced access to permanent water, but not prey. A land use system based on temporary settlements and grazing areas allowed lions to co-occur with people and livestock at high density. These results suggest a general strategy for the conservation of apex carnivores outside of GPAs, focusing on areas that exhibit spatiotemporal variation in human land use

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